Is your dog a bread maker?

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.

Womp womp.

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!

YIKES!

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.

But how?

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!

Herbs FTW!

(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.

Orijin Free Run Duck Treats
Truman & Pearl are coo-coo for these treats. Like nothing I’ve ever seen.

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.

Live and learn!

pugs & kisses,

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We are Diggin the Bone Broth, baby!

Have y’all discovered bone broth yet? If not, permit me to introduce you.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an article touting the benefits of bone broth, and last week a friend shared with me another. I decided to give it a try, and now I’m hooked.

I’ve been feeding raw bones to Pearl and Truman for months, but I’ve limited them to chicken and game foul because of their size. I’d gotten a look at beef bones back in the early Fall, and they were far too large for a Pug mouth, and I’ve puzzled over how to get some variety into the bone offerings.

Enter: bone broth.

Isn’t it the same thing as stock?

No. Stock will typically have onions and other vegetables in it, and onions are a no-no for dogs. Also, it’s most likely quickly processed at a high heat, which compromises the nutrients that may have once resided in the bones. Plus, the stock or broth you buy at the store is often LOADED with sodium to keep it from turning rancid while it sits on the shelf waiting for you to buy it.

It’ll be better if you make it yourself.

Fresh, Douggie.

That’s how we roll now anyway, right?

But, why bone broth?

  1. It’s easy.
  2. It’s inexpensive.
  3. It’s full of beautiful nutrition.
  4. It’s a great way to warm refrigerated meals.

Bone broth is rich in amino acids, and loaded with natural glucosamine, gelatin, and chondroitin, which are all good for joint health. It contains protein, of course, plus vitamins C, D, K, calcium, thiamin, potassium, iron, and everything else that raw bones have to offer–except the pure pleasure that comes from gnawing and crunching.

How do you make it?

  • Get some bones. Any kind. Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, whatever. Raw or cooked. Raw is better, of course. But I used a rotisserie chicken carcass to get additional use from it before I tossed it. After you’ve cooked them, remember do not feed to your dog. Toss ’em.
  • Put them in a pot. A stock pot or crockpot. (Good use for that crockpot that otherwise takes up space waiting for you to make chili for the office cook-off). Simply cover the bottom with bones.
  • Fill the pot with water.
  • Add a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar, or regular vinegar if you don’t have ACV.
  • Cook it low and slow. The longer the better. I cooked mine overnight.
  • You can add delightful things like turmeric or parsley or unrefined sea salt. This is a good way to incorporate herbs, minerals, or other natural supplements depending on your dog’s needs. Make sure anything you add is safe for your dog to consume.

You can freeze it in ice trays, or soup containers, or freezer bags. Gently thaw it in a double boiler or in warm water (better than microwaving), and ladle it over your dog’s dinner.

If your pup is feeling puny, bone broth is a gentle way to get vital nutrients in his system.

If you’ve got a senior pet that is in need of joint support, bone broth is a healthy, natural way to supply the body with the essential nutrients it needs.

Adding a measure of turmeric, depending on how much you’re making, can provide an arthritic dog with a natural anti-inflammatory, instead of a synthetic drug or vitamin supplement.

Underlying all of that, it’s just a real simple way to add richness and variety to your dog’s diet.

Give it a try!

pugs & kisses,

Get in the Game

Last Fall, I was the fortunate beneficiary of my brother-in-law’s generosity. He had a freezer full of plucked, cleaned, and vacuum packed game fowl that he kindly contributed to my raw diet adventures. Best part?

FREE.

Back in October, I was still nervous about feeding raw bones. I thought the smaller, more delicate bones of these game birds might be easier for Pearl and Truman to crunch and less likely to cause an obstruction, particularly if I cut them sufficiently. I was correct.

Pearl and Truman LOVE quail, pheasant and chucker. The dark meat is rich and flavorful. Having been cleaned and packed fresh at the hunting camp, they were full of what nature has to offer a hungry pup–fresh, raw, bloody meat, and bones rich with calcium and the incomparable nutrition of the marrow. These small wild birds were not raised in a massive chicken house, or in a cage, nor fed growth hormones or antibiotics.

I don’t do guns, and I don’t approve of hunting just for the sport of it. But I live in Alabama, and you can’t throw a rock without it landing on a hunter, even if you’re surrounded by women. (And they’ll point their rifle at you for throwing the rock at them, so it’s not advised). Given that reality, if you have a hunter in the family, and you happen to luck into some excess duck or Venison, your dog will love you if you let him Get in the Game.

You can pretty much feed anything from a hunt– Duck, Venison, Quail, Pheasant, Rabbit–to your dog. These protein sources are biologically appropriate for canines. Dogs have consumed these animals from the time of their earliest existence. Just be aware of your dog’s ability to get through a bone. Doubtful a Pug or Pomeranian can manage a deer bone. So, as always, use common sense.

Here’s a recipe for Winter Quail & Sweet Potato (makes 2 meals for a 25 lb dog):

Ingredients:

  • 1 raw Quail (1 Quail is usually about 6 oz)
  • 1/2 small local, organic sweet potato, baked (Hint: I usually bake 2 or 3 sweet potatoes at a time, then keep them in the fridge for use in several meals during the week).
  • 2 oz raw goat’s milk
  • 2 tsp raw, local honey
  • half scoop of digestive enzyme

Directions:

  • Check the bird for birdshot and remove any pellets.
  • Using kitchen shears, cut the meat away from the bone as much as possible. (I do this for my small dogs to assist them because their mouths and teeth are small. This step and the next may not be necessary for a larger dog).
  • Cut the bones of the wings and legs at the joints. Then cut the breast bone in quarters.
  • For 25-lb dog, measure 3oz of meat with bones in the bowl.
  • Add 1/4 (about 1 oz) baked sweet potato, skin removed, and mashed. Sprinkle with digestive enzyme.
  • Add 1 oz raw goat’s milk, and 1 tsp raw honey.
  • Watch your dog try to eat through the bottom of the bowl.

Enjoy!

pugs & kisses,

Ring-a-ding-ding! Time for Chicken Wings!

I still get stares of disbelief whenever I tell folks I feed my dogs chicken bones.

YES. They eat the RAW meat ON THE BONE.

They eat the bone.

Because it’s Raw, it does not splinter. It crunches, and even Pug jaws are strong enough to break the bone into bite size bits. Their stomachs have high levels of hydrochloric acid, so they have no trouble digesting.

When I shop, I usually look for sale items at Whole Foods. In the poultry section, they have bone-in, skin-on wings and thighs in a strip of 3 perforated pouches. Because more people want boneless, skinless breasts for their own use, the wings & thighs are cheaper.

I buy in bulk and freeze. My freezer is my friend.

I do a lot of prep on the weekends so that my weekday mornings and evenings are stress-free.

Once I learned I was overfeeding, I cut back to 3-4 oz twice per day for these 25-lb Pugs. One hormone-free raw chicken wing is about 3 oz.

Truman & Pearl have no trouble crunching the bones, but they do have trouble–with their tiny front-row chicklets–tearing the meat from the bones. So I help them out by cutting the meat away from the bones, and then cutting the bones at the joints. (Sharp kitchen sheers are also my friend.)

Here’s what they ate all week last week:

  • 1 raw chicken wing
  • 1 oz raw goats milk (for probiotics) OR
  • 1 oz fresh bell pepper
  • 1 tsp raw, local honey (for allergies)
  • sprinkle of ground milk thistle seed (for liver support)
  • sprinkle of ground roasted pumpkin seed (in case of worms)

You can do this. It’s not that hard, and it’s no more costly than those prescription bags of kibble I bought for years.

pugs & kisses,