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Fecal Transplant: Is It Right For Your Dog?



fecal transplant: is it right for your dog?

Does your dog have any kind of chronic health condition? If so, a fecal transplant or Microbiome Restorative Therapy (MBRT) can provide a powerful solution. 

MBRT is a fancy way of saying fecal transplants. In fecal transplants, we transplant gut microorganisms from a healthy dog to a sick one. The goal is to restore the sick dog’s gut to a healthy state. 

You may be thinking “ick – that’s gross and I’d never do it to my dog.”

But wait! Don’t go away! Because research shows that fecal transplants in dogs really do heal disease. And it all starts with your dog’s microbiome …

What’s The Microbiome?

The microbiome (or microbiota) contains all the microbes that live in our bodies. That includes bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, protozoa, and fungi.

They live on every body surface that connects to the outside world, including … 

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Lungs
  • Bladder
  • Uterus
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Skin 

In humans, there are even beneficial microbes in the brain. 

These microbes are generally non-pathogenic. That means they don’t cause disease. They exist in harmony with their host. And the microbes live symbiotically with the host as well … meaning the microbes and the body support each other. 

The Body Has Trillions Of Microbes

The numbers are staggering. There are trillions of microbes in the human body. That’s 10 times more microbial cells than human cells … and more stars than the Milky Way. If we lined up the microbes end-to-end, they’d circle the earth 2.5 times. We have 150 times more microbes than genes! And the numbers are very similar in our canine friends. 

And there are more than 10,000 different species of microbes living in and around the human body. Our dogs (who love eating and rolling in all sorts of nasty things), may have even greater diversity. 

Even the inside of our cells harbors a certain kind of microbe known as mitochondria. Mitochondria are descendants of primordial bacteria. They generate most of the chemical energy that powers our cells. 

To me, these statistics are awe-inspiring. They make me question everything I learned in vet school … and life! 

Every Microbiome Is Unique

As individuals, we each have our own unique microbiome. It’s as personal as a fingerprint. 

So … are we just a giant heap of microbes held together by cell membranes and connective tissue? And, if we’re more microbes than cells, who’s in charge? Where do our thoughts, drives, desires, and behaviors come from?

Recent discoveries about the microbiome put a whole new spin on healing. They’re causing a revolution in thinking and treating. And it’s humbling to think how little we still know. 

What causes disease? Should we treat the cells and focus on their dysfunction? Or should we aim to improve the health and diversity of our microbes? 

I believe that the future of medicine is in treating the microbiome.

For one thing, it’s much more accessible and manipulable than the genome. But it’s also because of its influence on the cells and the chemicals they produce to help them function.

What Disrupts The Microbiome

If the biome holds the key to health, we must examine everything that can disturb and damage it. 

We know that many drugs and chemicals kill the army of supporters in and around the body. These include …

  • Antibiotics
  • Disinfectants
  • Dewormers
  • Pest preventatives (pesticides)
  • Household and yard chemicals
  • Environmental toxins

How do these substances affect the biome and cells? And what about the food we feed our dogs? Are we feeding the microbiome so that the microbes can feed the cells? Or are we causing malfunction with harmful diets that alter the composition of the biome?

There are still more questions than answers. But if we consider what nature intended (including dogs eating feces) … perhaps we can stop the massive destruction we’ve achieved in just a few decades.

RELATED: Feed your dog’s microbiome …

Why Gut Health Matters

About 95% of microbes live in the gut. And we can trace about 90% of diseases to the gut and an unhealthy gut biome.

The results I see from treating my animal patients’ gut biome are incredible. It makes me realize that fecal transplants for dogs are one of the most potent therapies we have. It’s the way to go … at least until we dive even further into the unknown!

Unhealthy Gut Leads To Disease

A huge number of diseases stem from a dysfunctional gastrointestinal tract. Here are a few of them … 

  • Allergies
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancers
  • Asthma
  • Most inflammatory conditions
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic issues
  • Behavioral abnormalities

RELATED: Leaky gut in dogs …  

Where Microbes Come From

Your dog’s initial exposure to microbes came from her journey through the birth canal. And then from her mother’s milk. Dogs also replenish their digestive flora by eating feces.

As disgusting as it sounds, “eating shit” promotes a healthy life. Animals seem to know this instinctively.

Daisy, a very proper Poodle lady, used to be very picky about the poop she’d choose. On our walks, she paid no attention to some horse manure piles …  while others were a delicacy.

Foals often eat their mother’s feces as they transition to eating more solid food. Horses with gastrointestinal (GI) issues may also dine on their pasture-mate’s poop … to try to heal their gut.

