How to Help Senior Dogs with Arthritis

20 Jul

old goldens

We can’t avoid our dog’s progression in age, but we can ease the transition from fit adult to senior. As dogs grow older, they typically develop some degree of arthritis, and may even had hip dysplasia or other ailments that affect their joints and movement. It’s a natural part of aging, and the body’s way of telling your pup to slow down and stop to smell some roses—but we can help them along with this phase of their lives and make life a whole lot easier with just a few simple steps.

How can you help your senior dog deal with his arthritis? Some things you may already be doing (it’s just good common sense!) and some you may not have considered. If you’re worried that your dog’s mobility has really begun to suffer, you may need to consult your veterinarian for a more focused approach on one treatment—but there are still some simple steps you can take at home and in your daily routine to help your old “pup” out!

Weight Control

A lot of our steps will have a lot to do (either directly or indirectly) with proper weight control. Just like us, when your dog’s body is carrying more weight than it needs to, it’s adding that stress right to its joints. Proper weight control through nutrition and physical fitness will really help ease the stress your dog’s aging bones and joints feel day to day.

Change in Diet

As your dog gets older and becomes a little less active, it may be time to talk to your vet about a change in diet. Less physical activity means they don’t need all those extra calories found in a regular, healthy adult dog’s food. You may also need to start tapering back their portion size to avoid over-eating and weight gain.

Supplements

Adding a few “extras” to their meals may greatly improve their overall health and quality of life. Things like fish oils, chicken powder, coconut oils, turmeric, dog food protein, and Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements are worth looking into and talking to your vet about to see which is best for your dog. Should you be doing all these supplements at once? Er, no. But your vet will help steer you in the right direction. Some vets prefer fish oils over coconut oil, and vice versa. It’s about finding what’s right for your dog.

Smarter Exercise

When your dog begins to show signs of aging, it may be time to taper back their usual fitness routine and incorporate more low-impact activities. It’s not about just exercising, but getting that daily exercise in a smart way. Perhaps those games of fetch suddenly become games of catch (less running). In the warmer months, some routine trips to the beach for a swim would be ideal and less stressful on their joints. Be prepared to walk a little slower on your walks, and adjust your route to accommodate how far your dog can go before he gets too tired.

Keeping your dog fit into his later years in important, but it’s more important to be smart about how they enjoy their exercise.

Prevent Slipping

Have hardwood floors? Tile? Laminate? Any smooth surface may start posing a challenge to your senior dog—especially when it comes to stairs. A few strategically placed carpets on landings and in rooms their frequent will go a long way. If your dog must frequently go up and down stairs in your home, consider getting the carpet attachment for them to help prevent slipping or an elevated lip on edge of the step.

If you’re adding a carpet to a high-traffic area, consider adding a skid-resistant liner beneath the carpet to avoid that slide when your dog goes through with some momentum!

Encourage Rest

Our dog’s bodies—just like ours—use sleep as a time to allow the body to heal itself. Encourage this restful slumber by providing your dog with an appropriate dog bed that’s well-cushioned and placed in rooms your dog frequents (living room, a bedroom, etc.) and encourage them to use it rather than hopping up on the bed or couch. There’s less impact on their bones and joints when walking onto a plush dog bed rather than hopping up and down onto a couch or (human) bed.

More Visits with Your Veterinarian

An older dog should see their veterinarian more frequently than they did in their youth. It’s important to keep on top of their health and the changes their body is going through. Things like water therapy or acupuncture aren’t just for us—dogs can benefit from them as well! Talk to your vet about the options available in your community. Your vet will help guide you through each step, and advise the next move to ensure your dog enjoys their golden years.

16 Beginner Dog Treat Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less

24 Feb

beginner-dog-treats

Over the last two years we’ve amassed quite an impressive collection of dog treat recipes—and we’re constantly thinking up more! Trying your hand at the humble and hard to screw up dog treat is a great way to play around with baking. After all, dog treats are just very stale, sugarless cookies and dogs aren’t the pickiest when it comes to pet food ingredients. It’s a perfect combination when you’re just starting out as a baker.

If you’re looking to experiment in the kitchen a little bit, consider trying a few of our beginner dog treat recipes! We’ve rounded up a a few classics and a few interesting flavor combinations to try, all with five ingredients or less.

