Can Home Cooking Make Your Dog Live Longer and Lower Your Vet Bills?

Over the years I have fed most diets out there. Being a believer in the works of  the incomparable Juliette de Baircli Levy, whose dogs great health is legendary, I do believe in raw diets. But quite honestly my own dogs have fared best with home cooking.
The healthiest dogs I have ever seen were Whippets decended of the famed English Pennyworth bloodline that ate whole rabbit and chicken, pressure cooked with just a bit of vegetables until the whole contents was mush, cooked until the bones were jelly. Because they were consuming a whole animal everything was in balance. There was no guessing as to the phosphorus/calcium ratio because the bones were completely digestible being pressure cooked to jelly. May I remind you that pressure cooking retains all the vitamins and minerals in the food. They are never cooked out. One reason this diet worked so well for these dogs is because they are sighthounds whose ancestors survived on small game.  I am a firm believer in feeding a dog as closely as possible to his original country of origin diet.
 That being said,I feed the  Japanese Chin a diet rich in tofu and root vegetables as well as fruit. The above photo is a typical meal. It consists of sweet potatos, salmon , tofu, peas, carrots and broccoli. If you don't have a pressure cooker or don't want to, here is a simple recipe that you can adjust for your dog that is based on NRC guidelines and is 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fat. The quantities given are for a 50 lb. dog. I half the protein and fat for Gilby as he was rescued with a bileous liver and we don't want any pancreatic attacks. But for a normal healthy dog, these are very good proportions.
Pick one protein:
1 1/2 cups cooked meat such as chicken, turkey, beef, or lamb.
1 1/2 cups unsalted salmon or tuna
4 cooked eggs, preferably organic
 1 1/2 cups tofu

Pick one carb:
3 cups cooked whole brown rice
3 cups cooked sweet potato
3 cups pearl barley
3 cups cooked regular potatoes
4 1/2 cups cooked oatmeal, no sugar or flavorings.
To this add 1/4 to 1/2 pureed vegetables and dogsafe fruits such as peas, broccoli, carrots, or brussel sprouts.
One tablespoon fish, flax, or coconut oil.

I generally give a little fruit as a treat like blueberries or a bit of banana or pumpkin so I tend to leave it out of the meals. I also make enough on the weekends to feed all week and bag it up and freeze it, thawing it out as needed.
I have been blessed with healthy dogs for years who live a quality of  life well into their teen years. Gilby will be 15 this fall and he plays like a puppy. And he is on no meds whatsoever. If you have a picky eater or a senior dog who can't chew up his food well the above suggestions should help him or her get the most nutrition out of their meals. The biggest problem with home cooking that I have found is that the dogs want to eat all the time!


Save Money Using Listerine as a Flea Repellant

You can make a quick flea shampoo by adding a small dropperful of Listerine to your regular dog shampoo. Like any flea shampoo you will want to make sure you keep it out of the eyes and don't let your dog eat the lather.
(I once had a dog named Yushi who was adamant about eating shampoo lather, so much so that I had to tie her muzzle with a nylon stocking to bathe her).If you use a topical flea treatment it will make it somewhat less effective. I don't recommend using flea shampoo of any type, natural or not when your dog is wearing a topical flea treatment. Just use a gentle sulfate free dog shampoo.
I have used a homemade coat spray at ringside when showing shortcoated dogs like Dobes and Salukis that consisted of a half teaspoon of Listerine added to a 15 oz spray bottle of water. After spraying, a quick rubdown with a genuine chamois cloth brought a beautiful luster to the coat. For double coated breeds like Corgis, I have used distilled water in the spray bottle and then combed the hair backwards after a light spray remembering to avoid the eyes.
But my favorite use of Listerine is as a cheap yard spray to kill fleas. Mix one ounce of dish soap, a half teaspoon olive oil and a tablespoon Listerine to a gallon of water, then spray the yard. I prefer phosphate free dish washing liquid. We used this mixture for years and years to keep fleas at bay in the yard. As an added benefit, the thymol in Listerine helps repel mosquitos to some degree too.
And you thought Listerine was just a mouthwash...

