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Vet Opinion on Functional Food for Dogs

More than ever, pets are the healthiest they have ever been, with many living past their life expectancy. Largely this can be attributed to the years of improvements in the pet health and wellness space - from vaccines to improved diagnostics, to dental care and supplement/nutraceuticals, the list goes on. Nutrition is one of the most important among these that has changed drastically over the years. The pet food and veterinary industry is currently under a lot of pressure to move towards more whole and natural foods as pet owners have become more involved in their pets’ overall health, realizing that nutrition is the basis of their pets’ health. 

The pet food industry started with low quality foods made from human food by-products, often not appropriate for the pets’ overall health, but fed them, nonetheless. Eventually, we’ve learned to balance these diets and create a perfect little kibble bite that stores for a long period of time to keep your pet fed…what a great advancement for pets, and convenient for us to make. Overtime, veterinarians weighed in and adjusted them to include less fat for dogs with pancreatitis or obesity, high fiber for those with gastrointestinal diseases, low protein for those with kidney disease, mineral alterations for those with bladder stones, omega fatty acids and glucosamine for joint disease…and so much more. While these are all great and provide a balanced diet that will keep your dog living well for many years, pets are STILL missing out on variety, whole & superfood nutrition, and key nutrients for an even healthier, more well-balanced lifestyle. 

As a veterinarian practicing integrative medicine which includes acupuncture, food therapy, herbal medicine and more, my motto is #foodismedicine. Many patients of mine come in with a variety of recurring issues including ear infections, anal gland issues, soft stool, skin disorders, dental disease and more. I find that the common root of these problems is the diet, one with poor quality ingredients and a feeding regimen that sets the pet up for problems. Nutrition is the foundation of health. Period. 

The pets that are fed a highly processed kibble diet compared to those eating a whole food cooked diet is astronomical in my patients. It’s like eating a really bad pizza and boxed macaroni everyday compared to an assorted power bowl and salad…..I mean yeah, you’re going to live off the pizza and be “fine”, but every day is that necessarily the best thing for you…no. I don’t know about you, but I feel like crap the day after eating a lot of unhealthy and highly processed items. So, to avoid empty calories, I advise feeding your pet a diet containing whole nutritious foods, including a variety of superfoods and organ meats. I prefer to cook my own dogs’ food at the moment, ensuring it is completely balanced with multivitamins and a veterinary expert’s input (that’s me!), but I understand this isn’t easy for everyone, so do what’s best for you to integrate whole foods, superfoods, supplements and more into their diet.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite healthy items to feed my pups:

Blueberries, bananas, goji berries, kale & spinach, carrots, algae & kelp, fish, pumpkin, turmeric & black pepper (combined!), chia seeds, beans, nuts, medicinal mushrooms like reishi, lion’s mane, & shiitake, quinoa, honey and other bee products, kefir, sunflower, and other oils. 

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT ANY FOOD ITEM FED TO YOUR PET MUST BE CUT SMALL ENOUGH FOR IT TO PASS THROUGH THEIR GI TRACT, DO NOT EXPECT YOUR PET TO CHEW BECAUSE MINE DO NOT & WE DON’T WANT A FOREIGN BODY SURGERY EITHER…

Superfoods are nutrient dense and packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants important for optimal health and prevention of diseases including cancer. Easy ways to integrate superfoods into your pet’s diet include using goji berries as treats, tossing a few olive oil pan-fried walnuts in their food, topping their kibble with blueberries & carrots, making frozen pumpkin chia seed treats, or utilizing a joint supplement like HealthyBud’s Joint Booster. You can make your own or buy already made diets, treats & supplements. A great way to make sure your dog has healthy treats packed with superfoods is by giving them a Greenwell Pet subscription. They handpick each item tailored to a balanced pet lifestyle and deliver them right to your door– from superfood snacks to eco-friendly toys, with a subscription to Greenwell Pet,  you’ll always have healthy treats with superfood holistic ingredients on hand for your pet! 

So, let’s ditch the old ways where pets just survive off kibble, and allow them to thrive off whole nutritious foods. Continue looking for ways to create variation & optimal wellbeing in your nutrition regimen for your pet…Follow me on Instagram @peacelove_vet for more and keep an eye out for big announcements for online consulting and diets formulated by me! 

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT CONDONE HOME COOKING WITHOUT VETERINARY INPUT AND GUIDANCE. CONSIDER BUYING PRE-MADE VETERINARY AND NUTRITIONIST FORMULATED WHOLE COOKED DIETS. FIND AN INTEGRATIVE VETERINARIAN OR NUTRITIONIST TO HELP YOU FIND WHATS BEST FOR YOUR PET. LONG-TERM UNBALANCED FEEDING, LIKE MISSING A KEY AMINO ACID, IRON OR VITAMIN B’S IN YOUR PETS HOME-COOKED DIET, CAN BE DETRIMENTAL TO YOUR PETS HEALTH. 

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Hi wellness fam! My name is Dr. Gabby Pagana, and I am an integrative veterinarian practicing in Los Angeles. As a veterinary acupuncturist, herbalist & food therapist, you can find me creating treatment & wellness plans for my patients that combine both Western & Eastern medicine…I look at the patient from a holistic viewpoint that finds the root problem and heals from the inside out rather than treating with band aids. 

Connect with me on Instagram @peacelove_vet
Find me at @greendogdental in Santa Monica & Sherman Oaks, @vanderpumpdogs every first Wednesday of the month, @mypetmobilevet for house call services, @denurbandogretreat for acupuncture services or @healthybud as a consulting veterinarian

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