With this one I’ll get right to the point- No.
All probiotics are definitely not created equal, and how can they be with so many strains and different species of bacteria and yet, there is a lot of variety out on the market when it comes to probiotic supplements and even foods that contain live bacterial cultures.
When it comes to food choices you have things like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, etc. All great choices as food grade probiotics, I personally like coconut milk kefir, not only because it’s dairy free and I make it myself and it tastes delicious, but because of how it makes me feel.
However, I want to shed some light on probiotic supplements because let’s face it, when you need it, you need it!
Interestingly, when I started my career in the nutraceutical industry what was boasted as the ‘best’ at the time was to look for probiotics on the market with many different strains, in fact the more strains the better! When it came to the bacteria count, again the more the better. You see as high as 100 billion count with more that 8, 10, 15+ strains on the market, so is more really better?
What if I told you the probiotics I’ve had the most success with, both using myself and recommending to others with tremendous success had no more that 2-3 strains!
Crazy I know! That is because I don’t quite frankly care about the quantity of what I’m getting, rather, I care about performance.
I care about what specific strains do in the gut, can they even last in the gut? Do they cancel each other out in the gut? And if I’m taking in a probiotic that has a rainbow of strains, how do we know they’re actually not competing with each other? Remember this is live bacteria we are talking about. For example, let’s look at the three strains Bacillus mesentericus, Clostridium butyricum and Streptococcus faecalis, these three strains have been actually studied together for over 60 years in Japan, and they found that not only did they not cancel each other out, they actually boost each other, ‘they play well in the sand box’ to put in other words. That is called a symbiotic relationship. Not only are they extremely effective, but they actually inhibit bad bacterial growth, which is something we need to really consider when shopping for probiotics, how do you know the components in there aren’t feeding the bad guys?! Scary I know…
Look for probiotics that have the strains studied together, not apart, and remember that more does not always necessarily mean better.
If you are unsure what probiotics are best for your pet at their current stage in their health and wellness journey, come see us, we would be happy to discuss bacteria with you! The good that is ;)
This is my home-made organic fruit and vegetable medley I make for my pets for a number of reasons;
To boost their nutrition intake, adding a source of prebiotic fiber, antioxidants, and to add extra calories to their food as a way of ‘bulking’ up their diet. For those who think that they ‘don’t need vegetables’ have neglected to do their homework. In fact, a very well-known holistic veterinarian has even gone as far as saying fruit and vegetables should make up to 25% of their diet- even though industry standards say no more than 15%!
So here it is;
Stores in refrigerator for 5 days or can pour in molds and freeze for long term use.
Great as frozen treats or to accompany meals.
With ‘grain-free’ this and ‘grain-free’ that, everyone is practically obsessed with the phrase grain free! “What do you feed your pet?”, “Oh I feed a good brand of kibble- it’s grain free!”.
Does that necessarily mean that your pet is out of the woods? Unfortunately, not.
You see, kibble needs some sort of a starch so that it can bind, and of course, when something is removed that also means that something is added. And unfortunately, with what is added comes at a price. The trend I’m seeing now is kibble foods that are high in legumes, which means that you just switched your dog and cat from a grain-based diet to now a high lectin diet, which I’m afraid can be worse.
You see, a high lectin and phytate diet overtime can actually erode the precious mucosal layer of cells that line the stomach wall, literally eroding a hole in the stomach lining- what does that mean? Think Leaky Gut, IBS, over active immune system, etc.
Above all that, canines and especially felines lack the enzymes such as phytase to break down the proteins and substances such as phytates in these foods. Phytates are substances that carnivores can't break down and they bind to minerals, leeching them out of your pet's body.
Now let’s talk sugar, conventional dry pet foods (and even prescription diet kibbles) can exceed over 40-50% in total carbohydrates, that means that about half of the food is compromised of nonessential simple sugars. Yet, when you call the manufacturer and ask about sugar content a typical response would be that they do not add any sugar, and yet we know that carbohydrates are broken down into sugar (glucose) in the body, feeding inflammation and chronically spiking glucose levels which can lead to diabetes and obesity.
A simple equation can be applied to find out the exact % of carbs (sugar) in your pet's food;
100-% protein- % fat- % moisture -% ash (if not listed, assume 6%) = % carbs
For more information feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you with your pets well being journey every step of the way, and to transition to a more wholesome diet appropriate for your pet's breed and age.