One (or Two) and Done

These treat “recipes” are the easiest of easy to make, because they contain one ingredient, maybe two at the most. Got a sweet potato or a banana on hand? Then you’re ready to get started.

  1. Dehydrated Bananas: If it’s safe for dogs, you can probably dehydrate it into a delicious treat for them! We’ve given our pups dehydrated bananas and mangoes, but the possibilities are pretty endless.
  2. Sweet Potato Jerky: We discovered sweet potato jerky very early on, and its still one of Topher’s favorite treats to work out of a Kong. Or, if you’re looking for a way to literally spice up your jerky treats, these turmeric and coconut oil “fries” were a huge hit last year!
  3. Dog Bone Fillers: Once you realize how easy it is to fill or refill an empty dog bone, you may never buy filled bones again. Last year we tested out three easy dog bone filler recipes, and we continue to use them to this day!
  4. Mango Coconut Fruit Leather: Fruit leather makes a great dog treat, or a great people treat! While the strawberry fruit leather technically has three ingredients, you could definitely leave out the honey if your strawberries are at their peak ripeness.
  5. Chicken Protein: It’s easy to add chicken breast protein powder to a dog’s treat. It provides a boost to their immune system and gives them a healthy dose of the protein they need.

Beginner Dog Treat Recipes

We started making treats at home because we wanted dog treats that weren’t a mash of strange chemicals or fillers. Then we kept making treats because it’s so fun to invent new combinations! Here are some of the treats we go back to again and again, because they come together almost effortlessly.

  1. Vegan Greenie Treats: Our take on the breath freshening treat, without all the ingredients you can’t pronounce. Want more breath freshening power? Just add more herbs!
  2. Peanut Butter Banana Oat: An effortless treat for when your dog has cleaned you out of house and home (what? Is that only Topher?) that uses true staple ingredients in our households.
  3. Classic Frosty Paws: While it might still be a bit too chilly for a frozen treat recipe, our classic take on Frosty Paws should be on any list for beginners. Simply pop all the ingredients in a blender, pour the mix into molds, and freeze! Easy peasy.
  4. Strawberry & Carob: Think chocolate and strawberries, for dogs! The carob and buckwheat makes these treats delightfully dark.

For Sensitive Dogs

For dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies, finding store-bought treats that don’t set off those sensitivities can be difficult. These five recipes are meant for dogs who can’t handle things like dairy or gluten. The best part? There are no strange fillers or unpronounceable chemicals, either!

  1. Gluten Free Ginger Apple: We call this one the ultimate stomach settler. Great for a pup who’s been feeling under the weather or for a simple treat that won’t aggravate other allergies.
  2. Cinnamon Sweet Potato: Another grain free treat that will make your house smell divine. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t thinking about making a cookie version of this for ourselves.
  3. Vegan Sweet Potato: The ultimate treat for dogs with allergies, this contains no gluten, no dairy. Plus, it needs only three ingredients!
  4. Quinoa, Peanut Butter & Carob: Gluten-free flours can be a little tricky, but they’re worth it in the case of these carob treats. If you can’t give your dog eggs, you can substitute coconut oil instead.

Weekend Fun

If you’re looking to step up from the beginner treat recipes and start playing with some new ingredients like herbs or funky vegetables, try on some of these treats. With only five ingredients, they won’t set you back much at the store while still allowing the chance to work with something new and different!

  1. Beet Mint Dog Treats: Since Ivana posted this recipe, I tried beets and they are indeed quite delicious. Your dog will think so too, trust us.
  2. Rosemary Sweet Potato: Inspired by some delicious gnocchi, the rosemary in these treats impart some great health benefits in your pup.
  3. Apple Cheddar: Cheese and apples don’t sound like a great combination, but Topher goes wild for these apple cheddar treats. Although, it might just be that sweet, sweet bacon grease.
  4. Beef & Carrot: Okay, I cheated by adding this dog treat recipe, since it has six ingredients—but these are a big favorite with Topher, and a fun treat to whip up on a weekend. Especially so if you’re like me and dabble in growing your own herbs.

Introducing TruDog: A New System for Complete Health

17 Feb

trudog-raw

Around this time last year, my husband and I had to really crack down about our own nutrition. It required a fair amount of work to shift our eating and cooking habits, but the results have made those changes more than worthwhile. All these changes got me thinking about our pets’ eating habits as well: not just what we were feeding them, but how and when as well.

