Category Archives: Pet Safety & Health

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Sick dog laying on sheet

Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs

Diarrhea in your pet is no one’s favorite topic, but it is very important and something that needs to be discussed.


When to Go to the Vet

The causes of simple diarrhea in cats and dogs are quite similar: change in diet, stress, or ingesting a foreign object.  These are usually easily treatable and that’s what we will be talking about in this article.  However, if diarrhea exhibits any of the complications below, your cat or dog will need to be seen by a vet.

  •   Lasts more than 2 -3 days
  •   Blood
  •   Fever
  •   Dehydration
  •   Lethargy

Why take Diarrhea Seriously?

Because diarrhea can indicate serious underlying medical conditions such as gastro-enteritis, pancreatitis, parvo, IBD, resistant infections, bloat, and even cancer, diarrhea in your pet should always be carefully monitored. Small foreign objects are usually expelled within 24 – 48 hours unless they are too large in which case they can cause a blockage which, again, must be treated by a vet.

If your pet has been healthy and normal up until he suffered from a bout of diarrhea you probably don’t need to rush him to the vet.  It is not uncommon for cats and dogs to have occasional diarrhea especially if they spend large amounts of time outdoors where they are exposed to many tempting, albeit unauthorized, things to eat: branches and other parts of plants, bird and animal excrement, litter blown into your yard, garden chemicals, old pieces of bones, broken toys, foraging in the trash, etc.  Any one of these can upset his system and bring on a bout of diarrhea.  When in doubt, take him to your vet, but if you know the cause, and it might be something as simple as a too-abrupt diet change or overeating, you can do things at home to relieve his discomfort.

What to do at Home When Your Pet has Diarrhea

When you discover your pet has diarrhea you should fast him for 12 to 24 hours.  Puppies and cats should not fast for over 12 hours while adult dogs can fast for a complete 24 hours with no harm.  If your pet has diabetes, please consult your veterinarian.  And remember, water should always be available, especially during a fast. Following his short fast, if his symptoms seem lessened, put your pet on a bland diet.  Most vets recommend lightly steamed ground chicken and white rice.  Holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker suggests ground turkey and 100% pumpkin as an easier temporary diet for the digestive system. To that I add plain, whole-milk yogurt (about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on the size of your dog) and Slippery Elm powder (1/2 teaspoon per 10 pounds).  The probiotics in the yogurt are soothing and replenishing for the friendly gut bacteria. The well-researched herb Slippery Elm adds bulk to the stool and reduces stomach and intestine irritation. After 24 – 48 hours on the bland diet, his system should be back to normal. If not, it is time for a vet visit. In general, with a little TLC, cats and dogs having an episode of simple diarrhea that lasts two or three days will be just fine afterward.

After a Visit to the Veterinarian

If your pet was unfortunate enough to have a more serious case of diarrhea and needed to have antibiotics or surgery, you will want to rebuild his healthy gut bacteria.  One of the easiest ways to do that is to add fermented food to his diet.  Fermented foods are rich in natural probiotics that support gut bacteria. I add unflavored, whole-milk organic yogurt to my dog’s daily diet for intestinal health. Cats tend to be picky about their food’s taste and texture but mixing a small amount of yogurt into his food after diarrhea would be helpful.  Kefir is another fermented food choice that your dog or cat might find appealing but watch out for added sweeteners. Theoretically, kombucha is edible for dogs and cats and is loaded with probiotics.  However, kombucha contains caffeine which can cause other problems so use it wisely. Some dogs enjoy a tablespoon of sauerkraut mixed with their meals, just make sure it has been naturally fermented or there are no health benefits. Most of the other widely available fermented foods are not palatable to our pets.

Sometimes It’s Just Normal Digestion

Last week one of my dogs stole a bag of Northwest Naturals freeze-dried liver treats and ate the whole thing.  Yeah, she had very nasty diarrhea for two days. Not a problem with the treats, just too much of a good thing in her little stomach. Other than diarrhea she acted normally, and I wasn’t worried.  Simple diarrhea is a sign that the intestines are working to detoxify and clean out the system; they are doing their job. As unpleasant as simple diarrhea is for the pet and his parents, it is Mother Nature’s quick, natural response to your pet’s health emergency. 

By Carol Kendig




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Your Dog’s Friendly Space

One of the most controversial pieces of dog equipment is the humble crate. Some people love them and some people hate them. These metal, plastic, or material structures often arouse strong feelings in dog owners’ minds. Personal disclosure, I use dog crates and highly recommend them to my puppy buyers. It has been eye-opening to gauge their reactions which range from, “I would never confine my dog to jail,” to “I couldn’t live without one!”. Here’s why I like crates and so will you and your dog if you follow these easy suggestions.

