Christmas can be a little chaotic at the best of times; some of our companions love the attention from all the visitors, but some can get a little overwhelmed. There are many strategies that we can employ for our furry friends to get through this time of year unscathed, but we can also support them nutritionally too!
Here are our top nutritional tips for canines this Christmas.
Magnesium excretion is increased during times of stress. Catecholamines and corticosteroids enhance the shift of magnesium from inside the cell to outside of the cell leading to increased urinary excretion. In turn, low magnesium levels increase the release of stress-associated hormones. This unfortunately creates a cycle of a reduced resistance to stress. Offer your dog plenty of magnesium rich foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
L-Theanine is seen to facilitate the generation of alpha waves which are indicative of a relaxed but awake and alert state. L-Theanine helps regulate the usual stress responses like increased blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol secretion and it's found in our trusty tea! Green tea packs the highest content, so brew up a cup of decaf and share it with your pooch this Christmas.
Did you know that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased anxiety scores? Whilst we know it plays a role in immune function, it also contributes to cognitive function along with mood and behaviour. Add plenty of fresh foods containing Vitamin D to your dog’s bowl, including: liver, fish and eggs! Mushrooms are a great source too, and if you keep them in the windowsill, you’ll get even more Vitamin D too! Always remember to saute mushrooms before feeding.
B vitamins are heavily involved in the synthesis and breakdown of stress hormones. Whenever we or our dogs are stressed, we release a cascade of hormones that help us manage the threat in front of us. When the threat has passed, those hormones need to be broken down so our bodily functions can return to normal. It goes without saying, the more often our bodies have to do this, the higher the demand for B vitamins (and more). B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they need to be replenished daily, and this is even without any stressors we may be facing. Offer your dog plenty of sources of B vitamins in their bowls like seafood, poultry, red meat, leafy greens and seeds!
This may not apply to all dogs; especially if you are tackling an itchy issue, but there is increasing data highlighting that poor microbial diversity in the gut is linked with increased scores of anxiety. A great way to support microbial diversity is to ensure the diet contains both pre and probiotic foods. Prebiotic sources include: mushrooms, dandelion greens, garlic, burdock root and more. Probiotic foods include fermented products like kefir.
Aside from certain nutrients, we also know how important chewing is in engaging the parasympathetic nervous system - which is the rest and digest side of the stress response. This is why offering whole foods, which take some chewing, is great for your dog’s physical and emotional health.
Other top (non-nutritional) tips for supporting your overwhelmed canine this Christmas:
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Thanks for reading,