Chlorella is defined as any freshwater, unicellular green algae. When the "cracked cell" or thin wall form is used, studies indicate Chlorella holds great promise as a nutritional supplement, as well as in the prevention and treatment of infections and diseases. As with many natural human products, the excitement about this nutrient-dense super food has extended to pets. Cultivated, organic Chlorella has the potential to notably improve the health of dogs.
Does My Dog Need a Natural Supplement?
Adding natural supplements to your dog's diet is beneficial no matter what, or how, you feed them.
"Every pet can benefit from a good natural vitamin-mineral supplement," says Shawn Messonnier, DVM. "No diet is perfect and using this supplement assures us that the pet has at least obtained the essential macro and mironutrients each day."
There is a common misconception that dogs are carnivores because they're classed within the order Carnivora, when in fact they are scientifically classed as carno-omnivorous animals. They have adapted to eat and digest a varied diet. Raw or BARF "ancestral" or "evolutionary" diets often focus heavily on meat protein, but can come up short in other nutrients. Chlorella is the perfect supplement for high-protein diets because it adds the benefits of a green super food, along with protein and bio-available essential amino acids to aid in protein synthesis.
Commercial diets (kibble and canned food) usually contain only synthetic vitamins, due to processing that robs the naturally-sourced nutrients in the ingredients. A slurry of ingredients is cooked at a high temperature to produce the end product, which destroys vitamins and heat-sensitive nutrients like antioxidants. The ingredients label may list vegetables and other nutritious foods, but your dog isn't receiving any of the natural vitamins they contain. In effect, feeding your pet these highly-processed foods exclusively is comparable to feeding your child only hotdogs and a synthetic multivitamin. When your pet eats primarily manufactured diets, natural supplements and super foods are critical to their overall health.
Chlorella has an extraordinary nutritional profile that makes it one of nature's most complete foods.
Protein is critical for your dog's health. Building and repairing muscles is the most commonly understood function of protein, but it also provides structural support for tendons/ligaments, bones, cartilage, joints, and the skin/coat. Additionally, bodily functions are facilitated by protein, including hormonal function, chemical reactions, muscle function, immune response, and nutrient transport. It may surprise you to learn that Fido will get as much protein from one ounce of Chlorella as he would if you threw him a steak. The protein content varies, but high-quality Chlorella supplements provide an average of 60% protein by mass.
Just eating protein isn't enough to keep your dog healthy, however. It takes a total of 22 amino acids for your dog to synthesize and utilize protein. Ten of these amino acids cannot be made internally, so they must be ingested.
The 10 essential amino acids for dogs are:
Chlorella has every one of the essential amino acids your dog requires, along with nine more!
All of that is complimented by fatty acids, including digestible Omega-3 (Docosahexaenoic acid DHA and Eicosapentaeneoic acid EPA) and Omega-6, along with vitamin B12 to help with protein synthesis. While the Omega-3 fatty acids in plants usually can't be converted and utilized by dogs, microalgae like Chlorella offer both DHA and EPA in a form dogs can uptake. In fact, the most frequently recommended source of EPA is fish but fish don't actually produce EPA, they accumulate it through the algae they eat.
It can be difficult to find plant sources of active Vitamin B12. Chlorella adds 205-223mcg/100g of bioavailable Vitamin B12 to your dog's diet.
Bioavailable iron is one of the stars of Chlorella's nutritional profile. The vitamin C content assists in optimum absorption.
Chlorella contains more Chlorophyll than any other plant, and that powers many of its benefits.
Phytonutrients (such as flavonoids) are a "functional food" that contain powerful antioxidant properties, protecting cells and organs from free-radical damage. That protection, in turn, helps to prevent canine heart disease and cancer, as well as fighting existing cancer. They also detoxify carcinogens while repairing DNA that has been damaged by environmental toxins. Functional foods reach your dog at the genetic level, effectively triggering a gene to fight disease, while also stopping genes from promoting disease.
And that's not all...
Chlorella also boasts zinc, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium and folic acid. It's an excellent source of B vitamins, pro-vitamin A, and vitamins C, E, and K. Chlorella is rich in alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and dietary fiber.
Chlorella has been proven to nurture a healthy digestive system as a prebiotic, and can even facilitate healing in the bowels. Pet parents who feed their dog a lot of red meat face the risk of colon issues, which a Chlorella supplement may prevent. It can treat and prevent constipation without adding a lot of carbohydrates, which can be a problem for dogs who are fed high-meat diets. The digestive enzyme, pepsin, aids healthy digestion.
Immune System Enhancement
Studies have shown an increase Immunoglobulin A (IgA), suggesting Chlorella may enhance the immune system and protect dogs from infection. The immune system is also supported by the stellar nutritional profile, including known immunity boosters such as zinc and vitamin C. It has demonstrated anti-microbial properties that are being studied further by scientists, including anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Chlorella is one of the most complete supplements available for taming allergy symptoms in your dog. It contains a variety of potent, natural antihistamines, including Vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, and quercetin (flavonoid). Combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, this super food could have a significant impact on dogs suffering from chronic allergies. Improvement will be gradual, increasing over time.