Taking a pro-active approach to your pet’s health is one of the best decisions you can ever make as a pet guardian.
One area to never neglect of course, whether you choose natural or otherwise is de-worming. When dogs and cats are fed a species appropriate diet they become a not so ‘inviting’ host for parasites to thrive on, that being said, it is still very possible and probable to collect parasites along the way and in that case: consider olive leaf extract.
But first, lets talk about the overall benefits, as that alone has several impressive studies to back this antioxidant rich powerhouse. Olea europaea has been around since the biblical times, in fact, the olive plant is referenced several times in the bible. Both olive leaf and oils are found to have high concentrations of phenolics, tocopherols, flavonoids, antioxidant power, and the leaves also contain chlorophyll and carotenoid concentrations.
The study also concluded that by adding olive leaf to the oil it progressed it’s shelf life thanks to its uber antioxidant properties, “The enrichment of the oils with antioxidant compounds from the leaves also led to a remarkable increase in the nutritional quality of the Oueslati oil…
…In conclusion, the addition of a small percentage of olive leaves could improve the nutraceutical properties of extra virgin olive oil by increasing the phenolic compound content. These compounds, together with tocopherols, play a protective role against oxidative stress, being also able to extend the extra virgin olive oil shelf-life due to their antioxidative properties.” (Tarchoune, Sgherri, Eddouzzi, Zinnai, Quartacci, Zarrouk. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2019).
So, what does this all mean for our beloved pets?
Olive leaf proves to show its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiparasitic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and neuroprotective properties- just to name a few!
Another study proved that both inflammatory and cancer cell models show that olive leaf polyphenols are anti-inflammatory and protect against DNA damage initiated by free radicals.
Animal studies prove, “It has been associated with numerous health benefits including the ability to: lower blood pressure in rats, decrease plasma glucose concentrations in rats, inhibit the growth of microbes grown on agar plates, inhibit cultured parasitic protozoans and has also shown the ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cell models: colorectal, breast and prostate.” (Boss, Bishop, Marlow, Barnett, Ferguson. U.S National Library of Medicine, 2016).
Another good thing to note is that OLE only kills the harmful bacteria, not the good, and is proven to be a great source to combat yeast (candida) infections (yeast buildup in ears, mouldy 'cheesy' smell, greying skin, itching, yeasty paws, etc.)
One should also take care to get OLE from a good and reputable source as not all herbs and supplements are created equal, and to dose accordingly, because as we all know, too much of a good thing can end up not being a good thing. It is best to treat OLE like medicine, in the right dose it will do the trick, but too much medicine is, well, too much medicine. OLE can be an integral part for any deworming protocol however, it is always best to speak with your vet/ holistic vet when introducing something new to your pet.
We at Thrive4life Holistic Pet stand by only quality products, ensuring you that only the best is provided for your beloved four-legged member of the family.
“Sure”, I said reluctantly, when my vet called me about a case of an 11-month old German Sheppard who was being scheduled to put down, even though he was clinically healthy, but such a case that his owners did not know what to do with him, no shelter would touch him. Of course, who do you call? The girl on a farm apparently.
“He is very nervous and anxious, especially around people, he knocked down his owner’s wife”, said my vet.
I inevitably said I would take him in because I did not want the animal destroyed over what I thought was ‘not enough a reason' to end a life, but I had no intention on keeping him. I already had two large breed dogs and five cats (all on raw), I did not need another raw mouth to feed! I also realized I said I would take him sight unseen, I really did not know what I was thinking.
I was going to merely ‘fix’ him as best I could to re-home him, but in order to do that I needed to dig a little further.
So, I contacted the owner, asked him a lot of questions, I could tell by his voice over the phone that he seemed sad about it, but I asked and asked away. I asked him why he even picked the dog anyway, he said, "he was the only pup who left his mother and siblings to be with my kids", and right then and there I knew that nothing was wrong with the dog, not neurologically anyway, he was just a product of being in the wrong environment, but even though, I remembered telling him that if this did not work out (I had other 4-legged family members to think about), he was going to have to come right back to him in London. He told me he would hope that would not be the case and that he probably wouldn’t be able to do that…
…I let out a big sigh…looked up at the ceiling, and a thought came to me. I don’t even know his name...
...“What’s his name?”, I asked.
“Monty”, he said.
My eyes immediately welled up and my voice started to shake, “Okay”, I said, "I'll take him".
