Health and Longevity Course for Dogs Chapter 6
If you are like most dog lovers, you are looking for ways to keep your canine friend healthy and happy for many years to come. This article will answer questions many people ask, like is it important to give our dogs vitamins? Is it necessary to give my dog vitamins if I am already giving minerals or other supplements? How does one recognize which supplements are good and which ones are not?
In Chapter 5 of Health and Longevity Course for Dogs, I wrote about dogs and airplanes and how one missing atom in the carbon composite body of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner would make the material as floppy as your dog's ear and why providing your dog with all the building blocks is crucial to her/his good health.
If you didn't get a chance to read Chapter 5, you can click here and read the article to catch up because it talks about the most important parts of creating a healthy and long life for your canine friend.
Vita means life
When it comes to vitamins, their name suggests that they are life-giving substances. 'Vita' stands for 'life' in Latin.
Most people understand that vitamins are essential to health, but many are not aware that almost all vitamins sold in pharmacies, drug stores and veterinary clinics are made of synthetic materials. There are also some dog lovers who believe that all necessary vitamins are supplied if they feed either wholesome raw or cooked food or vitamin-supplemented kibble, but is that true?
Many years back, I often reached for a bottle of regular multi-vitamins with the best intention of helping my canine patients, but then I started studying the topic of vitamin production and their effect on the body. I ran into a number of references from traditional Chinese medicine that claimed that conventional vitamins create a state of excess.
It made sense to me because I sometimes saw such symptoms in my practice. Some dogs became nauseous when multivitamins were given on an empty stomach and others started to pant at night and overheat.
Synthetic vitamins are not alive
Logically synthetic vitamins can't be the same because they are made of synthetic ingredients. Ideally, they should be food-based, but we can't make real food from chemicals and the same applies to vitamins. I compare synthetic vitamins to 'plastic apples.' They look pretty, but they are not the same as real apples.
What I saw made me look for a better solution. I knew that vitamins were necessary to achieve optimal health, longevity and disease prevention. I was also aware that declining soil and food quality and food transportation were the cause of lower levels of natural vitamins in food. But I also intuitively felt that conventional multivitamin formulas for dogs didn't do the job.
When I look for a solution in medicine, I often look at nature for inspiration.
In nature vitamins come bound in live or fresh whole food. They are much more complex than, let's say vitamin C, ascorbic acid. Unfortunately, our civilization brought unexpected interruptions to the natural nutrient cycle.
For example, oranges grown in California end up on the table in Wyoming. In the best case scenario, they will end up in a Wyoming compost and in the worst case scenario, the local landfill. This is the key reason why even the best organic food is increasingly deficient in minerals and vitamins.
In nature soil would be replenished locally in a simple cycle - local soil > plants > animals > local soil
The modern civilization cycle looks like this: soil > plants > animals >landfill (or a distant compost pile for a relatively small portion of food)
Perhaps you are asking, ‘why don't farmers replenish nutrients back to the soil?’ The problem is that the process would be too expensive. Conventional agriculture uses imbalanced and incomplete fertilizers that mainly focus on supplementing nitrates, phosphates, calcium and potassium, which makes plants grow, but they are definitely not the same.
It is true that composting is becoming more common in some parts of the world, but most leftover food is still lost in landfills and the oceans instead of being returned back to the soil and only a fraction of the compost returns to the place of origin to complete the natural nutrient cycle.
This is a huge and very difficult problem to solve.
Why even producing your own food is not perfect
Perhaps you are lucky to have a farm and feed your dog what the farm has to offer. But even if you produce food on your farm, your best friend may not be getting all the needed nutrients. The soil in different regions varies. In nature, animals roam from place to place and intuitively find what their bodies need. In the current model of property ownership, access to diverse soils with different nutrients and mineral content is limited and nature's design is not compatible with such restrictions.
Once you understand the problem of soil depletion and the problems that synthetic vitamins bring, it becomes clear that the only way to maintain your dog's optimal health is by supplementing with natural vitamins.
A serious obstacle
Based on what we know, supplementing your dog's diet with naturally-sourced vitamins would make the most sense but, "Houston, we have a problem..."
For example, if you wanted to make vitamin C from oranges, each orange contains about 50mg of vitamin C. That means that making one 1000 mg capsule would require 20 organic oranges, or approximately seven lbs of organic oranges.
Let's do the math:
The price of organic oranges is somewhere around $2/lb, or $14 for 7 lbs.
When you add the cost of manufacturing, capsulation, packaging, transportation and distribution, the estimated retail price of ONE vitamin C capsule is $20! That means a 30 capsule bottle of purely natural extracted vitamin C would cost about $600 per bottle!
Plus, there are other vitamins your dog needs so that would make a single bottle of your dog's multivitamin cost thousands of dollars!
Another problem with natural extracts
But even if natural vitamin extracts were affordable, they would not be as good as vitamins bound in whole food. Extracting the vitamin C from an orange removes it from its natural food carrier - the pulp and the rest of the orange.
There is a difference between eating an orange or an apple and drinking orange or apple juice. Eating the whole fruit is what nature intended. The fruit is balanced and complete. However, when a piece of fruit is juiced, it loses the important balancing components, such as the pulp, fiber and skin in the case of apples.
Juices are high in sugar and will make an average person gain weight if drank on a regular basis.
A solution to the vitamin quandary
Here is a summary what you have learned so far:
- Soil depletion has resulted in nutrient deficient food
- The nutrient cycle in nature is broken
- Vitamins are vital for good health and life
- Most vitamins on the market are synthetically made
- Synthetic vitamins are 'the plastic apples' of the vitamin industry that cause stomach upsets and imbalances.
- The body has evolved to process and regulate whole food based vitamins, not extracts
- The cost of natural vitamin extract is too high for practical production
For many years I felt frustrated and challenged by this situation. I knew vitamins needed to be whole food bound, plus I hoped to find a formula that was certified organic to ensure the best and purest quality ingredients.
It took me several years of studying and searching for the right technology to find a patented vitamin manufacturing process.
In this process, vitamins are cultured on probiotic media and incorporated in the bio-protein of the probiotic mass. The body understands how to process whole food vitamins and that is why naturally-cultured vitamins DO NOT cause stomach upsets and overheating, unlike synthetically made vitamins. The body knows how to process food-based nutrients and vitamins.
When I worked on the SoulFood formula, I added some other important ingredients, in addition to naturally-grown vitamins, to prevent the most common medical problems that dogs suffer from. I added certified organic asparagus to protect the kidneys, organic dandelion root to support the liver and organic turmeric to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer.
I am writing this article because I can't stop being excited about the changes others see in their dogs and the testimonials they write. At the time of writing this article, my dog Skai is 15-years-old. Every day, I look at him and shake my head at how good he is doing.
Last week, his rehabilitation and underwater treadmill therapist, who works at a major specialty veterinary clinic, said something that made me the happiest vet on this planet. She said that Skai gave her hope that when her dog turns 15 he will do as well as Skai is doing now.
I confess tears are flooding my eyes as I am writing these lines. Everyday, when I wake up, I look at my dog and can't believe that he is doing as well as he is. I will be honest, it was my dream, but I doubted that it was possible.
Sharing good things in life feels right. Artists, nurses, scientists, farmers or engineers – every profession shares something.
Of course, I am happy to see Skai doing well, but not sharing what I have learned about vitamins and nutrition would feel completely wrong. Wouldn't you share a delicious chocolate bar or an experience with your friend?
If you want to read about the changes in dogs after they start getting SoulFood, you can click here.
To read the entire Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs click the links below.
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM