Health & Feeding Information
As obvious as it may sound, many people forget that cats and dogs were in existence long before man created kibble! Kibble was invented for the convenience of man, not for the benefit of dogs. If left to its own devices, a dog will catch or scavenge its food from the prey of others, and will eat virtually everything - the flesh (a great source of essential protein), fat (a source of energy), bone (a source of calcium and other minerals), muscle, organ meats and stomach (an excellent source of enzymes, minerals and pre-digested plant material).
Dogs, both domesticated and wild, are members of the carnivore family, and are anatomically built for eating meat. Their teeth are designed for tearing and chewing, their short intestines avoid the putrefaction of flesh foods, and the powerful digestive juices can even dissolve lumps of bone. This means they can effectively eat food which would kill we humans without any harmful effects. We have all experienced our dogs picking up something nasty or undesirable on a walk - a dead rabbit, an old kebab - but they have suffered no ill effects and positively seem to relish these disgusting meals!
BARF (Biologiocally Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food) diets are based on fresh foods such as raw meats, raw bones, raw vegetables and minerals, and are designed to mimic what your cat or dog would eat in the wild. Think about it - if your dog ran off today, you wouldn't find him grazing in the wheatfields, but chasing the rabbits!
Humans are the only animals that cook their foods - and we know cooking breaks down many of the proteins and amino acids in raw meat, destroying much of the nutritional goodness. So why would you feed your animal a processed, cooked food? Most people do not realize what they may actually be feeding to their beloved family pet. Some commercial foods contain a high percentage of fillers, such as cereals, grains, and soya which your pet simply isn't designed to eat - and which actually can lead to long term health problems such as yeast infections, itchy skin, ear and anal gland issues. Furthermore, some foods contain meat meal and derivatives, which can include feet, feathers and other undesirable parts of an animal.
If you are interested in feeding a raw diet I recommend Nutriment Raw Dog Food and hope to be able to do bulk orders for any of my clients or people living in the Henley area who are interested. As soon as a puppy is ready to be weaned you can start them on a raw diet and Nutriment Raw offer a weaning paste that can be given to puppies from 6 wks old. They then can progress to puppy food at 8 wks and on to adult food at about 8mths. You can also order directly by using the link below and mention my name to get a £10.00 discount off your first order.
For those of you wondering when and if you should spay or castrate your dog and when. Please be aware that Vets do not necessarily know best! http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/spay_neuter_considerations_2013.pdf
Top 3 Health Conditions of Dogs:
- Ear infection
- Skin allergy
- Skin infection/hot spots
All of these can be caused by Yeast!
How a Yeast Infection Occurs
When your dog’s immune system is stressed/ not balanced then this is when problems can occur as yeast can begin to overpopulate the gut.
Yeast is a fungus and is in all dogs (and people) as a normal part of their flora. Yeast lives on your dog’s skin and inside their gut, where it normally lives with other healthy flora, as part of the balanced immune system.
When yeast grows out of control in the gut, the body tries to get rid of the fungus and this is when you will start to see the effects in your pet. It’s called a yeast infection but often it is classified as an allergy!
When most vets see a dog with allergies – a sign of an overactive immune system – he or she will typically prescribe steroids to shut off the immune response, and yes this does improve symptoms but it does not fix the underlying cause of the allergies.
When your dog's immune system is turned off with drugs, it can't do its job of balancing normal gut flora levels, so your pet ends up with yeast over growth.
The vet may prescribe antibiotics for dogs with allergies and possibly secondary skin infections. It is well known that antibiotics destroy all good bacteria along with the bad, so these drugs often make a bad situation worse.
Dog’s that are prone to allergies and are constantly being treated for one allergy or another, can end up with a lot of yeast and can actually develop an allergy to yeast. Tests often reveal that a dog is having an allergic response to their own natural flora.
This situation can be very distressing because the dog's allergic response can affect their whole body. These dogs are often red from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail – their entire bodies are flaming red and irritated.
Signs and Symptoms of a Yeasty Dog
There are a few signs that will help you figure out what’s causing your dog’s problems:
- Chewing or licking the feet, and dark rusty-red hair between the toes. The hair is often red or rust-colored because of the yeast (not because of the licking).
- Scratching the ears, or head shaking. Ear mites can also cause intense itching in the ears, so make sure your vet actually tests for mites, bacteria and fungus before deciding on treatment options.
- Cyclic symptoms (appearing in the spring and “going away” in the autumn). This is often confused with “grass allergies” and other spring and summer symptoms.
- Hair loss on the tail and upper back.
- Speckles (like tiny black dots) on the underbelly, or grayish or rust coloration around the genitals. Regular grooming should reveal this early indicator of yeast.
- Any black skin, especially there’s also hair loss.
The longer your dog’s yeast infection goes untreated, the harder it will be to resolve, so it’s important to look for these early signs.
The definitive diagnosis is by your vet taking a skin swab and either looking at it under a microscope or by growing cells and identifying on a petri dish.
Step 1 in Clearing a Yeast Infection: Address the Diet
If your pet is dealing with yeast overgrowth, there are a couple of things you'll need to do.
Number one, you must address diet. It's rare that a dog has yeast in just one spot – one ear, for example. If that's the case with your pet, you can probably get by just treating that ear for yeast and hope the immune system responds and re-balances the natural flora a good pro-biotic will help with this some examples are kefir, fermented fish stock or fermented vegetables. Much better to treat with whole food rather than a pill.
