I’ve been hosting Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Instagram since December 2021. Sadly that content disappears after 24 hours, and due to popular request, I’m going to start answering here on the website so that you can return to the AMAs for reference.
As always, these AMAs do not replace veterinary care. Make sure that you talk to your vet when your dog is having any health problems.
Additionally, I will answer your questions from the perspective of looking at it from a Chinese Medicine framework. What this means is that I look at the energetic qualities of the food, the nature and flavor of what it does once your dog ingests and digests it.
Q. Exessive smegma discharge since he’s ten mo on 2yo golden, intact, and fed cooked meals.
A. Smegma is normal when it’s clear, doesn’t smell, and doesn’t cause excessive licking. If it’s green, yellow in color, smelly, and causing him to lick more than usual, then you want to contact your vet.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the reproductive organs are tied to the Kidneys. Feeding foods to keep the kidneys happy may help regulate this excess fluid production.
Cooked and raw meals are up to 70% moisture. Consider adding some of the foods below to drain the excess dampness.
Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associates or other programs I participate in). At no charge to you, as an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What To Do When Second Stool Is Soft?
Q. Dogs first poop is solid, and then sometimes her second poop is soft. Any solutions?
A. Hi, I need more information to be able to answer this properly, but I realize space is limited in AMA. So I will answer this in the context of:
- If you are feeding kibble, consider switching to non-processed meals, which would be cooked or raw.
- If you are feeding cooked or raw, look at the fiber in the meals and adjust up or down and observe what makes the condition better.
- Consider adding a probiotic.
- Consider adding 1/4 teaspoon fiber (Flaxseed or Psyllium Husk )
- Enzymes could also be an option for you
I would try all of these methodically one by one before looking to see if it’s an allergy or food sensitivity.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the soft stool tells me there is dampness and so I would work with you to resolve dampness. There are foods that can do that such as roasted turnips (peel, cube, and roast them) and there are herbs that can help as well.
Q. If no local fresh sources, ok to buy veggies from the grocery & wash good to avoid chemicals?
A. Absolutely! Buy the vegetables from the same grocery stores you buy your own.
Q. More worries about their veggies than my own 🤣
A. Well, hopefully, you feed yourself better and share the veggies with them 💕
Adding Kelp To Recipe That Has Spirulina and Chlollera
Q. If a dog is already on spirulina and chlorella supplements, will giving kelp potentially cause an Iodine overdose?
A. Vitamins and minerals synergism and antagonism occur on two levels: the level of absorption and the level of metabolism within the cell. Simplistically think of it like a ping-pong effect.
In isolation, you know that kelp has iodine, while the chlorella and spirulina might seem appealing for its antioxidant effects.
Outside of knowing your recipe, it would be impossible for me to answer this in black and white, so I took one of my recipes that I formulated for a 9lb dog and added one gram of both chlorella and spirulina. The net effect was that iodine stayed within its safe levels, but it did throw off choline and showed that I would need to add more food that had choline to cover the antagonistic effect of adding both of those ingredients.
Cooling A Dog Down
Q. Any tips to help your pet stay cool in 33°?
A. Your dog’s ability to regulate its temperature is based on its ability to maintain a balance between Yin and Yang. Or specifically, it’s internal Yin in the case of external Yang.
In Chinese Medicine, we need to evaluate this scenario holistically. What is the climate like where you live? What is your dog’s constitution? Is this a seasonal pattern of imbalance that you are observing?
If your dog has a thick coat and runs hot, then you simply have to feed it more cooling foods. But instead of waiting for the temperatures to rise, you can approach it as follows:
- Keep your dog’s kidneys strong and start to feed hydrating and cooling foods one month before the temperature rise. Switch to duck, rabbit, and turkey. Consider feeding cooked or raw meals. And add cooling vegetable toppers like boy choy and cucumbers to their meals. Snacks can be pears and watermelon. Read this article on Hot Spots to glean more information.
Goji Berry Portions
Q. How many goji berries to feed a day? Is it better than raspberries and blackberries?
A. My knowledge of Chinese Medicine is based on the pillar of an individualized approach. Every dog is different, so we have to answer these questions according to the dog’s needs.
There is a 2,000-year-old legacy of a doctor that encountered a village that was full of centenarians ( people who lived over 100 years old). They attributed the consumption of goji berries as the reason why they lived so long.
