Raw Goat Milk – 490 mL

Sourced from a Canadian Dairy, Big Country Raw Fermented Goat Milk is of superior quality and freshness. Goats are raised on nutritious year-round diet of natural NON-GMO alfalfa hay ( up to 96 % of total diet), free pasture as much as the goats take in, and a grain ration that includes a protein, mineral and gut health source. Our goat milk is also guaranteed to be free of antibiotics and hormones.

This is a must try NEW supplement that is great for both dogs and cats. This is NOT the same as goat milk you may find on your local grocery store shelves.

Here is what makes our new product so different:

  • We use whole goats milk, add 2 probiotic enzymes and then culture the milk for 10 days. The finished product is a Raw Fermented Goat Milk that could also be called a Kefir
  • Our Raw Goat Milk is not pasteurized. This means it’s rich in lactase enzymes and can be easily digested by pets! (Pasteurization and heat destroy the lactase enzyme).

Here are the many suggested uses for this product!

1. Successfully Transition to Raw Food.

Raw Goat Milk as a probiotic powerhouse! Probiotics can be beneficial in making a smooth transition to a raw diet and prevent digestive upset caused by a change in diet. The probiotics in raw goat milk are also less likely to be destroyed by hydrochloric acid and bile salts in the digestive tract, which makes them more effective than powdered plant based digestive enzymes.

2. Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The Lactobacillus lactis helps to synthesize two key B vitamins (folate and riboflavin). This produces large amounts of lactic acid and may aid in treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease.

3. Restore and Rebuild Gut Flora.

Raw Fermented Unpasteurized Goat Milk will restore and rebuild beneficial bacteria and yeast in the digestive tract following a course of antibiotics.

4. Promote a Healthy Digestive System.

Proven to relieve indigestion and other digestive tract concerns including frequent vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath and excessive flatulence.

5. Strengthen the Immune System & Reduce Allergies.

Regular use of Goat Milk will strengthen the digestive system and help improve immune system response (as nearly 80% of the immune system if located within the digestive tract). The anti-inflammatory properties of this product is beneficial in reducing allergy symptoms associated with both environmental and food allergies.

6. Treat Liver & Kidney Disorders.

Raw  Fermented Goat Milk is recommended for dogs with diabetes, and liver and kidney conditions. The list of associated health benefits to prevent or treat chronic conditions is extensive!

SKU: 627818002004

Product Code: GOAT490


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Raw Goat Milk – 1L

Sourced from a Canadian Dairy, Big Country Raw Fermented Goat Milk is of superior quality and freshness. Goats are raised on nutritious year-round diet of natural NON-GMO alfalfa hay ( up to 96 % of total diet), free pasture as much as the goats take in, and a grain ration that includes a protein, mineral and gut health source. Our goat milk is also guaranteed to be free of antibiotics and hormones.

This is a must try NEW supplement that is great for both dogs and cats. This is NOT the same as goat milk you may find on your local grocery store shelves.

Here is what makes our new product so different:

  • We use whole goats milk, add 2 probiotic enzymes (lactococus lactis and leuconostocmesenteriodes) and then culture the milk for 10 days. The finished product is a Raw Fermented Goat Milk that could also be called a Kefir
  • Our Raw Goat Milk is not pasteurized. This means it’s rich in lactase enzymes and can be easily digested by pets! (Pasteurization and heat destroy the lactase enzyme).

Here are the many suggested uses for this product!

1. Successfully Transition to Raw Food.

Raw Goat Milk as a probiotic powerhouse! Probiotics can be beneficial in making a smooth transition to a raw diet and prevent digestive upset caused by a change in diet. The probiotics in raw goat milk are also less likely to be destroyed by hydrochloric acid and bile salts in the digestive tract, which makes them more effective than powdered plant based digestive enzymes.

2. Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The Lactobacillus lactis helps to synthesize two key B vitamins (folate and riboflavin). This produces large amounts of lactic acid and may aid in treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease.

3. Restore and Rebuild Gut Flora.

Raw Fermented Unpasteurized Goat Milk will restore and rebuild beneficial bacteria and yeast in the digestive tract following a course of antibiotics.

4. Promote a Healthy Digestive System.

Proven to relieve indigestion and other digestive tract concerns including frequent vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath and excessive flatulence.

