We Are What We Eat – Food is the Key to Your Dog’s Longevity.
Within the breadth of the mammalian kingdom, domestic dogs stand out, not only for their phenotypic diversity but also because of their shared environment, and access to advanced healthcare, with humans. Such unique parallels position dogs as invaluable models to understand the intricacies of ageing. This examination delves into the significance of nutrition in slowing aging in dogs and improving overall health and longevity.
There are numerous aspects to ageing in dogs, with all of their organs and systems subject to the unfortunate, but inevitable process. Here we decode the best ways to tackle this decline in a natural and holistic way.
Tackling Canine Obesity: A Crucial Aspect of Dog Health and Ageing
Obesity is a malaise that transcends species, adversely affecting both humans and dogs. As of 2019, more than half of the canine population was reported to be either obese or overweight—a leap from 45% in 2015 . Such excessive weight predisposes dogs to a plethora of chronic illnesses, mirroring those in humans, ranging from diabetes and cardiovascular disease to cancer and more.
In particular, obesity has been directly associated with the advent of conditions such as diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, and urinary incontinence in dogs , with increased adiposity negatively impacting respiratory function [2, 3], causing metabolic disruptions like insulin resistance [4, 5, 6, 7], and impairing renal health . The stark consequence of these health issues is a significant shortening of lifespan , which no pet owner would wish upon their canine companions.
Exercise: The Complementary Ally of Nutrition
Regular exercise is essential for dogs, aiding not only in calorie expenditure but also in maintaining vital organ function, muscle mass, and bone strength . It is also effective in reducing inflammation risks. For dogs needing weight loss, incrementally increasing their current exercise levels can be beneficial. A daily walk of 30-40 minutes is generally recommended, though this may vary depending on the breed and individual needs of the dog.
As outlined below exercise alone is not the answer to ensuring our dogs weight is managed and controlled, what we feed them, and the amount they eat plays a significant role in managing their ideal weight.
Dietary Strategy: Mastering Canine Weight Control
The axiom for weight management holds that diet accounts for 60-70% of the regimen, with exercise contributing to the remaining 30-40%. It’s vital to accurately ascertain the amount of food a dog requires, considering factors beyond activity level to include factors such as breed, size, weight, age, and neutering status. Guidelines on dog food packaging can often be misleading, as they tend to be predicated on the needs of active, adult dogs and do not account for the lessened energy requirements of neutered or less active dogs.
The feeding guidelines are also most often based on weight bands rather than actual dog weight further complicating the calculation of feeding amounts.
Overfeeding is a common pitfall, given the use of scoops or cups instead of electronic scales, which leads to inconsistent portion sizes — in a study on feeding accuracy a 47% underestimation to 152% overestimation in the volume of food measured was observed . This underscores the risk of inadvertent overfeeding.
The Role of Fibre in a Canine Diet
Fibre plays an integral role in promoting satiety, aiding digestion, enhancing the gut microbiome, mitigating anal sac issues, and improving stool quality. Yet, the daily diet of many dogs is deficient in fibre, which can result in less satiation after meals and a subsequent increase in food cravings.
Introducing Bonza: A Plant-Based Paradigm
Bonza has developed a 100% natural, plant-based dog food formula rich in fibre, designed to leave dogs feeling fuller for longer, without compromising on the nutritional balance. The importance of feeding dogs with an accurate portion of food for each meal is paramount, and Bonza’s innovative feeding calculator employs an algorithm to calculate the precise daily intake of food necessary for maintaining a healthy weight.
Concluding Thoughts on Nutrition and Canine Ageing
As our understanding of canine ageing advances, the emphasis on nutrition as a cornerstone for health and longevity becomes more pronounced. A focus on accurate feeding and a high-fibre diet appears to be instrumental in the quest to slow ageing in our dogs. In harmony with the belief that a well-considered diet is instrumental for health, the potential of nutrition as a fountain of youth for our beloved dogs is increasingly evident.
