Sunday, December 16, 2012

Coconut Oil For Dogs

It's been a while since I've blogged, my husband and I have been a little busy preparing for our new addition to our family! We are expecting our first baby this Feb 2013. In preparing for the baby, we did some research on various vitamins and nutrition during pregnancy and benefits of fish oils and coconut oils for me and the baby. Coconut oil contains large amounts of lauric acid, a powerful anti-microbial fatty acid that protects the immune system of the fetus and newborn. Pregnant and nursing mothers should eat coconut oil to increase the quality of the womb environment and breast milk. I take 1 table spoon a day of Barlean's Organic Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil. I also apply coconut oil to my belly, breast, and thighs to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy, and to keep my skin moisturized. It not only smells great but it tastes great too.
There has been a lot of research lately discussing how the environment of the womb can affect the long-term health of the baby with respect to autism, allergies, asthma, food sensitivities and other chronic conditions. Coconut oil provides pregnant moms with a vital combination of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins that are so good for their babies. That's also why infant formula usually contains coconut oil. I discovered that coconut oil is very good for not just me and the baby, but it is also great for dogs too!
Coconut, and especially coconut oil, is gaining a reputation as a health food and natural healer. People are using it to improve digestion, clear up skin problems, boost energy levels, aid in weight loss, fight off infections, balance blood sugar, and bring improvement to numerous other conditions. Pets, like humans, suffer from a variety of health problems. Coconut oil offers a simple, inexpensive, and easy remedy to many of these problems. Coconut oil has shown to be of benefit to all types of animals including dogs and cats as well as horses, cows, and other farm animals. Some of the benefits owners have reported include reduced or elimination of body odor and bad breath; healthier skin and elimination of rashes, itchiness, etc.; coats becoming shiny and healthy looking; improved energy; better digestion; reduction of excess weight; relief from arthritic-like symptoms; cleared-up infections; expulsion of worms; and improved overall health. Rhino recently had an itchy ear where he scratched it so bad he created little cuts and scabs. So I started applying the coconut oil to the inside of his ear where his cuts were and within 5 days his scabs healed and he no longer scratches his ear. Coconut oil when applied topically it aids in the healing of cuts, bites, stings, and infections. There have also been some reports of healing from very serious conditions such as poisoning, cancer, and diabetes.
The best thing about coconut oil, is that Dogs love the taste of it, my dogs go nuts when I open the jar and put a table spoon on my finger for them to lick off. You'll never have a problem giving your dog coconut oil. Just be sure to slowly add a little amount of coconut oil to their daily diet as it works as a detox so too much at once can give your dog diarrhea. The most common type of coconut oil used by pet owners is virgin coconut oil (VCO), which is the type sold for human consumption at health food and grocery stores. In Canada you can buy Virgin Coconut Oil at Superstore and most health food stores.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Life Jackets For Dogs

Both our dogs are still quite young, 10 months and 4 months, but they Love the water! Although Remy is still a puppy, he has become a good swimmer over the last 3 weeks. Rhino on the other hand is just starting to figure out how far out he can go and how to start using his legs to swim. Our oldest dog Remy loves swimming and he loves to retrieve. In order to give him a good work out and still be safe we have him in a life jacket when there is a strong current in the river where he swims. Often the current will carry him 100 feet down the river before he is actually back on land with his stick. It is important to us that our dog has the opportunity to do what he loves doing best, and be safe.
For Remy that means swimming and retrieving in deep water, he loves the challenge and he loves the hard work. If we had enough time in the day, Remy would swim and retrieve for several hours before packing it in. But dogs get tired and fatigued just like we do and so it's important to keep our dogs safe. .
The truth is not all dogs can swim, and not all those that can swim are great swimmers There are certain breeds that are excellent swimmers naturally like Labradors or Retrievers. All dogs have special strengths and weaknesses Some breeds of dogs have an instinct built-in to rescue people. The best known is the Terranova (Newfoundland) others are the Labrador and the Retriever. Due to its size and physical attributes the Terranova is definitely the most suitable for this kind of work as it has very thick fur insulating it in water and giving remarkable resistance to cold, large paws that are like webbed feet to make it a very efficient swimmer over long distances, even while pulling heavy burdens and in winter. Its size also giving great strength puts it above other breeds for water rescue.
