Raw Proof: The Healthiest Doggy Diet, Three Years In

It just so happens that my canine family is a good (albeit small) group to study for the effects of a healthy diet. I have three very different rescued dogs: Lucia, a tiny, Toy Poodle, Whiskey, a medium size mixed breed, and ChoCho, a large Rottweiler mix who had a front arm amputated before we met him.

 

LuciaWeb_crop

WhiskSmileWeb_cropChoSmileWeb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although there are foods available that cater to specific characteristics (ie. small dogs, seniors, etc.), a more holistic approach looks at their shared canine digestive systems. “A dog is a dog,” so to speak.

Three years ago, I changed their diet to fresh, natural, and raw, thanks to Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, some freeze-dried formulas (either Grandma Lucy’s or Only Natural), and canned pumpkin. Darwin’s is the fresh raw component, and it is important to note that their foods are “carefully formulated and tested to meet or exceed AAFCO canine nutritional profiles for all life stages,” as well as meeting “the generally accepted National Research Council guidelines for dog nutrition.” Feeding raw does not mean buying a steak at the grocery store and giving it to your dog or cat, uncooked.

As their veterinarian and I look at their overall health, their skin and coat, their teeth, and their weight, it becomes apparent that they are doing really well. They all are:

  • At or below their ideal weight;
  • Fresh smelling, although they only receive baths between two and four times per year, except Lucia, who goes to a groomer every six to eight weeks;
  • In excellent health despite some pre-existing conditions (Whiskey developed hypothyroidism shortly after we adopted him, Lucia has luxating patellas, a common condition in toy breeds, and ChoCho has arthritis in his one front arm).

Although we don’t know their exact ages, we’re pretty sure that Whiskey is about seven and a half, Lucia is perhaps the same age, and ChoCho might be between eight and nine years old. No one can believe their ages when they first meet them. Shiny, soft fur…healthy, hydrated, fresh-smelling skin…and energetic, youthful demeanors characterize our canine family.

It took me a long time (I first considered a raw diet in the late 1990s), quite a bit of research (reading books such as See Spot Live Longer, Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, and The Proof is in the Poodle), and some soul-searching (I eat a mostly vegetarian diet) to finally transition my dogs to a raw diet. Now, I’m glad I did.

No Dog Left Behind Thanks to SPCA International: A Priceless Way to Say Thank You to Our Military

Thanks to the awesome blog, BarkPost, we discovered the great story of Jax and Sgt. Jacob Fisher, the US Marine who rescued him while on active duty in Afghanistan. The story has a wonderful ending, thanks to SPCA International’s Operation Baghdad Pups. This dedicated, determined effort reunites military folks with the dogs or cats they have fallen in love with but were forced to leave behind when their tour of duty was over. As their slogan says so perfectly, “No Buddy Gets Left Behind.” They also run the important program, Operation Military Pups. This life-saving program assists military families with the costs of moving their pets when the family is required to move. Shipping animals can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, and this program allows families to stay together, instead of having to surrender their beloved animals to a nearby shelter when they are required to move.

Check out Sgt. Fisher’s story and read more about Operation Baghdad Pups and Operation Military Pets.

In honor of Memorial Day, not only can we say thank you to our selfless military, but by supporting Operation Baghdad Pups, we can offer them the priceless gift of their beloved companion animal.

 

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Hometown Quality: Dog Toys Made in the USA

