Updated: Jun 20
Many of us are on our own personal health and wellness journey so why not take your dog along the journey too. Every small change for you and your dog is a step in the direction of optimal health and longevity.
Eric Ward- Unsplashed
By Wendy Behenna June 6, 2022
There are many things we can do for our dog to keep them in the best health possible. Good food, lots of exercise, socialization, healthy treats, training, healthy weight, regular grooming, mental well-being, to name a few. Raising a dog is very similar to raising children. They need lots of our attention and love to take care of them as best we can. A healthy dog is a happy dog!
I recently came across a book called "The Forever Dog" by Rodney Habib & Dr. Karen Shaw Becker. It contains many ideas with scientific guidance to give your dog it's best chance to live a long and healthy life that is hopefully disease free. They believe that "all good changes to extend life start with food". Here are a few things from his book to get you thinking of small changes you might start implementing. Start small and easy by swapping out carby high processed snacks for some of the dog friendly fruits and vegetables listed below. Be patient and don't give up. It might take a few tries to find some good food your dog will like.
Fresh Foods -Treats, Food Toppers or Smoothies
In the Forever Dog Book, they recommend to strive for 10% of your dog's calories come from Longevity Foods. Vets have this 10% rule as to "not rock the balance" of the dog's regular dog food. Many dog owners are using this 10% up in unhealthy treats that are more like fast food without any nutritional value. Changing these treats to some of the longevity foods listed below is a start in the right direction. These are a few of the foods that are mentioned in the book.
Longevity Vegetables - carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, spinach, broccoli sprouts, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, cherry tomatoes
Longevity Fruits - apples, apricots, berries, plums, coconut, pumpkin, avocado, pears, pineapple, peaches, strawberries
Cutting these foods up into pea-size particles make excellent treats. Adding a few longevity foods as a food topper on top of the dog's regular food will help to hyper-fortify your dogs current meal. You could also make smoothies with these fruits and vegetables to put on top of your dog's food. Use plain Rooibos tea as the liquid in these smoothies for even more benefits. (see below) Smoothies can be made in larger quantities and kept in the fridge for 3 days.
In our daily life, both humans and dogs are exposed to toxins that can stress our body through food consumption or from the air we breathe. These toxins are effecting our bodies at a cellular level which may cause inflammation and damage our mitochondria. When one of our stress response pathways (Nrf2) is activated, it is said to help suppress inflammation and help with detoxification.
Broccoli sprouts, and other foods in the cruciferous family like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, contain a compound called sulforaphane. This compound potently activates the Nrf2 pathway and when tested in both humans and animals could slow the rate of cancer and cardiovascular biomarkers, reduce inflammation markers and help remove toxins from the body like heavy metals, mycotoxins and AGE's (advanced glycation end products). AGE's are harmful compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. These compounds can accumulate in our bodies when our consumption overweighs our ability to eliminate them. High AGEs levels may lead to different diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, premature aging and more.
Adding broccoli sprouts on top of your dog's food is the best way to remove AGEs from your dog's body according to the authors of Forever Dog. They say it's an "inexpensive and powerful way to flush out the toxic by-products in the ultra-processed foods are dogs consume".
Broccoli sprouts are super easy to make and don't cost a lot to get started. Read my blog post on Sprouts to learn more.
Rooibos tea comes from a herbal plant in South Africa which has become a popular tea with humans. There are numerous health benefits that both humans and dogs can benefit from by consuming it. Rooibos tea is rich in minerals, Vitamin C and antioxidants. It is also free of caffeine and tannins.
Rooibos tea may aid in the following for your dog. Always use a plain Rooibos tea for your dog. It's even better if it's organic. Email me at email@example.com if you would like to order a 25g sample bag for $5.00 (includes shipping)
Here's is an article about using Rooibos tea for your dog by Karen Rosenfeld - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer.
How to Add Rooibos Tea to Your Dog's Diet
Start by brewing a weaker strength of tea (1 teaspoon in 2-3 cups of water) and let cool to room temperature. Store any extra tea in a glass container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Stir the tea into your dog's food.
Blend the brewed tea with other fruits and veggies to make a smoothie. Use this as a food topper to add extra nutrients to your dog's regular food.
Use tea to make ice cubes
Make dog treats using Rooibos tea as the liquid.
Soft No Bake Rooibos Dog Treats
- 1/2 cup cooled plain Organic Rooibos Tea - 1/2 cup puree - choose 1 or combo of- pumpkin, squash, apple or pear
- 2 Tbsp. organic coconut oil (melted but not hot)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut flour
- 1/2 cup organic ground flax or chia or hemp or a mixture - 2 Tbsp. finely chopped dry blueberries or cranberries
- Optional - 1/4 cup cheddar, swiss or mozzarella cheese - not processed cheese
- 2 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon or 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. ginger
Mix the rooibos tea, pureed squash/fruit and coconut oil together in a medium size bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together in another bowl. Add these ingredients to the tea mixture and blend well. Using a teaspoon, scoop small mounds of the mixture into treat molds or onto parchment paper. Freeze until firm. Pop out of mold. Store in freezer to stay fresh. (I used small silicon molds which worked perfectly)
You can also bake these treats at a low temperature to make them a little crunchier. Use a teaspoon and drop onto silicon baking sheet or parchment lined pan. Bake at 250 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until firm to touch. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.
This recipe is by Karen Rosenfeld - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Here are a few more of her recipes you might like to make.
Other Forever Fluids from the Forever Dog Book:
Medicinal teas make inexpensive healthy "gravies" to put on top of food.
Cooled herbal teas and decaffeinated black or green tea are an economical and powerful way to deliver plant's medicinal properties. Steep tea as usual but use 1 teaspoon of tea in 2-3 cups of water. Always allow tea to cool before giving to your dog.
Rooibos tea, mushroom teas (chaga and reshi), calming teas - chamomile, lavender, holy basil (tulsi), lemon balm, detox teas - dandelion, burdock and oregano leaf.
Buy organic teas if possible
Homemade bone broth (there's a really good recipe in the book)
Here are a few quotes about how important food choices are for both you and your dog.
"Food and medicine come from the same source" Chinese proverb
"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful
form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." Ann Wigmore
Wendy Behenna is a retired Medical Laboratory Technologist who now uses the kitchen as a "lab" to create healthy, real food dishes. As a graduate of the Culinary Nutrition Program, she wants to share the knowledge she acquired to help people with meal planning and cooking skills, especially those transitioning to a gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle. She is also a Certified Tea Sommelier and loves incorporating tea in her recipes when possible.