SuperFeast Interview - Donna from I Love A Dog on How to Incorporate Medicinal Mushrooms into Your Dog's Diet
I am so excited to bring you this interview from Donna, from local Byron Bay company I Love A Dog. A little known fact about the medicinal mushrooms is that that are also amazing for the health of our canine friends.
Over the years, at markets and events, and now via email and social media, Mason had (to his initial surprise) hundreds of vets, loving dog owners, show dog owners, and dog trainers especially buying bulk amounts of reishi and eucommia bark for their four-legged friends. Upon doing some research we realised that this practice of serving up medicinal mushrooms and tonic herbs is nothing new, and we recently met Donna, which further cemented our passion for tonic herbalism for dogs (especially medicinal mushrooms!).
Read on to learn all about Donna and her dog Ruby and how they use SuperFeast products for health and vitality.
SuperFeast: We are all long-time dog lovers at SuperFeast and we rate your company I Love A Dog! We're so inspired that you're tackling canine nutrition and health in such a holistic way. What inspired you to start your business and what are your current offerings?
Donna: When Ruby came into my life as a puppy the vet advised me that an expensive dry kibble was the best diet for her - day in, day out. No ‘human food’ at all. That just didn’t sit well with me. Processed foods aren’t great for humans so why would they be good for dogs?? In seeking the truly best food for Ruby I did lots of research and eventually started formally studying canine nutrition with a natural medicine college online.
Essentially what I found is that dogs need and deserve real, clean and raw food, including animal protein, fats and vegetables. Like us, they thrive on a varied diet rather than the same industrial food (dry or canned) at every meal. The more I realised how far the conventional diet of dogs was from a healthy one, the more I was inspired to create good foods for dogs and share my knowledge with other dog lovers.
I started with healthy dog treats and then more recently have introduced a range of ‘medible’ meal modules and nutritional supplements.
A few months after I Love a Dog was officially started Ruby was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - bone cancer. I learned then that current stats show 1 in 3 dogs will experience cancer in their lifetime and that increases to 1 in 2 over the age of 10. It is the biggest cause of mortality for dogs. Ruby had just turned 5.
This diagnosis led me to deepen my nutrition and health research for dogs to focus on nutrition and natural medicines to fight cancer and support the body’s natural defence mechanisms and cellular health.
Everything about conventional dog food that is heralded as ‘healthy and balanced’ is generally the antithesis of the anti-cancer diet.
I want to empower people to feed their dog as nature intended, and then amp it up with the best of mother nature’s natural medicine support.
SuperFeast: I know beautiful Ruby is a fan of SuperFeast tonic herbs! What herbs does Ruby take and what health issues have they assisted her in managing?
Donna: Ruby, now almost two years past her prognosis, is a big fan of medicinal mushrooms, particularly reishi, cordyceps and chaga.. which is why we both love Mason’s Mushroom Blend. I incorporated medicinal mushrooms into what I had termed ‘Ruby’s Recovery Program’ (https://shop.iloveadog.com.au/dogs-cancer), a collection of natural medicines to help fight her cancer. For the almost two years she’s been in remission I’ve continued to include them in her diet. We use Mason’s blend for overall immunity support. It is such a great combination of mushrooms and we both think it is delicious.
As a vibrant and energetic tripawd, Ruby has additional pressure on her skeletal and muscular system. Since being introduced to Superfeast we’ve also incorporated Eucommia Bark into for her diet to help with those joints and limbs that take the pressure intend for four legs on only three. (Editor’s note: Ruby had surgery so is now a three-legged doggy.)
SuperFeast: How do you get Ruby to take the herbs? Do you have a special diet you like to feed Ruby?
Donna: I believe good food is good medicine and that by incorporating quality, raw ingredients into our diet we are going a long way to give our body, and our dog's, all that it needs. Various environmental and health factors and pressures mean that we can supercharge their diet with the addition of specific nutritional supplements and natural medicines. I call this combination of food and medicine ‘medible’.
Ruby’s mushrooms and tonic herbs are delivered in her food. She eats a raw diet that includes quality animal protein, good healthy fats and lots of fresh vegetables. Her breakfast usually features sardines for their high levels of omega 3 and her dinner usually features grass fed beef or kangaroo. All of her meals include around 30% vegetables including beetroot, broccoli, carrot, apple and pulped super greens such as kale and swiss chard.
SuperFeast: What are your favourite all-rounder tonic herbs for small animals?
Donna: I have more experience and familiarity with the mushrooms than the tonic herbs but I’m really excited about Schizandra Berry and am starting to work with that as a foundation tonic herb. Ruby and I are both about to take the 100 day challenge!
I’m also currently researching the amazing powers of Deer Antler and will be incorporating that into Ruby’s diet very soon.
SuperFeast: Do you have any other favourite herbs or supplements that people might want to consider including in their dogs' diets?
Donna: I am a big fan of moringa and hemp include that in just about every one of Ruby’s meals.
Moringa is known as the ‘miracle tree’ for its intense nutrition profile (its the most nutritious plant on the planet) and, although its native to tropical areas, it is extremely hardy and can be grown in dry, sand soils. For this reason the World Health Organisation often grows and uses it in famine and drought stricken areas of Africa. https://iloveadog.com.au/dogs-cancer/moringa-the-miracle-tree/
It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and provides huge levels of vitamin C (10x more than oranges), iron (25x than spinach), calcium (17x more than milk) and so much more.
Hemp seeds and oil are a fantastic source of omegas 3 and 6 provided in perfect balance, which is super important for dogs. Most dogs have an imbalance of omega 6 and omega 3 which can cause inflammation. I’m also a big fan of CBD Oil and look forward to that one day being more widely available here in Australia as it is in many other countries.
SuperFeast: If you were to give any dog owner one piece of advice regarding canine health and nutrition, what would it be?
Donna: If it had to come down one guiding principle I’d say "Real food for real dogs".
Don’t be brainwashed and disempowered by the billion dollar industry that tells you that you can’t feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet. Yes they do need balance, and that is not the same as a human diet, but it’s not impossible and the answer certainly is NOT the fake industrial processed foods that we are told to give them.
Dogs are facing record rates of cancer, arthritis, and other diseases that are caused by chronic inflammation. If these industrial diets are so effective and ‘complete’ then why is that happening?
The wild, ancestral diet of the canine species featured a range of animal proteins that included all of the animal (muscle tissue, ligaments, offal, bone, even fur), pre-digested vegetable matter from their stomach contents, eggs, foraged fruits and even fasting. This is what our dogs thrive on. But we can also enhance that diet with nature’s best medicines and nutritional powerhouses.
You see dogs self medicating with certain grasses when they are ill or even sometimes eating faeces for their beneficial bacteria when they need them. Their wild instincts may not be as acute as they once were but there is a growing movement bringing the ancestral diet, enhanced with natural medicines such as mushrooms and tonic herbs, back to the dog bowl and I’m inspired and proud to be a part of it.
My mantra to dog lovers is “feed them like you love them”.
SuperFeast: Do you take any of the tonics? If so, what are your favourites?
Donna: I add MMB to my coffee (when I have them) and it is delicious. I’ve also started adding them to my smoothies. I try to add them in wherever I can and am starting to experiment in my meals. I’m excited to be getting into the Shizandra very soon.
We’ve declared 2018 the Year of the Healthy Dog and are encouraging people to add better to nutrition to their dog’s diets.
If people have questions they are welcome to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and can check out our website at iloveadog.com.au