Monday, July 16th, 2018
Taurine deficiency in dogs has been seen in raw fed, kibble fed and home-cooked fed dogs, and not accepting this fact is dangerous, so I want to try and be a part of the solution rather than divisive. I hope you’ll join me in this endeavour by Sharing this post because when all is said and done it’s our dogs that are at risk. IMHO this needs to be about the dogs’ realities rather than our preferred feeding methods.
You may have heard that raw fed dogs, especially those eating animal hearts can’t be deficient. I’m here to tell you that I’ve worked with dogs that were. Please read everything below.
Others say that kibble containing peas and lentils are causing the problem. That makes some sense, and the FDA has put out a warning. It comes a bit late since the investigation started quite a while ago.
Peas, beans and lentils add protein to the diet, so the amount of protein shown on the nutrition panel on a bag of kibble reflects it. This isn’t high quality protein though. So, when we see a meat source listed, there’s really no way to know how much of the protein is coming from that source, and how much from the peas, etc. That may be a bigger issue than in the past (when grains were being used) because these legumes have properties that lessen nutrient availability to the body. Read more Taurine Deficiency in Dogs
Friday, June 22nd, 2018
The National Research Council (NRC) guidelines were written by an independent group of scientists and are based on fresh food ingredients, not processed pet feed. Whole prey meets the NRC numbers, so for the ‘new’ thinking as regards prey model diets, if you believe they’re best, you should also believe that NRC is as good.
Dogs haven’t changed and their requirements are the same – so just because belief systems on how to feed have changed it doesn’t mean that requirements have changed. If not for science we wouldn’t know how to formulate therapeutic diets. If we don’t know that a 25lb dog needs X amount of phosphorus, and then that dog develops kidney disease and needs a low phosphorus diet to address it- how would we help that dog if the NRC numbers are meaningless? If the NRC is wrong, or outdated – why do the diets work so well even for correcting problems? Read more Nutrient Requirements of Raw Fed Dogs
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
While any disease that strikes our dogs is one too many, there are situations that include more than one disease at once. In cases of cancer combined with just about any other disease, owners are likely to focus on the cancer first. From a nutritional point of view, this reaction can be dangerous.
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and most cases of GI diseases demand a low-fat diet. Yet, the most common diets for cancer are keto and those high in omega 3 fatty acids. In these examples of disease, feeding those popular diets stand to harm the dog far sooner than the cancer will. Read more Triage Your Dog
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
In the case of dogs eating garden plants and bulbs, the risks range from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, and death. Here are the plants and bulbs to avoid:
Spring crocuses are attractive to many dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting and diarrhea leading to dehydration.
All parts (flower, plant, and especially the bulb) contain poisonous alkaloids with potential to cause excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and heart problems. Read more Spring Plants That Are Dangerous, Toxic to Dogs
Sunday, April 15th, 2018
Thursday, April 5th, 2018
We love this recipe from Wendy Pak who is an amazing foster mom with Pause4Change in Calgary. This method saves us from having to buy a dehydrator – and the treats are so versatile! For more tips, and discussion, join us on FB
Thursday, March 22nd, 2018
Why does my dog eat poop? How do I stop my dog from eating poop? These are two very popular questions that dog owners with poop eating dogs ask on a daily basis. Why dogs do it is unknown. Regardless of who says otherwise, it’s really not factual. Some say it’s because puppies see their mothers doing it when mom cleans the pups, and they start to imitate her. Others say dogs eat stool because instinct drives them to remove anything that might identify them to another dog, or different species. Yet others claim it’s due to the diet being fed (which actually can have some impact), or that the dog is missing something in the diet.
Read more 6 Ways to Stop Dogs From Eating Poop
Thursday, March 15th, 2018
Inflammatory markers increase as dogs age just as they do in people. Chronic Inflammation is part of all kinds of nasty things (cancers, et al), so we want to push anti-inflammatory foods and supplements. We want to do that for all dogs, but especially the older ones. I could show you a zillion foods, herbs, and products that may help, but these are the basics. I didn’t include acidophilus in the collage, but only because it actually depends a lot on what the diet includes to begin with. For most dogs, I want acidophilus 2-3 x weekly.
Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
People looking for someone to formulate a balanced home-prepared diet (raw, or cooked) for their dog, or who want to feed a combination of kibble, or raw foods as well as fresh foods often do a search for these terms:
Canine nutritionist, dog nutritionist, canine nutrition consultant, canine raw feeding consultant, raw feeding specialist, nutrition advisor, and perhaps others. Trying to sort through the titles people may use to define themselves can be confusing. Here are some facts to help you out.
Read more How To Choose a Canine Nutritionist
Wednesday, February 28th, 2018
McGill University in Canada is home to professors John White and David Goltzman in the Faculty of Medicine Department of Physiology. These two men lead a team that discovered that vitamin D in active form essentially shuts down cancer cells. Before everyone starts to pop vitamin D in mega doses, or gives huge amounts to dogs, let’s get more of a handle on the mechanism of action that causes this incredibly beneficial effect.
It turns out that vitamin D inhibits production and function of the protein cMYC which happens to be the driver behind cell division and is active in elevated levels in over half of all cancers. The natural antagonist of cMYC is called MCD1 (had enough of letters and numbers yet?) and what’s key here is that vitamin D stimulates production of MCD1. So, essentially, we have more more of the good stuff to shut down the protein that drives cell division in a great many cancers.
Read more Vitamin D, Cancer, and Dogs
Saturday, February 24th, 2018
Many people think that xylitol is an artificial sweetener, but it’s not, and that’s a problem in so far as understanding a label. Due to it being a natural part of fruits and veggies, it might be listed as “natural sweetener“, or “sweetened naturally”
Some nut butters (not just peanut butter) have changed to include xylitol, a natural alcohol sweetener. Xylitol is poisonous to dogs, causing liver failure and dangerously low blood sugar.
Note: Not all natural alcohol sweeteners are a health risk for dogs, but if all the label states is “sugar alcohol” without stating which one, you’ll want to keep it away from dogs.