But the more important element is the instinct to rescue being part of its character. The dog attitude towards the master in water is evident: the animal will appear strained, excited and will furiously try to get free from leash and dive to rescue him.
Dogs absolutely love water, most of them at least! If your dog isn’t a fan of water, dog life jackets are proven methods of getting a dog to feel comfortable and confident when out for a swim. Life jackets not only protect your dog from drowning, but also allow your dogs to carry out difficult tasks like swimming out further distances and retrieving toys or sticks. If you are anything like our family, there is no better way to spend your summer day in bonding with your dog by getting them out in the water or swimming with you. If you have a Search and Rescue Dog in training then getting them use to wearing back packs and life jackets are good for them. When a working volunteer dog retrieves a body out of the water, doggy life jackets are essential. The human body can weigh double its weightin water when retrieving cadaver, so having a life jacket on the dog not only protects the dog, but assists the dog in rescuing the person or pulling a body out of the water. Dogs are usually good swimmers, unlike cats who hate water. However, depending upon the age and the physical condition of the dog, swimming to large distances may not always be a good idea. Swimming is an excellent exercise for your dog. However, proper dog health care and precautions should be taken to make sure that your dog is safe while in the water. One of the best dog swimming tips is to make sure that the dog is supervised closely while it is swimming.
It is also important to keep your eye on your dog while swimming as your dog may have a cramp and may drown before you have the chance to help it. If you are taking your dog swimming with you, always make the dog wear a life jacket approved for canines as a safety measure. Our dogs love retrieving heavy sticks out of the water in fact most people comment on the size of the log Remy carries in his mouth at the dog park. We take the dogs to the dog park twice a day, with 2 hour combination of swimming and walking. So they get a total of 4 hours every day at the dog park. Nothing pleases them more than bringing something they worked so hard for to retrieve back to you. With Remy it is obvious swimming and retrieving brings a smile to his face. He is truly happy. Whether your dog is a seasoned swimmer or a first-timer, making it safe and fun is key for a successful swim. One of the main reasons a dog may hate water can be blamed on their introduction to a large body of water. Water or weather conditions can cause fear, or potential problems even for a pet that is typically a strong swimmer.
Any dog can get fatigued or disoriented. Older dogs, especially, can tire easily. Pets with low body fat can have trouble when exposed to water for long periods. Health issues, such as hip or joint problems can also make swimming difficult for some pets. We have both our dogs swimming for exercise and it is less tension on their joints than running after their ball. Using commons sense is key. A dog life jacket can help keep your pet safe while aboard your boat or around any body of water where there are strong river currents or rough seas.
Pet life jackets are designed to keep the animal afloat in a horizontal, swimming position. An additional, important function of a pet life jacket is as a retrieval device, should your pet fall overboard. If you find you pet enjoys boating as much as you do, a dog life jacket can provide your pet with an extra measure of safety. However, your sense of caution and common sense are still your pet’s best friend. When taking your dogs out boating or in any strong waters especially for long periods, please make sure your dog is always safe and consider getting your dog a life jacket! Be a responsible gaurdian. Remember, just 6 inches of fast-moving water can sweep a car off the road. Don’t risk your dog in fast-moving rivers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

From Kibble To Home Made Meals Is Easy

If you have decided that you are ready to start cooking for your dog there are a few things to consider. First off, would you like to cook meals every day so that they are served fresh and warm? Or would you like to cook in mass bulk so that you can freeze the dogs food for later use?