In the wild, dogs and cats first feast on the intestines of their prey. This provides large amounts of microorganisms. Dogs also enjoy a buffet of rotting carcasses to increase their intake of microbes.

What The Microbiome Does

The microbiome plays a major role in health – physical as well as mental. Here are some of the things it does.

  • Manages gut development (intestinal maturation)
  • Inhibits pathogens
  • Digests food
  • Protects the mucosal barrier (preventing leaky gut)
  • Regulates hormones
  • Excretes toxins
  • Produces vitamins and other healing compounds
  • Trains the immune system and modulates immune response
  • Produces secretory IgA (immunoglobulins)
  • Supports neural development
  • Synthesizes neurotransmitters (the GI tract makes 90% of serotonin)

More than 80% of the body’s immune system lives in the GI tract. So it’s easy to see that GI health is paramount to the entire body.

Many studies are underway in the animal field. There’s a new journal, Animal Microbiome, that publishes emerging research. 

In humans, the microbiome plays a role in autoimmune and other chronic diseases like …

  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Allergies
  • Some cancers

An imbalance in the microbiome may even cause obesity. 

Gut microbes play an important role in producing neurotransmitters. So a disturbance in the gut flora affects the brain. This may drive psychological disorders like depression, dementia, aggression or anxiety.

RELATED: Are dog behavior problems linked to gut health?

Fecal Transplants Aren’t New

Fecal transplants have been around since the 4th century. An ancient Chinese researcher named Ge Hong used what he called yellow soup to treat his patients with severe diarrhea. German physicians wrote a stool recipe book about treating GI illnesses. 

But in modern medicine, fecal transplantation in humans is in its infancy. It’s currently only FDA-approved for Clostridium difficile infections.

Fortunately, veterinary medicine is much more advanced. More and more veterinarians are using MBRT in their practices. There are different ways to perform fecal transplants in dogs … including both rectal and oral methods.

And, as I noted earlier, some dogs do their own “transplants” when they eat poop. You might not have realized it was so good for them! Your four-legged companion may have already prepared you for this disgusting idea.

The Transplant Recipient

The transplantation process is very simple (as you’ll see in the video below). But, for the best results, you need to do some preparation. 

When you implant a healthy biome into a hostile environment, it’s harder for it to survive. So it’s best to decrease inflammation in the gut beforehand. 

In my practice, we do this by:

  • Testing for food sensitivities.
  • Eliminating pro-inflammatory foods … meaning no processed foods with poor quality ingredients and high levels of carbohydrates.
  • Adding probiotics, digestive enzymes plus an immune support product. These supplements strengthen the tight junctions in the gut lining. This promotes better communication between microorganisms. 

Finding A Donor Dog

Finding a healthy dog to be a fecal donor can be tricky. There are several important criteria for donors:

  • Excellent health.
  • Free from chemical exposure (as much as possible).
  • Preferably not de-sexed.
  • Raised on a raw diet (donor and ancestors).
  • Long-lived with much exposure to nature (again, donor and ancestors).
  • A happy disposition.
  • No antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other microbiome-damaging chemicals … any time in their lives.

The donor dog must pass an array of tests to verify health. This helps avoid transferring unwanted pathogens.

RELATED: Which probiotics work best for dogs …

Who Can Benefit?

In my practice, almost every dog gets a fecal transplant even if they don’t have any obvious signs of disease. Most animals I see have had antibiotics or other compromising drugs at some point in their lives.

Symptoms and diseases that MBRT can help are:

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Neurological issues
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Skin conditions
  • Various types of cancers
  • Lyme disease and other infections
  • Kidney and liver issues
  • Chronic ear infections

We’re still discovering the far-reaching effects of our friendly microbe cohabitants.  There’s infinite potential for improvement in many other conditions as well.

This video shows one of my patients getting a fecal transplant.

Two Case Histories

These two case histories show how giving your dog a fecal transplant can resolve stubborn problems. 

#1 Bear’s IBD

Bear is a German Shepherd with longstanding inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  He was a police dog … but his health issues and high anxiety prevented him from doing his job. 

I met him after he’d gone through a battery of tests and treatments. He’d had food sensitivity testing and switched to a raw diet. 

Despite all these efforts his gut health was still suffering. But with poop to the rescue, he had normal stool a few days after his fecal transplant. 

His family sent me this joyful email a couple of days after the procedure: “Bear’s poop is formed and soft. Color is improving. All he wants to do is play! His energy level is off the charts!” 

Bear’s fecal quality continued to improve to become normal.