5. Strengthen the Immune System & Reduce Allergies.

Regular use of Goat Milk will strengthen the digestive system and help improve immune system response (as nearly 80% of the immune system if located within the digestive tract). The anti-inflammatory properties of this product is beneficial in reducing allergy symptoms associated with both environmental and food allergies.

6. Treat Liver & Kidney Disorders.

Raw Goat Milk is recommended for dogs with diabetes, and liver and kidney conditions. The list of associated health benefits to prevent or treat chronic conditions is extensive! We recommend the following articles for further reading of the many benefits!

SKU: 627818002004

Product Code: GOATL


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Frozen Goat – Fundae – 300ml

We’ve taken plain frozen goat yogurt, added a fun (and beneficial) colour and natural fruit sprinkles! Perfect for your pets’ fun day. Frozen Goat is made with goat milk yogurt and agar for a thick and creamy treat that is 100% natural. It is cold fermented and naturally full of probiotics that are great for your little furry friend’s gut. Each box contains 3 x 100ml portioned cups of frozen yogurt.

 

SKU: 627818006125

Product Code: FRGFN300


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Frozen Goat – Billyberry – 300ml

A decadent frozen treat your pet is sure to love! Frozen Goat is made with raw goat milk yogurt, fruit purée and agar for a 100% natural, thick and creamy treat. Our frozen yogurt is cold fermented and naturally full of probiotics that are great for your furry friend’s gut health.  Each box contains 3 x 100ml portioned cups of frozen yogurt.

 

SKU: 627818005074

Product Code: FRGBB300


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Frozen Goat – Pumpkid – 300ml

A decadent frozen treat your pet is sure to love! Frozen Goat is made with raw goat milk yogurt, fruit purée and agar for a 100% natural, thick and creamy treat. Our frozen yogurt is cold fermented and naturally full of probiotics that are great for your furry friend’s gut health. Each box contains 3 x 100ml portioned cups of frozen yogurt.

 

SKU: 627818005067

Product Code: FRGPK300


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Frozen Goat – Bananny – 300ml

A decadent frozen treat your pet is sure to love! Frozen Goat is made with raw goat milk yogurt, fruit purée and agar for a 100% natural, thick and creamy treat. Our frozen yogurt is cold fermented and naturally full of probiotics that are great for your furry friend’s gut health. Each box contains 3 x 100ml portioned cups of frozen yogurt.

 

SKU: 627818005050

Product Code: FRGBN300


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Raw Goat Cheese Treats – 100g

Sourced from a Canadian Dairy, Happy Dairy Raw Goat Cheese with Spirulina For Pets  is from superior quality and freshness. Goats are raised on nutritious year-round diet of natural NON-GMO alfalfa hay (up to 96 % of total diet), free pasture as much as the goats take in, and a grain ration that includes a protein, mineral and gut health source. Our goat milk is also guaranteed to be free of antibiotics and hormones.

This is a must try NEW supplement superfood that is great for both dogs and cats. This is NOT the same as goat cheese you may find on your local grocery store shelves.

Here is what makes our new product so different:

  • We use whole goats milk, add 2 probiotic enzymes and then culture the milk for 10 days. The finished product is a Raw Fermented Goat Milk that could also be called a Kefir
  • The Raw Goat Milk is not pasteurized. This means it’s rich in lactase enzymes and can be easily digested by pets! (Pasteurization and heat destroy the lactase enzyme).

 

SKU: 627818004671

Product Code: GTCHEESE


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Pain Management

Pain, it’s something that we never want our pets to experience. However, every pet, at some point in its life, will have pain for one reason or another. Whether it be a minor injury from rough play, surgery, or joint disease, there are natural remedies that can offer some relief or even mitigate the cause of pain in our pets.

Do you ever wonder if your pet is experiencing pain, and you don’t even know it? Although domestic pets have evolved to our lifestyles over hundreds of years, that “survival of the fittest” instinct remains intact. Both dogs and cats can be very good at hiding discomfort. With chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, pain develops more over time, so the very subtle changes can often go unnoticed. Cats may start interacting a little less, grooming habits can change, their facial expressions can become different, developing a bit of a “grimace”, or they can become more vocal. Dogs may start to become anxious, breathe a little faster, sleep a bit more or have changes in their appetite, posture, and bathroom habits. Diagnosing pain in pets is one of those times when you really, really wish they could talk!

