Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Dairy Products - Cheese, Kefir, Yogurt are Good for Dogs and Cats

In this article…
  • History;
  • Lactose Tolerance in Dogs and Cats v.s Lactose Intolerance;
  • Worried About Your Dog or Cat Gaining Weight?
  • Plain Natural Yogurt and Kefir;
    • Health Benefits;
    • How to Choose a Good Product
  • Cheese;
    • Health Benefits;
    • How to Choose a Good Product
  •  DIY Treats;
  • FAQ
Some organizations and companion pet owners/ guardians are quite adamant that dairy can never be anything but detrimental to a dog’s and cat’s health. But is the outright condemnation of dairy as part of a dog’s or cat’s diet right or wrong? In my opinion they are wrong...


A Glimpse Back in Time

Dairy products have been fed to dogs and cats for many centuries. Kefir is one good example…

2000 years ago, the shepherds of the Caucasian Mountains developed Kefir, a fermented dairy product made from the milk of cows or goats. The dogs that accompanied the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains where fed fresh kefir as part of their daily diet.

Prior to the mass popularization of commercially manufactured grain-based dog and cat food (during and prior to the 1950’s), people fed their companion animals real food, ‘people food’, including dairy products. At that time dogs lived twice the life-span that they do today.

Lactose Tolerance, Lactose Intolerance

Dairy products are not tolerated well by all pets as some dogs and cats are lactose intolerant;

However the majority of dogs and cats do not have an adverse reaction to all dairy products.

My ten dogs eat the following dairy products as part of their daily diet…
  • Cheese;
  • Cottage Cheese;
  • Yogurt or Kefir
My dogs have never had diarrhea or other digestive upset as a result of eating cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or kefir. 

When I was fostering dogs, my foster dogs also had zero adverse reactions to these food items. 

My client’s dogs do not have adverse reactions to these foods.

My two cats eat a little cottage cheese on a daily basis. Sometimes they also eat a piece of cheddar cheese. My cats have never been ill as a result of eating these dairy products.

Best Dairy Foods for Lactose Tolerant Dogs and Cats
For those dogs and cats that are not lactose intolerant, plain all natural Yogurt,
Kefir and certain types of real cheese (as opposed to cheese food, i.e. processed cheese slices, cheese whiz, etc.) can offer many health benefits when provided in proper amounts on a daily basis.

The Best Dairy Foods for Lactose Intolerant Dogs, Cats
Many dogs and cats that are lactose intolerant can eat cheese as most of the lactose is removed during the process of making cheese.

Worried About Weight Gain?

Including reasonable daily amounts of cheese in your dog’s or cat’s daily diet will not cause weight gain nor heart problems.

Recent studies have confirmed that good saturated fat is not associated with obesity and heart disease and is instead associated with improved heart health.  A species appropriate diet for dogs should include about 30% good quality fat in a ratio of 2 parts Omega-3 fatty acids to 1 part Omega-6 fatty acids.

The beneficial qualities of dairy products exponentially increases if the dairy is from organic pasture fed animals. Pasture fed dairy provides:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in a balanced ratio, and;
  • Does not contain the toxins (i.e. antibiotics and steroids, pesticide residue from eating GMO corn, etc,) found in dairy obtained from concentrated animal feeding operations – CAFO raised animals.

Plain, Natural Yogurt and Kefir…

Health Benefits
  • A very good source of probiotics;
  • An excellent source of calcium, iodine and vitamin D;
  • An aid infighting periodontal disease;
  • Can help protect your dog from illness when your dog or cat is on a course of antibiotics;
    • Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract), leaving the immune system suppressed.  Probiotics re-populate the god bacteria;
  • Recent findings by researchers at UCLA have confirmed that the presence of good bacteria in the GI Tract are important for proper brain function. UCLA decided to test this theory on humans as previous research on non-human animals had shown linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviours. You can read about the study here
  • Good source heart healthy omega fatty-acids;
  • Helps prevent parasite infestation and related diseases;
  • Typically one tablespoon of kefir contains 5 billion beneficial bacteria. As a rich and concentrated source of beneficial bacteria the probiotics found in Kefir contribute to health in a wide variety of ways:
    • Contains a substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus;
    • Contains tryptophan, and essential amino acid;
    • Helps prevents illness;
    • Is easily digestible;
    • Is excellent for the immune system;
    • Natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties;
    • Promotes anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body;
    • Promotes the faster healing of wounds.
    • You can read more about kefir here

