Nutrition & Strengthening

How Do They Relate? 

Nutrition is one of the most important pieces in rehabilitation.  If the body isn't supported with a level of good nutrition then strengthening will be not be as successful or unsuccessful all together.  I often find owners being too overly cautious about their pet's weight and find many pets on diets when it's activity they need.  I work with more pet's who are under weight than those who are overweight or obese.  I will also add that many Veterinarians are influencing this thought process and suggesting a weight-loss program when it's body strengthening that is needed. 
When I have asked a few Veterinarians their opinions on this subject the common answer was that they felt many pet owner's wouldn't increase daily exercise as easily as decreasing diet amounts.  They felt that something is better than nothing when the animals proportions are out of balance.  I disagree with these comments as most pet owner's I know, just haven't had the education/guidance necessary to understand the importance of an exercise program.  
An exercise regime doesn't have to be every-day!  It can simply be 2 times per week, not just the weekend warrior either..., rather spread out, every few days.  What ever works for you, that's how I design exercise programs; by working with the owner's ability, enabling a successful outcome.   
It's easier to strengthen an animal with a few extra pounds than it is to strengthen an animal who is too lean, or who doesn't have enough body mass.  Seeing a light rib is okay but all other boney prominents (Shoulder blades, spine, pelvic bones) need to be covered by muscle. 
When there are no more fat pounds to loose then muscle is broken down for energy and strength is lost. 
A common mistake that many times will cost the animal an injury and his/her owner more money.....
As with humans, animals should have a well balanced diet, a combination of Protein, Vegetable, Carbohydrate and Fat.  Some diets may consist of more protein and less carbohydrate, these diets are known as cancer preventative diets.  Even though the protein/carb ratios are different there still should be a consistent level of fat in the diet.  Fats are what fuel the body's energy, so if energy is being expelled on a rapid basis, then the amount of fat in the diet needs to be higher to maintain an effective metabolism.
You may consider varying your pets food rations pending on their level of activity.  I recommend always feeding twice daily with snacks in between.  I always keep the morning amounts the same this way they always start with the same energy.  It's the evening meals that I will increase or decrease according to activity that's been had through out the day. 

Example: For an 80lb dog, I may give an extra tablespoon of fat and a 1/4 cup more protein for a more active day then the usual maintenance ration.  (Amounts will vary according to the pet's weight).  I would also recommend using high value treat snacks during the day to help maintain energy metabolism so as not to run out of fuel, then having to wait until the end of the day for their meal or "refueling" per say.

Another concern of much controversy is too high protein in the diet.  Understand that feeding the body for maintenance once they've achieved 100% of muscle strength/body weight is different than feeding the body for muscle/weight gain.  When the body isn't fed enough and the animal is lean (having little to no fat reserves/stores) the body will be breaking down muscle for energy. This muscle breakdown is filtered through the kidneys adding more stress to the kidneys.  Ketones are often excreted in the urine and is a sign of muscle breakdown; This can cause just as much kidney inflammation/disease as overfeeding excess amounts of protein to the body that aren't being utilized prior to excretion.  Increased drinking can be a sign of too high protein in the diet.

 This is why a balanced diet for each individual is necessary, what works for one may not be the same for another! 

"I rescued a stray from the veterinary office I worked at many years ago!.  The hyperactive, untrained, 8 month old pitbull/boxer mix won my heart and "Handsome Ransome" came home.  He was always an unruly dog, didn't listen, space-cadet, easily distracted... a runner (he would runaway any chance he had) and he always peed on my things.  In my shoes, next to my bed, on my bed, on my pillows, in his was exhausting and inconsistent.  I thought this was behavioral as I was very busy and not home a lot.  He did come with me to work often but it wasn't enough. I took him to lots of Obedience classes and signed up twice; yet his recall was unsuccessful if not indoors!  Ransome had a mind of his own he did this run in circles thing that we laughed about and called his "Zoomies".  He would run as fast as he could for a short period of time then he would stop, stand and collapse with exhaustion.  He was an active dog yet "Zoomies" was his thing. His eating habits were inconsistent too and he always looked fat and happy so I wasn't concerned, I felt he was getting enough when he did eat.  When Ransome was about 3 yrs old he had a urinary blockage that was diagnosed as Ammonium Biurate Crystals.  The veterinary team said it was common among other breeds like Dalmations and told me that they had never witnessed it within his breed(s)Diet recommendations were given, Hills Science Diet Prescription U/R (Urinary formula) was the only option I was told.  Not happy about the thought yet I was understanding that this condition was difficult to manage and often kidney disease followed so I optioned to try it.  Upon starting the diet Ransome ate well and liked it!  I was shocked.  This diet is a lower protein food as to minimize stress to the kidney and avoid crystal formation.  He was eating twice a day and looked leaner.  After a few months we rechecked his urine, it was clear and appeared quite normal.  So we continued.  The summer came and went and Ransome was seemingly less active and appeared to be loosing weight.  This was the beginning of yet another downward spiral for Ransome's health management.  I was very frustrated and loosing hope.  He was unable to swim at work, he just laid around very depressed and his body odor...Oh my!  Petting him left a heavy oily residue on your hands and was very stinky.  He continued loosing weight, his muscles were weak and "jelly like"...(he had no body tone).  He was emotionally stressed, grunting and growling and this was not his nature.  I started feeding him whatever he would eat (which again wasn't much) and he started gaining weight again however it wasn't long when his crystals returned.  I was facing an option, many of us pet owners and veterinarians, don't take to lightly.  I had been introduced to Dr. Kruesi (an alternative care veterinarian) through another client. I had witnessed the benefits "Reece" had in working with Dr. Kruesi and his owner agreed I should consult with him.  So we did!  I was a little skeptical as I was faxing over Ransome's medical history, multiple blood workups and urinalysis results, knowing financially I was already tightly budgeted.  I sent over all that was needed and although his office stated that an office visit was not necessary, I insisted - that Dr. needed to see Ransome, as words could not describe his condition.  We drove the distance, a beautiful mountain drive into VT to  the then, Cold River Veterinary CenterHere Dr. Kruesi listened again to my story, examined Ransome thoroughly and asked me a few random questions about my dog's behavior...I answered "yes, yes and yes...", with a puzzled look and voice of interest.  It was then that Dr. Kruesi, turned around and picked up a folder, with the  Pets name: Ransome Owner: McElwey.  He stated, "I feel that I can help Ransome.  Today's exam is confirming that my conclusions from reviewing Ransome's medical history, blood and urine reports is accurate".  As Dr. Kruesi handed me, an already prepared plan for Ransome he had already completed just from reviewing his blood profile. I was amazed then and still to this day how Ransome and other dog's respond to simple changes and supplements.  The body cleanses and detoxes and heals itself when fed in this manner.                      

For further information please email Erika at and see how we can improve your pups health and well being!  Virtual Consults are available.