Keeping your dog healthy is such a top priority that it pays to look into whatever ways you can minimize any toxins that he or she may be exposed to. If your dog really loves to play with toys, just think of how much time the toy is in her mouth! That equals a lot of direct exposure to a substance, and if it’s toxic… That’s why we love nontoxic toys made by companies in the USA, with full disclosure of what the toy is made from (and where the ingredients are sourced). Check out these dog toys that don’t contain toxic or unknown ingredients, made by USA companies that care about how their products are made. And no matter how natural a toy is, always supervise to make sure parts aren’t being consumed, or that it’s become ragged enough to injure pup’s mouth. Once a toy is broken or shredded, it’s time for a new one.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 11.41.37 PM1. The Stick from Ruff Dawg. If you want natural, a wooden stick is definitely a match. However, natural wood can cause splinters, cuts, and damage to your pup’s mouth, making it a definite no-no. Pick up The Stick from Ruff Dawg instead. It’s colorful, it floats, it’s chewable, and it won’t splinter or hurt your dog’s mouth. Smaller pups will like The Twig, a smaller version of The Stick. If stick fetching isn’t your pup’s cup of tea, take a look at all the toys made by Ruff Dawg for safe, chewy fun. Ruff Dawg is headquartered in Massachusetts.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.15.48 AM2. Mingo from West Paw Design. Does your dog like to carry a toy around, chew on it a bit, and then carry it around some more? If so, he’ll probably love the Mingo flamingo toys from West Paw. As a stuffing-free design, this plush toy may not tempt your pup to rip it apart. Of course, voraciously destructive chewers would do better with a tougher toy from West Paw’s Zogoflex line. But for the “toy tender” type of dog, the Mingo, in large or small, is a cute, colorful companion to have around. West Paw Design is headquartered in Montana.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.26.50 AM3.Ollie’s Orca from Purrfect Play. Purrfect Play takes natural seriously. Not only made in the USA, all their toys contain 100% natural materials. Ollie’s Orca is made from hemp on the outside and organic cotton stuffing on the inside. Since hemp is such a strong fiber, this toy will probably last longer than most, provided your pup isn’t a “chew-to-destroy” type of dog. Purrfect Play is headquartered in Indiana.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.50.36 AM4.Custom Organic Dog Toy Trio from Created By Steph’s Mom on Etsy. We love that not only does this shop make handmade, unique dog toys with organic, natural materials, but you can also customize the design with a sweet message! This Dog Toy Trio is made with all organic and nontoxic materials, down to the dye used in the fabrics. Created By Steph’s Mom is headquartered in Pennsylvania.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.05.16 AM5. Coconut Dog Toy from Cocomutz on Etsy. The story of Cocomutz is a sweet one, for sure. A move to Key West, the discovery of how much a dog loved coconuts…and a new, natural toy was born. It may not be the prettiest toy your dog will own but it will be unique, natural, and pleasantly fragrant. The Coconut Dog Toy is made simply from “coconut, natural sisal or manila rope, and love.” Cocomutz is headquartered in Florida.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.17.34 AM6. Tug & Fetch Dog Toy from Eco Tug Dog Toys on Etsy. Made from recycled cotton t-shirts, these knotted, ring-shaped Tug & Fetch Toys are colorful and great for the not-too-aggressive chewer. We love the softness yet strength of this toy as a good choice for puppies and seniors. It has the added benefit of being machine washable and dryable, too. Eco Tug Dog Toys is headquartered in New Jersey.

Dog Cones: 5 Options to Help Boo-Boos Heal

It’s an undeniable fact: no matter how sweet your dog’s kisses are, when he starts licking at a boo-boo, it can lead to infection, slow healing, and even result in ripped sutures. Instead of trusting him not to lick, take away the temptation with a cone. Sometimes called the “cone of shame,” there’s really nothing shameful about it.

Our Whiskey visited a garden supply store wearing his cone and got so much attention from people feeling sorry for the poor puppy, it had to have made him feel better (he loves socializing to begin with).

Take a look at these options for cones and cone alternatives. Pick one, adjust it for a snug but comfy fit, and offer treats to make up for the inconvenience. The key is not only to find what works for your dog, but to keep it on until he really doesn’t need it anymore. If you remove it while he’s eating a meal, be sure to stay close by and put it back on the moment he finishes. One or two licks and you and the pooch may end up back at the vet’s office.

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Remedy+Recovery E-Collar
This is the standard cone, made better. It has padding around the edges (both for pup’s neck comfort and to prevent your legs from getting scratch, as he bangs into you while walking around wearing it) and it has easy to use snaps. No strings, no puzzle-like threading of hard plastic tabs. Just an easy to use cone, affordably priced. We also like that it’s clear so your dog can see through it.

 

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KONG Cloud E-Collar
This inflatable donut-style collar from KONG is great…if your dog won’t reach around it and lick. If her boo-boo is on an extremity, it probably won’t be enough to keep her from reaching. We tried this when one of our dog’s had a ripped claw on his back foot. He was able to bring the foot up to his mouth, around the collar. But for comfort, this style can’t be beat.

 

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All Four Paws Comfy Cone
For a very comfy cone, this one scores high. It’s soft and flexible and won’t interfere with your dog as he sleeps in any position. Made of fabric and foam, it’s like a cushiony cloud surrounding her head. The solid black interior gives your dog a little “quiet space” while wearing the cone, which can be relaxing for a stressed dog. It does require you to thread your dog’s collar through the loops to keep it securely on (making sure your dog’s collar fits just right is an important first step, or the cone and the collar can be removed by your dog).

 

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Suitical Recovery Suit
If your dog’s boo-boo site is on his trunk and not on his legs, the Suitical is an excellent alternative to a cone. This body suit covers a dog’s body while still allowing the injury/surgical site to receive the benefit of air circulation (so important in the healing process). Even though the outside is a colorful print, the inside is light colored, so you can easily see if the wound is leaking. It does require you to open up the back end when you go for a walk, so that your dog can relieve him/herself. But the included hold-up strap makes this easier to do.