How to Choose a Good Yogurt or Kefir Product
  • What you do want in the yogurt…
    • Bacterial cultures i.e. 
      • Bifdobacterium lactis; 
      • Lactobacillus acidophilus;
      • Lactobaciullis casei;
      • By the way, you may notice that some dry dog food contains these and other bacteria. Unfortunately probiotic organisms (good bacteria) found in commercial dry dog food is not viable (live and active). These organisms cannot survive the processing and heat that is used to cook and then form the kibble. The inclusion of probiotics in dry dog food is just a sales gimmick which does not deliver any actual value to your dog’s diet.
    • Cream, and/or;
    • Milk or partially skimmed milk;
    • Milk protein concentrate;
  • That’s it! Nothing more. Don’t bother paying more for yogurt that has ‘added probiotics’, as this is another gimmick and scam. A good quality yogurt and kefir (like the one in the picture) naturally generally have more probiotics than those that advertise  ‘added probiotics’.

What you don’t want in the yogurt or kefir…
  • Agar-Agar;
  • Artificial food colours;
  • Artificial sweetners;
  • Carageenan;
  • Corn Starch;
  • Gallan Gum;
  • Gelatine;
  • Tapioca;
  • Lecithin;
  • Modified Corn Starch;
  • Modified Rice Starch;
  • Potassium Sorbate;
  • Sugar;
  • Etc.
    Recommended Daily Intake of Kefir or Yogurt
    • Yogurt
      • Small size dogs and cats - 1 tsp to 1 tbs 
      • Medium size dogs - 1/8 cup
      • Large dogs - 1/3 cup
      • Extra large dogs - 1/2 cup
    • Kefir
      • Small size dogs and cats - 1 tsp to 1 tbs 
      • Medium size dogs - 1 tbs to 2 tbs
      • Large dogs - 2 tbs to 3 tbs 
      • Extra large dogs - 4 tbs to 6 tbs

      As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s diet you should go slow. The probiotics in kefir are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two.



      Natural Cheese
      • Natural cheese, like Kefir is a fermented dairy product;
      • Natural cheese requires very few ingredients:
        • Milk;
        • Full Spectrum Salt - i.e. sea salt, Himalayan salt, NOT common table salt or iodized salt - read more about salt here. Salt is used as a ripening and preservation aid, also for taste.
        • Rennet (an enzyme), and;
        • A starter culture (the making of yogurt and kefir also require a starter culture). 
      Processed cheese food (cheese slices, cheese spray, squeeze cheese from a tube/bottle):
      • Is not good for your dog.
      • Processed Cheese Food is an-over processed ‘food’ that is made from pasteurized dairy and non-dairy ingredients it does not have the same health benefits of real cheese and includes additives that are not good for your dog – i.e. artificial food colour.

      Health Benefits

      Built-in Synergy
      • Cheese contains Calcium, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 – in order for these vitamins to provide the maximum benefit to the body all three need to be consumed together for efficacy.
      pH Balance for Oral Health
      • Eating cheese in an aid in fighting periodontal disease;
        • Eating cheese drops the pH level in the mouth;
        • Lower pH levels help fight plaque, protects tooth enamel and erosion of teeth;
        • Cheddar cheese  contains the highest levels of alkali making it the best cheese for attaining better pH levels in the oral cavity.
      Vitamin K2
      • Cheese is a very good source of vitamin K2;
      • Vitamin K2 is important for heart, brain, bones and more;
      • Calcium is beneficial for bones and blood but it is not beneficial when deposited in the arteries and muscles – vitamin K2 controls where calcium goes or does not go in the body;
      • Fights cancer,
      • Protects nerve cells from oxidative stress;
      • Slows progression of conditions such as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome – CDS (also known as Senile or Old Dog Syndrome – the canine version of Alzheimer’s disease);
      • Promotes the maintenance of healthy bone density;
      • To ensure the best bioavailability (absorption rate) K2 is best combined with fat – a combination that naturally occurs in cheese;
      • Cheese is an excellent source of calcium;
      • The calcium in cheese helps to support oral health in dogs, along with bone and blood health;
      • Cheese is a good source of high quality protein and important amino acids;
      • Cheese is a source of good fats;
      • Dogs need high quality saturated fats (Omega-6 fatty acids) and Omega-3 fatty acids;
      • Required to support skin, coat, ligaments, heart, optimal brain function, and more, you can read more about good fats here and about the negative impacts of insufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids here;
      Essential Minerals 
      • Such as phosphorus and zinc.
      Essential vitamins (in addition to calcium)
      • Such as A, B2 (riboflavin), B12, and D.
      Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
      • CLA is a metabolism booster – helps to prevent weight gain and treat obesity;
      • A powerful cancer inhibitor/fighter;
      • Helps to limit allergic reactions to foods;
      • Promotes health of the circulatory system.

