Hello.

As I sit here trying to figure out where to start I keep imagining what kind of place I want this to be.  I want this to be a place where people (you included) could openly discuss what’s on their mind.  A place where no one is trying to sell you something you don’t need.  A place where new ideas and fresh thinking is encouraged and most of all a place where I can speak openly.
In my day to day life I often have to be very cautious of the info or suggestions I give to people as it doesn’t correspond with my bosses opinions or a vet’s opinions or a customer’s opinions, or because it may be considered practicing veterinary medicine without a license.  So let me be perfectly clear I am not a vet, I don’t play one on TV and I certainly don’t play one on the Internet.  I am, however, a fully conscious human with a brain and the mental capacity to form an educated opinion on many matters including, but not limited to the care of my fur babies.  Any information learned here does not replace your vet, that is not the purpose of this place.

Is there anything you would like to talk about let me know in the comments.

-FM

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5 things most people think dogs shouldn’t eat but are actually good for them.

There are hundreds of posts and images detailing lots of foods that dogs shouldn’t eat. Virtually all of them have at least one or more item that is ok for dogs and might even be beneficial. Here are five foods that people don’t realize are good for their dogs.

Garlic

Most dog parents have been told at some point that garlic is toxic, garlic will cause anemia, garlic will kill your dog. The truth is if over fed yes garlic will harm your dog. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine the study that started this fear was conducted in 2000 on 11 dogs for 15 days. Each dog was given 1 clove per kilogram of body weight. So let’s say you have a 50lb (22.6kg), that would be the equivalent of 2-3 entire heads of garlic! I think anyone would agree that is an extremely excessive amount.

Now that we have lowered our fears let’s talk about the good things garlic does. Garlic helps to stimulate the immune system and is antibacterial and antiviral, so great for cold and flu season, yes dogs get colds and flus just like us. It’s an antioxidant as well and anti-cancer meaning it is going to help get rid of those pesky free radicals and help control any cells that have started to mutate into cancerous cells. In the spring summer and fall it helps to deter mosquitos and fleas.

Of course there is a proper way to prepare and administer garlic to your dog. First things first the garlic must be organic, there is no point in using garlic if it is covered in pesticides and herbicides. It also must be fresh, the chemical in garlic that makes it work so well is allicin which dissipates quickly after being released. You must give the garlic a 5 min breather after crushing/ chopping as allicin is only released as a result of damaging the clove but takes time to spread through the entire clove.

If you’re wondering how much to give here’s a handy chart:

Yes I stole that from Dogs Naturally Magazine!

Want to know more about garlic check out what these vets have to say:

Dr. Karen Becker: Fleas, Ticks, Seasonal Allergies

Dr. Deva Khalsa: Is garlic safe for your dog? (video)

Raw Egg

This one is a little tricky because it really depends on a lot of factors. The obvious issue with anything raw is pathogens with eggs it’s salmonella contamination that we should be concerned with and while some people argue that a dogs stomach can handle a little salmonella contamination it’s too easy for this to go wrong. So before we get into why raw egg is good for your dog I want to discuss some precautions to take. Never feed a raw egg from the grocery store, there is no way to know exactly where all those eggs came from, how long they have been there and how many pathogens they may have come in contact with. Further most eggs in grocery stores are from giant farms that have a higher chance of festering salmonella and other pathogens. Never feed, and this really should go without saying, an egg that has gone bad. Do feed eggs that you bought fresh from a local farm, even better if you hunted for them yourself. Do feed raw eggs in moderation. When in doubt boil.

Egg contains omega 3, protein, selenium and vitamin A just to name a few benefits.

Dr. Karen Becker: Egg product vs Egg

Dana Scott: Eggs: Why your dog needs them.

“Human” Food

This is one that really gets under my skin, food is food. It’s not like chicken farmers grow dog chickens and human chickens or cat chickens, that’s absolutely ridiculous! So why on earth do people think there is a difference between human food and pet food? If you are feeding your pet real food (not processed garbage) there is nothing wrong with sharing some of your real food.

Of course there are some stipulations obviously don’t feed anything that has onions, grapes, or anything you are not sure what all the ingredients are. I would suggest you avoid sharing any processed foods like chips or burgers and the like as well.

Bones

Let me start off by saying a cooked bone is never a good idea and should be avoided at all costs. Cooked bones tend to splinter and can cause internal bleeding. That, however, doesn’t mean that all raw bones are suitable for all dogs. Take Echo for example, she needs hard marrow bones cut from the femur or she will actually shred and eat the entire bone! I know someone is very confused, didn’t I just say bones were edible? To clarify there are edible bones and recreational chewing bones. Edibles bones would include poultry feet, wings, necks etc these are soft bones that are digestible. Recreational chewing bones on the other hand include beef ribs, necks, knees, legs etc. These are hard bones that are not digestible but have enzymes surrounding them that assist in cleaning teeth with the additional benefit of marrow is some cases.