Many vets will commonly recommend NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), but these medications certainly don’t come without risks. Long-term use can cause kidney and liver damage, digestive upset, and even bleeding ulcers or perforations of the stomach and intestines. Thankfully there are natural aids that can prevent or ease pain in our pets in a more harmonious manner.


Switching to a Raw Diet
For humans, eating highly processed food combined with high carbs and sugar, is linked to many chronic diseases, including inflammation (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29772560/ , https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/gastrointestinal-articles/what-foods-cause-or-reduce-inflammation). Even the Arthritis Foundation, for Pain Awareness Month, advocates for how much the diet can impact inflammation and pain. The importance of avoiding highly processed food, including overly processed meat and carbs impacts the inflammatory response in the body: like the Maillard reaction. This is a chemical reaction very present in kibble that will create, under heat and high pressure, a complexes molecules made of protein and sugar bound together called Advanced glycation end-products – these molecules are highly unstable, pro-oxidant and can even act as toxins in the body and their impact on inflammation and oxidative stress is well documented (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16244820/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20031340/). Since kibble is a mix of carbs and protein, extruded at very high temperature, creating a crispy and brown product, it is as rich as it can be in these highly inflammatory molecules (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23916186/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25088431/.

By simply switching from a kibble diet to a raw diet, and eliminating the reaction that creates these harmful end-products, there will be a great reduction of inflammation in the body. In fact, dogs and cats eating a raw diet will excrete less than half of those end-products in their urine, showing the major impact of the processed diet on the absorption of those molecules (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32279406/ ). Choosing a raw diet that is low in carbs and high in antioxidants, will have an even better impact. Like the Big Country Raw Dinner formulas, rich in high quality meat, combined with superfoods like blueberries and broccoli!

For pets who are already on a raw diet, but experience pain due to aging or injuries, there are some simple and inexpensive food bowl additions that can offer great benefit.


Thrive Joint Support
Thrive Joint Support is a powerful aid, consisting of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and MSM. The combination of these three ingredients are well known to help prevent and alleviate pain from joint disease and dysplasia.

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound made of glucose and glutamine, that is essential for the maintenance of healthy cartilage and joint function. It stimulates the growth of cartilage cells and is known to aid in joint lubrication increasing comfort and mobility.

Chondroitin is the largest glycosaminoglycan (GAG) found in cartilage. It helps to increase water retention and elasticity in the cartilage, promoting adequate shock absorption and nourishment of the tissues that line the joint. Like glucosamine, it may also inhibit inflammation that can compromise joint health and impair overall pet comfort and mobility.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), can help reduce muscle damage, along with pain and stiffness. MSM can also inhibit inflammatory responses in the body, thereby reducing stress on the immune system. MSM also increases levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system.

We recommend using Thrive Joint Support for medium to large breed puppies and dogs especially, from 8 weeks and on, to aid in the prevention of joint disease. Maintaining the joints of an active dog is paramount to healthy and pain-free mobility.


Thrive Green Lipped Mussels
Green lipped mussels are a shellfish native to New Zealand, and they get their name from the green edges along their shell. They contain several anti-inflammatory compounds that can help prevent and eliminate pain from conditions like arthritis. Arthritis is commonly recognized and treated in our older dogs, but often overlooked as it develops in young dogs, although it affects 20% of dogs over the age of one year, and 80% of dogs over the age of 8. It also affects up to 90% of cats over the age of 12.

Green lipped mussels are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and also contain chondroitin. They are currently the only known source of the omega fatty acid ETA (eicosatetraenoic acid), which binds with cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that causes inflammation. ETA can provide equivalent pain relief to NSAIDs. Green lipped mussels are also a good source of selenium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Green lipped mussel powder is safe for dogs of all ages, and because of its safety profile, giving green lipped mussels from a young age can be beneficial to maintaining healthy joints and delaying the onset of arthritis. The effects of green lipped mussel on canine osteoarthritis is highly documented, with tons of studies noting its effect on reducing pain in dogs, often in just weeks.