You see, Monty was the name of my 7-month-old German Sheppard pup I had lost a few years ago due to a tragic accident, a devastating time that had left me asking why.
I immediately felt a cosmic connection and decided to take him. The plan remained the same though, I was going to take him in to ‘fix’ and re-home him to a house hold where he would be the only pet, the only star of the show, the only one to spoil. He would only get lost in the shuffle in my crazy farm life house-hold!
I was working at a health food store at the time and was in for my shift, knowing Monty was going to be dropped off in the afternoon, I thought about going home with a bottle of Boch flower remedy tincture, supposedly to help animals who are highly stressed. I though this would help him.
So, later on that day I pulled up on my very long driveway to my fenced area where a beautifully bred German Shepherd was barking and growling profusely at me. The minute I laid eyes on him I knew he was special, I just knew, and if a dog can look intelligent, well, that’s how he looked. I went in the house to change before I went out to meet him.
I finally went in to introduce myself, and to slip him some of that remedy. To my surprise, he was taking it very well, straight from the dropper in fact! I thought to myself, ‘Well, this is easy!’, a couple seconds later, Monty went right behind me and nipped me right from the behind! Yep, thank goodness I was wearing sweat pants! Put a hole right in it too!
Of course, my father saw all this unfolding and let me just say, he was not very happy. This dog’s attitude was a product of no boundaries, lack of leadership and lack of direction. The German Shepherd is a breed that needs direct leadership, they crave it in fact, or else, you will make a monster. They don’t necessarily need a ‘mommy’, they need a partner, a leader, any one who has ever had a Shepherd can attest to this.
Monty taught me a lot, a lot about his breed, a lot about myself, and a lot about canine behavior, but most of all, about energy. I never met a dog more in tune with energy, it’s wild. I can write a book just on that!
Three days later and a completely different dog! I still remember how my hands used to shake every time I would try to latch the leash onto his collar!
There were times where it was very hard, let me just say, I used to be a rabbit owner (R.I.P Angel), and times that were very easy, but that is a relationship. Some days it was one-step forward and two-steps back, but Monty taught me a lot, especially about people, as a psychology major, I picked up on a few things that I used to miss before.
I personally believe that animals are here on this earth to help and teach us, if we allow, and to touch us in ways we never thought possible.
Now, you are probably wondering, did I end up keeping him? where is Monty now?
After about a year, Monty stopped acting like the devil himself (more or less) and got more sociable and used to people. My mother mentioned that a friend of ours had been on the property a few times now and absolutely loves Monty and wants to take him home for his family.
She said, -“We should consider it, two large breed dogs are more than enough for us and we really should ‘lighten’ our load, what do you think?”.
Monty continues to reside on ‘his’ farm with his pet guardian Lucy. He has also joined a Schutzhund club and loves it! He was made to excel at the sport. He has found his purpose.
We aren’t the only ones who are affected by this epidemic. Stress puts a lot of strain on our immunity and on our DNA. Dr. Oz did a whole segment on stress and how it actually affects and modifies our DNA. Do our pets suffer the same? Answer is yes.
Just like us stress affects our pets too, they may not have tight deadlines or have bills to pay, but stressors like inflammation, exercise, medications, separation or any kind of anxiety, disease, all these things can put a lot of stress on them and you better believe takes a toll on their system, not just psychologically but physiologically as well. Their immune system takes a hit and gets affected just like ours does. So, what to do?
Enter Bovine Colostrum. There was a study published by the British Journal of Nutrition to evaluate the immunomodulatory effect of dietary supplementation of bovine colostrum in dogs. The dogs were randomized in 2 groups and both groups were fed a nutritionally balanced diet, at the end of the ‘pre-test’ phase, all dogs received a canine distemper virus (CDV) vaccine, and the dogs in the ‘test group’ were switched to a diet supplemented with BC. “Response to the CDV vaccine was evaluated by measuring vaccine-specific plasma IgG levels. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue response was assessed by measuring faecal IgA levels. Gut microbiota were evaluated by the temporal temperature gel electrophoresis methodology. Dogs fed the BC-supplemented diet demonstrated a significantly higher vaccine response and higher levels of faecal IgA when compared with the control group. Supplementing diets with BC also resulted in significantly increased gut microbiota diversity and stability in the test group. In conclusion, diets supplemented with BC significantly influence immune response in dogs.” (British Journal of Nutrition, 2013). In addition, a study was also conducted on sled pulling dogs, two control groups were used, one supplemented with BC and one without after a sled run. Dogs who were fed the BC had a significant increase in recovery and immune support versus the ones who weren’t. Bovine colostrum significantly increases the diversity in the microbiome, hence promoting healthy gut microbiota, which as we know is 80% of our immune system.
