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Feeling No Shame

Oliver shaming
Dog shaming has become an entertaining and amusing past time, with internet sites and YouTube videos galore. Yet expert behaviorists insist that dogs lack the capacity to feel shame. The guilty look they give us - head cowered, ears back, and soulful eyes - is a reaction to the anger you are expressing through the tone of your voice. Dogs live in the “now” and they can’t make the connection between your anger and something they did hours, or even minutes, earlier. That is why any dog trainer worthy of the job will tell you that if you don’t catch your dog in the act of doing a bad behavior, there is no benefit to disciplining them.

“Just get over it and remind yourself not to put temptation in the way next time,” says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Even people who get great laughs out of dog shaming, like Pascale Lemire, the creator of the oldest and first website to publish those types of photos, Dogshaming.com will admit to the fallacy. “I don’t think dogs actually feel shame,” Lemire says. “I think they know how to placate us with this sad puppy-dog look that makes us think they’re ashamed of what they’ve done.”

So remember, if you just want to have fun and shame your dog with a proclamation and a photo, go right ahead. But if you really want to change the behavior, you need to take the responsibility and remove the temptation or work with a professional trainer to eliminate the behavior.

Healing Power of Food

BB blog veggies
There is no denying the benefits that Western medicine has brought to the world of veterinary medicine, but every now and then they can be at best, ineffectual or at worst, damaging. When that happens, we look to help our dogs with homeopathic and herbal remedies, many of which provide amazing results. Yet in our search for cures, we often overlook one of the most basic ingredients of life - food.

There are foods that contain certain properties that can have incredible healing benefits, especially when working in conjunction with one another. Often times they can help dogs deal with the side effects from medications, protect sensitive digestive tracts damaged by drug therapy, and boost the immune system. I have used food to help dogs with allergies, hypothyroidism, cancer, renal disease, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, arthritis and lupus, just to name a few. Just recently, food cured one of my dogs of ulcers and a h. pylori infection brought about by antibiotic therapy used to treat another problem. His rapid recovery surprised the team of vets working on him and made them even admit that food can be an effective treatment. Here is his story…

Elliot small

This is Elliot (aka Jelly Roll, Moose Munch). He is a two year old Shetland Sheepdog with tons of energy and the appetite of a dog twice his size. Last summer, we took care of a friend’s puppy who had been adopted from the shelter. Unfortunately after his stay, he left behind an unwelcome visitor - coccidia, a microscopic parasite that can be found everywhere, but can reach overwhelming numbers in unsanitary situations like an animal shelter. It is passed via contamination through feces. One of my six dogs came down with explosive diarrhea, four others came down with mild symptoms, and one was unaffected. Each of the infected dogs received the standard treatment for coccidiosis; 2 weeks of metronidazole and amoxicillin, both antibiotics, and Prostora, a probiotic to replace the bad bacteria with good in the intestinal tract. Every one seemed to tolerate the treatment well and the diarrhea disappeared.

About a week and a half into the treatment, Elliot started to become disinterested in his food. He would eat only a small portion and then stare at his bowl. Anyone who has ever owned a Sheltie knows that they adore food, so I knew he wasn’t feeling well. A trip to the clinic, along with some tests, showed that the coccidia was gone and everything was normal. The only oddity was that his tonsils were swollen, but no fever. After being on two different antibiotics this seemed very strange. The vets prescribed Rimadyl, which I normally avoid like the plague, but as he was acting so miserable, I thought I would give it a try to see if we could reduce the inflammation in his tonsils. I also decided to try some novel proteins thinking he might be having an allergic reaction to his normal diet.

Five days later, acting even more disinterested in food, I took him into the clinic again. His tonsils were still swollen, but other than that the tests all came back normal. I decided to have an ultrasound and endoscopy done. Two days later he was under anesthesia having the procedure. The ultrasound found all of his organs looking normal. The endoscopy discovered small ulcers, no doubt caused by the Rimadyl, and mild IBD in his duodenum. Tissue samples were taken. I also had a blood allergy test done to check for any foods he might be allergic to. Elliot went home, still only marginally interested in food, and then only with a lot of coaxing. I gave him some Manuka honey that he really seemed to enjoy.

