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Probiotic Pets!

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Scoby and kefir

This little guy in the picture is my puppy Scoby (pronounced like kombucha SCOBY) enjoying his kefir. Kefir is incredibly good for dogs and we hear many stories of how it helps them in so many ways. Did you know that your pets need probiotics, too? In fact, most vets and animal experts have known this for years. If you have looked at dog food recently, you will notice that several of the brands are bragging about the prebiotics and probiotics in their dog food. Way more than we see in our people food. Why is this? Just like with children, we often take better care of those we love most before ourselves and veterinarians tend to be more ahead of the times than your traditional doctor. That being said, if you are buying dry food (for any animal) that says it has probiotics in it, keep in mind that, just like with our food,  if it isn’t refrigerated, then the probiotics’ lifespan can have passed and will no longer be active as probiotics are living and need food to survive.

The Story of Ledge

When my daughter Maci got married, her husband, Jeff, already had a German shepherd named Sasha. Six months after she moved into his farmhouse in Missouri, she found an eight-week old lab mix wandering down the road without a home. They took him in and named him Ledge.

Their little guy Ledge had three really bad hotspots, along with fleas and worms, from being out on his own for a while. A vet trip cleared up the worms and fleas, but they just couldn’t heal those hot spots completely. Maci had been feeding Sasha kefir for a few weeks prior to finding Ledge and decided to give Ledge a little, too.

Ledge Puppy Hot SpotAfter about three weeks, his hot spots cleared up! A few months after that they decided to get off of dry food completely and started feeding them large amounts of kefir, pumpkin, bananas, apples, eggs, prebiotics, salmon, and other more varied dog-approved foods. After a few weeks of this, both dogs had much better stools and Ledge’s coat got so shiny that strangers have stopped her at the dog park to ask what she feeds him.

I have posted the recipe for Maci’s “Dog Smoothie” below!

Our friend Michelle shared this adorable story about her hedgehog

hedgehog copy“Our kefir lover is named Ambrose (after the Redwall book series’ hedgehog. The book character was the wine-cellar keeper in charge of the other kind of ferments (LOL).

“We have a second hedgehog, Thor. Both were rescues, but Thor has an underbite that made nursing and the choice of kibble size a challenge for him.  He was the runt and almost didn’t make it.  His rescuer nursed him through some long nights with much phone support from other rescuers and breeders.  You’d never know it by looking at him now. He is now the larger of the two (over 400 grams) and very social. Very much my husband’s hedgie.

“Dehydration can quickly take out a hedgehog.  Having cultured foods as a probiotic option to keep their systems on track and for recovery gives us peace of mind.

I also found that the hedgehogs like SCOBY’s that have been ground up in my blender with water.  I add just 1/2 tsp in the bottom of their kibble bowls.  Both hedgehogs licked their dishes clean of the SCOBY before finishing their kibble.

I had read that consuming SCOBY bits might help support joint health. My hedgehogs run about 3.5 to 7 miles on their wheels at night.  My oldest hog ran almost 10 miles one night.  Needless to say, their tiny muscular legs can be susceptible to joint problems as they age. I wanted to give the SCOBY idea a try.

“P.S., Ambrose also gobbled up a tiny portion of shredded fermented carrots, our family favorite.”

Vicki the hamster

We’ve heard so many wonderful stories of healing with these foods.  All sorts of animals have benefited, from cats, horses, cows, pigs, to puppies, and even guinea pigs and hamsters! It seems to be mostly kefir that is helping pets, but a Facebook fan, Bernadett David, has a pet hamster who loves cultured veggies.

Check out the picture of Viki, the Russian hamster, eating cultured vegetables head first!

Keep calm, ferment your veggies, love everyone.

