Natural Expressions Premium Petfood

Functional Foods

What exactly is a functional food? And why are they becoming so popular? Functional means having a utilitarian purpose; capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed. In other word foods that provide nutrients the body needs in the appropriate organs and tissues through whole foods that are properly digested. That's what it is.

Let's look at what it is not in many ways. Supplements are not usually whole foods and often supplements are not digested fully. Some supplements are not digested at all instead they actually leach needed vitamins, minerals and co-enzymes out of the body and are eliminated through the kidneys and liver. That means supplements are not functional foods and even though there are supplements added to and incorporated into many dog and cat foods, it does not mean our animals are assimilating or digesting any of them.

Functional Food is now the new and popular buzzword! This is the biggest trend in the pet food industry today. It is born out by major studies commissioned by the industry and food manufacturers. Dog and cat guardians want foods that treat specific conditions and problems. Most commercially prepared food though does not add enough of the ingredients to really make a difference. The best way to address this is by adding whole food to the current diet of your friends. Yet the myth of adding trace amounts of a single isolated compound persists as being not only a functional food, but the proverbial magic pill answer to cure all.

All the large dog food manufacturers have access to sophisticated and targeted market research. This research has shown that consumers want three big things: stylish Eco-friendly designs, products and packaging, understated luxury and Probiotics, Super-fruits, and ingredients from the latest hip place which currently is Africa using ingredients such as Shea butter and Baobaob Oil. Thus our magic pill myth again.

Multiple studies have shown that when scientists remove a single vitamin or compound and then use only that single entity to treat a condition or disease it is often not as effective as using the whole food source. A great example is a study out of Ludwigs University of Freiburg Germany published in January of 2008. They researched beta-carotene which is the precursor needed to manufacture Vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for vision and gene regulation. What they found was that if they only added a supplemental form of Vitamin A there was beta carotene build up in several tissues and a lack of vitamin A. In addition to that there were also lipid metabolism disturbances in the heart and circulatory systems and the livers became fatty there was a tendency to have higher obesity rates. These problems did not occur when vitamin A was provided in whole foods along with the naturally occurring beta-carotene.

Veterinary Practice Journal from February of 2008 reports that 93 percent of pet owners know about the recalls. The high end foods, such as organic and raws are emerging as the primary beneficiaries. Organic sales alone grew by 36-37 percent in 2006 and new customers are no longer switching back to the previous brand as they used to do after similar food recalls in the past.

As we learned before the Pet Food Industry was 16.97 Billion dollar one in 2007. These companies use this data to tailor their products to fit these criteria. Many manufacturers are redesigning packaging with veggies and fruits boldly displayed that are meant to draw the consumer to them. The consumers see the picture and think wow this is good it has all kinds of veggies that are good for my pet. That same person never thinks to turn the bag around and read the label. And as you saw earlier, you really have to work hard to read the labels and understand them and what is in them. Turn one of these bags around and you will find these fruits and veggies listed at the very end of the ingredient lists and in such trace amounts and in such forms that they are either not digestible or not enough to make any difference what so ever.

We need to look at whole food versus the individual parts that make up those foods. We also have to address this new green concept. What exactly is green and organic? Those are very hard to define in my opinion. Let's start with a little history.

Millions of years ago dinosaurs ate their way across Pangea (the hypothetical landmass that existed when all continents were joined, from about 300 to 200 million years ago, that then split into the continents as we know them today). They literally ate from one coast to the other and then back again. Would you say that this was truly organic and natural? No thought, just survive and feed. If the dinosaurs ate everything on such a giant landmass what would happen if the current big meteor theory didn't actually cause the extinction? Would the dinosaurs have fundamentally changed the ecosystem of the earth? Would there have been mass extinction and changes anyway?

Okay too long ago so we can't know for sure and we will give the dinosaurs the benefit of the doubt and say they were at homeostasis with the planet and that darn big meteor changed everything.

Let us go back to native or aboriginal populations of humans. The peoples and cultures we so idolize and say they lived in harmony with nature and did not change the planet or the environment. The Anasazi people of the Colorado Plateau, not only did a climatic weather change and drought drive them out but their farming and warring against each other so changed their environment that they threw away their religious beliefs and had a war over that as they denuded the environment. Were they organic? Were the foods they were eating functional to optimize their health and well being?

