Meet Lizzy Meyer, our Canine Product Specialist
ENHANCING DOGS’ LIVES THROUGH NUTRITION & HEARTWORKS
We sat down with longtime BioStar team member Lizzy Meyer, who recently officially rejoined the team as our new Canine Product Specialist, to learn more about nutrition basics for dogs and how every dog can benefit from supplementing with whole foods. We also heard how she ties in her business, Mariposa Heartworks, with her passion for canine nutrition, helping to enhance people’s relationships with their animals.
You worked with the BioStar team in the early years of the company. How does it feel to be back? As their new Canine Product Specialist, what are you most excited about?
“I remember being in veterinary technician school and sitting in the back of the class “learning” about animal nutrition. My mouth was glued shut. The lecturer from a big pet food company did not know that at home, I had a crock pot going with a specially balanced stew for my special needs Basset, St. Bernard mix, Vern, who was riddled with cancer. He also didn’t know I had made baggies of homemade raw diets for my growing Border Collie, Swiss Mountain dog mix, Finn who was healing from a fractured hock at 7 weeks old. I did my best to be a polite listener and learn something. What it did was confirm the healing power of food – real food – whole food – my dogs were thriving despite their conditions.
I’ve always loved BioStar’s attitude towards whole food nutrition since its inception. I’ve used their products for so many years for horses and dogs and I love helping people learn about whole food and how beneficial it can be. I really like the empowering role and I like teaching and encouraging people. I like helping them learn to ask questions regarding what they’re feeding and letting them discover their own next step for their animals. I feel better about that than just saying here, use this product for this issue your animal’s having. That does not get to the root issue. It also does not empower someone to think independently or be a better caregiver for their dog. I like the freedom to look at the whole picture with the customer and help them to see what they can change to help their dog.
Once we see where balance and support are needed, I help the customer choose the best supplement regime with BioStar products. If I need to suggest something else, including locating a holistic vet, I always do!
I trust these supplements and I fully believe in the healing power of whole food. The body uses our supplements as tools for repair and restoration, so there’s nothing that’s going to mask any ailments. I like these supplements because they’re very good at going to the root of the issue and, they’re food! So that’s unique.”
What are some common nutrition mistakes you see people making with their dogs?
“I try not to see things as mistakes. I try not to be judgmental. Everyone is on a journey with their dog and we are all doing our best with the resources we have. Sometimes if you have a bunch of big dogs, what you’re going to be able to do is very different than if you have one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or one Corgi; that’s just an easier size dog to feed. I try to step back and see the big picture—is there a lot of processed food, regardless of brand, that is being fed? If so, I try to, without telling people that a brand is bad or that kibble is bad, get a sense where they can change out some of the kibble for whole food. Whether it’s making healthy toppers for their dogs and just replacing some of the dry food for fresh food, even 25% of the diet can make a huge difference.
Even for people who are on a budget or have a bunch of big dogs, that is usually pretty doable. I feel for the dogs who only get processed food. There is always a way to improve upon that. If people have their blinders on and they simply want to scoop highly heat processed nuggets from a pretty bag with great marketing, there’s a lot of trust being poured into the dog’s bowl. I would like people to be more curious about how some fresh food might help their dogs. What I usually find is if they take the risk and at least go for the healthy toppers and take away some of the processed food, within a couple of weeks they see a bit of a shift, usually in the eyes. It’s like with horses, when you transition them to whole foods, you get a sense for the shift in attitude, energy, the eyes, and the expression. You start seeing these small changes first, and that’s usually enough for the owner to want to do a little bit more. If I can hang in there with that person and just encourage them to use a pre-made raw food frozen, or a premix, or even a slow cooker recipe, I find some other next step that’s doable for their situation.
I find that there’s a lot of pressure on people around feeding their dogs. It shouldn’t be this way. This is not rocket science. I would just say let’s just go back to food and find a way to balance it. It’s about doing what helps that dog to thrive, not about doing what everyone else is doing or buying the most expensive, processed food.”
