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Food Therapy for Dogs

Veterinarian Reviewed on February 29, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Dinner Time
Creative Commons License photo credit: Extra Zebra

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Food therapy is used to treat specific health conditions, and to prevent disease. Homemade diets are the foundation of food therapy.

The goals of food therapy are to improve quality of life, slow progression of disease, and help the body breakdown, digest and utilize as many vital nutrients as possible. For older animals, feed moderate amounts of food often–that is 2 or 3 times daily for most dogs.

Food can be fed raw or cooked. If you are starting a young dog on a homemade diet, raw is fine. For an older animal start with cooked food. Food should be cooked or warmed, finely chopped, rich in nutrients (organic is best) and non processed. Soups and stews with added digestive enzymes and probiotics work well for most pets. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as raw peppers, broccoli, kale, and processed canned foods.Vegetables need to be cooked to tender crisp or your pet will not absorb the nutrients. Feed anti-inflammatory foods and supplements. Some of these are cold water fish, eggs, quinoa, and free range chicken. Increase Vitamin C foods such as strawberries and cranberries. These help with collagen generation–a tissue vital to the soft tissue of the body. Add supplements of Omega 3 fatty acids and supplements as the animal needs them. For example to alleviate arthritis pain use dandelion, turmeric, glucosamine and MSM.

Even if you cannot home cook all the time for your pet you can supplement with things like soups and stews to help with digestion and add green supplements and vitamins to help counter act processed food. Dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats but they are carnivores and should be fed a higher meat diet. Aim for a diet with 60 % meat 20% carbohydrates ( like quinoa, millet, or barley) and 20% vegetables. This diet should be formulated according the TCVM constitution of the dog and needs to be properly balanced with calcium, iodine, vitamins and minerals. A holistic veterinarian should be able to help you with this. I can post a basic diet for puppies, adults and senior dogs if you would like to try one.

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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