Combatting Canine Rescue Fatigue

This week I have had three different women confide in me that they were overwhelmed and exhausted by the massive work required in their canine rescue efforts.
I see these Mother Theresas' of the dog world give of themselves day in and day out, often risking marriages, friendships, and personal finances. They do it not for personal satisfaction, but because there is a need.
The stream of dogs in dire need seems endless, and it is.
Senior dogs, dogs with medical needs, dogs abandoned for no apparent reason, dogs homeless because their owners are homeless, dogs with behavior just doesn't stop. They feel that if they don't do it, who will? And for them, the thought of a dog suffering is too much to bear.
You may be one of these self sacrificing people...
How can you cope with rescue fatigue? Having suffered from it myself, here are some tips:
Take a mental break.
My love of French history and French antiques developed as a form of escapism from the mental pain of rescue work. Find a hobby that you can escape into and make time for it. ( Make a scrapbook of the dogs you have helped save and look at it when you get depressed.)
If you have been fostering, consider something different.
Transport or fund raising perhaps.
Consider narrowing down the kinds of dogs you rescue.
Maybe you have a lot of experience with behavior modification for example, then limit yourself to dogs who need your special skill.
Or become breed specific. Whether it is Lab/Pit mixes or Maltese, becoming breed specific has its' advantages. For one, it helps you learn their breed idiosyncrasies both emotionally and medically. It is easier to network with other persons and groups who are breed specific also.

Or try this breed specific approach...for several years I was involved in Standard Poodle rescue. My own rescued Standard Poodle was a wonderful ambassador for his breed. When we were out in public, which was a lot, I often met people who confessed an admiration for the breed. It was an opportunity to educate them about the plight of so many homeless Standard Poodles. I would give them my phone number as I was a contact person for the breed with area shelters. I soon had a wait list of prospective homes. Yes, I said wait list. Because of that I was able to co-ordinate the adoption of many Standard Poodles, far more than I could ever have taken in and cared for.
Get more people involved. Spread the word among friends, family and co- workers. The beautiful tiny Imperial Shih Tzu pictured at the beginning of this post is named Alphie. This year he was dumped at the entrance to our local pound/kill shelter in the middle of the night. He was heartworm positive... I was worried for him as it didn't look like anyone was going to save his life. My friend and co-worker Keesha and her husband John stepped in. Now, thanks to their involvement, he has a loving home with everything a little dog could dream of.
Rescue fatigue is a serious condition. Don't let your family, your job and your own pets' lives suffer because you are stretched too thin.
Most importantly, realize that you can't do it all and you can't save them all,no matter how badly you want to.


Touched by a Canine Angel

This weekend, Gilby and I attended our local Christmas Flea Market along with literally thousands of other people. Gilby insisted on walking and despite my qualms of letting a toy dog walk in a crowd I let him have his way. As a Certified Therapy Dog he was remarkable at manuvering among the throngs of people, wheelchairs, power scooters, shopping carts, walkers, large dogs and kids. In fact, his small size seemed to make him a kid magnet.
We had stopped for a while to chat with my friend Larry who is a seller at the market and shows Cavaliers when a family stopped and the mother asked if her son could pet Gilby. The shy little boy reached out and gently stroked him. His mother asked, ''Isn't he soft''?
The little boy nodded in silence. After a few minutes the mother thanked me and they began to walk away when suddenly the little boy turned back around to Gilby and shouted ''Look!''
Gilby cocked his head to the side quizzically ( we all said ''awww, how cute'') as the little boy told Gilby that his mother had just bought him this train engine.
He had a bad speech impediment which explained his reluctance to speak earlier...
Therapy dogs carry their skills with them wherever they go and Gilby never took his attention off of the little boy despite all the commotion going on around us. He looked him right in the face as the boy dropped to his knees and, oblivious to the adults standing around him, said to Gilby,'' and you know what else? Santa comes NEXT WEEK ! I hope he brings me more stuff for my train!''
For a brief few minutes this little boy overcame his obvious shyness and spoke in a dog.
I think we were all kind of touched by the moment.

For more information on Certified Therapy Dogs check out the book 'Angels On a Leash' by David Frei


Removing Chemicals From Your Dogs' Coat

When Gilby was pulled out of the dog pound, his coat looked groomed but it had been brushed only on top leaving a mass of matted coat underneath, his tail had dreadlocks and a couple friends suggested shaving him down and starting over

If you have read this blog for any time you know I am against shaving down dogs, not only does it put them at risk of skin cancer but most dogs don't like it either.

Gilby had suffered enough trauma. His jaw had been broken, his side teeth had been filed to nubs to help his jaw close and the surgery had given him a massive bone infection.
After all that and the months it took to heal...his owners dumped him at the pound where he would have been destroyed if no one came and got him. Since he is a senior dog that was unlikely...

Having been a groomer for so many years I opted to comb him out. The drawback was that I suffer from MCS multiple chemical sensitivities that act like a combination of Lupus and MS on your body when exposed. Gilby had so many chemicals in his coat that attempting to demat him had left me very sick.