Where is the best place to start if someone would like to start feeding their dog a more holistic diet?
“Beyond the 25% and whole food toppers, I would encourage people to start with some reading material. There are some good books, like Dr. Connor Brady’s Feeding Dogs. It’s scientific and covers how to balance food and helps the reader learn about food, research and options for feeding. I would also recommend reading material from Australian Veterinarian, Dr. Ian Billinghurst’s Give your Dog a Bone. He’s one of the originals in the raw feeding space. I would also recommend Dr. Judy Morgan and her book Yin and Yang Nutrition for Dogs, She has great raw and home cooked recipes. I find a lot of people are more comfortable with a home cooked recipe rather than raw. If the dog is really sick or compromised, sometimes that is the wiser way to introduce whole foods, especially if all he’s ever eaten is processed food.
There are so many places where you can learn to read labels yourself. When people get curious and start reading and asking questions, they will usually take the next step on their own, without convincing. People do this when they’re ready, when they are either feeling uncomfortable about whatever they’re doing or their dog is sick, and they’re wondering what role the diet might have in the dog’s recovery.”
As an experienced raw food feeder for your own dogs, what kinds of dogs do you think would benefit from feeding raw?
“I see a lot of people who say they’re going to go into raw feeding and don’t really know what they’re doing, but feel it is a good idea. They start with the DIY approach, but it’s not even close to balanced. I would much rather those people use a reputable, pre-made raw formula because that is far less overwhelming than trying to do the math, ratios, and calculations. I suggest learning if the dog does well on a commercial raw food first before going to the DIY approach.
All of my dogs have benefited from raw feeding most of their life, from puppyhood to advanced age. I sometimes have rescues with special needs and have found that, in certain seasons, cooking the food lightly works better for their digestion. If the dog is very old and not digesting the raw food as well for any reason, I make a cooked recipe. I listen to the dogs. There are some dogs that do not do well on raw. If the dog is showing me that they are not digesting it well, or their energy isn’t as good, then we go for a different option. It’s important to listen to the dog because every dog is an individual.”
What basic supplements would you recommend to improve dogs’ health and wellbeing?
“There are several I would choose from BioStar — any of the Optimum K9 formulas, because I like the micronutrients. There is so much nutrition in those formulas. Our farmland is so depleted, so whenever we can add those types of food back in, it is a good thing.
How does your Mariposa Heartworks business tie in with your passion for animal nutrition?
“Mariposa Heartworks is designed for the person on the other side of the leash. I have learned over the years that the dog can be on the very best diet, receiving the best holistic or conventional vet care, but if something is still not right or the animal is not healing well, there’s still stress to consider. I decided that I wanted to learn how to help the human side of the relationship. I wanted to allow the dog to have less stress in the energetic relationship with the person. In learning how to do that, I became a Heartmath Practitioner. This training has taught me how to guide people with scientifically backed exercises, into a less stressed state. Everyone, including animals, around that person benefits. Our animals often reflect our energy and our emotional state. There is so much power in learning to acknowledge what an animal is showing us from a place of neutral grounded energy. From this place, the animals can heal more thoroughly (while still using nutrition and good vet care). We, as their guardians, become better problem-solvers and receivers of intuitive information unique to our individual connection with our animals, when we are not in a stressed frame of mind. Everyone feels better! It’s not that the owner is causing the problem, it’s that if we’re stressed, how do we expect our animals around us to feel? They live in our homes and sleep in our beds, so they are going to feel it.”
How can people benefit from learning about Heartworks?
“If I can provide a supportive, safe space where I can teach people how to self-regulate in a way that creates calmness and a sense of wellbeing and of being grounded, the animal can actually relax and go into that self-healing mode. Usually the owner will gain more of an intuitive insight regarding the problem that they continue to have with their animal, and that could come in the form of mixing up whatever they’re feeding the dog. If they get a feeling that they need to change something with their supplements or something is not agreeing with them, they’re more likely to act on that intuitive hunch than if they were busy and not present. I see it as a holistic way to help the relationships, since our dogs do so much to help us every day, just in being there for us in our complicated human lives. This is a way for us to be more present with them and to learn more about what they’re trying to tell us. HeartMath helps your brain and your heart to go into a place called ‘coherence’. The HeartMath Institute’s research has found that patterns of heart activity correlated with different emotional states, which have distinct effects on how we think and feel. Your heart actually influences the nervous system in your brain. There is more information on the HeartMath Institute’s website.
