Is your pit bull in good health and you want to make sure he stays that way? Or perhaps your companion is getting older and you're wondering if there is anything you can do to reduce the risk of illness during her senior years?
Canine Disease Prevention
Of course genetics play a role in your pit bull's overall health, but just because some factors are beyond your control doesn't mean you can't improve your companion's chance of living a long, healthy life:
- Nutrition matters. Your first step should be to ensure that your pit bull is eating a balanced, home-prepared diet or a high quality commercial dog food.
- Make sure your pit bull is getting plenty of fresh air and exercise every day.
- Remove toxins and allergens from your pit bull's environment as much as possible.
- Use drugs, chemical wormers and insecticides only as a last resort. Instead, opt for natural flea control and a natural deworming protocol.
- Don't overvaccinate. Annual booster shots are unnecessary and may increase the risk of chronic disease.
- Supplement with beneficials herbs and nutraceuticals to help prevent health problems.
Supplements for Prevention and Optimal Health
The following supplements are safe and effective for long-term use. They can be added to commercial dog foods as well as home-prepared diets.
- Fish Oil - Fish oil is recommended as a supplement for diseases from arthritis to cancer, so it won't come as a surprise that it's a great preventative as well. Most diets contain too many omega-6 essential fatty acids and not enough omega-3 essential fatty acids. Daily fish oil supplementation helps maintain the correct omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Why is this so important? Omega-3 EFAs are anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 EFAs are pro-inflammatory; omega-3 EFAs are anti-thrombotic, and omega-6 EFAs are pro-thrombotic; omega-3 EFAs are anti-constrictive, while omega-6 EFAs are pro-constrictive; omega-3 EFAs inhibit cell growth, while omega-6 EFAs promote cell growth. Some scientists believe that omega-3 deficiency is at the root of many health problems--canine as well as human.
Recommended Dosage: 100 mg of combined DHA and EPA per 10 pounds of body weight is usually sufficient for prevention, though you can go as high as 300 mg/10 lbs of body weight, if you wish. Best given in two or more daily doses. One gram of fish body oil usually contains 300 mg of the fatty acids DHA and EPA. If you're concerned about mercury and other environmental contaminants in fish, look for a fish oil product that has undergone mollecular distillation. NOTE: While cod liver oil also boasts high omega-3 levels, liver oils typically contain too much vitamin A and vitamin D to supplement in sufficient amounts.
- Vitamin E-Complex - Vitamin E is essential for heart health and helps slow the aging process, making it especially valuable for older dogs. As a powerful antioxidant, it also boosts resistance to disease. Vitamin E is instrumental in protecting cells against the destructive effects of free radicals. If you're adding polyunsaturated fatty acids such as those found in fish oil to your pit bull's diet, you also need to add vitamin E, as PUFAs increase the body's vitamin E requirement. Natural E-Complex supplements containing mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols are superior to synthetic supplements and supplements containing only alpha-tocopherol.
Recommended Dosage: 100-200 IU a day is sufficient for prevention. Since vitamin E is best given with fats, you may want to give it together with fish oil.
- Spirulina - This blue-green algae is often referred to as the most nutrient-rich food on the planet. Spirulina is 60-75% protein and contains all essential amino acids. It's also rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, B vitamins, minerals, and the fatty acid GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid). Spirulina has anti-inflammatory properties, and preliminary research has shown it to be effective in cases of allergies, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer. If you've been thinking about adding a multi-vitamin or antioxidant supplement to your pit bull's diet, you're much better off with a whole food such as spirulina than a synthetic formula supplying mega doses of vitamins that are difficult to assimilate and risk unbalancing the diet.
Recommended Dosage: 1 teaspoon of spirulina a day for 40-80 pound pit bulls.
- Kelp - While spirulina is typically found in warm fresh water lakes, kelp comes from cold ocean waters, preferably those of Iceland and Norway. This sea vegetable contains more than 60 minerals and trace minerals, 18 amino acids, and 25 vitamins, all in easily absorbable form, including iodine. Kelp promotes healthy glandular function, has anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor benefits, and aids detoxification.
Recommended Dosage: 1/2-1 teaspoon a day for 30-70 pound pit bulls and 1-2 teaspoons for dogs over 70 pounds.
- Glucosamine & Chondroitin - There's no need to wait until your pit bull shows the first signs of arthritis to begin supplementing with a glucosamine and chondroitin formula. These natural joint supplements are appropriate for all older dogs as well as for young dogs involved in high impact sports such as agility, flyball, and Frisbee dog. The best forms of glucosamine for joints are glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl).
Recommended Dosage: For prevention of joint problems, give 100-120 mg glucosamine sulfate or HCl and 70-80 mg chondroitin sulfate per 10 pounds of body weight. Can be divided into two daily doses.
- Coenzyme Q10 - CoQ10 is present in virtually every cell and plays a key role in energy production. CoQ10 also functions as an antioxidant, and low levels of CoQ10 have been linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, more research is necessary to determine if CoQ10 supplementation can help prevent tumors. Since CoQ10 levels decrease with age, supplementation may be beneficial for older dogs. Young, healthy dogs produce sufficient CoQ10 and do not require supplements.
Recommended Dosage: 30-60 mg divided into two doses a day for 30-90 pound pit bulls. CoQ10 is best absorbed if given together with fats/oils.
If your pit bull has specific health issues, you'll find supplement suggestions with dosage recommendations for a number of ailments on pitbulls.org.
This information is not intended as medical advice. Its intent is solely educational. Always consult your veterinarian before starting your dog on a supplement regimen.