Read more PET POISONS – TOXIC TO DOGS
Sunday, February 18th, 2018
1. If feeding fresh foods, buy a freezer so you can store meats purchased on sale. Don’t skimp on the freezer. The older ones use up much more energy and your electric bill will increase dramatically. That doesn’t mean you need a brand new freezer though. Know the energy rating on whatever you buy and make the decision based on that. You may not need a very large freezer, or you may find that it’s an added plus for your human family too. Either way, think about looking at those dented or scratched freezers that stores put on sale now and then. Unless you’re planning on putting it on display, who really cares what the exterior looks like?
Read more 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Dog’s Fresh Food
Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
There are a number of liver problems that can cause liver enzymes to increase, and sometimes the primary problem isn’t the liver. I ask for a lot of information when working with these cases, and not all have medical answers, but I can generalize some things for you here.
1. No red meat. It produces a lot of ammonia which the compromised liver doesn’t manage that well.
Read more Canine Liver Disease(s)
Thursday, July 28th, 2016
These three frozen treats are super-easy to make, and they’ve received two paws up from our own dog, and the furry taste testers so far. I thought this was a good time to put them in a newsletter, so you could always access them easily. Keep in mind that while they’re fun to make and cute to look at, they actually serve a really good purpose from a nutritional standpoint. Each one provides a bonus for your dog’s health.
Read more Anti Aging Treats for Dogs
Saturday, September 12th, 2015
Fresh, or dried herbs can be a bonus for your dog, and some have helpful properties for specific body functions.These simple kitchen herbs bring old world traditional wisdom to the bowl. They may not replace more specific and powerful herbs with other actions, but they’ve helped an awful lot dogs! Read more 3 Must-Have Herbs For Your Dogs
Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Many dog owners in my world are concerned about every warning they receive via newsletters, articles, blogs, and not concerned about some things I think they ought to be. For instance there’s a naturally occurring substance called oxalate which is found in many foods. In combination with a genetic predisposition, excretion of calcium through urine, and some other issues, this can cause calcium oxalate bladder stones – but, it’s not likely unless you have a breed known for these stones. Foods that are high in oxalate also happen to be high in remarkable anti-oxidants and phytochemicals.
Read more Are You Avoiding Healthy Foods For Your Dog?
Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
Our Tori’s health challenges brought so much to the table that learning how to manage everything provided lessons she allows me to share even now that she’s gone. For example, Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia is exceptionally expensive to treat, and if there are relapses it becomes worse. Pet insurance was a must-have and thankfully we had it. I appreciate that it may be considered inappropriate/crude to talk about money, but I think it’s unrealistic not to. All in all Tori experienced 5 relapses, the last of which became a runaway train that no amount of money or medications could push back.
Read more IMHA, Thyroid, UTI, Supplements and More: Lessons Tori Taught
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
I read your comments on a site last night, and your point was so eloquently stated and so sincere that I want you to know you’ve been heard. Maybe not by thousands of people (yet), but you made me stop and reevaluate some aspects of the human condition. Thank you for that.
In reply to an article about seeing a holistic vet and feeding the diets they suggest (organic chicken, wild rice, mixing meats with those premixed packages of veggies, grains et al), and articles about kefir, organic yogurt…all of these being luxury items for many, many people – you mentioned the vitriol displayed toward people who can barely afford pasta and canned tuna for themselves and their families.
Read more Dear Anonymous Dog Diets
Sunday, January 4th, 2015
Bone broth has become popular for dogs and people. It’s been touted as being nutritious, and having healing properties for the gut (don’t try it on dogs with GI diseases that demand a low-fat diet) at minimum. There may be a glitch though. In a study The risk of contamination in bone broth diets the researchers wanted to know if the bones of chickens sequestered lead “A small, blinded, controlled study of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth showed that such broths do indeed contain several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth is made.
Read more Lead Toxicity of Bone Broth – Should You Worry?
Friday, December 26th, 2014
I’m talking to you. Yes, you! The one with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that’s “just big boned”, the owner of that Mastiff who is “supposed to be this large!”, the Beagle devotee who loves the “plushy rolls that are part of being a hound”, and every other dog owner out there who’s looking at their dog through the fun-house mirror that makes their dog look thin. This is for people who think their vet just likes skinny dogs too.
Read more Your Fat Dog – Yes, Yours!
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
If the weekly questions in my in-box are any indication, there’s a lot of confusion out there about diets for liver disease. Here are some facts that can help you sort things out. I’ll try to keep it simple.
There’s more than one reason for a dog’s liver enzymes being high (blood test results panic a lot of dog owners). Just because enzymes are elevated doesn’t mean the dog has a liver disease. It might be the case, but it’s not a given. Sometimes enzymes go back down on their own without any dietary changes, and sometimes even without medical intervention. There are speculations as to why this happens to one dog and not another, but your best bet is to stay calm, listen to your veterinarian and don’t start throwing all kinds of supplements into the dog out of panic.
Read more Canine Liver Disease
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Everyone has an opinion about which oil is best to add to a dog’s diet, and some people say to add none.
Sometimes all the noise and excitement about a product seems to ignore the facts, so here are a few that can help you make sense of whether to add an oil, which one might be best, and in what situation.
1. Coconut Oil
I had to start with this one because it’s been touted to do just about everything under the sun, and that’s just not factual. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are some really great uses for the stuff, and I add it Tori’s diet (and use some on her skin). I just don’t like the bogus claims attached to it.
Read more Oils For Dogs Deciphered (Which one to use and when to use it)
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Sometimes medications are the best solution, and sometimes a natural approach works so well that meds are avoided – my favorite scenario!. Here are a few things that work really well for a lot of dogs:
In all cases: it can be due to parasites, indiscriminate eating, GI diseases…you need to know the “why”. But for the odd bout of the poopies, fasting the dog for 12-24 hours rests the GI tract. Some people say it’s not necessary, but I find it really helps because the more you feed, the longer the system seems to stay on auto-pilot to flush everything out. Keeping the dog hydrated during a fast is critical though. Encourage water consumption, and if the dog refuses, try adding a bit of chicken broth (skim any fat).Diarrhea combined with vomiting = vet visit, sooner rather than later.