Primal Instinct

First, realize that dogs are denning animals.  They feel safe and relaxed in a small, enclosed space of their own, a den. So far from feeling imprisoned, your dog will enjoy having his/her own special spot.  If you are beginning crate training with a puppy expect some whines and cries for the first few nights away from their littermates and Mom. This is normal and can be reduced if you move the crate into your bedroom and stroke the puppy and quietly talk to it during those first few nights on its own. A ticking clock reminds them of their mother’s heartbeat and a plush toy can simulate a littermate while some soft music can be soothing.  A treat upon entering the crate is always a good idea as the pup begins to associate the crate with good things and helps keep the puppy relaxed. Try our Single Ingredient Treats, Frozen Necks, or even our Raw Meaty Bones to chew on.

How to Introduce your dog to a crate

If you are introducing an older dog to a crate it may be more challenging. Especially if the older dog has had previous bad experiences with crates. Being left too long in a crate, not having appropriate food or water while in a crate, being too hot or cold in a crate, or been socially isolated in a crate are all triggers. All of those scenarios must be prevented from happening if you wish to have a healthy dog/owner/crate relationship. But older dogs can learn new tricks and they can also learn to adjust to time in a crate.  Just remember that behavior modification requires patience. Crate manufacturers recommend tossing treats into the crate and leaving the door open until your dog feels safe inside. Staying present as you begin closing the door for short periods and reassuring your dog with praise when it remains calm is also helpful. It’s always baby steps, but each step brings you closer to the goal of a dog who is comfortable in his/her own secure space.

Just remember that you really cannot rush that goal. If you have made the crate comfortable with a soft blanket, toys, a spill-proof water dish, and some treats your dog will eventually want to spend time there. This is important if you have a dog that cannot be left unattended.  Dogs who become destructive when alone or ones suffering from incontinence would be good candidates for a limited time in their own crates.  Nowadays with many people working from home, it is convenient to occasionally confine your dog to its’ crate during important calls. And if fragile Granny comes for a visit, your boisterous puppy might be more popular if after greeting Granny he can be put in his crate with a yummy treat.

Size Matters

Be sure to get the correct size crate for your dog.  It should be large enough to sit, stand and lie down in with a few inches of extra room. Metal crates often come with dividers so that the crate can be shortened when the puppy is small and the dividers moved as the puppy grows larger. This helps prevent elimination accidents in a far corner of a too large crate.

Place Matters

Many pet owners have two crates. One set up where the family usually congregates (family room, living room, kitchen) and another set up in a bedroom.  Since dogs are pack animals they should not be isolated from their pack (you and your family). Chose the crate location wisely, avoiding drafty areas or nearby heat sources such as sunny windows or heat vents.  Multiple dog households, such as mine, often feed their dogs in crates to circumvent food guarding and jealousy issues. This works surprisingly well for crates placed near the kitchen and helps contain food mess.

Crates are a convenient tool.  Crates are not a substitute for training and should never be used as punishment. But occupied by your dog for a limited time, kept near the family, and made comfortable, your pet should happily adjust to its’ own cozy little home within your big home.

By Carol Kendig

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Beware of Dog sign on fence

20 Tips & General Advice to Avoid a Dog Attack

Dog bites are not only painful, but can be deadly for humans, can cause rifts in relationships, and may result in the death of a dog. They are the nightmare scenario of all dog owners and may be avoided by using these general tips and sensible precautions.

