Wanted to share this interesting story about one of our members who had been struggling with a coat & skin condition issue in her black Great Dane, Miles. This story provides a fine example of how supplementation is sometimes necessary to correct imbalances in individual animals. It also illustrates how sometimes nutritional imbalances may occur even in animals eating a fresh food diet, from stress or an unknown cause, even when provided a “balanced” diet that others would thrive on and not show the same imbalances.
It is important to remember that every individual animal/person is unique when it comes to how they tolerate, digest and metabolize foods; health and nutritional needs will change over time or during periods of stress/illness. We must be willing to consider and analyze every diet/menu on an individual basis to find what is most helpful for that particular being at the period in time. Nutrition and health is never really a “set-it-and-forget-it” done deal – it’s a dynamic journey that we partake with our animals over many years (if you’re lucky!)
What you feed now and what you may feed a year from now is likely to change based on your animal’s individual needs, new information we gather from ongoing research/new understandings about nutrition or health, and our experience/comfort level with preparing and feeding our animals fresh foods (for example, you may only feed ground bone now, but eventually change to become more comfortable in feeding whole meaty bones/prey model; or feed raw now but eventually decide to switch to a home-cooked diet in your ailing or older animal). It is important to always remain open to making necessary changes, and to let your animal’s symptoms guide you along the way; their physical and behavioral symptoms/expression of health or dis-ease is how our animals communicate with us about what’s working (or not). It is important to pay attention, and be open to trying new things.
Many of you know I am generally resistant, or at least initially hesitant, to recommend or use even the highest quality supplements when first approaching an imbalance or problem. I prefer to focus on simply providing excellent nutrition using the highest quality, wholesome ingredients to address any challenges or imbalances -“letting food be thy medicine” and giving the body a chance to bring itself into balance when given the tools and circumstances to do so.
I am inspired and amazed on a daily basis with what our animals can do if just simply given the opportunity (removing chemicals, stress, routine “preventative” treatments, providing them with adequate mental and physical exercise, access to a clean, healthy home environment, etc.), TIME (patience), and species appropriate fresh, wholesome foods to heal themselves. Oftentimes, doing less will provide the most dramatic gains and turnarounds.
Miles has been raw fed since being adopted many years ago. He has always enjoyed a beautiful, healthy shiny black coat up until a sudden change that occurred during a period when he was boarded (with a raw feeder) in the spring. Miles’ glossy dark coat had turned reddish/light brown and become very thin/balding – he had a black mohawk of fur along his spine, but the rest of his coat was a very thin and had turned a brown/reddish color.
There are a number of medical conditions that can cause this type of change including hormonal/endocrine disorders, non-endocrine and seasonal pigment/coat & skin disorders. However, as time went on and the veterinary visits/lab tests revealed he was completely healthy, we ruled out those common possibilities. We do not know what caused the change in his coat condition, but we thought for sure after a few weeks that it would return to normal with a few minor tweaks to the diet.
Miles was eating a diet recommended by his holistic veterinarian of 50% cooked carbohydrate (rice) and 50% raw lamb, beef and pork meat/organs along with a daily serving of consumable raw meaty poultry bones plus supplements including SFRAW Seafood Medley few times a week, egg few times a week, canned sardines in water, Halo Dream Coat, Healthy Powder with Bone Meal (on days he does not get the RMB) and Vitality Blend – not every supplement was given every single day but these were used in rotation.
While I have concerns over including carbohydrates in our dog’s diet: especially in this particular case, for the phytates/phytic acid content in the grains may have been inhibiting mineral absorption; his diet had been composed with the advice of his veterinarian and agreement from his person that this was best for Miles, so I was wanted to respect this choice.
Over the years I have known Miles and his person, we had made modifications to the diet including the elimination of certain foods that were causing issues, and the inclusion of others to address his dietary needs, maintain an ideal weight, and balanced overall health.
With the sudden coat condition issue he was experiencing and not resolving, we added additional White Gold, kelp powder, digestive enzymes, and red palm oil.
Eventually, we swapped the kelp powder for my Seaweed Blend. I would not normally recommend additional kelp or the Seaweed Blend when Healthy Powder was already being used due to a concern of over-supplementing with iodine and possibly impacting healthy thyroid functioning.
As the months passed, discouragingly, the conditon would not fully resolve. He went though a period of very flaky skin with copious dandruff production and shedding. My suggestion was to curry comb and massage the coat/skin to help aid his body “detoxify” as his body worked to get back into balance; allowing for a healthy new coat to return (I hoped). As I had expected, the dandruff resolved rather quickly, but the coat pigment issue and thinning remained a problem – especially on his hip area. It was perplexing.
While we saw glimpses of improvement here & there (the red fur started to look shiny instead of dry, and small patches of thick black fur began to grow, but just small patches and it was taking too long), his condition never fully resolved to the point where we were both satisfied with considering him 100% back to normal.
By this time I felt that we had given his body adequate time to resolve the issue on its own or with the gentle nutritional aids we had incorporated, and that we needed to make a dramatic move with his supplement routine — we decided to increase the Seaweed Blend dose by more than 4x the recommended amount (!!) It was a little scary, but we set a short time limit for how long we’d use this dosage, just to see what we might be able to achieve and how his body would respond.
Miles responded beautifully! In just two short weeks, his coat went from being sparse and lightly colored to thick, rich, black and glossy again! He has improved completely to the point where we feel he is totally normal and he is, fortunately continuing to maintain a beautiful, healthy skin & coat condition.
This was the right choice for Miles; we made a bold move to supplement with a potent combination of seaweeds that in another dog could have actually even been harmful. But for Miles, this dose was just what he needed to regain his health.
We have tapered off the megadose, and settled into what his body communicated was the right amount for Miles with good results: he feels and looks wonderful and has been given a clean bill of health from his veterinarian.
As a side, but related note: Miles was a rescue that had a difficult start. He has been on a long journey with his incredibly dedicated person to address rather challenging behavioral health issues. This also has improved so much recently/along with the skin/coat health, that the below video of him interacting with other dogs brought us both to tears.
Miles and Shana have come so far together — this video would have never seemed possible just a few short years ago. This is truly a beautiful moment in time to see him interact with not only one, but two strange dogs (and the second dog came out of nowhere — normally a major trigger for Miles, but he handled it pretty well!) and boy, look at that gorgeous coat he has now, too!
Thank you to Miles and his dedicated person, Shana for allowing us to share your story. It is an honor to know you both and to see how far Miles has come with your good, intelligent, responsible, compassionate, wise, and loving care!