 

Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich with glycosaminoglycans, such as glucosamine, and abundant in chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Glycosaminoglycans stimulate cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, and ligaments. The best benefit to bone broth is that the glycosaminoglycans are resistant to the harsh acids and pH of the digestive tract and are absorbed in their intact form. Not only is bone broth delicious and extremely palatable, but it’s also a wonderful way to add quality moisture to any type of diet. Bone broth is often fairly thin at room temperature but will thicken when chilled in the fridge due to the amazing properties of the collagen compounds. Bone broth can be drizzled over any meal as is, or frozen into small portions for easy serving as a treat.

Thrive Golden Paste
Turmeric is an ancient Indian spice that has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties. Curcuminoids, which are what gives turmeric its bright yellow colour, are also what is responsible for its reported anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties which it is so loved and known for. Turmeric on its own isn’t easily absorbed, however when made into golden paste, becomes very bioavailable and far more effective for our pets. Golden Paste is best served in small amounts and frequently, so offering daily will offer the most support. For pets that are sensitive to the taste of turmeric, we recommend mixing into meals before serving or freezing in a mold along with something else they love like Goat Milk or Bone Broth as examples.


Omega Oils
You may have heard about fatty acids like omega-3 (ALA, EPA and DHA) and omega-6 being essentials for pets. Dogs and cats are not able to produce these on their own which is why supplementing with a quality source is considered so important for overall health and wellness. Omega 3 and 6 contribute to healthy skin and coat, growth and development including cognitive function, health of joints, mobility, including reducing inflammation.

More precisely, in animal studies, omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduced the expression of inflammatory markers, cartilage degradation and oxidative stress (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30081198/) as long as the correct omega 3: omega 6 ratio was maintained (1:5). Knowing that most meat can naturally be as high as 1:30, adding extra high omega 3 ingredients to the diet is essential. In canine trials, adding fish oils to the diet had significantly reduced the symptoms of osteoarthritis pain (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26161757/).

By reducing inflammation in our pet’s joints, we are acting preventatively which is in their best interest, versus waiting to offer support once an issue or injury has occurred. Offering fresh omegas that have been stored properly is always ideal and will be of the greatest benefit.


Raw Bones

Raw meaty bones are excellent for many reasons, but did you know that certain raw bones are wonderful sources of collagen and glucosamine too? Poultry feet such as chicken and duck feet are naturally rich sources of collagen and glucosamine, containing connective tissue. Necks, such as chicken and duck, are also a great resource. Additional meaty bones have a valuable place in the diet but should always be fed in moderation, meaning raw feet and necks should be offered 2-3x per week at most. Overall, a valuable contributing factor to joint health, and an extremely affordable and popular choice to include for our pet’s wellbeing on a regular basis.

Taking the preventative approach, offering a variety of inflammation-reducing additions to the food bowl, can bring well-rounded support, especially in cases where pain is more severe or frequent. Fish oil, for example, will help with reducing inflammation while Joint Support will target pain relief and cushioning of the joints, making them both great daily additives to meal time. Offering this support consistently is another important factor as daily support will be continuous, versus sporadic which will not have the same results. Some pets may find they prefer the taste of green lipped mussels better while others will find Joint Support more palatable with additional pain relief factors. It is important to observe and find what works best for your pet as each individual pet’s needs can vary. For best results, try rotating supportive sources for maximum coverage and comfort. Your pet will thank you!


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Feeding Raw & Traveling

By Julie Lauzon, agr, MSc, Pet Nutrition

For some people, hobbies and travel are the main reason why switching their pet to a raw diet seems inconvenient or even impossible. Although it can sometimes be difficult to bring raw on the road, there are many options available for raw feeders that want to keep feeding their pet a raw diet while enjoying their active lifestyle.

1. Bringing Raw on the Road
For most, it’s totally possible to simply bring your pet’s raw food with you. Big Country Raw’s 1 lb vacuum sealed pouches are perfect to fit in a cooler. If packed tightly and while frozen, they can stay cold and fresh for up to a week, while they slowly thaw. Remember, once completely thawed, you still have up to 3 days to use them – just make sure they’re kept at or below refrigerator temperature (4 degrees Celsius) by adding fresh ice to your cooler as needed. To keep it simple, the Dinners for dogs or Fare Game for cats are complete and balanced nutrition so you do not need to carry anything else. Simply include recipes that include fish, and even the omegas will be covered.

