Baking Rainy Day Yin Cookies for Dogs

Dog with cookies imagae

Rainy days are perfect for making cookies.  These Yin Cookies are super easy to make and are great for warming the body and spirit.  I modified this recipe from one I learned through the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute.  If you’d like to learn that recipe too, follow this link to my YouTube video.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, everything is about the balance of Yin and Yang. Yin is cooler and Yang is warmer.  On wet and cool days, warming the body helps restore balance so the body can function more optimally.

I like to make small batches of cookies, even though we both eat these.  But you can always double or triple the recipe. These are truly one of my favorites and you can feel good about feeding them to your dog.

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free old fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup boiling water

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (if your dog has a wheat allergy, substitute with rice flour)

1/4 cup raw pepitas

1 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds

2 tsp. coconut oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup dried blueberries (without sugar)

1 Tbsp raw wild honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread oats on a baking tray and toast them for about 10 minutes.   In the meantime, boil the water.  When oats are finished toasting, put them in a stainless steel bowl with the dried blueberries and immediately add the boiling water to scorch them. Let sit for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, grind the pepitas and sunflower until they are a powdery consistency.  Add the ground pepitas and sunflower to the oats and blueberries.  Add the whole wheat pastry flour, coconut oil, cinnamon and honey.  Stir and then lay out on the counter to knead a few times.  Press down and flatten with a rolling pin and cut into shapes desired.  Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with coconut oil and bake for about 20 minutes.  If you want harder cookies.  Turn off the oven and keep cookies inside for another 10 minutes.

Essential supplements for dogs

supplement photo
Probiotics, Fish Oil and Coconut Oil are great supplements to add to your dog’s food.

We all want to provide our dogs with the very best nutrition we can afford. Here are a few supplements for dogs you can add to your pet’s food, regardless if you are feeing dry kibble, canned or raw, to help ensure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs.

Probiotics are essential if feeding processed food, including raw food that is high pressurized processed (HPP).  Probiotics help maintain a healthy environment in the gut.  They compete against unhealthy bacteria for space along the intestinal lining.  Probiotics help your dog with digestion, healthy bowels and a healthy immune system.  They can even help with allergies.

There are many probiotics to choose from.  Always choose the highest quality probiotic you can find.  Look on the label to see how many strains are in the probiotic and look at the colony forming units (CFU’s). You want to find a product with a lot of diversity, so a variety of strains and billions of CFU’s.  Strains that are great for dogs include SF68, AHC7 and LGG.

A refrigerated probiotic is better than one you find sitting on the shelf. Non-refrigerated items contain fewer live organisms than what the label may lead you to believe.  The organisms in probiotics are very sensitive and can easily be killed off during processing or shipping.

Some dog foods have probiotics already added, however the chances of them having enough strains, CFU’s or still being alive, so they can actually help your dog, is very slim. Remember when dog food is being processed it is subjected to very high temperatures, which while making the food sterile, kills off many nutrients.

You can buy a probiotic that is labeled for human use, just be sure to give the proper amount. Assume a human product is dosed for 150 lb body weight.  Divide accordingly for your dog’s weight.

Fermented vegetables are a great source of probiotics.  Start with ½ teaspoon for 15 lbs of body weight and build up to 1 teaspoon per 15lbs of body weight.

If your dog is not sensitive to dairy, goat keifer or plain yogurt are also great sources of probiotics.

Prebiotics exist in non-digestible fibrous parts of food such as bananas, apple skin, raw dandelion greens, asparagus and oatmeal. They travel through the intestines and then ferment once reaching the colon where they convert into short chain fatty acids.  Prebiotics act as a fertilizer for healthy bacteria that is already in the gut.

If you choose to add a store-bought prebiotic, always feed it along with a probiotic. There is some controversy as to whether or not prebiotics increase the number of unhealthy bacteria in the gut if given alone, so always give with a probiotic.

Fish Oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil benefits the skin and coat, is a wonderful anti-inflammatory, improves the immune system and increases stamina.  Fish oil is prone to oxidation and should always be added separately to food. The fish oil that is already in processed food will quickly oxidize and go rancid.

