VIDEO & TIPS: Boost Your Dog's Health by Adding Fresh Food to Their Bowl

Just like us, our dogs are athletes that need to be fueled with good nutrition for optimal health. Last week during our Women & Dog Circle Canine Nutrition experience, Venessa Laudi, certified canine nutritionist and co-founder of Juno Whole Pet Foods, spoke with us about the benefits of real, whole foods for our dogs. 

We learned about superfoods that are good for our dogs and the foods that are not. Venessa shared insights on supplements and gave us some simple homemade treat recipes.  AND....there was a superstar guest dog cameo made by Skye - circle leader Corey McCusker's new puppy!! 

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Nutrition and Wellness Tips from Venessa Laudi, Certified Canine Nutritionist and Co-Founder Juno Whole Pet Foods

Top 4 Things to Live by For a Healthier Dog

1. Feed your dog a fresh diet or add some fresh food to your kibble diet. 
2. Exercise your dog! Two of the longest living dogs lived to be 21 & 30 years old and their dogs walked/ran over 5 km a day. 
3. Avoid harmful chemicals and exposures and lawn pesticides. These include air fresheners, cleaning products that include toxic ingredients like ammonia, bleach, phthalates, glycol ethers, etc. Our dog's sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than ours and too much exposure can have damaging effects. Instead opt for some natural cleaners like vinegar & water, lemon, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda. 
4. Stress less. The human-canine relationship is so strong that your dog is likely to mirror your own stress. 
5. No more tap water! When giving our dogs water be sure to give them filtered water. Most of our water has been chemically treated and filled with heavy metals that can be harmful to our dog's liver and kidneys. And don't forget to wash your dog's water dish! A common mistake that most dog owners don't realize is that a dog's water dish can collect a bacteria called biofilm which is a slimy, glue-like substance that attached to your dog's water bowl. This can be harmful to both our dogs and humans! 

Benefits of real food


Feeding a fresh diet has SO many benefits! 

1. It’s real food! 

Commercial dry or canned pet food is subject to the same regulation as commercial animal feed. This means pet food companies can say “food” or “natural” ingredients on their labels, while actually using sub-par feed grade ingredients. Kibble is manufactured by a process called extrusion, which subjects the food to extremely high temperatures, killing off not only any pathogens but also all nutrients. To meet nutritional standards, synthetic vitamins and minerals are then sprayed onto it. To make it more palatable, animal fats and taste enhancers are also sprayed onto it. And to top it off, preservatives and artificial colours are also added to increase shelf life. 

A gently cooked diet made of human-grade ingredients is subjected to stricter regulations and higher standards. No more guessing what might be in your dog’s meals; you know exactly what you are getting—real, whole foods that you could eat!

2. It can help your pet live longer.

Many commercial diets are packed with preservatives, low-quality proteins and high amounts of carbohydrates and fillers can contribute to poor quality coats, digestive issues, obesity, and sluggishness.  

When compared to commercial kibble, a home-cooked style diet has been shown to extend a pet’s lifespan by an average of three years. By feeding fresh whole foods, you are nourishing your pup’s body, supporting improved digestion, weight management, and overall health.

 3. Better Digestion

Food can either fuel disease or fight it. The low-quality ingredients found in most large pet foods have contributed to many issues that are all too common among our furry friends today. Issues like allergies, skin problems, diabetes, cancers, and digestive issues.

Our dogs haven’t adapted to digest highly processed foods, so these diets are destroying their GI systems, resulting in runny, loose stools and an inability to absorb the nutrients they need to thrive.

By feeding a fresh food diet, you ensure that your dog is being well nourished by only all-natural, highly digestible ingredients that are easily absorbed and used by the body. After switching to a gently cooked diet made with human-grade ingredients, most owners witness a healthier, shinier coat, increased energy, and improved digestion in their pups.  

4. Food with Purpose
Using food as medicine can help heal the body and fight disease. Fresh food has better bioavailability than synthetics so when you are feeding a fresh diet full of whole foods your dog is getting multiple nutrients from the ingredients used rather than a single nutrient from a synthetic vitamin/mineral. 
5. Better Skin & Coat Health 
Foods that are nutrient-rich and high in essential fatty acids can help improve skin and hydrate your dog's coat. 

Superfood Ingredients For Your Dog


Superfood ingredients are great additions to your pet's bowl. I talk a lot about functional foods and eating foods that provide a nutritional purpose. When adding additional food to our pet's bowl make sure to stick to the 10% rule or else we can start to create an imbalance and that could be an issue. Adding a topper of fresh food from a gently-cooked company that provides complete and balanced meals is a great option for those wanting to substitute a bit more fresh food in their dog's bowl. 

Leafy Greens & Colourful Vegetables
Colourful Vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale & carrots. Leafy greens are high in vitamin c, vitamin A, manganese, folate, etc. which are all essential for immune function and overall health. These leafy greens also contain a powerful plant flavonoid called Quercetin which can help reduce inflammation and itchiness caused by allergies. 
There are several studies that show the benefits of leafy greens and their effects of lowering some types of cancer but here is the link to one of the studies I mentioned. (A Purdue University study found a significantly lower rate of bladder cancer among Scottish Terriers fed cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and kale) three or more times weekly (JAVMA 2005, 227 (1): 94–100))
Powerful antioxidants which help lower inflammation and support immune system 
Mushrooms have many powerful benefits and there are certain compounds found in mushrooms that have shown great success in treating dogs with certain types of cancers. The University of Pennsylvania School of Vet Medicine just published an article that dogs with cancer that were treated a mushroom compound had the longest survival time. Mushrooms have also been shown to prevent disease, regenerate cells, and help fight against cancer. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, and turkey tail are some of my favourites. Here is a link to two great products - 
Green-lipped muscles
Great for dogs with arthritis or joint disease but also great to use as a preventative. Green Lipped Mussels are one of the most potent source of omega-3 fatty acids and a nutritional powerhouse, called ETA. The ETA found in green-lipped mussels is 100x more potent than EPA. These combined together not only reduce inflammation but the ETA goes one step further and works at the gene level to lower the cyclooxyrgenase 🐾 (one of the enzymes that contribute to inflammation).
Fish Oils or Sardines 
Help reduce inflammation and increasing Omega 3s can also help lower stress and anxiety. 
Turmeric is a miraculous superfood that can benefit your dog in so many ways!

