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Supportive Supplements & Fun Foods

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Probiotics should be used regularly in many animals, and always during a food change or while using antibiotics. Lactobacillus sporogenes is often a good form of this. They can be purchased over the counter, but do a label check to be sure of the quality and proper bacteria. Dairy free versions are useful for sensitive animals.

Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils) can be useful and usually can help hair coats, skin and musculoskeletal issues. They can occasionally provide too much oily heat for animals with a lot of heat in their skin or with loose stools. So be sure to monitor the response to see if it’s right for the animal. It is best to choose fish oils as the source. Good for many inflammatory conditions, arthritis and skin problems.

Unsweetened canned pumpkin is a terrific stool regulator; good for constipation and also for diarrhea. We use this often during food changes to regulate stool. Use about one tablespoon one to two times per day for a 30-pound dog in food or as a treat. You can also mix pumpkin with meat baby food or yogurt and put into ice cube trays or Kongs and freeze to use as treats.

Green tripe is a useful source of protein for kidney disease, as it is odiferous, and very tempting, even to those slightly nauseated by their uremia, and it is low in phosphorus, is metabolized well and shown to be of use to help the GI tract in kidney cases. Owners tend to prefer to buy it frozen because the canned smells awful. (Darwin’s Pet Food ships frozen tripe that works well.)

Flax, in its many forms, while a good laxative for pets, is not a great source of omega 3 fatty acids for carnivores. It is an expensive supplement that carnivores do not absorb well. Better to use fish oil. Carnivores really only need the omega 3 fatty acids. Flax does work well for omnivores (people!).

Metamucil is also for both loose stools or constipation. Many foods neglect to include proper fiber and adding some Metamucil daily can help (about a teaspoon per meal for a 50-pound dog) – I find some raw foods need added fiber content.

White rice can be used for diarrhea. Do not use Minute Rice. Cook the white rice with extra water and overcook it a bit till it’s gloopy. It has better absorption when it is overcooked and really sticky wet. Brown rice is not as good an absorbent for diarrhea/loose stools. As we are not using the rice for nutrition, but for its absorbent quality, it’s better to use the white rice here.

Rice cakes and green beans (plain, no salt) as low cal fun treats.

Fun foods and giving pills
• Stage II meat baby foods (make sure there’s no onion powder in them) – chicken, beef, lamb and other flavors. Sometimes hard to find, I often see it at Treasure Island. (Gerber, Beechnut, Organic brands are also available. o Use as a vehicle to give pills, powders, liquids that are unpalatable. o Use with warm water over foods as gravy. o Use directly or added to foods to improve taste of foods. o Use as a treat on plain rice cakes, or in ice cube trays or Kong toys, then freeze.

• Liverwurst makes a good pill vehicle – use just enough to cover the pill completely.

• Pats of butter or cream cheese, other cheeses and tripe are also a way to give pills, powders or other medicines.
• Low sodium chicken or beef broth or just warm water added to food increases palatability.
• Good quality plain yogurt, if the pet doesn’t have a dairy sensitivity. A good vehicle for pills and can be useful as a probiotic supplement during diarrhea episodes, any diet change, or antibiotic use. Also as a fun treat (can also be mixed with meat baby foods or pumpkin and frozen in ice cube trays or put into Kongs and frozen). The yogurt you choose must have plenty of active cultures – i.e. Stoneyfield Farms, Greek Yogurt, Brown Cow, Kefir.

Dr. Barbara Royal, is a Chicago veterinarian, IVAS certified acupuncturist, author and lecturer with extensive experience in veterinary care, including zoo, marine and wildlife animals, nutrition, acupuncture, emergency medicine, pathology, conventional practices, herbal remedies, physical rehabilitation techniques and alternative treatments. Dr. Royal is president of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (ahvma.org) and president-elect of the AHVM Foundation (ahvmf.org). Author of The Royal Treatment, A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets, she is also is the founder and owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center in Chicago.