Combating Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: Nutrition at the Forefront
The Rising Tide of Brain Ageing and Canine Cognitive Decline
As we observe our beloved dogs reaching their golden years, it becomes increasingly evident that, akin to humans, they are susceptible to the wear and tear of time, manifesting as cognitive decline and dementia. Statistics paint a sobering picture: 28% of canines aged between 11 and 12 show signs of cognitive impairment, a figure that dramatically escalates to 68% in those aged 15 to 16 (2). It is estimated that over 15 million dogs across Europe are grappling with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) — a sobering testament to the vulnerability of our canine companions as they age.
Dispelling Myths Around Age-Related Cognitive Decline
It’s crucial to debunk common myths surrounding canine ageing and cognitive decline: the inevitability of cognitive impairment, the rarity of CCD, and the absence of effective preventatives or treatments. The fact that 32% of dogs in their advanced teen years remain unscathed by cognitive issues is a beacon of hope, underscoring that dementia is not an assured fate.
Early Detection: Key to Slowing Down Cognitive Deterioration
Identifying the early signs of cognitive decline is paramount in the intervention and potential reversal of brain function deterioration. Symptoms such as disorientation, anxiety, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, and loss of house training may all be indicators of CCD. Addressing these concerns early with a veterinarian is crucial, and for Bonza subscribers, the added benefit of VidiVet provides a constant vet support network for advice.
Risk Factors and Interventions for Canine Brain Health
Various factors, including age, epilepsy, and a sedentary lifestyle, compound the risk of cognitive decline. However, intervention strategies exist that can help stave off CCD:
- Exercise: A daily routine of physical activity is as beneficial for dogs as it is for humans, aiding both physical and cognitive vitality.
- Mental Stimulation: Keeping a dog’s mind active through varied walks and play activities can significantly delay cognitive decline. As dogs age, maintaining consistent routines in feeding and walking can offer comfort and stability.
Nutrition: A Pillar in Combatting Cognitive Decline
Research has illuminated the profound impact of nutrition in addressing, and in some cases, reversing cognitive decline. Diets rich in antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors, such as Omega-3 with DHA, EPA and DPA and L-carnitine, have shown to lower oxidative stress and damage to the brain (1). Clinical studies in senior dogs demonstrate that those fed with antioxidant-enriched diets exhibit marked improvements in behaviour associated with ageing compared to those on standard senior dog food (2).
Furthermore, dietary supplementation with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), found in substances like coconut oil, has revealed noticeable advancements in cognitive capabilities over prolonged periods (4, 5). Intriguingly, diets fortified with antioxidants have proven more efficacious in mitigating cognitive decline than standalone supplements formulated to support brain health or reduce the effects of brain ageing in dogs (6).
Bonza’s commitment to canine cognitive health is reflected in its specially formulated nutrition, featuring PhytoPlus® — a potent blend of plant-based phytochemicals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and mitochondrial co-factors. This blend is crafted to counter inflammation and oxidative damage, the principal antagonists of brain ageing and CCD.
Embracing Nutrition for Canine Cognitive Excellence
The bond we share with our canine friends impels us to seek the best pathways to preserve their mental acuity as they age. As research evolves, the integral role of targeted nutrition in sustaining and enhancing cognitive health is becoming increasingly apparent. Through informed dietary choices, we can offer our dogs, not just longer lives, but also the chance for their later years to be filled with improved mental clarity and the joy that brings.
Heart Health – The Importance of Diet for Cardiovascular Support in Dogs
The Prevalence of Canine Heart Disease
Heart disease is a significant health concern for dogs, mirroring the situation in humans. Roughly 10% of dogs endure heart disease, and the risk doubles for dogs older than nine years. The causes of heart disease in dogs are multifaceted, with factors such as ageing, obesity, breed specifics, and nutrition all contributing to the condition. The most frequent heart-related ailment in small breeds over five years of age is heart valve problems.
Early Recognition Is Critical
It is vital to detect heart disease early in dogs, particularly since 95% of heart conditions in canines develop with age. Early diagnosis is essential, which is why regular heart check-ups by a vet should be an integral part of a dog’s healthcare regime.