Read more 5 Natural Solutions To Your Dog’s Diarrhea
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Ouija-boardish notions can end up prolonging suffering. A dog with yeast overgrowth is not a happy animal, and I’ll admit to being short tempered when I read some of the articles/blogs/websites that provide less than factual information. Frankly, we need to do better than that, so to that end, I want to walk you through the real deal about yeast.
What it is: The most common type of yeast in dogs is called Malassezia, and is a normal resident of the skin. Normal. Keep that in mind.
What it isn’t: a new invader.It’s been coexisting quite happily and harmoniously on your dog forever.
Read more How To Get Rid of Yeast
Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
I received an email about one week ago. It was a birthday announcement for a dog who belongs to a client. Chevi has just turned twelve, and seeing the latest picture of him made me smile. It also made me want to tell his story because his owner and I have kept in touch to tweak his diet as necessary over the years. Rita gave me permission, so I’m going to quote her because she says it better than I can.
“A year and a half ago, the cardiologist thought he probably would not see age 11. He’s been fighting heart disease now for 3 years.
The good days still outnumber the bad… Still barking at the mailman, patrolling the backyard fence line, playing a little ball. Life is good.
Read more Dogs Living Well With Heart Disease
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
There are times when medications can’t be avoided. In fact, sometimes they must be for life, and it’s these situations that tend to bring the toughest side effects to deal with. But! – dietary manipulation can go a long way to helping the body cope better, and even reduce the risks. Let me use our dog, Tori, as an example. I have a love-hate relationship with Prednisone because it’s saved her life, but it certainly has side effects.
Tori started showing odd signs when she was about ten weeks old. I’d call her, and she’d turn her head in the opposite direction. She could hear well in that no sound escaped her, but her response was strange. Read more Adjust Diets For Dogs On Medications
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Poopsicles…they’d make a million dollars for anyone who had the gumption to sell them. Dogs that eat poop are even wilder about the morsels when they’re frozen which makes us wonder why…but then we wonder why on earth they eat poop to begin with. Here are 6 possibilities and some thoughts:
2. Do away with evidence that can bring punishment (even disapproval may be seen as punishment)
3. Because the dog thinks it tastes good. Let’s face it – dog’s don’t have the same taste preferences we do. Read more Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Eggs, milk products, fish, and meat (in this order) have the highest biological values, so it goes without saying that your dog would do well to eat these. What about the other foods, though?
Fruits and veggies that offer high amounts of phytonutrients (also called phytochemicals) can benefit in many ways from working to reduce inflammation to providing antioxidants that help fight cancer. All fruits and veggies provide some of these good things, but some are more powerful than others. Read more Mega-Nutrition To Share With Your Dog
Sunday, July 13th, 2014
My experience suggests that dogs do this for two main reasons: they’re using it to purge their bodies of something (food that disagrees with them, or something they’ve ingested that may, or may not be food), or they’re searching for something to do, and perhaps enjoy eating. In other words, the dog may find this behavior entertaining, relaxing, or even nutritionally beneficial. You can tell which of the two a dog is experiencing by watching the way they go about eating it.
Frenzied behavior that leads them to eat whichever grass happens to be closest to the door you’ve let them through (often because they seem to have an urgent need to get outside), and vomiting afterward can be due to a health problem, or is a sign of the diet not agreeing with the dog. If it happens often, and the vet has given an all-clear, it may be time to take a 3 pronged approach: Read more Why Dogs Eat Grass
Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
All of us worry about our dogs at some point. Some to a greater extent, some to a lesser, but only people who shouldn’t have dogs will breeze through dog ownership without ever feeling that pang of doubt, or worry when the dog seems not quite right. So, how worried should you be?
My world includes a daily deluge of emails from very, very worried dog owners. I get it. I worry as well, but I learned something along the way that might help you: fear that immobilizes puts your dog at risk. Read more Dogs Are Sensitive to Our Emotions
Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Eyes shed tears for many reasons, and some are due to serious health problems. Don’t ignore the tearing and staining without seeing your veterinarian. Your dog might pay the ultimate price and lose his/her sight altogether if you assume that what you’re about to read applies to every single dog.
But! – the pictures below are a clear demonstration of how big an impact diet can make.
Read more Stains on Dog’s Face Traced To Food Allergy
Monday, April 21st, 2014
The skinny dogs…the ones with spines that poke out, appetites that are poor for no health reason per se. They’re stressed out, scared, guarded, and many just got out of shelters. That’s what I’ve been working with lately, and it’s been rewarding because the dogs have done really well. There are three important things to keep in mind as you read this.
The first is that the recipes are for healthy dogs. If the dog has any kind of disease that contraindicates a high-fat diet, you’ll do far more harm than good. The second is that feeding four small meals per day is much better than two large ones. The dog can only eat so much at one time, and in fact may not be eager to eat in the first place. So, a lot of food at one meal is likely to be met with resistance, but even if eaten eagerly, risks an upset stomach and diarrhea. Read more Weight Gain Recipes for Dogs
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Although we may think that the body lives alone, it actually shares itself with many organisms including yeasts. The type that’s most common in dogs is called Malassezia and it exists happily on skin without causing a problem unless something happens to create havoc, giving the yeast the opportunity to overgrow. For example, an allergic flare-up is a fairly common cause. An allergy to what though? It could be to a food, or something in the environment. It can also be due to a hormone imbalance, or an immune deficiency (veterinarians can test for this) and if the dog happens to have excessive oil production of the skin (seborrhea), s/he is predisposed to yeast overgrowth to begin with. So, how do you know the problem is yeast? Read more Smelly, Itchy Dogs: Can It Be a Yeast Infection?
Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
Dogs can need dietary help for many reasons including being able to find a forever home. Anyone working in rescue knows this. It’s difficult to get a dog adopted into a good home if that dog has ongoing gastrointestinal troubles and that include anything from diarrhea to bloat, or is in kidney failure, liver failure, etc. There aren’t all that many people who will take on the financial and emotional challenge of a dog like that. My role has been to minimize the problem by dietary means, but even that can make it difficult to find an adopter because not everyone is willing to prepare a home-made diet. So, what do you do when you need to continue feeding a commercial diet, but improve things enough to make the dog more adoptable? Here are some of the dogs on my roster who ended up being adopted and treasured. They make my day whenever I think of them.
Read more Dietary Help for Dog Rescues
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
Not every dog going through chemo has bad reactions, but a lot of them have one thing in common and that’s an aversion to eating. In the many years that I’ve been working with dogs and diets to help them, cancer patients are arguably the ones who taught me most about behavioral changes. Owners are understandably overwhelmed by the diagnosis of cancer, the schedule back and forth to the vet for treatments and follow-up, expense and ongoing fear. So, when the dog refuses to eat, it seems like all the effort and progress made to this point was pointless. But we don’t give up. Although there isn’t a one size-fits-all-solution, at least one (and hopefully more) of these things can help your dog: Read more Feeding a Dog During Chemotherapy
Monday, June 10th, 2013
Hyperthyroidism isn’t rare in cats, but it’s very rare in dogs. In fact, when the test results show canine hyperthyroidism, the conversation turns to the possibility of lab error, or thyroid carcinoma and everyone scrambles to find answers quickly.
In all my years of working with dogs, I’d never seen a case of hyperthyroidism until recently. The dog was eating a raw diet that included turkey neck and ground beef. I should point out that this was high-quality, federally inspected meat rather than meat purchased from a local farmer who butchered his/her own. This is something to keep in mind as you read this study which concludes: Read more Diet Can Cause Hyperthyroidism in Dogs
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Is there a difference? There aren’t farms that grow chickens to be consumed by people and other farms growing chickens to be eaten by dogs and cats. There aren’t oceans full of fish for people and other oceans designated for those that dogs and cats will consume. Food is food.
Animal feed is a different story. The following are a few of many examples of materials that fall under the definition of animal feed: meat and bone, fish meal, hydrolyzed feather meal, soybean hulls, fat and grease ( animal, vegetable, blends, restaurant grease/”yellow grease”) vitamin supplements, flavors, extracts, rumen by-pass, probiotics…and a whole lot more. Some sound like food. Meat and bone, for instance. Some, like vitamin supplements, sound ok. Most people have a harder time with the other things listed. Read more Human Food vs. Animal Feed
Monday, May 13th, 2013
Having written about this back in 2002 and finding more and more cases of it being very real for some dogs, I think it may be time to talk about it again. Most dog owners have never heard of this in people much less in dogs. Some veterinarians are on the fence about it being factual, but more and more specialists agree.
Here’s a short abstract dating back to 2002 which discusses a dog with Japanese cedar pollinosis that had oral allergy syndrome (OAS) after ingesting fresh tomato. So, what the heck is OAS to begin with? We might look at it as an immune system that’s an over achiever. For instance, it treats pollen like a foreign invader and because there are some proteins in fruits and veggies that are similar to those in certain pollens, they get treated the same way – by attacking and trying to flush them out of the body via discharges, inflammation, etc. Read more Oral Allergy Syndrome
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
This relates to the way some people think of boosting the immune system via diet. First, we need to understand what the immune system really is because people seem to talk about if as if it’s a sagging muscle that needs to be lifted in some way.
The immune system involves interferons, chemokines and interleukins – signals that stimulate/activate certain cells. There are antibodies like IgE, IgM, as well as IgG and IgA which have 7 subtypes in total, and all 7 have a preference for parts of different pathogens. There are blood components like cells called lymphocytes, neutrophils, macrophages, eosinophils, monocytes, and more. Read more Boosting The Immune System
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Restricting protein for dogs in kidney failure was the gold standard many years ago, but most people know better these days. Protein isn’t the issue so much as the need to restrict phosphorus being most important – at least when the disease isn’t in later stages. It’s different when the issue is protein losing nephropathy (PLN), though. In this disease, protein in the urine (proteinuria) is usually the first thing that’s found, and it can happen almost by accident. You take the dog in for a yearly urinalysis and bingo! – uh-oh. Before you panic because your dog shows trace protein in urine, PLN shows more than that (in urine and blood tests), and in more advanced stages you’ll notice the dog drinking more, urinating more often, and usually lacking some appetite. Let your vet be the diagnostician. Read more Protein Losing Nephropathy (PLN) in Dogs
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Despite the start of this, it leads to diet. Then again, just about everything leads to diet in my world.
I’m not sure what to call it. Maybe it’s radar of some kind, maybe it’s a connection from one soul to another, but most of us know when our dogs are “off”. Sometimes we can’t even put a finger on it and we feel silly trying to describe what “off” might mean. For example, I had a friend who swore she knew when her Golden was “off” by the way his whiskers looked. Crazy? Maybe, but she was never wrong. Not even once.
So, your dog just doesn’t seem to be right and you’re feeling torn. Do you go to the vet and try to explain what you can’t even find words for? Especially when you know that tests will cost money and the only thing that might be happening is your imagination running wild? Read more Dog Owners Know Their Dogs Best
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Actually, many people in the pet biz might want to say similar things, but having spoken to 31 vets over the last 5 months about exactly this subject, here are their most common comments. The first seems so self evident that I was shocked to hear it over and over again.
1. You may not be able to smell your dog, but others can. Unless the animal is too sick, please bathe the dog before bringing him/her to see me. It’s no different from washing before seeing your doctor, or brushing your teeth before seeing the dentist.
2. Bring a list of presenting complaints, current medications, supplements and your questions to the vet visit. You may forget what you meant to ask if you feel overwhelmed by information just presented to you, or even during a conversation about a new symptom. We can work together more efficiently if you prepare for the appointment ahead of time. Read more The Vet Wish List
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
I’ve been formulating canine diets since 1999, and my dogs, Zoey and Cassie had IBD and colitis, so it seemed natural that most clients had dogs with the same problem. They related to my experience with GI diseases, and I could certainly relate to theirs. This still holds true, although today’s clients run the gamut from healthy dogs to ones with all types of serious diseases and conditions.
