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Non-Herbal Supplements (continued)

Fish Oil

Salmon oil or Fish oil is a great source of the essential fatty acid, Omega 3.

It is a good general addition to any diet. It has all the benefits of EFAs, which include improving the skin and hair, improving brain function (for concentration and combating depression), rebuilding and producing new cells, etc. In addition, studies have shown fish oil may help mediate the immune response and has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

These are quite different than Cod Liver Oil, which is very high in vitamins A & D. It is possible to overdose on CLO because these are not water-soluble vitamins.

All oils can be sensitive to light and heat. It's best to buy products that are in dark bottles and kept in the refrigerator section at the store. Refrigerate them at home too. Many fish oils are encapsulated to preserve them for longer. Contact with oxygen makes them rancid pretty quickly.


Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland. It helps set circadian rhythm and induces drowsiness. It can have a calming effect and may be useful for ADogs that have noise and/or storm sensitivities.

Many bottles of melatonin have cautions regarding using it with corticosteroids and in cases of autoimmune disease. It is best to consult your vet before using this product. A number of vets were questioned about using it with ADogs, and the consensus was that occasional use shouldn't be a problem, and that relieving the stress was more beneficial than any potential, yet unlikely, long-term side-effects.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are what the body uses to break down food. Supplemental digestive enzymes may include enzymes from plant sources, such as bromelain from pineapples, or pancreatin from animal sources. Enzymes that help break down protein are protease, fats are lipase and carbohydrates are amylase. Adding a separate enzyme helps the body work more efficiently and supports the digestive process. They may be useful for animals that have gas or large volume of stool. Some vets recommend digestive enzymes for any dogs fed commercial or cooked food.


Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria, such as l. acidophilus, that live in the gut and promote healthy digestion and discourage overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast. They are the same as used in fermented products such as yogurt with live cultures. Studies show that certain probiotics are helpful in preventing diarrhea, treating GI infections, reducing the symptoms of IBS, even in reducing respiratory illness and preventing asthma.

Some experts, such as holistic vets, suggest following up a course of antibiotics with probiotics. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, good and bad. That's why you'll often see a yeast infection or diarrhea during or just after a course of antibiotics.

Some people add probiotics to their ADogs diet through food, such as yogurt or kefir. This may be enough for some dogs, but other dogs may not tolerate dairy products well, or due to the use of antibiotics, may benefit from a larger dose of probiotics.

If you want to use a supplement to give your dog probiotics, look for products that are refrigerated. It may be helpful to choose a product that has more than one type of good bacteria (acidophilus plus others) and FOS. FOS acts as a food for the bacteria so they flourish.

Some people give probiotics while giving antibiotics, but at least two hours apart. Some wait until the course of antibiotics is done to give the probiotics.


Bovine colostrum, the protein-rich yellowish-fluid produced in lactation by mammals the first few days after birth, is Mother Nature’s first superfood. It contains upwards of 250 beneficial substances, from simple nutritional elements such as protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, to more complex material such as lactoferrin, transfer factors, growth factors and immunoglobulins or antibodies. Research shows that newborns aren’t the only ones that are helped by colostrum. Bovine colostrum isn’t species specific, so dogs (and other mammals) can benefit from it too.

Colostrum is used for a wide-variety of health issues from gastric distress to cancer, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Colostrum is the first product Dr. Stephen Blake, a holistic veterinarian, reaches for when a dog presents with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. “In my experience, 95% of all diarrheas will resolve using colostrum rather than antibiotics,” he says. In addition to resolving the immediate problem, the colostrum may actually be helping healing the intestinal tract and keeping it healthy.

Dr. Blake also finds colostrum useful with immune problems, whether they are from an underactive immune system leaving a dog open to infection, or a hyperactive immune system causing autoimmune diseases. “The Proline-rich Polypeptides help balance the thymus gland,” he explains. Since the thymus gland is chiefly responsible for directing the activity of the entire immune system, a balanced thymus gland can translate to a balanced immune system.

Problems with joints and connective tissue such as hip dysplasia, degenerative arthritis or cruciate ligament issues, have also benefited from colostrum supplementation. “Without growth factors, all the chondroitin in the world won’t help,” explains Blake. If the body can’t replicate cells then it can’t heal. The growth factors in colostrum can facilitate the body’s own regenerative processes and even better utilize supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine.

Colostrum is a real standout as a topical treatment. It can be applied as a paste (mix it with a very small amount of pure water) to virtually any skin problem like hot spots or surgical incisions.

Generally speaking, Dr. Blake puts every sick animal, regardless of illness, and every geriatric animal under his care on colostrum. Some animals, particularly those who are very ill with chronic disease, are started on no more than a pinch of colostrum. He will then work very slowly to increase the dose to his normal levels of about one-quarter to one-third of a teaspoon per 25 lbs. of bodyweight.

Side effects are quite rare, says Dr. Blake. Problems with colostrum might include diarrhea or vomiting. If these symptoms do occur it’s usually just a matter of stopping the colostrum, then restarting it much more slowly and in smaller amounts.

It’s important to give colostrum ample time to work. While some people might see nearly immediate improvement, this isn’t always the case, particularly with chronic illness. Allow at least one month for every year the dog has been unwell, and that often begins at birth, suggests Dr. Blake.


Glandulars are whole animal tissues or extracts. Adrenal glandulars were the original treatment for Addison's. After time, researchers realized that the two life giving hormones required by the body were Aldosterone and Cortisol. Whole glands were refined to isolate these hormones. Eventually synthetic equivalents (Florinef, DOCP, Pred & Hydro) were developed. These synthetic equivalents give us a much more predictable and focused response.

However, glandulars still have their place in dealing with Addison's, or any gland or organ problem. One way that glandulars can be useful is that research has shown that individual cells recognize the same type of individual cells. They can actually nourish and help regenerate glands/organs.

In addition, glandulars also provide nutrients or hormones from the source tissue. For instance with Addison's disease, we are primarily concerned with replacement of Aldosterone (via Florinef or DOCP) and Cortisol (via Prednisone or hydrocortisone), but by supplementing with whole adrenal glands, you also provide the other various hormones that the adrenals produce and there are many other hormones produced by the adrenals.

There is another theory that applies to autoimmune diseases – which Addison's is believed to be. It is thought that when the body is killing off cells in an autoimmune reaction, glandulars can "trick" the body into going after them (the glandulars), thereby sparing the gland itself.


Return to Complementary Therapy »



Traditional Chinese Medicine
Flower Essences
Tellington T-Touch
Western Herbs


What Is Addison's Disease
Medications & Lab Results
Complementary Therapy

Yellow Lab


Herbal Remedies: Effects on Clinical Laboratory Tests


Herb Listing With Info On
Possible Interactions

Mayo Clinic
Herbs for Animals
Herbs, Natural Supplements, Minerals & Vitamins

Fish Oil

Nutrition Focus
Pet Education


Spokesman Review
Pet Place

Digestive Enzymes

Nutrition Focus
Pet Education


Herb Med


Benefits of Colostrum?

Little Dog


If you are thinking about using herbs and/or supplements for your dog, please discuss it first with your veterinarian or seek the help of a qualified holistic veterinarian. If your dog is already on one of these therapies, inform your veterinarian that is caring for your addison dog. The use of herbs or supplements may influence prescribing of medications and the results of certain laboratory tests.


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