When traveling in Canada, another option is to shop at one of the 1500 retail stores that carry Big Country Raw. Our retailers span the country from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, including some of the most remote areas of our fair land. If you find a pet specialty store along your travels, there will very likely be Big Country Raw in their freezers!

But what if you’re travelling to the US? Technically, meat products are not allowed to cross the international boundary and fruits and some other foods are also very restricted. Dry goods and pre-packaged snacks however, are permitted. Regarding dog food specifically, the only specification is that it must be sealed in its original container, be 20 kg maximum, and may not contain any sheep (lamb) or goat meat. The packaging must include the ingredient list and place of origin. The rules do not indicate that it cannot be raw so the assumption is that it would be allowable to cross. For those familiar with border crossing though, it often depends on the guard and the questions they ask. If you are willing to attempt taking Big Country Raw into the US, just make sure everything is frozen, sealed, and in the original packaging. The same rules apply to supplements.

2. Alternatives to Raw
It’s also possible to feed non-raw options during your vacation or trip. Did you know Big Country Raw has CookHouse, a cooked line of dog food? It’s available in 4 different proteins (chicken, beef, turkey and pork) and vacuum sealed in 1 lb packages, made up of meat, organs, high quality veggies, and supplements, balanced to meet the nutritional needs of adult dogs. The greatest advantage of cooked versus raw when traveling, is that once thawed, the product stays fresh much longer than raw. While raw should be fed within 3 days, maybe up to 5, the cooked meatloaf can last over 7 days once thawed.

Big Country Raw’s Trek is another great option for on-the-go pet parents. This is our dehydrated recipe that never needs to be refrigerated. Trek is a blend of meat, organ, bones, fruits and vegetables, ground up and then dehydrated. It is the perfect camping food for dogs. Simply add equal parts of liquid (water, goat milk or bone broth) or as much is needed to get the texture and consistency your dog prefers. Let it sit for a couple minutes to absorb the liquid, then watch your dog enjoy this complete meal! This is our most travel-friendly option.

Both CookHouse Meatloaf and Trek do not require any transition from your dog’s usual raw diet. It is so gently cooked and dehydrated that you can simply start feeding it to your dog on your first day of travel.

Over the years we have also established that it is okay to feed raw and kibble. Many dogs and cats do perfectly well on a mix of both, and it’s known that a little bit of fresh food is always better than none. So if feeding a diet of half kibble and half raw relieves you from the stress of traveling with your pet and doing a food transition during your trip, then that’s the way to go! There are also great freeze-dried options on the market. Though expensive, freeze dried can be fed during a short trip instead of raw, with a very short transition needed prior to leaving.

Traveling and having an active lifestyle shouldn’t keep you from feeding your pet healthy, raw, fresh, whole food. With just a little bit of organization, your dog can continue to benefit from eating a raw diet during travel. Humans do not eat dehydrated or processed food yearlong just because they go on vacation occasionally, and the same applies to our pets!


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Feeding the Canine Athlete

By Julie Lauzon, agr, MSc, Pet Nutrition
(Updated from a previous blog)

There are many sports that we can practice with our dogs. Even if many only practice as weekend warriors, it is possible that your passion brings you and your dog to a more professional level. At this competitive stage, small details will make a difference with regards to muscle strength and endurance of your dog. Just as in human athletes, there are many ways to help your dog perform better, with targeted training and diet, but that’s where the resemblance ends. It should be noted that a dog’s metabolism is very different than ours. From preferred energy source to hydration, adjustments to their diet promoting endurance and muscle growth are very different than in humans.

Key Definitions:
Carbs – More or less complex structures made of glucose
Glucose – Form of sugar used for transport
Glycogen – Glucose storage for animal
ATP – Energy for cells
Glycerol – Part of fat structure (paired with fatty acids)
Aerobic – Need oxygen
Anaerobic – Do not need oxygen
Stamina – Capacity for a prolonged effort
Glucogenic – Use of glucose (from glycogen or protein) to create ATP, can be both aerobic and anaerobic
Ketogenic – Use of fatty acids or protein to create ATP, only aerobic

