Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Super dog! What we like about Pet Plus

One of the questions we wrestled with when we were formulating the original Darling's recipes was what to do about supplements. In particular, Tom (Farrington) our Chief Veterinary Surgeon (jolly impressive title, isn't it?) suggested that we consider adding a powdered supplement called Pet Plus. In the end we decided not to bother because the ingredients we use actually meet all (and more) of a dog's nutritional requirements.

But, and that should be a big BUT, we really like what goes into Pet Plus and believe that there are plenty of instances where it makes sense to use it, such as when a dog is elderly, unwell, lacking in energy or where the effects of processed food need to be counterbalanced.

What makes us keen on Pet Plus? Here is how they describe the ingredients on their UK website:

The probiotics in Pet Plus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum, have been chosen as the two most important Lactobacillus species for dogs. Naturally found throughout the gastrointestinal tracts of healthy animals, these micro-organisms help to defend the body against invading pathogenic bacteria. Probiotic organisms produce lactic acid and keep the colon environment slightly acid to prevent the growth of harmful organisms; furthermore, lactobacilli are known to produce several antibiotic compounds to further inhibit the growth of pathogenic organisms. Due to the prevalence of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment which kills the beneficial organisms as well as harmful bacteria, healthy intestinal flora may be lacking. Supplemental replenishment of probiotics quickly returns the flora balances to normal. In addition, Lactobacillus organisms have been found to significantly contribute to the reduction of lactose intolerance symptoms. Yet another benefit of probiotics is their ability to regulate bowel movements and halt diarrhoea.

Alfalfa is considered highly nourishing and is a rich source of many trace minerals in addition to providing magnesium, iron, B vitamins, chromium, vitamin C and b-carotene. It is also a prebiotic, supporting the all important gut flora. Chlorophyll has been shown to have a cleansing action on the body, detoxifying and preventing odours.

Barley and wheat grass are important cereal grasses. When harvested during their early growth, they not only function as prebiotics to maintain the health of the probiotics, but also they supply vitamins and minerals at levels comparable to the green leafy vegetables.

Flax seed and safflower petals are rich natural sources of the essential fatty acids, which play a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy skin and coat.

The following digestive enzymes are also present in Pet Plus to aid the digestion of the food.

Protease digests proteins to produce amino acids and since dogs do not synthesise essential amino acids, it is of utmost importance that the diet be digestible. Amino acids are important building blocks, being used by the dog’s body to build muscles, metabolic enzymes, neuro-transmitters and many other biochemicals. Amino acids supply nitrogen for the synthesis of all other nitrogenous compounds, as well as a back-up supply of energy.

Amylase, glucoamylase and cellulase digest starches and cellulose, respectively, to produce free glucose and break down the plant cell walls to release their nutrients. Dogs require glucose to supply energy for all life functions. This is provided by the pulverised raw vegetables which form an essential part of our dogs’ daily diet. Although fibre digestion is not considered essential for canine health, the break-down of some fibre has been shown to be beneficial, supplying a source of supplemental energy.

Lipase digests dietary fats, releasing free fatty acids and glycerol. Dietary fat is a concentrated source of energy supplying four times as much energy as either protein or glucose. Fats are important to canine health. Fats act as a carrier for fat soluble vitamins (e.g. A, D and K), build cell membranes, form prostaglandins, leukotrienes and hormones. Proper assimilation of fats is also important for a healthy skin and coat.

The following two ingredients help the body to repel parasites.

Brewer’s yeast in the dog formulation is a rich source of the B-complex vitamins and is high in the minerals magnesium and phosphorous. Combinations of brewer’s yeast and garlic have also been found to be effective in reducing flea infestations on dogs. In addition, brewer’s yeast has a pleasant taste that supports compliance.

Garlic is naturally high in iodine, sulphur, phosphorous, iron, potassium and selenium, as well as the vitamins B1 and B3. This herb/vegetable is well known for its beneficial effects on both the immune and cardiovascular systems. Garlic has been shown to kill worms and repel fleas.
Pet Plus is only available in the UK through a vet called Susanna Mcintyre who also specialises, by the way, in canine dentistry.

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