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Holistic case review - Eliminating obesity, improving nutrition, fitness & health.

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Luna header

Luna is a gorgeous 6yr old pet Schnauzer suffering that very common problem of uncontrollable weight gain (Obesity) combined with nutrition concerns and all the debilitating effects that brings, appearing more like a senior past her prime than the spritely 6yr old she should be. For Luna this includes dry scaly skin particularly over her lumbar region and a dull coat. Additionally, she has reduced mobility appearing stiff with difficult short strides. As she sits she tucks her hips underneath her to rest on her tail bone further indicating an issue with her strength mobility and a degree of general discomfort. Luna’s mum has tried many things without success. Her primary concern now is that Luna due to a recent injury, will at some point require invasive and expensive surgery. A holistic case review aims to identify and improve on not only those previously identified issues, but to improve Luna’s overall health, fitness and longevity.

Obesity & Nutrition

At the core of any weight gain is an inappropriate diet, whether it’s the wrong type of food, the wrong amount, or a combination of both these things. As is so common today, following professional advice for obesity, Luna was placed onto a satiety kibble, supported by a pre-packaged meat patty and multiple supplements. We need to look at each item individually to assess the issues and appropriate improvements needed.


satiety kibble

Satiety kibble is widely marketed as the solution for overweight pets, unfortunately the ingredients tell the sad truth. In addition to the undefined animal proteins and vegetable fibres in the Satiety kibble Luna has been eating there is also wheat gluten, tapioca, maize gluten, chicory pulp, maize and wheat. All carbohydrates ideal for fast weight gain and nutritionally inappropriate for dogs. Dogs are meso-carnivores, although some plant matter is beneficial this heavy reliance on starchy carbohydrates strains the pancreas as it tries to balance blood sugars, and directly contributes to weight gain.

Luna was also receiving a pre-packaged meat patty from a local raw pet food supplier. Although not ideal as a complete diet, it is most definitely appropriate nutrition for Luna, so much so, we decided to use it as the basis for Luna’s new and improved diet.


Luna was receiving three separate supplements, all aimed at improving her musculoskeletal condition.

Mighty munch

Mighty munch meal topper is a joint supplement with just three active ingredients, glucosamine, msm and Chondroitin. MSM is a chemical found in the body, but it’s also produced in laboratory settings for supplemental use. The science on the benefits of oral supplementation of MSM in dogs is lacking currently although the nutrient in natural form is essential for healthy joint function. Chondroitin on the other hand has some conflicting results and generally is supplied partnered with Glucosamine which is well researched with demonstrated benefits for those suffering various forms of joint disease, Success relies heavily on the form in which these nutrients are provided. Providing the required nutrients in food form is far superior, and safer than that of supplements and should always be our first choice.

phospholipid oil

A potent concentrated extract of green lipped mussels, as it’s an oil it must be fed with a source of Vit-e to protect your dog against oxidation as oxidised oils are harmful to dogs, this is included in the supplement which adds to the convenience. With price ranging from $42-$60 for a 9ml bottle this is a very expensive supplement to use, even for a small dog like Luna. A tasty, nutritious food option is again our preferred alternative, not only for bio availability but also for cost effectiveness.

CCL supplement

The last supplement Luna was receiving was hippo health CCL repair. A homeopathic herbal remedy in a glycerine and water base. Aside from pain relief it’s unclear how any of the ingredients would benefit a cruciate repair but as the bottle was almost empty on our first session and Luna’s mum was not intending to replace it this was not considered further.

Health concerns

Improving Nutrition

Using the pre-packaged meat patty from her local raw pet food supplier as a base we need just a few additions to boost nutrient levels and begin the healing process without the need for any kibble or non-food-based supplementation.

Bone broth

The first recommendation was for the provision of a homemade bone broth. Bone broth is a rich source of glucosaminogycans including glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. The great advantage of bone broth is that the nutrients are in a natural form which is resistant to digestion. Instead of breaking down in the intestines like other processed supplements they are absorbed intact and act like hormones. Stimulating fibroblasts to lay down collagen in the connective tissues, naturally supporting pets as they age or recover from injury.

Plant matter provides many valuable nutrients missing from animal matter and is a key ingredient in the canine diet. Although there are many options to choose from, for Luna we selected a simple mix of Spinach, Carrot and blueberries. We wanted to keep things simple while providing the maximum benefit. Over time we can build in additional variety to suit.

vege prep

To prepare our raw mix it is simply blitzed in a blender, this breaks open the plant cells releasing the nutrients ready for maximum absorption. For convenience we can prepare a batch suitable for a week or two, freezing in meal size blocks ready to defrost each day as needed.

To this mix we added a couple of nutrient dense food supplements to maximise Luna’s nutrition and recovery. Kelp provides a wide range of beneficial nutrients to boost metabolism and fill many nutritional gaps in the modern diet, particularly one based on food from nutrient deficient soils. For convenience, kelp is added to the vege blitz at a ratio of 1tsp per week. Chia seeds are a terrific, nutrient packed fibre source which provides the added benefits of promoting satiety and reducing cholesterol levels, great benefits for our ‘weighty’ Luna.