Cooking every day for yourself and your family can be time consuming, let alone adding another loved one to cook for. So if you find it easier, you can always cook in mass bulk and freeze your dogs meals in zip lock bags. It can also get expensive to cook for your dogs every day. So another alternative is to cook for your dogs on occasion or rotate between kibble one day and home made cooked meals on opposite days. We cook for our dogs 4 days a week and the other 3 days they eat their kibble. Its a nice treat for them to get something different every day and by alternating every other day with kibble you don't have to cook as often. Another thing to consider is that every dog is different when it comes to eating home made cooked meals. Some dogs may prefer a puree texture type of meal others may prefer a more chunky meal. You may have to experiment with different ways of preparing and combining ingredients to find out what works best for your dogs. My dogs prefer their meat in little chunks, yet I always puree most fruit and finely dice or grate the vegetables for them to add a little bit of crunchy texture. Its also important to start off very simple with preparing a home made cooked meal for your dog.
Transitioning from kibble to home made cooked meals can upset a dogs stomach if you use too many new ingredients especially when a new diet is introduced, so its important to start off with a few simple ingredients. There are six categories of essential nutrients for your pets when preparing their meals. Water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Most premium kibble brands include all six, it is very important to make sure you feed your pets a diet that include all six nutrients. Home made fresh meals can also be added to kibble and many of the recipes I use are suitable for dogs on a raw diet. Transitioning recipes are highly palatable and I use ingredients that are easily digested by most dogs. They are easy to prepare because they only use a few ingredients. So if your ready to start cooking for your dog, I have listed a few transitioning recipes that you can introduce to your dog. Most of the transition recipes I have included use the exact same ingredients you will find in most premium kibble dog foods. These recipes are not meant for long term diet, they are simple recipes to use if you would like to transition from kibble to home made meals, or if you would just like to combine these transition recipes with their existing diet of kibble or raw. If you decide to cook for your dogs 100% of the time it is important to ensure you are always preparing them a complete and balanced diet which you will find in many of my other recipes. These recipes I have included below are for Transition only or as fresh mixed meals with kibble or to add to a raw diet. These recipes are meant to help transition your dogs diet from Kibble to home made meals.
When you take a look at the content of ingredients in commercial dogs foods the starch usually comes from cereal ingredients such as corn, rice or wheat, or gluten. When I cook for my dogs I try to use all organic ingredients and gluten free only because our dogs are sensitive to corn, soy wheat and gluten. Its also important to never over cook any meat for your dogs as it will destroy all the natural nutrients in the meat.
Most kibble brands generally use Chicken as the primary source of protein along with poultry fat and vegetable oils which supply the essential fatty acids in kibble. Its fairly easy to mimic commercial dry diets by using similar ingredients and targeting similar nutrient content. Yet the nice thing about cooking for your dogs is that you know exactly what is going into your dogs diet and the ingredients are all fresh. Transition Recipe 540 Grams of Chicken Breast Poached 1 Tsp of Cod Liver Oil 3 1/2 Cups of Brown Cooked Rice (Gluten Free) 3 Tsp of Safflower Oil Poach chicken until tender, never over cook meat. Cook rice as per packaging, do not over cook rice. Dice up chicken and add to rice, stir in cod liver oil and safflower oil and serve.
Transition Recipe 650 Grams of Ground Beef Cooked 1 Tsp Cod Liver Oil 3 Cups of White Rice (Gluten Free) 1 Tsp Safflower Oil Cook beef until its brown on the outside but still pink on the inside. Cook rice as per packaging. Mix in bowl rice and ground beef and add in cod liver oil and safflower oil and serve!
Transition Recipe 1 Tsp Cod Liver Oil 5 Large Eggs Hard Boiled 3 1/2 Cups of Oatmeal Cooked No sugar added Hard boil eggs, discard shell and mash eggs up coarsely. Prepare the oatmeal as per packaging. Stir the cod liver oil into the oatmeal, add eggs and serve.
Transition Recipe 530 Grams Cod Atlantic Poached 1 Tsp Cod Liver Oil 3 Cups Brown Rice Cooked 4 Tsp Safflower Oil Poach cod and cook rice as per packaging. Mix together the cod rice and add cod liver oil and safflower oil and serve. I hope your dogs enjoy these meals as much as mine do!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Diets for Dogs

Many of us make New Years Resolutions to shed a few pounds, and just like humans sometimes dogs need to shed a few pounds and need our help to achieve their weight loss.