To determine which bones if any are suitable for your dog you first need to do an oral check. Are there any cracked or fractured teeth? Problems with bleeding gums? If the answer is yes leave the bones alone and discuss with your vet the best course of action.

Next how aggressive is you dog when chewing and how do they chew. Is your dog a chomper or a gnawer? Meaning do they try to eat it like we would eat a chocolate bar or do the grind their teeth along it. If they’re a chomper make sure the bone is bigger than what they can get their jaw around. Always keep an eye on them while chewing bones, and take the bone away after 45min to avoid potential injury to gums or over use of the jaw muscles.

Cherries

You might not know it but there are two main categories of cherry, sweet and tart. Sweet cherries are usually what you find in supermarkets and tart is usually what you would find in a pie. Cherries, especially tart cherries are excellent at relieving pain and you may see them in supplements for arthritis because they work so well. There is no reason your dog can’t enjoy them along with you and get a treat along with some health benefits. However, just as you would with a toddler please remove the pit and stem.

The pit, like other stone fruit contains cyanogenic compounds, that means they turn to cyanide in the body.

Of course you should never feed cherry pie or maraschino cherries to any animal.

Dog Food Recipes

If you have been following along you probably already know that I’m not a fan of processed kibble or even most canned dog food. I believe dogs should be eating real food and I’m not alone! Fellow blogger from Wisk and Dine recently posted one of her favourite recipes for real food dog food, Doggie Love Dog Food, go
check it out I’ll wait here.

Looks delicious right!? If you read all the way to the comments you might have seen mine. I told her how much I love that people are getting away from processed food and starting to make their dogs real food. And I mean it! Really nothing makes me happier, ok well there are a few things that make me happier. However, I did have some concerns and these are concerns I only have for those posting dog food recipes. My biggest concern is be concise, for example the nutrition would be quite different if someone recreating it used 10% fat ground beef as oppose to the 80% percent that she used. Not that it would be disastrous, but over time they may find that their dog isn’t getting enough fat and assume that all recipes are garbage because of that.

The other thing I noted was there was a lot of vegetable matter, now this is where it really gets into each dog is different. While dogs are carnivores it doesn’t mean that they can’t have veggies or even that they shouldn’t, further it does have a lot to do with their origins as well. For example huskies tend to love and do well with a diet of mostly fish. Echo who is a Giant Schnauzer, origins as a German farm dog, won’t touch fish; it’s not part of her natural diet. Of course that’s not to say that just because a dog doesn’t like something it’s not part of their natural diet.

In response to the comment I left she asked if I had any recipes I would care to share. And I’m finding that a little difficult, for the simple reason we don’t follow a recipe. Instead we have guide lines. She always gets 1.5-2.5lbs of raw meat and there is always some vegetable matter and oils and fats. How much and what precisely she is given depends on what she needs.

If you are new to dogs, feeding real food or raw I do not recommend this method. I know Echo very well, I mean really REALLY well. For example, there was a slight cloud to Echo’s eye, she is too young for cataracts and it really was barely perceivable. I realized this meant she needed more antioxidants and added more berries to her meals, it cleared up in a day. Or if her poops get dusty I know that she needs more organs. If she has been laying on the floor more than her bed or the couch I know she needs some rabbit and duck. Or vice versa if she doesn’t want to lay on the floor at all she needs some lamb. There are so many little tells we could talk about it all day, and there are even more that I haven’t discovered yet.

Here’s what she’s getting today:

1lb lamb (80% meat, 10% bone, 10% organ)

1lb beef/ chicken mix (75% meat, 15% bone, 10% organ)

3 small cloves of organic garlic (pressed)

5 dehydrated organic blueberries

10 dehydrated organic cranberries

2 sprigs of fresh parsley

4 sprigs of fresh mint

A sprinkle of bone broth powder

8 tsp organic cold pressed coconut oil

Enough water to make it look like slop, looks gross but that’s they way she likes it.

You may notice there is very little vegetable matter as she will be getting some throughout the day and she is a carnivore not an omnivore.

In case you are wondering the meat comes from a semi local company called Big Country Raw. I am not receiving any incentives from them to write this post. However, if someone from BCR happens to be reading this and wants to send some presents my way Echo loves duck lol.

BCR really does make my life much easier by having the meat bone and organs already combined. This is crazy important for anyone making their own food. Don’t forget the soft bones and organs! They even make it easy on those who are new to raw feeding with what they call dinners. These have vegetables already included so it’s a little more familiar and even less work. Simply thaw and serve.