I’ve always been pretty picky about what we feed our animals, but that came more from the knowledge that we wanted to stick to a certain level of quality and avoid common health pitfalls—obesity being the main one—for our dog and cats. But did my general desire for quality translate into a diet that meets all of Topher’s needs?

Even though I’ve been doing research on this question for a few months now, I’m still working on my final opinion. But today I’m very pleased to introduce TruDog, a company formed by one family that set out to answer a very similar question: we’ve been taking care of ourselves, nutritionally, but what about our dogs? They depend on us for their diet, so how well are we really feeding them?

Freeze Dried Real Ingredients

TruDog’s food products are made by freeze drying real ingredients: beef, beef tripe, beef lung, ground beef bone, beef liver, etc. Freeze drying is a delicate process that preserves the structure and nutritional integrity of fresh whole food. Only water is removed, preserving the characteristics and natural nutrition of fresh real food. This process creates a freeze-dried, “raw” product that needs no refrigeration. Simply store it in a cool, dry place and, before feeding, just add water. Precise feeding instructions are included with every pack that are effortlessly easy to follow.

We knew this product would be a hit when we had to hide it away to keep our dogs and our cats from finding and ripping the bag apart. In fact, Ivana’s cat Ace chewed on the bag itself before she could even open it!

No Fillers, Ever.

TruDog’s food products are wheat, gluten, corn, and soy free, and that’s just the beginning of the list of things they don’t include in their products. This makes them an ideal choice for dogs who have digestive issues or allergies. We know how important a good diet can be for keeping a more sensitive dog healthy and symptom-free, and love seeing companies working on making the pet food industry a little safer for these dogs.

A System for Complete Health

TruDog’s food products are designed to be fed on their own or as a mix-in with other products. All their product lines are meant to be utilized in conjunction with each other, providing optimal health and peace of mind for owners. Each product manufactured is carefully scrutinized to ensure it’s not overlapping other products—in the end providing a complete system that works.

While switching large dogs like Topher and Archer completely over to a TruDog diet would be pretty pricey, the supplements and the variety of products allow us to make sure our big dogs are getting everything they need out of their daily meals.

Made in the U.S.A.

All TruDog’s food products are made in Wisconsin using U.S. sourced ingredients. Their beef and bison are free range and grass fed, antibiotic, and hormone free. The TruDog family is committed to a lifestyle that provides the opportunity to live a life full of abundant health and happiness, inspired in no small part by their beloved Great Dane, Truman. After discovering Truman had a tumor in one of his legs, the family fought valiantly for his livelihood. After an agonizing six month battle, including surgery to remove his leg, they lost him to cancer.

This tragic loss provided the inspiration behind TruDog, to offer a healthy alternative dog food for dogs everywhere. If you ask us, they’re doing a wonderful job.

Vegan Dog Treats: Homemade Greenies

13 Jan

vegan-dog-treats

It’s our first treat of the new year! I can never go without baking for very long, but I’ve been a little bit gun shy about baking in general, since the first weekend of the new year. Our oven experienced a runaway heating event and turned what were supposed to be delicious bacon cheddar muffins into…well, very crispy, way over baked bacon cheddar muffins. I wasn’t as concerned about the muffins at the time, considering my oven was raucously beeping at me like it might be counting down to a bomb explosion.

We’re hoping that the oven error was nothing more than a rogue, one-time mishap; in the meantime, I thought I’d foray back into my baking habits with a dog treat recipe. After all, Topher would likely still drool uncontrollably for even the crispiest of dog treats, all oven mishaps be damned. Enter: these delightful vegan dog treats!

While these treats may not have the plaque-fighting capabilities as your dog might get from chewing on a Greenies dental stick, the parsley-filled morsels will certainly freshen up your pup’s breath! The dough mixes up delightfully fast and is really easy to work with, which makes it a great beginner treat to try on the weekend if you’re new to our recipes or the homemade treat game in general.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ to 2 cups spinach
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Makes approximately two dozen 1 ½ inch dog treats.

Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F
  2. Combine your spinach, parsley, and water in a food processor. Process until you have the consistency of what I can only describe as very watery pesto. Tip: Wanting a little more breath freshening power? Try adding fresh mint to the food processor along with your parsley and spinach.
  3. Transfer your blended greens into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Like I mentioned earlier, the dough will come together almost as soon as everything is incorporated.
  4. Roll your dough out to ¼” thick and use a your favorite cookie cutter (or your dog’s favorite) to cut out your treat shapes.
  5. Place your treats on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for twenty minutes, flipping halfway through.
  6. These treats contain a fair amount of water, so the way towards a drier, crunchier treat is in further dehydration. After the initial baking period, turn your oven down as low as it will go, and leave the treats to dry out for up to three hours.

