First things first. Shout out to my sister, Leah, on her birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEAH!!
Now on with the show.
I’ve convinced my dad and some of my friends to switch to raw.
But nobody has the time to do what I do every weekend — prepare dog meals for the week ahead.
And sometimes, when I travel, my grand weekend jaunts to farmer’s market and my Saturdays spent chopping, cooking, freezing, and prepping for the week get pushed aside.
In those instances, Sojos Complete freeze dried raw food comes to my rescue. And the affordable convenience of Sojos has enabled my friends and family to feed a raw diet to their pups as well.
My friends at The Whole Dog Market in Homewood began to carry Sojos this spring, and I’m so glad. So many of the prepared raw foods are so cost prohibitive. Sojos is not. And it comes in several varieties, including Turkey, Lamb, and Beef. It also comes in a form that you can add your own fresh, raw meat to.
I use homemade bone broth instead of water to rehydrate.
Pearl and Truman love it. I still prefer to make their food myself because that way I control what’s in it, particularly when we’re experiencing times when they need more or less of certain ingredients to address particular issues. But, to add variety, ensure balance, and in times when I just don’t have the time, this is a fantastic option.
Just look at the ingredients:
When I first started feeding raw, I fell for FreshPet in the refrigerator at the grocery store because I needed a convenient option for times when I was away. But I have since learned that it is heat pasteurized, and frankly, I just don’t trust the quality of any dog food product on the shelves at the grocery store anymore. I am much more confident in the quality nutrition in Sojos.
And, my great friends at Just Happy Hounds are happy to feed Sojos to Pearl and Truman when they keep them when I travel. They treat ’em like I do!
You can order it directly from the company if you don’t have a retailer in your area. Check them out at www.sojos.com
I’ve been piecing together a bit of a puzzle here of late.
As we all know, Pearl has gained a little weight since Christmas, and truthfully, she hadn’t lost much after switching to Raw.
Her sweet tooth is the size of an iceberg…the part that’s below the water surface.
She LOVES fruit. All kinds.
Despite our daily walks, when all that sugar (albeit natural. it’s still sugar) is coupled with her post-menopausal metabolism (she’s spayed), it’s a recipe for roundness that’s not in her best interest.
Also, so much sugar in her diet can cause a yeast imbalance.
She has cloudy, smelly urine, and gunk in her ears. And she scratches. A lot.
A few weeks ago, she presented with what appeared to be …
…a bladder infection!
When I came home from work one night, there was a puddle in her crate. Then, after our squatting several times on our evening walk, she went on the floor by the back door. The frequent urination while on the walk didn’t concern me. But when I cleaned up the spot by the door, it had blood in it.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
I mean, that’s what prompted our switch to Raw last summer. Everything has been fine until now.
I hear your sneers. (Stow it, Flo!)
What have I done wrong?
My hypothesis is this: After I began feeding so many fruit smoothies, her body was able to absorb the nutrition in the fruit (and the sugar) much more so than when I was rough chopping it. She now consumed it in a useful form instead of it just passing through her making colorful poop rainbows. So in addition to making her fat, it’s causing excessive yeast in her system, which may be contributing to the urine issue.
What to do?
First things first.
Dr. Natalie told me that blood in urine is not necessarily always caused by an infection. In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, the cause is sometimes attributed to “heat” in the liver, which can be caused by some sort of trauma (physical or emotional) or toxin (like a vaccine or medication) or other imbalance (excess yeast, perhaps?).
So I set out to “cool” and detox the liver.
I immediately thought of Basil tea with Slippery Elm Bark. Slippery Elm Bark is wonderful for calming the digestive tract, but also has, in my experience, a healing effect on the bladder as well. Basil tea is basically a cure all. Mix the two, and wow.
I also keep milk thistle seed in my dried herbs. It is super awesome for liver support. I grind the seeds then add them to smoothies or on top of the evening meal.
Two days later…no more blood in the urine!