We hand fed both our dogs, Remy was hand fed until he was 5 months old, now he eats out of his bowl. Rhino is still being hand fed for at least one more month. We decided to hand feed our puppies for many reasons, and it certainly takes a lot of time and effort. It isn't for everyone but if you have the time and dedication the pay off is well worth it. Puppies understand a pack (family) unit, with one leader, and ranking members. A pup's first alpha is their mother who provides food, protection, and security. Many dog owners and experts believe that as the new parents of pups in order for us to become the pack leader, we must become the food provider. We can accomplish this by controlling the puppy's food supply. You can imitate being your pups mom by feeding them by hand a daily ration. We take our dogs for a short 20 min walk early in the morning before giving them breakfast. Once we get home we have their food already prepared and we have a designated area in the kitchen where we call our puppy to us on our terms (not when he/she is asking for food). We hand feed them a portion (1/3rd ) of the day's food ration, as our dogs eat three times a day. Then we pet them on top of the head while they are eating, touching his face area and petting him. We feed him slowly, and wait a few seconds between each hand feedings so that he learns to be patient for his food and not beg.
Repeating this procedure approximately 3 times a day or until all of the daily ration of food is done. Patience is a virtue with this process but well worth the end result. Neither of our dogs gorge or over eat from their bowls as a result of hand feeding them. We also have no issues with our dogs having food aggression towards any of our family members or friends and even strangers who handle, or pet our dogs while eating. Hand feeding will improve your dog's work ethic, manners around food, and his regard for you and bond with you will be that much stronger. Both our dogs are still puppies and many of the recipes I make is enough food for both of them for the entire day (3 meals). We ration out their meal portions based on their age and weight. For example when I feed Rhino who is turning 4 months old next week, and is 18.5kg (40 lbs) we feed him 475 to 580 grams of food a day.
Remy is turning 10 months old next week, he is 38.6 kg (85lbs) we feed him 725 to 860 grams of food day. Every dog is different based on age, size and physical activity. Our dogs also get one large meaty bone per day which adds to their caloric intake on top of their meals and of course a few treats throughout the day. Senior dogs tend to eat less and need less calories only because they tend to slow down with age and are less active as they get older therefore needing less calories. It is always best to check with your vet on how much you should be feeding your dog, and how many calories or grams of food your dog should be consuming. Here I have included two different recipes the first one is for dogs that are required to be on a lower calorie diet. The second recipe is for Senior dogs. Low Calorie Low Fat Recipe 3/4 Cup Beans Green Raw or From Frozen Chopped 1/4 Cup of Blueberries Raw or From Frozen Puree 1 Cup of Cottage Cheese Low Fat Low Sodium 1/4 Oatmeal Cooked (Natural Oats no sugar added) 2 Cups of Peas Thawed from Frozen 190 Grams Poached Atlantic Salmon 1/3 Cup of canned cooked chickpeas 2 Puree Spinach Leaves 1 Tsp Cod Liver Oil Directions Dice up Green beans. Puree Spinach leaves, Puree Blueberries. Cook oatmeal as per packaging. Puree Peas. Poach salmon till it's cooked. Puree Spinach. Mix in bowl green beans, blueberries, peas spinach and cottage cheese add salmon and mashed up chickpeas. Add oatmeal and serve.
Senior Recipe 1/3 Cup Carrots Raw Grated 270 Grams Chicken Breast Poached 3 Cups of Brown Rice Cooked per packaging 3/4 Cup Yogurt Plain low fat 1 Tsp Cod Liver Oil 1 Tsp Salmon Oil Grate carrots, poach chicken and cook rice per packaging. Mix in bowl carrots, spinach, rice chicken and add yogurt and stir in cod liver oil and salmon oil.