Understanding Canine Heart Disease
Humans and dogs suffer from different types of heart conditions. While humans often face coronary artery disease characterised by plaque accumulation in the arteries, this is not a concern for dogs. Instead, dogs typically suffer from valve disease or heart muscle disease.
Valvular disease, especially mitral valve disease (MVD), accounts for about 80-85% of all heart disease in dogs, with male dogs being 1.5 times more likely to suffer from it. MVD manifests as a leak in the mitral valve, often detectable by a veterinarian through a stethoscope because it produces a heart murmur.
Risk is higher in small to medium-sized dogs under 20 kg, including breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Schnauzers. Symptoms of MVD can range from coughing and low energy to weight loss and fainting.
Nutrition’s Role in Managing MVD
Nutrition is pivotal in managing MVD. A study highlighted in BMC Veterinary Research in 2019 (1) outlined a Cardiac Protection Blend (CPB) that could slow or even prevent the progression of MVD. This blend includes medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), EPA, DHA, Vitamin E, taurine, and DL-methionine, all of which are integral to cardiac health.
Bonza has incorporated all of these elements, alongside anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients, into their food to support dogs best heart health.
Heart Muscle Disease
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a less common but severe condition, often genetic, where the heart muscles weaken, leading to congestive heart failure. Certain breeds are more predisposed to DCM, and symptoms can take months or years to manifest.
The DCM and Diet Controversy
Concerns were raised in July 2018 by the FDA about the potential link between grain-free diets and an increase in DCM. However, extensive research has since shown no direct correlation between such diets, taurine deficiencies, and DCM (1, 2, 3, 4,).
A study published in the Journal of Animal Science in August 2021 suggested that supplements like carnitine could benefit dogs with diseases causing metabolic or oxidative stress, including cardiac diseases (5).
The Role of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Research indicates a strong connection between inflammation, oxidative stress, and heart disease in dogs (7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Breeds most at risk for cardiac issues have been well-documented (12, 13, 14, 15).
Addressing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress Through Nutrition
The reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress through diet is an effective strategy for enhancing canine heart health (16, 17, 18). Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA, are known to mitigate these conditions (19, 20). Probiotics also play a role in improving gut health, which is linked to various chronic diseases (21).
Bonza’s Superfoods and Ancient Grains vegan dog food is the only food specifically formulated to include heart-supportive nutrients like DL-methionine, L-carnitine, and taurine, while also offering the benefits of probiotics and Omega-3.
Bonza’s vegan dog food contains PhytoPlus®, a proprietary blend of phytonutrients aimed at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, making it a unique choice for owners looking to support their dog’s cardiovascular health through diet.
The Vital Role of Nutrition in Slowing the Ageing of Bones, Muscles, and Joints in Canines
The musculoskeletal system of your beloved canine – encompassing bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, and other connective tissues – is the cornerstone of their bodily support, movement, and organ protection. The interconnectivity of this system with other bodily systems, like the nervous and vascular systems, underscores the potential for systemic disorders to impact musculoskeletal health.
Proactive prevention of joint and muscle problems is always more advantageous than seeking cures. Dogs of all breeds and ages require some form of exercise for fitness, mental health, and overall well-being. The quantity and nature of this exercise must be tailored to your dog’s specific needs, as consistent and regular activity is pivotal for maintaining robust bone health. Conversely, erratic exercise schedules can lead to underutilised bones and joints, leading to potential health issues – not to mention an unhappy and potentially distressed dog.
Excessive weight in dogs is a major contributor to health issues, notably affecting joint and muscle health. Conditions like hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis are exacerbated by the added stress on joints due to excess weight, which can also lead to inactivity and further weight gain. Moreover, adipose tissue – the body fat – is not merely inert but actively contributes to inflammation, exacerbating health issues (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Control of your dog’s weight through careful monitoring of food and treat intake is essential. The use of body condition scores (BCS) and muscle condition scores helps in averting overweight (BCS 6-7/9) and obese (BCS 8-9/9) statuses in dogs.