What about approximately one to two hundred years ago when native populations in North America would move from hunting site to hunting site. They would plant corn and squash mounds in different areas because they knew the squashes would fix nitrogen into the soil and fertilize it for the corn. Were they organic? Were the foods they were eating functional to optimize their health and well being?

What about now? Our current system of large farms, over fertilization, depleted soils, Chemicals leaching into our water and farming soils, including PCB's and many other things. Are we getting the same nutrient value as our ancestors? Are we living in harmony with our world? Are we being green and Eco friendly???

I would say that even though we have things like certified organic foods, we are not any more Eco friendly than our predecessors. We are manipulating the environment to meet our needs by using the tools we posses. Dinosaurs did it by eating across the entire continent. Native populations did it by manipulating crops next to each other and farming out one section of land and then starting a war to steal another more fertile section from another group.

So why bring this up at all? Because this is where it all starts. If we do not understand the history of how we produce and grow our food and why, then we will not understand how those food ingredients effect us and how they function for our animals and ourselves.

These functional foods must contain the proper nutrients in an absorbable form. These nutrients must be of the highest and best quality. Most of the foods our animals and we eat today are not the best quality due to pollution, over use of our farmlands, inappropriate use of our farmlands and many other similar factors.

What are the compounds that are in our foods that are needed? Our dogs and cats need what was first termed as vital amines. There are twenty essential amino acids that are needed for health such as Arginine and Taurine. These amino acids are the basic building blocks that a dog can not synthesize without being supplied by their diet. The vital amines are now called, yep you guessed it Vitamins. There are co-enzymes needed to be catalysts for certain processes and catalysts to create the needed molecules. Our animals need minerals to help in those processes along with beneficial bacteria. All play a role as a functional ingredient.

What about synthetic compounds? Do they play a role? When the whole food is available to eat the nutrient building blocks are already in the proper form to fit naturally and be used appropriately by the body where needed.

Nutrition is how the living organism assimilates food and uses it for growth and tissue replacement. It is not only what you eat, but also what you digest that is important. Nutrition on the human side shows that 98% of the neutraceuticals are chemicals produced by the big Pharmaceutical companies. The largest source of Vitamins B1 and B 12 is from coal tar and coal tar derivatives, many produced from the waste realized after making iron railroad tracks. There is no animal on the planet either human, canine or feline that can assimilate that!

We also know that there are many foods that are shall we say less nutritious for our friends and us. White trash or processed sugars are probably the most well known villains. We know that species-specific diets means that our cats and dogs have no true grain requirements. Pottinger's famous cat studies from 1932-1942 showed that live spans shortened and diseased states increased not only in individual cats, but also in subsequent generations of cats. The NBC Nightly National News reported on December 5, 2007 that the CDC announced that human life expectancy in the US is dropping. By the year 2050 it will be lowered by 2.5 to 5 years and it is due to the increase of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and especially obesity. Change the diet, change the life span! We know it for our selves and it has been proven in the diets of our companion animals.

Several recent studies about our dogs have been published that highlight these points in some very dramatic ways. Ane Nodtvedt DVM, MSc, PhD Upsaala Sweden did extensive work on food and canine atopic dermatitis. She found that some CAD do not have immune mediated IgE hypersensitivity to ingested proteins called cutaneous adverse food reactions. You can rule out the food related reactions by using a hypoallergenic diet, your basic elimination diet and then rechallenge to prove it. The exact relationship between the two is still unclear after several studies, it has been found that Labs and Goldens, specifically two of the largest effected breeds for allergies, can have as much as fifty percent of the disease related to their genetic background.

Royal Canin took this genetic predisposition and recently launched their specific Golden Retreiver formula. It has L-carnitine, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, psyllium seed based fiber to gel in the stomach to slow absorption and thus suppress the appetite to ward off obesity.

If you think that the dog food industry has continued to break up and fraction off segments of the markets to specific breeds, foods and conditions treated you would be correct. This is a marketing trend that has been identified and it will continue to progress. It is up to us to not only understand it but, to be able to sort through it and provide the best foods for our companions.

Besides breeds and specific conditions such as skin allergies there are now also food for senior dogs with joint problems as well as weight problems. Joint problems are the number one problem treated in senior dogs. (of course none of you here know that!!!?) An entire new industry has sprung from that in terms of functional treats. I even brought you all samples of one that I found the science solid on called Hip Bones, Hip Flex and Berrier. Be ready to become overwhelmed by many more and be ready to read those labels and understand not only what is in them, but if they actually absorb and work. You need to know how they are digested and assimilated and that the functional ingredient does in deed function in the tissues of the dogs and cats in the proper way.