 Here are the Top 5 Benefits of Turmeric For Dogs

 #1 Pain Relief - Turmeric has proven anti-inflammatory and is an effective pain reliever and can help with conditions like arthritis. 

 # 2 Cancer Prevention - Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties help with the prevention of cancer. 

 #3 Detoxification - Turmeric can help detoxify your dog’s body. It improves liver function that helps the liver to eliminate toxins in the body. 

#4 Cardiovascular Health - Turmeric has many benefits for the heart! <3 It improves circulation and prevents blood clots, reduces inflammation, and the antioxidants found in turmeric boosts health by fighting free radical damage & can prevent many heart diseases. 

 #5 Brain Health - Turmeric improves blood flow which can protect the brain against aging. It also increases a protein that stimulates new brain cell production and it also helps get rid of bad proteins 


Not-so-good Ingredients For Your Dog and Hidden Ingredients to Watch For

Unfortunately, there are certain ingredients that can be very harmful to our dogs that make their way into our pets' bowls and we don’t even know they are there since they aren’t listed on the ingredient list. This is one of the reasons I always advocate for feeding fresh, whole foods. You know exactly what you are getting. 
Some of these ingredients are: 
  • BHA/BHT - has been identified as a carcinogen and numerous studies found to consistently produce certain types of tumours. BHT also found to have significant damage in both the liver and kidneys in rats
  • Ethoxyquin & Propolyene Glycol - linked to liver issues and blood disease 
  • Xylitol - Added to peanut butters as a sweetener and extremely harmful to pets 
While your pet's food may not include any of the above preservatives listed on the label, some of these chemical preservatives can be indirectly added to your pets' meals as a result of using certain poultry or fish “meals” that already contain the chemical when produced. While it is important to understand that small trace amounts of these synthetic preservatives are considered safe, dogs typically eat the same food every day for the rest of their lives. Therefore it is the cumulative exposure of these toxins that should be considered. For this reason, we always suggest choosing a food that uses “natural” preservatives like mixed tocopherols (vitamin E). 

Nutrients typically missing from homemade meals

It's always great to hear that more and more people are choosing to cooks for their pets however most homemade diets are lacking in the essential vitamins and minerals our dogs need - specifically calcium, vitamin D and E, iron, & zinc. UC Davis did a study and analyzed over 200 homemade recipes from cookbooks and the internet and they found that over 95% of the homemade diets were imbalanced. The problem with feeding an imbalanced recipe is that we end up creating the problems we set out to avoid in the first place. (



Often referred to as the second brain🧠, your dog's gut is one of the most important parts of its body. A healthy gut is crucial for your dog's health and it is responsible for many important functions from nutrient absorption, digestion, and immune function. Probiotics are micro-organisms that live in the intestinal tract and are referred to as the microbiome. Poor diet choices, medications (antibiotics & flea and tick meds), and environment (ie. household cleaners, pesticides, lawn chemicals, and stress) can affect our dog's guts. When the gut is out of balance, we start to see common issues like digestive upset and inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, food intolerances, and leaky gut. 

Probiotics supplemented to your pets' diet can help restore your dog's microbiome, aid in digestion, improve behaviour, and much more. 

Here are some of the tops benefits of adding a probiotic to your dog's diet: 

✔️Helps improve digestion and gastrointestinal illnesses such as chronic diarrhea, sensitive tummies, IBS, colitis, or other GI issues by healing the gut and replenishing healthy gut bacteria 

✔️Decreases the harmful side effects of antibiotics by restoring balance back to your pets intentional tract

✔️Improves your pets skin and coat health by assisting in the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients 

✔️Assists in the removal of toxins in the body by enhancing the digestive process

✔️Minimizes allergy symptoms by strengthening and stabilizing the immune system 

✔️Helps maintain and nourish proper gut flora by reducing the pH in the gut to help good bacteria thrive

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe

Golden Paste Recipe for Dogs

½ cup turmeric powder

1 cup water

⅓ cup raw, unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil

2-3 tsp cracked black pepper


1. Mix the turmeric with 1 cup of water in a pan. Save the remaining water in case you need it to thin your paste a bit.

2. Stir the liquid on low/medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes. It should form a thick paste in this time. If the paste gets too thick, add a little more water. If the paste looks watery, add a little more turmeric and heat it for another couple of minutes.

3. Once your paste has thickened, add the pepper and oil and stir thoroughly.

4. Allow the mixture to cool.

5. Place it in a jar with a lid and store it in the fridge. It’ll keep for up to 2 weeks.

Feeding Guidelines

Small dogs should start with about 1/4 teaspoon per day

Medium dogs can start with 1/2 teaspoon per day

Large dogs can start with 3/4 teaspoon per day



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