Many dogs with IBD have food allergies and most of their owners live in fear of new food allergies developing. No doubt, it can happen, but it’s not carved in stone. Read more Canine IBD and Food Allergies
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
I have a “thing” for older dogs. Ok, I seem to have a thing for all dogs, but the older ones really get to me because they’ve given us their entire lives with pure love and abandon. So, I want to talk about what we can do to make things better for them from a dietary perspective.
First and foremost, be sure the dog is healthy by having a complete blood count (CBC) and super chemistry profile done every six months. The ageing process is speedier in dogs, so in dog-years, six months is a fairly long time. A lot of things can change during this seemingly short period, and dietary manipulation can address quite a few of them, so it make sense to do it sooner rather than later. Read more Older Dogs
Saturday, November 24th, 2012
There was so much response to my FB post about dog feces that I want to show you this scoring system, too. That’s right – there are scores that you can point to when conversing with the vet. In fact, I think it would make conversations easier if all vet offices provided this. Purina’s made it easy. Now it’s up to vets and their clients to use it.
Dogs with GI problems are more likely to produce # 4 – #7 prior to the condition being under control, but eating something (food that doesn’t agree with the dog, leaves, and whatever else dogs gobble down without the owner noticing) can cause this as well. Read more What’s Your Dog’s Poop Score?
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
People, especially puppy owners ask me if I think that having pet insurance is a good idea. I suppose it depends on a lot of factors. How much money you have in case of medical care being necessary, how old your dog is, and what if any health conditions might be considered pre-existing. But let me share why I think that overall, pet insurance from a really good company is a life-saver …literally!
Tori is the third dog we’ve had insurance for. The first was Zoey who maxed out on gastrointestinal claims before she was 2 years old. Insurance coverage had paid for itself many times over by then. The same was true of her half-sister, Cassie. Then came Tori and I distinctly recall asking her breeder for the microchip number (the insurance company wanted the info) and being told that we didn’t need insurance because she was a healthy puppy. Read more Is Pet Insurance Worthwhile?
Thursday, September 27th, 2012
A myth, but one that circulates often. Some veterinarians give this directive as well. So, when did it become such a no-no to feed pork?
A very long time ago, and for valid reason (let’s just say it’s a myth with sort-of factual origins). Bacon drippings, bacon itself, fatty ham…all of these can be problematic for many dogs. And that’s what some people were feeding when their dog developed pancreatitis, colitis, etc. It’s not about the meat. It’s about the fat content. So, it seems that people made assumptions i.e. dog became sick when eating ham/bacon/fatty parts (pick one) = pork should never be fed to dogs; pork is hard to digest, and other such notions. Read more Can You Feed Pork To a Dog?
Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
I want to give a shout-out to Demi and her dog King. Demi wrote to ask me if I’d share King’s story, and you can bet I will because it goes to show just how much a dog’s life can change for the better.
King is a 12 year old GSD with some gastrointestinal challenges that were brought under control during a dietary consultation about two years ago. Once that was done, we had one other glitch to get through and that was a bigger problem – arthritis. Not your typical aches and pains, but rather, a dog that had to be held up when he went to potty outside. It was that bad. In fact, some people thought that King should be put down because there seemed to be no hope. Demi proved them wrong. We started adding Joint Complex twice daily, and although I’d usually add wild salmon oil, King’s diet was based on fish, so this wasn’t necessary. Read more Canine Arthritis
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
This is day 20 of Tori eating Hill’s Z/D and her itching is at least 75% resolved. There’s the possibility that it could be even better, but she happens to have a dad who shows his love by feeding her things that should be avoided right now. Cheese, bites of bread as well as the licking of a plate after he’s eaten most of the egg that was on it…you get the idea. Of course, this works against Tori’s best interest, but saying so gets me nowhere. So, I’m not sure how to resolve it, but I’m pretty darn sure food allergies were Tori’s major issue. Otherwise, Z/D wouldn’t have helped at all. This result is exactly what I’d hoped for – a period of eating a hydrolyzed diet to help make some sense of the multiple possibilities for her chronic itchiness. It’s come about faster than I’d expected – bonus! Read more Hill’s Z/D
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Put down your coffee cup or whatever you may be eating. We’re about to get into the nitty gritty about dog poop. For 20+ years, I lived with dogs that had gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, so poop-patrol was a serious part of life. If you have one of these dogs, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You feel trepidation every time the dog defecates, stare at it, and pick through it with a stick if you can pick through it at all.
Many of my clients have dogs with GI diseases, and they try to be delicate when describing the stool, but after so many years of dealing with this, and especially with the addition of another 14+ years of working with clients, there’s probably nothing I haven’t seen or heard. Some clients become so frustrated by trying to find the right words that they resort to taking pictures and sending them to me so I can see for myself. My favorite was a picture of bright blue stool. Perfectly shaped mind you, but incredibly blue. Turned out the dog had counter surfed when a blueberry pie was sitting there and…well, you can guess the rest. Read more Stool Chart aka Dog Poop Chart
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Sometimes we need a stop-gap measure to decipher the cause of itchy skin. Let me use our Tori as an example.
Tori has multiple health problems and three of them can cause her to mutilate her muzzle, ears, paws, neck, bum, and do some hobbling while she air-scratches. The most concerning is Syringomyelia (SM) which can cause her to roll around and scratch like a fiend. The second is that that she has environmental allergies, and third is food allergies. Because all three cause her to scratch frantically, it’s anyone’s guess as to why she does it at any given time. Trial and error brought a fresh food diet for her. She tolerated fish (cod and tilapia only), eggs, carrots and rice. This has been her diet for more than one year and she was doing beautifully. But this past month has been hellish for her. Read more Multiple Possibilities for a Dog’s Itchy Skin
Saturday, August 4th, 2012
A food allergy involves the immune system. Think peanut allergy in people, for example. BIG reaction! The immune system has a memory like no other, so an exposure to the allergen will cause a reaction every time. In dogs, you’ll see this as excessive scratching, chewing paws, biting of flanks, and there may be ongoing gastrointestinal trouble.