While the dough was a fabulous bright green, the color sadly fades during baking. The longer your treats dry, the longer they’ll remain shelf stable. Expect your treats to last about two weeks when stored in an airtight container, or up to a month when placed in the fridge. Because this dough doesn’t contain any dairy or egg, it also makes a great Kong stuffer—you can try leaving out a quarter cup of the flour for a stickier dough that will stay in place in your dog’s toys.

Apple & Cheddar Dog Treat Recipe

26 Nov

apple-cheddar-dog-treat-recipe

Every year, Bryan and I host Friendsgiving on the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a way to celebrate Thanksgiving with our close friends, some of whom can’t make it home for the holidays. Everyone brings a dish to share, and we spend an evening eating too much and enjoying each other’s company. After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is about, isn’t it?

Since poor Topher doesn’t get to join in eating all that delicious food, I decided to make him some new “Friendsgiving” styled treats for the occasion. Hopefully it helps him stay out of the kitchen! (Unlikely.)

So while you may be spending this Black Friday morning doing some holiday shopping, consider heading home a little early to make your dog a little treat for being such a good sport about not counter-surfing for your Thanksgiving dinner. (Unless they actually did counter-surf, whoops!)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded apple
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup bacon grease
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • Makes eighteen 1 ½ inch round treats.

This recipe is partially inspired by a friend of ours who brought cheddar apples to one of our Friendsgiving celebrations a few years ago. If people can develop a taste for cheese and apples, why not dogs?

Really, this question should go the other way around, since Topher loves just about anything. Minus broccoli. And raw carrots. Anyway, I decided to throw a little bacon grease into this dog treat party for a little extra savory flavor, because when it comes to Thanksgiving, and Friendsgiving, more is more.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.

2. Shred apple until you have a loosely packed cup. Shred your cheese until you have a loosely packed ½ cup.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a regular mixing bowl) combine your apple and bacon grease.

4. Gradually add your whole wheat and buckwheat flours, mixing in about a quarter cup at a time, then add the cheese, and mix until everything is just combined. The dough may appear crumbly, but it will come together as you knead it.

5. Scrape the dough from your bowl onto a clean surface, and knead to bring the dough together.

6. Roll out your dough to ¼ inch thickness, then cut into shapes and place on a nonstick baking sheet.

7. Bake at 350º F for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

8. Because these treats have a fair amount of moisture in them, turn your oven down to its lowest setting (ours is 175º F) and let these continue to dehydrate for another hour before taking them out to cool.

Other Baking Notes

  • If your dough seems way too crumbly to knead together, add a ½ teaspoon of water and continue working, adding more water in ½ teaspoon increments if you feel it’s necessary. This recipe comes together differently depending on how much water carried over from shredding the apples.
  • If you don’t have buckwheat flour, just substitute an extra ¼ cup of whole wheat flour.
  • You can substitute another kind of oil for bacon fat, such as ¼ cup of coconut oil.
  • It’s important to flip these halfway through baking, otherwise some of the cheese within might glue your treats to your baking sheet.
  • Fully dried, homemade dog treats should last about two weeks in a sealed, airtight container, or for up to a month in the fridge. Because these treats contain fat and dairy, be mindful of the suggested expiration date!

Once they’re cooled, they’re ready for your pup! No doubt they’ve been watching you ever since you started turning the kitchen into a bacon-apple scented heaven.

Looking for more apple treats? Try these!

  • Harvest Apple & Bacon
  • Gluten-Free Ginger Apple
  • Pumpkin & Apple

Find more treats for your pup on our treat index.

How Do You Choose The Right Dog Food?

23 Jul

how-to-choose-the-right-dog-food

If anyone you know has adopted a dog after you did, then you’ve probably been asked more than a few times, “what do you feed you dog?” The pet food industry is an extremely lucrative market, and one that’s constantly evolving as companies, new and old, churn out new varieties of dog food each year. This makes the world of dog food very confusing. It can be difficult to figure out just what food is best for your dog, along with what you can afford.