There are even more products being produced that are based on seasonal changes. There were new patents awarded in October and November of 2006 and in December of 2007 for this. There is a dog food being produced under the name "Seasonal Changes". The food is formulated to increase protein and fat in the winter and decrease shedding. Those same proteins and fat are decreased in the summer while the omegas are increased. Does this sound like Traditional Chinese Medicine? It should because it is! Only took us eighty years of dog food history to understand science and observation from China that started in about 2698 B.C.E.

Let us look more in depth now at chemistry and digestion details to understand why the functional foods work and how it is digested and assimilated.

Chemistry is wonderful. Organic chemistry has taught us how to hydrolyze proteins. The ability to make the protein a smaller molecular size means it doesn't fit into the receptor site of the body's IgE Mast cells which normally would bridge or cross link, this releases histamines, cytokines, prostaglandins and enzymes which cause the inflammation reactions to begin. Antihistamines and corticosteroids don't stop the reaction they only blunt the effects and treat the symptoms.

To make the protein hypoallergenic you can break it up by heat, ultrafiltration and enzymatically hydrolyze the protein to the peptide level. The blend of specific enzymes added, heat applied and pH adjusted is proprietary to the company producing it. We do know that too much protein used will make the taste bitter. Yet many prescription diets are fifty percent or more hydrolyzed proteins. The most common ones used are the easiest to get the desired results from. They are: soybean, chicken by products, chicken livers and casein, (globular proteins left as a byproduct for making cheese from cow's milk). Casein is the predominant phosphoprotein found in milk and cheese, it can not denature (break apart) it is hydrophobic (resists water) it is most often used in adhesives, binders, coatings, fabrics, plastics and food additives. It is slow digesting amino acids and glutamine. It acts as a histamine releaser and blocks antioxidant activity of compounds such as those found in teas.

Chirality of these molecules is important in how that plays a function in these vital nutrients. You can't put a left glove on a right hand. It is a mirror image and doesn't fit, yet we are just understanding why that it is. Two mirror images of a molecule that cannot be superimposed onto each other are referred to as enantiomers or optical isomers. Because the difference between right and left hands is universally known and easy to observe, many pairs of enantiomers are designated as "right-" and "left-handed." Chirality in biology shows most amino acids are Left and most sugars are Right, to put the chirality simply. D- amino acids are right because dextra= right. D-aminos taste sweet and L-amino's have no taste. For example spearmint and caraway seeds. One is L-cavone and the other is D-cavone, enantiomers( mirrow oposites) of Cavone. They even smell different to us because even olfactory receptors contain chiral molecules that behave differently in the presence of enantionmers.

The small intestine is the predominate site for digestion and absorption of nutrients and is key to electrolyte and fluid absorption. Villi and microvilli provide huge surface area and the large surface area is where absorption and assimilation of nutrients occur. Enterocytes are highly specialized cells that are part of the absorption process. The microvillus membrane called a brush border is on the luminal surface of the enterocytes and that is where enzymes needed for digestion are contained. Carrier proteins aid in the transport of amino acids, monosaccharides and electrolytes. Luminal conditions such as pancreatic enzymes, bile salts and bacteria control the turnover of enterocytes and microvillar proteins.

Mucous membranes house the immunoglobins that ensnare pathogens and antigens. They are the first defense to prevent disease and infections. Colostrum can supply critical immuniglobins at the muscosal barrier and betaglucan to stimulate macrophages and phagocytes in the blood to defend against them.

Protein digestion starts in the stomach with the enzyme pepsin and it is deactivated in the duodenum. The small intestine uses pancreatic and specific carriers in the microvilli membrane it absorbs microvilli membrane enzymes, peptides and free amino acids produced by digestion.

Fats and lipids are emulsified by bile acids in the small intestine then digested by pancreatic enzymes: lipase, phospholipase and cholesterol esterase. Micelles are formed and absorb monoglycerides and free fatty acids. Bile acids are reabsorbed in the ileum and go back to the liver. Long chain fatty acids are re-esterified to triglycerides and incorporated into chylomicrons and enter the lymphatic system.

We cannot use the "human" "normal and healthy" aerobic and anaerobic bacteria counts for dogs. Dog's systems are not as long and although similar do differ in enough ways for us to know that dogs have at least ten times the amount of good bacteria than humans. Small intestine over growth is subject to both internal and external influences. It is known that DIET COMPOSITION impacts the concentration of bacteria. High protein diets favor proteolytic bacteria such as clostridia, while fermentable fibers stimulate saccharolytic (sugar eating) bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacili.