To make sure your dog is getting enough fish oil, multiply his weight by 20 and that’s how many much EPA your dog should be feeding.  So if your dog weighs 15lbs, you’ll want to add 300 EPA’s to his food. The DHA will be similar, so you don’t need to be concerned with the math on it.

Coconut Oil contains saturated, monosaturated and polysaturated fats with many medium chain fatty acids.  Coconut oil is great for the skin and coat, it helps maintain a healthy weight, it helps with neurological function and it can help with gut health.

Always select a virgin or extra virgin coconut oil that is packaged in glass.  You’ll want to feed 1 teaspoon per day per 10 lbs of body weight. If you live in a hot climate, you can also choose Coconut Butter which is less likely to liquidize on your shelf and has the same benefits as the oil.

Best Drinking Water for Dogs

pH strip photo
What is your dog drinking?

Do you give your dog filtered drinking water?  Many pet parents are concerned about the quality of water their dogs are drinking. It’s important to provide your family, including your pets, with the highest quality water you can afford.  Water that is free from pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fluoride and metals is vital for optimal health.

In the wild, animals use their natural olfactory sense to discern which water is best for them to drink. They naturally avoid water that is tainted with chemicals.  In our homes, our domesticated pets don’t have the choice to leave bad water for good water. They pretty much have to drink what we put down or go dehydrated.

A reverse osmosis under sink system is a great way to get impurities out of your drinking water.  But it’s important to know that while removing toxins, these systems also remove most minerals.

Minerals can be replenished to your dog’s water by adding a tiny pinch of Himalayan pink salt or unrefined sea salt.  Both contain trace amounts of all of nature’s minerals. Seaweed such as kelp and dulse, provide many minerals including iodine.  Fruits and vegetables are high in boron. Organ meats provide iron and potassium.  Raw meaty bones offer many minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and many others all in balance as nature intended.

Dogs urine and saliva are slightly acidic which helps them digest meat.  When their pH become too alkaline, urinary tract infections, kidney stones and crystals can begin to develop.  pH is an indicator of internal organ function, more specifically, it’s an indicator of how the kidneys are functioning.

Normal pH for dog urine is 6 – 7, with 6 – 6.5 being more ideal. You can monitor your dog’s urine and saliva pH at home with pH strips.  They are an inexpensive way to keep an eye on how your dog’s kidneys are functioning.  If you are giving your dog alkaline water, it’s important to monitor his pH levels regularly and stop giving it if his pH goes above 7.

There are many opinions on alkaline water, distilled water, hydrogen enriched water and reverse osmosis water.  When it comes right down to it, the important thing is that you are providing plenty of fresh clean water.  Wash the bowl regularly, and if possible, change the water twice a day to keep it nice and fresh.

Dog Jaw Chattering and Dental Health

dog dental health photo
Dental care is more than just brushing.

Have you ever seen your dog’s jaw chatter? It might have happened for a split second when he was super excited for you to throw the ball, or maybe you’ve seen it and brushed it off as just a weird thing he does sometimes but didn’t think it was anything serious. I’m sharing this personal story in hope that it will help someone out there who is reading everything they can find on the internet about dog jaw chattering.

I’ve raised my little girl on home prepared and raw food. When she was younger, I gave her raw meaty bones and believed that was the best thing I could do for her dental health. Unfortunately, she broke a couple teeth chewing on the bones and had to have two root canals.

After the root canals, she could no longer have hard bones or traditional dental bones because the teeth are a lot more fragile after they’ve had work done.  Since then, I’ve brushed her teeth twice a day, every day for years.

Because my little one is older now and I like to stay as holistic as possible, I didn’t want my girl to go under general anesthesia. I had her teeth professionally cleaned one time after the root canals, which was three years ago. We go to the vet regularly, I brush her teeth daily without fail and she eats a pretty amazing diet.

Then one day, about a month ago, her jaw suddenly started chattering.

