Inflammation is an everyday part of life, and in some cases, may even be a symptom of healing. However, chronic inflammation is different, working on a cellular level, undermining your otherwise healthy dog.
It can slow the healing process, as well as be the cause of obesity. Allergies, liver disease, and kidney disease have all been linked to chronic inflammation as well as damage to the eyes and digestive tract. Veterinarians and owners alike have seen an increase in joint inflammation as well as arthritis issues. In recent scientific studies, inflammation has even been linked to heart disease and cancer.
So what is chronic inflammation?
On the cellular level, it is a persistent inflammatory condition caused by cells receiving messages that cause them to react as though a disease-causing agent is present. Instead of completing the inflammatory cycle and repairing themselves, the cells remain in an ongoing state of inflammation. This constant state may stay with your dog for the entirety of their life with no symptoms, until one day when your outwardly healthy companion has an unexplained skin allergy or develops kidney, heart, or liver disease. The cycle of healing is never complete, leading to many unexplained conditions and diseases.
Fortunately, the risk of chronic inflammation can be avoided.
Science has found that good nutrition can help to reduce the occurrence of inflammation, thus reducing the likelihood of chronic illness. A fresh, wholesome, low carb diet provides your dog with most of what its body needs to end the inflammation cycle. This includes a diet high in protein, with balanced fats and the addition of fruits and vegetables.
Reduce the amount of grains you feed your companion, as grains are broken down into sugars that can reduce immune function and cause the body to become stressed. The addition of chicken or beef hearts, eggs, fruits, and vegetables will be of great benefit and provide immune system boosting antioxidants as well as essential fats, vitamins, and minerals. Sardines are also a great complement that will contribute omega-3 essential fatty acids while also supplying protein, vitamin D, and trace minerals such as iodine.
In addition to a change of diet, further supplementation of vitamins, oils, and herbs have also been proven to be helpful. Try small doses of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, two powerful antioxidants, which are used to reduce the intensity of inflammation and stimulate healing. Other helpful solutions to combat inflammation include the addition of flax oil, coconut oil, and borage oil once daily to your dog’s meal.
If your companion already has an ailment, there are herbs for specific needs. Try turmeric or milk thistle for liver inflammation. Corn silk is often used for inflammation of the kidneys, and has been found to reduce pain from kidney and bladder stones. A pinch of parsley added to your dog’s food can be used to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis. Dandelion and Oregon grape extract may help with constipation caused by inflammation of the liver or gall bladder.
Regardless of your dog’s breed, age, or sex, the risk of chronic inflammation is real.
We are very fortunate that science is evolving to understand how nutrition affects our companions as a whole, and in most cases, the solution is simple. Supplementing your dog’s diet just once per week with fresh, natural ingredients will greatly improve their overall health, and lessen the risk of disease now and in the future.
John Frierson is founder of LivelyPet, a companion pet health and lifestyle website. LivelyPet is dedicated to consulting pet owners in achieving quality health for their pet through proper nutrition. Working in conjunction with their veterinarian, John’s goal is to help pets and their owners achieve the healthiest and happiest lifestyles possible. He firmly believes that a big part of this starts at home, and most importantly, in the kitchen. Growing up with a diverse collection of pets, some requiring special diets, he developed his passion for nutrition. He is currently working on completing his Certified Pet Nutritionist certification (almost done!), and resides in Cape Coral, Florida with his wife, four children, and three Min-Pin fur kids. John can be reached at livelypet.net. Also look for him on Facebook at facebook.com/livelypet, and twitter @livelypet!