      Choosing a Good Cheese For Your Dog or Cat

      The following cheeses are good choices:
      • Soft Cheese:
        • Cottage Cheese;
      • Harder Cheese:
        • Cheddar cheese;
        • Colby cheese ;
        • Edam cheese ;
        • Gouda cheese;
        • Hard goat cheese;
        • Mozzarella cheese;
        • Swiss cheese.
      Cheese made from the milk of pasture-fed cows (goats, etc.) v.s. grain-feed animals:
      • Has about five (5) times the CLA found in cheese made from grain-fed animals;
      • Contains much higher amounts of calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D and E.
      Raw cheese made from the milk of pasture-fed animals:
      • Retains natural enzymes that increase the nutritional value of the cheese.

      Recommended Daily Intake of Cottage Cheese
      • Small size dogs and cats - 1 tsp to 1 tbs 
      • Medium size dogs - 1 tbs to 2 tbs
      • Large dogs - 2 tbs to 3 tbs 
      • Extra large dogs - 4 tbs to 6 tbs

      Recommended Minimum Daily Intake of Harder Cheese
      • Small size dogs and cats - 1 ounce
      • Medium size dogs - 1 1/2 ounce
      • Large dogs -2 ounces
      • Extra large dogs - 2 1/2 ounces
      • What about the maximum daily dose of harder cheese? 
        • Cheese is beneficial when it remains a portion of your dog's daily food intake, but it should not make up the 'lion's share' of your dog's diet;
        • Maximum amount of cheese provided on a daily basis should remain around double the minimum intake (minimum intake - dose as noted above).

      DIY Nutritious Treats Made with Yogurt and Cheese
      • DIY Smoothies & Frozen Treats for Dogs – Nutrient Rich Refreshing Relief During Hot Weather - recipes and health benefits here.
      • Homemade DIY Natural, Healthy Cheese-included Dog Treats - Recipes and Health Benefits here.

      FAQ – is the ASPCA’s stance on Feeding Pets Dairy Food Right or Wrong?

      The ASPCA’s list ‘People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet’, the ASPCA says that...

      “Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.”

      In my opinion as evidenced by the information I have provided further above:
      The ASPCA’s statement is:
      • Misleading, and; 
      • Too broad in its context.
      On the ASPCA’s list ‘(poison control, ask the expert) People Food’, the ASPCA says that “dairy products may cause stomach upset in some dogs”. Read the ASPCA’s full comment here.

      In my opinion this is a more reasonable statement – although in the absence of additional information it really can discourage people from taking advantage of the many benefits that can be gained from including some dairy products in your companion animal’s diet – as evidenced by the information that I have provided further above.

      Holistic Support

      Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
      If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
      Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
      • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
      • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
      Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
      • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
      • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.

      Tuesday, 2 July 2013

      Is Your Dog Hyper, Insecure, Anxious, Aggressive-Reactive? - These Can be Signs of a Highly Sensitive, Intelligent Dog

      My highly sensitive very dear, sweet Boxer x boy Robbie -
      who wasn't so sweet when he arrived in my pack,
      he was a badly misunderstood dog and an abused dog

      All dogs are intelligent, sensitive beings, but some dogs have an even more acute sensitivity and intelligence - these dogs are what I call 'Heightened Sensitivity' Dogs (HSD) also termed 'Hyper Sensitive' Dogs (HSD).

      Highly sensitive tends to be a term that has less negative connotations - at least in North America. Due to the increasingly high volume of children and dogs (in North America) diagnosed as ADHD (attention deficit, hyper-active disorder) the term 'hyper sensitive' tends to have a more negative connotation than the term 'highly sensitive'.

      It is my very firm belief - proven by the work that I do with such dogs - that dogs that are being diagnosed (i.e. by veterinarians, behaviorists, and dog trainers) as ADHD are in fact not ADHD - they are instead HSD.

      Heightened sensitivity dogs, like all dogs, need structure, adequate physical and mental exercise - no more or less so than any other dog. The HS dog does require that their human communicate with true clarity and they require a diet that supports optimal health as do all dogs. They do not require chemical-based medications such as Reconcile (Prozac for dogs).

      Heightened sensitivity can be found in many species - including 2-leggeds, humans! These individuals are called HSP...highly sensitive people. 

      Heightened sensitivity (HS) in both dogs and people can be an amazing gift and an asset that benefits the HS individual and others with whom they come into contact with. 

      Heightened sensitivity can also led to problems when it is not recognized, understood and positively levereged.

