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Sydney is not a good representation of a raw fed dog. She's overweight. She has joint issues. She developed gray in her muzzle when she was young. And she has dry skin and white flakes in her coat. People are often surprised that she's raw fed.
However, if you knew her before raw, you would see the changes. If you knew her over the past few years as a raw fed dog, you'd see the changes. Switching Sydney to raw helped to strengthen her immune system, lose weight, and develop a gorgeous coat.
So what went wrong?
I made a few mistakes as a raw feeder. I didn't adjust the amount I was feeding Sydney after she had an injury (her partial cruciate tear). I thought that because she was raw fed, she would be fine. This worked when she was on Darwin's Pet, however, when I switched her to homemade with a base mix (higher in carbs), my girl was consuming more calories and wasn't doing to work to burn them off. So now she's fat.
But what about the rest?
I was told by her veterinarian to increase the liver in her diet to strengthen her liver. She told me that dogs that have joint issues tend to need additional liver support which they can get through a supplement or by adding more liver to their diet. Later that year, another veterinarian told me the opposite was the case; adding more liver was working against her liver health.
I learned recently that she may need a liver cleanse.
Benefits of Milk Thistle for Dogs
Milk thistle is great for liver health and detoxification. While researching the benefits of milk thistle for dogs, I found that it's great for skin problems secondary to liver disease, pancreatitis, fatty liver, and liver tumors. Milk thistle is also recommended for dogs after vaccinations, chemotherapy, and puppies recovering from parvo.
Sydney's blood work came back great; her veterinarian simply asked me to continue working with her on weight loss.
Adding Milk Thistle to a Dog's Diet
While I could have purchased a human supplement, when I'm trying a supplement for the first time, I prefer to buy one formulated or dogs to avoid giving too much or too little. Also, when I buy a supplement for dogs from a reputable source, I know that I'm getting the highest quality and not a derivative that can be found in supplement stores for humans.
I ordered two containers of milk thistle from Herbsmith, Inc. via Amazon.com.
I added 1/4 tsp to each dog's meal twice a day four days a week until I went through the container (about three weeks). My goal was to give Sydney a liver detox, and I figured I'd take care of all the dogs in one shot.
I didn't expect anything. There aren't many things that show a drastic change outside of switching our dogs to a raw food diet. Three weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised by the changes. Today, my dogs get milk thistle 3-4 days a week.
- CLICK HERE to order Herbsmith Milk Thistle for Dogs, use KTTW10 at check out to save 10% on your order.
1 – Shiny coat and healthy skin.
Sydney's coat no longer has white flakes, and it's shiny. Before the detox, her coat had a slightly greasy texture and was often dull; that's gone now.
2 – Improved mobility and faster recovery.
Sydney is more active and is walking more comfortably. When we took the dogs outside, she used to sit and watch the cyclists on the trail; now she's walking all over the property.
3 – Better attitude and some naughty behavior.
Sydney seems happier and sillier, like the old Sydney. And she's a bit naughty too – humping the other dogs, stealing my shoes, and I caught her trying to counter surf one day. This is all evidence that she's feeling a lot better and it's time for me to reintroduce some training.
4 – Decreased doggy smell.
Out of all of our dogs, Sydney was the one that would begin to smell like a dog the fastest, within a couple weeks of having a bath. That's not the case anymore. She smells great for longer periods of time like the rest of her pack!
5 – Weight loss.
At her heaviest, Sydney weighed 85 pounds (she should weigh about 70 pounds). She lost 10 pounds in 2015. In 2016, she danced around 74-76 pounds all year. I haven't weighed her in 6 months, but I can tell that she's trimming down when I look down at her waistline.
Milk Thistle is Not a Daily Supplement for Dogs
There is a belief that you cannot give milk thistle to dogs on a daily basis and I took this to heart until recently (April 2018) when I learned that it actually SHOULD be given to dogs on a daily basis because it's most effective against toxins when our dogs' systems are preloaded with this natural supplement. I'm not sure if the belief that milk thistle isn't a daily supplement is related to supplements intended for humans; I give my dogs a supplement formulated for pets.
I now add milk thistle to each of my dogs' meals in the morning 3-4 days a week (accounting for days when I forget or I'm rushing out the door).
CLICK HERE to order Herbsmith Milk Thistle for Dogs, use KTTW10 at check out to save 10% on your order.