  1. Do not venture onto private property unless specifically invited.
  2. Do not run when confronted with a threatening dog. Running stimulates the dog’s aggression.
  3. Hold your ground and demonstrate moderate dominance by firmly telling the dog to go home. Using a calm, authoritative voice, say “no” or “sit” and many dogs will comply. It may be effective to croon “nice doggie” to an overwhelmed dog.
  4. Avoid direct eye contact, which dogs interpret as a challenge. Appear nonchalant, but glance at the dog so you can see where it is.
  5. When the dog begins to back away, slowly retreat also, keeping the dog in view. If the dog circles back, stop and wait until it moves away again.
  6. Do not try to outdistance a dog if you are on a bicycle. Stop, dismount, and stand with the bicycle between you and the dog. Without something to chase the dog may lose interest.
  7. Never try to pet a strange, free-roaming dog.
  8. Never attempt to touch or pet a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  9. Do not be embarrassed to jump on a car, climb a tree or call for help if you are threatened.
  10. Do not hesitate to ask a dog owner to restrain their dog until it clearly recognizes you as a friend.
  11. Avoid any encounters with trained guard dogs as they may be patrolling.
  12. Keep still and try to remain calm. Vets advise you to “be a tree” with feet together, elbows against your chest, and hands under your neck. No screaming as this excites a dog.
  13. Don’t turn your back on a barking dog.
  14. Let the dog sniff you; in many cases, it will leave as soon as it realizes you are not a threat.
  15. As a last resort, throw or pretend to throw an object at an aggressive dog.
  16. If attacked, “feed” the dog something else, your jacket, bike, purse, etc., to distract it.
  17. Mother dogs are very protective of their puppies. Always ask before you engage with a litter and move quietly and carefully around them.
  18. If knocked down, curl into a ball and use your hands to protect your head and neck.
  19. Seek immediate medical attention for dog bites. All bites should also be reported to the police or animal control department.
  20. If you hit or kick a dog it may retaliate by biting. Also taking food or a toy away from a dog may have the same result.

While dogs are considered our Best Friends, we must treat them with respect. They are not humans, and their reactions are not always predictable.  Avoiding the situations listed above will go a long way to keeping you safe from potentially dangerous dog encounters.

By Carol Kendig

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Improve Your Pets Dental Health!

February is Pet Dental Month and for the past two years, I have been making healthy, natural suggestions to help keep your pet’s teeth clean and avoid dental problems. There are so many great reasons to be proactive about our pet’s teeth. Knowing that dental problems can adversely affect overall body health is probably the wisest reason to feed raw bones, feed a raw diet, use natural dentifrices such as kelp and even manually brush our pet’s teeth if necessary. But I realized there was one reason to practice preventative dentistry that I had overlooked, and in these days of rising prices and inflation, it’s a pretty compelling reason to keep your pet’s mouth in pristine order.  That reason is the skyrocketing cost of vet visits and treatments.

For many years I took my dogs to a marvelous holistic veterinarian. Sadly, she recently passed away, and searching for a new vet has been a shock: inconvenient clinic hours, overworked staff, appointments booked far in advance, and astronomical prices. Sadly, most vets lack in-depth nutritional knowledge, and many are antagonistic to holistic healing modalities. This is not an indictment of the whole veterinary profession.  There are amazing holistic and integrative veterinarians working hard all over the country but very few in my area.

What I find disturbing is that instead of focusing on preventative dental care veterinarians promote expensive treatments such as dental teeth cleaning, as the preferred option.  So what does a dental teeth cleaning involve for your animal?

  • The vet makes an initial examination while your pet is awake and may take x-rays although they are normally done at the second visit
  • The vet does a blood draw to determine if your pet’s health is okay for the procedure
  • Usually, a second office visit is scheduled at this point for the procedure to be done at a later date
  • At the second visit, the vet anesthetizes your pet, usually under general although some vets will use a local anesthetic, and x-rays are taken while your pet is immobilized
  • The vet cleans under the gum line then scales and polishes the visible portion of the teeth

Is it really worth it?

No doubt that the conclusion of professional dental cleaning of your pet’s mouth is cleaner and healthier, but at what cost? The first cost is to the pet’s overall health. Unknown effects from anesthesia and follow-up antibiotics are often not visible immediately but can contribute to a cumulative unhealthy chemical overload on your pet’s system. In general, the fewer synthetic chemical substances your pet experiences over a lifetime, the healthier they will be.

Cost variable

The second cost is to your wallet.  I talk to many pet owners and have heard of some staggering costs for pet teeth cleaning.  Of course, there are many variables for this service, but the average cost for a feline tooth cleaning in the Pacific Northwest is around $500 – $700, and for canines between $900 – $1400 for professional veterinary teeth cleaning. That is quite a bit of income to spend for a procedure that can be easily avoided by proper preventative care as mentioned earlier in this article.


Please understand that I am only talking about keeping your pet’s teeth clean.  Veterinary dentistry for broken teeth, abscesses, and other emergency services is crucial to wellness, and we need and appreciate our vet’s skills in these areas; but keeping your pet’s teeth clean is part of good animal husbandry and within our supervision as pet parents. With nearly 50 years of raw feeding my Bullmastiffs and now Australian Labradoodles, they never had to have their teeth cleaned.  They have white, shiny teeth throughout their lives. This can be your reality too!

