Nature has innate repetitive actions that occur each month throughout the year to ensure health and vitality. The three months of spring focus on cleansing and supporting the body through the liver, immune, cardiac and digestive systems. As dog owners, we can help these systems thrive through the use of season-specific vegetables, proteins and herbs.
Springtime Supplementation For Dogs
Spring brings energy to the surface. The body wakes up and revitalizes itself by removing toxins and revving up the immune system via the liver. Among the five hundred-plus functions of the liver, it stabilizes the immune system, filters toxins out of the body, supports the kidneys and provides a foundation for a healthy digestive system. Seasonal supplementation helps maintain your dog’s liver function by using whole foods that cleanse and assist the liver in spring when it needs it most.
(We also recommend a liver tonic every spring and fall to help support your dog’s liver, digestive system and immune system.)
Vegetables, Grains And Proteins For Spring
Spring is the time to give your dog foods that support her immune system.
Green leafy vegetables like kale, arugula, endive, romaine lettuce, collards, spinach and watercress contain toxin binding chlorophyll. Chlorophyll adheres to toxins and heavy metals, transporting them out of the body. Watercress is an immune system powerhouse high in beta-carotene, vitamins B, C, calcium and iron.
Green beans, zucchini, asparagus, alfalfa and broccoli sprouts are excellent additions to the spring diet. High levels of folate, vitamin C, E, potassium and glutathione in asparagus make this green stalk a powerful detoxifier. Asparagus comes in white, purple and green varieties that support the kidneys, liver and digestive system. I lightly steam my asparagus and share it with my dogs by eating the tops and feeding them the lower, chewy half of the stalks.
My dogs eat a raw, mostly grain-free diet … however I do recommend small amounts of seasonal grains for dogs needing extra nourishment, protein and bulk. Springtime grains include: brown rice, barley and organic alfalfa.
Protein changes can be an effective part of any seasonal supplementation strategy. I suggest rotating proteins throughout the year to avoid food sensitivities. (This advice goes for kibble feeders too.) Springtime proteins include turkey, rabbit, salmon, sardines, beef and eggs (free-range and organic).
1. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion detoxifies the liver and stimulates the digestive system. Add finely chopped dandelions and roots to your dog’s food.
2. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk thistle helps protect liver systems and enhances detoxification of heavy metals. Use milk thistle in tincture form, giving two drops per ten pounds of your dog’s weight three times a day.
3. Burdock root (Arctium lappa)
Burdock root cleanses the blood, supports healthy skin and coat and helps the liver excrete wastes. Administer burdock root chopped up in food or in tincture form (using the same dosage as for milk thistle).
All three of these herbs can safely be given daily over a two to three month period.
How To Shop For Vegetables, Proteins And Herbs
Make sure you’re purchasing non-genetically modified (non-GMO), organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. Do they have to be certified organic? No. Organically grown means grown to organic standards without chemicals, harmful fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Visit your local farmers’ market, food co-op or organic section of your grocery store. If feeding a raw diet, try to locate regional protein that isn’t raised on GMO feed. Depending on the protein source, look for free-range meats, grass-fed and grass finished for beef and other ruminants.
Get Creative With This Easy Recipe
If your dog’s picky, you might have to get creative to entice her to eat herbs and vegetables. The following recipe can help. You can feed it a couple of times per week.
Preventing disease and maintaining optimum health should be your dietary goal. The relationship between the seasons and diet creates a valuable opportunity every three months to support your dog’s innate cycles and specific nutritional needs. Mindful feeding of a variety of whole seasonal foods and herbs can go along way in the prevention of disease. Seasonal supplementation helps provide a high level of nourishment while dealing with the body’s specific needs for the season.