Normally you would demat your dog before putting him in the bath. Bathing a matted dog as I have put in previous posts makes the mats worse. But I had no choice.

Gilby was bathed mats and all, with organic dishwashing detergent, 1 oz to 15 oz water to which 15 drops organic lavender oil and 5 drops tea tree oil had been added.

The lavender acts as both an antibacterial and as a solvent to remove hard chemicals. The tea tree oil kills any fungus that may be lurking in those mats and the truth is fungus grows inside mats quickly. Before the bath he was rinsed down with a couple gallons of distilled water. Distilled water opens the hair shaft so that it is easier for the chemicals to be removed. It also makes the mats worse because it roughens the hair cuticle so I really had my work cut out for me.

After washing he was rinsed thoroughly then rerinsed with more distilled water. This leaves the cuticle open and then I applied Espree Luxury Reconditioner. I love the Espree natural shampoos and conditioners and used them on all my showdogs

Distilled water is hard on a silky coated dog and I don't recommend it often unless like me, you were trying to remove chemicals that had been picked up in the coat.

Gilby is a loving patient dog and he let me demat most of him using only my fingers and a comb.

If you rescue a dog I recommend getting the coat as chemical free as possible because you simply don't know where that dog has been or what he has been exposed to. It is better for you, your family and your are Gilbys' before and after pix:


Rant From a Shelter Worker

Someone sent me this rant a while is depressing but true. I have often wondered why they call them 'Shelters'..

The shelter worker who wrote this obviously is refering to kill shelters which more often than not is your local animal control facility. I am illustrating this post with a picture of local singer songwriter Emmylou Harris. She rescues the dogs that no one else wants out of a local pound. Her rescue, named Bonapartes' Retreat has saved the live of many an unwanted dog and found him a loving home.

This shelter rant is definitely food for thought:

'I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will. First off, all of you people who have ever surrendered a pet to a shelter or humane society should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would stop flagging the ads on craigslist and help these animals find homes. That puppy you just bought will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. Just so you know there's a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it’s dumped at? Purebred or not! About 25% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses: "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving too that doesn't allow pets? Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would". How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? "We don't have time for her". Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! "She's tearing up our yard". How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she'll get adopted, she's a good dog".

Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted. It doesn't matter how 'sweet' or 'well behaved' they are.

If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down". First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 shelter workers depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a shelter worker who we call a euthanasia tech (not a vet) find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. You see shelters are trying to make money to pay employee pay checks and don’t forget the board of directors needs to be paid too, so we don’t spend our funds to tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug, we just put the burning lethal drug in the vein and let them suffer until dead. If it were not a “making money issue” and we had to have a licensed vet do this procedure, the animal would be sedated or tranquilized and then euthanized, but to do this procedure correctly would cost more money so we do not follow what is right for the animal, we just follow what is the fastest way we can make a dollar. Shelters do not have to have a vet perform their euthanasia’s so even if it takes our employee 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get the vein that is what we do. Making money is the issue here not loosing money.

When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right!

I hope that those of you who still have a beating heart and have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head, I deal with this everyday. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and start educating the public. Do research, do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet. These shelters and humane societies exist because people just do not care about animals anymore. Animals were not intended to be disposable but somehow that is what they are these days. Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog (or cat), and breeders are the ones blamed for this. Animal shelters and rescue organizations are making a hefty profit by keeping this misconception going.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about taking their dog to a shelter, a humane society, or buying a dog. For those of you that care--- please repost this. (author unknown)

It is sad that so many pets die in so- called shelters each year, this Thanksgiving in our prayers let us also thank the many many people who so selflessly endure this emotional pain of caring for these animals in hopes that they will be adopted. And also all the foster moms and dads, the canine rescue transporters and rescue workers everywhere.
Happy Thanksgiving,


Find Pet Product Bargains at the Flea Market!

I am a real bargain hound and that means I do a lot of flea market shopping. Pretty much any product you desire can be found for your dog at a local flea market, crates, bowls, blankets, beds, toys, grooming supplies,clothes, collars and leashes are all to be found brand spanking new at a flea market. My local flea market boasts over a dozen vendors specializing in dog products.

This lady and her lovely Toy Poodle are taking advantage of the bargains at Pet Tags Plus, a booth run by Sandra Wells. Sandra sells top quality name brand products at less than you would pay at the big Pet Superstore. While the big stores have the purchase power, Sandra and vendors like her don't have the enormous overhead and that means bargains for you and me. So what are you waiting for? Put flea market shopping on your to do list for this summer....and don't forget to bring your dog along for the fun! Happy hunting!