One of our very favorite stories is from reader Dawn Peace

puppies2 copy“Oh, Donna I have got to tell you. My husband (with all loving intentions) brought home two puppies. They were three and one half weeks old, and were abandoned by a homeless man. I went into a frenzy of worry because I knew how important mommy’s milk is to them. As quickly as my two kids, 6 and 8, became attached to these precious hearts, I realized something else wasn’t right. The next day I took my husband to the side, and told him what I was seeing. ‘Honey, when I was a little girl I held in my arms more than one puppy that died from Parvo. I think these little guys have it too.’ After being quoted $1,500 – $3,000 per puppy with a 10% survival rate from the vet . . . we had some serious family decisions to make. We talked to my little girl (she’s the older one) about what was going on and what decisions we had to make. She wanted to hold them tight to the very end. I understood that, for I was that little girl once, too. Next my son. Luckily, that earlier frenzy I had about the mother’s milk led me to giving them kefir (made from goat milk, because that’s what I had).

 

2 dogs copySo we kept up strong with the kefir, hoping the probiotics would fight the Parvo and supply them with the nourishment they needed. We noticed after they ate that they would moan with pain. Both the kids said at the same time, ‘Sounds just like daddy when his stomach hurts.’ So we instantly started adding in aloe vera gel. I later found out that Parvo deteriorates the stomach lining. So this was so the right call. We also gave them coconut juice (which is coconut water with lime) for dehydration. This went on for a few days; then I added in some elderberry for immune boosting and just kept at it, praying that the kefir would lead the healing team. We got so close to losing the one that we thought for sure it wasn’t gonna make the night. You know what, it did. They both did. They got better, and better, and better. They did it . . . Thank You, Donna . . . Thank You, God, for Donna, and for Donna stepping out and getting out what she discovered. Today the pups are nine weeks probably and running through my house! God Bless.” Dawn

This is the story of Buttons, as featured on our “Lives Touched” page.

buttons2 From Margaret, “Funny story, the first time I made kefir cheese, my tiny Silky dog (15 yrs old and 4kg)) stood by the bowl catching the whey. I had the kefir hanging from the clothes airer dripping into a bowl below. She began making deep throaty noises and as I noticed what she was doing, I realized our other Silky (the same age) was out in the hallway whimpering because she was afraid to come into the room. buttons“Her sister was threatening her to not come close to ‘her’ bowl of whey. So, now I drain my kefir in the bathroom where I can shut the doors. When the dust settled, I gave them both a small drink of whey and some kefir, which they loved. They gobble it down now, twice a day. It has made so much difference to Buttons (the first dog), who suffers from IBD and occasionally pancreatitis, that I will keep on giving it to them. Buttons was experiencing a bout of IBD at the time I started giving it to her, but that cleared up very quickly and the vet said that once we know that the IBD bout has completely cleared this time, we’ll keep the dogs on the kefir and wean Buttons off her medication (herbal) and see how she goes.

“They like it so much that I tried them on my sauerkraut – but nope, not this time! LOL! We are growing some of our own veggies and sooner or later we’ll catch up on the rest of the world and I’ll be able to follow your recipes and ideas more closely. I’m able to adapt them to using what I can get hold of so we’re doing okay. You have changed our lives so much for the better, so thank you for sharing your story and ideas.

Thank you.”

~Margaret

Kefir Dog SmoothieWhen introducing cultured foods to your pets, remember to start slowly and with small amounts (as they will go through a cleansing phase). One to three tablespoons is plenty for a ten pound animal in the beginning and you can increase it if you like as they get more adjusted to it. Their stools will be either loose or less frequent in the beginning stages so do not worry. After a few days to a couple of weeks, they will be better than before! If your dog or pet is on the picky side, you can add small amounts of kefir into something they will like, such as tuna fish or chicken broth or even their normal food.


Kombucha Treats for Your DogSCOBYs are another favorite with animals. We’ve gotten pictures of all kinds of animals eating SCOBYs, from goats, to chickens, to dogs. We have a wonderful SCOBY dog treat recipe below but you can also give it to them plain and raw. They like extra kefir grains, too!

Kefir was also featured in Dogs Naturally Magazine.  It has a kefir smoothie recipe for your dog too!

Please continue to share your Probiotic Pet stories. It warms my heart to see the little ones we love so much become well!

10 Responses to "Probiotic Pets!"
  1. So happy to find your site today!! Love everything! Following you on Pinterest!!

    Excited to share this with my kitties!