Furthermore, evidence suggests, it increases natural antibodies and other bio actives as well as balancing beneficial and potentially harmful intestinal bacteria. These findings could be relevant for improving protective immune and gut responses to various stress factors including infections, allergies, etc.
If you are planning on supplementing your pet with BC, make sure it is from a good quality grass fed source. If your pet has severe medical issues, always consult with your vet or holistic vet when introducing anything new to your pet.
We all love our pets and want them to be happy and healthy, but sometimes the things we give them makes their cells very unhappy.
Studies continue to prove that an overweight cat or dog, even though they are still not technically obese, still have a higher chance to get certain diseases like cancer, diabetes, thyroid disease, to name just a few!
Of course, we don’t want that, so what do we do? What do we feed? Simple.
Cutting calories is of course essential to weight loss, but also remembering that not all calories are created equal, and since inflammation feeds obesity, there are two things we can do that are in our control:
So, what is the best diet that you can feed to eliminate this problem or better yet, prevent it is a balanced good quality raw diet. Surprised?
Not only is raw free of aalll the unnecessary carbohydrates that are really just making your pet fatter, but it is very bioavailable, meaning your pet’s body knows exactly what to do with those calories, using it as fuel and not storing it as fat. Not to mention, it won’t spike their insulin levels, so they won’t constantly be in a pro-flammatory state. The raw food we sell is completely balanced, very low in carbohydrates and hormone free, with added coconut oil to boot so you don’t have to!
Can’t I just feed a prescription weight loss food?
What would you rather live off for the rest of your life, diet ‘cardboard’ tasting food or real fresh whole foods?
Besides, here are some of the ingredients in most commercial prescription weight loss foods:
Canine joint health has always been an extremely important topic for me as I have owned only large breed dogs my entire life. Not to say that joint health is not as important to small and medium sized dogs or even cats, but I find it is the larger breeds that seem to age the quickest and are affected more severely by arthritis and other joint diseases.
What is Glucosamine & Chondroitin?
They both contain glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate which are components of natural joint cartilage and other types of structural tissue. Both are traditionally used to reduce pain and improve joint function in individuals with arthritis.
However, my use for it regarding Monty, my German Shepherd, is not for pain nor arthritis, as he is only 3 years old, very active and has absolutely no pain or signs that he is slowing down. So, why supplement him?
Consider it as an insurance policy and maintenance. Breeds such as German Shepherds who are prone to joint diseases can greatly benefit from G&Ch supplementation when they are younger adults because both ingredients help provide structural support for soft joint tissue. Chondroitin in particular provides resistance against compression forces, while glucosamine provides support for the building and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid, which surrounds the joints and helps cushion them. Let’s also not forget the sulphate portion of these compounds which is very important, since the body requires sulphate to produce cartilage.
Supplementing with G&Ch at a younger age does not give a guarantee that they will by pass arthritis and other joint issues all together, but it can reduce the chances, as most vets agree it is not a bad idea to supplement breeds who are younger adults that are prone to joint diseases down the line. In fact, some DVMs who specialize in athletes promote G&Ch supplementation as young as 3 years and younger for longevity, as supplementation can work on a deeper level for suspensory ligaments. Also note that G&Ch is not a one trick pony and does not work in isolation, it’s uses can go far beyond just joint health, it can be a catalyst for a symphony of things, such as promoting gut health.
Now if you feed kibble and the package claims to provide joint support because it already contains glucosamine, consider this; dogs need about 500 mg of glucosamine per day per 25 lbs of body weight, so a 100 lb dog would require 2000 mg a day, for some kibbles you would need to feed over 40 cups a day to get that amount! Not to mention that it’s most likely from an overly-processed low quality source, but that is a different article all together!
Now, along with supplementing Monty with G&Ch that actually is from a sustainable food source, there are foods I feed that naturally contain these components which are; natural bovine tendons, cartilage, trachea, chicken feet, beef knuckle bones or other bones with good cartilage, green or blue lipped muscles and bone broth. He loves it!
Fun fact: 1 oz piece of bovine trachea has about 1400 mg of glucosamine. A chicken foot has about 400 mg of glucosamine.
