Suppliments for pets I
Dogs and cats that are born to healthy parents who ate a well-balanced raw diet and who are themselves fed this way don't need much in the way of nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, hardly any of America's pets fit that description. This chapter describes several of the numerous supplements that help dogs and cats improve their digestion and maintain good health. The food supplement business is bewilderingly large, but the following are among the most widely recommended for use with pets.

The Importance of Enzymes
Enzymes are proteins that in small amounts speed the rate of biological reactions such as digestion. Unstable and easily inactivated by heat and certain chemicals, enzymes are produced within living cells to perform specific biochemical reactions. Nearly every raw food contains the enzymes necessary for its digestion, but cooking inactivates these enzymes
and the body must work hard to replace them in order for food to be broken down and assimilated.

Coenzymes are nonprotein substances that combine with protein to form a complete enzyme. Most of the coenzymes important in human, canine, and feline nutrition are produced from vitamins or are themselves vitamins. Lipoic acid, once thought to be a member of the B-complex vitamins, and coenzyme Q10, which resembles vitamin E, are popular supplements because they help prevent and treat chronic illnesses. For example, lipoic acid, which is abundant in red meat, is a powerful antioxidant that removes toxins from the body, helps prevent cataracts, increases immune function, and improves the health of nerves. In animal studies, 100 milligrams of lipoic acid per kilogram of body weight improved memory. Coenzyme Q10, another important antioxidant, has been used to treat cancer, improve respiratory function, heal ulcers, prevent allergies, and improve heart health in humans and animals. Mackerel, salmon, and sardines are the leading food sources of coenzyme Q10. Like food enzymes, coenzymes deteriorate at temperatures above approximately 115 degrees F.

For those unable to provide an all-raw diet for their pets, enzyme supplements replace at least some of the enzymes killed by the cooking and processing of food. Enzyme supplements can be added to raw foods, too, especially for dogs and cats that previously have been fed a commercial diet, are recovering from an illness, have been treated with antibiotics, or experience any digestive difficulty. Enzyme supplements (see the Resources for this chapter at the back of this book) have impressive records of safety and health improvement for animals of every description, from dogs, cats, and horses to reptiles, birds, fish, primates, and humans. The addition of enzymes to processed food improves digestion and assimilation so effectively that the quantity of food may have to be reduced by 15 to 20 percent to prevent unwanted weight gain. Veterinarians who have tested enzyme supplements report improved coats, uniform litters, higher puppy survival rates, fewer problems in pregnancy, and increased mobility in older dogs, including improvement in hip dysplasia, all without vitamin or mineral supplementation. Enzymes increase the assimilation of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Plant-derived enzymes include protease, which digests protein; lipase, which digests fats; and amylase, which digests starch or carbohydrates. When taken on an empty stomach, these enzymes reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and stimulate the digestion of bacteria, toxins, and partly digested proteins. Papain, derived from papaya, has anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. Bromelain, derived from pineapple, reduces inflammation and helps prevent bruising.

Antioxidant enzymes, found in fresh sprouts, convert potentially damaging free radicals to harmless oxygen and water. The best known antioxidant enzymes are superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione peroxides, and methionine reductase.
Pancreatic enzymes usually are derived from the pancreas of cattle. Pancreatin works only in the small intestine. Given with food, it assists in the digestion of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, and it can prevent adverse food reactions. Consumed on an empty stomach, it reduces inflammation and pain throughout the body and helps eliminate intestinal parasites by literally digesting them.

Sometimes dogs don't produce enough digestive enzymes,"It seems curious, but these dogs are compelled to eat their feces because it contains the digestive enzymes they needa kind of disgusting recycling system." In addition to supplying all the minerals a dog requires (stool eating is often linked with mineral deficiencies), feeding foods rich in enzymes can help prevent coprophagia.

You don't need a product labeled "enzymes" to supply these vital nutrients to your pet. All growing sprouts, grasses, and herbs contain them. Sprouting authority Victor Vulkinskas often described how his mentor, the late Ann Wigmore of wheat grass fame, improved the health of her animals with live foods. Wigmore's chickens and rabbits doubled in sizewhen she gave them enzyme-rich wheat sprouts; an underweight, ulcerated monkey regained its health on wheat sprouts; and her cats showed dramatic improvements in behavior and appearance whenever wheat grass and sprouting wheat were added to their commercial pet food.

While visiting his parents, Vulkinskas was dismayed to see that the family's Pekingese dog, which had been fed rich table scraps for five years, was now suffering from spinal problems due to cancerous growths that prevented the use of his hind legs. Because there was no hope of recovery, the veterinarian recommended euthanasia. Vulkinskas mixed powdered wheat grass juice with water, and the dog lapped it up. "To my surprise," he said, "the following morning he was waiting for me with a big grin at my second-floor bedroom door and leaped into the air trying to lick my facean amazing feat even for a healthy Pekingese!" The dog lived another five years and always begged for the green powder whenever he and Vulkinskas shared a meal.

Enzyme-rich diets promote recovery, reduce the incidence of disease, and improve the quality of life." Although most plants are rich sources of enzymes, a few, primarily raw seeds and nuts, contain enzyme inhibitors. Give seeds and nuts in small quantities, feed them to your pet with an enzyme supplement, or for best results, sprout seeds and soak nuts overnight to inactivate their enzyme inhibitors.

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