If you love your dog if you love your cat, why wouldn’t you avoid this highly stressful veterinary procedure? All it takes is a thoughtful change to a species-appropriate raw diet, the addition of raw bones and perhaps incorporating a natural dentifrice into their meals. Integrating preventative dental practices into your pet’s daily routine can be rewarding both for your pet’s health and for your wallet.

Check out Northwest Naturals Raw Meaty bones and Necks for dogs and our Freeze Dried Necks for both dogs and cats.

by Carol Kendig

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A light brown dog raising his paw against a white garage door background

Dehydrated vs. Freeze-Dried Pet Food – Know the Difference

Many people mistakenly use these two terms interchangeably, but they are very different processes. Since both procedures produce similar nearly moisture-free foods it is understandable that there can be confusion in people’s minds. Let’s explore some of the important differences.

Dehydrated Dog Food

Dehydration has been used for centuries although modern technologies have vastly improved the quality of foods produced. Dehydration involves slow, gentle cooking that uses warmed air to waft away the food’s natural moisture. This process requires heat, usually over 104 degrees, at which most protein enzymes are killed. It is a moderate process, easier on food than canning, extrusion, or baking, all of which require very high heat. Foods made through canning, baking and extrusion are considered “dead food” because they are processed in ways that absolutely kill all enzymes. Sadly, most dehydrated foods, certainly dehydrated proteins, will also not contain live enzymes.

So Why Use Dehydrated Food?

Dehydration’s main advantage in food preservation is that done right, it reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. Molds, fungi, yeast and other contaminants need moisture to thrive, and correctly dried foods eliminate most moisture. Another boon to using dehydrated foods is they do not require preservatives as they are naturally preserved if stored away from moisture, heat and light. These foods will absorb about 70% of original moisture when re-hydrated, making them a good choice for pets unwilling to drink sufficient water.

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

While the freeze-drying process is not new, it has only been in popular usage since the 1950’s. Through the process of sublimation, moisture is drawn out of the frozen raw ingredients without entering a liquid state.  This very gentle process using low heat (normally under 104 degrees) retains ingredient’s flavor, texture size and shape, and most importantly raw enzymes remain intact. This process does not denature the food in any way, retaining full nutritional value and resulting in less risk of allergies.

Why Use Freeze-Dried Food?

If stored properly away from moisture, heat and light, freeze-dried foods remain viable for many years without the necessity of preservatives or additives of any kind. Freeze-dried foods are lightweight, easily portable and extremely clean and bacteria-free. The slower, lower heat process of freeze-drying is worthwhile as more nutrients are intact resulting in a healthier food.

The Healthiest Choice is Freeze-Dried Food

Both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods are considered “live foods” because they use far lower heats than other traditional food treatment methods. Unfortunately, to kill bacteria dehydrated meats must be processed at temperatures around 150 – 165 degrees, hot enough to kill all raw enzymes. However, using highly exacting temperature standards, freeze-dried foods preserve raw enzymes, making them a true raw food. If you are interested in the healthiest choice in food preservation, there is no doubt that freeze-dried foods would have to be your choice.

By Carol Kendig

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Black Lab in green grassy yard catching treat in mouth

How To Choose A “Natural” Pet Treat That Is Truly Healthy

The Bag Said “Natural” Pet Treat

Many pet owners are extremely careful when choosing their pet’s diet. They study ingredient panels and reject brands that are less than transparent. However, some of these same vigilant owners will casually grab an eye-catching bag of treats to take home for Fido or Fifi. Often, we see the word “Natural” on a bag of treats and don’t investigate further until we get home, finally read the ingredients, and are shocked at what we have bought.

Many treats contain artificial and low-quality ingredients made from animals previously pumped with antibiotics and hormones. Hormones increase muscle development and fast growth, and antibiotics protect against illness. If you feed your pets such treats, it may lead to immunity buildup against antibiotics. This means that if your pet ever needs the protection of that antibiotic, it will not be effective. Ingesting hormones can also lead to hyperactivity and cause other health problems as well.

High Quality Ingredients

All natural pet treats, on the other hand, do not contain any hormones or antibiotics. These high-quality natural treats are a better choice for pet parents who want the best for their furry friends. They will also be gentle on your pet’s digestive system without the synthetic colors or artificial flavors so abundant in most treats.

If your pet has an allergy, checking ingredients on treats before you buy is essential. Soy, wheat, corn, and “natural flavoring” tend to be key components of many treats and these substances can trigger allergies. If you don’t know what an ingredient on the label is, please don’t risk your pet’s health. Always look for treats with the fewest number of ingredients and only healthy ones that you understand.