Remember to always feed raw and never cooked bones of any kind.
Unlike felines who are obligate carnivores, canines are omnivorous scavengers, now to me that says everything!
I believe canines do need vegetation even though some argue that they do not, or that they don’t break it down well, which there are ways around that…
…I’m sure almost every dog owner by now has seen their dog pick at a blade of grass or two, which that alone says that it serves a purpose. I believe vegetation at the appropriate quantities can be very beneficial for dogs, especially herbs whether dry or fresh, especially if they not have access to it at their own will. For instance, I love giving my dogs cucumbers from my garden in the summer time as it is very cooling and has liver decongestant properties as well, plus a great way to add more hydration into their food, now if I were to give it to them whole, chances are that it would pass right through them, and make it a challenge for their bodies to process. Hence, I either finely mince it or I make it into a puree and add it to their food mixed in. We can definitely do things to make it easier for their bodies to digest vegetation such as steaming spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Studies show that vegetation in a carnivores digestive tract builds their microbiome, when in fact meat alone does not build the microbiome.
In the fall, I like to add things like pumpkin and squash as a puree base as well for added minerals such as magnesium, potassium and vitamin A, why?
If you notice the trend that I’m going with here is that I tend to follow the seasons and look to nature as my guide to nutrition, whatever is in season is what I tend to go for- both for me and for them! Studies show that produce grown during it’s ideal growing period contains more nutrients than when grown out of season. Now is there anything wrong with feeding pumpkin in the summer time?- certainly not! But I like to give my pets a break from certain foods, and as I do that, something else comes into season!
It is no secret that I am a big fan of supplementation, not just for myself, but also for my four-legged family as well. I am a firm believer that the right supplementation in the right dose in the right time can lead to tremendous health success down the road.
Let’s first go over why we need to supplement our pets, even if they are fed a balanced, species appropriate diet.
1. A balancing act of ‘Essential’ fatty acids: I want to shine the light on omega-3s because it is an essential fatty acid, essential meaning their bodies do not produce it, unlike omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids, Arachidonic Acid (AA) is not essential to supplement with because they ingest plenty of precursors for it when they eat meat, hence their body can make it. However, incorrect ratios of AA are involved in inflammation and once inflammation starts it can be a precursor to many other conditions. This is why it is important to supplement your pets with omega-3s, to offset the proinflammatory response omega-6s can catalyze. The omega-3 pathway inhibits the inflammatory effects of the AA pathway. So, the more omega-3s ingested, the less inflammation they experience. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 2:1.
Fact: Free range chicken eggs have about twice as much omega-6 to omega-3, but conventionally raised chicken eggs have 20 times more omega-6 to omega-3! This awkward ratio 20:1 is unfortunately what most western diets consist of, both for humans and for our beloved pets.
2. Not enough: Even the cleanest and most organic foods are lacking what we and they need in terms of vitamins and minerals-why? Because our soils are not what they used to be. Thirty years ago, a woman would have to eat two peaches to haver her vitamin A content met, now she needs to eat about 50! Our soils are so depleted, as a farmer myself I know this, that is why feeding supplements and fortified foods to all my animals is so important, otherwise they just simply do not get enough of what they need which can lead to a lot of problems down the road.
3. Prevention: This reason alone is why I supplement everyday. I do not want to hear a negative diagnosis to start doing something for my pets’ health. I want to start right away by preventing inflammation, which inflammation alone is a catalyst to so many conditions and diseases, boosting their immune system and making sure I give their bodies the tools it needs to do its job in the most optimal way, and that is why I supplement.
So now let’s talk about how to supplement and pick the right supplements for your pets. Always chose quality products that are backed up by the brands’ guarantees and research studies. Price is also a reflection of quality so remember that, for instance, an unlabeled ‘bulk’ type of supplement that is priced cheaper is clearly not going to give you any type of guarantee regarding purity and negative heavy metal testing. Always feel free to reach out to companies and take their response to your inquiries into consideration as well, if they are being very helpful and ‘open-book’ minded that is a good sign. For a more customized approach contact your local pet health food store to start or fine tune a supplement regime that works well for you and your pet(s), because healthy pets are happy pets!
Lucy is an avid pet mom; with dogs, cats, goats and horses to keep her busy! All of her pet 'kids' are fed a species appropriate diet with proper supplementation so she can watch them thrive. Her expertise and experience lie in nutraceutical supplementation and is a health advocate for proper diet and nutrition.