One customer’s experience using vital nutrition to help her family’s spaniel and parrot recover from illness
by Craig Weatherby
We often hear from customers who believe that wild salmon or salmon oil enhanced their health in a substantial way.
And just last week, we related the story of how vets at Tacoma's Point Defiance Aquarium used our salmon oil to help an ailing whale (see “Salmon Oil Aids in Recovery of Beluga Whale”).
One of the most heartening—and amusing—accounts we’ve heard concerns two cherished pets. The story came to us from long-time customer Nancy Jacobs, who graciously agreed to be interviewed by Vital Choices.
The Jacobs family lives outside New York City, where they share their home with a happy-go-lucky American Cocker Spaniel named Punim (pictured above), and a highly intelligent, eccentric Grand Eclectus parrot named Harry.
These are their stories of illness and recovery.
Salmon bolstered Punim in battle with cancer
Punim (Hebrew for “face”) was diagnosed with a lymphoma-type cancer one year ago. The veterinary oncologist told Nancy that surgery and chemotherapy could extend his life up to three years... or, as in most cases, Punim might succumb in a matter of months.
Nancy’s goal was not just to extend Punim’s life, but to ensure the best possible quality of life. And she knew that she’d help him live longer and in better health if she put him on the best possible anti-cancer diet.
They’d been feeding Punim a nutritious organic dog food since puppy-hood, but she knew about the positive research concerning the anti-cancer potential of the antioxidants in plants and the omega-3s in fish and fish oil, and decided to get as much of these into him as possible.
Nancy took Punim off dog food and started feeding him fresh human fare with proven anti-cancer properties, including vegetables, mushrooms, and Vital Choice wild Salmon and organic berries.
As she told us, “The first thing we started him on was the fish oil. When he was really sick, before the tumor was removed, he would just pop open the salmon oil capsules and suck on them. He really seemed to crave them. That faded after we started giving him fish, but he still takes seven to 10 capsules every day, mixed with banana.”
“He barely had a sick day in the year he was on chemo. Not only is he not suffering, he looks like a puppy. Spaniels have hair, not fur, and his curls are just amazingly shiny and rich. He feels like a baby seal!” [Editor's note: those curls were shaved before these photos were taken, to facilitate summer tick control.]
“It’s quite a testament, because he hasn’t really had more than three sick days. He gets great nutritional support… B complex vitamins, antioxidants, and milk thistle for liver support. But I believe from the bottom of my heart that the fish and salmon made a huge difference to his remission, and also helped him get through the chemotherapy without suffering.”
“He eats with us, and we eat fish basically once or twice a day, so it’s easy. He loves the salmon burgers with some ketchup and mustard, and halibut with hot sauce.”
“The other thing we’ve noticed is that he seems much smarter. Punim is really lovable, but when we first got him, he seemed pretty dumb, to be honest. But now he acts much sharper, he acts smarter… there’s a degree of thinking and reasoning that just wasn’t there before.”
Punim finished chemotherapy just last week and his veterinary oncologist says that while there is no “cure” for canine lymphoma, Punim appears cancer free and in great health.
Salmon and “sunlight” dismiss Harry’s nutrition deficiency
While we were talking to Nancy about Punim, we heard what we assumed was a siren out in the streets of New York. But then Nancy called to her daughter to come deal with Harry—their imperious, attention-hungry Eclectus parrot—so we could converse in peace!
The sound we heard was Harry imitating a siren perfectly. Harry’s “siren song” reflects the facts that Eclectus parrots are born mimics and that he spent his early years with the Jacobs when they still lived in New York City with a constant soundtrack of emergency sirens (He was born right after 9/11, when they lived not far from the WTC site).
As Nancy explained, “Harry is really smart. He can do puzzles, he calls the dog over by name and poops on him… he just needs tremendous attention and stimulation or he gets cranky. One time, Harry knocked the receiver off my phone and dialed 911, and when they called back I told them it was the parrot. That must have sounded implausible, so they showed up with guns drawn. I could’ve strangled him!”
Despite Harry’s personality flaws, Nancy was dismayed when he suddenly fell ill. As she said, “About a year ago, we noticed that his feathers were getting dull and oily, and he developed black stripes. The vet said it was something called banding, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency.”
“The vet said to get him an ultraviolet lamp, to help him produce vitamin D. But then coincidentally I read in one of the bird magazines that parrots can benefit from wild Alaskan salmon, and I said let’s give him some Sockeye, because I knew from your newsletter that it’s loaded with vitamin D. He eats plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but it had never occurred to me to give him fish.”
“So I started giving Harry salmon, and we got him the light. Now he has no more banding and he’s back to being his drop-dead gorgeous, crazy self.”
Vitamin D deficiency is a problem common to tropical birds that only get exposed to sunlight through glass windows, which block much of UV radiation needed to produce the vitamin in their skin.
Nancy was feeding Harry fresh fruits, seeds, and vegetables, like those that form the diets of wild parrots, which is what many parrot experts recommend. However, those foods do not provide much vitamin D, which wild parrots get from being in the sun all day.
Some bird pellets are fortified with vitamin D, so you should consult your vet before giving a bird wild salmon. Too much vitamin D can result in calcium imbalance, among other problems.
We want to thank Nancy for sharing her pets’ experience with our wild salmon, berries, and salmon oil. And we wish Punim and Harry long, healthy lives!
Giving 'em salmon
You could provide your canine or feline pet omega-3s in any of these forms. For other animals, check with your vet:
- Canned Salmon, Sardines, or Tuna
- Flash-Frozen Salmon, Halibut, or Tuna, cooked or uncooked (it's all sushi safe*)
- Salmon Sausage or Burgers
- Salmon Dog Treats. Our "human-grade" snacks contain only sustainably-harvested wild Alaska sockeye salmon, salt, and all-natural and organic ingredients.
- Sockeye Salmon oil* (liquid only, from a bottle or capsule)
*We don't list Sablefish, because the few bones could cause harm to an unwitting pet.
**You could safely give a cat the contents of one of our Sockeye Oil capsules per day (split it open and pour over food), and a dog can take a larger amount corresponding to its size and weight.
Please seek a nutrition-savvy vet’s advice on any health problems regarding your pet, and also do so before giving him or her the large amounts a cancer patient like Punim is taking.