So that’s for today, as for tomorrow, we’ll just have to wait and see. And in case anyone is wondering this is how I feed the humans too, just not raw.

I was horrified at what she found.

We had just got home from the dog park, Echo was still amped up and covered in mud and suddenly became very interested with something on our steps. This isn’t out of the ordinary for her, if she gets a scent that doesn’t make sense she has to go investigate like the curious puppy she is. What she found horrified me!

It was her nail!! Completely freaking out on the inside I grabbed it yelled out for my husband who got the muddy girl straight into bathtub. I tore off all my outdoor clothes and rushed to join them in the bathroom all the way checking for blood. There was none. I was very confused, it looked like her entire nail had fallen off.

I figured it would be much easier to examine her once she was clean so I started rinsing the mud and leaves and sticks from her fur. I was even more shocked to find all of her toes had nails.

Nothing was making sense so I took a closer look at each individual nail and found what I thought must be the culprit. She had one nail the the top of the nail was still there but the bottom and tip had given way. Her quick was exposed but not bleeding. She had just run around a dog park for over an hour wasn’t limping, no snapping when I touched the nail or when I examined her foot. I’m still asking how are you not in agonizing pain? But she’s not.

So my only choice is to clean and bandage the nail with the exposed quick and start trying to figure out how this happened.

Now I feel even worse, this was all my fault. I had fallen behind on her nail trims and while I thought they were ok I was wrong. So let this be a lesson for you and for me keep those nails trimmed. I was lucky this could have been so much worse and it really is all my fault.

Confession time. Kibble while visiting.

Holiday season just ended, and traveling and visiting was already stressful enough trying to explain how I raise my dog to my family was just not in my bag.  

So we packed up, I separated Echo’s food into days, made sure she had enough organs in each container and brought some toppers too.  When we are at home she eats once to twice a day at meal times.  I do not have scheduled meal times so that we can always be flexible, but we don’t have an open buffet all day long for a number of reasons; raw meat left out would go bad, just like us animals tend to eat when they’re bored, it’s harder to keep track of how much they’re eating which is usually the first sign that something is wrong. And you have probably guessed everyone we visited leaves the food down and just tops up the bowl.  Of course Echo, who has never been trained not to eat another dogs food since we only have one dog and all of our animals have their own rooms, headed straight for the bowl and ate what she thought were treats. By the time it came for her food she didn’t want to eat anymore.  I mean when you were a kid would you want to eat dinner if there were always cookies? 

So yes Echo ate kibble for a few days, and while I wasn’t happy about it so far the worst was the size and amount and consistency of poo. My goodness, I had forgotten what kibble poos were like and I can’t wait till she gets it all out of her system.

Of course no matter how aloof I tried to act everyone tried to assure me that they had the best food or care etc.  That’s actually what really got to me. I had already rationalized Echo eating kibble by reminding myself that I had been eating McDonald’s for the past 3 days and in my mind they are the same thing. I did not need them to belittle me or talk to me as if I’m overprotective.  Seriously if I hear one more time “It’s from the vet.” I’m going to scream.

Mistakes I made with the raw diet.

While I talk and write with confidence, please never mistake that for me thinking or claiming to know everything because I don’t and just like you I have made mistakes.  I will try to recall these in order.

My first mistake assuming that feeding kibble and raw was a good idea. No nothing bad happened, the problem was that all the good I was doing with the raw was being undone by the kibble. 

I mistakenly believed (was told by my co-workers at the pet store) that in order for the raw food to be complete it had to contain vegetables.  While it is nice to have veggies and I fully support adding certain veggies into their diet a complete meal does not need to contain vegetable matter.

Choosing the wrong brand.  Echo can be picky if she smells something is off. I don’t mean that it has gone bad, I mean if they used hormones, or antibiotics or if the meat has been sitting in the freezer too long. Things that you and I wouldn’t know unless we snuck on the farm.  It took a while to figure out this was why she was refusing to eat.

Not balancing the amount of organs with the amount of bone content and assuming that Echo needed pumpkin when she actually needed more organs.

And the last mistake for this post is trying to explain raw food to my family who believes the kibble from the vet is magically better than kibble in the store, or that the commercial says this is the best food and that raw food is bad. Yes now I just smile and nod because I know they will never get it.

What mistakes have you made? Or if you are worried about raw what are your concerns?

Long time no post: Raw Food.