So, how do you choose the right dog food? Here are a few things to consider, to help you narrow down your food options when you’re standing in the dog food aisle.

A little disclaimer: there are more factors involved in the decision of what to feed your dog than we are able to (or feel qualified to) cover here. If you’re looking to do some homework on store-bought pet food, to find out what’s right for your dog, these tips will certainly help. This post does not cover making your dog’s meals from scratch or raw feeding, as we simply do not have the background research or experience level to talk about these diet options in detail.

Consider Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

The first way to narrow your choices is to consider your dog’s nutritional needs. A puppy will need vastly more calories and protein, compared with a senior dog who may need fewer calories and more fiber or supplements. Activity level and the size of your dog are also things to take into consideration. If you have several dogs, this may mean that one bag of dog food might not cover every dog’s nutritional needs.

When taking your dog’s breed, size, or activity level into account, your veterinarian or your breeder (if applicable) are great sources of information when it comes to finding out the nutritional needs of your specific dog. Just be wary of anyone peddling a highly specific brand or company—they may be getting a kick back based on what they promote, when other brands of food may also have the nutritional values you’re looking for.

Now that you have an idea of the type of food you want—senior, puppy, active lifestyle, etc.—it’s time to do some research.

The Problem With Dog Food Labels

The label on a dog food bag, unfortunately, doesn’t provide a lot of usable info to pet owners. It will say that it meets certain minimum standards; however, these standards for dog food are extremely low, so accepting them at face value may mean your dog still is not getting adequate levels of all the nutrients they need.

There is one exception to the terrible labeling of dog food. Look for the phrase “complete and balanced” on the bag. It means that this dog food will contain proper levels of all the nutrients essential for your dog. This claim is much more regulated by the government: a company making this claim must be able to support it with data from food trials or lab analysis.

Last, any high quality dog food will have an 800 number listed on the bag. You can call the company and ask questions about the nutritional value of their food. Specifically, ask about the digestibility of the food—this gives you what percentage of the material in the food can be digested by your dog. A digestibility of above 80% is usually fine, though a quality pet food supplier should have numbers above 90%.

A Note On Buying Local

While I’m usually all about buying locally, when it comes to buying dog food…be very cautious. Any dog food that has not been shipped across state lines is not required to be regulated at all. This lack of oversight can be very dangerous, should you end up buying a formula of dog food that’s been created without any testing of it’s nutritional value. While very low cost dog food from big brands may not be very good for your dog, the same can be said of some high-end “boutique” brands.

Simply put, if you’re going to pay top dollar for a dog food, do your homework! Especially if you haven’t heard of the company.

Is Your Dog Bored?

15 Jul

is-your-dog-bored

Working from home has given me a view into the daily life of dogs…and it’s not exactly thrilling. Mostly, Topher just sleeps all the time. He sleeps in the bedroom for an hour, then takes a lap around the house to check in with the cats. After that, you’ll usually find him sleeping on the couch, maybe watching the squirrels in between naps by propping his head up on the back pillows so he can see out our front window.

Part of me wonders if Topher is just bored during the day. Boredom can actually be a big source of stress for dogs—they crave having something to do, both physically and mentally. If you’ve ever returned home and find your house has been torn apart, or perhaps a fluffy dog bed spontaneously combusted, then its pretty likely that your dog is bored. (They may also suffer from separation anxiety, but that’s an article for another time.)

So, what’s the cure for doggy boredom? How do you keep them entertained so they won’t start investigating the interiors of your couch cushions? Here are a few things you can try to keep your pup more entertained while you’re away.

Give Them Enough Exercise

A daily walk is a great way to tire your dog out before you leave for work—there’s really no substitute. However, if it’s not something you can build into your morning, you may want to look for other ways your dog can get exercise during the day. It might be hiring a dog walker, or just asking a family member if they wouldn’t mind stopping in for a short play session. A tired dog is much less likely to eat your shoes.

Ditch The Food Bowl

Canines in the wild spend up to eighty percent of their time searching and hunting for food. While your dog is most certainly not a wolf, putting all of their food in their bowl on a daily basis wastes an opportunity for further stimulation. Use a portion of your dog’s daily kibble to beat boredom.

Mix some of your dog’s kibble in with a filler—peanut butter, cottage cheese, or perhaps just a bit of coconut oil to make things stick together—the night before, then pour into a hollow treat toy such as a Kong. Freeze overnight, and give the treat to them just before leaving for work. This gives them something to work for while you leave, which can also help with dogs who have more mild separation anxiety.