Inflammation and Imbalance

Highly processed treats with unknown ingredients cause irritation and create an imbalance in the gut flora, which is integral for positive mood and good mental health. Moreover, just like in humans, your pet’s stomach, heart, and brain are sensitive to what they eat or drink. Any kind of imbalance can contribute to inflammation and stress throughout their bodies, thus affecting them mentally. Natural treats will be gentle on your pet’s stomach, thus reducing inflammation and lessening the chances of bad reactions.

Quality of Food = Quality of Life

Our pets love their treats so it’s up to us to make sure we are feeding treats that do no harm. High quality natural treats contribute to better digestion, lowering the risk of diseases, strengthening immunity, and increasing energy. This speaks directly to good physical and mental health which increases quality of life. Adding single ingredient meat treats to your pet’s diet will be a welcome source of enjoyment as well as a nutritional boost to them.


~By Carol Kendig

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small dog with head down looking sad while laying in grass

How to Keep Your Pet’s Pancreas Healthy & Strong

Every organ in our pet’s body serves a necessary function, but too often we ignore the importance of the pancreas by feeding inappropriate foods to our dogs and cats. It is commonly reported that overconsumption of fats is the main cause of pancreatitis, and that is most likely true of sudden, acute attacks of pancreatitis. However, feeding high carbohydrate diets for multiple years, to dogs and cats who are carnivores, undoubtedly weakens the pancreas, creating an inflammatory response and damaging to the organ.

Foods & Function

The pancreas performs two main functions:

  1. Produces the hormone insulin and stores glucose to regulate blood sugar.
  2. Produces pancreatic enzymes amylase, lipase, and protease that digest carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the digestive tract.

Without a properly functioning pancreas, it is impossible to utilize the foods that are eaten. If the pancreas is severely compromised, even if we feed our pets large amounts of food, we could be watching them waste away, as the food passes through them undigested.

Healthy diets for our dogs and cats consist mainly of raw meats, along with their naturally occurring animal fats. Often, for dogs, a limited number of low-starch vegetables and fruits are added for extra nutritional benefits. Yet today many pet parents exclusively feed their pets kibble diets, high in carbohydrates, which puts an incredible strain on their pet’s pancreas. After years of inappropriate foods, and sometimes in a much shorter time, the pancreas loses its ability to successfully perform its functions.

Stress, Inflammation, & Damage

When the pancreas is stressed, the inflammatory response can be to activate the digestive enzymes before they are sent to the intestines, causing the pancreas to begin self-digestion. No this isn’t a horror movie scenario; it actually may happen in your cat or dog’s body. Eventually those digestive enzymes can leak into the abdomen, damaging the abdominal lining and other nearby organs. This would result in a very serious case of pancreatitis.

The pancreas is a sensitive organ, easily damaged, slow to heal and absolutely necessary for your pet’s life. Therefore, preventing problems is much smarter than creating pancreatic stress and dealing with the consequences. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • diets high in carbohydrates
  • poor quality fats and oils used in pet foods
  • lack of trace minerals
  • sudden consumption of large amounts of fat
  • obesity
  • sulfa drugs, seizure drugs, chemotherapy
  • trauma

Does Your Pet Have Other Disorders?

Pets with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are especially susceptible to pancreatic stress. Also certain breeds of dogs are more prone to this condition than others: Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Collies, and Boxers. In the cat world Siamese cats are at greater risk.

How To Prevent Pancreatitis in Your Pet?

Pancreatitis is a serious disease and should always be evaluated by a veterinarian. Your pet may need hospitalization or be treated at home, but your vet will be your first line of defense.

Here are a few ways you can provide on-going pancreas support:

  • Billberry acts as a powerful antioxidant
  • Dandelion Root supports both the liver and the pancreas
  • Slippery Elm and Milk Thistle both aid in gastrointestinal function and the addition of digestive enzymes through probiotics will all be helpful
  • Getting the proper amount of exercise is also good for your pet’s digestive system and aids in preventing obesity
  • One of the most influential change for pancreatic support will be the gradual transition to a raw food diet, high in protein, medium in animal fat and very low in carbohydrates. This is the diet your pet was designed to eat, the diet that will reduce inflammation and keep all systems functioning correctly.

Pancreatitis is a painful and difficult to control disease in dogs and cats that can ultimately be life threatening. If you take your pet’s health seriously, please make every effort to support his or her healthy digestion by providing a complete and balanced raw food diet for your best friend.