An intolerance to a food (think lactose intolerance) will also cause a reaction, but the immune system is not involved. You drink some milk, have some pain and diarrhea and then it’s over. Unlike an allergic reaction which causes the body to send off chemicals to protect itself from what it believes is a foreign invader for weeks to months, an intolerance ends once the offending food has been removed from the diet.
So what? Why does the difference matter?
Read more Food Allergies and Intolerances
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Ok, so they’re not from Italy. In fact, my dog thinks these are from heaven. She lies on the kitchen floor and waits patiently until they’re in the oven. Then she moves over to sit in front of the oven and stares as if an invisible hand might make them disappear.
I use organic brown rice flour, but you can use another type of flour if you prefer. Keep in mind that rice flour is soft while whole wheat flour, for example, is hard. That means you’d probably need to use less of the latter.
Notice the oregano in the recipe. It adds flavor, but it also happens to be an herb with antibacterial properties. Does it really help to use a pinch within cookies? I don’t know, but it doesn’t hurt and I like to add herbs when possible. They can provide so many wonderful benefits. Oregano has a very strong flavor. You don’t want to overdo it and end up with cookies that make your dog’s mouth tingle. Read more Italian Cookies for Dogs
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Many of my clients with dogs in kidney failure are confused about supplementing with vitamin D. They read websites and belong to a variety of on-line chat groups that offer opinions, but confusion results due to opinions often being so different from one another. It’s stressful enough to have a sick dog without adding confusion to the mix because someone says to restrict vitamin D. Ah, but there’s vitamin D and and then there’s vitamin D! It’s a bit of a drunkard’s walk, so bear with me.
In kidney insufficiency and in failure, the kidney retains phosphorus instead of excreting enough of it. This signals the parathyroid gland that there is a phosphorus-calcium imbalance. Read more Canine Kidney Failure & Vitamin D Supplementation
Thursday, July 5th, 2012
I work with a lot of dogs that have gastrointestinal (GI) trouble. IBD, colitis, you name and it and I’ve probably consulted on it, but more than this, I have a 20+ year history of my own dogs with GI troubles. Someone once joked that it was if I had a sign on my forehead that read “All GI dogs welcomed here”, and it seemed true. Maybe those dogs were sent to me so they could teach me about the disease processes and what we can do about them, or maybe I just need to fabricate some reason for my own musings, but two things are true: The dogs suffer and the owner suffers right along with them.
A common problem with these dogs is that so many of them seem to have a type A personality. Not only can they be stressed out a lot of the time, but they seem to have a drive that pushes them to do more, do it faster, do it on their own terms. Read more Body and Mind Connection
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
It’s been almost four years since a wonderful client named Linda asked for some help. She gave me permission to write her story in hope that it can help others, so here it is:
Linda has a 40 pound dog named Buzz. A calorie burning machine with intelligence and curiosity, Buzz never seemed interested in eating anything but a raw diet. Linda used to buy one that was pre-made and everything seemed fine until Buzz had a pancreatitis attack. Whether the fat content of the diet was a problem, or a bacterial load caused it…Linda wondered and was given all sorts of opinions, but I felt that the cause would never be known and it was best to deal with today rather than look back. Read more A Pancreatitis Journey
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Both are said to be good stuff, and heaven knows we can find them added to all kinds of foods (especially in dairy products) and supplements these days – but what the heck are they? And are they really good, or just another sales pitch being thrown our way? A bit of both, actually. I wrote a brief post about this a while back, but if my in-box is to be believed, expanding on the information is of interest to an awful lot of folks; not just for their dogs, but for themselves.
Inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (not quite the same, but used interchangeably) aka FOS are basically nothing more than carbohydrates belonging to a class of compounds known as fructans. Read more Inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides…say what?
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
You’re feeding an over-the-counter (OTC) venison diet…or are you? It turns out that some commercial diets labelled as containing venison as the only meat source, can include other things that may trigger an allergic response. “Three of the four over the counter (OTC) venison canine dry foods with no soy products named in the ingredient list were ELISA positive for soy; additionally, one OTC diet tested positive for beef protein with no beef products listed as an ingredient list. One OTC venison diet was not found to be positive for soy, poultry or beef proteins. However, none of the four OTC venison diets could be considered suitable for a diagnostic elimination trial as they all contained common pet food proteins, some of which were readily identifiable on the label and some that were only detected by ELISA.” Read more So You’re Feeding a Venison Diet – Really?
Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
The most common foods that dogs are allergic to are said to be beef, wheat, and dairy. In fact, a food allergy develops as the result of an immune system response. The immune system decides that a certain protein is an enemy, and it goes about dealing with it by releasing histamine and other chemicals into circulation on a search and destroy mission. In order for this to happen, the body needs to identify the allergen first, so the foods that are most likely to be allergens are simply the ones the dog has been exposed to in the past. Beef, wheat and dairy may be perfectly fine for a dog that’s eaten nothing but fish and sweet potato in the past because all three foods are new, and the body hasn’t decided to wage chemical warfare. Read more Food Allergy Myths
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
People with belief systems about what the healthiest diet might be can point to many facts when they debate what to feed their dogs. The only problem is that our memories are shorter than we think. For instance, some people who’ve chosen to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle themselves will point to Bramble who lived to be 27 years old as an example. What did Bramble eat? According to some reports. it was rice, lentils and vegetables (maybe some supplements, but I haven’t seen mention of that), and according to others, eggs were part of the diet. Either way, we can say that if the owner was factual in her reporting, Bramble lived most of her life as a vegetarian, or vegan. She was a rescue, and nobody seems to have come forward to say what she ate prior to finding her forever home. While 27 is an incredible age for dog, Bramble is not the longest lived dog in the world. That honor goes to Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog who lived to be 29 years 5 months old. So, what did Bluey eat? Read more Diets of The Oldest Dogs in The World
Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Here are some of the most common questions I received last week:
Q: What is elemental calcium?
A: Every calcium source (egg shells, calcium citrate, etc) includes a percentage of pure calcium (the stuff that’s going to be absorbed). “Elemental” refers to the amount of real calcium – the amount that counts.