Skin and Fur
Chlorella improves the condition of the skin and fur in multiple ways. The Chlorophyll it contains is known to improve skin conditions and infections. The healthy fats, including balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6, also contribute to healthy skin and a full, gleaming coat. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties protect the skin from infection and other irritations.
Longevity & Anti-aging
The most heartbreaking part of having a dog is their short lifespan. Antioxidants, nutritional support at the cellular level, protein, calcium, and optimized function of the adrenal glands, all help to prevent aging and increase longevity. Perhaps most importantly, your senior dog will enjoy a better quality of life.
Organic chlorella has been found to reduce neuro-inflammation, protecting your dog's brain against inflammatory aging. Additionally, it's a unique, bioavailable source of peptides and nucleotides, which are used by your dog's body for cell regeneration and DNA health.
"Chlorella offers great benefits to aging dogs," writes Clarence Hardin, DVM in the book, The Veterinarian's Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs. "When added regularly to the diet, it markedly slows down the aging process, maintains a youthful energy level longer, helps to normalize an animal's blood picture, improves liver and kidney function, and offers significant detoxifying effects."
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in Chlorella fight macular degeneration and protect your pet's vision. The complete vitamin B complex and pro-vitamin A content also supports healthy eyes.
Obesity in dogs is every bit as dangerous as it is in humans. One study suggests Chlorella may reduce body fat if it's taken for several months. It also increases energy levels, thereby increasing physical activity to help your dog reduce or maintain his weight.
Heart and Lungs
Omega 3 is one of the most well-known supplements for the heart and Chlorella has plenty of it. Clinical trials have also shown promising results for the prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
Kidney, Liver and Brain Protection
Chlorella has been associated with reduced proteinuria (excess protein), suggesting it may protect your dog's kidneys. It has also been found to reduce the effect of heavy metals on the kidneys, liver and brain. Its vitamin K content may help to prevent kidney stones. If your dog suffers from a liver disease, studies have shown Chlorella may improve their condition.
The magnesium, calcium, vitamin D and complete protein in Chlorella all contribute to a healthy musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones) in dogs. A musculoskeletal system that is in top condition prevents diseases and conditions that may otherwise reduce their quality of life.
The high chlorophyll content and exceptional mineral profile powers the anti-inflammatory effects of Chlorella. Any condition your dog has that is related to inflammation can benefit from having Chlorella in their diet, including arthritis.
Cancer Treatment and Prevention
Chlorella may enhance the effect of radiation treatments, as indicated in one study where it inhibited the Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (BCRP). It's also exceptionally high in antioxidants, which reduces the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals can seriously increase the odds of your dog developing cancer. The metastasis and growth of cancer cells may be influenced by the retinoids, beta carotene and vitamins C, D and E in Chlorella. The magnesium content will help to create a more alkaline and less acidic internal condition. Cancer is more likely to thrive in an acidic environment.
"Dogs diagnosed with cancer need all of the help and support we can offer them," writes Lew Olsen, PhD in his book, Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs. "Offering a quality, fresh-food diet and the right supplements helps support and strengthen their immune system, which is your dog's first line of defense in fighting cancer and supporting them while they endure chemotherapy drugs."
Dr. Mercola calls it, "One of the most exciting nutritional resources available today to help your body naturally fight environmental pollution."
Chlorella has the demonstrated ability to absorb heavy metals and chemicals from its environment, be that in nature or within the body. This chelating ability allows it to bind toxins in dogs and safely remove them through the digestive system. It does all of this without binding minerals or trace elements that your dog needs. Additionally, Chlorella is high in Chlorophyll, which has enzymes that help to mobilize, oxygenate and detoxify your pet's blood. Chlorophyll has the ability to stop ingested toxins from being absorbed in the first place, resulting in protection against the aflatoxins that are often responsible for pet food recalls.
Body and Oral Odor
The high Chlorophyll content in Chlorella helps to deodorize your canine friend from the inside out. It reduces body odor and tackles "dog breath". Gum disease, bleeding gums, and oral infections can be improved with the regular ingestion of Chlorella, reducing or eliminating these causes for bad breath in dogs. The improvements in your dog's digestive system will also reduce odors.
Introducing Chlorella to Your Dog
Chlorella has been studied a lot, yet not too extensively. However, the work that has been done has used primarily animals as test subjects. While dogs haven't been test subjects, we can safely assume at least some of the benefits enjoyed by other mammal species will also have a positive impact on our canine companions. There is still much work to be done before many claims associated with Chlorella are proven with certainty, but that isn't unusual when it comes to natural supplements or "super foods".
It's important to consult your veterinarian before adding any supplement to your pet's diet. Once she gives you the green light, you can begin to slowly introduce Chlorella. Giving your dog too much, too fast, may result in digestive upset. Introducing it in a mixed supplement like EarthVet Naturals Superfood will help you avoid adding too much Chlorella, while also providing complimentary nutrients. This blend has the added bonus of helping to disguise the potent taste of Chlorella, with the addition of bone broth resulting in a more palatable supplement and enhanced nutritional value.
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