Rhino's Pumpkin and Quinoa Recipe

Today we took Rhino for his last set of Shots for Parvo, and Rabies. After his visit with the Vet, we brought both dogs to the dog so that they could play before lunch time. Here is what I made for the dogs today. 2 cans of Sardines (In Water no salt added) 2 Large Chicken Breasts Poached 200 Grams of Beef Liver Poached 2 Sticks of finely diced Celery 1 Cup of Grated Carrots 1 Large Banana Peeled and mashed up 1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin (not pie filling) 1 package of Quinoa Poach the chicken and the liver. Never over cook meat, always slightly under cook meat with the exception of fish. In a large bowl mix the diced celery, grated carrots and mashed up banana and canned pumpkin together. Cook Quinoa as per packaging. Dice up poached chicken and liver and add meat and quinoa and mashed up sardines to the mixture and serve.
I like to buy a certain brand of canned organic pumpkin for dogs. But you can use any kind of natural canned pumpkin so long as it isn't pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is very rich in carotenoids, which is known for keeping the immune system of an individual strong and healthy. Beta-carotene, found in pumpkin, is a powerful antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps prevent build up of cholesterol on the arterial walls, thus reducing chances of strokes. Being rich in alpha-carotene, pumpkin is believed to slow the process of aging and also prevent cataract formation. Pumpkins have been known to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem that usually results in blindness. The high amount of fiber, present in a pumpkin, is good for the bowel health of an individual. Being loaded with potassium, pumpkin is associated with lowering the risk of hypertension. The presence of zinc in pumpkins boosts the immune system and also improves the bone density. Pumpkin is also a great remedy for dogs who are having stomach issues related to diarrhea.
Sardines are a great Fish supply of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that are good for the skin and coat. In addition, they help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, and so can be helpful for dogs with allergies, arthritis, and autoimmune disease. DHA is also good for brain health, which can benefit both puppies and senior dogs. One small canned sardine provides about 25 calories and 175 mg omega-3 fatty acids, a good amount for a small dog (20 pounds or less). Give larger dogs proportionately more. Use sardines packed in water (not oil). Feed soon after opening so the fatty acids are still fresh. Other canned fish options, especially for larger dogs, include jack mackerel and pink salmon.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Stew for My Sweethearts

We had another fun adventure with the dogs at the dog park today.
It's so amazing to watch a dog in his glory chasing and retrieving a stick out of the river over a hundred times only to do it again a hundred more times with absolute pleasure. The river at it's deepest point is only 2 inches away from our dog being able to touch the bottom. Our older German Shepherd Remy, who is just over 9 months has had some tissue and joint problems, as he seems to get sore easily. We have tried our best to avoid letting him run as much as possible and started supplementing his diet with glucosamine. How ever by not letting him run, that means no more taking his ball to the dog park, and no ball for Remy, which also means he gets bored and starts to look for something to do. For Remy just a simple walk isn't enough which goes with the territory of having a German Shepherd they are truly working dogs. Whether he carries a ball, or a stick or a toy we give him, he needs to feel like he has a job even when he's on a simple walk at the dog park. So we had to think of another way to allow him to feel like he is doing something useful. Dogs need exercise just like we do in order for them to get their feel good endorphins stimulated. What better way to allow our dogs to get some exercise than by letting them go swimming.
In fact it's the safest type of exercise you can provide for your dog so long as the water they are swimming isn't freezing cold, or have any dangerous currents. Dogs having arthritis, recent surgery, joint or tissue related issues still need exercise. Swimming provides very minimal impact on a dog's joints, and it's a pain free physical activity for arthritic dogs. It is effective in strengthening the muscles and it's a great aid in managing your dog’s weight. If your dog has sore knees or other joints that are inflamed, swimming is a great alternative for them to get exercise. The most important benefit of swimming is that water is calming for your dog, this way he can still go out with you and participate in a dog and owner activity. After our long swim, I made the dogs something new. I had a few apples and bananas that were a little too bruised for us to eat, and rather than throw them out I used them in my latest recipe today. I call it Sweet Potato Stew For My Sweethearts. Here is what you will need. 1 Large Red Apple Finely diced with skin 1 Large Banana (Puree) 1 Medium Sweet potato (boil with skin and mash up) 2 Sticks Finely diced Celery 400 Grams of Chicken Breasts Poached 300 Grams of Beef Liver Poached 4 Cups of Quinoa 2 Tbp of Omega 3 Fish Oil Dice up apple into fine pieces with skin, make sure to always remove any apple seeds as the seeds are very toxic to dogs. Peel and puree banana, boil sweet potato with skin and mash up. Dice up 2 sticks of celery. Poach both the chicken and the Liver separately make sure not to over cook the meat. I like to always slightly under cook all my dogs meat. Cook Quinoa per packaging. Mix the fruit and celery and sweet potato together add fish oil, dice up chicken and liver and add in quinoa and meats to the rest of the ingredients and serve! Did you know that sweet potatoes are in many dog food kibble recipes?