Today in Chinese Medicine, we look at Goji Berries as a powerful food that is beneficial to the liver and kidneys. They are also great for eye and vision health. They may also help prevent tightness in the joints.
Add this as a topper in rotation with the other berries (blackberries and blueberries) in the same portion, which would be 3 to 5% of their meal or…. about the size of your dog’s pawprint.
Q. Any foods to avoid that might interact when adding fresh garlic to dog food?
A. Before you add garlic, you need to learn more about who and what portion to feed it. Read this article about how to feed garlic safely to a dog here. It won’t interact with other ingredients, but not all dogs should be fed garlic which you’ll learn about in the linked article.
Pumpkin or Sweet Potato for Diarrhea?
Q. Do I feed pumpkin or sweet potato when my dog has diarrhea?
A. I would turn to the sweet potato before I turn to pumpkin when deciding what to feed a dog that has diarrhea. Sweet potatoes have an upbearing effect which will balance out the fast downward movement of diarrhea. It benefits the stomach, spleen, and kidneys and has a sweet flavor. That said it has a more warm thermal nature and is best for a dog that is also running a little cold.
If your dog has hot diarrhea and has a warm constitution, it may do better on the pumpkin, which is more cooling in nature. That said, pumpkin has a down-bearing effect so while it might add bulk, it will still move things downward, which is why it’s also a great gourd vegetable to feed for constipation.
Q. Can dogs get cross allergies? Meaning allergic to one protein but while feeding other proteins?
A. I have seen this happen, and when I do, I work with my clients to strengthen the dog’s gut.
This entails healing foods like bone broth to tighten the gut junctions. There’s more to it than just that, which I can help you with through the Heal The Gut package.
Elimination Diet Length?
Q. Trying to do an elimination diet. How long can I feed 80/10/10 (no sups) w/out causing problems?
A. There are no black-and-white answers here because it depends on how bad your dog’s allergies are and how old your dog is, and if there are any other co-existing health issues.
Puppies should not do elimination diets.
Adult dogs who do elimination diets will often go through them in 3-day increments all the way up to 3-month increments. Again it all depends on how fast the body responds and provides the information back as to what ingredients bring them back to a state of wholeness vs. making their symptoms worse.
Recommendations for the Philippines
Q. Hello – can you recommend a decent dog food that can be accessible to the Philippines?
A. Cooked balanced meals you make at home or buy from a local pet store that have statements to how they formulated it, would be my recommendation. The only kibble I would ever recommend is Carna4 or these other brands in this puppy article here.
Red Light Therapy
Q. Do you have an opinion on the at-home red light therapy used on dogs for pain or aches?
A. This is not my area of expertise. I have only had one client share they had positive benefits when used on their senior dog.
Q. Best yogurt for dogs?
A. I put yogurt in the bucket of “surprise and delight”. It shouldn’t be a component of their regular meals for each day. But if you happen to love yogurt and want to share it with your dog, then letting them lick the last spoonful is totally fine. I prefer greek yogurt that doesn’t have any added sugars.
Mushroom tinctures and dosage
Q. Suggestion for mushroom tincture and dosage if fresh is not available.
A. Recently, I went to my local farmer’s market, and the fresh mushroom vendors were all away at a mushroom festival. The only company there was Edible Alchemy, and I picked up four different varieties. I currently have Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane and Turkey Tail.
That said, the next time I would purchase from Host Defense founded by Paul Stamets.
And you can also find them on Amazon.
My general guideline for sharing human supplements with your dog is to assume that the human dosage is for 120lb human, and so you would adjust accordingly. For example, if your dog weighs 120 lbs, then you feed the same amount it says on the bottle, but if your dog weighs 60 lbs then you would feed half of it.
Warming Raw Food
Q. Best suggestion on warming raw pet food. Even pouring hot water over it while it’s still cold.
A. Pouring hot water, hot bone broth or decaf green tea are all easy options to what I like to say “cut the cold” from the raw food.
You can also put the food on a pan and warm it up 15 to 20 seconds or put it in the oven to warm it up for a few minutes.
The other way to do it is to boil some water,in a larger pan and then nest the bowl in it.
You don’t necessarily have to warm the food that much. I’d try to get it as close to body temperature as possible.
The reason why I like to recommend warm or body-temperature food is that in
In TCM, the spleen (yin) and the stomach (yang) is where digestion starts.
Three organ systems—Spleen/Stomach, Liver/Gallbladder and Kidney/Bladder—must cooperate with each other to fully to create a healthy digestive system.