Studies have established a link between overweight dogs and osteoarthritis (6), with research indicating that dogs on a 25% reduced diet delayed the onset of chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, maintained better BCS, and showed an extended lifespan by approximately 1.8 years (7).
Bonza’s dog food is meticulously crafted to provide comprehensive support for your dog’s joints, muscles, and bones. It includes a nutritious blend of oats, sweet potato, chickpeas, peas, potato, fava beans, and nutritional yeast. These ingredients ensure a balanced diet rich in the necessary nutrients for musculoskeletal health, and are also a source of fibre, that aids in weight management and gut health.
Understanding Canine Hip Dysplasia:
First documented in the 1930s, hip dysplasia is a genetic and degenerative joint disease predominantly seen in larger breeds, although it can occur in dogs of any size. Affected dogs suffer from improperly developed or deteriorating ball and socket joints in their hips, leading to painful friction rather than smooth joint movement, often resulting in osteoarthritis.
Managing Hip Dysplasia Naturally:
Management strategies for hip dysplasia focus on prevention and support, with diet and exercise being paramount. Maintaining an ideal weight eases joint strain, potentially reducing the risk and impact of hip dysplasia. A well-balanced diet, like Bonza’s plant-based offerings, can ensure satiety and aid in weight management, while supplements for joint support can be beneficial throughout a dog’s life.
Canine Osteoarthritis Explained:
Osteoarthritis in dogs is a chronic inflammation of the joints, arising from cartilage degradation. It is particularly common among overweight and large breed dogs, with certain breeds being genetically predisposed (1, 2, 3). Trauma, abnormal joint wear, and other disorders can contribute to secondary OA (5). Symptoms include chronic pain and stiffness, which can severely impact a dog’s quality of life.
Addressing Osteoarthritis Naturally:
When managing OA, the goal is to maximise comfort and function while minimising pain. A variety of herbs, Boswellia, turmeric, Eremostachys laciniata, Eucommia ulmoides, chamomile, Ashwagandha and ginger. are known to mitigate inflammation and pain associated with OA (6).
Weight Management’s Role in Arthritis:
Excess weight is detrimental to arthritis due to the physical load and inflammatory compounds in body fat. Reducing your dog’s weight to an appropriate Body Condition Score can significantly improve their joint function and pain levels.
Bonza’s diet is designed to support weight management, with a focus on plant-based ingredients that have been shown to promote satiety and overall health.
Exercise as a Management Tool for Arthritis:
Contrary to outdated beliefs, exercise is vital for dogs with arthritis, emphasizing the need for regular, low-impact, and controlled activity rather than complete rest.
Supplements for Arthritis Relief:
While NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for joint stiffness and arthritis, natural alternatives can provide inflammation relief without the potential adverse effects associated with these drugs (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Bonza prioritises natural, plant-based ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties to support dogs in managing joint pain effectively.
In summary, Bonza’s holistic approach to canine nutrition, emphasising the importance of exercise, weight management, and natural supplements, illustrates the significant role that a well-considered diet plays in the health of your dog’s musculoskeletal system. By incorporating these elements into your dog’s routine, you provide a robust foundation for their overall health and longevity and helping to slow the progress of ageing.
Vision in Canines: The Significance of Maintaining Eye Health
Despite the supremacy of their olfactory capabilities, a dog’s vision plays a pivotal role in their ability to interpret their environment, complementing their sense of hearing.
As dogs age, their eyes undergo transformations similar to humans, with conditions like retinal deterioration and nuclear sclerosis (cloudy lens) commonly impairing their visual acuity. The importance of dogs eye health to their quality of life as they age can not be overstated.
Underlying Causes of Canine Vision Impairments
The loss of vision or outright blindness in canines is often attributed to the natural aging process, physical trauma, or disease. Macular degeneration is a prevalent issue, particularly affecting the macula, the central region of the retina, and can range from minor visual impairment to total blindness.
The increasing incidence of diabetes in canines is also a significant contributor to vision problems, with factors like obesity and diet playing crucial roles. Cataracts, leading to vision deterioration, manifest when the eye’s lens becomes opaque, preventing light from adequately reaching the retina, a condition known as nuclear sclerosis.