(Do y’all like how I link back to my old posts? Smart, huh?)
Duck and Rabbit are cooling proteins. So we picked up some Stella & Chewy’s ‘Duck Duck Goose’ freeze-dried duck formula. We also keep a healthy stock of Orijen Free-Run Duck treats. Freeze-dried, whole prey treats. Duck. The whole duck. And nothing but the duck.
Then I made a healthy, homemade bone broth with some grass-fed, hormone-free beef bones from a local farmer to use to rehydrate the food instead of plain water. Beef is a ‘neutral’ protein (meaning neither warming nor cooling) and can be used in combination with other cooling or warming foods to provide variety.
Next, as Dr. Karen Becker says in this outstanding article, I needed to cut the food source for the yeast, i.e., sugar.
Yeast needs sugar to survive, so we had to dramatically reduce or eliminate the sugar in her diet, which meant dialing way, way back on all the fruit. And, since yeast is a fungus, we needed an anti-fungal. Enter: garlic.
I picked up kale, broccoli, heirloom carrots and tomatoes at the farmer’s market, all of which are cooling and contain very little sugar. I added powdered kelp from my pantry (which they have a the Whole Dog Market), which should cool things down as well.
Are you ready for a VEGGIE SMOOTHIE recipe? Here goes:
2 small kale leaves, stemmed
small bunch of fresh basil
2 broccoli florets
1/2 small carrot
1 teaspoon powdered kelp
4 oz Answers goat’s milk
1 clove garlic, minced
Blend until smooth. Makes about 8 oz. Pearl and Truman each get 4 oz for breakfast.
I was afraid they wouldn’t eat it because there was no sugar in there, but they both lapped it up like a boss!
After a couple of weeks, Pearl had dropped over half a pound. After a month, she’s down another pound and back to pre-Christmas weight. I’ve also noticed a big difference in how much they scratch. And the urine is back to normal. Her ears are clean and pink. Their breath is pleasant. The poops are dark, solid and healthy. The liver has obviously cooled, and the yeast is on the run.
Food is medicine!
There are lessons here.
1. Don’t let your dog convince you to feed her too much fruit.
2. Don’t freak out at the first sign of a little urine discharge. You can treat it naturally with a little patience and know-how. But, if after a couple of days you don’t see a change for the better, definitely go see the vet.
3. You may be surprised by how much your dog likes a veggie smoothie.
We got invited to a wedding recently. Not just any wedding. A double wedding. Or dual ceremony. On June 13, Just Happy Hounds played host while two dogs got married, followed by two people who tied the knot under a tree in the play yard at the most awesome doggie daycare in downtown Birmingham.
The dogs, Buttercup & Frankie G, got married first.
Then Sarah & Jeff said their vows. Circuit Judge Stephen Wallace officiated.
Members of the wedding party each walked down the aisle with a canine companion, including the lovely bride. And it was AWESOME.
I made a cake for the pups (although I suspect some people might have taken a nibble, and they wouldn’t have been wrong. It’s a tasty cake, if I do say so myself).
But back to the point. Our attire. We had to snazz it up a bit. Pearl and Truman needed something distinguished and refined yet playful to don.
Enter JazzyJ Designs.
Earlier this spring, we bought the prettiest little Pink Peony collar for Pearl and a simple bright blue Greek key for Truman. The problem arose when the leashes I already owned didn’t (say it with me) coordinate.
The pink ones were too pale or too purple. The greens and blues were all kinds of wrong. And we COULD NOT show up at this shindig with clashing leashes.
The absolute horror of it all.
Like white shoes after Labor Day. Or worse….
White shoes with black tights. 😮
I can’t even.
So we pulled up JazzyJ’s Etsy site and found matching sets.
But more than that, lo and behold, there were ACCESSORIES!!
Pearl had a fit for her pretty pink flower,
and I had a near heart murmur over the Ikat bow tie for Truman.
Canine fashion perfection. Worthy of a shout out on Stylebriefs. Just sayin….
cue ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man.