But if your dog, like a lot of dogs, has yeast in more than one spot, for example on all four paws or both ears, or especially if his entire body is yeasty, you have no choice but to look at what they are eating.
Diet is the foundation of health. The way you feed your dog is either going to help his immune system manage yeast, or it's going to feed a potential or existing yeast overgrowth situation. Balanced intestinal flora are not just important for digestive health … but 80% of the immune system lives in your dog’s gut, so this will strengthen her immune system as well.
I encourage you to put your pet on an 'anti-yeast diet’ such as Nutriment Raw. The beauty of an anti-yeast diet is it is also an anti-inflammatory and biologically appropriate diet.
Yeast needs sugar as a source of energy. Carbohydrates break down into sugar. In the wild, the foods your dog’s ancestors ate (as well as the foods that our human ancestors ate), contained about 4% starch. Most commercial pet foods have ten times that amount!
Dietary sugar isn't just the white kind added to many pet treats and some pet foods. There are 'secret,' hidden forms of sugar that can also feed yeast overgrowth. So if your dog is yeasty, you'll need to carefully read his pet food and treat labels and avoid any product containing honey, high fructose corn syrup, white potatoes and even sweet potatoes which can often be found in grain free kibble and in complete raw diets.
If your dog has a significant yeast problem, I recommend you go entirely sugar-free. Feed low-glycaemic veggies. Eliminate potatoes, corn, wheat, rice – all the carbohydrates need to be eliminated in a sugar-free diet. This is really an important step. I wish I could tell you yeast is easy to treat and avoid without addressing diet, but it isn't. Your pet needs to eat a diet that helps keep their normal flora levels healthy and balanced.
The second thing I recommend is adding some natural anti-fungal foods to his diet, like a small amount of garlic or oregano. These foods are both anti-fungal and anti-yeast and can be beneficial in helping reduce the yeast level in your dog's body. Coconut oil is also very beneficial in controlling yeast.
Cleaning Yeasty Ears
In addition to providing an anti-yeast diet and anti-fungal foods, the third thing you must do to help your dog overcome a yeast infection is to clean yeasty body parts.
This can be often overlooked, but an almost-free step in addressing a yeast overgrowth in pets.
Typically, a vet will hand a client with a yeasty dog a cream, salve or dip, with instructions to just keep applying it to the infected area. The problem with this approach is that as yeast dies off, it forms layers of dead yeast on top of layers of dead yeast. Unless you remove the dead yeast and disinfect the skin, adding loads of ointment to layers of dead yeast can actually exacerbate the problem. So cleaning the parts of your dog's body that are yeasty is very important.
If your pet's ears are yeasty, you'll have to clean them daily. Just as some people produce lots of earwax and clean their ears daily, while others produce almost no earwax, the same applies to dogs. Some almost never need their ears cleaned, while others need a daily cleaning.
The frequency is entirely dependent on how much debris your dog's ears produce. So if your dog has really dirty ears throughout the summer months, you'll need to clean them every day during that period.
If you check your dog's ears and they're clean, dry and have no odor, you can skip a day of cleaning. Again, the amount of cleaning should correlate with the amount of debris built up in the ear. If you don't clean out that debris, it won't magically disappear on its own. It will grow from wax, to yeast, to a raging bacterial infection unless you deal with it.
You can clean your dog's ears with witch hazel and large cotton balls. Use as many cotton balls as it takes to remove all the debris from the ears at each cleaning. Do not put Q-tips down into the canals of your dog's ears.
Anti-Yeast Bath and Soothing Massage Oil
If your dog has yeast overgrowth on their skin, disinfecting their entire body, if just their paws seem to be effected then just bathe the paws.
Apple cider vinegar is a great solution for yeast, especially for dogs who love the water (because yeast loves water and moist, damp skin).
Fill a squeeze bottle (the kind with a long pointy end) with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Stick it in your dog’s fur and squeeze. Massage it around your dog’s body, and don’t forget the belly area too. This will help restore your dog’s healthy pH levels and discourage yeast.
Then, once a week, or more if needed, massage yeasty areas with this coconut oil mixture:
Let extra virgin coconut oil melt in a small glass bottle holding about 8 oz. Add 10 drops of lavender oil and 2 drops of lemon essential oil. Shake to mix and massage it into your dog’s skin.
This coconut oil mix will last several months. Store it in a dark place. This recipe is from Rita Hogan of Farm Dog Naturals (FarmDogNaturals.com).
For Dogs with Stubborn or Recurring Yeast Infections
For many dogs, yeast problems are seasonal. When the temperature and humidity levels rise each year, they get yeasty and stinky. If this is the case with your dog, the summer months are when you'll need to be vigilant about cleaning your pet and addressing any dietary issues that might be contributing to the problem.
However, if your dog has year-round yeast problems – whether it's 90 degrees outside or the dead of winter – you should be thinking about potential immune system issues.
If your dog is overwhelmed with yeast, it's likely their immune system isn't operating at 100 percent.
Remember it may take 2-3 months to really see the benefits because it has taken many months/years to build up to this level of allergy.
Reference Dr Karen Becker & Dana Scott, Dogs Naturally Magazine