Puzzle toys are also a great way to banish boredom—just make sure the toy is strong enough to hold up while you’re out of the house!

Rotate Their Toys

It can be worrisome to come home to find your dog has demolished his latest stuffed or squeaky toy. Eating fluff and squeakers can sometimes do serious harm to your dog’s digestion, so be careful not to leave your dog alone with these items.

This also creates a novelty effect. When stuffed toys are reserved and brought out only when you’re supervising, that toy becomes exciting again. Rotating what toys are available to your dog on a daily basis will also refresh his interest in older toys. The absence of a particular toy for a few days will make your dog want it even more, the next time it comes around.

Try Out Daycare

Doggy daycare is a great idea for any dog who’s younger and needs to burn more energy than you might have time for during the day. It’s also an effective way to manage separation anxiety. Your dog plays while you work, and at the end of the day you both go home tired. When looking into doggy daycare facilities and options, always do a test run on a day where you can spend some time at the facility, and make sure your dog is integrating well in the environment.

Put Them To Work

A hardworking dog is usually a happy dog. There are many breeds that even tend towards destruction if they’re not getting enough mental stimulation—they need a job! For dogs, work is a form of play—a mental exercise where they get copious praise and treat rewards for a job done well. This can be as simple as regular training sessions and teaching them new commands, or as rigorous as enrolling in agility or flyball training, or working towards becoming a therapy dog.

Once you start making sure your dog has enough to occupy themselves, you’ll see how much more content they become. Much of our dog’s happiness relies on how we care for them, so make sure you’re giving them everything they need!

How do you deal with doggy boredom?

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

5 Jul

dog-in-grass

Dogs eating grass is nothing new. I think most dog owners have experienced it in one form or another, at some point in their dog’s life. In the summer, after the lawn has been mowed, there have been times when I’ve caught Archer eating some of the mulched grass. Otherwise, I’ve never seen her actively eat grass.

Naturally, it made me wonder why dogs feel the need to eat grass in the first place. What I found out was that it was a fairly common concern amongst pet owners, and that most veterinarians don’t consider eating grass a cause for concern—but they also don’t seem to agree on exactly why dogs do it.

There are, of course, theories.

Natural Scavengers

A very plausible theory lends itself to a dog’s history in the wild. Unlike cat, dogs are not pure carnivores, but rather lazy and advantageous omnivores. If they see something that looks edible, they’ll try to eat it.

For us, this theory probably holds most true to Archer’s grass-eating, because it only happens after the lawn is freshly mowed, and heavily scented with that sweet summer grass smell.

Relief for an Upset Stomach

This theory has vets on the fence. Dogs’ bodies cannot digest grass—lacking the enzymes required to break down the heavy fibre—and therefore it does not pose as a source of nutrients. So then, why would a dog willingly eat something it cannot digest?

On one side of the argument, there are those who believe a dog will eat grass knowing it will aid in vomiting, and possibly relieve them of a stomach ailment. Alternatively, on the other side of the argument, there are skeptics who aren’t so sure dogs have that sort of mental capacity to not only identify an upset stomach, but to seek out a known cure.

One vet’s account of the latter is quite compelling:

On occasion, I have seen dogs lick at the air, often showing swallowing behaviour, then rush out to the great outdoors to seek out a thick patch of the green stuff and furiously chomp and chomp until the urge abates. Then promptly throw up. On following these dogs endoscopically, they often have an inflammatory condition in their stomachs or redness around the lower esophagus, which can indicate gastric reflux or inflammatory bowel disease… If your dog looks as if he or she is irritated and extends the neck and begins repeated swallowing motions, it may be time to visit your veterinarian to check out what might be happening.

Whether you believe your dog has the thought process required to alleviate itself of stomach distress or not, that’s a pretty compelling anecdote for the latter of the two positions. The caveat there is that less than 25% of dogs that eat grass will vomit regularly after grazing. Does that disprove the theory that our pups are smart enough to know how to tame an upset tummy? Not really, it just means there may be more reasons for a dog to eat grass.

Poor Nutrition

There’s another theory that dogs may eat grass if they are hungry, or if their diet is poor or lacking in a specific nutrient as a means of compensating. If you make your dog’s food at home (raw or cooked) or even if you purchase dry kibble, consider discussing with your vet or breeder about whether or not their meals are balanced, and what you might add to improve the overall balance of their meals.