Jasmine Lawson makes each collar, leash, bow tie & flower herself, and they are of excellent quality.
Ensembles complete, we trotted out on that play yard and wowed the crowd with our snazzy JazzyJ’s!
Get you one! You can buy them here. Highly recommend. Like Jasmine on Facebook & follow her on Instagram @jazzyjdesigns. You’ll be glad you did.
Y’all. The fleas are winning. And it’s not even flea season yet.
“Flea season” in Alabama is August – October, technically.
Somebody needs to tell that to the fleas.
They are already everywhere, and it’s totally pissing me off. I’ve tried many, many approaches to avoid putting chemicals on my dogs, and I am having no measurable success.
Back in the Fall, I told y’all about this product that you add to food to control fleas, ticks & mosquitos from the inside out. I hung a great deal of hope on it. But Pearl couldn’t tolerate it in the recommended amount, and lesser doses failed to achieve the goal.
Remember when I boasted about making my own flea powder? 10-year supply & whatnot?
It worked! but it was such a fine powder, it dried their skin out and all they did was scratch, which kept all of us up at night (which is just so. much. fun.). Paranoid the scratching was from fleas, I harassed them with the flea comb, which ultimately produced narry a one.
So, it is definitely effective against fleas, yes. But the incessant scratching drove us MAD.
Mad, I say!
So I quit using it. (Still have like a 10 year supply, so if you want to give it a try, holla back. It may work for you.).
Weekly baths and nightly combing had become our new routine.
But then, every morning at 4 am, the scratching begins, and the flea comb has been terribly productive, even in my pre-dawn fumbling, pissed off, bleary-eyed state, 2-3 fleas on each dog every damn day.
So then I bought Vet’s Bestall natural flea & tick spray, which smells absolutely delightful, and has ingredients that make me feel all warm & fuzzy, but I couldn’t get enough of it on them to work.
Hopes dashed. #sads
What to do? I feel like I’ve tried everything.
“Just spray your yard.”
“Use a topical.”
“Quit being such a hippie.”
(Ppl are so helpful).
I walk my dogs down the street and in a park. Spraying my yard won’t get us where we need to be. But, hey. Thanks for the thought.
Resorting to a topical makes me feel defeated. I don’t want to shorten my dogs’ lives by toxifying (made-up word. Just go with it) their little bodies because of frickin fleas.
I kept getting warned about an infestation, which legit freaked me out. The specter of a bed full of fleas and the resulting destruction of my chem-free purpose by having to fog the house gave me night terrors.
I really really didn’t want to resort to that…
These F’ers already too tough tho, and it’s not even close to peak flea time. So with tears in my eyes (from frustration, fatigue, and failure at 4am), I reached for the topical.
To mitigate the damage, I divided the dose for a single dog and applied a half dose to each dog.
I’ve continued with the weekly baths, and the flea comb is never out of reach. I’ve used my homemade flea powder on rugs and at doorways to avoid spraying chemicals inside.
I also added a clove of garlic to their breakfast smoothies.
Hold up. Garlic is on the WNTF list!
Excessive amounts can result in Heinz body syndrome (red blood cell destruction). But, in small doses, garlic is actually quite good for your dog. But like avocados, some dogs are hyper-sensitive and cannot tolerate it. The Raw Roundup folks swear by its efficacy on fleas, as well as overall benefits to immune health. Dr. Pitcairn (The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats) recommends 1 clove of fresh garlic for a dog weighing 20-40 lbs.
So I began adding a single clove per 8oz smoothie (which I divide between the 2 25-lb dogs), and that amount is well-tolerated. My hope is that over time, it will make Pearl and Truman unpalatable to fleas in the hood. I’m also hopeful that as their immune systems continue to grow stronger through their proper non-kibble, raw diet, fleas will ultimately not be a concern.
In the meantime, it’s half a dose of topical and extra attention on the liver support with things like milk thistle seed, basil, broccoli & fermented raw goats milk.