A human should have about the same amount of good bacteria as the weight of their liver. Dogs should have more. For us humans that means we have about three pounds of good bacteria in our guts!

Gut associated lymphatic tissue is both inductive ( which are the Peyer's patches) and effector sites. It is both cell mediated such as T & B lymphocytes, eosinophils, mast cells etc. It is also humoral or immuniglobin IgA, IgG etc. mediated.

Therefore the breakdown of immune gut responses are the FIRST STEPS to immunilogical and bacterial problems and the critical start of an Inflammatory Bowel!

As you move further down the small intestine specific sites absorb more minerals with specific receptors and transport mechanisms and in specific ratios and proportions. The wrong site, mechanism or ratio and the absorption not only does not occur, but will cause an inflammatory response or a call for a different cell type that is still not able to do its job, thus wasting needed resources and the vitamin or mineral still cannot be absorbed. It passes through as waste product along with the called in resources which can not do their job thus depleting more than the gut is absorbing for use and weakening the overall system and health of the animal.

Probiotic products is the fastest growing segment in the human food market according to the Petfood Industry Journal February 2008. Forty eight percent of animal households seek out these type natural or eco-friendly products with probiotics. This equates to 21.1 million households! This is a significant number of animals and people in the United States and it is growing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as living organisms administered in adequate amounts to confer a health benefit. AAFCO approved "friendly bacteria" as non-genetically modified organisms as direct fed microbials.

There are three modes of action, generating immuno-stimulants, producing anti-microbial compounds and competitively excluding other bacteria. Probiotics counter disease causing bacteria by: blocking binding sites, producing antimicrobials and organic acids, stimulating the immune response and enzyme activity.

Strong immune system requires a healthy G.I. tract since the majority of the immune system is in the gut. Probiotic benefits are controlling enteritis, stimulate immune function in puppies, improve oral and fecal odor and skin and coat health.

Lactic Acid Bacteria include Lactobacilli or Bifidibacteria they are fructoogliosaccarides (FOS).
FOS alters GI microbes and inhibit pathogens and they modulate immunity of manan digosaccharides (MOS)
MOS studies in dogs show improved digesitibity, better GI bacteria populations and improved immune function.
FOS studies in cats show increased beneficial bacteria and decreased concentrations of E. Coli and Clostridium Perfringens.

Baccilus Subtilis probiotic is as effective as vancomyacin in controlling Clostridium Difficule associated diarrhea (CDAD). C-Dif is a gram-positive, anaerobic, spore-forming rods bacillus. C. difficile is the most significant cause of severe infection of the colon, often after normal gut flora is eradicated by the use of antibiotics. Treatment is by stopping any antibiotics and commencing specific anticlostridial antibiotics, e.g. metronidazole (flagyl) with concurrent pro and pre biotics. There is even new treatment research on repopulating colons with organisms grown out of healthy colons. It is called fecal bacteriotherapy and has been shown to be 95% effective.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activty of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon thus improving health.

Inulin is a prebiotic. Inulin and olgiofrutose are extracted from the chicory root. For example inulin as long chain fractions are less soluble and ferment more slowly allowing the fermentation to bypass/escape the small intestine and go to the colon where this process should take place. Certainly much different than having psyllium seed form a gel in the stomach to improperly slow digestion for dogs and Golden retrievers specifically as you shall see. The proper fermentable fiber should occur in the colon.

GLPH-1is a polysaccharide extract from botanical yeast Candida Utilis that more than 20 clinical trials show boost immune function, is an anti-inflammatory and stimulates white blood cells. Clinical trials also show it reduces muscle degradation in both animals and human athletes. It helps reduce muscle break down in sport animals caused by strenuous exercise and activity. GLPH-1 is FDA approved for human and animal use. It has a positive immune response and is anti-inflammatory and can be used for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, Hepatitis B as well as for reducing muscle degradation and has a twenty year history for this use.

As you can see, digestion, assimilation and the chemistries of it, play a critical and vital role. Now let's start putting it together with diets, foods and conditions to be helped.

Whole Dog Journal March of 2008 for the first time came out with an approved grain free dry dog food diet review and list. They point out dogs ability to eat grains and get benefit from them is due to their long evolutionary history of eating anything. This is why instead of being a true omnivore they are actually classified as scavenging carnivores.

