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Valentine Love Poem to Our Fur Kids

I lost my little soul dog a few years ago now and sitting in a cafe one day this little poem flew in through the door and landed on my page. It was published in the Melbourne Writers Anthology called “The Ties That Bind” a collection of family writings and there is no doubt that dogs too are family.

 

Recipe: Breakfast Muesli for Dogs (and their humans too :o)

An easy fast and very simple way to have breakfast for the fur kids – our dogs – ready to go in the morning. Although the core part is important for getting the result, this recipe is a guide, you can adapt it to your dog’s taste preferences.

Sweet or Savoury?

Some dogs like sweeter things, more fruit for instance and some will prefer meat and yes you can add meat to this, sweet and savoury together are a human thing we avoid, dogs really don’t mind.

Dogs, unlike cats, do have a sweet tooth, not as much as humans, but they have a taste for it. I had a Weimaraner who would pick her own blackberries off the bush (and sometimes get caught by the thorns!)

Fussy eaters might be helped too with some Wellbeing Essentials sprinkled on top, it is like a “doggie dukkha” that makes everything delicious.

Recipe: Breakfast Muesli for Dogs (and their humans too :o)

Core component – Evening before:

  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk or milk substitute
  • 2 dessertspoons plain yogurt
  • (1 dessertspoon honey – optional)

Mix well and leave overnight. In the morning the mix will have thickened and have the oats have fermented and softened.

Before serving – add any variety of the following

  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 1 small apple – grated or chopped
  • 1 hard-boiled egg (if in a hurry raw egg can be used)
  • Any leftover vegetables :o)
  • Fry some mince to sprinkle on top for the meat eaters
  • Wellbeing Essentials is a tasty addition too (for the fur kids)

Ready to eat – add your toppings

You can make up a double batch at a time, will keep a few days in the fridge and it freezes well.

Freeze in portions but don’t keep it for long as the banana keeps breaking down into a syrup.

Remember this meal is not designed to be a balanced nor complete meal but fed as part of the variety of foods that make up a whole diet.

Yes, I do have this for breakfast sometimes too, I add more berries, nuts and more yogurt. It is delicious and gets you through the day!

Can My Dog Eat Potato Pasta and Rice?

Yes! Not only are potato pasta and rice excellent sources of energy for your dog, read on to find out how to turn them into super food for your dog’s long term health. It is easy!


Importance of Gut Health and the Microbiota:

The gut and its microbiota are all the rage currently, although we have known the benefit of fibre for some time, we are starting to see just how important fibre is, not only for a healthy colon, digestion, good poop, microbiota affects everything from cancer and our immune system to our moods. And this applies equally to your dog as it does to you. Wellbeing Essentials Complete 22 has gut health at its core with prebiotics, inulin, lignans to name a few of the ingredients.

different types of raw pasta on a tablecloth

Resistant Starch:

While it is still early in our understanding of the complexity of the gut and the bacteria that we and our dogs are made from, recently you may have heard about ‘resistant starches’.

This gets very complicated very quickly so in the interests of brevity and sanity (mine)…one of the easiest ways to have resistant starch in the diet is with potato, pasta or rice:

When cooked and cooledpotato, rice and pasta become 50% resistant starch. This means half the starch is not digested in the small intestine and is sent off to the colon (bowel) for a work over. The bacteria there love it and thrive. These bacteria then create butyrate which in turn creates short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and that is very good news because SCFA are anti-inflammatory and not just in the bowel.

Short Chain Fatty Acids:

We are just starting to understand SCFA;

  • they contribute to good colon health
  • good motility (which means moving through the bowel)
  • repair the mucous lining
  • are anti-inflammatory

Let’s be honest – good poop is priceless. We all want to pick up a good poop, (not sure on that expression – picking up poop is an occupational hazard and necessity if you have the love of a dog- kinda goes with it). If your dog has intermittent Irritable Bowel or diarrhoea, building SCFAs through resistant starches would seem like a good idea. Ditto for constipation.

Immune System:

Of greater consequence (or perhaps not if you are cleaning up after a dog with IBS) is that new understanding on SCFA is their benefit to the rest of the body. It appears that some SCFAs travel in the blood stream and are positively affecting the immune system, blood lipids & cholesterol, certainly colon cancer but affecting T-cells and even moods.  It appears that SCFA may be the key between diet, gut microbiome and health and for the more academic.