If we are in a place of coherence, we are much more receptive to what’s going on around us and we can act from a place of presence versus reactivity.
Working with people with the intention to help their animals is rewarding. People contact me for help when they are upset about a chronic issue with their pet. I’ll listen to what’s going on for the person and figure out what HeartMath exercises fit their situation. Then I’ll listen to what’s going on with the animal, but I’m not troubleshooting. Of course, I help them with foundational things like diet, stress reduction and environmental factors. During the session, the animal often gets closer and closer to the person and relaxes as the human learns these techniques. The guardian also often receives intuitive information that may help to solve the problem. From this place, we are not “Trying” to figure things out. That is when answers can come in more clearly. The feeling of calmness and connection with the dog is what motivates the person to keep doing the work. It’s just getting the person to say, ‘What if I just work on myself and my own stress response and see what my dog can do?’”
What are some common misconceptions about Heartwork and Energy Work in dogs?
“Mariposa Heartworks focuses on three main services that address the bond between people and their animals. It includes HeartMath for the human-animal bond and stress management, energy work and pet loss grief support.
The foundation for all of the work I offer is on the transformational power of the heart connection between people and their animals. I take into consideration the whole relationship and ask how I can be of service and reduce stress. This is a key piece to help the animals. In my sessions, I always consider the diet, holistic care, the relationship between the owner and the vet and other professionals and the living environment. Together, we consider different perspectives of what their animal is showing and discover new options. HeartMath, specifically, is a scientifically validated method that I use for decreasing stress in people. That’s way oversimplified as HeartMath is capable of much more! Through HeartMath, I’m trained to help the person to come into a state of coherence, where the brain and heart are in a more harmonious energetic state. I also work with people who do not have animals. With energy work, I help animal caregivers to learn to be more sensitive to the energy of their own animals and teach them to work with their own animals with the intention of facilitating positive energetic shifts. I coach them through it. They’re three separate pieces, but Mariposa Heartworks as a whole, envelops everything I offer.”
What do you like most about working with BioStar?
“I love continuing to learn from Tigger [Montague]. She has tirelessly mentored me since around 2007. She has walked with me through intense learning experiences with personal animals. She has taught me so much regarding healing and whole food nutrition which has included learning basic Ayurveda and food energetics. Above all, she and BioStar have taught me how to feed the WHOLE animal for optimal health.
BioStar has always been a huge part of restoring health for my animals. Witnessing the healing power of food gives me so much joy! I love being a part of the sacred journey between a person and their animal, getting to be in a place where I can be of service and provide different perspectives, tools and enhance the bond between people and their animals, often through nutrition. Watching animals transform into healthier, happier beings with the BioStar supplements and whole food diets inspires me to keep learning. Our whole team is incredible. I get to work with people who are genuinely receptive to learning and love helping our customers. The whole team is always thinking progressively regarding our supplements and a holistic approach to health. I enjoy being a part of a team who is always learning and I truly enjoy a positive, team-oriented working environment. As an added plus, I totally trust BioStar’s ingredient sourcing and quality.
One of my new assignments is working with our retailers to facilitate Zoom training sessions for the stores that carry the BioStar canine products. I really like doing that because they always have really interesting questions and are appreciative of a truly whole food supplement line. They like to know the best ways to use them and how to integrate them into different types of diets. It’s really fun, and I like the education part the most. I really enjoy supporting people on their journeys with their dogs. There’s nothing better than that.”
