Seeing Red

2016 has started off fast! I’ve not had time to blog, and just discovered a stack of posts half-drafted that are waiting for my attention.

They’ll have to wait. This is big news.

After several months of multiple failed attempts to consult with Dr. Natalie to help get Evelyn healthy enough to withstand her heartworm treatment, I finally gave up.

You can only beg someone to take your money so many times, right? 

My brother-in-law’s brother suggested I try Dr. Mary Battistella at Kowaliga Whole Health Pet Care in Eclectic, Alabama. (Thanks Andrew!) I called on Monday of last week, and immediately got in to see her the following afternoon. Granted, it was a 2-hour drive south, but in the end…Totally. Worth it.

Since Evelyn’s arrival on Labor Day 2015, she has had a significant skin problem. The skin along her back was rough and discolored, the hair was patchy, and she scratched at it constantly. The base of her tail is completely smooth with no hair at all.

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This coat is a complete wreck. The base of her tail is totally hairless. This pic is from her first week with me, and things really haven’t improved.

I didn’t worry too much at first because she had so many other things going on — vastly malnourished and underweight, heartworm positive, mast cell tumors, and various other imbalances — I focused on stabilizing her nutrition, tumor removal, and heartworm eradication. All along the way, we tried anti-fungal spray and shampoo, antibiotics, steroids, Bendadryl, Apoquel. I’ve been massaging coconut oil into her skin at night for months, to no avail. Nothing worked.

Until now.

Dr. Battistella took one look and said, “allergies.” She took hair and saliva samples from Evelyn and shipped them to a lab called Glacier Peak Holistics. Ten days later, we got this:

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Everything in red is a trigger for Evelyn.

Dang!

The good news is that only the circled items are the things she’s had in her diet: Chicken, chicken eggs, carrots, sweet potato, peaches, dairy milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt. 

The bad news is that I fed her a ton of cottage cheese back in November and December when I was desperate to get weight on her so that she could have her second heartworm shot. I also fed carrots and sweet potatoes regularly. Raw chicken is in the rotation. She gets a raw egg in her breakfast smoothie. Every. Day.

Poor baby! No wonder she was scratching non-stop!

The better news is that there is SO much on that list she is NOT allergic to. And now I know what to avoid. We have a lot to work with here and I am so grateful to Dr. Battistella. 

So is Evelyn!

Dr. B also gave us a B-12 vitamin, wheat germ oil to apply topically, and a homeopathic tonic for skin that I give her daily. With the dietary No-No’s delineated, I am finally hopeful that we can solve this problem from the inside out, and get her health on the right track once and for all.

Thanks Dr. B!

pugs & kisses,

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Gobble, Gobble!

Y’all. Answers Pet Food, one of my go-to’s for my prepared raw rotation, has developed a new flavor.

TURKEY!

Check it out here!

We are so excited to try it, but it hasn’t arrived in Alabama yet. That does not mean that it hasn’t arrived where YOU live.

So #BOLO (not to be confused with #YOLO).

This is truly my favorite commercially prepared raw food company for several reasons.

1. They are very particular about their supply farms. They only cooperate with the best of their local grass-fed, cage-free, antibiotic-free, GMO-free, free-range you name it humane farms that care about the lives of their stock from start to finish.

2. They are a certified Green company. All of their packaging comes from recycled materials. They don’t use plastics, so everything has a bit of a simple look about it, which is appealing to me.

3. They incorporate kombucha (fermented green tea) which is SO good for the gut. Just like for you and me, replacing the healthy gut flora regularly through live, active probiotics may be the most crucial element of a healthy diet. Because without healthy digestion — which is more than just the breakdown of food we eat, it’s absorption of nutrition — everything is just passing through.

4. The Detailed line is as balanced as one could realistically hope for in a commercially prepared food. Much, much, MUCH more so than any kibble, no matter the quality. Just look at the ingredient label and compare it to what you’re feeding your dog. Even if you’re comfortable with your kibble of choice, the process the ingredients go through to transform it into tiny little round bites necessarily compromises the nuritional value for your dog.

5. Which is why I encourage my friends who insist on feeding kibble to supplement with Answers Goat Milk. It, too, is loaded with probiotics, is an easily digested protein source, and is a natural antihistamine.  Read all about it here: http://answerspetfood.com/additional.html

Detailed Answers is a great alternative to incorporate into your raw rotation.

Give it a try!

pugs & kisses,

Speaking of Superfoods…

Kelp. It does a body good.

When I altered the fruit: veggie ratio in the Pugs’ breakfast smoothies, one of the new additions was Kelp.

I’d read about it, and wondered where in the world I’d find it. I’d pondered seaweed wrappers at the grocery store, but something in my head said, Maybe. But I didn’t take the plunge until recently.