Studies have proven dogs have no dietary requirements for carbs, they survive and thrive on diets of only animal protein and fat.

The new grain free diets and their functional food hype is just that. Grain free does NOT equal carb free. These products need something to hold them together. Many use instead of grains some type of vegetable. Some use white potato, sweet potato, peas, tomato pomace and even the tapioca root. High carbohydrate diets in dogs cause blood sugar fluctuations and insulin resistance. This is not good for dogs with diabetes, or a genetic history of it or a vulnerability to it. Carbs also feed cancers. Talk about functional foods!

Functional food for cancer dogs: Number one on the list is a properly prepared raw food diet. Number two on the list is a commercially prepared raw diet that is very high in protein, very low or no carbohydrates and a moderate amount of fat. Even antioxidant fruits and veggies are even not the best thing for a cancer dog in large proportion. Fruits and veggies convert to the very sugars that will feed a tumor. This is true for our dogs and cats and for us too.

34% OF DOGS AND 35% of Cats are obese in the USA this is 20.4 million dogs and 24.4 million cats. This is an epidemic! A recent study from the University of Missouri- Columbia by veterinarian Richard Backus assistant professor and director of Nestle-Purina endowed small animal nutrition took blood samples from comparing dry and wet foods for obese cats. There was no significant blood glucose tolerance for diabetes between the two groups. They were equally as likely to get diabetes. However, the study went on to report that forty percent of all middle aged cats are obese. Cats should have a body fat of no more than 18 - 20 percent. The most significant factor in obesity is humans feeding their cats too much volume. And the very interesting finding was where wet and dry food differed. Cats that eat dry grain based diets pack on more pounds than cats fed wet diets and the wet fed cats have less of a tendency towards obesity than those on dry!

Take the carbohydrate levels and grains and drastically reduce them for the obese animal. Add more water, reduce fat calories, add fiber calories and puff the food up with air if possible.

Be sure strict measuring guidelines are in place. Have clients measure exactly the proportions with a proper measuring cup. Ask about treats. Often it is the amount of treats eaten that are the biggest cause of obesity. People don't realize how many calories they add to a diet. Use carrots, green beans and other whole veggies that will go through undigested as good fiber. Fiber is now being used as a Functional Food in many formulations and recipes. Remove all carb based, grain based processed grains and sugary treats. Use meat based treats in small amounts.

Consider putting obese animals on a mostly protein diet up to 95% for 4 to 6 weeks to rev up a metabolism. Then gradually reduce protein proportion back to the more standard 60/40 ratio. Be sure to slowly increase the exercise level while reducing calorie uptake. Feed to optimum weight.

I stick of butter is equal to about two large bunches of grapes is equal to a tray over flowing with strawberries in calories. Be sure to advise clients wisely about how many calories are in certain foods and that volume can be deceiving. Most people when asked think the strawberries have the most calories when in fact it is equal to the butter and grapes.

How do you judge the efficacy of the food you are feeding to accomplish certain goals? I call it staying ahead of the curve or changing before the problem occurs. I also call it using common sense. We will get back to the common sense. Here are some indicators that will tell you it is time to investigate further and in some cases call your vet:

Dry coat
Stool change
Energy changes
Significant weight gain
Weather changes
Early morning bile vomit
Plaque buildup on teeth
Inability to hold a chiropractic adjustment
Eye or ear discharge
Brittle nails

These are just some of the more major indicators to watch for. No one knows your dogs as well as you do. Therefore listen to what your dog is telling you and believe what you see. If you think something is off or not right, then don't hesitate, get it checked out. Trust yourself and your instincts and your dog before you trust anyone else. But make sure it passes the common sense test.

Here is a whale of a good way to remember how to test your own common sense. An extreme example to discern what you know compared to the experts. Diving recently the dive master and boat captain swam us through a long sandy area going from one coral outcrop to another. All along the sand were thousands of sea cucumbers. Long black tubes about one and a half to two feet in length. They made quite a sight littered all along the sandy bottom. Similar to a snow field with scattered dog poop.

The dive master wrote on his diving slate "Whale Poop" as he picked one up and showed everyone. I wrote on my slate "Weight of Poop"? He wrote one pound and swam away. I had a hard time keeping my regulator in my mouth I was laughing so hard as I think the dive master was too. He thought I was a stupid tourist from the Mainland that he had hood winked. In truth I had played him.