There are many things that could cause jaw chattering.  It could be that he’s just really excited or nervous about something or it could result from him getting into something toxic, oral eosinophilic plaque like Turk has in this video. It could also be neurological or dental related. Since our dogs can’t tell us exactly what’s going on, it’s up to us to find out a root cause by starting the process of elimination.

Before the jaw chattering started, my girl started to bite me during our tooth brushing sessions, but I just thought it was her strong personality.  Then one day she bit me really, really hard. I worried something was wrong with her teeth or her jaw, but then she seemed fine. She was eating and drinking normally and didn’t have bad breath. I just thought I had to desensitize on the tooth brushing and find a new routine for us. I even consulted with a trainer with a PhD in animal behavior to get some tips.

We visited with the vet as soon as possible and discussed if it could be an allergic reaction, dental pain or neurological. He examined her and watched videos I provided and said “let’s keep an eye on it for a few weeks and see if it goes away”.  He didn’t think it was dental related since he knows how good I’ve always been about brushing and she didn’t have any tartar or gingivitis that he could see and she didn’t have any bad odor coming from her mouth.

Two weeks passed and the jaw tremors (as I was calling them at the time) were still there. They’d even happen when she was sleeping. I was worried they might be focal motor seizures, arthritis in her TMJ or a pinched nerve in her neck. I was so scared and I read all I could find on the subject and kept a log of every time the jaw chatter took place, which was several times daily.  I took video after video in all types of scenarios, eating, sleeping, barking, yawning. I was determined to understand the root cause so I could fix it. Just accepting something as general aging, is not acceptable in my book.

As the days went by, the chattering seemed to diminish a little, but was still present and other neurological and pain symptoms were showing up, which confused me even more.

I ordered an allergy test to see a food sensitivity was the root cause. I had recently re-introduced grains to her diet, so I was worried perhaps that was the problem, but taking the grains away didn’t change anything.

We went to see our holistic vet who thought it was maybe her TMJ and then we went to a third vet for another opinion and that vet thought it was  back pain related.  We went to laser therapy, but right there in the therapy room, just after the session had completed, I gave her a soft treat and her jaw chattered.

Finally, we got into see a Canine Dental Specialist at a specialty hospital. She was the fourth vet we saw about this. She looked inside my little one’s mouth and didn’t see anything obvious, but said it was possible the jaw chattering was from dental pain. It wasn’t a common response, but she said it was possible. We had to wait a week to get in for x-rays to see if there was any evidence of periodontal disease and get treatment.

The morning of her dental procedure I dropped her off at the specialty hospital and waited in the car in the parking lot across the street. The dentist called me as soon as she had the radiographs and told me there was a tooth at the very back of my dog’s mouth that had pretty advanced periodontal disease. She removed the tooth and a few hours later, my little one was ready to go home.

I was told that even under general anesthesia, my little girl’s jaw chattered when they touched the infected tooth. She had bone loss from the periodontal disease and the tooth was very loose and was hitting a nerve.  We don’t know for sure if this was the cause of the problem, but so far we haven’t seen the chattering again, so all things are pointing to dental pain.

So even if you brush your dog’s teeth every single day, twice a day, even on vacation, and never ever miss, and your dog’s breath smells fresh and teeth appear to be clean and beautiful, your dog could still have periodontal disease. It’s a nasty thing because our dog’s mouths open to their bodies and with periodontal disease, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs. We can’t see what is going on below the gum line and it’s super hard to see those very back teeth. I pushed to find out the root cause of the jaw chattering.  It would have been very easy to just write it off as an aging tick.

Looking back at it now, it seems obvious that a dental issue was the cause, but it really wasn’t all that obvious at all. Our dentist even consulted with a canine neurologist on the topic.  I feel terrible that it took almost a month get to the root cause, but I’m so grateful that we finally got there. Today my little girl is doing great and her jaw chattering and pain have gone away.

 I hope our story inspires you to schedule a professional cleaning for your dog.  February is Dental Health Month, which is a month to bring awareness to the importance of not only your dog’s regular tooth brushing, but also x-rays and professional cleanings for your dog’s mouth.  Healthy smiles are happy smiles!!

 

Dog training, it’s not just for puppies!

dog trick photo
Now is always the right time to keep learning!