#2 Hudson’s Skin Disease

Hudson is a middle-aged Labrador Retriever. He’d suffered from skin allergies and recurring ear infections his entire life. 

When I met him he was already on a raw diet. His owners had tried many different therapies. At that time his skin was out of control. Hudson’s quality of life was seriously compromised. 

He did get some medication at first, to keep him comfortable. Then we tested for food sensitivities and eliminated the foods he was sensitive to. We prepared his gut with the usual protocol … then he received a fecal transplant. 

Since the transplant, he’s completely changed in appearance. He’s regained his joy for life and mischief! A repeat transplant quickly resolved a brief flare-up this spring.


Chaitman J, Gaschen F. Fecal microbiota transplantation in dogs. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2021 Jan;51(1):219-233. 

Redfern A, Suchodolski J, Jergens A. Role of the gastrointestinal microbiota in small animal health and disease. Vet Rec. 2017 Oct 7;181(14):370.

Blake AB et al.  Altered microbiota, fecal lactate, and fecal bile acids in dogs with gastrointestinal disease. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 31;14(10):e0224454. 

Wernimont SM et al. The effects of nutrition on the gastrointestinal microbiome of cats and dogs: Impact on health and disease. Front Microbiol. 2020 Jun 25;11:1266. 

Poling HMet al. Mechanically induced development and maturation of human intestinal organoids in vivo. Nat Biomed Eng. 2018 Jun;2(6):429-442. 

Warner BB. The contribution of the gut microbiome to neurodevelopment and neuropsychiatric disorders. Pediatr Res. 2019 Jan;85(2):216-224. 

Ma, Q., Xing, C., Long, W. et al. Impact of microbiota on central nervous system and neurological diseases: the gut-brain axis. J Neuroinflammation. 2019;16:53. 

Chaitman Jet al. Fecal microbial and metabolic profiles in dogs with acute diarrhea receiving either fecal microbiota transplantation or oral metronidazole. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Apr 16;7:192. 

Pereira GQ, et al. Fecal microbiota transplantation in puppies with canine parvovirus infection. J Vet Intern Med. 2018 Mar;32(2):707-711. 

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Dog Healthcare

Imported dog develops rabies, investigation initiated



imported dog develops rabies, investigation initiated

June 21, 2021 – Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and New York are undergoing a public health survey after an imported rescue dog is found to be rabies.

At least 12 people were exposed to the dog, including 33 dogs and a cat who arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from Azerbaijan on June 10, the Associated Press reported.

The animals were not in the main cabin of the aircraft or in the main terminal of the airport. Travelers who have been to the airport are not considered at risk, but health officials are checking to see if other animals on the shipment are infected and are still looking for the pets’ new owners.

Rabies no longer spreads regularly among dogs in the United States, but imported animals are considered a risk for new outbreaks.

The infected dog was taken home by a family in Chester County, Pennsylvania, but was euthanized after acting strangely. It later tested positive for rabies.

This marks the fourth incident of rabies in a dog imported into the United States since 2015, the AP reported. From July 14, a one-year import ban will apply to dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies is still a problem, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced.

The ban comes because of an increase in the number of puppies refused entry because they weren’t old enough to be fully vaccinated, the AP said.

WebMD news from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2020 Health Day. All rights reserved.

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Dog Healthcare

Balancing Calcium In Homemade Dog Foods



balancing calcium in homemade dog foods

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your dog’s body. In fact, a 75 lb dog houses about a pound of calcium. Clearly, it’s an important mineral! But many raw and cooked foods get calcium wrong. And there are other minerals that support calcium that also need to be balanced.

This sounds complicated, and it can be! But we’ll break it down for you and make it easy for your dog to get the right amount of calcium (and other minerals too).

The Role Of Calcium In Dogs

About 99% of the calcium in your dog is stored in his bones. Along with phosphorus, calcium is critical for skeletal health so it’s important for dogs to get enough in their diets. The remaining calcium is mainly found in the blood and lymphatic system where it plays a role in hormone function, cell structure, enzyme activity, cardiovascular and immune function.

Calcium acts as a messenger that allows cells to respond to hormones and neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are found at the ends of nerves and they release calcium ions into the muscles and this influx of calcium causes the muscle to contract. In fact, rigor mortis happens because of calcium … after death, the muscle cell membranes become more permeable and allow more calcium in. Normally, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) works alongside calcium and is used to relax the muscles, but ATP is a byproduct of metabolism and the dead can’t produce energy. So the excess calcium causes the muscle contractions you see in rigor mortis.

