Nutritional Supplementation – A Healthy Solution

Did you know most pet foods, even the so-called premium brands, are formulated to meet minimum nutritional guidelines? While this level of nutrition may keep our pets alive; it definitely does not provide for optimum performance, health or longevity.

Most of today’s pet foods consist primarily of poor quality protein sources and a whole lot of cereal grains (carbohydrate).

Our dogs and cats evolved as carnivores (meat eaters) and although most have changed in appearance and versatility, their digestive anatomy and physiology is the same as it was when they first appeared on the planet. Their relatively simple and short digestive tracts require that they be fed the ancestral diet they naturally selected over time, which is high in protein, low to moderate in fat and almost no carbohydrate at all.

Neither the dog nor the cat has a metabolic requirement for carbohydrate. Yet most pet foods contain as much as 50% carbohydrate, way too much for optimum health.

Pet foods lack many key nutrients

Today’s pet foods provide plenty of calories however, nutrient content is set at minimal levels and most of the important micronutrients are generally lacking.

For example:

Selenium, a powerful antioxidant mineral, is no longer available from basic food sources and should be supplemented daily.

The absorption of fragile micronutrients like Beta carotene and the other carotenoids from food is highly unlikely and can be better provided through supplementation.

Our water, air and food sources are increasingly becoming more contaminated with compounds that stress the immune system. Supplements rich in antioxidants can help combat the effects of ingested toxins.

Bad habits such as overfeeding and under exercising can lead to obesity. Nutritional supplements offer a way to safely reduce an animal’s weight without sacrificing its health.

Finally, as animals age, they lose their ability to efficiently absorb nutrients causing a progressive depletion of essential micronutrients. All senior animals should receive a high quality nutritional supplement.

Nutritional Supplementation

A nutritional supplement is intended for the purpose of improving the nutritional value of a diet, or to provide specific nutrients that have been determined to be deficient in the body.

Nutritional supplements generally include the essential nutrients (proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals).

Nutritional supplements also include specialty nutrients that science has determined to be beneficial for:

  • Boosting overall health and energy
  • Providing immune system support
  • Maintaining bone and joint health
  • Reducing the risks of illness and age-related conditions
  • To improve performance and mental activities
  • And, to support the healing process during illness and disease.

In order to improve the nutritional value of a diet, it stands to reason that the smaller amount of supplement must be greater in quality and more nutrient dense than the larger portion of the diet.

To accomplish this, effective supplements must have the following three key principles.

Completeness – means it contains 100% of all essential nutrients for the desired effect

Concentrated – means a small amount can actually replace a large portion of the pet diet

Balanced – means it will facilitate optimum absorption and utilization of all nutrients.

The majority of our commercially prepared pet diets are based on minimum maintenance guidelines. Because these pet food manufacturers compete in a price based market, few go above the minimum standard when it comes to quality or quantity. Minimum does not address the needs of performance, work, reproduction, injury or disease. To meet these needs supplementation becomes a fundamental requirement of the canine and feline diet.

Dietary Supplements

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds required by the dog and cat as a vital nutrient in limited amounts. For the most part, our pets do not synthesize vitamins so they must come from the diet.

Vitamin content may be reduced when food is overcooked, processed, or improperly stored. The body requires vitamins to support its basic biochemical functions, and deficiencies over time can lead to illness and disease.

Vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and pass through the body quickly, meaning that the body needs them on a regular basis. Water-soluble vitamins include the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue, meaning that they remain in the body longer. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

The minimum amount of vitamins needed by the dog and cat has been determined. These figures can be used as guidelines, but individual dogs and cats may have different needs depending on gender, age, activity level, reproductive state and health condition.

Vitamins can be natural or synthetic. Natural vitamins are extracted from food sources, while synthetic vitamins are formulated in laboratory processes. Natural vitamin E has been shown to be slightly more absorbable by the dog and cat than the synthetic version, although for all other vitamins no significant difference in absorption has been noted.