A big humpbacked whale weighs about 45 tons! My goodness they can overturn a large ship if they emerged up on one. Do you really think a whale will produce small formed one pound poops????? NO!

Something is wrong if your dog always has soft stools/diarrhea or a dry coat or develops bald spots or goopy eyes. Change the food, look for inflammation and call the vet. Use your common sense and your understanding and intuition of your dog.

The bottom line of functional foods is does the food address the need? Are you getting the results you expected from the food? If you are not then the food is not the right one to address the problem.

We have looked at ecology of functional foods, the immune and digestive systems and how that effects the assimilation of the nutrients from the functional foods, the pre and probiotics of the functional foods, the obesity, allergy and cancer of our companions and how those are impacted by food. I ask again, how do we judge the efficacy of the these functional foods?

Let's look at some specific whole foods and what their function helps in the bodies or our companions.


Great anti-inflammatory foods fit properly in those receptor site in the small intestine, have the trace minerals they need and transport the proper cofactors to the tissues and do not ramp up either inductive or effective immune responses.

Remember when using whole foods they must be available in the proper from for our animals to be able to digest and absorb them. Therefore you need to pulp or freeze thaw veggies to break down cellulose as dogs can not do that.

Berries such as blueberries and raspberries, these have anthocyanin compounds in them and the research comes our of MSU and is licensed and approved by the FDA. The treats such as Hip Bones and Hip Flex use them in the proper form and amount.

Pomegranate, be sure to feed the red seeds and not the skins and rinds holding them together. Be careful the juice stains. Especially white dogs!

Pineapple not too much at first it can be very acidic and overfed will cause diarrhea.

Papaya used in a great supplement called Puppy Tract conditioner. No lactose involved for those that are lactose intolerant, yet plenty of good bacteria.

Cherries (20 cherries = 1 aspirin), again these have anthocyanin compounds that are excellent for inflammation. Fresh cherries at harvest are great remember to remove the pits and during these winter months, try the dehydrated ones be sure to use plenty of water.

Lettuce greens provide trace minerals and water content.

Dandelion leaves are great again for trace minerals and a very good liver detoxifying agent.

Bell peppers use red, yellow and green. Be sure to pulp or freeze thaw or par boil. These can cause some flatulence so start slowly, but are an excellent way to help reduce inflammation and add anitoxidants.

Green beans, a wonderful fiber source. Great fresh out of the garden or if using canned be sure to get with the water and still rinse before using them in water.

Broccoli use the stalks for your dogs and the flowers for your meals. Be sure once again to puree or freeze thaw well. This is another veggie that can cause some flatulence.

Cauliflower, the same as broccoli above.

Salmon (not farm raised) has very little nutrient value because the foods they are feeding the farm raised fish is very bad. They are raised in very crowded aquaculture conditions. Instead fresh salmon or canned salmon is a good choice. Be aware that fresh raw Pacific Salmon carries a fluke that is toxic and poisonous to dogs and cats and can cause death.

Sablefish canned and mashed is a great source for getting essential fatty acids into the diet in a very easy digestable form especially after bloat and surgery or other digestive problems or surgeries.

Mackerel, same as above
Herring, same as above
Sardines, same as above

Hydrolyzed White Fish Powder Seacure and Seavive with colostrum is the brand name and it is a proven source of easy absorbable protein. First used in the 1950's to treat diarrheal diseases in infants in South America. It will absorb and sustain life on a minimal basis until health can be restored. It is fat, lactose and casein free, it contains 40% Ig G, 90% Betaglucan, 70% bioactive peptides, and biogenic amines. Beta Glucans are polysaccharides from Baker's Yeast, fungi and mushrooms. They are immune enhancing and there are no known drug or nutrient interactions or reactions to them.

Sea cucumber, not easy to find but a great new green source to use for rotation in the diet.

Perna (green lipped) Mussel, one of the best sources of glucosamine and chondroitin available. Green lipped mussel only comes from New Zealand. They are excellent for both dogs and humans.

Blue green algae, hard to find sources, try local oriental stores or look for algae wraps used for sushi rolls.

Spirulina again hard to find, look for it ground whole in supplemental from.

Brazil, Walnut and Almond nuts, use organic if possible. These must be mashed to be effective and release the nutrients and the EFA's contained. They are a good source of Alphalinoleac Acid ( ALA, Omega 3). A large garlic press is an easy way to mash and put in your animals bowl.