Glaucoma, characterised by excruciating pain, arises from increased fluid pressure within the eye, damaging both the retina and optic nerves. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) are both genetic maladies leading to blindness, with the latter occurring abruptly and resulting in total vision loss within days or weeks.
Systemic issues such as high blood pressure, Cushing’s disease, and malfunctions in the heart, liver, or kidneys can also lead to a decline in eyesight. Corneal ulcers, usually stemming from injuries or foreign objects in the eye, cause the cornea to develop sores.
Detecting Eye Health and Vision Issues in Your Dog
Your dog’s eyes can communicate much about their overall health and well-being. Recognising the signs of healthy eyes and identifying when to seek veterinary help is crucial.
- Inspect your dog’s eyes in a well-lit area. They should appear clear, bright, and the surrounding whites should be just that—white. Pupils ought to be equal in size without any discharge or tearing. Any cloudiness, discoloration, or visible third eyelid warrants a veterinary consultation.
- Gently lower your dog’s eyelid to check the lining, which should be pink, not red or white.
- If your dog is experiencing runny eyes or discharge, carefully clean the area with a warm, damp cotton pad. Persistent problems may indicate an infection, requiring veterinary attention.
- For dogs with longer coats, ensure that the fur around their eyes is trimmed to avoid irritation.
- Exercise caution when using sprays or grooming products to prevent eye irritation.
- Frequent pawing or rubbing at their eyes usually signals an issue that might necessitate professional care.
- Certain breeds are predisposed to eye conditions; research your dog’s breed for potential risks.
Prompt veterinary assessment is advised if you suspect any issues with your dog’s vision. Eye conditions seldom improve without intervention and can worsen if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Minor conditions like entropion are often easily corrected, while cataracts may require surgery, which boasts a high success rate in restoring vision in dogs. Bacterial infections might need specific medications, and in the case of corneal ulcers, removal of foreign bodies might be necessary through surgery.
Supporting Your Dog’s Vision and Eye Health
The most frequent eye conditions in dogs include cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Preventive care is usually more effective than treatment after the fact.
A nutritious diet rich in antioxidants can be a formidable defence against vision deterioration, combating oxidative damage that can affect the eyes. Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, found in vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as in egg yolks, can help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration [1,2,3,4].
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA found in oily fish, and preferentially in seaweed or algal extracts, are anti-inflammatory and support the integrity of cell membranes, safeguarding the retina [6, 7].
Bonza’s plant-based offerings for dogs include a blend of ingredients rich in antioxidants and Omega-3s including the highly beneficial DHA, EPA and DPA, aiming to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, thus supporting your dog’s eye health and vision.
Oral and Dental Wellbeing in Dogs
The prevalence of dental ailments in canines is alarmingly high, with dental or periodontal disease affecting over 80% of dogs by the time they reach the age of three. Ensuring excellent dental care for your dog is crucial for their health and overall comfort.
Understanding Dental Disease in Canines
Dental disease impacts a dog’s teeth, gums, and the support structures surrounding the teeth. It commences with the accumulation of plaque, which amalgamates bacteria and food remnants.
If not removed, plaque solidifies into tartar. Tartar above the gum line is conspicuous and can be readily eliminated by your vet during a professional dental clean. Yet, pristine white teeth do not guarantee oral health; tartar beneath the gumline poses a serious concern.
Tartar under the gumline leads to inflammation, potentially harming tooth-supporting structures and causing infections. Advanced dental disease can result in significant dental issues and discomfort for your dog.
Indications of dental disease include:
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Loose teeth
- Offensive breath (halitosis)
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Aversion or difficulty in consuming food and liquids
- Excessive salivation
We must strive to provide the same level of dental care for our dogs that we seek for ourselves.
Beyond the immediate effects such as tooth damage, oral discomfort, and halitosis, the gravest concern is the risk of organ damage.
Bacteria from plaque can invade the bloodstream, a process known as bacteraemia, spreading to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver, potentially causing severe illness. Maintaining robust oral health in your dog is pivotal in forestalling bacteraemia and subsequent organ harm.