Lizzy’s Homemade Bone Broth
Bone broth is the most frequently recommended supportive food I recommend during my canine consultations. It’s a cost-effective way to enhance the health of the entire GI tract, the liver, normal detoxification and joint health. It’s also an amazing moisture-rich topper for dogs who eat kibble and are transitioning to a diet that includes more fresh foods. It’s a GI first aid must have in my freezer, too!
Bone broth provides glycine. Well-known for it’s high content of the amino acid glycine, bone broth helps the body detoxify very gently. One of my well-loved, dog-eared, canine feeding references, The World According to Kemosabe (by Tigger Montague) states: “Bone broth provides the important amino acid glycine, which the liver uses for detoxification—a process that can be limited if there isn’t enough glycine. In fact, glycine deficiency may reduce the liver’s ability to synthesize bile.” (p. 149).
Gelatin is also in bone broth. This amino acid is GOLD for dogs who have “leaky gut” symptoms (as well as mobility issues). A few of the more common signs dogs with this condition display are: itching, chronic GI sensitivity, skin issues and an assortment of signs indicating chronic inflammation. For more information on gut health, refer to The World According to Kemosabe.
This nutritious soup is a powerhouse of nutrition! Probably the most well-known use for bone broth is for joint health. The major nutrients that help the bone, soft tissues, and joints in their natural repair processes are glycosaminoglycans. Within that category we find glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Other nutrients like proline and collagen are in abundance and support tissue healing.
When making bone broth, I prefer to use the “cleanest” (ie organic) bones I can find. I would not let this stop me if only conventionally sourced were available. Use what you can get locally and from meat you’d consume yourself. It’s more important to make the broth with what you feel good about using and what you can afford. This is a “tonic” food. It is best to feed it regularly and with different kinds of bones depending on what your dog likes and you can find easily.
Of course, bones from organically raised animals or from pasture-raised animals are the pinnacle standard, so keep your eyes peeled for a source. I keep a zipper bag, aka “the bone bag,” in the freezer for any unseasoned bone scraps from meat I have consumed. Nothing goes to waste. Those bone scraps all go into the pot when I make a batch.
This is an opportunity to do something amazing for your dog! The power is in your hands (and in your slow cooker) to make nourishing food for your beloved dog whose body is always in some form of a healing process. The love and intention you put into making the broth is absolutely key. For example, if your dog has a GI issue, I suggest thinking about how this broth will be medicinal to helping his intestines to have the food they need for the tissue to repair.
Here are the basics of preparing bone broth. Keep in mind this is far from an exacting project! Cooking the bones over low heat for about 24 hours in water with Apple Cider Vinegar is what leaches the minerals and nutrition out of the bones and marrow so you can provide it to your dog.
Basic Bone Broth Recipe:
- a variety of bones with cartilaginous joints and marrow. Examples include: turkey or chicken wings/necks, chicken feet, beef or bison marrow bones. (avoid smoked bones)
- 2-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s® ~ 2-4 Tbsp per gallon of water)
- Enough water to cover bones by a couple of inches and a couple pinches of sea salt (optional)
- Trimmings from vegetables like carrots, celery, leafy greens and green beans
- For a pot on the stove, bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) for 24 hours.
- For a slow cooker, turn on high for the first hour and then reduce to low heat for ~24 hours.
- Strain the bone broth thoroughly. Make sure that no pieces of bone remain in the final product. Cooked bones are very dangerous for dogs, so don’t skip this part!
- Pour the broth into containers* for storage and refrigerate for a few hours. Ice cube trays make it easy to prepare “broth-cicles” for a refreshing hot weather treat. The frozen cubes are great GI first aid items, ready to thaw as needed.
A layer of fat will appear on the top of the cooled broth. Scrape it off and discard it. Beneath, there will be a jelly-like broth. If your broth didn’t turn into jelly, that’s okay, it’s still a healthy addition to your dog’s dinner! Just use an extra tablespoon of vinegar next time or include bones with more cartilage. Use within a week or freeze.
If you really want to make the most out of your leftover bones, you can repeat the process again, especially if you add a couple more turkey necks or wings or chicken feet the second time around!