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,

Scratching the Itch

It’s almost summer, and it seems the occupants of this house have been focused heavily on fleas and how to eradicate without topical or ingestible poison.

After spreading diatomaceous earth all over the deck, patio, under shrubs, along the fence, and basically throughout the yard, I realized that is the ingredient of my flea powder that made the Pugs scratch like crazy.

AWESOME! 

#fail

Thank God for the recent deluge that washed it all away.

I finally decided to just hire a mosquito service to come spray the yard every 3 weeks from now until October. Expensive, yes, but still cheaper than some of my vet bills.

The treatment is effective against mosquitos and fleas. Here’s hoping that approach, when paired with weekly baths, daily flea-combing, and boosted immune health will adequately address our issue on that front. I’ll keep you posted.

Even with all that, they have still been scratching incessantly, especially at 4am (which puts me in an especially bad mood).

What’s the prob?

I mean, I feed them raw, local honey daily, which should homeopathically address pollen allergies (I mean, it certainly has worked for me. First time in years that I’ve gone all spring without a sinus infection. Just sayin).

I feed them raw, fermented goats milk daily, which is a natural antihistamine.

They have a raw and grain-free diet, of course.

The diatomaceous earth is gone now.

What the deal-io?

I may never know for sure, but I’m not going to run to the vet for steroids or antibiotics that will only mask the symptoms and ultimately cause more harm than good over time.

As I was pulling on my hair and furrowing my brow over what to do, Dogs Naturally Magazine posted this article that gave me some options.

How fortuitous! Answered prayer, perhaps?

I read through it and realized I had most of the natural itch arresters right there in my pantry!

Being a throwback hippie is starting to pay off!

The most immediately effective thing I tried was coconut oil. I scooped some out, warmed it in my hands, and rubbed it into their skin where they seemed to be most bothered. They stopped scratching instantly, curled up and went to sleep.

DANG!

The next day, I pulled Basil and Oregano from my herb garden-window box and made a strong medicinal tea with it. I plucked about 2 tablespoons of each, boiled water, removed from heat, added the herbs and let it steep overnight. I then poured it over their meals.

Seems to be working. Not as instantly noticeable, but they’re not scratching quite as much, especially using the two together.

Then I dug around in my dried herbs and saw I had Calendula petals (Marigold) right there in a little bag in the fridge! I made a very strong medicinal tea with it, using the same method.

Boiled water first, removed it from heat, added the herb, and this time, I let it steep for 2 full days. It was very concentrated, so I got a big bowl with a lid, added almost a gallon of water to the concentrate, and stuck it in the fridge to use as a rinse after baths.

I bathed them and poured generous amounts over their coats as a final rinse, and let it air dry.

No. Scratching.

AND they smelled simply delightful! 🙂

Tip: Let the stuff come to room temp or close to it, unless it’s super hot outside, because it will be super cold fresh out of the fridge, and your dog may not love you that much after you freeze her tooter off.

I also have an arsenal of lemons and garlic at my disposal, and once the Calendula tea is finished, I can make a different rinse using them.

Options a-plenty! I encourage you to experiment with these if your dog is scratching the never-ending itch. Making the rinses will take a little bit of time and planning, but really, much much less expensive and a much healthier option than a trip to the vet. And if these methods absolutely fail, then you might have something else going on that does need medical attention.

pugs & kisses!

Is it worth a shot?

The topic of vaccinations has been stirring up some controversy here lately. I’m not talking about vaccinations in children, which is a subject that has prompted many a parent on Facebook to spew vitriol from both ends of the spectrum. I’m talking, of course, about vaccinations in our beloved companion animals.

Do what you want with your kids. I don’t have a dog in that fight.

Once upon a time, I was hyper-aware of when annual vaccinations were due for my dogs. I had it on my calendar. I got multiple postcard reminders in the mail from my vet. I would receive an almost panicked email notification from my dog daycare place with a big red warning banner weeks before the expiration. I feared that my dogs would become immediately at risk for infectious disease if I did not race to the vet before the deadline.

It gave me anxiety.

I don’t remember having such concerns about our pets when I was growing up.

I had to plan for the expense, and it was always costly, particularly as I have always had more than one dog. Also, it was rare that vaccines were the only things we got whenever I darkened the door of the vet’s office.

(Cue ‘The Apprentice’ theme song here… 

…and visions of Donald Trump’s hair blowing in the wind…)

Last summer, after my conversion to alternative approaches to canine health, I began to notice articles in magazines such as this one in Dogs Naturally Magazine and on blogs discussing the necessity of annual vaccines, and it caused me to pause and ponder the question.