I know y’all are like, Geez! Something else we’ve got to add to this already voluminous food regimen? But hold up. Hear me out.

First of all, it’s just another option. Something for you to consider, and when you come across it in a store, you’ll be armed with knowledge. (Knowledge being power and whatnot) (You’re welcome).

Second, don’t get overwhelmed. Do what you can and keep it simple. Every little bit you do, whether it’s adding raw goat’s milk, or the occasional farm egg, or pureed pumpkin atop a higher quality kibble than you were buying 6 months ago — to provide fresh, wHOLe foods to your dog’s diet will have a positive impact on overall health.

Third, Kelp is the bomb! It is LOADED with a bajillion minerals and vitamins including A, B12 and folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. It also contains iodine, which helps to balance the functioning of glands (thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, etc.).

It’s fab for skin & coat, helps manage fleas (bonus!), and might be something to consider if you’ve got yourself a plump pup because it improves metabolism (a side-effect of improved glandular function).

It’s high in fiber, which combats inflammation and is also high in iron, which is important for blood production, among other things.

So for all the reasons it’s great for people, it’s great for your dog, too.

Lucky for me, I found Pet Kelp at The Whole Dog Market a few weeks ago, and began adding a half teaspoon to their smoothies when it came time to increase the veg/decrease the fruit. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not noticed any dramatic shifts in health that I can exclusively attribute to the addition of the kelp. But I have noticed that Pearl’s yeast and urine issues appear to be gone, the scratching has subsided, and she’s slimmed back down to a respectable roundness. Thus, their overall health is on point. And kelp is part of what we do.

So, I plan to keep doing it. Give it some thought.

pugs & kisses,

Why all the hype on Tripe?

When I first arrived in Paris as a student some 25 years ago, early wisdom taught me to carefully regard restaurant menus for such horrendous French culinary “delicacies” as shortbreads and tripe.

Sneaky bastards.

In the years since, I’ve continued to avoid the likes of “off cuts” of meats and various internal organs of animals when I dine at fancy places that like to slip that shit in on you impress with kitchen creativity. But when I began reading about feeding a raw diet to my dogs, tripe kept popping up over and over.

Feed tripe. Green tripe. Raw green tripe. Tripe tripe tripe. Feed tripe.

You get the idea.

Do y’all know what it is?!

Cow stomach.

Ew.

I have been content to draw the line at chicken livers, especially after having dealt with that atrocious slippery nasty cow liver back in the Fall, but then I was perusing the Whole Dog Market the other day and stumbled upon Evanger’s Gently Dried Beef Tripe.

(Shopper’s note: It’s important to look down when shopping because often some really super stuff is tucked away below eye level. They tend to stock the popular stuff where lazy less discerning shoppers look. I tend to buy not-so-popular items (like tripe) and have been known to get on the floor in a store to dig out what I want. There’s your life goal for the day. Now back to the story).

Why all the hype? Tripe is practically a superfood for dogs. Not the bleached out white tripe that you may find yourself attracted to because it looks clean. We’re talking the green kind. Raw. Fresh out of the deceased beast.

It is loaded with digestive enzymes. If you’ve been supplementing with a powdered digestive enzyme, as I have been, wouldn’t it be better to feed something that naturally contains all those enzymes? Digestive enzymes live in the stomach, and when the animal dies, there they lie. And gently drying the organ so that it’s easier to handle and manage doesn’t destroy them like cooking or bleaching do. (obvi.)

Why are digestive enzymes important? They aid in digestion. Duh. But why is THAT important? The body has to work hard (read: expend energy) to digest and produce its own enzymes to absorb nutrition from the food you feed it. If it has some help in that venture, the energy normally expended in digestion can be used in an area that may need attention (read: immune support).

Green tripe is also chock full of probiotics. A healthy gut is critical to a healthy animal (human, canine, feline, or other). #truth. And higher levels of “good” bacteria in the belly can beat out the bad bacteria that may be present and causing an imbalance. According to this article in Dogs Naturally Magazine (great article worth reading), almost anything from diarrhea to constipation, to irritable bowel syndrome, to yeast infections to pollen allergies can be improved by feeding your dog (or cat) raw green tripe because of the overall assistance to digestion and population of healthy gut microflora.

Help the body help itself, yo.

It may be hard to find in its freshest form, and you may have to have an iron stomach of your own to take it on that way. But for a less messy option, consider Evanger’s. I’m glad I looked down to the bottom shelf the other day and found it. My dogs LOVE it as a snack after dinner. It breaks pretty easily into smaller bits. Even the cat loves it, and he’s picky as hell.

pugs & kisses!