Pumpkin, is the best balancing fiber around. One hundred percent canned pumpkin with no sugars or salts or anything else added. Be sure it is not pie filling. Pumpkin also has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Use for diarrhea and constipation.

Anti-Inflammatory Spices/Herbs:

Ginger is a great for calming motion sickness as well as treating several types of GI upsets from the stomach through the colon. Fresh, powdered or pickled works well.

Turmeric (watch for stomach upset) is a very good anti-inflammatory agent. It is one of the proprietary herbs used in the Dog Gone Pain formula. In large amounts though it can cause stomach upset. Start slowly and watch for any problems.

Cinnamon as powder and sticks can be used. Don't over use and it is also antibacterial.

Clove mashed and mixed with meat and start slowly.

Rosemary fresh from the garden or powdered. It is a good scent to use when trying to improve memory. It is antibacterial and antiviral and when ingested will go through lung tissue and is very good for respiratory problems.

Thyme fresh from the garden or powdered.

Oregano, fresh from the garden or powdered. It is not only anti-inflammatory but also very calming.

Parsley is anti-inflammatory and can be diuretic. Fresh from the garden or powdered.

Cilantro is anti-inflammatory and can be diuretic. Fresh from the garden or powdered.

Fennel fresh chopped or pureed is anti-inflammatory and aids in digestion helping to break down certain compounds for easier use.

Peppermint is anti-inflammatory and works for stomach upsets and helps calm nausea.

Dill fresh from the garden or powdered.

Tarragon fresh from the garden or powdered.

Slippery Elm will sooth a stomach upset, form a mucilaginous powder and will help bind toxins in the small intestine and help them pass harmlessly. Can be used long term if needed. Be sure to mix with plenty of water.

Flax is Alpha Linolenic Acid, (ALA) dogs convert about 15% or less some dogs do not tolerate it well. Try ground seeds or Missing Link formula if the oil does not work.
Black current (3 & 6 omegas)
Borage (3 & 6 omegas)
Evening primrose (3 & 6 Omegas)
Olive oil (extra virgin) (Omega 6 only)
Canola (Omega 6 only)
Safflower (Omega 6 only)
Avocado oil not the skin or the pit. Can be used for dogs that don't tolerate other oils well and for skin and coat. Similar to olive oil, higher in monounsaturated fat and Vitamin E pressed from the flesh, pantothenic acid, and lecithin and contains linoleic, linilenic and oleic acid.

Fish body oils are Eicopeiscic and Docahexic (EPA, DHA) Have better absorption
Try salmon, krill oils
Also mash sardines or herring great for dogs recovering from traumas, surgeries and bloat. Very easy to digest.

Dogs need more Omega 3 than 6 and they need them in the proper ratio. That is why using an oil rotation and other sources such as plant or fish or nuts is a good way to get the best assimilation. i
Flaxseeds or flaxseed oil. Walnuts and Oily fish, such as cod, halibut, and trout are all good for Omega 3''s.

Good for the Pancreas function

Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard, and chard
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts
Orange-yellow veggies like squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots
Beans like lima beans, and lentils
Alum veggies use only garlic, never onions as they can cause hemolytic anemia.

Good for brittle nails

Biotin which is vitamin B7 or vitamin H, is water soluble, a cofactor in the metabolism of fatty acids and leucine, and in gluconeogenesis. It is used for horses along with B Vitamins to strengthen your nails naturally. Try eating more biotin-rich nuts (peanuts, filberts, cashews, and almonds), eggs (cooked or else the raw white in too great of an amount will bind the biotin), tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fish (haddock and salmon), Beef liver and brewers yeast or vegetables like chard or carrots.


Are best absorbed as food:
Green blends
Kelp (High in Iodine careful don't over use and suppress thyroid)
Irish Moss
Fenugreek seed
Organic apple cider vinegar
Brewers yeast
Dark molasses
Raw honey
Ginger (great for nausea)

When trying to balance Calcium Phosphorus ratio best to use raw bone than supplements, coral calcium or eggshells.

Watch Zinc to copper ratio. It is 10 to 1. Too much and Zinc will cause a copper deficiency


Lactic Acid Bacteria Family including Lactobacilli, Bifidibacteria
Chicory root component Inulin
Botanical Yeast Candida Utilis
Standard Process Lact-Enz
Standard Process Multizyme
Standard Process Lactic Acid Yeast Wafers


These vary greatly depending if the allergy is atopic, environmental air borne or food caused. Most research shows that addition of EFA's helped both. These need to be looked at on a case by case basis. Food allergies are often not limited to one food and cross-reactivity of food groups is highly suspected but, not yet proven at this time. Use ALA vs AA (Arachidonic Acid omega 6 more thrombotic and inflammatory than EPA) and DHA to start.