The following morning the clinic called me to give me their diagnosis. The tissue samples showed large numbers of heliobacter pylori (h. pylori), a bacteria found in the stomach. For the most part, h. pylori does not cause any problems unless it becomes overabundant, which can happen when good bacteria in the digestive tract is killed off by mild antibiotics (which don’t affect h. pylori). Interestingly enough, h. pylori can cause swollen tonsils. It also causes ulcers in people, but there hasn’t been enough testing to know if it causes ulcers in dogs. The blood allergy test was also interesting. Elliot was highly allergic to every novel protein, moderately allergic to beef and eggs, and not at all allergic to chicken and fish.

The standard treatment for h. pylori is a combination of three antibiotics; metronidazole, amoxicillin and the most powerful, azithromycin. Elliot had been on the first two already and seemed to tolerate them so I wasn’t too worried. I picked up the third antibiotic and gave them to him. After two doses he vomited and stopped eating completely. Talking to the vets I told them that he wasn’t going to be able to tolerate the meds, and their response was that, without them, he would not overcome the h. pylori infection. I knew that I had to try a different approach and so I spent the next day doing nothing but research. Here is what I found and what I did for Elliot:

Two of my favorite food source antibacterials have been shown to be effective against h. pylori. The first is Manuka honey (medical reference here). Elliot had already been receiving a tablespoon of Manuka honey daily. I increased the dosage to three heaping tablespoons spaced evenly throughout the day.

The second food source was coconut oil. A published medical study (medical reference here) discovered that the lauric acid found in coconut oil has shown an antibacterial affect against h. pylori. I started Elliot on a teaspoon of coconut oil twice a day.

Further research led me to broccoli sprouts, which contain a phytochemical called sulforaphane that has been shown to have an antibacterial effect on h. pylori (medical reference here). As Elliot has always loved broccoli, switching him to broccoli sprouts was easy.

Lastly I changed his diet and eliminated all the proteins that he was allergic to. His meals consisted of white meat chicken, brown rice, broccoli sprouts, and coconut oil. He received Manuka honey 20 minutes before each meal and at noon. By the evening of the first day, he was already showing more interest in his food. By day number three he was scarfing it down like his old self. On the fourth day he was back at the vets a changed dog. No more swollen tonsils and another endoscopy biopsy showed no h. pylori and healing ulcers.

His diet now has a lot more variety, but he still gets coconut oil, Manuka honey and broccoli sprouts several times a week.

This is just but one story of many that I have experienced where the healing power of food has been able to do what modern medicine could not. Using food and herbs to cure may not be instantaneous but, with a little patience, it can bring about amazing results.

Cooking for Six

Thankful kids

I home-cook for these six dogs, and have done so for over seven years. When I tell people that I cook for my dogs they always say they don’t know where I find the time. I can only imagine that they think I am a stay at home mom with hours of spare time on my hands. Wrong. I work full time, running two businesses, ride and care for four horses, cook and clean for myself and my husband, write part-time, and of course, groom, exercise and feed six dogs. The last thing I have time for is spending hours in the kitchen preparing food. But that’s just it; it doesn’t take that long to cook for dogs. For these six it takes less than thirty minutes twice a week. You don’t need a complex recipe, just common sense, simple ingredients and a few critical supplements.

Please Note: There are many different ways to feed your dog; raw, cooked, even a combination of kibble and human food. It is always up to the individual to decide what type of diet is best for their dog. We will be discussing the preparation for a cooked diet, but there are plenty of resources online if you would prefer to try a different approach.

The Food


Protein - Dogs need protein as the main ingredient in their diet. The meat portion of every meal should be at least two-thirds of the total amount of food. Organ meat falls into this category as well and should make up no more than 5% of the total meal.
Vegetables - Some people like a strictly meat diet for their dog. Mine do better with vegetables added in for fiber, calories, vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrates (rice, quinoa, oats etc) - I don’t use a lot of these except for some of my super high energy dogs who need the extra calories to keep weight on.
Dairy - A good source of protein and calcium. This is more of a supplemental addition, not a main source of protein.
Fruits - Not necessary, but my dogs love the occasional addition of a small amount of fresh fruit to the meal, especially bananas, berries and applesauce.

The Prep


I like to make sure that my dogs get a wide variety of foods during the week, but I also keep what I cook fairly consistent to make it easier on me.

Sunday - total prep time 30 min


Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line 13 x 9 roasting pans with foil. Fill them with a combination of frozen, boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place cooked meat on a plate to cool in the fridge. When cool, grind up in food processor and store in tupperware in the fridge. While meat is cooking lightly boil organ meat (chicken gizzards, beef/chicken liver, beef heart) for 15 min. Remove from heat to cool, store in tupperware in fridge. Also while meat is cooking, rehydrate a large bowl of Bingo’s Bounty vegetables. Once cool, drain water and store in tupperware in fridge. I will also make a small amount of rice, quinoa or oatmeal for my dogs who need the calories. Store in tupperware in fridge.