The Dog’s Muscle Type and Preferred Energy Source
The main difference is due to the type of muscular fiber dogs have, which is different from ours and even from cats! Understanding how those muscle fibers work, what their purpose is, and how they “prefer” to get their energy, will help us optimize the diet. Without going into too much anatomic detail, it is important to know that there are three types of skeletal muscle fiber (used for locomotion). They vary in proportion depending on species. Some, such as dogs, only have two of the three fiber types. Fibers are classified according to their ATP creation preference. ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate and is the energy at a cellular level. As it will be described later, we can ingest energy in different forms that will, under different metabolic pathways, be transformed to ATP so the muscle cells can use it. The first fiber type prefers the use of oxygen to create energy (aerobic). The second type can create energy with or without oxygen (aerobic and anaerobic). Finally, the third type is most efficient in creating energy when there is no oxygen available (anaerobic). The first two types of fiber can use carbs (glucose), fat and protein as their source of energy, while the third type strictly uses what is called a glycolytic pathway. This means it can only use glucose as its energy source.

Dogs do not have the third fiber type, this is one of the major differences from us. This means that all their muscle fibers have a strong aerobic capacity. This will have a major impact on what type of energy source will be preferred for their metabolism. Before going deeper into what muscle uses which energy and why, let’s talk about energy sources. I’m sure that, just like many others, glycerol, glycogen, glucose, etc. all sound the same.

Energy Forms – From the Food to the Muscle Fuel
Back to basics! There are three major nutrients that dogs (and humans) eat, serving as energy sources to the body: carbohydrates (glucose), fat and protein. There is a wide variety of these nutrients, each stored by the body in different forms. For both humans and dogs, the body will store fat as fat, protein as protein or fat, but will not store carbs as carbs. Carbohydrates will be transformed primarily into glycogen for storage as glucose, either in the liver or muscles and all the extra carbs will be stored as fat. The body stores carbs as glycogen, which is a fast energy source. However, glycogen’s storage capacity is quite small compared to fat storage capacity. When glycogen storage is full, the extra glucose is stored as fat for use as a long-term energy source. Glycogen is the glucose storage of animal, which can be compared to starch, starch being the glucose storage of plant.

When there is a high energy demand, the body (for both humans and dogs) will break down glycogen to create the fuel – ATP. Once all the glycogen is used, the body switches to alternative sources of energy. For the human body, this is 100% true. What is also true for the human body is that if you can build and promote glycogen storage, or provide glucose during a physical exercise, you will increase your stamina capacity. If there is more glycogen available for a longer period, your muscles will be able to rely longer on this energy source. Science has shown that these last two affirmations are not true in dogs, as will be explained later.

Now back to energy storage and how the body uses fat and protein as an energy source instead of glycogen. When the body needs energy, the signals also go into the fat and the protein storage. To become an energy source, proteins will be broken down in amino acids and converted to glucose by the liver. Not all amino acids can be converted to glucose – alanine and glutamine are the preferred ones. When energy is created from glucose, either from glycogen storage or protein storage, it is called the glucogenic pathway.

The signal will also reach fat storage, inducing breakdown into two parts: free fatty acids and glycerol. These two components will then travel to the location where energy is required and will be able to generate ATP as well. The metabolic pathway for the creation of energy from free fatty acids and glycerol, is called the ketogenic pathway. The ketogenic pathway requires oxygen, while energy created from glycogen – glucogenic pathway – can be done anaerobically. Fun fact, fat oxidation (ketogenic) can create 3X more energy than glucose oxidation. Some protein can also be involved in the ketogenic pathway, and the two preferred amino acids for this energy conversion are leucine and lysine.

Glycogen is used by anaerobic muscle tissue for a fast and strong contraction. Since the storage of glycogen is limited, this muscle type will lose their energy source quickly. Those muscles are involved in sprints and jumps, but less in endurance exercises, while aerobic muscles can rely on long term energy storage like fat or protein. They will be slower but will be able to work for a long period of time.

It is important to understand energy conversion processes because it will guide us in the specifications of a diet for your furry athlete. We could go even deeper into metabolic pathways, but you understand enough now for the purpose of this article.

Here’s what is important to remember: Carbs in the body will be stored as glycogen, while the extra will be stored as fat. Glycogen is the fastest (most easily accessible) energy source, but the storage is limited. Fat and protein will be stored as they are, efficient long-term energy sources to be used by endurance muscles.

