Supplements are generally not required if the owner is feeding a prepared dog food specifically suited for the average dog doing the average thing. Dogs constantly performing, competing, breeding, etc, need more than the average commercial dog food will provide. Changing the diet to a better quality or more appropriate formulation may be sufficient.
Supplements, particularly if fed in conjunction with a balanced diet should only be fed after careful consideration. By including a supplement an owner may be unwittingly completely altering the delicate balance of nutrients particularly if pure or near pure forms of chemicals are added.
In this feature two more naturally occurring supplements will be discussed.
SEAWEED - KELP
Certain seaweeds are easily harvested from shorelines in various parts of the world. The seaweeds have extremely high levels of valuable nutrients and generally in a base which is easily broken down to release these valuable nutrients. Seaweed is supplied with a lush amount of nutrients from the land from where the minerals have been leached by rain into the ocean. A problem that has already occurred is of the seaweed also absorbing vast amounts of toxic elements, such the heavy metals, in areas where there is heavy pollution. Given the choice, an owner is always best advised to purchase seaweed meal from areas considered to be clean from pollution.
The harvested seaweed is Ascophyllum nodosum, commonly known as kelp but also called tangle and knotted wreck. Macrocystis pyrifera is also harvested. Seaweeds feed through their leaf like fronds on the rich sea water in its preferred habitat and attaches to rocks with holdfasts.
The harvested seaweed is dried and pulverized to produce a powder, which is often sold as kelp or kelp powder. Some companies mix and suspend the seaweed powder in liquid form which could be a more attractive way of feeding this supplement to your dog.
Seaweed is a naturally growing organic material with the valuable nutrients bound in organic form. A typical analysis of kelp is:
phosphorus 1.0 values in mg/gm
trace elements commonly found include:
iodine, iron, zinc, manganese, nickel, copper, cobalt, bromine, chromium, lead, strontium, vanadium, molybdenum
Being a naturally growing plant from which kelp powder is the dried form there should be little risk of including kelp or seaweed powder into any diet. However, if the original crop came from an area known to have elevated levels of heavy metals a significant risk could be encountered if it was fed heavily in conjunction with a canned food or with other foods heavily fortified with meat meal both of which could also have significant levels of heavy metals which would only be aggravated by including the contaminated kelp into those diets.
Basically the kelp or kelp products derived from seaweed collected around Australasian shores are reported to have only very low levels of any contamination and as such may be superior to those from coastal Europe.
Seaweed extract is readily available from many pet suppliers and of course health food shops. Generally it is in a powder form which can be easily sprinkled on and mixed into the meal. Some companies `liquefy' the powder making it more easily mixed into meals or even added to water supplies. Multicrop's NutrimolT is one such example developed for farm livestock.
COD LIVER OIL
This product is available in various grades from many sources. It is the oil derived from the pressed livers of a selected range of fish. As it is an oil it does have a very finite shelf life and is vulnerable to rapid deterioration if exposed to light, heat, or air. It loses all its nutritional value if allowed to deteriorate and there is a possibility that it will actually do harm if fed when deteriorated.
Storage is important to avoid deterioration, To avoid light damage store the oil in an opaque container such as a brown glass bottle. Store the container in a cupboard away from heat and cold. Always ensure the lid is firmly closed after using the oil to reduce the amount of air able to make contact with the oil.
Cod Liver Oil is available in various grades and so purity. The top of the range grading is referred to as B.P. quality which is available through health food outlets. BP is the shorthand way of writing British Pharmacopoeia which details one of the best and purest ways to prepare compounds such as Cod Liver Oil.
BP quality Cod Liver Oil is designed to be administered internally; the oil is a clear golden colour, flows freely and has a nice clean smell. Cod Liver Oil that is `on the nose', cloudy, runny without having a slight thickness, lumpy, or thick is not of the best quality as deterioration has set in and should not be used as a food supplement.
Cod Liver Oil is a standard supplement in Europe where its vitamin D content is so important during the winter months. It is also a valuable source of vitamin A and being in conjunction with vitamin D the vitamins balance more readily than if fed separately as both are closely interdependent.
Cod Liver Oil also contains traces of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, sulphur and chloride. =