Minerals

Minerals are chemical elements required by all living organisms. Once again, our pets must get these chemical elements from the food they eat.

Minerals are micronutrients present in all foods and are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Cells in the body require minerals as part of their basic make-up and chemical balance.

Minerals can either be macro-minerals, used by the body in larger quantities, or trace minerals, used by the body in minute or trace amounts. Macro-minerals include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Trace minerals include iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, copper, manganese, and others.

Some studies have shown that the amount of minerals, particularly trace minerals, may be decreasing in foods due to mineral depletion of the soil caused by unsustainable farming practices and soil erosion.

Supplemental minerals should be provided in chelated form, in which they are bonded to proteins in order to improve their absorption by the body.

Herbs

Many herbs have over the years have been used to facilitate nutritional and nutraceutical responses in both man and animal.

Herbs can supplement the diet to aid in overall health or to aid in specific conditions. For instance, ginseng is used as a general tonic to increase overall health and vitality, while Echinacea is a popular herb used to stimulate resistance to colds and infections.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are biologically important organic compounds. Amino acids are divided into three basic categories:

  • Essential amino acids
  • Non-essential amino acids
  • Conditional amino acids

Essential amino acids cannot be made by the dog or cat, and must be supplied by food. Non-essential amino acids are made by the body from essential amino acids or by the normal breakdown of consumed proteins. Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness, stress, or when an animal is challenged with a lifelong medical condition.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids must be ingested by the dog and cat. They are required for good health as they participate in many different biological processes.

Performance Supplements

Many nutritional ingredients have been identified as supplemental aids to increasing muscle strength and improve athletic performance.

Nutritional supplements may be designed to provide specialized support for performance animals. Some of these consist of high-protein products, such as amino acid supplements, while other products contain nutrients that support metabolism, energy, athletic performance and recovery. Canines participating in intense athletic activity may have increased needs for protein, essential fatty acids, water-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, and certain minerals, including chromium.

Other nutritional supplements

Other specialty nutrients that have been shown to offer particular health benefits include antioxidants, prebiotics and probiotics (supplements containing friendly bacteria for the digestive tract), digestive enzymes, collagen, phospholipids, medium chain triglycerides, glucopolysaccharides, phytonutrients and others.

General guidelines for supplementation

Considering the average dietary needs and the prevalence of certain health conditions in our dogs and cats, some basic guidelines may provide the foundation for the effective use of nutritional supplements. First, a high-quality, broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral supplement is recommended. This should include the B-complex vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid, which may help prevent heart disease, and the minerals zinc and copper, which aid immunity.

In addition, antioxidants can be added as they have several positive effects on the body, such as slowing the aging process, reducing the risks of cancer and heart disease, and reducing the risks of illness and infection by supporting the immune system. Coenzyme Q10 is another antioxidant in wide usage, as studies have shown it may improve the health of the heart and reduce the effects of heart disease.

Essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3, are also recommended as they are involved in many important processes in the body, including brain function.

After basic nutritional requirements are supported, supplements may be used to target specific needs and health conditions of the dog and cat; and, support the body’s natural healing capacity by providing optimal amounts of nutrients.

Precautions

The overall diet is an important consideration when planning to use nutritional supplementation in the dog and cat. A biologically appropriate diet will help optimize their nutritional intake and support the synergy between nutritional supplement and diet. It is important to remember that nutritional supplements cannot substitute for a diet that is not nutritionally balanced in the first place.

The Benefits of Nutritional Supplementation

One of the best ways to improve a pet’s health is through nutritional supplementation. Just as most people understand the need to supplement their daily diet with vitamins and other nutrients; nutritional supplementation is now regarded as a valuable option for canine and feline performance and health as well.

Concentrated supplements, when formulated to be complete, concentrated and fully balanced can literally transform a maintenance diet into one that provides optimum levels of all nutrients.