Is it worth the shot?

After the initial inoculations during puppyhood for canine hepatitis, parvo, and distemper, which are undoubtedly effective against the diseases, are “booster” shots–on an annual basis–necessary to maintain the desired immunity levels? And if not, are they harmful?

Veterinarian researchers raised those questions some 30 years ago. After the initial study and multiple repeat studies, they came to the conclusion that the minimum duration of immunity for canine vaccines for distemper, parvo, and canine hepatitis (adenovirus) is 7 years.

7 years.

Not one.

Seven.

In a medical journal article published in 1995, Dr. Ronald Schultz, a veterinary immunologist and (at that time was) chair of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences, concluded that:

“Vaccines for diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus, once administered to adult animals, provide lifetime immunity.”

Dude, he said lifetime.

If the antibody levels in the blood are strong, and giving a booster will not increase the antibody levels, but could put the animal at undue risk, why give it?

Vets continue to press all of us into having our dogs and cats vaccinated each year.

But why? If the studies show one thing and vets insist on doing the opposite, what could possibly be driving it?

???…$$$…???

It’s certainly a guaranteed income stream. In fact, on average yearly vaccinations account for about 14% of annual revenue for veterinarians nationwide.

The practice of annual revaccination did not even begin until the late 1970’s — which may explain why it was not so much a concern at the Smith house when I was growing up.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Vaccines against these canine diseases are very important. The question I raise is with respect to how often they must be given.

So, how do you know whether your dog is protected against the diseases?

Go get you a Titer test!

What’s a Titer? (pronounced Ty-ter).

A Titer is a blood test to determine the levels of antibody for each of the standard vaccines in the bloodstream.

Your vet will do it.

Last week, we went to Well Being Medicine for Animals (like them on Facebook). Dr. Natalie drew a blood sample from each Pug, and was able to run the test for the standard set (Hepatitis, Parvo & Distemper) there in her office. The Rabies Titer for each required a larger blood sample and had to be sent to an outside lab, so we don’t have those results back yet. And really, the results are immaterial because both dogs are due for a 3-year shot under Alabama law anyway. But I wanted to know, so I had the test done.

But the results we do have are extremely strong. And they are good for three more years.

What about doggie daycare? Why are their knickers in a twist about shots?

My guess is, at least in this part of the country, it’s largely due to ignorance of the science.

But, you can educate them! They’ve made you sign a waiver promising to not sue them for anything that happens to your dog while in their care anyway. What difference does it make to them?

(Side note: kudos to my good friends at Just Happy Hounds-Midtown for being a leader on this. They do accept Titer results. Thanks guys! Y’all are awesome!)

So, dig around in the dirt a bit and get informed. Then get out there and advocate for your fur baby!

pugs & kisses,

SMOOTHIES!!!

Berry smoothie for dogs

You too can make your HOL dog a smoothie that he will LOVE.

Basically, any fruit will do, and the recipe is largely the same except for the fruit. You could drink it yourself, except that the Answers raw, fermented goats milk I use in all of them is not for human consumption b/c it’s not pasteurized. So, here’s you some options to get you started. All recipes are for a 50lb dog. Adjust according to your dog’s size.

SMOOTH AWAY!

Straw-Monkey

  • 1 whole banana, peeled (duh) and broken into pieces
  • 5 strawberries, topped
  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • small bunch of fresh mint leaves without the stems
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon or turmeric
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk.

WHIRRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8 oz.

Berry Blitz

  • 2 oz Blueberries
  • 2 oz Raspberries
  • 2 oz Strawberries
  • small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon or turmeric
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk.

WHIRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8 oz.

Orange Crush

  • 3-4 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric or cinnamon
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk.

WHIRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8 oz.

Green Goblin

  • 1 small avocado, pitted and peeled
  • small bunch of mint and basil, stems removed
  • 1 tsp dried kelp
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk

WHIRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8oz.

I make an 8oz smoothie every morning and divide it between Pearl and Truman. That is their breakfast. They get their meat meal at night.

The goats milk provides them with protein, as well as probiotics to start their day. The cinnamon or turmeric act as natural anti-inflammatories, as well as digestive aids (among other things–enough to fill their own blog post). The garlic is for flea & tick avoidance. Such a small amount should not bother your dog, but some dogs may be hyper-sensitive to garlic. So try a little and see how your dog reacts. If he doesn’t have a reaction, go with it. If he does, please use your brain and quit giving it to him. The raw, local honey is an antimicrobial, contains wonderful phytonutrients, and helps keep seasonal allergies in check.

Give them a try! Simple as pie!

pugs & kisses,