It has been quite a while since I posted to this blog so today I’d like to talk about something I have been doing that some of you are going to cheer for and others are going to look at me like I’ve lost my mind.  I’m talking about raw food.  That’s right Echo has been eating food that has not been cooked, just like a wild animal (GASP!).   When it comes to how you feed your fur babies it is your choice, just as it’s your choice what you feed your children.  So if you want to feed your kids processed food with lots of sugars and starches that’s ok by me just don’t complain later if they develop health problems, or maybe they’ll be the lucky ones and have no problems.  I take the same approach to Echo’s food, I don’t believe processed food with loads of sugar and starch is healthy no matter how pretty the pamphlet is or how much the rep sweet talked it to my vet.  (Side note I have a background in marketing and sales so it makes it easier for me to spot a line)

Don’t think I made the switch to raw food lightly, I spent months researching and learning and even though I have been doing this for years now I’m still learning and have made mistakes. The main reason I switched was just as I mentioned above the amount of sugars and starches in ALL kibble is astronomical.  You actually can’t make kibble without adding a starch to hold it’s shape.  You may notice the kibbles that list really low starch content are usually quite crumbly and you end up with half a bag of dust.  The only way to get around that is additives. At this point I’m not sure what additives would hold the kibble shape so I’ll refrain from commenting on that. These starches often encourage yeast growth and just aren’t part of a dogs natural diet in such high quantities.

The next factor for me was price. Echo is a large dog and has a very fast metabolism so needless to explain she eats a lot.  By the time I was done buying kibble, cans, treats and bones I was well over $200 A month and that’s not including toys, supplements or vets.  With the raw company I currently buy from I spend $180 and it’s delivered to my door.  That includes food, bones, treats etc. Shocking right?! Yes you read that right I’m actually saving money by buying raw!

Take some time an let that sink in next post will be about some of the mistakes I made with the raw diet.

Ugh FLEAS!

Ugh fleas again.  I live in a bug zone, plenty of swamps and bogs the perfect breeding ground for all manner of creepy crawly things and while mosquitoes are irritating, gnats are annoying and spiders just plain creepy the worst is fleas. Flea season begins the moment the ground freezes and ends only after the ground has been frozen for 3 days straight. Of course unless they’re in your house then it’s never ending.  Keeping them under control is a must and not as easy as some would have you believe.  

If you talked to a conventional vet they would tell you to put some poison on your pets and around the house.  Of course they will charge you a fortune and don’t tell you all the side effects or that it might not work as fleas are becoming immune to these chemicals.  They do tell you, however, that if you don’t use these you’re a horrible pet parent. 

So what’s a pet parent like you (and me) to do? We, for obvious reasons, don’t want to douse our beloved fur kids in poisons and we don’t want them to have to deal with fleas either.  In my search for than answer I have tried many home remedies and before I get to what works let me tell you some of the crazy things I have done to get rid of fleas.

Blue Dawn Dish Soap 

Used on pet as shampoo, on floors and everything else that doesn’t fit in the washing machine.  This was recommended by a local vet. I was told the soap would suffocate the flea and was safe for use on even the most sensitive skin.

Does it sound too good to be true? That’s probably because it is.  First yes soap put directly on any bug will kill it, however, dish soap was meant to remove grease, oil and stubborn stains from dishes; and it does a very good job of that. Humans and pets have a layer of protective oils that are important not only to keep skin hydrated and from flaking but for providing a barrier from unsavory organisms. The dish soap that is so good at removing tough oils has no problem when it comes to the delicate protective oils. And once the dish soap has washed away it’s flea killing powers are gone too.

Essential oil blends

While essential oils can be very powerful I find in most cases they are over mixed a and thus do not target fleas very well.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Tried both topically and orally, neither seemed to have much effect.

Garlic

Orally, this showed some promise until I ran out of organic garlic and couldn’t find anymore.

Cloves

Topically diluted, smelled great but showed no improvement

Diatomaceous Earth

Topically, once again showed some promise but was a bit messy.  However works great around the house and was amazing for the deer mice who roomed with me last summer.  Not so great for my big shaggy girl.

DIY flea shampoo

This was just a horrible mess and smelled even worse.

So what actually worked (and has worked more than once)? A bath and Coconut oil and lavender oil diluted in water.  Pretty simple eh? 

1. First soak for 8 min make sure all areas out of water are soaped up with a pet safe shampoo.

2. Rinse off and allow shake off (just make sure you pull the curtains across as fleas will be flying)

3. Squish any fleas you see even if they appear dead (they need to pop)

4. Grab an oil squeeze bottle run the tap so the water is very warm

5. throw in a few tbsp of coconut oil (not liquid)

6. about 30 drops of lavender

7. fill the rest of the bottle up with warm tap water and shake well.

8. Use oil dilution as leave in.

Why does it work?

The bath helps to reduce the amount of fleas hiding. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is very effective  at killing fleas, lavender has been proven to repel fleas.

What do you do/use for fleas?

-FM