By Carol Kendig

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Dog licking snow near cats face, cat cringing away

Glucosamine for Pain Control

We Can’t Turn Back Time, But We Can Eat Better

As we all get older so do our beloved pets. And it’s simply a fact of life that aging bodies suffer more stress and injuries, resulting in pain. Arthritis is one of the most common age-related problems plaguing humans and animals alike, and while no one has found a cure for this disease the condition is treatable with varying degrees of success.

Glucosamine: A Natural Remedy

Focusing on the natural remedy glucosamine which has proven beneficial in many cases of arthritis, we note there are two readily available types of glucosamine: glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine chondroitin. Glucosamine sulfate is a simple single compound artificially made from the sulfate salt of glucosamine, originating in the shells of shellfish where it occurs naturally. Glucosamine chondroitin is a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin both from cow cartilage. While each type of glucosamine is helpful against pain, glucosamine chondroitin is considered the most effective of the two.

Varied Results

Some of you may have already tried glucosamine on yourself or your pets for pain. Often it proves efficacious, but others may be disappointed in the results. This is typical when using natural remedies which often have variable track records. For example, three of my dogs get great benefits from using CBD while my fourth seems to get no benefit at all. Idiosyncrasies of metabolism often account for these discrepancies in effectiveness. In the case of glucosamine chondroitin, I suggest you try it with your pet for a good two-month trial. If you see no results, it may not be the right supplement for your pet. But if your pet is fortunate enough to utilize the supplement the relief can be profound. Definitely worth a try!

Lack of Absorption

Absorption can be the main problem in your pet’s response to taking glucosamine. Recent studies have shown that dogs usually absorb only 2.5 – 12% of the amount they ingest in supplement form. Plus, lab results have shown high levels of lead in most glucosamine pills which is counterproductive for your pet’s health. Used as a selling point in many kibble dog foods, the added glucosamine supplement is nearly non-existent and of doubtful benefit. This is discouraging for pet owners who sincerely want to help their arthritic pets using natural rather than synthetic products. But don’t despair. Read on.

Two Methods that DO Work

As someone who has always advocated for holistic solutions for health problems, I am happy to report on two completely natural methods to get glucosamine into your pet’s diet and even your own. The first is Green-Lipped Mussels and the second is Bone Broth.

Green-Lipped Mussels

Green-Lipped mussels, found in New Zealand, are a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin along with the powerful and very rare Eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA). Working synergistically these three substances have proven highly effective against arthritic conditions. Northwest Naturals produces a 100% natural Green Mussel treat that many pet owners are using for their older pets for arthritis relief as well as using on younger pets to help prevent bone and joint problems in the future. Freeze-dried at low temperatures these mussels retain all the active enzymes and non-denatured proteins, vitamins and minerals with which Mother Nature endowed them. Green Mussel treats are an easy way to get healthy, natural occurring glucosamine into your pet’s diet. Our line of FUNctional Toppers also includes a Chicken Breast with New Zealand Green Mussels recipe which can be a tasty, although not a therapeutic, addition to your pet’s diet.

Bone Broth

The second way to safely add glucosamine is by adding bone broth to your pet’s meals. There are commercially produced bone broth products available in most pet supply stores that are convenient but tend to be expensive. Why not try making your own bone broth? It is easy, cheap and extremely healthful for your pets and yourself. There are a plethora of recipes online for making bone broth, but the basic ingredients are bones, water, apple cider vinegar and that’s it! The long simmering time pulls the nutrients from the bones, transferring valuable minerals into the highly nourishing broth, rich in glucosamine and chondroitin. Northwest Naturals has convenient packages of raw bones that can be used for making a delicious bone broth that your dogs and cats will enjoy while providing them with a totally natural source of glucosamine.

Benefits of Glucosamine

Studies have proven that glucosamine increases the fluid in joints and helps with joint, bone and digestive repair. This is one nutrient that in its natural form cannot harm your pet, strengthens healthy joints and often provides welcome pain relief for compromised joints. Much as we would like to stop the aging process, we can’t. However, using naturally occurring glucosamine and chondroitin can certainly make the senior years a less painful part of life for our pets and ourselves.

By Carol Kendig

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Holistic spelled by scrabble tiles and a couple dried flowers all on marble

Northwest Naturals and Traditional Chinese Medicine

What does the Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach Say?