Ideal Proportion of Fat, Protein, and Carbs for the Athlete Dog Diet
There are some very important differences between dogs and humans that we need to take into account. Based on the information provided above, it would be logical to think that dogs will also use all the glycogen available before jumping to fat and protein as energy sources. Therefore, one would assume building glycogen reserves would be a great way to increase the stamina. However, that would be forgetting that the main muscle fibers in dogs are aerobic, and therefore, are naturally more adapted to use protein and fat as energy sources. Studies have shown that at rest, muscles use aerobic energy sources; 20% from free fatty acids and 30% from glucose. When the dog performs physical effort, the proportion of glucose utilization will decrease to 10% and the free fatty acid proportion will rise to 70% of the energy source. This fraction will change with the intensity of the physical effort. If the dog is closer to maximum effort over a short period of time, the utilization of glucose (from glycogen or protein) will increase at the detriment of fat – still on the aerobic pathway. During physical exercise, dogs will rely on an anaerobic source of energy for the first 7 to 15 seconds of effort and will then move to aerobic energy sources after 30 to 60 seconds, even if there is still glycogen available. Therefore, feeding a high carb diet with the purpose of potentially increasing glycogen storage and stamina is not applicable to dogs. In addition, feeding higher fat diets have been proven to spare glycogen storage and improve stamina.

According to the NRC, higher carb diets (over 38% carbs) have also been shown to lower the concentration of red blood cells in the body. Red cells, being the oxygen transporters, means high carb diets can also impact stamina. If there is less oxygen arriving to aerobic muscle, the energy conversion slows down. There are studies that have shown very active dogs, such as sled dogs, can rely 100% on protein as their glucose precursor. The liver will convert certain amino acids to glycogen, making it available as an anaerobic energy source for short, intense physical effort.

To summarize, this doesn’t mean your dog can’t benefit from some carbs in their diet, but the amount and time of feeding is important. More importantly, carbs shouldn’t be added to the detriment of protein and fat. The addition of carbs could help dogs having a hard time building fat storage on protein and fat diets alone.

For dogs doing sprints or acceleration only (maximum effort for a short period of time) here’s what the diet breakdown should look like: minimum 30% of metabolizable energy coming from fat, minimum 24% from protein, and maximum 45% from carbs. For other sport dogs, like hunting, traction or other sports involving more aerobic energy sources, the diet breakdown should be: minimum 50% of the metabolizable energy coming from fat, minimum 35% from protein, and maximum 15% from carbs.

It is also important to consider body condition score and excess weight as a major component in sport performance. Being overweight increases the risk of injuries and joint issues. We now also know that obesity is mainly linked to high sugar diets (glucose and starch) – eating a lot of those carbs increases the secretion of insulin, promoting storage of glucose in fat, decreasing the effect of leptin, the satiety hormones. This is called leptin resistance – the body’s never-ending circle of being hungry and stocking fat as consequence. Feeding a low carb diet to the canine athlete promotes stamina and reduces the risk of obesity.

Time of Feeding
Two other important factors in feeding your canine athlete is time of feeding and hydration. Dogs should never engage in physical activity directly after a meal. In fact, in studies made on sled dogs, results indicated that dogs that fasted but had access to water, performed better than dogs who ate right before the physical activity. Dogs should be fed a very small meal the morning before a physical activity, only if that meal is at least 3-5 hours before the start. If not, then it is better that the dog doesn’t eat at all. Also allow your dog to cool down for a couple of hours before feeding a main meal of the day. Dogs can eat once daily without any issue.

Hydration; Dos and Don’ts
Regarding hydration, it is the complete opposite, and may be the most important part of feeding the canine athlete. According to the few available studies done with sporting dogs, sled dogs that have fasted for several days but are well hydrated perform better than dogs that have eaten their fill the day before but have not drank enough before, during and after physical exercise. This means that all the effort put into the diet and training of dogs can be reduced to nothing by the simple factor of inadequate hydration on the day of performance.

Blood is mostly made up of water. We can therefore say that water is largely responsible for the transportation of red blood cells and therefore oxygen (essential during physical exertion) as well as waste material. Water also plays an essential role in terms of thermoregulation – the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. This is another essential regulatory aspect when practicing a sport since physical effort leads to an increase in body temperature.