Q: Different sites give different amounts of calcium per egg shell. What’s the truth?
A: I’ve sent egg shells to a lab for analysis and checked with universities teaching poultry studies, and the bottom line is that it depends on the egg shell we’re talking about. The theory is that 1 large egg shell provides 2,000 mg of elemental (there’s that word again) calcium, but the truth is that it can vary. Read more Home-Made Diets For Dogs Q and A
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Here’s the thing: It’s all about what the supplement is attempting to address, how safe it is for a dog, and the purity of it as well. So, what exactly are you using the supplement for? To address joint problems, digestive problems, balance a home-made diet, or are you adding supplements as a proactive measure?
First thing first. Your dog needs a balanced diet and how you go about doing that is a matter of belief system. For some, it means commercial foods and only commercial foods (no “people food”). In these cases, add supplemental taurine if the food doesn’t include it, and you might need to add a joint supportive supplement (glucosamine with chondroitin for example) if the dog has osteoarthritis, and it’s probably a good idea to add wild salmon oil and a bit of vitamin E as well. Read more Which Supplement Does My Dog Need?
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
If I had to pick one thing that drives me batty about home-prepared diets, it’s the willy-nilly feeding promoted by certain book authors and chat groups. Don’t get me wrong. Feeding a varied diet can work well, but when it doesn’t, it’s usually just when you’re feeling pretty cocky about it. The dog can start to break down. And I do mean break down!
Feed a home-prepared diet that meets the recommended allowances for dogs (per the NRC), and this simply doesn’t happen. Here are some scenarios of how and why the willy-nilly method might look great as well as the how and why of the break down – followed by a story to explain my little rant: Read more Can Diet Be Related to Skin Problems in Dogs?
Thursday, January 5th, 2012
Many of the dogs I work with have urine pH that’s too high or too low. In most cases, the urine has crystals in it and in some, the dog develops urinary tract stones. I wrote a post about the different types of stones and their formation here, and received a number of questions from readers that I want to address now. The most common was about the great swing in urine pH over the course of the day. Say you check first thing in the morning and find that pH is 5.0, check 2 hours after a meal and find it’s 9.0. Which one should you go by when you’re trying to get the pH at a nice and steady 6.5 which is an ideal number? There’s a measurable alkaline tide that you should consider. It goes like this:
Read more Your Dog’s Urine pH
Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
My roster includes a lot of canine athletes. The reason most of them end up with me is because owners want a great diet for their dogs, but the emphasis is on stamina and duration and the right diet is pretty darn good at getting a dog to improve on both.
Some people scoff about it and claim that all you need is a well-balanced diet because all dogs require the same thing. The dogs I’ve worked with have shown dramatic improvement, so I disagree with those statements. Once you understand at which point the dog seems too tired or loses speed, you can tweak the diet and the timing (emphasis on timing) of that diet accordingly. Read more Canine Athletes: The Ouch We May Not See
Thursday, December 15th, 2011
They all do it, but some more than others and some are obsessive about it. If you’ve ever tried to go to sleep with background sounds of lick, lick, slurp, chew, lick, you know what I mean when I say it can really get on your nerves. You tell the dog to stop, s/he does for a while and then goes back to it, usually with more fury. Some bite their nails as well. You would too, if you were itchy and prevented from scratching. That’s one side of the coin. The other is neurotic behavior and it’s a tough one to break. Since I’m not a trainer or behaviorist, let me tell you what’s helped dogs that have this issue due to diet and a few other factors.
Diet first: it’s unlikely that the dog is focusing only on paws if the itch is due to food allergy, but it’s not unheard of. Usually, the itch is everywhere, but more severe at the paws, ears, anal area and thighs. Read more Dogs That Lick Their Paws
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
CoQ10 is a compound that the body makes naturally and uses for cell growth. It’s a potent antioxidant that protects cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Genes, which are pieces of DNA, tell the cells how to work in the body and when to grow and divide. Damage to DNA has been linked to some kinds of cancer. By protecting cells against free radicals, antioxidants help protect the body against cancer. The amount of coenzyme Q10 in body tissues decreases with the aging process.
Animal studies show that CoQ10 helps the immune system to work better and helps the body to resist certain infections and types of cancer. Also, CoQ10 helped to protect the hearts of study animals given the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin.
Read more CoQ10 For Dogs
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
This past Saturday, I gave a private talk about home-made diets to prevent and deal with bladder stones to a small group of 33 people including breeders, veterinarians and vet techs. I’ve had good luck in dealing with dogs that develop bladder stones and a lot of it has to do with a focus on dealing with the current problems, but being as vigilant as possible about occurrence in the first place. My talk was followed by about a three hour question and answer period. It’s great to see such enthusiasm from breeders and vets because both play critical roles in teaching the public.
The majority of my clients appreciate that generic diets (commercial, raw or cooked) may have contributed to the problem, so they tend to embrace my approach of looking at their dog as the unique individual he or she is. Read more Diets For Dogs With Bladder Stones
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Most dog owners think of healthy skin as being that which doesn’t leave white flakes on the coat and isn’t scaly to look at. True enough, those two things are signs to look for, but how do you get there?
We know that the skin is an organ and it needs proper nutrition, but we don’t often connect this to water intake. Healthy skin minimizes the migration of moisture upward from deeper dermal tissues. Fatty acids in the skin do a good job of preventing water loss. In contrast, fatty acid deficiency can lead to a poor barrier, encouraging water loss, so the dog might drink a lot more water to compensate.
Protein is required for development of new skin, and while some diets provide ample amounts of protein, the quality matters. For example, protein from sources other than eggs, milk, fish or meats are of inferior quality. Read more Your Dog’s Skin Health
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Despite the popularity of this myth, the fact is that adding brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast to the diet does nothing to detract fleas. I’ve often been pointed to websites and books that make this claim and some people insist that they can prove it’s true. Their proof is that their dog never had fleas while ingesting this yeast. By that logic I can point to my Zoey who never ingested brewer’s yeast and never had fleas, therefore I could claim that not eating it kept fleas away. Obviously, it’s ridiculous at best!