You’ve made it through puppy training, obedience and your dog might even have a few tricks down pat. Your dog might have even graduated at the top of his class, but sometimes over the years, bad habits slip back in.

It’s easy let things slide and not address the behavior issues that have developed. But bad habits often escalate into more bad habits and pretty soon they can get out of control. Sometimes, we even encourage the bad habits without realizing it, or we might know that we are encouraging bad habits, but don’t know another way to get the end result that we want.

For example, you might use luring with a treat to get your dog to do something you want.   But luring only gets you so far.  It’s not actually encouraging your dog to perform or offer something to you for a behavior, but rather you are manipulating him. He might go through the motions to get the treat, but what if you could train him to offer the behavior on his own and then he gets rewarded?  Wouldn’t that be better?  Think about it, would you rather be lured into something or rewarded?

Some bad behaviors need to be corrected with redirection.  Let’s say your dog developed a habit of scratching on something. Instead of punishing for the behavior, like a squirt from a water bottle, you can redirect and engage him in something like a new trick that you teach him, and then offer a reward after. Learning new tricks is fun for both of you!  Then you will have a new ‘go-to’ to pull from and not have to lure, but rather redirect the behavior to a fun new trick and then reward after.  You want to make sure plenty of time passes after redirecting so he knows he’s not getting a reward for the misappropriate behavior.  Doing a trick will help with that.

As both we and our dogs get older, and have spent lots of time and years together, it’s easy to get lazy and let routines develop that let behavior issues slide.  Your dog is never too old to get rewards for good behavior and you are never too old to learn how to direct him.  A training class or three or five can really help.  Private training could be just the answer for you.  Now is always the right time to keep learning!

Blueberry Pepita Quinoa Dog Cookies

dog cookie photo

If you are looking for a special dog cookie to bake, here’s one we both LOVE!!  It’s not sweet, but it’s delicious and it’s loaded with goodness!

3/4 c. quinoa flakes

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. dried unsweetened blueberries

3 eggs

1/4 C. unsweetened, unflavored coconut milk

2 Tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix quinoa, flour, cinnamon and blueberries.  In a separate bowl, mix two of the eggs and coconut milk and melted coconut oil.  Add to the dried ingredients.  Knead briefly and roll out 1/4″ thick.  Cut out with cookie cutter and place on parchment paper lined cookie tray.  Brush with remaining egg and water mixed together.   Bake for 15 minutes.

Holiday Stress and your Dog

 

holiday dog photo

The holidays are a busy time of year at most households.  It can also be a bit stressful for both you and your dog. Usual routines get interrupted by more frequent comings and goings with holiday shopping, parties and festivities.  Cold, snowy days and shorter daylight hours might interrupt your usual walk routines and suddenly there is a big tree in the house that your dog isn’t supposed to touch.

As you are planning your family’s holiday activities, be aware that your dog might be feeling a little left out or stressed.  If you can, take time to do something special with your dog, even if it’s just making time to snuggle and give extra belly rubs.

If you are simply too busy to slow down with a full-time job, shopping, wrapping gifts, school concerts and so on, consider taking your dog to daycare.  Doggie daycare is perfect for days when you are running around like crazy and your dog is feeling neglected. Signs of your dog’s stress might manifest and him acting a bit sad and gloomy, excessive chewing or destroying things, when he’s never exhibited that behavior before, excessive barking or trying to get your attention or clinging super tight to you staying as close as he can as you move from one room to the next.

Be sure to also let your dog know how much you love him.  Nothing shows your love more than time spent together, so when time allows you to be focused on your special pooch, do something you will both cherish. Take a walk together to see the lights in your neighborhood, book a training class together that is essentially scheduled together time of working to understand each other, do some FitPAWS sessions together.

Each year together is a blessing and time is a fleeting thing.  We all get busy during this time of year that is about celebrating life, love and family.  Light a candle, take a breath and take in all that you love.

From my heart to yours, may you and all creatures great and small, have a joyous holiday season.

Thanksgiving with your Dog

Thanksgiving Dog Image

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday to bring family and friends together. With a little planning, your fur baby can enjoy the celebration too.

