Caring for our pets can become a bit of a minefield - the more we know, the more we realise there is so much more to know! We thought we’d share 6 of the things we think every pet owner should have in their toolkit.
Slippery elm is a deciduous tree found in forests of the eastern half of the USA and Canada.
Slippery Elm is related to the American Elm (ulmus americana) and is sometimes called Red Elm or Moose Elm. It is best used in the digestive tract, where it serves as a soothing, protecting and lubricating demulcent and general astringent at the same time. It creates a mucilage lining where it soothes the passage of food, inflammation and is believed to protect and heal the mucosal lining.
The inner bark of the Slippery Elm is not only packed with nutrients like vitamins A, B complex, C, K, calcium, magnesium and sodium, but it is thought to have a number of properties including:
Use with Caution:
There is also the suggestion that as slippery elm coats the digestive tract, it could prevent absorption of other medication or herbs; sometimes it may be advised to offer slippery elm at different times to others.
Sadly, the tree is declining so slippery elm should be reserved for circumstances where alternatives are ineffective. In many instances slippery elm can be substituted with plantain (Plantagosp.) If a more mucilaginous remedy is needed, marshmallow root (Altheaofficinalis) is an excellent alternative. Sustainable sources should always be sought after.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to the host when ingested in adequate amounts. They are not to be confused with prebiotics which are selectively fermented ingredients that result in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of the gut microbiota. Synbiotics are products that contain both.
Probiotics are live microbes that can be formulated into many different types of products from food to supplements. The most common probiotics you’ve come across will likely be lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
They are reported to suppress diarrhoea, exhibit antimicrobial activities, reduce irritable bowel symptoms, prevent inflammatory bowel disease and support gut integrity and overall health.
The more we are learning about probiotic use, the more we are realising that the benefits associated are bacterial strain specific. What this means is the devil is in the detail.
In addition, to function as a probiotic, the bacteria must:
- Survive the acid and bile in the GI tract,
- Adhere to intestinal cells or colonise areas within the tract,
- Exclude pathogenic adherence,
- Produce acids, or other compounds which antagonise the growth of pathogens,
- Be safe, non-invasive, non-carcinogenic and non-pathogenic.
The primary bacterial populations included in probiotics that have been seen to benefit both cats and dogs are lactic acid bacteria, especially lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and enterococci.
To date four bacterial strains have been examined by the European Food Safety Authority for their safety and efficacy as probiotics for dogs:
- Enterococcus faecium (two strains)
- Lactobaciullus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium animalis
However, Lactobacillus rhamnosus is also known to be of benefit to dogs, as is saccharomyces boulardii.
Silver is recognized to have antimicrobial activity. There are three main ways in which it achieves this.
Firstly, silver cations can form pores and puncture the bacterial cell wall by reacting with the peptidoglycan component.
Secondly, silver ions can enter into the bacterial cell, both inhibiting cellular respiration and disrupting metabolic pathways resulting in generation of reactive oxygen species.
Lastly, once in the cell silver can also disrupt DNA and its replication cycle.
For these reasons, colloidal silver can have many uses.
Bentonite clay can be interchangeably referred to as Montmorillonite clay and are both regarded as an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate clay from the Smectites family.
They are both named after regions they come from but in nature they have the same structure and have a much higher absorption capacity than other clays found in nature and on the market.
It has been used and eaten since ancient times as humans believed in its therapeutic benefits.
Due to many skin issues arising from immune reactions and toxicity, Bentonite can be calming and cooling both applied internally and externally. Internally, Bentonite clay has proven to remove many different bacteria and fungi, including candida albicans, that can lead to skin issues.
Applied externally (clay being wet and made into a paste) can help hotspots, wounds, calm itching and help fungal infections.
Bentonite clay has for a long time been considered as an effective treatment for diarrhoea, IBS and IBD too.
A trial in 1961, was shown that orally administered bentonite treated 97% of cases with different causative factors of diarrhoea. These being virus, infection, food allergy, spastic colitis, mucous colitis, and food poisoning.
In addition, Bentonite clay is negatively charged and so manages to attract and pull out toxins that by nature are positively charged.
Leucillin is an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal solution which has many uses.
It is a solution containing HOCl (hypochlorous acid).
HOCl is an endogenous substance in all mammals and is effective against a broad range of microorganisms.
Neutrophils, eosinophils, mononuclear phagocytes, and B lymphocytes produce HOCl in response to injury and infection through a mitochondrial membrane–bound enzyme. HOCl selectively binds with the unsaturated lipid layer and subsequently disrupts cellular integrity.
HOCl has been shown to inactivate a variety of viruses and has also shown to be an effective agent in reducing wound bacterial counts in open wounds.
Bone broth is a liquid containing brewed bones and connective tissues.
Bones themselves are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. In addition, brewing connective tissue into bone broth provides the body with natural compounds from the cartilage. You will also find collagen and cooking collagen turns it to gelatin, which provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
We often find the amino acid glutamine in bone broth and glutamine has been found to play a role in supporting gut integrity.
It is not possible to say how much of any nutrient will be in a particular batch of bone broth, since this largely depends on the type and quantity of the bones and tissues that went into it, but a good rotation of bones and tissues will provide a range of nutrients.
In addition, a 2017 review suggests that both laboratory and animal studies show that gelatin supplementation increases the amount of collagen in the tissues which may help protect the joints from unnecessary stress. Other data has suggested that collagen can improve knee joint symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, and poorer physical function, in humans with osteoarthritis.
Bone broth is also palatable which makes it a great option for fussy eaters, ageing pets or those who are feeling a little under the weather.
Super easy to cook yourself, a slow cooker is your best friend.
There are many more foods/nutrients and tools that can support a pet on their journey to optimal health and if they are facing a particular health challenge, they deserve personalised attention. If you would like some guidance, then check out our services to see how we can help.
Thanks for reading,