Dogs will regulate their temperature through panting and sweat glands in their paw pads and noses. Their loss will mainly be water – not electrolytes like us humans. Feeding electrolytes to dogs that have not lost any through vomiting or diarrhea can cause major damage to renal function long term. According to the NRC, offering solutions containing electrolytes, glucose and protein does not lead to better hydration or performance. These “solutions” can even cause diarrhea in some individuals. Also, according to the NRC, the blood sodium and potassium content remain the same during normal physical effort and increases only during prolonged physical effort. We must therefore avoid providing more. The dog’s saliva composition will increase in sodium, chloride, and magnesium, but the total loss is negligible. Majority of hydration loss will be through the paws, and this loss is only water, so water is the only thing your dog will need!

As it relates to minerals, sporting dogs will benefit from a diet higher in some minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, as well as B vitamins. In fact, sporting dogs should not be fed “adult” food, as the minimum nutrient requirements are too low to meet their needs. Athlete dogs require a diet closer to the nutrient profile of growing puppies and should be fed an “all life stages” food.

It is also important to note that dogs will need water throughout their physical performance. Do not wait for your dog to be thirsty, because dogs will often feel the need to drink once dehydration is well advanced. At that point, they will drink a huge amount of water potentially creating digestive issues. Water loss during exercise is a continuous process, while many dogs drink water only occasionally. Don’t hesitate to offer water on multiple occasions during physical performance. If needed, add enhancers (that do not contain too many electrolytes), like goat milk, bone broth, or simply drop a couple treats in the bowl!

This article should give you many tools to help increase your dog’s performance this summer in your favourite sports, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you need further support for your canine athlete!


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Spring into Allergies

By Julie Lauzon, agr, MSc, Pet Nutrition

Spring is a beautiful time of year: days are longer, temperatures are warmer, and everything that was white and grey now goes back to green! For many, including our pets, spring also means allergies are back in full force…

We often associate allergies with food, but environmental allergies, unlike food allergies, are very hard to avoid. Despite the difficulty, there are tools that can be used to prepare your pet’s immune system and overall health. This can be done to inhibit reactions and hopefully reduce the use of medications.

Immune Health is Linked to Gut Health
When snow is melting and the temperature rises, everything smells stronger and is much more appealing to your dog – fresh grass, rotting plants, defrosting poops… These temptations lead to gastrointestinal issues. What Is the correlation between digestion issues and allergies? The fact is that immune health is directly linked to gut health. Spring should be considered a critical time for both digestive issues and environmental allergies.

Be Proactive When it Comes to Environmental Allergies
April is a great month to start giving probiotics and other digestive supplements like Thrive Pro-Gut or Fermented Goat Milk. When your pet’s gut is packed with a large variety of healthy bacteria and microbes, they experience fewer opportunities for digestive upset. Eating wet soil and animal poop means your pet will ingest a significant number of microbes – if there is space for them to settle down and grow in your dog’s intestines, this is when we notice issues such as loose stools and even vomiting. Food becomes harder to digest because the good bacteria are overtaken by bad bacteria. This puts huge pressure on the immune system as it battles against harmful invaders in the gut. The immune system can be more prone to reacting to any possible threat, including environmental allergens such as pollen.

Giving probiotics regularly during the spring months, from April to June, is a great way to support your pet’s optimal health. Supervising your pet’s outdoor adventures is also essential to make sure they are not tasting every smelly thing they find outside.

Some dogs can still develop environmental allergies, getting itchy ears, paws, and/or belly. Another great preventative is Thrive Bovine Colostrum. Bovine Colostrum isn’t the “active” ingredient. The colostrum itself is not a source of antibodies and do not directly impact the allergic reaction. However, Bovine Colostrum interacts with the immune cells entering the intestine. The partially digested immune factors “communicate” with the system, helping to regulate it. By giving Bovine Colostrum early, you can significantly reduce the possibility of allergic reaction.

Did you know that, by simply offering raw food to your pet, you are already preventing allergies and inflammatory skin reactions? There are studies that show feeding a raw diet will help in the prevention of dermatitis. Including whole fish, fish oil and some plant-based oil in your pet’s diet can also be very beneficial for skin health.

Bovine Colostrum impact on dog immune system:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23773360/

The role of gut microbiome on immune system:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31993446/

Positive effect of probiotics on gut microbiome and immune functions:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28721546/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12672936/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33102555/

Studies on how raw may help prevent allergies and dermatitis:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17845618/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33178726/


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