Dating back nearly 23 centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on balancing the yin (hot) and yang (cold) energetic forces existing in all life.  When these forces are in harmony the resulting state of neutrality produces wellness. According to TCM, we can bring our diets, and our pet’s diets, into a healthy state of equilibrium by using the HOT-NEUTRAL-COLD food classification system they developed and have effectively used for many, many years. These HOT-NEUTRAL-COLD terms are not descriptive of the food’s temperatures themselves but rather the effect the foods have on the consumer’s own body: a cold response or a hot response.

Is your pet a HOT dog or do you have a COOL kitty?

Here are some clues:

HOT pets (too much yin) seek cool places to rest, may be warmer than normal to touch, may be anxious, may be excitable, often have allergies, excessive water consumption but dark urine, may be malodorous, skin rashes are common as are excessive panting, red eyes, dry eyes, and may have dry stools or constipation.

COLD pets (too much yang) love their snug beds and seek heat sources, strongly dislike cold weather, may be finicky eaters or lack appetite, may have cold extremities, dry/brittle hair, colorless urine, typically are quieter or seem depressed and may suffer from loose stools.

Strive Towards Balance

Of course, not all pets will exhibit all of the above symptoms, but TCM strives to bring all creatures toward balance, avoiding extremes that are detrimental to optimum health. If you believe your pet is exhibiting a few signs of imbalance you might try some diet changes to bring him or her back toward center. HOT pets should be given neutral to cold foods while COLD pets should be fed neutral to hot foods. Since dogs and cats are both carnivores, below is a short list of proteins commonly found in pet foods.

  • HOT FOODS: goat, venison, lamb, chicken, shrimp, eggs, goat’s milk
  • NEUTRAL FOODS: beef, pork, turkey, quail, salmon, sardines, tripe
  • COLD FOODS: duck, rabbit, most fish, cheese

How Does Northwest Naturals Fit Into This?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a very intuitive system and lists of the hot to cold food categories differ slightly according to different practitioners.  Northwest Naturals raw and freeze-dried diets for dogs and cats fit nicely into these basic categories.

Dog recipes:

  • Beef – NEUTRAL
  • Beef and Bison – NEUTRAL
  • Beef and Trout – NEUTRAL to COLD
  • Chicken – HOT
  • Chicken and Salmon – HOT to NEUTRAL
  • Lamb – HOT
  • Turkey – NEUTRAL
  • Whitefish and Salmon – COLD to NEUTRAL

Cat recipes:

  • Beef and Trout – NEUTRAL to COLD
  • Chicken – HOT
  • Duck – COLD
  • Rabbit – COLD
  • Turkey –NEUTRAL
  • Whitefish and Salmon – COLD to NEUTRAL

A Holistic Life

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses our everyday diets as therapy toward balanced health. In the Western world we might say, “You are what you eat” to express the same idea. But however you express it, a thoughtful, holistic approach to good nutrition using the best of both Eastern and Western theories will always be beneficial to us and our pets; and with centuries of experience behind it, the wisdom found in Traditional Chinese Medicine has much to offer us today.

By Carol Kendig

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Fruits & Veggies Part 3 - Green crop rows with NWN bags of Veggie & Fruit product

Friendly and Not-So-Friendly Fruits & Veggies for Dogs Part 3 of 3

Part 3 of 3

As discussed earlier cats do not need any plant material in their diets so this article will focus solely on fruits and vegetables that are either life enhancing or detrimental for our canine companions. This is not a definitive list, simply some of the more common ones our pets crave or ones that are nutritional powerhouses and make beneficial inclusions in our dog’s diets.

Beneficial Fruits and Vegetables for Dogs

Fruits and Veggies that are healthy for your dog

Image by Petco

APPLES: Many dogs love a chunk of apple tossed to them; others find the fruit too acidic for their taste. High in vitamins A and C and the immune boosting antioxidant quercetin (allergy fighting flavonoid found mostly in apple skin), apples also contain pectin which is a beneficial prebiotic for gut health.

BLUEBERRIES: Berries, in general, are palatable to dogs, but blueberries are the nutritional star. Full of vitamins, surprisingly they also contain some valuable minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron and zinc. They happen to be one of the richest sources of antioxidants with their free-radical scavenging properties. Research has shown that they help reduce the incidence of cancer, and since around half of our dogs will get cancer, blueberries are an important preventative measure we can add to their diets.

BROCCOLI: This is probably the most nutrient dense green vegetable dogs will eat, containing over 33 cancer-preventing compounds. A very low glycemic addition to your dog’s diet, this vegetable should be given in moderation as all cruciferous veggies can reduce thyroid function if given in excess. Cooking may make it more palatable.