Chicken and Rice Dinner

We are at the tip of the iceberg in what these hungry bacteria do for us and for our dogs. For instance we haven’t really known why chicken rice dinners help settle dogs digestion but it is the go to recommendation for many vets and for many of us too. Now we know it is the SCFA doing all the heavy lifting, the cooked and cooled rice is making the difference because resistant starch settles the colon. Simple. (Chicken & Rice is NOT a healthy long term diet for your dog)

It is very early days in understanding the complexity of our gut and that of our favourite companions, but the little we do know points back to old wisdom, eat real food, and don’t waste it (don’t throw it out). Of course be mindful of food safety, don’t leave these out of the fridge, they need to be kept cool because nasty bacteria also love warmish rice…

Never miss a health tip for your dog!

 

Christmas Dinner for Your Dog

The Internet is full of “don’t kill your dog this Christmas” – ‘click bait’ filling us with fear. Apart from the obvious, don’t eat Santa or the presents under the tree, or the tree for that matter, the normal cautions apply.

Avoid the pudding

Puddings and cakes contain sultanas and raisins, it’s rare but toxicity happens and if in doubt download our e-book– pages 8-9 are a handy summary. And of course often these cakes and puddings have alcohol which is never good for a dog.

Share the abundance – just not too much

Sharing the abundance of Christmas is a given for me, just try to imagine what that ‘abundance’ smells like to a dog, so much wonderful food. What to do? Share it of course! And adding Wellbeing Essentials Complete 22 makes your food into everything their food needs to be.

Read more about “Christmas Dinner for Your Dog” here.

What makes a good dog poo?

This is a serious question given the frequency we have of collecting and disposing of said extrusion 870856000345DS3from our beloved fur kids bottom.

Let’s start with a healthy poo:

Firm but not hard, slightly moist – it should leave a damp spot where it has been on the concrete, but no residue, no poo is left behind. While the dog should need to push to get it out, but not strain or have discomfort. The poo should not have an offensive odour, beyond smelling like ‘poo’.

The crusty poo:

A dog fed a diet of lots of bones will have a drier poo, indeed the Petfood industry at one time had as its objective a ‘kickable poo’ achieved by adding amongst other things more calcium to the processed dog food/kibble.

With the tendency of ‘BARF’ being interpreted as ‘Bones’ many dogs end up with little else. The poo will be chalky, white even, and dry and crumbly. This is a sign that your dog has too much calcium and really needs a few vegetables and grains to loosen things up. Just like us they need good gut health, good bacteria to grow in their bowel so adding more fibre is a good move for these dogs. Also an oversupply of calcium interferes with Zinc absorption so you set up an unhealthy chain of issues.

Sloppy Joes poo:

We have all experienced the runs, the slops, the jelly belly, the compulsive trots. Beanie is one of these. Sensitive to the extreme in her digestion and gives me heaps of grief.

The causes are numerous, from Irritable Bowel, Irritable Gut, food intolerance, dicky liver, anxiety, stress etc. So treating this can be more complicated but it starts with getting the diet right and building up a healthy tolerance and gut bacteria.

If it is intermittent it is in some ways easier, as it is possible to isolate the trigger or triggers. This is Beanie. Occasional bouts of runny bums and I can usually trace it back to an event (food or stress).

What to do?  I take her diet back to simple foods, chicken and rice (white Basmati) cooked in chicken stock and try to keep her fluids up. I add Slippery Elm to her food as well (1/8 teaspoon – more for heavier dogs) as this helps heal the gut lining. It usually passes in a few days.

The constant sloppy poo is disheartening for the bag bearer not to mention how the dog feels (do they know?). You really do need to get to the bottom (!)of it, and that involves doing some detective work. It is almost invariably diet related, a food intolerance or digestive inadequacy. Beanie for instance cannot tolerate raw food or bones and even to the degree of the cooked cartilage bits on chicken (most dogs find this delicious!) will give her a few days of the jelly belly poo.

Often dogs find kibble very difficult to digest, and if kibble is your preferred diet I suggest you try to improve it and see if it makes a difference. I wrote a post on the 5 steps to improve commercial pet food here.

Food intolerance is a big topic but the easiest way to start is with an elimination diet, much like what I do with Beanie, make a very simple meal, one protein & one grain, cooked (raw can be part of the problem) for a couple of weeks and see if it settles. If not, swap the protein source. Once you have stable poo then you can adapt by adding new foods. I strongly suggest you use Wellbeing Essentials to stabilise and heal the gut, it adds pre & probiotics and good dietary fibres. Adding a probiotic and Slippery Elm can also assist.

