Diet for Dogs with Cushing’s Disease
Many dog owners are turning to a raw diet to help improve their dog’s health, especially when other options for treating Cushing’s in dogs have not seemed to help. Before starting a raw diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian, and read about the two sides of the raw diet theory below.
Raw Diet Advocates.
Many top breeders feed their dogs a raw diet. The raw diet theory advocates reverting back to the diet of dogs before their domestication, thus potentially improving their health. Hunting dogs, beagles, huskies, grey hounds and various other dog breeds are given raw meat by certain breeders. Many dog owners who have turned to natural and raw food for their dogs have reported excellent results. Countless vets are proponents of raw diets as well. Healthy skin, coat, and teeth, smaller stool, less odor, and increased energy are some of the potential advantages of the raw diet. Almost all carnivorous animals eat raw meat and enjoy benefits that are not found or replicated in processed dog foods. An emphasis on the right fruits and vegetables, bones, and raw meats is increasing as knowledge of the raw diet spreads. As proponents of the raw diet increase, so too does the awareness of the potential harm in commercial pet foods, which are often grain based.
Raw Diet Critics
It is also believed that a raw diet may not be balanced enough over a long period of time. Some vets believe that a raw diet could cause dogs to get sick from possible bacteria in raw meat. Another problem with a raw diet is the potential for contaminating your kitchen. Proper cleanup is always required. Bones can be a hazard as well, as the risk of the dog choking or harming their teeth is a possibility. While some vets support the idea of a raw diet, the FDA and some mainstream vets do not recommend it. It is always necessary to discuss these options with a veterinarian as they will have an idea, based on the severity of the Cushings, if it can be beneficial for your dog. We recommend seeking multiple opinions from different veterinarians when possible.
Is it right for your Dog?
Dogs are born with the necessary enzymes to kill the bacteria in raw meat. These enzymes that reside in the mouth are designed to fight bacteria. Some vets believe that a dog may not have enough of the enzymes needed because they are not accustomed to raw meat, but gradually starting a dog off on the raw diet can allow the dog to accumulate more of the bacteria killing enzymes. It should also be noted that people eat raw meat when stored in the proper conditions, and that dogs can benefit as well. If you and your vet have determined a raw diet is the best option for your dog, be sure to give your dog good quality meat, and allow plenty of time to give your dog a chance to acclimate and to build up the necessary enzymes to destroy any latent bacteria.
You can mitigate the concerns regarding a non-balanced diet by ensuring that you not only feed your dog raw meat, but also raw vegetables, eggs, and small amounts of fruit and starches. Raw meats include raw beef and muscle meat (sometimes still on the bone), bones (whole or ground), and/or organ meats (liver or kidneys). Some vets and breeders may recommend raw salmon as well. In some cases raw chicken is incorporated into a raw diet; however, it is important to discuss this option (and all options) with a veterinarian as some studies indicate that raw chicken can be potentially harmful. Small amounts of dairy may also be recommended (i.e. a probiotic yogurt with live and active cultures – which is good to mix with lignans if you give them to your dog with Cushings, as it can help with the absorption of the lignans). Read more about lignans for dogs here ). You can also give your dog dietary supplements (i.e. a canine multivitamin containing vitamins and minerals essential for daily health) if you worry about an incomplete diet. You can eliminate the concern of bone fragmentation by removing any bones; however, raw bones do not break as easily as cooked bones, so this is only a slight concern.
Calcium and phosphorous are the most likely deficiencies with a raw diet.
What does a raw diet consist of?
For vegetables, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, bok choy, and spinach are recommended. Good fruits to try are apples (no skin, core, or seeds), blueberries, banana, pumpkin (no seeds), watermelon (no seeds), and others. Avoid seeds and rinds for all. Meat: kidneys, liver, muscle meat, and eggs for protein are recommended. Bones can be whole or even ground up. Yogurt is also a food to consider, especially if you are giving your dog flaxseed lignans for Cushings Disease. Yogurt with live active cultures is very beneficial in expediting the uptake of the lignan. Read more about lignans for dogs here. (Note: Fruits to avoid are grapes, avocados, tomatoes, citrus, and fruits with pits. Vegetables to avoid are onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Also avoid nuts and raw or green potatoes (cooked potatoes are okay on occasion; cooked sweet potatoes can be good for dogs)). Remember to consult your vet about specifics if you are questioning any kind of food included in the raw diet.
When your Dog has Cushing’s
Cushing’s in dogs can cause radical changes in your dog’s overall health and behavior. If your dog has Cushing’s disease, nutrition could help improve your dog’s condition, along with the right supplements. It is worth having a discussion with your vet to determine if the benefits of a raw diet outweigh the risks. Trying the raw diet is not a permanent choice; if you don’t see the benefits, you can always change back to the dog’s previous diet.
What else can you do for your dog with Canine Cushing’s?
We provide several homeopathic options for alleviating the symptoms of Cushings in Dogs on our Holistic Treatment Options page. To read about natural treatments for Cushing’s Disease, click here