CANTALOUPE: Another food high in beta carotene, also rich in B-6, C, folate, niacin and potassium. Very tasty for most dogs and rarely an allergen.

CARROTS: A popular, crunchy, sweet snack for most dogs, carrots provide beta carotene which can be converted into vitamin A and is a powerful antioxidant along with vitamins C, D, E and K.  Carrots promote good vision and supports collagen production.

CELERY: A mild flavored vegetable that is low in calories but high in fiber. A good weight loss addition that also helps the immune system and detoxifies. Some dogs prefer it cooked.

GARLIC: Used from the days of the Roman Empire to strengthen their war dogs, this vegetable or herb, used raw and in small amounts is entirely safe for your dog. For many years I have used it daily with my dogs for the antibacterial, antifungal, anti-viral effects. It is a fierce immune stimulator and has anti-cancer properties. Also reported to ward off fleas which has been true with my dogs.

GREEN BEANS: Another low-calorie vegetable often recommended for weight loss. Containing some omega-3 fatty acids and loaded with vitamins C and K, many dogs like the fresh crunch of raw green beans, others prefer them cooked.

MUSHROOMS: Medicinal mushrooms are an amazing addition to your dog’s diet. Used for thousands of years specific mushroom varieties have well documented health benefits. For example, Lion’s Mane is noted for increasing cognitive strength while Shiitake is noted for heightening immune function. When adding mushrooms, do not use wild mushrooms; use only medicinal mushrooms and usually cook them.

ROMAIN LETTUCE: My dogs love the firm lettuce ribs and beg for them as I create a salad. Very low in calories (lettuce is mostly water) this variety of lettuce is safe for dogs to eat. Endive, dandelions and chicory should be avoided, but Romain, containing vitamins A, C and K, is high in antioxidants and healthy for your dog to eat.

SWEET POTATOES: A valuable adjunct to your dog’s diet on occasion, this highly sweet and starchy vegetable should be added in moderation. Like all brightly colored edible plant material, sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins, notably E, A, B-6 and C in this tuber. Most dogs love their sweet taste, but like kids with candy, please monitor carefully as sweet potato’s high sugar content can be hard on a dog’s digestive system. Usually preferred cooked or dehydrated.

WATERMELON: A great source of lycopene, studies have shown this melon has anti-cancer properties, particularly from lung, bone and prostate cancers. Diabetes and heart disease reduction are also linked to high lycopene intake. Chock full of vitamins A, B-6 and C, this palatable fruit aids hydration and appeals to most dogs.

Other fruits and vegetables that may interest your dog are asparagus, bananas, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers and pears, to name a few. And when cooking plant materials, a light steaming will protect more of the vitamins and minerals than other methods.

Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid

ALLIUMS: Onions, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots can all cause anemia in dogs.

LEGUMES: Legumes contain lectins which can block valuable nutrients from being absorbed. They are considered by many experts to be anti-nutrients. Examples of legumes are peas, lentils, beans such as kidney, white, black, navy, pinto, etc., peanuts and soybeans to name a few of the most well-known legumes.

THE NIGHTSHADE FAMLY: Members of the nightshade family are also not appropriate foods for canines. These would include but are not limited to potatoes (uncooked), tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  These vegetables contain a substance called solanine which tends to increase inflammation and can be toxic to some dogs. It is especially harsh on arthritic conditions.

DRIED FRUITS: Dried fruits are far too sweet for dogs except in very small amounts. Drying intensifies the sugar content by removing the water, making the treats quite tasty but disproportionately high in carbohydrates which are hard on the canine digestive system. A treat to use sparingly!

Scientifically Tested As Beneficial

In a 2005 Purdue University study, researchers wanted to discover what effects if any adding vegetables to canine diets had on the incidence of bladder cancer in dogs. The test animals were Scottish Terriers. One group ate only kibble while the other group ate kibble plus different vegetables 3 times a week. At the end of the study the results were stunning.  The dogs eating green leafy vegetables along with their kibble reduced the risk of developing bladder cancer by 90%. Wisely adding beneficial fruits and vegetables into the canine diet can have dramatic health enhancing results.

Dogs are individuals with different dietary needs and preferences. Some do better with more plant materials in their bowls and some do not. Always remembering that your dog is a carnivore, you may want to thoughtfully experiment with supplementing their meat/organ/bone diet with some valuable vegetables and fruits for the nutritional rewards they offer.

Check out the first segment on Fruits and Veggies for your pets and as well as the second segment on Benefits of Vegetables and Fruits in Your Dog’s Diet.

By Carol Kendig