Together the spleen and stomach take in the food that is ingested to digest it and then transport it to the rest of the organs in the body.
When there is an imbalance, the body sends signs of a deeper issue–the digestive system has fallen out of balance and is not functioning as it should.
This energy of life force or “qi” (pronounced “chee”). All dogs have a genetic level of Qi (what they are born with), and then they acquire it from what they are fed.
Spleen Qi ascends as it distributes to the heart and lungs and to the rest of the body. Conversely, stomach qi descends to facilitate the digestion process and excrete the undigested food out of the body. The two are yin and yang and balance each other out.
In TCM, this area is called the center burner, and while I’ve only mentioned the spleen and stomach, this also involves the pancreas.
For the spleen to work well, it loves warm and dry. When dampness accumulates, it becomes stagnant.
I’ve had clients report back to me that issues related to mild acid reflux were resolved by making this one small adjustment to meal preparation.
Frequency of Fruits and Vegetables
Q. How often to give fruits and veggies?
A. Understanding why these foods are important is probably the best way to answer this. Once you have that information, you can decide.
Biomedically, vegetables act as a prebiotic and food for the gut to build a healthy and strong microbiome. Nutritionally speaking, the western approach is to approach this from vitamins and minerals. I layer in food energetics and select the fruits and vegetables that a dog needs. For example, a dog that needs strong kidneys can benefit from berries and pears. Or a dog that needs liver support might do well on dandelion greens and Brussels sprouts.
What we also need to learn is the appropriate portion. Too much can lead to sloppy stools. Vegetables like dark leafy greens have an upward and outward energetic pattern. they reach for the sun and sky and grow fast. So if you feed too much, it may cause diarrhea or loose stool.
Start off by looking at your dog’s pawprint and feed a portion that is that size.
Rotate your fruits and vegetables based on the season. Hopefully, you are sharing these foods with your dog and intuitively select what is based on the climate you live in. And as always, avoid toxic foods like grapes and onions.
Q. Not food related, but how often should the pup get bathed?
A. As often as they need and not more than they need. Some dogs can go months without needing a bath. Some dogs need to be bathed more frequently due to skin issues or being extremely active. For example, in the summer, we go to the beach every day, and the dogs get in the summer. Or we’ll go for hikes. If they are dusty or sandy, I’m certainly going to give them a bath and use a mild shampoo like True Blue.
During our active months I may bathe my dog up to once a week or at least rinse it in oatmeal water.
I find it interesting that my own dogs tend to get very relaxed after bath night and fall into very deep sleeps.
Won’t Eat Viva Raw
Q. Bailey won’t try Viva Raw. Suggestions?
A. It all depends on which one you purchased and what is going on with your dog. I don’t feed the “COMPLETE” formula because it has shellfish, and not all dogs like or does well on shellfish.
I prefer the “PURE” line, which is an 80/10/10.
If your dog doesn’t eat the food, I start to ask the following questions:
- Does your dog have a toothache?
- Does your dog have any other health issues? For example, dogs with kidney or liver issues tend to start to get picky, so it’s not the food they don’t like; it’s the fact that they start to lose their appetite.
- Does your dog have hunger? Does your dog have an appetite?
Here are some ideas:
- Adding a teaspoon of baby food to the top of his regular meal
- Adding a few drops of honey to the top of his regular meal
- Sprinkling some parmesan cheese to the top of his regular meal
- Sprinkling some nutritional yeast to the top of his regular meal
- Adding some treats to his regular meal
- Adding some scrambled egg to his regular meal
- Adding bone broth to his regular meal
- Adding goats milk to his regular meal
- Adding kefir to his regular meal
- Adding yogurt to his regular meal
- Scramble his meal with egg.
- Sear a portion on a pan to get the aromas going
- Feed him from the countertop bite by bite, so he thinks it’s treats
- Puree some of it with baby food to make it into a “slurry” and see if he will eat that
- Mix some of it with boiled sweet potato and bake it to see if he wants a “meat patty.”
- Mix some of it with oatmeal and bake it
Sometimes it’s behavioral. Sometimes there is something else going on.
There are some Chinese Herbs that can help, but if your dog has some pre-existing conditions, it would be ideal to talk to a TCVM vet to dive deeper.
Holistic Health Care for Pets
1707 E. 11th Ave, Spokane WA 99202
If you would like to contact him via email: DrThomasHolisticvet@yahoo.com
I use him for my own dogs, and refer clients to him when a TCVM vet isn’t available in your city.