Health benefits your pet can achieve through supplementation

  • Achieve full genetic potential
  • Improved skin & coat
  • Stronger muscles and joints
  • Enhanced eye, heart and brain health
  • Optimal functioning of all organ systems
  • Enhanced immune protection
  • Increased antioxidants for life extension

Visual Benefits of Pet Supplementation

  • A more active and playful pet
  • A shinier hair coat with less shedding or matting
  • Healthier skin with less itching, scratching and chewing
  • A more alert pet that responds to commands
  • A pet with more vitality, better health and continued wellness
  • Fewer unnecessary visits to the veterinarian

Filling the Nutritional Gap

Minimum guidelines cannot provide for Optimum Nutritional Health. Supplementation is one sure way to bridge the nutritional gap.

Typical Pet Diet vs. Optimum Nutrition

A Nutritional Gap exists between the “typical pet diet and optimum nutrition.”

Performance Benefits

The list of activities we are able to share with a healthy pet is constantly growing. Dogs have been bred to hunt, retrieve, race and to compete in obedience, agility and conformation. Working dogs pull, guard, seek and rescue. Canine athletes participate in spectacular events that show off their unique ability to be trained to do almost anything. Most importantly, we need to remember that as their performance varies their dietary requirements can change dramatically.

The performance trophy goes to the sled dog. Imagine a 45 pound Siberian Husky that is about to begin the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, which involves running over a hundred miles a day for 10 days in temperatures that chill both the mind and spirit of both man and dog.

Energy requirements are staggering. To meet this dog’s energy needs with a commercially prepared premium dog food one would need to feed upwards to 5-7 pounds of food a day. I did a comparison once where I determined that this was equal to a 170-pound marathon runner having to consume 30 pounds of food just before embarking on a 26-mile race. To accomplish meeting such needs without putting the sled dog into unbelievable gastric pain… mushers have reversed the role of traditional feeding. They build their racing diet from high-quality protein and fat sources and the addition of a lot of concentrated supplements – occasionally adding a little kibble to satisfy endorsement contracts.

Having worked with hundreds of performance dog owners over the years, I can say this with certainty…you must supplement all commercially prepared diets in order to achieve optimum performance. Remember, pet food guidelines do not exist for performance or stress.

Already, thousands of canine owners have witnessed the remarkable improvements in performance & health that Canine ProBalance provides. Thanks to ProBalance, these athletes are enjoying the kind of dynamic energy necessary to be the very best they can be.

Whether your dog was bred for show, agility, obedience, hunting or racing, ProBalance has always produced results. ProBalance has been the supplement of choice by Westminster BIS & Group Champions, Top Shooting Dogs, Field Trial Champions, Top Dock Jumping Dogs, Racing Greyhounds, Lure Course Champions and Iditarod Sled Dog Race Winners.

ProBalance provides the additional high quality, whole-protein complexes that dogs desire most. These proteins are optimally blended to provide the essential building blocks for every organ, tissue and cell in their body.

The overall balance of proteins, fatty acids, all essential vitamins and minerals along with numerous specialty nutrients helps to boost energy levels and increase performance.

The ingredients also foster a healthier outward appearance. When dogs live in a state of optimal health, they show it with a lush, full, shiny coat, bright eyes and the kind of vitality that can’t be overlooked.

The low-calorie, highly concentrated level of nutrients in ProBalance enhances your dog’s metabolism and helps them achieve a lean, muscular body composition. Meanwhile, the unique blend of probiotics facilitates healthy digestion to reduce excess gas & bloating.

Every scoop of ProBalance also offers the correct ratio of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals that support healthy bone density and bone strength.

ProBalance also provides more of the vital antioxidants and potent nutrients that help the body fight off free radical damage – the primary cause of fatigue, illness and disease.

Feline ProBalance also benefits cat health. Optimal growth, health and longevity can be obtained when optimum nutrition is provided throughout a cat’s life.