(616) 498-1316
Posts » Current Post

Select Food as Medicine for Canines – Part 2: Balancing Essential Nutrients

June 5th, 2024 by Ima Admin

In part one of this series, we examined research conducted by the Dog Aging Project that shows promise to extend the lifespan and quality of life of our beloved companion animals. Many pet parents are eager for definitive research on what to feed their pets to maintain optimum health.

Evidence is mounting that whole, plant-based diets offer extended “healthspans” thanks to polyamines such as spermidine, which has been shown to improve cellular function. Spermidine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect against oxidative DNA damage.

While there has been controversy around the safety of feeding pets plant-based diets, some recent research has shown that dogs fed vegan diets were in ideal body condition, with normal behavior and good skin/coat condition, with no echocardiographic differences between vegan and the control group.

However, concerns have been raised around deficiencies in certain amino acids such as taurine, and vitamins such as B12 (cobalamin) and B9 (folate) when pet parents stray from veterinary-approved, pre-formulated diets. In addition, cases of DCM – dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged hearts) – from boutique grain-free foods and the taurine connection has never been fully resolved. So how can a pet parent safely incorporate wellness nutrition into their pet’s meal plan?

“Balancing a dog’s nutritional intake is vitally important, which is why many veterinarians refer clients to certified veterinary nutritionists or accredited platforms such as balance.it for guidance when preparing homemade meals,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

In the meantime, conservative substitution of plant-based foods rich in spermidine as treats or toppers is a good place to start. Just be sure not to use overly-processed, seasoned or high-sodium sources. Also ensure you’re not adding too many calories to your dog’s diet, because calorie-reduction and avoidance of obesity have been proven to be primary factors in longevity and healthful aging!

  1. Wheat Germ
    Can be used as an additive, or found in foods like rice, whole grains and cereals. Whole wheat, barley and oats all contain spermidine – up to 240mg/kg.
  2. Legumes and soybean products
    Beans (red and white), soybeans and soybean derived products like tofu, chickpeas, lentils, and peas – up to 140 mg/kg.
  3. Vegetables
    Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, green peppers, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, and potatoes – up to 39 mg/kg.

“By incorporating these nutrient-dense choices into a balanced diet, one can harness the power of spermidine and potentially improve the health and wellbeing of their companion animals,” Dr. Brush said.

“Food for longevity and “healthspan” is an exciting new frontier in veterinary medicine.”