Q. Dandruff, itchy skin, is it right to give Gigi omega plus? How to find out the reason? Food Allergy?
A. Chinese Medicine gives me a different framework, a different perspective in how to view what the body is communicating via the signs and symptoms presented.
Dry dander means there is a Blood Deficiency, and the dog needs more blood tonics (red proteins, red vegetables). The dog can also benefit from Omega 3.
Scales, even though they may be dry, lead me to think there is a Damp Heat condition. That means we need to drain the damp and clear the heat in the body.
In both scenarios, cooked or raw food is ideal.
These are very simplistic recommendations, and I can help you through the Heal The Gut package.
Q. Thoughts on commercial raw food like Stela and Chewy’s or Northwest Naturals.
A. Personally, I prefer to make my dog’s food myself. Often this is called DIY. This gives me full control over the ingredients and the quality. I’m not a huge fan of either of the brands you mentioned. And it’s probably not a fair thing to them because the only commercial raw food I would recommend is one I feed my own dogs, and currently, that is Viva Raw.
You can sign up with my referral link. Full disclosure I get credit with your purchase, and you get a discount if it’s your first time ordering from them. I’m a paying customer, and I appreciate how your referrals offset my food costs so I can do things like buy wild salmon.
Q. Thoughts on colostrum supplement powder for dogs? Have your dogs tried it?
A. I’ve tried a total of 3 jars in 8 years. It was a different brand each time. I don’t know if it moved the needle significantly, and it would not be on the top of my list of supplements. There are others I would buy or… I would spend my money on real food first, like buying grass-fed liver or grass-fed beef, before I buy a jar of colostrum.
Local Honey or Bee Pollen?
Q. Thoughts on local raw honey and pollen for allergies?
A. I often find that when you are asking this question, you are in a phase of your journey where the intensity or level of allergies has escalated. If the condition is an early onset, you can try it and observe. My favorite phrase from my TCVM Vet, Dr. Dennis Thomas, is “The answer will reveal itself, or the issue will resolve itself.” The only one who can tell us if this works is your dog. They ultimately have the final say if that food or ingredient brings them back to a state of wholeness or if it makes conditions worse.
That said, it’s not part of my healing protocol to feed local raw honey or local pollen when a dog has allergies. There are other ways to approach healing. But, I will use local raw honey when I’m utilizing honey in any of my treat recipes.
Q. Your favorite supplements/support for arthritis in dogs?
A. If you’ve been following me a while, you may have noticed Im light in talking about supplements because I understand that all of the buzz around a supplement are just words or marketing speak. Unless that company sent in that bottle to be tested in a double-blind clinical study, all of their claims are just what they believe but not backed by science.
I do realize that supplements have their place. What I have observed is that these companies are very good at making you believe that their potion, pill, or powder has this magical function to make things better or erase bad things away.
I tend to feed and recommend brands that have a solid track record or brands that are accessible to me and ultimately owned by people I trust.
I like Pawesomely Healthy. I found them a few years ago. I love their Omega 3 powder and as a result, also have their Stay Calm and Joint Supplements.
I tend to stick with companies and stop looking once I find one I like.
One thing about this Omega 3 is you can validate if it helps your dogs by asking your vet to run the “iFat” test. Get a baseline, start feeding it, and then test again six months later.
Green-Lipped Supplement Powder
Q. Thoughts on green-lipped supplement powder for dogs?
A. Biomedically, it has been shown to keep joints healthier. It’s in a lot of joint supplements, even the one I mentioned above.
That said, one of my dogs is allergic to shellfish, so even this small amount causes her to break out, so she can’t be fed anything with green-lipped mussels. I wrote an article on alternative sources for Manganese which is the main reason mussels are fed.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, shellfish are powerful foods to help the kidneys and liver. It expels cold, and tonifies blood, yang, and jing. It also helps to regulate blood circulation.
Q. Food to help with flea allergies?
A. Simplistically, it would be getting your dog on a real food diet (cooked or raw).
Easy Way: Make it yourself and use Dr. Harvey’s, Base Mix. Add protein and oil, and you are done. I like Paradigm, and while it does have synthetic vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t have shellfish, and to me, shellfish is the greater of the two evils.
Easy and Expensive Way: Buy ready-made food, either cooked or raw.
Hard and Costs Less but Still More Than Kibble: DIY – I teach you how to make dog food.