Of course, rigor mortis is the ultimate calcium malfunction … but it shows the importance of keeping calcium levels within a very small range. If there’s too little or too much, your dog could develop seizures, loss of muscle control … and eventually death.

Low Calcium Levels In Dogs (Hypocalcemia)

If your dog’s food doesn’t have enough calcium, the parathyroid hormone will pull calcium out of his bones to keep circulating levels of calcium up. After weeks or months of this, you’ll start to see skeletal issues, such as rickets and bone loss. The typical signs you’ll see in your dog include stiffness, muscle twitching, limping and bone pain.

Insufficient calcium is much more sinister in puppies than in adult dogs. Puppies require more calcium to support their bone growth. Too little calcium in the puppy’s diet can cause osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), hip and elbow dysplasia and panosteitis. These issues can also happen if the ratio of calcium to phosphorus is out of balance.

Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

Insufficient calcium in the diet can cause a condition called nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism … especially if there’s a large amount of phosphorus and too little vitamin D in the diet. Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism happens when too much parathyroid hormone is produced and too much calcium is pulled from the bones. This weakens the bone (this is called osteopenia) and you’ll see neurological signs related to low blood calcium, such as muscle twitching and seizures. In most cases, nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism can be treated with proper levels of calcium and phosphorus.

Too Much Calcium (Hypercalcemia)

Hypercalcemia is too much calcium in the blood. While the parathyroid hormone releases calcium from bone when there’s too little calcium, the hormone calcitonin removes calcium from the blood and sends it into the bones. Most adult dogs can deal with large amounts of calcium in the diet … apart from constipation, they should have little trouble maintaining blood calcium levels. But puppies aren’t able to balance calcium as well as adults. Too much calcium can cause joint and skeletal issues, especially if the calcium isn’t balanced with phosphorus, other minerals and vitamin D.

If you’re feeding your dog or puppy a balanced diet for all life stages, then there should be enough calcium in the food … and it will probably be correctly balanced with phosphorus. But don’t just assume it does … the food must say “Complete and Balanced” on the label, otherwise the minerals may not be balanced. Foods have to meet minimum nutritional requirements set by the Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) before they can claim Complete and Balanced on the label.

Adding calcium supplements to complete and balanced foods, especially for puppies, should be avoided since they’re already balanced. If you’re feeding your dog a home cooked or home prepared raw diet, you’ll need to add calcium to his meals. Let’s look at the different sources of calcium and how much to give your dog.

How Much Calcium Do Dogs And Puppies Need?

If you want to get calcium right, you also need to get phosphorus right. Both minerals are tightly regulated in the body by the parathyroid hormone and vitamin D. Calcium needs to first be combined with phosphorus before it’s stored in bones … so just as too little calcium can cause skeletal issues in dogs, so can too little phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus combine to give bones their structure and strength.

If there’s too much phosphorus in the diet, calcium will be pulled from the bones to balance out the blood levels of phosphorus. So too much phosphorus in the diet will also weaken bones and cause calcium deposits in soft tissue. So when you’re adding calcium to homemade diets, you have to pay attention to both calcium and phosphorus. Here are three things you need to consider:

  1. How much calcium is in the food?
  2. How much phosphorus is in the food?
  3. What is the ratio of calcium to phosphorus?

AAFCO Calcium Requirements

AAFCO has set minimum and maximum requirements for the amount of both calcium and phosphorus in dog foods. We can also use AAFCO requirements to make sure our homemade diets have the right balance of calcium and phosphorus. Because puppies need larger amounts of calcium, there are different requirements for dogs and puppies:

Min CalciumMax CalciumMin PhosphorusMax PhosphorusMin Ca:PhMax Ca:Ph
1.25 g / 1,000 kcal6.25 g / 1,000kcal1 g / 1,000kcal4 g / 1,000kcal1:12:1

AAFCO/NRC Calcium and Phosphorus For Adult Dogs

Min CalciumMax CalciumMin PhosphorusMax PhosphorusMin Ca:PhMax Ca:Ph
3 g / 1,000 kcal6.25 g / 1,000kcal2.5 g / 1,000kcal4 g / 1,000kcal1:12:1

AAFCO/NRC Calcium and Phosphorus For Growth & Reproduction

Meat is very rich in phosphorus and contains very little calcium. On the other hand, bones are rich in both calcium and phosphorus with a Ca:Ph ratio that averages about 2:1. So an all-meat diet will be deficient in calcium and you need to add calcium in some form.

Many raw feeders add bone to their meals to balance the Ca:Ph ratio … but many raw fed dogs can’t eat bone. Senior dogs, dogs with poor teeth, small dogs and puppies can find it difficult to consume bone, putting them at risk for calcium deficiency. Plus, bones can splinter or break teeth. So many raw feeders add a different source of calcium to their foods.

