By Kelly Roper
Dog Breeder and Exhibitor
More and more pet lovers are turning to home made dog food rather than continuing to feed commercial kibble mixes. Find out what it takes to prepare nutritious home cooked meals for your own canine companion.
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Why Look for Dog Food Alternatives?
A lot of information came out of the investigation connected to the 2007 dog food recall, and most of it wasn’t good. In addition to identifying the contaminated food sources responsible for the illness, and in some cases death, of a number of dogs, other manufacturing practices came to light.
We learned that although all commercially sold dog foods must meet a set of government standards before they can be labeled “100% nutritionally complete”, it doesn’t guarantee that the food sources used are digestible enough for your dog to render “complete” nutrition from the mix. We also learned that some of the inexpensive chemical preservatives used in these foods may cause cancer and certainly hold no nutritional value for our pets.
Finally, we learned that the term “fresh” holds minimal value when foods are manufactured and left to sit in warehouses for months before they ever hit store shelves.
Raw vs. Cooked
Many dog owners might agree that home made dog foods should be safer to feed than many commercial mixes containing chemical preservatives and other questionably healthy ingredients. However, they do seem to differ in opinions about the best feeding programs.
Some owners are strong advocates of the BARF diet, a feeding program that serves dog bones and raw foods. These owners believe that feeding foods in their raw, natural state most closely mirrors the way nature designed dogs to eat in the wild.
On the other side of the coin, some owners are leery of feeding raw meat because of the health hazard it potentially presents. It’s true that raw meats can harbor dangerous bacteria called salmonella, but this can be eliminated by cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
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However, you could argue that dogs that eat raw meat in the wild are regularly exposed to a number of bacteria, and they do survive. This may be evidence that the flora in a dog’s digestive track is designed to deal with salmonella far more efficiently than the human digestive tract.
Bones, particularly chicken bones, are another point of contention. It’s true that bones can present a potential hazard, whether it is from choking or intestinal blocks/punctures. However, raw chicken bones retain some flexibility and are easier for dogs to chew and digest.
It’s the cooked bones that become brittle and pose the greatest risk for intestinal punctures. In the end, feeding bones in any form is a decision that rests solely with every owner, and bones need not be the only source of calcium and other minerals in home made dog food.
Fruits and Vegetables
Although of considerably less concern than serving raw meat, fruits and vegetables also pose a small threat of bacterial contamination. This can easily be dealt with by washing the produce before chopping and adding it to your recipe.
The most important thing to consider when making home made meals for your pet is that they provide rounded nutrition. Without a decent balance of protein, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, your dog could suffer from malnutrition, regardless of how much food he eats.
The following list offers some food choices to cover your dog’s basic nutritional needs:
•Protein: Fresh chicken, beef, turkey, lamb or cooked salmon
•Fiber, vitamins and minerals: Carrots, green beans, spinach
•Essential fatty acids: Leafy greens, cooked salmon, flax seeds
•Calcium: Cottage cheese, plain yogurt
•Carbohydrates: Brown rice, barley
•Vitamins and antioxidants: Apples (without the seeds), blueberries
Pick one item from each group to include at every meal. You’ll also want to rotate your choices so your dog doesn’t become bored eating the same food.
Foods to Avoid
Certain common foods should never be fed to your dog because they can cause reactions ranging from mild discomfort to cardiac arrest.
Foods you shouldn’t feed include:
•Raw, green potatoes
Cooking for your dog is as easy as preparing a meal for your family. However, you might like to try this terrific home made dog food recipe for “Little Man’s Loaf” from our own “Two Minute Dog Advice” columnist Wendy Nan Rees. It’s so good you might want to pull up a bowl next to your dog!
So, does making your pet a home made dinner sound appealing to you? Then the first thing you’ll want to do is consult with your vet to make sure your dog is currently in good health. If your vet gives your dog the thumb’s up, then you can begin to cook for your pet in small amounts, gradually weaning him off commercial kibble. Keep an eye on him for any major signs that the new food is not agreeing with him, and call your vet right away if you think your dog needs attention.
•Natural Dog Food Premix
•Top 9 Healthiest Dog Foods
•Grain-Free Dog Food
•Recipes for Raw Dog Food
•Freeze Dried Dog Food
•Tips for Making Home Cooked Dog Food
•Dog Food Recipes
•Easy Recipes for Natural Dog Food
•Best Dog Food
•Author Interview: The Natural Pet Food Cookbook
Dr. Ken Tudor
In order to make pet food affordable, pet food makers use meat scraps for protein, no matter what the brand or advertising claims. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) designates what can be used based on their definition of meat for various livestock species. The definitions are as follows:
Hoof Stock (beef, pork, lamb, bison, etc.)
Striated muscle but can include tongue, esophagus, diaphragm, heart and nerves, vessels, and tissue associated with those organs.