Q. Do you know of natural ways to help with incontinence?
A. There are several reasons why your dog might be incontinent. IF you have a senior dog, it probably means their kidneys are starting to malfunction and start to wear down. This needs to be managed through herbs and food. I cannot give you the recommendation without a full consult, and if your dog is older with other coexisting patterns of disharmony, I would refer you to my TCVM Vet.
There are herbs that move blood into the kidneys, or bladder, or more it out of the kidney or bladder.
Getting this right is critical for older dogs and well worth the investment. You will need a professional to do this properly. I will reshare my TCVM vet’s information below.
Holistic Health Care for Pets
1707 E. 11th Ave, Spokane WA 99202
If you would like to contact him via email: DrThomasHolisticvet@yahoo.com
I use him for my own dogs, and refer clients to him when a TCVM vet isn’t available in your city.
Q. What to feed for allergies? Topical suggestions for hives?
A. Allergies can be caused by so many different things but since you mentioned hives I will focus on that. Chinese Medicine sees hives as wind heat toxins manifesting in the skin. It may be that your dog’s internal heat is building up. And it could be you’re also seeing other things present itself (red eyes, reactivity, restless sleep at night) and if so then we need to focus on foods to bring balance. At the same time we want to equip the dog’s body with enough food ahead of hive season so that they can handle these external attacks they are reacting to.
In a time of crisis when the hives are there, you can feed benedryl (not the extended one, the regular one and ask your vet for your dog’s dosage).
You can also turn to Nettle Tea to add to their meals.
If this is a recurring pattern that comes and goes every year, your dog has a Shao Yang pattern which may need one on one help through a TCVM Vet (if herbs are needed) or with me for food.
The article on Hot Spots, while it is a different pattern, might help give you some understanding on how to approach this.
Mucus in Stool
Q. My dog has been on a yeast protocol for 4 weeks, is it normal to see mucus in the stool?
A. After four weeks, I would hope that the stool has improved. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, that tells me there is still excess Damp.
Normally I use ingredients like rutabagas and turnips as well as dandelion greens to ‘drain damp’ as well use Chinese Herbs if needed. You should also have a probiotic in there, either one that is S. boulardii or Lactobacillus during this period.
Lamb Organs Give Loose Stool
Q. Lamb organs gives loose stool, should I continue?
A. Hard to answer not knowing the whole recipe. But I will attempt to give you some insight as to fiber. Typically loose stool could be that there isn’t enough of the right fiber in the diet. This could be bone, feathers, or vegetables or even pure fiber like ground flaxseed or psyllium husk. Or it could be your dog is sensitive to that lamb organ or …. it could be there is something else in the recipe that needs to be removed.
Q. What are your thoughts on rotating brands of raw/gently cooked foods as well as protein?
A. I support as much diversity and variety that your dog can happily digest and thrive on. As long as they are “complete and balanced,” would be worth mentioning. Also, from companies that you trust.
Q. Air licking after meal, any tips?
A. It might be Acid Reflux which you can read about in this article. I do have a different perspective on this. I hope you find it useful.
Q. What to focus on while feeding a pregnant dog
A. Too hard to answer in an AMA. A pregnant dog needs a diet that will support her and her puppies and also when she starts to lactate. I have a Breeder’s package HERE.
Flea and Tick Prevention
I do not use any medication for my own dogs. I feed garlic and use repellants (oils).
That said I realize some parts of the country may find more fleas and ticks in their environment. I would recommend you buy Dr. Judy’s book to gain some insight on this matter.
Q. Best Probiotic for a dog who is highly allergic to seafood (a lot seem to contain salmon oil).
A. Most probiotics to not contain salmon oil. I am guessing you were asking about Omega 3 supplements? Either way I love Mercola’s Probiotic and Pawsomely Healthy’s Omega 3 powder and if you need fish oil alternative, read this article.
The way I look at food and the body has changed dramatically since I dove deep into Chinese Medicine.
It’s a framework where we look at what the body is saying through it’s signs and symptoms to decide how to bring it back into balance.
Unlike the Western Approach that focusing on pathogens and disease and treating those symptoms, the Eastern Approach focuses on treating the root cause.
The body wants to return to a state of wholeness and food can support you in that journey or send you the other way. There may be other reasons that your dog has an imbalance and if you can stuck you can always book a one-on-one call with me.
Thank you to all and I wish you and your dogs good health.
Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.
She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.