  2. just found your website. I give my 2 year old pug and 1.5 year old Olde English Bulldogge a tablespoon of Kefir every morning with their kibble. The love it. My pug, Coco, is black and her chin is all white after her breakfast. I’m going to start making my own Kefir now that I found your website.

  3. my dogs love kefir. One weighs 55# and the other 45#. They drink 1/2 cup morning and night? Can I cut back on their kibble? How much should I cut back.

  4. Our dog is a 12 yr old minpin. He is about 7 or 8 lbs. He is usually frisky, but sometimes wakes up lethargic and his tummy gurgles. He lays around throughout the day and wants us to hold him. I have learned that when I give him kefir or kefir grains, he wakes up the next day bright eyed and bouncing around. So far I have only given him kefir grains when I have too many, but after reading these stories, I will start giving him kefir everyday. He loves it and always begs for it when he sees me making kefir. I guess for him, I’ll start with a tablespoon/day. By the way, my granddaughter also overcame her digestive problems after I sent some kefir grains to my daughter, and they began drinking it. Thanks for all your help.

  5. Hi Donna, do carnivores actually benefit from the same probiotics we do, considering our digestive systems and the way we utilize nutrients is dramatically different? Especially cats, since they are obligate carnivores, (other than to make themselves barf!) where dogs do seem to eat some plants. I eat a whole food plant based diet now, which not only reversed a whole slew of diseases, but dramatically reduced my grocery bill, and got me the energy to garden and grow my own food so I KNOW it isn’t GMO or chemically treated! I benefit massively and as a bonus feel like I am doing my small part to not support the encyclopedic unsustainable agricultural practices! You know the “system” that is in place is so profitable it isn’t going to change unless we affect their $$$$, so I hope each and every person alive who cares will at least do that much. It doesn’t even have to be more than a pot of cucumbers or tomatoes on your patio, anything would be huge if everyone did it! It is so depressing to witness the state of our world and health, and you feel so powerless…but we CAN all do our part and help it snowball! And as a bonus, you have tons of produce to ferment!
    Oops, I hopped on my soapbox and got sidetracked! lol My point was…with no animal products to share, my cats have finally stopped begging me since I switched my diet (yet another bonus), but I have an older cat who I really would love to nourish, and would even try some dairy ( sorry mama cows) to ferment if it actually would help him. He isn’t a big fan of dairy either, but he did used to lap at yogurt a bit. I do not do well eating animal products, but he certainly does, so do you think it would it be worth it? Thanks!

    • Both of my animals lived to 18 and 19 dogs having raw dairy and they thrived and see the same in my two dogs now. It seems to make a huge difference and you can always try and see how they do. Follow your own guidance which for me is always changing and challenging me to grow and learn.

  6. Hi Donna,
    I have your book and am loving making so many cultured foods especially Kombucha! It hadn’t occurred to me to give probiotics to my cat. She is full grown and only 6 pounds. I thought cats were not supposed to have milk? What would you recommend giving cat?
    Thanks!

    • Cats thrive on raw milk and kefir since its raw. It’s the pasteurized milk that causes problems because its missing the living enzymes, probiotics and vitamins that are killed during pasteurization.

  7. Hi Donna, you know i gave both my dogs kefir, they are older, my huskie and my pug, just about a quarter cup and they loved it… but a day later both had diarrhea so bad they won’t eat it now. Not too fun, two dogs with these symptoms at the same time. I guess I am also a little afraid to give it to them in their food now. (I have tried since and its like they know it’s in there and remember their ordeal) My huskie has digestive problems and needs probiotics. Any suggestions to reincorporate it into their diets? Thank you!

    • 1/4 of a cup is a lot of good bacteria and was probably too much for their systems and could have been a detox reaction. A different approach and ones dogs love that has probiotics too, is raw milk. This is much different that pasteurized milk which I don’t recommend but raw milk helps dogs thrive and has Extra vitamin C and B vitamins that pasteurized milk doesn’t have. Dogs love it too. realmilk.com

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