In other words, the by-products of the chest, exclusive of the lungs, are considered hoofed meat. Striated muscle that has been USDA inspected and deemed “unfit for human consumption” can also be used as meat in pet food. This is typically what pet food makers are really saying when they advertise their meat as “USDA Inspected.”
Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.)
Flesh and skin with or without bone, excluding the head, feet and entrails.
This is actually describing what is left after the breast, thigh, and leg meat have been removed. Deboned poultry is the same tissue without the bone.
Entire fish or flesh after the fillets have been removed.
Fish meat, then, is head, skin, scales, fins, skeleton, and entrails.
So what to do all of these proteins have in common and what impact does that have on your pet? They all contain connective protein. Connective proteins are ligaments, tendons or non-meat structural proteins. The gristle that you almost choked on while eating your last steak is connective protein. Connective protein is not as digestible as meat protein. It is estimated that 15-20 percent of the protein in pet food is indigestible.
This protein sits in the colon ready to be evacuated in the poop. However, the “bad” bacteria of the colon can use the indigestible protein for food. The increased population of these bacteria can cause intestinal gas, bloating, farting, and diarrhea.
With all food makers using the same type of ingredients, it is no wonder so many pet owners find that changing food doesn’t help, or only gives short term relief.
Under the cover of AAFCO’s classification of these products as “meat,” pets are not getting chicken breast, salmon fillets, or leg of lamb in their food. Advertising claims and the use of words without legal meaning, like “human grade,” does not change reality.
By Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Lyme disease in dogs most commonly manifests by a sudden onset of lameness and inflammation of the joints. Some dogs will experience other symptoms including weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite and weight, or fever. Lameness is generally temporary and abates once treated with antibiotics, however, in some cases, it can become more severe or even chronic.
Lyme Disease in PetsLyme can also cause more serious or even fatal conditions in dogs such as kidney, nervous system, or heart problems (acute cardiac syndrome is known to be caused by Lyme, but is rare). Symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include: vomiting, diarrhea, extreme lack of appetite or weight loss, increased urination and thirst, fluid buildup (e.g., a swollen belly, legs, or lymph nodes), difficulty breathing, sensitivity to touch, or a stiff walk with arched back. Be sure to contact your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms.
Most dogs exposed to Lyme never become ill. They will host the bacteria, and may also host other tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichiosis and babesiosis, without every showing any clinical reaction at all. Lyme disease is always more difficult to treat as the duration of the infection lengthens, so early diagnosis and treatment are key.
There is evidence that Lyme disease is more common among younger dogs than mature dogs and that certain species are more vulnerable than others (retrievers for example).
There are several antibiotics available to treat Lyme disease in dogs. The typical course is four weeks and typically the condition is resolved without further complications or additional treatment required. In some cases, as in humans, the symptoms do not cease after treatment and your dog may continue to experience pain or lameness. Speak with your vet.
The best course is always prevention.
Watch where they wander. Avoid allowing your dog (or other pets) to roam in tick-infested environments or habitats where Lyme is common. When walking or hiking, keep your pet on leash in the middle of the trail and avoid wandering into brushy or wooded areas.
Tick check. Be sure to groom and bathe your dog regularly, checking for ticks both by sight and by feel.
Consider repellent and/or vaccines. There are a number of tick repellent sprays, collars, and topical products that can be used to kill or keep ticks away. There are also Lyme vaccines available for dogs. Note: According to the CDC, the Lyme vaccines do NOT prevent against other tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or babesia. Speak with your veterinarian about your options.
Read more about Lyme disease in dogs from the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University.
When I was in high school, I was a major journalism nerd. I know, shocking. Think Andrea from 90210, except I was never Brandon’s friend because I was too busy in the newspaper room writing yet another article that would get me pulled into the principal’s office. Because I’ve always been a troublemaker too.
Anyway, one of the big lessons I learned there (aside from the fact that the administration does not like exposés on their salaries) was that a good journalist treasures facts. The crazy, sensationalistic stuff got put on page 5, the home of our editorial page. After all, this was a high school newspaper we were running, not a tabloid.
Fast forward a good many years and you arrive in the new millennium and the advent of social media. Blogs were a new creature none of us knew what to do with — after all, there’s no law that says you need an editorial review process to hit publish on WordPress.
So before we knew it, everyone who had something to say, true or not, had an infinite audience in front of them. And when that happened, an ugly truth The National Enquirer has known for years came to light:
People don’t care about the truth; they care about a titillating headline.
That was fine back when there was a clear delineation in the marketplace between newspapers and tabloids. People knew that if the front page of Star mentioned Queen Elizabeth’s alien abduction they could just laugh it off, but if you saw the same headline in The New York Times it was time to panic.