 

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BooBoo Loon Protective Pet Collar
Another type of inflatable, the BooBoo Loon is probably super comfy and easy for dogs to wear. It looks like a swimming device, and sits comfortably low on the dog’s neck. However, this may not be enough to keep your dog from licking an injury on the tips of his extremities. If the injury is appropriate for the use of this cone, we bet your dog will not mind wearing this one at all.

 

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A Handmade Collar for Dogs Who Love the Attention

Whisk_SCBcollarWhen you’re looking for a new collar, it’s important to consider sturdy construction, necessary features, and color. What you might not realize is the power a cute collar can have over your dog’s social interactions. When Whiskey wears his beautiful Bow Tie Collar from Scatter Brained Collars (SBC) on Etsy, he just about stops traffic. The size and color of the bow tie really capture a personality that enjoys saying “hi” to folks he meets on his travels. And that immediate warm reception he receives is a two-way street: he enjoys the experience as much as the human fawning over “how cute he is” and “what an adorable collar he’s wearing.”

We love that these collars are all cotton, with a sturdy support inside, for a comfy fit. The wide width of the collar and the big bow tie make the collar visible even on a fluffy dog, and the fabrics available are fun, hip patterns that really complement doggy fur. For smaller pups, narrower collar sizes are available. SBC also makes collars with flowers for girly dogs, matching leashes, and even matching key chains. Whiskey has had his collar for a couple of years and it washes and dries beautifully (the bow tie is removable, too).

Pizza Cookies!

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PizzaCookies_DoneOur dogs here at Dog Parent take after their parents: they love pizza. Is it the bread, the sauce, the cheese, or the combination of all three that makes them crave pizza so much? Aside from getting “just the crusts” when mom and dad are indulging in a pizza pie, our pooches don’t get to eat slices of pizza (a no-no for the canine digestive system—the typical type and amount of cheese used on pizza packs a lot of saturated fat, sodium, and calories that can all be dangerously unhealthy for dogs). I knew my pups wanted something a little more than the crusts, so I assessed the pantry and set out to make the ideal, crunchy, pizza-flavored treats for our canine kids. The result is an easy-to-make batch of cookies that your pup will love.

OatsVitamixYou can use wheat flour if your pooch doesn’t have any allergies to the grain. The reason I didn’t use wheat flour? We had just run out. But I had a full container of Whole Foods 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats. So I tossed those into my magic Vita-Mix blender (it’s magical, I’m convinced—there’s nothing it can’t do) and voila! Oat flour, freshly ground. I wanted to use the jar of gourmet pasta sauce I had in the pantry but noticed that it contained mushrooms. Although they’re relatively safe for dogs (the edible, grocery store type that humans can eat are nontoxic to dogs), I wanted to keep things simpler. So I opted instead for using Ragu Pizza Sauce. You can use any natural brand of pasta sauce that’s made with minimal ingredients (or better yet, make your own).

WetIngredientsDryIngredientsThe key to making these treats healthy for dogs was eliminating the excess fat and sodium from the cheese. A perfect way to do that is to use a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top instead of mozzarella. Parmesan packs an intense amount of flavor so you can use a lot less of it.

As for the garlic, I use only a smidge (1/8 teaspoon) to flavor the entire batch of cookies. The current consensus on garlic seems to be that it isn’t harmful to dogs in small amounts. Take a look at this article and this article to see for yourself. The minimum toxic dose (the least amount your dog would have to consume to reach a dangerous, toxic level) is a tremendous amount of garlic. Weighing that against its benefits, I opt to use small amounts with the dogs.

EagerPupsAll three pooches loved these cookies and we hope your dogs love them, too. Let us know if you bake up a batch or have any questions.

 

Rollout

Ingredients

3 cups oat flour
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley
3 Tablespoons Ragu Pizza Sauce, plus 2 TBS set aside
½ cup water
1 egg

 

 

 

CookieCutterPreheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, then add the 3 tablespoons of pizza sauce and water. Mix thoroughly.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough-like consistency forms. Let sit for five minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes.

Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.

Use a circular cookie cutter to cut out cookies.

 

 

AbouttoBakePlace on parchment-lined large baking sheet. You can really pack the cookies closely together, since they won’t be expanding.

Using the 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce set aside earlier, lightly rub a small amount into the top of every cookie.

Sprinkle parmesan on top and bake for 30 minutes (be sure to check the cookies frequently, starting at 20 minutes, since oven temps vary and your pup will be upset if you accidentally burn a batch of these goodies).

Let cool, offer some samples to the pooch, then load up the cookie jar.

 

 

 

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Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim.

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