Clearly ‘poo’ and its permutations is a larger topic than one post, so I will continue to explore this topic with another post in the future. 🙂

 

Wellbeing and the Perils of Polished Floors for Dogs

ice_slipPolished floors – an unnatural state for fur kids.

Beanie took a fall. A big fall. Happy little dog to be going on an outing, bounced into our friends house and immediately ran the length of the (carpeted) hall, which ended in the living room on a highly polished wooden floor. Screams of pain. Beanie has hurt her back leg and she is not happy. Emergency (Sunday) visit to the vet for the pain.

I am very fortunate to have as a friend and colleague one of the best doggie physiotherapists around (Dogs in Motion) and I can trust her to work out what is wrong and decide the best course of action.

This isn’t a post about Beanie and her problems, it is meant to remind us all that polished floors are like ice to dogs paws, there is no grip, the very thing that makes dogs agile and fast on grass is what makes contact with polished surfaces so perilous. I have been heartbroken watching old dogs struggle and slip getting to their feet on a polished surface while the dog owner shrugs their shoulders, with a ‘what can I do, it’s the floor’ attitude. I know of homes where the dog is trained not to run inside, where it must control its natural exuberance and joyfulness to accommodate the floor. Wrong priority in my view.

Making your home dog friendly is not just easy, it’s the loving act that says you care about their place in the family, that their needs are important and valid and that their biological difference can and will be accommodated. Don’t wait for the scream or the struggle. Make it part of your mindset to have consideration.

Polished floors can be beautiful, but they are cold and hard and unforgiving. They are at their best, in my view, as the surround to a beautiful rug, or runners allowing plenty of area for the dog and their human to lie on the floor and luxuriate in the softness of a beautiful carpet. And of course if the house has runners and ample rugs the dog can find traction and security in traversing the home. It’s a fundamental security, to feel safe.

A dog is never a design feature and home beautiful is not the deepest priority we can have.  Take a look around and see if you can make a difference to your dog’s wellbeing in the simple act of non slippery floors and walkways.

Chocolate’s not good for dogs!

“Chocolate’s not good for dogs – but you can have my milk”…the Oreos’ TVC was simply gorgeous (if you can remember it or see it here).Chocolate Puppy Love

However the young boy could have shared the Oreos as there is very little actual chocolate in one of their biscuits (and some other ingredients that are far worse for kids and dogs – but that is another post).

So what is it about Chocolate and Dogs? Theobromine is the toxic agent in cocoa and dogs can’t process it as well as humans. Theobromine has less impact on humans and we tolerate much larger doses (and yes it would be possible to overdose on chocolate and quite a few of us would like to try that!)

The darker richer chocolate is the most dangerous, but it is what chocolate is packaged in that creates the attraction.

Sugar and fat, the delicious combination that has us humans drooling is also very attractive to dogs (whereas cats don’t have a sweet tooth). Chocolate – the cocoa – is not at all sweet or even particularly attractive to the taste buds, but is made so with the addition of sugar and fats (some of which is cocoa butter). Fortunately (well for dogs at least) the more sugar and fat the less actual cocoa there usually is. Hence the point about Oreos.

So how much ‘chocolate’ is dangerous and should have you rushing your dog to the vet? I found this very helpful toxicity calculator at Ask the Vet and you can quickly find the answer to that critical question. Simply put, Milk Chocolate (or a packet of Tim Tams) is less dangerous – Theobromine wise – than that designer brand hand made Super Dark Chocolate, a small amount of which can be of consequence.

Calculator provided by www.AskAVetQuestion.com.


Note there is often discussion of Caffeine in Chocolate but actual Cocoa has very little (or no) Caffeine however it could be added by the manufacturer of the ‘chocolate bar’ for added buzz. Caffeine is not good for dogs either.  

I will assume that the problems is going to arise from the Self Service department of your dog’s delights, that is – the chocolate is stolen and a larger amount is ingested (the whole block or packet).

If this is the case, the symptoms to look out for are:

Vomiting and/or Diarrhoea in very mild case through to

Seizures, Tremors and even Coma in full toxicity.

If in doubt at all, consult your Veterinarian.

