Author Archives: Helen

My Motivation for Real Food for Dogs

Posted on: August 10th, 2014 by Helen

WhymiepuppyWhen I was at uni, back during the late 70’s and early 80’s, (and I had a Weimaraner) studying Psychology at the University of New England (NSW –Australia), the Agricultural Sciences students (the farmers of the future) had to do a chemical analysis of a leading brand of Pet Food (canned). They found among other things that it contained nicotine.

Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that nicotine does not have a nutritional value, its main property is that it is addictive. To what purpose would a pet food company add nicotine? I will leave that to you to decide, but their tag line in advertising was that dogs preferred their brand.

As it happens, my childhood family dog was fed this particular brand, my mother believing the advertising that it was better for the dog than the wonderful food that she made (and had lots of leftovers). This little dog was eventually diagnosed with throat cancer and had to be put down.

In that era, it was a complete shock to me, to realise that corporations were not actually interested in the animal, but focused on their bottom line, getting more sales was the priority, not the health and wellbeing of their customers.


Calcium is Essential for Dogs

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by Helen
No Bones about it -Calcium is essential for dogs!Raw Bone

The primary and most significant dietary difference between humans and dogs is the need for calcium. In a nutshell humans need more phosphorus in their diet relative to calcium and dogs need more calcium than phosphorus. So feeding a dog just human food is not going to meet your dog’s dietary need for calcium. This is especially important with puppies. They require a calcium rich diet to grow, and can suffer greatly if that is not provided.

Bones are the simple answer to providing calcium, they are naturally made from calcium (and phosphorus) and generally dogs love them. Bones need to be consumed not just gnawed, for the calcium to be obtained.

Veterinarians generally recommend bones three times weekly, and they should not be given in my view without supervision. Although ‘natural’ for a dog to eat raw bones, they can splinter, break, get caught in the teeth or mouth or throat, and that is before they are swallowed! (more…)

Fluoride Toxicity and Dogs Drinking Water

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by Helen
Bailey Cute as Pie

Bailey Cute as Pie

When I was writing to Ann Tomlinson and her beautiful little dog Bailey about kidney and bladder stones which poor Bailey suffers from terribly, the first thing I recommended was that Ann filter the drinking water for Bailey with a water filter that also alkalises the water. Getting Bailey’s PH balance correct for him is one part of the strategy that Ann uses to keep those calcium deposits at bay.

Now although I know that dogs will drink the most weird and vile water, out of the (toilet) bowl, dirty, muddy water and from the strangest of places, the water we provide for them doesn’t have to be like that. I have filtered the water for my dogs (and for myself) since I realised Marley was having a reaction to fluoride in another product (doggie toothpaste). I did some research, talked to my vet, and found out that fluoride is far more toxic to dogs than humans (and it isn’t good for us either!).


Recipe – Cooking for the Fur Kids – Chicken Stock

Posted on: July 12th, 2014 by Helen
Stock (or Bone broth).

I keep chicken stock in the fridge or freezer all year but in winter it is a staple in almost everything. I use it to cook vegetables, Stock ingredientsgrains that are cooked by absorption method, soups, gravy, casseroles, you name it, all dishes are improved with stock.
And did I mention, dogs love it!

Stock is easy-peasy deliciousness, using leftovers (mostly) and time.
Next time you have a whole chicken save the bones and cartilage, any juice or tasty bits, into a pot (a slow cooker is ideal) and add any or all of these:
Small amount of onion is ok (I sometimes use the top/green part of leeks for instance)
Mushrooms – I use shitake dried mushrooms from the Asian section
Bay leaves
Spoonful of Apple Cider vinegar


Q&A: My dog is a fussy eater – can I cook Wellbeing Essentials?

Posted on: May 25th, 2014 by Helen


Maria Sambanis and Tiffany
I cook my dogs meals and as she is a fussy eater I am concerned that if I sprinkle Wellbeing Essentials on her food she wont eat her meal – so can I actually cook the Wellbeing Essentials product without ruining the vital nutrients & also can I coat her meat/chicken with it & grill it?
Thank you.

Thank you for a really good question Maria and how gorgeous is Tiffany.   Unfortunately Wellbeing Essentials isn’t suitable for being cooked into food, or heated above warm. The oils in the nuts and seeds don’t like to be exposed to high heat such as cooking (warming is ok). Once we grind the nuts and seeds we expose the oils so that the dog’s digestion can utilize them, but this makes them more fragile to heat. Further the Probiotic which we import from the US, is stable at room temperature but again, not at higher temperatures as that effectively destroys the bacteria (which is what the Probiotic is)

The good news is that Wellbeing Essentials is designed to appeal to fussy eaters, it really is quite delicious (to dogs!) and many dogs think it is a treat. It has ingredients that they like and texture they like and this covers the taste of the things they don’t like so much. If in doubt start slow by adding half the amount that Tiffany will eventually be given for her weight. That allows her to get used to it.