I personally love Sweet Potatoes, and one of my favorite dishes to make and eat is my home made sweet potato pie! Not only are sweet potatoes great for us, but guess what, Yes, that's right, they are fantastic for or dogs too. They are very rich in beta carotene, which is a major anti oxidant, apart from vitamin-C and B-complex, iron and phosphorus present in them, sweet potatoes are excellent immunity boosters. Sweet potato also has anti inflammatory properties. It is equally effective in curing internal and external inflammations. Beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc and vitamin-B complex, among others, make sweet potato a helping hand to cure arthritis. The fiber content of sweet potatoes is higher than that of common potatoes and it tastes good too. When these two factors are combined with other minerals like magnesium present in sweet potatoes, it makes an excellent facilitator for digestion. Sweet potatoes are easy to digest too, since they mainly contain starch. They are soothing for the stomach and intestines too. Beta-carotene, the champion anti oxidant and anti carcinogen, the pigments responsible for the color of the peel of the sweet potatoes and vitamin-C, are very beneficial for curing many types of cancer, mainly those of colon, intestines, prostrate, kidneys and other internal organs. There are several doggy brands who make healthy all natural sweet potato chew treats for dogs.
I like to make my own sweet potato chews for our dogs. The next time you are making sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving or at Christmas time, just take out an extra potato for the dogs! Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut the potatoes into approximately 1/3" slices. Drizzle a little olive oil over the slices, and toss to coat. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet(s). Bake for approximately three hours, turning once, until potatoes are dried out. Cool completely on a wire rack and serve. Make sure not to feed your dog to many of these treats as they can cause diarrhea if they have to many. These treats can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or in the freezer for up to four months.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Remy's Mac N Cheese

Today we had a lot of snowfall but it was still a very beautiful warm day.
I decided to take the dog's on a long hike from our house down to the river which is about 12km in total. I wanted to make sure that when we got back from our long walk that the dog's would get refueled after all that exercise. When ever we take longer walks we always make sure to make adequate stops so Rhino the little pup gets enough resting breaks. But before I left I made them a High Calorie Recipe, and kept it covered in a cooking dish for them so that it was still nice and warm when we got back. 1 1/3 Cup of Raw Almonds Ground Up 1/2 Cup Organic Cheddar Shredded Cheese 2 Large Eggs, Hard Boiled 2 Tsp Cod Liver Oil 300 Grams Poached Chicken Liver 400 Grams of Ground Turkey 4 Tsp Salmon Oil 2 Cups of Gluten Free Rice Macaroni 1/2 Cup of Cottage Cheese Cook Macaroni as per packaging DO not over cook pasta.
Hard Boil eggs (20 mins) peel discard shells, and mash up eggs. Poach Chicken liver, do not over cook, finely dice chicken liver. Cook ground turkey until it's browned on the outside but still tender and pink on inside. Do Not over cook Turkey. Combine in a bowl ground up almonds, eggs, cod liver oil and salmon oil. Add Cottage Cheese and Chicken, Turkey, and mix in shredded cheese. Now it's ready to serve! Your dog's will love this doggy version of Mac N Cheese. I wouldn't recommend this recipe for an every day meal, but it is great for dog's who are very active and require higher calories, or dog's who are are under weight and need to get back to a healthy weight. Chicken liver contains significant amounts of protein, fat, and vitamin A. In moderation, these are good supplements, but when too much is administered, a dog can suffer ill effects. Chicken liver is an ingredient of many dog foods and treats. It can also be cooked or dehydrated as a snack that most dogs love.