Wednesday - total prep time 30 min


Tuesday evening, take either hamburger or ground turkey out of the freezer to thaw. Pan fry lightly Wednesday morning. While meat is cooking, cut several types of winter squash (butternut, acorn, fairy, spaghetti) in half, scoop out seeds, place in roasting pan with 2” of water. Cook at 275 degrees for 45-60 min. Remove from skin and cut up when cool. Store in tupperware in fridge. In a pinch you can substitute canned pumpkin (not the pie mix) if you don’t have time to cook the squash. Cook additional organ meat if necessary as well as any extra carbohydrates needed.

The Menu


Monday AM - chicken, organ meat, Bingo’s Bounty, whole milk yogurt, carbs (skinny dogs only ). PM - the same without the yogurt
Tuesday AM - chicken, Bingo’s Bounty, fruit, carbs (skinny dogs). PM - the same without the fruit
Wednesday AM - scrambled eggs, organ meat,Bingo’s Bounty, cottage cheese, carbs (skinny dogs). PM - chicken, Bingo’s Bounty, carbs (skinny dogs)
Thursday AM - hamburger or turkey, winter squash mix, fruit, carbs (skinny dogs). PM - the same without the fruit
Friday AM - hamburger or turkey, organ meat, winter squash mix, whole milk yogurt, carbs (skinny dogs). PM - the same without the yogurt
Saturday AM - hamburger or turkey, winter squash mix, fruit, carbs (skinny dogs only). PM - the same without the fruit
Sunday AM - scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, organ meat, winter squash mix, carbs (skinny dogs only). PM - baked fish, winter squash mix, carbs (skinny dogs)

Supplements


I add only six main supplements daily.
Every meal:
Calcium supplement - extremely important - please visit here for more information
Probiotic/digestive enzymes
Fish oil
Bingo’s Bounty K9 Joint Soothe
Whole Food Multi-Vitamin

Once a day:
Vitamin E (1-2 IU per lb of body weight)

If you would like information on the amount to feed per meal, please visit here.

Other than the brief time it takes to cook the scrambled eggs and the fish, everything is prepared ahead of time on Sunday and Wednesday for the remaining meals of the week. It is not complicated to feed your dog a healthy diet full of variety, but simply enough for your to prepare easily. It really does not take that long to cook for your dog and it is far healthier than feeding a commercial diet. I highly recommend you give it a try!



The Vaccine Dilemma

If you talk to most veterinarians about the increase of certain illnesses, odds are they will tell you how they have seen a dramatic rise in cases of cancer, auto-immune diseases, hypothyroidism, and epilepsy over the last decade. They will also tell you quite proudly how vaccines have radically reduced or eliminated Parvo, distemper, rabies and a variety of other diseases. What they will rarely if ever admit to, is the connection between the two.

Don’t misunderstand, I feel that vaccination against disease is extremely important; vaccines save lives every day. It is the abuse of these vaccines which is the root of the epidemic that is threatening our pets. And it is an epidemic; whether it is your own dog, or someone else’s, everyone knows of a dog facing some major health challenge. So why aren’t veterinarians making the connection? Well, most of them rely on immediate cause and effect. For instance, if you give a dog a vaccine and they go into anaphylaxis, they can see the correlation between the vaccine and the illness, but if the dog comes down with say epilepsy one to three months after getting “booster” vaccines, they just don’t see the connection. As someone who keeps extremely detailed notes on my dogs, I can tell you that I have seen the connection, on more than one of my dogs, and I took the steps to stop it. But my concern shouldn’t be enough to persuade you into changing the protocol your vet has established for your dog. I am, after all, not a vet, and I would be challenging what I have to say if I were in your shoes too.

When I first started my intense research into vaccines, I came across two extremely knowledgable veterinarians who have both spent a large part of their careers investigating the correlation between vaccines and illness. The first was Dr. Jean Dodds, who has spent the majority of her career researching hypothyroidism. You can learn more about her through her organization Hemopet. The second veterinarian is Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor of Immunology, University of Wisconsin Veterinary School. He is perhaps the foremost veterinary authority in the United States on immunology. I highly recommend that everyone watch this interview with Dr. Schultz. You can also read his credentials here.