Cooked foods can’t contain bones because bones must be fed raw. So cooked diets always need a source of calcium. So let’s take a look at calcium sources you can add to raw and cooked meals.

RELATED: How to make sure your do gets enough calcium from bones …

Calcium Supplements And Sources

There are several sources of calcium you can add to your dog’s food … but they’re not all the same and they’re not all suitable for puppies. The most common calcium supplements and foods you can add include:

  1. Eggshells
  2. Coral calcium
  3. Seaweed calcium
  4. Bone meal

Each calcium source has different amounts of minerals. Here’s the breakdown in dry matter:

Calcium SourceCalciumPhosphorusCa:PhMagnesium
Egg Shells33.7%0%0
Coral Calcium34%0.1%425:12.4%
Seaweed Calcium34.2%0.8%41.7:13.42%
Bone Meal19.3%9.3%2.1:12.46%

Nutrients (Dry Matter)

Of course, real bone is the gold standard when it comes to supplementing calcium. It has a Ca:Ph ratio of 2:1 so it contains a good amount of phosphorus and also contains magnesium and vitamin D. In comparison, seaweed and coral calcium contain very little phosphorus. And eggshells are drastically different from bone with no measurable amount of phosphorus or magnesium. This makes eggshells a fairly unnatural alternative to bone.

Let’s look at each source of calcium next and how much you need to add to your dog’s meals.

Adding Calcium To Homemade Foods

Kibble and most commercial pet foods are formulated on a dry matter basis (how much of a nutrient remains when the water weight of the food is removed). This works well for kibble because most kibble is the same … but raw and home cooked diets need to be formulated on a caloric basis because they contain a wide variety of calories from fat. Simply stated, this means “How much calcium is in 1,000 calories of food?”

Now, it would be simple and easy to say “Add 1 teaspoon of calcium supplement to 1 pound of food” … but fat contains twice as many calories per pound as protein and carbohydrate. This means the amount of food your dog eats every day depends on the fat content. So fresh diets need to be analyzed by calories, not dry matter.

With that said, here’s a breakdown of each calcium source and how well it will balance diets with various fat levels. We don’t recommend feeding a diet that’s over 20% fat … this would contain twice as much fat as protein and is not recommended for long-term health. Fat is relatively devoid of vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to feed no more than 20% fat without veterinary guidance. This is especially important for puppies and pregnant dogs because they will not be able to get enough nutrition from their food unless they eat too many calories. Remember, much of your dog’s meal is water weight, so a food that’s 20% fat will only contain about 10% protein. Ideally, you’ll want to feed 10% fat and certainly no more than 15% fat.

Egg Shells As A Source Of Calcium

While many home made diets use egg shells as a source of calcium, they’re deficient in other minerals. The amount to feed is about 1 teaspoon per pound of food, which is about 5 grams. Here’s how calcium balances the minerals in foods for adult dogs. As you can see, egg shells can only be used with very lean meats. If you feed more than 10% fat (including any oils you add to the food), your dog will not get enough phosphorus.

Adult Dogs

1 teaspoon Eggshell Powder (5 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)2.351.192:1
15% Fat (85% Lean)1.910.892.2:1
20% Fat (80% Lean)1.610.692.4:1
AAFCO Adult Minimum Requirements1.251.001:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal

Puppies & Pregnant/Nursing Dogs

Puppies need nearly double the amount of calcium as adult dogs. So if you double the amount of egg shells, there’s enough calcium in the diet. But because egg shells only contain calcium, it still won’t meet minimum AAFCO requirements for phosphorus. So eggshell powder is not recommended for growth and reproduction.

2 teaspoon Eggshell Powder (10 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)4.621.192:1
AAFCO Puppy Minimum Requirements3.002.501:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal. Minerals in red do not meet requirements.

Coral Calcium

Like egg shells, coral calcium is also extremely high in calcium but relatively low in phosphorus. This also makes coral calcium a poor choice for adult dogs eating a moderate to high fat diet. If you choose coral calcium as a calcium source, you need to make sure your dog’s meals are very lean or there can be a mineral imbalance and phosphorus deficiency. Feed 3/4 teaspoon per pound of food that’s no more than 10% fat. Any food that contains more than 10% fat will cause a phosphorus deficiency.

Adult Dogs

3/4 teaspoon Coral Calcium Powder (3.6 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)1.791.171.5:1
15% Fat (85% Lean)1.460.881.7:1
20% Fat (80% Lean)
AAFCO Adult Minimum Requirements1.251.001:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal. Minerals in red do not meet requirements.