Regular tooth brushing is an excellent method for maintaining your dog’s dental cleanliness, but there are also natural preventative measures for supporting their oral health.
The myth that dry kibble acts as an efficient plaque and calculus remover is widespread, yet the reality is that it has minimal impact and is not an effective dental care strategy.
Bonza introduces various ingredients purposefully chosen to bolster your dog’s oral and dental health.
Clinical evidence supports the efficacy of brown seaweed (Ascophyllum Nodosum) in reducing dental plaque and enhancing the condition of gums and teeth in canines (1). Bonza’s vegan dog food incorporates this specific variety of seaweed in its seaweed blend to aid in sustaining your pet’s oral health.
Moreover, this brown seaweed has been documented to alleviate periodontal disease and malodorous breath in dogs.
A study demonstrated that administering edible treats infused with Ascophyllum nodosum to adult dogs for a span of 90 days resulted in a 40% reduction in plaque and a 20% decrease in calculus formation (5).
Complementing seaweed, Bonza’s botanical food blend includes Echinacea, Sage and Chamomile, all known for their beneficial effects on canine oral and dental health, particularly against gingivitis and periodontal disease which are also causes of foul breath ((2, 4).
Echinacea, recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties, including those affecting gingival tissues in the mouth, has been shown to rival Chlorhexidine Mouthwash in reducing oral microbial flora (3).
Through its plant-based ingredients, Bonza supports not only the freshest breath for your dog, but also their comprehensive oral and dental health.
The Importance of Skin and Coat Health In Ageing
The hallmark of a vigorous, healthy dog is a coat that gleams with a natural sheen.
However, when a dog exhibits signs of a dry, flaky coat, it can often be an indicator of underlying health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), or even liver and kidney dysfunctions, not to mention potential nutritional deficiencies.
Veterinarians routinely inspect the state of a dog’s coat and skin as a preliminary indicator of overall well-being.
Understanding Your Dog’s Skin and Coat Health
Comprising 10-15% of their total body mass, a dog’s skin and coat are their largest organ. The skin structure includes the hypodermis, primarily composed of adipose tissue, the robust dermis with its collagen makeup, and the outer epidermis.
The dermis, rich in metabolic activity, houses the sebaceous glands and hair follicles, which secrete sebum. This oily substance ensures the skin and coat remain moist, offering protection against the friction resulting from movement.
Keratinocytes in the epidermis produce keratin, a waxy substance that helps prevent water loss from the skin.
The dog’s coat is made of thousands of hairs, which, due to environmental exposure, are in a constant state of renewal. Shedding, a normal process influenced by temperature and daylight hours (photoperiod), is a familiar phenomenon to pet owners, particularly noticeable in dogs that spend much time indoors where shedding can be year-round.
The Multifaceted Role of the Skin and Coat
- Protection: Beyond aesthetics, the skin and coat are the first line of defence against environmental insults, including temperature extremes, trauma, and UV radiation. Nerve endings within the skin enable your dog to sense variations in their environment, like heat and pressure.
- Immunity: The skin is a critical component of the immune system, warding off infections and serious bacterial-induced illnesses.
- Thermoregulation: By adjusting hair follicles, your dog’s coat maintains optimal body temperature, either insulating against the cold or allowing for cooling.
- Hydration: Dogs lack significant sweat glands, so the skin plays a crucial role in hydration. An unhealthy skin can lead to excessive water loss, impacting both hydration and metabolic energy demands.
- Nutrient Storage: The skin serves as a reservoir for nutrients such as proteins, enzymes, fatty acids, and several vitamins. Hair, being primarily protein, uses up to 35% of a dog’s protein intake for maintenance.
Vital nutrients such as vitamin D, despite being synthesized differently in dogs, along with minerals like zinc, copper, and selenium, are concentrated in the skin due to their role in various biological reactions.
Diet is paramount in the condition of your dog’s coat. Nutrient-rich diets containing omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and essential vitamins and minerals are vital.
• Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) help maintain skin health and coat luster. EPA, in particular, is effective against inflammation.