For a while, online media was able to hold onto that tenuous differentiation between truth and speculation. One could assume that a news media outlet would attempt some form of corroboration before hitting publish on a post the same way they would perform due diligence in print. So if one found a strange bit of information on a random blog, you could at least confirm it from a trusted news site.
Sadly, those days seem to be dwindling. In the Wild West of the Internet, where page-views rule supreme, struggling online newspapers now have to compete with freewheeling individuals who can print just about whatever they want with little repercussion; and the freewheelers are winning.
In a desperate bid to keep up, it seems even well-respected bastions of journalism are now looking to reddit just to figure out what to put on their front page.
Why does this matter? Because when you logged into Facebook this week, you might have seen 15 or 20 versions of the latest viral hysteria, the whole “Class action lawsuit alleges Beneful is killing dogs.”
This is true; someone did file a lawsuit. People file lawsuits all the time. There is very little barrier to do so and that in and of itself is not news. Call me when you win.
This matters because lazy media outlets are just rehashing what they read on the Examiner and reporting the filing of a lawsuit as if it means something, when in truth there is way too little evidence to determine if it’s going to go anywhere, and what little evidence does exist suggests it’s very likely going to get thrown out.
The media nowadays is interested not in facts but in clicks, and in that respect this story is a slam dunk.
It matters because it drives a further disconnect and distrust between people and companies, and causes them a great deal of distress they didn’t need.
It matters because the Internet is getting louder and louder and increasingly difficult to comprehend. If we were at a party, the Internet is 1 a.m. at the bar, when everyone is drunkenly slurring and yelling over the music. That’s not where you want to get your information, right?
It’s funny how we’ve almost come full circle now, where we’re realizing we’re in over our heads when it comes to trying to make sense of an overwhelming barrage of information and misinformation.
And like that late night call to dear old dad for a safe ride home, it’s time to pick up the phone and call your old-school, luddite, boring, non-controversial, friendly, local veterinarian to help you understand just what the heck is going on. They’ll make you feel better, promise.
Veterinarians don’t care about page-clicks; they care about you and your pet.
I hope that as these current trends of media hysteria continue, perhaps clients will regress to the point of once again coming to the most trustworthy source of accurate information when it comes to pets’ health: their vet.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang
Eight in an 8-part series
Therapy Dogs Category – Susie
Category: Therapy Dogs
Location: High Point, NC
Charity Partner: Paws & Effect
A puppy that was set on fire and a woman who suffered a brutal dog attack became a dedicated team that eventually changed North Carolina animal-cruelty laws. Susie the Pit Bull mix began life with terror and pain when she was beaten, burned, and abandoned. Susie and her owner both triumphed over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals that have no voice. They visit hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up.
7 in an 8-patt series
Guide/Hearing Dogs Category – XXon
Category: Guide/Hearing Dogs
Location: Bloomfield, CT
Charity Partner: Fidelco
In January 2010, an explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan left Air Force Sergeant Michael Malarsie blind and killed four of his fellow servicemen, including his best friend. Though he lost his sight, Sgt. Malarsie was soon partnered with XXon, and they became the only active duty guide dog team in the Air Force. Now retired, Sgt. Malarsie continues to work with XXon every day as the dog helps get him safely to wherever he needs to be.
An American Humane Association 2014 Hero Dog
JJ the dog can detect whether a little girl named KK is about to have a life-threatening reaction.
Workers with the group Eyes Ears Nose and Paws saw potential in a shelter puppy named JJ — and sure enough, JJ’s nose had special talents. JJ got paired with a 5-year-old North Carolina girl named Kaelyn Krawczyk, also known as KK, who has a rare disorder called mastocytosis. Ordinary activities can trigger sudden and potentially life-threatening reactions in KK — but if JJ is nearby, the dog can sniff out trouble and alert KK’s parents that their daughter is about to have a reaction.
JJ is so good at detecting the presence of mast cells in KK that doctors are as eager to rely on the dog as the girl’s parents. When KK needed surgery in December, JJ stood by in the operating room and helped monitor her. JJ also makes it possible to attend school and participate in other activities with kids her age.
NBC News: Dog Days of Winter: Rescuers Save Pups from Icy Waters in Michigan, Massachusetts
(Click on this link to see the video) http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/dog-days-winter-rescuers-save-pups-icy-waters-michigan-massachusetts-n299596
Coast Guard crews rescued a dog from an icy Michigan recently, after the dog jumped into a channel and fell through a sheet of ice. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, fire officials rescued a black Labrador puppy who also fell into frigid waters Tuesday afternoon.
Luckily for the Michigan lab, she took the plunge near a Coast Guard station.
Members of the Coast Guard Station at Frankfort, Michigan, were having a meeting Tuesday morning when one of them spotted the dog in the icy waters of Betsie Lake.