Puppies & Pregnant/Nursing Dogs

Puppies would need a larger amount of coral calcium to meeting AAFCO minimum requirements. But doubling the amount of coral calcium doesn’t raise phosphorus levels enough to properly balance the minerals. So coral calcium should not be fed to puppies and pregnant or nursing dams.

1 1/2 teaspoon Coral Calcium Powder (7.2 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)3.441.162.9:1
AAFCO Growth & Reproduction Minimum Requirements3.002.501:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal. Minerals in red do not meet requirements.

Seaweed Calcium

Seaweed calcium is another calcium source that’s high in calcium and low in phosphorus. This also makes it a bit tricky to use with anything but very lean meats. Like coral calcium, adding more seaweed calcium won’t help balance the minerals because there will still be too little phosphorus. Feed 1 teaspoon per pound of food that’s no more than 10% fat.

Adult Dogs

1 teaspoon Seaweed Calcium Powder (3 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)1.501.221.2:1
15% Fat (85% Lean)1.220.911.3:1
20% Fat (80% Lean)1.030.711.5:1
AAFCO Adult Minimum Requirements1.251.001:1
AAFCO Puppy Minimum Requirements3.002.501:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal. Minerals in red do not meet requirements.

Puppies & Pregnant/Nursing Dogs

You would have to add 3 teaspoons of seaweed calcium to meet the minimum calcium requirements for growth and reproduction. But this doesn’t provide enough phosphorus and the Ca:Ph ratio doesn’t meet AAFCO requirements. So seaweed calcium is not recommended for growth and reproduction.

3 teaspoon Seaweed Calcium Powder (9 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)4.341.293.4:1
AAFCO Puppy Minimum Requirements3.002.501:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal. Minerals in red do not meet requirements.

Bone Meal

Bone meal is bone that’s been dried, either with or without heat. Minerals are pretty resistant to heat, so it’s generally safe to heat and powder bones. But you can also find higher quality sources of bone meal that hasn’t been heat treated, which would be preferred.

The benefit of bone meal over other sources of calcium is that there’s much less risk of mineral imbalance. Bone meal will almost always give you the proper ratio of calcium and phosphorus, just as real bones will. Feed about 2 teaspoons per pound of food to adult dogs.

Adult Dogs

2 teaspoons Bone Meal Powder (8 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean)2.122.151:1
15% Fat (85% Lean)1.721.671:1
20% Fat (80% Lean)1.461.341.1:1
AAFCO Adult Minimum Requirements1.251.001:1
AAFCO Puppy Minimum Requirements3.002.501:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal.

Puppies & Pregnant/Nursing Dogs

Apart from fresh bones, bone meal is the only source of calcium that should be fed to puppies and pregnant dogs. Because it contains both calcium and phosphorus in the right ratio, larger amounts will deliver enough calcium without creating the imbalance between calcium and phosphorus seen with the other calcium sources. The amount to feed is about 4 teaspoons per pound of food for meals that are 10% fat. If feeding 15% fat, then there won’t be quite enough phosphorus, so feed 5 teaspoons. If there is 20% fat or more (more than 20% fat is not recommended for puppies), then increase the amount to 6 teaspoons.

4 teaspoons Bone Meal Powder (16 g) Added To 1 Pound Food:CalciumPhosphorusCa:Ph
10% Fat (90% Lean) – Add 16 g Bone Meal or 4 tsp4.093.091.3:1
15% Fat (85% Lean) – Add 20 g Bone Meal or 5 tsp4.122.811.5:1
20% Fat (80% Lean) – Add 24 g Bone Meal or 6 tsp4.132.621.6:1
AAFCO Puppy Minimum Requirements3.002.501:1
AAFCO Maximum Requirements6.254.002:1

Amount per 1,000 kcal.

Whichever source of calcium you choose for your dog, it’s important to be aware of potentially harmful substances they might contain. Let’s look at each calcium source and the potential problems with each:

Egg Shells
Many eggs are coated in a waxy, chemical cleaner, which is toxic to your dog. We don’t recommend egg shells as a source of calcium but if you use them, buy them from a local farmer who washed the eggs with water only. Grocery store eggs will likely have contaminated shells.

Coral and Seaweed Calcium
Both these forms of calcium come from the ocean and are often high in heavy metals like mercury, PCBs and dioxins. It’s important that your source of sea calcium is tested low in these toxic substances.