• Linoleic acid (Omega-6), found in oils like sunflower and flaxseed, is crucial for combating dry, flaky skin and is often lacking in dogs with such conditions.
• Zinc is key due to the high turnover of cells in the skin. Insufficient zinc can lead to skin infections and a lackluster coat.
• Biotin and B vitamins support the metabolic processes, particularly in relation to fats which are essential for the skin’s health.
Studies have proven that the combination of omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid, and zinc can enhance coat gloss and alleviate dry skin (1).
Regular grooming complements dietary measures to promote skin and coat health.
In the quest for peak skin and coat condition, diet leads the way.
Bonza’s plant-based dog food formulation champions skin and coat health with a balanced blend of oils and extracts, including sunflower, rapeseed, and coconut oils, alongside algal oil extract, ensuring a perfect harmony of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Further, a proprietary mix of beneficial herbs and botanicals such as Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Reishi Mushrooms, Turmeric, and Chamomile is included to address skin complaints and enhance the overall condition of your dog’s skin and coat, synergising with Bonza’s high-quality ingredients to promote the very best in canine dermatological health.
Navigating and Alleviating Canine Anxiety with Natural Approaches
Dogs, much like their human companions, can grapple with anxiety. This natural emotional response is common across breeds, though it manifests differently in each canine. Occasional anxiety is expected; however, without intervention, it can spiral into a more severe disorder, resulting in negative behaviours and additional complications.
Identifying anxiety in dogs is crucial for timely and effective treatment. But what causes canine anxiety, and how can you naturally mitigate and manage it for your furry friend?
Roots of Canine Anxiety
The Merck Veterinary Manual outlines various triggers for dog anxiety, with fear, separation, and aging being prime catalysts.
Fear-induced anxiety in dogs might stem from loud sounds, unfamiliar people or animals, specific visuals (like hats), new environments, particular scenarios (e.g., visits to the vet or car journeys), or even textures underfoot such as grass or wood floors. For some dogs, these stimuli trigger transient reactions, but for those prone to anxiety, the effects can be more significant.
About 14% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, demonstrating distress and potentially destructive behavior when away from their human family. These behaviors can include inappropriate elimination, barking, and property destruction.
As dogs age, they can develop anxiety related to cognitive decline, akin to early Alzheimer’s in humans, which can cause confusion and anxiety in older dogs.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Your Dog
Be on the lookout for signs such as:
- Inappropriate elimination
- Excessive drooling
- Destructive behavior
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
Natural Management and Prevention Strategies
Veterinary insight is invaluable for discerning the underlying cause of a dog’s anxiety. Once health concerns are ruled out, natural remedies can often soothe and bring your dog back to a state of contentment.
Matching your stress levels, your dog may also feel anxiety when routines are disrupted, such as missing regular walks. Physical activity is a cornerstone of canine well-being, alleviating stress by enabling your dog to expend energy and enjoy stimulation from their environment.
Mental exercise can be as tiring as physical activity. Teaching new commands or tricks can focus a dog’s mind away from stressors and provide essential interaction with their owner, tackling boredom and stress simultaneously.
A study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow suggested that music, particularly soft rock and reggae, could calm anxious dogs. Observe your dog’s response to various tunes to identify what soothes them best.
Massage and acupuncture are other avenues to explore. Specific body points respond to gentle pressure or acupuncture, potentially easing anxiety more effectively than conventional medications, and without the side effects.
Preventive measures include sidestepping known stress-inducing situations. If dog parks make your pet uneasy, find alternative places to visit.
Nutrition and Anxiety
What your dog eats plays a pivotal role in their mental health. Research indicates that plant-based diets may foster more positive moods, attributed to the amino acid tryptophan’s role in serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter closely linked with happiness and a sense of calm.
A dietary focus on plant proteins and complex carbohydrates might enhance serotonin synthesis, contributing to tranquility. For example, Bonza’s plant-based offerings are rich in tryptophan and anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, ginger, chamomile, ashwagandha, and reishi mushroom. These can work in concert to reduce anxiety.