To complete our diet, we add some bone-in cold water fish, for a small dog like Luna sardines, mackerel or salmon frames are a great option and can easily be cut into portions before freezing making defrosting a piece when needed nice and convenient.

Later we will add in some meaty bones but initially we want to improve her digestion and aid weight loss.

Finally, ensuring we have successfully replaced any need for joint supplements we add some green lipped mussels, for Luna we opted for dried due to convenience but fresh is fine also. Although this may also be categorised as a supplement it has the benefit of being a dried food, with a naturally broad nutrient profile and minimal processing unlike our other concentrated extracts. This suits the bodies absorption, conversion and utilisation processes much better and reduces the risk of creating unwanted excesses or deficiencies.

Herbal support:

Herbs provide a concentrated form of nutrients with many varied medicinal actions. For Luna we chose Rosa canina (Rose hips) and Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) to strengthen her systems and body.

Rosa canina (Rose hips) are a general nutritive tonic supporting the whole body, packed with vitamin C it supports and strengthens the immune system, gently aids detoxification with gentle laxative and diuretic actions, as well as supporting the kidney and bladder, resolving any mild issues which may be present.

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is a valuable adaptogen and major tonic to counteract aging, promoting health, increased energy and youthful longevity. it’s also a valuable nervine tonic indicated for cases of fatigue, stress or nervous exhaustion, ideal for elevating Luna’s ‘mood’. Additionally, it provides valuable musculoskeletal support, indicated for general muscle weakness.

Improving Strength, Fitness & Mobility

For those pooches carrying extra weight exercise becomes more difficult to maintain their health and the tendency to simply snooze on the couch increases, ultimately leading to reduced fitness, health and increased weight gain. It’s important that they maintain an active lifestyle if we want any significant weight loss and associated health benefits. For Luna we decided on regular sniffy walks in an area of interest on the farm, this avoids requiring a significant distance to be walked, just 10-20 minutes daily. This would challenge her body in an engaging task with lots of safe, small movements of the various muscle groups, with the mind fully engaged it doesn’t feel like exercise at all, just fun for the whole family. Implementing weekly weighing is also recommended, this allows us to accurately track Luna’s progress and make suitable adjustments over time to ensure our success.

Holistic treatment plan

14-day review

When Luna arrived for her follow up she was so excited she slipped her now ‘too big’ harness and enjoyed a little run around in the clinic gardens, this was a tremendous improvement in just 2 weeks, not only had she lost a significant amount of weight but her increased energy and mood were wonderful to see. Luna’s mum was able to implement all of the dietary recommendations from our first session and the results were outstanding. Especially as this involved fully transitioning Luna to a 100% raw diet.

Improving Health

The scaly patch on her lumbar region has completely cleared up and the fur is developing a lovely healthy sheen indicating a great improvement in her health. Concerns remain regarding Luna’s musculoskeletal condition, particularly around her hind quarters and former tendon injury site, although there are no signs of present injury or lameness. With that in mind Luna had a full massage while her mum and I discussed things in detail. Incorporating various modalities to suit the client really sets the holistic consult above all the other options available to pet owners today.

The one recommendation Luna’s mum had difficulty with was implementing sniffy walks, it is winter after all. However, this didn’t seem to matter as Luna self-managed her exercise opting to engage in lots of fitness building play with her younger, fitter sibling. That’s a change we can all support.

As Luna was improving so well there was just one adjustment to make. To support her joint mobility, we added in Curcuma longa (Turmeric). This herb is used widely by many although the reasons may not be so commonly known.


Curcuma longa is hepatoprotective, it protects the liver cells from damage, increases bile flow from both liver and gall bladder as well as improving both digestive and liver functions. All valuable actions in our aim to detoxify and heal the body. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in addition to this cleansing action Curcuma longa is also indicated for arthritis and similar conditions, aiding joint mobility and comfort and provides a valuable supporting action to our current protocol.

To improve the absorption of the medicinal compound it’s best prepared as a paste, combined with water, coconut oil and black pepper.

Turmeric paste

28 day review

Four weeks into her new diet and the results speak for themselves. Luna is full of energy and looks terrific, enthusiastically racing about the clinic gardens sniffing and exploring with her sister, our consultation simply had to wait as there was too much fun to be had first. Luna’s mum has done an amazing job taking on board and implementing all of my recommendations and the improvement in Luna’s health is outstanding, Kudos to Luna’s mum.

With lots of exploring done, Luna, and of course her sister Poppy, both enjoyed a full massage as their mum and I talked about the next steps. With such great progress it’s not surprising there were no dietary or herbal adjustments needed so we explored any new challenges. With the removal of kibble, a treat dispensing toy is no longer being used and seems to be missed, so what are some other options? Natural is best of course, so for these girls I recommended cow hooves, they make great chewable moulds easily stuffed with a portion of their fresh diet and frozen until needed. Increasing the dietary bone content with raw meaty bones will also be a welcome addition in the near future, perhaps just one more weigh in first.

So where to now

Weekly weighing will continue as it is the best way to monitor progress. I look forward to checking in with Luna’s mum in a week or two to see how she’s progressing; any updates will be included here.


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