Consider my Ming, who lived to be just shy of seventeen years, ate a combination of kibble and (healthy) human foods, and finally a prescription diet. He never consumed yeast, yet never had fleas despite being walked along the boardwalk (a beach area in Toronto that is known for heavy flea populations) almost daily. But these are only personal stories. The facts should hold more weight, so let’s look at them. Read more Brewer’s Yeast As a Flea Preventative
Friday, November 18th, 2011
Numerous trials show that a combination of primrose oil and fish body oil (wild salmon oil is my preference – see What’s In Your Fish Oil? blog post) helps dogs with atopic dermatitis. I really like that science tries and often wins in pointing us in the right direction, but I think that observation has a place as well. For example, science asks how much of each fatty acid is the right amount and under what circumstances. Important questions, but are we going to sit around while a dog is mutilating him/herself until scientific knowledge provides an answer?
Veterinary dermatologists seem to have decided not to wait. Most will supplement with essential fatty acids once the more obvious problems have been ruled out. No fleas, no mites, no bacterial infections, no yeast overgrowths, etc. Or, treat any of the above via medication(s) and shampoo therapies and if a problem remains, use essential fatty acids, sometimes in combination with particular vitamins and/or minerals. Read more Does Your Dog Have Itchy Skin?
Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Also referred to as IBD, dogs with this disease have common symptoms although not all dogs will experience the gamut of them. Diarrhea, mucus in the stool, a sheath that looks like a sausage casing around the stool, vomiting, weight loss, noisy tummy sounds, refusal of food, hiding after eating…basically, a lot of obvious signals that the gastrointestinal tract is in bad shape and the dog feels poorly.
Most cases of IBD include food allergy which is why changing the diet to one or two foods (fresh foods, not commerciall diets) the dog has never consumed before usually works very well. An allergic reaction includes inflammation and when the gut is inflamed, permeability often results. Read more Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Some people fast their dogs for a day or more on a regular (often, it’s one day per week) basis. Here’s the skinny as regards nutrient metabolism while fasting:
Metabolic demands are ongoing and must be met despite that the flow of absorbed nutrients slows down between meals. This is a basic issue of supply and demand and the ebb and flow is based on the feeding interval imposed on a dog. During the intervals between meals, the dog must remobilize stored reserves in an efficient manner. Read more Nutrient Metabolism When Fasting Your Dog
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Some happy news: I received very nice emails over the last month from people who bought the digital download version of the booklet about arthritis in order to make changes to diet and supplements as soon as possible. They’re seeing positive changes in their dogs and it’s not surprising to me, but it sure feels good. Arthritis doesn’t necessarily care if the dog is young or old, but the older ones are the most likely to have the problem and I have a thing for old dogs. They’ve given us their whole lives and now they need us more than ever.
Obviously, I can’t (better said, I don’t have time) to write the entire booklet in a blog post, but here are some thoughts for you to consider:
Age is not a disease. Your older dog doesn’t need less protein in the diet – he or she needs more! Read more Arthritis in Dogs
Monday, October 24th, 2011
People send me a lot of emails about their dog’s stool. Sometimes, they send pictures of it. No, I’m not kidding. They want to know if the poop looks to be the right color, texture, etc. They’re worred (I get it) and even more so if they’ve read something on the internet about what the perfect stool looks like and Fido produces anything different from that.
The latest cause for their concern comes from a site that states healthy stool must be hard/firm and brown, but it must turn white within a day and disintegrate within two days. Anything other than that is considered to be bad. So, now we have not only a description, but a timetable to follow! Seriously?
Normally, stool is brown due to a series of reactions in the body, and to bacteria present. Read more The Scoop on Dog Poop
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
The excitement about prebiotics is deserved but overdone. It’s deserved because sometime in the mid ’90s a doctor in Brussels coined the term to describe something that’s very old but wasn’t understood all that well. It’s overdone because prebiotics have been around from the start. It’s just that we didn’t have a fancy name for sugar molecules that escape digestion and so, help to feed the good-guy bacteria in the bowel.
Probiotic bacteria aka good-guy bacteria (remember that acidophilus is proven in dogs whereas others are questionable at best) helps to crowd-out nasty bacteria.
Since prebiotics help to ‘feed’ probiotics, the former is often added to supplemental probiotics to keep the bacteria thriving. Not only is this not necessary if the probiotic is freeze dried, but many dogs can’t handle some of the common prebiotics being used. Read more Prebiotics and Probiotics for Gut Health
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
Some of the things that others consider to be more complicated may nevertheless be very worthwhile. This is the take-home message I got after reading the article I’m going to point you to, but the message isn’t new, really. I’ve never doubted the power of balanced home-prepared diets. What I find exciting is that it’s finally being recognized by scientists focusing on dogs.
Sometimes, when working with veterinarians, I’d wonder if they really believed in my approach or if they accepted it with a shrug. Now, having worked at this for so many years, I feel we (all of us) are coming to a better understanding of just how important a fresh food diet can be. Read more Nutritional Help for Dogs with Heart Failure
Thursday, October 6th, 2011
The general classification of amino acids is broken down into three categories. Essential amino acids are called essential because the body isn’t able to produce them, so they have to come from foods.
Unessential amino acids are, in fact, needed by the body as well, but the body can manufacture them if all essential amino acids are present in sufficient amounts. A conditionally essential amino acid is one that the body may need more of when certain circumstances arise. Read more L- Glutamine – A Conditionally Essential Amino Acid
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Taurine is an amino acid known for heart health, but it also has a role in eye health. The body can manufacture taurine from other essential amino acids in the diet, so it’s been considered an unessential amino acid for this reason. In other words, as long as the diet provides sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids, we shouldn’t have to worry about taurine. But that turns out not be the case for all dogs, or even for people.
Some breeds show a taurine deficiency even when the diet is great, and some individual dogs, no matter the breed do, too. Another interesting consideration is that more taurine seems to be needed when there is emotional or physical stress. Read more Taurine for Eye Health