Honey local and organic within a fifty mile radius of where a dog lives. More effective than antihistamines.


Low to no carbs in the diet. Carbohydrates especially grain and processed grains feed all cancers. Use a diet that is up to 95 percent bony meat based. Use antioxidant veggies and fruits as whole food sources to make up the rest of the diet. I can not stress enough about getting the carbs out of the diet. Use of the anti-inflammatory oils should be highly considered as well. Eggs are the most complete protein source and good for cancer dogs. Shitake, maitake and active hexose Correlated compounds such as the NK-9 product by American Bio Sciences.


Take the carbohydrate levels and grains and drastically reduce them for the obese animal. Add more water, reduce fat calories, add fiber calories and puff the food up with air if possible.

Be sure strict measuring guidelines are in place. Have clients measure exactly the proportions with a proper measuring cup. Ask about treats. Often it is the amount of treats eaten that are the biggest cause of obesity. People don't realize how many calories they add to a diet. Use carrots, green beans and other whole veggies that will go through undigested as good fiber. Remove all carb based, grain based processed grains and sugary treats. Use meat based treats in small amounts.

Consider putting obese animals on a mostly protein diet up to 95% for 4 to 6 weeks to rev up a metabolism. Then gradually reduce protein proportion back to the more standard 60/40 ratio. Be sure to slowly increase the exercise level while reducing calorie uptake. Feed to optimum weight.

Be sure to advise clients wisely about how many calories are in certain foods and that volume can be deceiving.

Okay there's some food for functional thought!

Dogs in general have great appetites. I have a group of friends that I have known all my life. I was joining them recently but due to my schedule I was unable to bring to our gathering the typical food offerings I normally cook. One of my friends said "Don't worry about this group we never starve!" We can very often say that about our dogs when they are receiving the proper foods that meet their absorption needs. Using functional foods ensures that they do not starve. If they loose their appetites then we know something is wrong. We know that a dog that won't eat if we often change the food and stay ahead of the curve we never get to that point that our friends develop problems. We keep our dogs healthy and vibrant. Good whole foods species appropriate and gastrointestinally specific are the key.

Better yet I will borrow the words from one of those same friends:

Food is what you eat! Functional is what happens when you do it right. So what is your dog eating?????


"Current medical therapies for canine and feline osteoarthritis" Veterinary Focus Vol 17 No 3 2007 IVIS
"Nutritional management of canine osteoarthritis" Veterinary Focus Vol 17 No 3 2007 IVIS
Encyclopedia of Canine Clinical Nutrition, Pacale Pibot, Vincent Biorge, Denise Elliot, Royal Canin
"Full Disclosure" The Whole Dog Journal Vol 11 Number 2 February 2008
"WDJ's Approved Dry Foods" The Whole Dog Journal Vol 11 Number 2 February 2008
"Pet Food Disaster" The Whole Dog Journal Vol Number May 2007
"A Raw Deal" The Whole Dog Journal Vol Number May 2007
"Cause or Effect?" The Whole Dog Journal Vol Number May 2007
"Whole Dog Journal's 2008 Approved Grain-Free Dry Dog Foods" Vol 11 Number 3 March 2008
"Recognizing signs of Your Canines Loss of Appetite" Vol 11 Number 3 March 2008
"A functional petfood future", Jessica Taylor Bond Petfood Industry February 2008
"Standard Process' Scientists Demonstrate Effects of Immuplex and Congaplex in an Immune Cell Model" SP News February 2008
"Fiber focus" Tim Philips DVM, Petfood Industry January 2008
"Salt: what's wrong with it?" Greg Aldrich Petfood Industry January 2008
"Royal Canin Launches Golden Retriever Diet" Pet Product News International October 2007
"Kidney Failure in Cats Linked to Chemicals in Recalled Pet Food" Pet Product News International January 2008
"Beta-carotene helps lipid metabolism" Petfood Industry January 2008
"Canine Atopic Dermatitis" Ane Nodtvedt DVM, MSc, PhD Upsaala Sweden

Copyright by Nina Pregont and Natural Expressions - 2008,
Article can be reprinted only with source information included and reproductions with source materials noted.

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