Giving Leftovers to Your Dog

Posted on: May 15th, 2014 by Helen

Fat Cat Obesity articleI read some alarming and very sad news on the weekend (The Age – Good Weekend –Up Front). It concerns the obesity issue with our companion cats and dogs. Obesity in itself is sad, but the trend was the worst of it.

It appeared in the article that the blame was laid at the bowl of feeding leftovers, and that this behaviour had decreased, (48% of fed leftovers in 2009 to 42% in 2014) with an increase in Petfood only diet.

When did leftovers get to be evil? Dogs and cats have been fed our leftovers since the dawn of our (symbiotic) relationship with them, but now it appears that this is being blamed for the crisis in pet health. (Note that obesity increases while leftover consumption decreases – might be something in that!)

In my view it is the Petfood that is the culprit in the obesity epidemic, not the leftovers. Sure, some leftovers are just crap, fat, poor quality stuff we don’t want to eat, but intentional leftovers, where we cook enough to feed the dog from our table of plenty are by far the better food.


Q&A: My dog is bored with his dinner

Posted on: May 11th, 2014 by Helen
Those eyes!

Those eyes!

Q & A With Helen Brandis and Jasper – My 11 year old Cavalier appears to have become heartily sick of his dinner of (human grade) meat, including lamb, chicken or beef, together with an holistic kibble, to which I add a spoonful of the Wellbeing mix.  Any suggestions?

Thanks for an excellent question Helen, and I understand it is so disappointing when we go to a lot of trouble to make good food and our little charges go – ‘ho hum’.

First thing I would suggest is to drop the kibble. I know holistic is better but it is never better than your real food. You see no matter how expensive it is still highly processed. And truly I don’t think they like it as much as your food. With Wellbeing Essentials added to real food you have the necessary balance of calcium, and the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from wholefoods that they need or may be missing.

Age means less calories and at 11 Jasper is getting on unfortunately, so the first things to check is if he is getting too much to eat. Dogs frequently become ‘fussy’ when they are in fact full as googs. Contrary to some opinion you might find on the internet, they need good quality protein at this age, not less protein. The idea of less protein comes from commercial pet food because the protein in dried food can be very hard on the kidneys and older dogs fed a lifetime of dry kibble often have kidney problems.

Also kibble is calorie dense, so dogs get full on a small amount and this also can lead to being overweight.

Another sign that they are getting too much food is eating the good bits and leaving the vegetables. You don’t say that this happens with Jasper, but I know it happens with my two. And if the vegetables aren’t cooked enough, they get left too. (more…)

Recipe – Cooking for the Fur Kids: Breakfast

Posted on: April 26th, 2014 by Helen

Leftover cold lambI am often asked about breakfast, it’s one of those ‘tweeny’ meals, not vital but those eyes look at us when we are having our breakfast so something has to go into the bowl.

Breakfast for dogs is to me the easiest meal because it doesn’t need to be complicated, and lets face it who has time through the week to make breakfast for ourselves, much less the fur kids.

My way of thinking first of all is that this is a little meal, usually half or less of what they have for dinner, and I focus on a protein more than carbs or vegetables. (more…)

Q&A: Why did my dog vomit up her dinner?

Posted on: April 25th, 2014 by Helen
Ruby waiting for her dinnerCalie and her Maltese Cross dog Ruby: Hi Helen, I’m really enjoying learning to share what I cook with Ruby and so far it’s been super easy for me to do and I love the feeling I get seeing her excited about her meal now.
My question to you is I recently cooked salmon, cheese and bacon filo parcels with veges for dinner and I made a separate serve for Ruby (with less bacon, cheese and only small puff of canola on the filo) with Wellbeing Essentials on top.
I was really happy that Ruby ate some fish but then about an hour later she vomited the whole thing back up again on the floor. Ew! Sorry it’s a gross question but I’m wondering if perhaps was it too rich for her? What is your advice?

An excellent question thanks Calie, Ruby’s ‘chew and spew’ is a common problem, and not at all pretty. So what is going on?

Like most things it can be from multiple sources. First to realize is that a dogs stomach is quite small, and functions more as a ‘holding place’ before getting to the serious business of digestion in the intestines.

Dogs don’t ‘chew’ their food – teeth; for ‘crushing’ and saliva; for ‘lubricating’ – the system is designed more for ‘gulping’; ie getting the food down as quickly as possible (so someone else can’t get it!). The stomach then does the work of breaking it into smaller bits (with very strong acids).


Recipe – Cooking for the Fur Kids: Pumpkin

Posted on: April 13th, 2014 by Helen

Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs? Pumpkin

Not being a lover of pumpkin it rarely appears on our menu, but recently I had need of it’s services.

You see, this little old dog of mine, Sparky dislocated his front shoulder and being wobbly on the other three legs at the best of times, keeping his bowels moving became a priority.  Enter Pumpkin. (more…)