      I am an HSP and some of the dogs in my own pack are HSD. The attributes that come with HSP have allowed me to understand and work with people and their dogs to an extent that would not be possible if I were not HSP.  Had I not taken control of this ability, hypersensitivity could become a detriment rather than an asset - as over sensitivity can lead to flooding of  senses and result in anxiety. Just as a dog can become flooded by over-stimulation, resulting in a state of anxiety and distress.

      HS dogs are amazing as they have the ability to learn and connect with people in a capacity that can exceed the capacity of other dogs. These type of dogs in particular offer a great gift to the human that is willing to learn from the dog...

      As Edward Hoagland said...

      "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." 

      I work with many dogs that exhibit over-threshold behaviours yet when the dog is given the opportunity to be effectively, respectfully communicated with and directed in a truly logical and patient manner the dog will usually choose to accept the direction provided. Positive leveraging. 

      The basis for my work with people and their dogs is teaching people to see what is really occurring and not what they assume is occurring, to teach them how to take positive control by communicating effectively, to teach them how to create a supportive structure for themselves and their dog(s). Real understanding, real control from a place of self-awareness, self-discipline, self-restraint and good communication - deliberately positive creators and communicators. 

      As John Lubbock said "What we see mainly depends on what we look for".

      My experience working and living with dogs has shown me time and time again that dogs do exactly what their human tells them to do…the problem is that the human may have a very low level of self-awareness. So for example if you communicate to another human or a dog from a state of frustration, ire or anger what you get back usually reflects your own state.  When a human is emotional and reactive and they create emotion and reactivity in others. Pure logic – and dogs love logic even more than humans do becasue dogs are better communicators than most humans today. 

      I cross-post so many beautiful dogs that are no different than my dear Boxer cross 'Robbie'. Sensitive, intelligent dogs that end-up in high-kill 'shelters' because the dog's people did not understand how to effectively communicate. So many wonderful souls lost to a death they did not deserve. 

      So is Your Dog an HSD?

      • Is not a disorder;
      • Is not a disadvantage when recognized, and;
      • In fact it can be a valuable gift and advantage - which simply presents another layer of intelligence...for example:
        •  An HSP or HSD can quickly read the mood of another person (human/canine); can pick up the scent of illness, sense the onset of a seizure before it occurs, be extra attentive, etc.
      Some signs that your dog (or you!) are hypersensitive are:
        •  Heightened levels of awareness/sensitivity to:
          • Physical stimuli, i.e. sound, sight, touch, smell ;
          • Emotional Stimuli, i.e. emotions of others;
          • Easily over-whelmed - 'flooded' by too much stimuli.
      • A person or dog that is hyper sensitive is more likely than a non HSP or HSD to suffer from:
        • Allergies, asthma, skin conditions such as eczema.   
      Dogs that are HS may show acute signs of hyper-active behaviour if good leadership is lacking in the dog's life.  

      An HSD does not require more physical exercise than a non-HS dog;  
        • In-fact over stimulation with non-structured exercise will create more hyperactivity as the dog is not presented with the opportunity to reconnect with its natural inclination to relax and go into a calm and restful state.
      The remedy is to provide:
      • The dog with the structure it needs to be a fulfilled well-adjusted being;
      • An equal balance between appropriate quantity of physical and psychological exercise;
      An example of the positive attributes of HSP/HSD
      I am an HSP...
      • I see my hypersensitivity as a great gift is it allows me to work with dogs and their humans in a manner that others cannot;
        • I can sense things that a non-HSP would not be able to sense;
        • I can alert to a person's thoughts and read them as a dog does;
        • I can read/sense a dog more as another dog would;
        • I can from personal experience understand how a dog get's flooded by stimuli;
        • I can sense and work intuitively to shift my methods in the most subtle of ways to better suit the individual dog.
      If you want to see an example of: 
      • A hypersensitive dog;
      • The extreme damage that can be done to the dog in the absence of intelligent leadership, and;
      • The impact of giving that dog proper leadership; 
      HS dogs offer the human the opportunity to learn and grow into a better human being. I learn from dogs everyday - each dog is an individual and each dog has something new to share with you...but that can only happen if you open your senses and expand your awareness.

      Dogs are one of the few animals that have a simialr muscular facial structure to humans, dogs do smile and express many emotions in their facial expressions - dogs use all of there senses to communicate...when a human only uses their voice backed-up with unrestrained emotion your dog will listen to you and do exactly what you are telling them to do - be emotional and reactive. 

      The last word of this article goes to George Bernard Shaw...

       "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place".

      Additional Assistance

      Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
      If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
      Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
      • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
      • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
      Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
      • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
      • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.