Both of these veterinarians are part of the task force for the Rabies Challenge Fund; a study to see if dogs can go as long as seven years before having to be re-vaccinated. They both firmly believe in blood titers, a test designed to gauge the level of antibodies in the blood after a vaccine, and neither one is shy about discussing their views on not requiring annual “boosters”. There is no such thing as boosting your dog’s immunity, your dog either has antibodies against the specific disease or they don’t, you can’t “boost” them to make them stronger. You are simply revving up your dog’s immune system for no reason and that can lead to myriad problems.

Dr. Dodds and Dr. Schultz have developed vaccine protocols that they use on their own pets. I have personally followed Dr Schultz’s protocol for core vaccines for over eight years with astonishing results. In addition, I follow Dr. Karen Becker’s protocol regarding non-core vaccines. Once I have a puppy in my possession, I review what vaccines the breeder or rescue organization has given them. If they have received two shots already, I wait until they are 16 weeks old to vaccinate them one last time for Parvo and Distemper. For me, puppy shots should be limited to 3 sets of only core vaccines (Parvo/Distemper) given three weeks apart.

At 18 weeks, I have a titer run. If they show active antibodies I do NOT vaccinate again. I will run a titer once again at five years. All of my dogs have shown active antibodies in their blood five years after having their last vaccine at only 16 weeks of age! My two oldest dogs (10 and 12 years) were vaccinated last at five years old (before my research began they had annual “boosters”) and titers on both have shown they still possess active antibodies. I do not give the rabies vaccine until they are six months old. I vaccinate every three years with rabies but only because it is required by law. As for the rest of the non-core vaccines, I do not do any of them because my dogs are not in any situations where they would be exposed. It is important to be aware that many veterinarians give core vaccines that have been combined with non-core ones. If you wish to follow the best protocol for your dog, it is important to ask for shots that only contain the core vaccines (Parvo/Distemper). Rabies should always be given when no other shots are given.

After seeing reactions in some of my dogs that are no longer with me; auto-immune hemolytic anemia (3 weeks post “booster” combo vaccine), epilepsy (1 month post “booster” combo vaccine), and lupus (2 months post “booster” combo vaccine) you would be hard pressed to convince me that there is no connection between vaccines, especially combo ones, and illness. All of these dogs went into remission once I stopped vaccinating and put them on a home-cooked diet.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide what is best for your pet and the best way to do that is by educating yourself. Many veterinarians will argue against your decision, but always remember that it is YOUR decision. Our dogs and cats have no voice other than ours, we must speak up and do what we feel is best for them, even if it is not what everyone else is doing.

Oil and Water

In our last blog we talked about the wonderful health benefits of coconut oil. But it is important to remember that all oils are not created equal, and in this month’s blog we will discuss the oils you should avoid or at least be prudent about. We also list oils that are good for your dog.

Some of these oils are found only in commercial dog food, while others can be found sold in pet food stores specifically for dogs and/or cats. If there is one thing we have learned in all the years of research it is that if it there is a human product that has been manufactured for pets, it will always be of an inferior quality to the human product. Never, ever, ever purchase any oil made specifically for pets… you are most likely getting the poorest quality available.


No Joy In Soy


Soybean oil (along with soybean meal) is found quite frequently in processed dog food. Because it is a food eaten by vegetarians, the soybean is mistakenly believed to be a health food. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is also a misconception that Oriental cultures consume large quantities of soy. In truth, they only use soy as a condiment and eat very little of it. Here is a short listing of some of the dangers of soy:

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid that soaking and/or cooking does not neutralize. Phytic acid inhibits the assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. It is also linked to growth problems.

Soy contains trypsin inhibitors which interfere with protein digestion and cause growth problems. They may also cause pancreatic disorders.

Soy is a goitrogenic food which can decrease thyroid function. Dogs with hyperthyroidism should NEVER be fed any soy product.

Soy has been found to increase the body’s need for vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

MSG (monosodium glutamate, also called free glutamic acid) is a potent neurotoxin that is formed during soy food processing.

Soy protein isolate contains elevated levels of toxic aluminum, which affects the nervous system and the kidneys. This is frightening to know especially since most of the prescription diets for kidney disease contain soy protein isolate!

Lastly, a large percentage of dogs are allergic to soy. If you must feed a commercial dog food, find one that does not contain either soybean oil or soybean meal.


Canola Can’t


This pretty, genetically engineered plant produces seeds that make up one of Canada’s top export, canola oil. However, these seeds are not known as a “canola seeds” but by their true name “rapeseed”. And while advertisers have done a wonderful job of promoting canola as a “healthy oil” - its true nature is as dark as its name - and it is unfortunately becoming a favorite ingredient in high end pet foods.