 

 

 

What food is good for your dog when you don’t cook for yourself?

shaggysausageandbowlWhat do you do for your dog when you just don’t cook. At all. Full stop.

Matilda’s Story: A friend recently was house-sitting a gorgeous Spoodle named Matilda and neither Matlida’s owner nor my friend cook for themselves, preferring to either eat out, or buy prepared food. Money isn’t an issue, this little dog previously had Wellbeing Meals (until I stopped making them) and she is dearly loved. So what does the dog get fed now?

Currently she is fed only commercial pet food. It doesn’t matter the brand, but staying with my friend it was a little heartbreaking to see Matilda approach her bowl, sniff, and walk away with disappointment written all over her face. She won’t starve herself, she eats it – eventually. But what can we do to improve her diet, and her life, under these circumstances.

Firstly adding Wellbeing Essentials to commercial Petfood is a big improvement. It adds real whole foods with life (not the beating heart kind!). While commercial Petfood claims to have all the vitamins and minerals a dog requires, these are synthetic chemicals, everything in Petfood is highly processed, no life left. Adding real food, in however a small amount, improves the diet and the dog’s long term health.

I enjoy cooking and making extra for the little fur kids is never a problem but I understand not everyone has the time or the inclination.

Fast, easy ideas for good food for your dog – all requiring little or no cooking.

Most importantly – Serve everything with a spoon of Wellbeing Essentials!

  • Protein – about ½ the meal:
    Sardines
    Canned salmon
    Canned tuna
    Takeaway chicken – remove most of skin and all of bones
    Eggs
    – scrambled, fried, poached, boiled
    Mince – easy to pan fry or can be served raw
    Piece of beef/steak cut for stir fry – pan fry/raw
    Cottage cheese
    Yogurt
    Cheese – sparingly because of the fat content.
  • Vegetables – about ¼ meal:
    Baby spinach (chopped – can be wilted with hot water. Or frozen spinach)
    Grated carrot
    Broccoli in the microwave and mashed
    Berries with her yogurt
    Grated apple
    Sun dried tomatoes chopped up
    Even try baby food vegetables – mashed or pureed
  • Carbohydrates/grains – about ¼ meal:
    Packet rice – pre-cooked – just add a little water.
    Chia pods – (not chocolate!)
    Puffed quinoa, wholegrain rice or millet etc from the health food aisle/shop
    Weet bix
    Spaghetti – just boiled
    Noodles – eg soba noodles take 4 mins to boil
  • Bones: 3 x week
    Raw chicken wings or necks
    Lamb leg bone – from the butcher (but only let her have it for 30mins otherwise she will most likely bury it).

All these are easy to do and make, and by adding Wellbeing Essentials Matilda’s humans can have peace of mind knowing that she is getting not only getting real food, any missing vitamins and minerals are covered.

Are Eggs good for Dogs?

brown-eggEggs seem to be one of those questions that dog lovers aren’t clear about whether to include or not in their dog’s dinner bowl. So let me assure you, eggs are great for dogs!

They are a relatively inexpensive source of high quality protein, rich in good fats, vitamins and nutrients.

So let’s get the negative out of the way. Eggs are often given bad press because raw eggs have a couple of issues. There is a risk of Salmonella with raw eggs, cooking kills Salmonella so that is easily fixed.

The second issue is that raw egg white contain avidin, a protein that binds with biotin and prevents its absorption. Avidin is destroyed in cooking. Again easily fixed. There is some argument that egg yolk contains biotin so they balance each other out, but effectively the raw white binds with it, so this isn’t in my view a sound point. Nil sum game.

Really an occasional raw egg is completely fine and will have little impact. To me it is more an issue if raw egg (whites) are frequently in the diet.

Read more about “Are Eggs good for Dogs?” here.

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe for Dogs – Gobble Gobble NomNom.

Here is one of our favourite recipes to keep in the freezer for “take-out” nights (take it out of the freezer that is!)
Ingredients Ready

Ingredients Ready

Gobble Gobble Nom Nom. (translation “Delicious Turkey Meatloaf”)

Ingredients
500g Turkey mince
250g Chicken Livers – cooked and chopped
250g cooked rice
250g grated raw root vegetables (can be mix of carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnip)
50g of good quality bread soaked in 50g of milk
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 (free range) eggs

 

Method

Read more about “Turkey Meatloaf Recipe for Dogs – Gobble Gobble NomNom.” here.