Boredom

I consider this more of an excuse than a legitimate theory—but there you have it, boredom. If you’re putting your dog outside to the backyard with not much to do, then he may just be looking for things to occupy his time out there. Try tossing some toys out for him to play with, and see if he still reverts back to grass eating.

If you do suspect boredom is the key factor in your dog’s grass eating, he may be in need of more exercise and mental stimulation. Consider adding another walk to your routine, take another route to let your dog investigate other spaces, or play fetch more often while in the backyard.

Beware of Herbicides and Pesticides

While most experts will agree that grass eating is fairly common and not a cause for concern, you should always be aware of what might be on the grass your dog is eating. If you treat your lawn with herbicides or pesticides, or have neighbours that do, you’ll want to keep your dog away from the grass, which can prove to be quite toxic. If you suspect your dog has ingested grass that’s been treated with a herbicide or pesticide, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.

And, as always, there are many common garden plants that are toxic to dogs. Be safe!

Banana Protein Smoothie for You and Your Pup!

5 Jul

smoothie

When you start making homemade treats for your dog, you start to see a lot of similarities between what you would eat, and what your dog can eat. Really, there are few things that we eat that our dogs should stay away from (although, admittedly, some of these things (like garlic or onions) are in a lot of the foods we enjoy). Especially in the heat of the summer, Archer and I eat all the fruit. She knows the sound of watermelon being eaten, and will not allow such an event to take place without getting a few pieces for herself.

But, maybe your dog isn’t quite the fruit hound as Archer. On the other hand, I haven’t met a dog that didn’t like peanut butter.

smoothie_02

Matt and I make a lot of smoothies in the summer. He loves berry smoothies, but I hate seeds in getting stuck in my teeth. Sometimes, we make two different kinds of smoothies as a meal replacement, and its then that I tend to make too much of my smoothie and need to pawn it off on someone. Archer, the ever-eager participant, is always happy to oblige.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Almond Milk
  • ½ cup Plain Yogurt
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon (ground)
  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 ½ tbsp Organic Peanut Butter
  • 4–6 Ice Cubes

Steps

  • Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend til smooth.
  • Pour yourself a glass, and let your dog enjoy the rest!

You can go further and freeze your pup’s portion of this into ice cubes for a quick, frozen treat. Or just offer it in a bowl for your dog to lap up and enjoy as you enjoy your own smoothie. Great for a hot day, with a decent punch of protein!

Red, White, & Blueberry Frozen Dog Treats

1 Jul

frozen-blueberry-dog-treats

Hooray for July! Whenever I tell people that July is my favorite month in Georgia, they usually look at me like I’m completely nuts. July? It’s so hot here in the summer, do I have some weird love for oppressive heat and humidity? No, but I am a little biased towards July since it’s my birthday month. It’s also the height of tomato season here, and I’d probably eat tomatoes for every meal if I could. (You think I’m kidding, but for real.)

Plus, July kicks off with Independence Day, which always felt like the peak of summer when I was a kid. It heralds more time at the pool, more blistering hot days (whether you love them or hate them), and sometimes even a vacation or two. With July 4th right around the corner and all the fresh fruit coming into season, I couldn’t think of a better time for making some frozen dog treats. These layered strawberry, banana, and frozen blueberry dog treats are great for your dog, and for you!

frozen-blueberry-dog-treats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • ½ to ¾ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup water

The only downside to making a layered frozen treat is that you have to use and wash the blender three separate times. Totally worth it though. The ingredients above made 15 medium-sized, ice cubed shaped treats, so you may want to adjust your amounts depending on how many treats you want and the size of your ice cube tray or other container.

Blend each of your three ingredients, adding a little water with each to help them puree. Layer your strawberries first, and let freeze for at least an hour before the next layer. Repeat the process with your banana, and then your blueberries. You can serve them two to four hours after your final layer has been poured, or let them freeze overnight before popping them from their container and serving.

frozen-blueberry-dog-treats

Be careful when handling the treats and watch where you give them to your pet—blueberry loves to leave stains everywhere. Topher usually receives his melty treats in his food bowl, or outside as a break between squirrel chases.

These frozen treats also make great people treats. Pop a few back into the blender for a great morning smoothie! Then, go enjoy some much needed pool time.