Rapeseed oil has long been used for industrial purposes such as a lubricating oil, insect repellent, fuel, soap base and synthetic rubber base. The plant is derived from the mustard family and it is considered both a toxic and poisonous weed which, when processed becomes rancid very quickly. It is very inexpensive to grow and harvest; even insects won’t eat it!

Between 1986 and 1991, rape oil was widely used in Europe in animal feed. It has since been banned after several types of farm animals (cows, pigs, sheep) went blind and began attacking people.

It is believed that rapeseed oil has a cumulative effect, taking several years before the symptoms present themselves. These symptoms include respiratory distress, anemia, constipation, irritability, and blindness. It has also been linked to heart disease and cancer due to the fact that it contains trans fatty acids.

Canola oil is showing up more and more in dog foods, including high end products, due to its inexpensive nature and its unwarranted reputation as a “healthy oil”. You would do well to avoid any product containing canola oil.


Something Fishy


There are many types of fish oil on the market and while we recommend that you buy only human grade, purified fish oil for your dog, there is one fish oil that you should definitely avoid - cod liver oil.

Many people believe that feeding cod liver oil to their dogs gives them “added benefits”; not only does it contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but vitamin D and A as well. However, recent studies show that the ratio between theses two vitamins is extremely important in order to extract the optimal health benefits. For example, without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. If you are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D cannot function properly either. Unfortunately, modern cod liver oil does not supply these two vitamins in healthy ratios to each other.

Dr. John Cannell, head of the Vitamin D Council, recently released an article entitled “Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic”. In this article, Dr. Cannell raised questions about the effectiveness of cod liver oil due to its highly variable and often excessive amount of vitamin A. Modern cod liver oil contains far less vitamin D than it used to, due to deodorization processes which destroy this fragile nutrient. This excessive amount of vitamin A can build up to toxic levels quite rapidly without the appropriate amount of vitamin D to balance it.

While there are many issues with modern cod liver oil, the primary one is the fact that it is a highly processed food that was never really meant to be consumed. Avoid giving it to your dog.


Healthy Variety


So, you may ask, what is the best oil to feed my dog? The answer is simple; just as we strongly recommend that you utilize a variety of foods when preparing your dog’s home cooked diet, we recommend that you do the same when it comes to oil. Below is a list of several types of oil, including their benefits, that are safe to feed your dog. Rotate them often, even from day to day, and you will reap the benefits of all of them.

PLEASE NOTE: If your dogs suffers from arthritis, limit the amount of omega-6 fatty acid oils as these can cause inflammation. You should still feed omega-6 fatty acid oils for their other benefits, but keep them to a minimum.

Purified fish oil (with a named source of fish)


Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, helps reduce inflammation, lowers cholesterol, lowers triglyceride levels, promotes weight loss, improves skin and coat, improves brain function and vision.

Coconut oil


Anti-fungal, anti-bacerial, anti-viral. Easily digested, boosts immunity, promotes weight loss, protects against heart disease, improves skin and coat, improves thyroid function. See previous blog for more benefits.

Flaxseed oil**


Excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, lowers cholesterol, protects against heart disease, controls high blood pressure, eases constipation, excellent for skin and coat.

**There have been rumors going around that flaxseed oil can cause prostate cancer in dogs. Further research on our part has determined that this statement has not been proven. Certain individuals are trying to make a correlation between the ALA found in flaxseed oil and the ALA found in fatty red meats - these are NOT the same. While the ALA in red meat has been linked to prostate cancer, studies have shown that ALA from plant sources are not linked to prostate cancer.

Olive oil


High in oleic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid), lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, rich in antioxidants, improves brain function and memory, improves heart function, helps in fighting cancer, relieves asthma symptoms, reduces insulin resistance, promotes weight loss and improves skin and coat.

Safflower oil and Sunflower oil


There are two versions of each of these oils. One is high in linoleic acid, the other in oleic acid. They both are an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, great for skin and coat, rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, many of the same benefits as olive oil.

Hemp oil (hexane free)


One of the richest and most balanced source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, improves heart function, helps in fighting cancer, surprising anti-inflammatory, outstanding for skin and coat.

Borage oil


One of the most abundant sources of GLA (gamma linolenic acid), especially beneficial in improving inflammation, lowers blood pressure by promoting healthy circulation, improves skin and coat.
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