If you are cooking a plain turkey at home, there’s no reason your dog can’t enjoy a little of the meat along with you! In Chinese Medicine, turkey is a neutral to cool food, which is especially great for older dogs or those who have a Yin deficiency.

To make sure your dog does not suffer from intestinal upset, be sure you bake your turkey without lathering on all of the butter, oil and seasonings.  That’s where some problems could begin.  If you do season your bird keep it simple and don’t feed the skin to your dog.  The fat content of the skin could lead to pancreatitis and seasonings could possibly irritate your dog’s digestive system.

Sitting around the table, make sure that no one slips your dog a cooked turkey bone. Poultry bones become very brittle when cooked and are small in size, which spells disaster for your dog who could suffer from an obstruction, choking, bone fragments piercing the lining of the stomach or intestines, constipation, rectal bleeding or a blockage that requires emergency surgery.  Scary stuff!!  So never feed cooked poultry bones!!

You’ll also want to bypass the stuffing when sharing your turkey with your dog.  Stuffing often includes onions which are toxic and that means onion powder too.

Green bean casserole wouldn’t be a good choice for your dog, but chopped up steamed green beans would be great!  A little plain baked sweet potato, not the yams covered in butter and marshmallows are another great addition to your dog’s thanksgiving plate.  When cooking cranberries, you could always cook just a little tiny bit in plain water minus the sugar to let your dog have a teaspoon with dinner.

When it comes time for pie, your dog could enjoy a tablespoon of plain baked pumpkin without all the spices.

If you prefer to give your dog a canned food, Merrick has a recipe called Thanksgiving Day Dinner. It has turkey, sweet potato, carrots, apples and green beans.

Not everyone is able to bring their dog along if going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving and that usually means several hours of your dog being home alone.  Make sure you do something nice together before you have to leave the house.  Take a longer walk than you usually do together, play a little extra ball… do something out of the ordinary that makes the day special.

Most importantly take the time to give thanks for your wonderful companion and the life you share together. Pets are family and the holidays are for us to share together.  Just keep plan ahead and keep them safe.  You’ll have a wonderful memory to cherish always.

Halloween Ideas for You and Your Dog

Dog-O-Lantern photo
Halloween Dog-O-Lantern Fun!

Everyone loves seeing their dog all dressed up in a cute Halloween costume.  There are so many adorable costumes out there, who can resist taking photos and sharing them on Instagram and Facebook.

If you are looking for a few more ideas to celebrate Halloween with your dog, here are a few additional ideas to try:

 

Carve Breed Specific Jack-O-Lanterns using a doggie face stencil.  Better Homes and Gardens has some adorable stencils you can download for free.   There are lots of breeds to choose from or if you are skilled at drawing,  try your hand at making your own.

Keep it pet-safe and use a mini LED light inside instead of a candle inside.

Bake Pumpkin Dog Treats for your pooch and his friends. Here’s a recipe combining the goodness of pumpkin, oats and coconut that we love!

Ingredients:

1 ½ c    rolled oats

¼ c       unsweetened all-natural coconut chips (not the sweetened shredded kind with nothing added)

¼  c      creamy peanut butter (make sure it does not contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs and is found in sugar free items.  Some good brands to choose are Earth Balance, Simple Truth, MaraNatha)

½ c       pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, but make sure nothing is added)

½ tsp   cinnamon

½ tsp    baking powder

1             egg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with wax paper.

Combine oat and coconut in mini food processor. Pulse for 30-45 seconds then place in a bowl

Add cinnamon and baking powder to the oat and coconut mixture

Mix together the peanut butter, pumpkin puree and egg and add to the dry ingredients.

Roll out ½ inch thick.

Cut with cookie cutters.  Bones, pumpkins or leaf shapes are fun to use.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Make matching DIY Witch Hats for you and your dog.  All you need are a few pieces of black felt, some festive embellishments and a glue gun.  DIY Network has a pattern to get you started.  Decorate it to your liking to make it your own.  A little corded black elastic works great to keep the hat in place.