Bone Meal
Bone meal can be a source of lead and glyphosate. Make sure your bone meal comes from young animals and is tested low in lead, pesticides, herbicides and other heavy metals.

What’s The Best Source Of Calcium For Dogs?

The farther you stray from Mother Nature, the more can go wrong. That’s why bones are always the best source of calcium for dogs. They have the right balance of calcium and phosphorus and will balance all meals, even for puppies. This includes bone meal, as long as it’s high quality and tested for heavy metals. We recommend Better Bones from Four Leaf Rover. It’s air-dried bones sourced from pastured young cattle from Australia. Every batch is also third-party tested for metals and pesticides. Alternatively, look for calcium hydroxyapatite that’s third-party tested for safety.

Egg shells, seaweed and coral calcium are all rich in calcium but very low in phosphorus. This means they should not be fed to puppies or pregnant/nursing dams. If using these as a calcium supplement for adult dogs, they will only balance foods that are 10% fat or less (remember, your oils will increase the fat content if you add them to your dog’s meals). If your food contains more fat, then you either need to feed too much calcium or too much phosphorus so it’s important to stick to lean foods.

There are other sources of calcium, including dicalcium phosphate, calcium citrate, calcium carbonate or calcium proteinate. These are the forms of calcium added to dog foods … but you’re probably feeding raw or home cooking to give your dog a higher quality diet than kibble and commercial foods. So we don’t recommend chemical minerals made in a lab … we always prefer food-based nutrition over synthetic nutrition.

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Dog Healthcare

5 signs your dog has food allergies



5 signs your dog has food allergies

Having a dog with allergy problems can be incredibly frustrating … for you and your dog. Allergies mean:

  • Itchy skin
  • Recurring ear infections
  • And scratching his ears, paws, face and back all the time, that drives you crazy

Your vet may have prescribed a seasonal dose of Benadryl or Claritin, but the itchiness persists. Maybe feed more omegas to keep his skin hydrated. You wait it out. Nothing helps and you are at the end of your wisdom … seasonal allergies shouldn’t last that long, should they?

Not only are allergies frustrating, but if you expose your dog to unaddressed allergens, just treating the symptoms may not be enough.

Allergies are immune system reactions where your dog’s body goes crazy in response to a trigger. And no matter what you do to treat them, if you expose your dog to allergens, the problems and discomfort will persist.

Below are some common but little-known signs that your dog is suffering from food allergies.

# 1 Chronic ear infections

Frequent ear infections … that is, more than 2 or 3 treatments per year … are a tell-tale sign of a food allergy. While fungal infections, ear mites, and “swimmers’ ears” can be common causes of ear infections, ear infections that persist year-round can indicate a food allergy.

How it looks: Smelly, yeasty ears with a black or brown structure. Persistent head shaking and scratching of irritated ear. Frequent cleaning (several times a week) does little to prevent recurrence. You may have tried over-the-counter ear ointments to no avail because they treat the symptoms but don’t often solve the holistic problem.

What it means: Food allergy.

But first! Exclude … Ear mites, yeast infection, or water (dogs that swim are susceptible to this).

Try this …

  • Use a homemade ear solution of 50/50 purified water and organic apple cider vinegar to cleanse the ear
  • Wipe the inside of your ears with a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel, which can reduce inflammation and provide relief for your dog
  • If the ear infections persist, try a food elimination diet or food allergy test to identify the offending food (I’ll tell you how to do this later).

CONNECTED: Do not run to the vet for an ear infection. Try one of our natural remedies …

# 2 nail beds in red, brown, or bronze

This is most easily seen in dogs with white nails, such as: B. white bully breeds, dalmatians, boxers, bulldogs and spaniels.

How it looks: You may find that the base of your dog’s nails is red and even looks bloody. This is the sign of an inflammatory immune response. Your dog’s white nails should be white, with a pink color. A red, brown, or maroon base of the nail bed indicates that something is wrong. Nails can be tender, and your dog may seem to itch or lick a lot.

What it means: Food allergy.

But first! Exclude … Foot injury (trauma), thyroid disease.

Try this …

Since this is systemic, you should follow a food elimination diet to identify the offending food. Keep the space between your dog’s toes clean and use a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel.

# 3 bronzing around the lips

Again, this is most noticeable in breeds with white fur. You will find that your lips, feet, or skin are pink and inflamed. This can indicate a yeast colonization, which is often triggered by an allergy.

How it looks: Lips, cheeks, and toes can be red, pink, and inflamed. Dog will itch often.

What it means: Yeast-based infection or food allergy.

But first! Exclude … Yeast infection or sunburn (yes, dogs can get sunburn too!)