“The dog went straight down and was in the water,” Tim Putnam, a boatswain mate third class, told NBC News. “We knew he wasn’t getting out himself.”
The Coast Guard crew rushed to the lake, with Putnam swimming out about 200 feet into the channel that was covered in loose ice, he said.
“I had to push a lot of the ice out of the way, it was pretty exhausting,” he said. Putnam said he could see the dog was shivering, but the pooch attempted to swim towards him as he got closer.
“It was almost like he knew it was his last chance. Luckily we got him out in time, it didn’t look like he had too much left in him.”
Putnam grabbed the dog and his crew helped pull them safely to shore. Once out of the water, Putnam and his crew took the lab to the Benzie County Animal Shelter in Beulah, Michigan.
And despite the Coast Guard crew believing the dog to be male, animal control officers told NBC News the Labrador is in fact a female between three and five years old and with a clean bill of health.
The shelter is currently looking for the dog’s owner as she was found with no identification and did not have a microchip.
Putnam said he hopes the owner comes forward, but if not he and his wife are considering adopting the animal he rescued.
“Maybe it was just meant to be,” he said.
Edwin Carter, an animal control officer at the shelter, said Putnam has first dibs to adopting the dog. If no owner comes forward by Feb. 10, Carter said they would put her up for adoption under the name “Betsie,” after the lake she was saved from.
Firefighters in Arlington, Massachusetts, also saved a dog recently from the icy waters of the Mystic River.
Massachusetts State Police said that a woman and her two daughters were walking along the river with their dog, Lucy, when she spotted swans in the middle of the river, broke away, and ran out onto the ice.
The ice then gave way, causing Lucy to fall into the river, unable to get herself out, they said. Firefighters who arrived on the scene then donned “warm suits” and headed out to the ice to retrieve the dog — who was brought back safe and sound to dry land after a bit of a struggle.
by Kimberly Gauthier
by Kimberly Gauthier
There’s nothing like coming home to a bowl of hearty chicken soup on a cold day. I love a big mug of hot chocolate with a little too much whipped cream when I’m binge watching one of my favorite programs.
Given that mindset, it doesn’t take me long to wonder if our dogs would enjoy a warm treat too, which inspired me to spend the long New Years weekend cooking for our dogs.
Lamb Bone Broth
Bone broth is a nutrient rich meal that is great for dogs. It’s mainly suggested for dogs that are recovering from an illness, aren’t eating, or have digestive upset. I make bone broth in the summer and freeze for cool treats and in the winter to poor over our dogs’ meals for a warm treat.
If you feed a kibble diet, bone broth is a great way to pack more nutritional punch in your dog’s kibble meal while making it easier to digest.
>> Read more about bone broth
– 3 lamb neck bones (beef soup bones, turkey bones, pork bones)
– 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 bundle of kale
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 chopped carrot
– 1/2 pound fresh green beans
*I use enough bones to fill our slow cooker; the type of vegetables are optional, I choose a selection that are safe for dogs. The garlic in this recipe isn’t toxic in the amount noted, but you’re welcome to leave it out if you’re uncomfortable feeding garlic to your dog.
The above ingredients yield 14 cups of bone broth in our slow cooker.
Load up your slow cooker with the ingredients and fill it with enough water to cover the bones. Set to cook for 20-24 hours. Let cool. I remove the gelatin that forms at the top, but some people leave it on.
Strain the bone broth to make it easier to remove the bones if you’re making the broth from lamb or poultry. Leave the meat and vegetables in the broth.
I ladle and serve at room temperature over our dogs meal.
Turkey, Oats and Veggies
I love this recipe, because it smells so good, but without all the seasonings humans add, the taste is kind of bland for us.
>> Read about the benefits of organic oats for dogs
– 3 pounds ground turkey
– 2 cups organic oats
– 2 chopped carrots
– 1/2 pound green beans
– 1/2 bundle kale
– 1/2 bundle parsley
– 2 tbsp oregano
– 2 cored and chopped apples
*The type of vegetables are optional, I choose a selection that are safe for dogs. The above ingredients yield 16 or more cups of dog food in our slow cooker.
Brown the ground turkey in a skillet or pot.
Add all of the ingredients and 4 cups of water (this varies depending upon your ingredients and your slow cooker) and set to cook for 4 hours.
Allow to cool then serve over your dog’s meal or as a separate meal or cold day treat.
Winter is officially here. Treat your dog to a healthy, warm meal when you come in from the falling temperatures.
6. Law Enforcement Dogs — Kota
(A 10-part series; Installment six)
Location: Winchester, VA
Charity Partner: K9s4COPs
A member of the Winchester, Virginia police force, this dog was injured by an eight-foot fall while responding to a burglary in progress. Undeterred, he helped his fellow officers finish the call, fighting with a severely fractured limb to ensure their safety.
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