In the realm of nutritional psychiatry, inflammation is a recognized contributor to anxiety-related disorders (2). An anti-inflammatory diet could be a significant factor in managing a dog’s anxiety. Bonza combines omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, complex carbohydrates, and anti-inflammatory herbs to potentially decrease anxiety and enhance well-being in dogs.
By embracing these natural approaches, you can not only identify and understand your dog’s anxiety but also provide them with a holistic path to a happier and more peaceful life.
Exploring Canine Immunity: How to Fortify Your Dog’s Health Defence Mechanisms
Delving into the intricate network of your dog’s immune system, you’ll find an advanced coalition of cells and biological structures dedicated to shielding your four-legged friend from harmful invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The immune system is pivotal to your pet’s well-being, operating alongside a nutritious diet and a strong physiological framework as a cornerstone of overall health.
A robust immune system is less prone to illness, emphasising the significance of equilibrium within this complex system. Moreover, managing this system is key to preventing chronic inflammation, which can result in swelling at the site of infections like cuts. But when inflammation persists, it can usher in a plethora of diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, and various cardiac and liver conditions.
American veterinary nutrition expert, Dr. Donna Raditic, highlights the immune system’s role in identifying and correcting cells that are either deteriorating or malfunctioning, such as overactive cancer cells, to sustain balance within the body’s functions.
It’s also critical to recognise the impact of stress on immune health. Stressors such as separation anxiety, unfamiliar environments, or loud noises can lead to gastrointestinal distress as the body releases cortisol to manage stress. This hormone, while regulating health aspects like weight and skin condition, can suppress the immune system if produced in excess, leaving your dog vulnerable to infections.
To Boost Your Dog’s Immunity, Consider These Steps:
Exercise: Physical activity is essential. Obesity can lead to a weakened immune response as excess fat—especially abdominal fat—promotes inflammatory immune cells, damaging the body. Dr. Ken Tudor, a holistic veterinary practitioner, notes that fat secretes numerous inflammation-inducing hormones, so maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for your pet’s immune health.
Nutrition: What your dog consumes lays the groundwork for their immune capabilities. “The gut represents roughly 70 percent of your dog’s immune system,” states Dr. Susan Wynn, indicating that a diet’s impact on the gut microbiome is profound. Dr. Laurie Coger warns against the inflammation that high-starch diets can cause. Instead, focusing on fiber-rich diets can significantly enhance the microbiome and, subsequently, the dog’s immune defense.
Key components like probiotics and Omega-3 fatty acids (especially EPA and DHA from sources like fish, krill, or algae) are essential for gut and overall health, with an optimal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio being close to 1:1 to avoid inflammatory effects.
Furthermore, an array of herbs, botanicals, and adaptogens can significantly bolster your dog’s immunity. Clinically recognized adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Siberian Ginseng, along with spices like ginger and cinnamon, support immune function.
The concept of Immunonutrition has gained traction, focusing on nutrients that enhance immune responses and disease resistance through their influence on inflammatory pathways and white blood cells. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods are not just beneficial for overall health but integral to a well-functioning immune system.
Bonza’s plant-based dog food emerges as a powerhouse, infusing complex carbohydrates, fibres, and PhytoPlus®, their exclusive mix of herbs, adaptogens, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components. This blend is crafted to alleviate stress, reduce inflammation, and amplify your canine’s immune resilience, equipping them with the natural defences necessary for a thriving, healthy life.
Holistic Approach to Slowing Ageing in Dogs
In conclusion it is vital that we support our dogs health and ageing with a nose to tail approach to their overall wellbeing.
Adopting a prevention is better than the cure helps to ensure that at all stages through their precious lives the most important aspects of their bodies health is not just supported but also nurtured and protected from the inevitable stressors they will likely encounter.
A dog’s diet forms the nutritional foundation for delivering their best health and slowing the ageing process.
Bonza Superfoods and Ancient Grains formula provides a unique bioactive, and natural, approach to supporting each aspect of a dog’s physiological, and psychological, health and wellbeing. This in turn supports a slowing of the ageing process, both mental and physical.