Try this …

  • Wipe the area down with a 50/50 mixture of purified water and organic apple cider vinegar.
  • You can also add apple cider vinegar (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon daily) to your dog’s water or food to reduce acidity and discourage yeasts.
  • Avoid many veterinary solutions such as benzoyl peroxide-based products, which can dry out the skin and increase irritation.

[Related] Yeast can be painful. Here are 5 natural solutions to get rid of it.

# 4 Itchy skin, red lower abdomen, and dull fur

Together, these signs can indicate an allergy. Your dog will be itchy all the time without relief, which may lead to hair loss in the affected areas.

How it looks: The skin under the hair is red or pink, dry and inflamed. No relief from baths, conditioners, or over-the-counter allergy medication. Excessive, almost constant scratching.

What it means: Environmental allergies, possibly food allergies.

But first! Exclude …

Shampoo residue. Shampoo residue on your dog’s skin is a major cause of contact dermatitis, and it is often resolved by switching to a milder shampoo and rinsing thoroughly. (If you’re not sure if you’ve rinsed thoroughly, try this trick: shampoo and rinse your dog until you think you’re done, then rinse two more times to be sure!).

Shampoos that contain artificial colors (FD&C, Yellow 5), sodium laurates, phthalates, mineral oils and fragrances can cause irritation. Try switching to a species-appropriate, all-natural conditioner for your dog, e.g. B. those that contain apple cider vinegar or coconut oil.

CONNECTED: Your shampoo could be the problem. This is how you can keep bath time safe for your dog …

Pollen allergy: Your dog may also have a pollen allergy: try to wipe it with a cool, damp cloth every time to avoid the pollen exposure.

Fleas: Make sure your dog doesn’t have fleas, as flea allergic dermatitis also causes irritated skin.

Try this …

  • Treat the symptoms by taking the gel from one Aloe vera Leaf (available at most grocery stores) on affected areas up to 3 times a day
  • Or make a paste of baking soda and water: mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to form a paste; Apply to the affected area and let it take effect
  • Or for dogs who are not allergic to grains, you can make an oatmeal wrap with oatmeal powder and water to soothe the skin.

# 5 Watery eyes

Just like humans, dogs can have allergies. Some of us with hay fever experience itching, contact dermatitis, watery eyes, and nasal congestion.

How it looks: Dogs who scratch their eyes frequently, have a sticky discharge, or have a blocked tear duct may have excessive tear production. This leads to stains and irritation.

What it means: Food or environmental allergies.

But first! Exclude … Eye trauma.

Try this …

  • Dab your dog’s eyes with a warm, wet (clean) washcloth at least once a day. Keep the area clean.
  • Make a small amount of chamomile tea and let it cool, then squeeze the excess water out of the tea bag and gently pat the eye to relieve irritation.
  • Homeopathic eye drops for humans can also help.

If eye problems persist, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Changing your diet can help

These little symptoms can add up to largely indicate an untreated allergy. Consider switching from processed croquettes to a raw or homemade diet. This will reduce the amount of additives, grains, and artificial components in your dog’s diet.

CONNECTED: Would you like to switch your dog to raw food? You can find all the basics in our Raw Food Primer.

But remember: raw food does not guarantee freedom from allergies. If your dog is allergic to sweet potatoes and peanut butter, no amount of witch hazel in the world will solve these problems if given sweet potatoes and peanut butter on a daily basis. See the table below for a list of the most common allergens that you may be feeding your dog.

Common food allergens

Many of these foods can be found in both commercial dog foods and raw homemade foods. Taking a feed allergy test can give you vital information on how to make your dog his happiest, healthiest self.

root vegetable

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes


  • peanuts
  • lenses
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • soy

Genetically modified foods

  • soy
  • Corn
  • alfalfa
  • Zucchini, yellow pumpkin
  • Rapeseed
  • Beets
  • milk
  • papaya

Tests for allergies

It is a good idea to have an environmental allergy test, a food allergy test, or a diet to eliminate food allergies. Your holistic veterinarian can do a saliva test (or buy a home kit) to measure antibodies to common food allergens so you can quickly identify the source of your dog’s irritation. This is a non-invasive, effective method of determining food allergies.

Food Elimination Diet

A food elimination diet is another non-invasive way to test your dog’s offending food. This will take (4 to 6 months) as you cut your dog’s diet back down to the bare minimum and remove all of the common allergens listed in the Common Food Allergens table above. After a week or two of this basic diet, slowly introduce new foods (one a week) and watch for changes in behavior or skin.

Taking the time to rule out food allergies can save you and your dog time, money, and inconvenience.

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