Essential supplements for dogs

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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

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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

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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!!

 

Acupressure for Your Dog

 

Paw Pod Photo
FitPAWS Paw Pods provide passive stimulation to acupressure points between your dog’s digits.

Acupressure is one of the most ancient healing arts.  Like acupuncture, which is uses the same pressure points, it is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  The primary difference is that acupuncture uses needles to activate the points. There is evidence that shows veterinary acupressure has been used since 2000-3000 BC. In ancient times, eastern cultures would use this art not only on themselves, but also on their animals.

Acupressure increases circulation, releases muscle tension and improves the flow of energy or qi. This form of therapy which brings energy and blood to an area, can be used to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and injuries, it can reduce anxiety, motion sickness and nausea, and can even help with behavior disorders.

The Bladder Meridian is a great place to get start if you want to provide overall wellness for your dog. It begins at the inner corner of each eye, over the head and then breaks into two lines along both sides of the spine and runs down the back to the tail and down the back of the hind legs. There are many association points along this meridian that provide qi to all of the body’s organs.

To stimulate the Bladder Meridian, get your dog into a relaxed position on the floor alongside of you. Start at the base of the neck, using your palm if you have a large dog, and fingers if you have a small dog.  Press gently but and with healing intention as you follow the line down to the tail.  Do not massage across the spine itself, which can be painful, but to each side of it. One side at time. Skim over any raised or inflamed areas very lightly.  Press gently into any depressions or hollows you feel for a few seconds.  If your dog is not interested in the massage, don’t push him and save it for another day when he is more receptive.

Another easy way to active pressure points is with FitPAWS Paw Pods. There are acupoints located along the side of the base of the nail bed on the various digits. Paw Pods gently press against these areas when your dog is standing on them. It’s a great way to incorporate a little acupressure wellness with training and balance improvement exercise.

If your dog has a serious imbalance of any kind and you want to try alternative therapies, find a holistic veterinarian or certified therapist who is trained to identify the correct points to bring your dog into balance and restored health.

What is TTouch?

TTouch, or Tellington Touch, is a bodywork method designed by Linda Tellington-Jones.  It was first designed for bodywork on horses and then later discovered to be helpful to small animals and people.

TTouch is a method of making circular movements on the body, generally in a clockwise manner with light touch.  The circles awaken the cells, likened to turning lights on, and help your dog with healing and behavior.  Because each circle is complete within itself, there is no need to understand anatomy and even a few minutes a day can help your dog immensely.

The basic method is to make a circle starting at the 6pm position and go around one and a quarter times, to 9pm and then to slide your hand to the next position running down the back of your dog to the sides of his spine.  Keep your opposite hand on your dog and alternate from side to side until you get to the base of the tail and then run your hand along his tail to the very tip. The circles help your dog to relax, help speed along healing, build body self-awareness and confidence and help deepen your bond with your dog.

There are many different hand positions and movements with names like Clouded Leopard, Lick of the Cow’s Tongue and Snail’s Tail, amongst others.  The names were chosen to help make learning fun and easy to remember.

There is also an ear work technique, called Ear TTouch, which is particularly helpful in the case of an emergency and can help you keep your dog from going into shock.  There are many acupressure points at the base of the ear that help with relaxation, digestion and overcoming car sickness.

If you are interested in learning TTouch, there are many books and videos on the subject or you can even take a certification class.  At the very least, be sure to watch a few videos and learn the basics.  It can make a world of difference for your dog.

What is Integrative Veterinary Care?

 

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Integrative care for your dog is a whole-body approach.

Integrative holistic veterinary care is a whole-body approach that incorporates both western and eastern modalities.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, massage, herbs and nutrition.  There are also alternative therapies such as cold laser, homeopathy, flower remedies, essential oils, Tellington Touch (TTouch) and water therapy that your dog can benefit greatly from.

Since we are all about preventative care and holistic healing, Tashi and I work together with our holistic veterinarian to create a whole-body approach for optimal health.  We use all of the methods that are briefly described here as part of our integrative therapy.

Acupuncture and Acupressure have been used for centuries.  Whether using traditional needles, laser acupuncture or pressure points, the goal is to get energy moving and restore the body.  Blockage of any type is where pain and disease start. There are specific energy channels, or meridians, where energy flows throughout the body.  Acupuncture or Acupressure is applied in specific areas depending on what is going on in the body.

Chiropractic is also about clearing blockages, but the focus is on the spine and how it affects the nervous system.  Every organ in our body is regulated by the nervous system, the same is true for your pet. The spine is protected by vertebrae which are connected by muscles and ligaments. If the muscles or ligaments are tight, the spine is not able to move as it should and vice versa.

Massage works on the soft tissues of the body, which works hand in hand with chiropractic.  Massage increases the flow of nutrients to the muscles and aids the body in getting rid of toxins.  It also reduces inflammation, and stimulates circulation.

Laser Therapy, also called low-level laser, cold laser therapy and Class IV laser, uses light to stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation.  It’s done on the surface of the skin and there is no need to shave the fur.  Hot laser on the other hand, is has a higher risk of cuts or burn due to the intensity of the light.  Cold laser is what is typically done on dogs and cats.

Herbs, the root of medicine, when given properly, can do wonders for your pet, for treating and preventing disease, without the use of synthetic drugs.

Homeopathy was developed in the 1700’s in Germany.  It’s a medical system with the basic belief that “like cures like”.  It claims a substance that causes the symptoms of disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. Homeopathy comes in various forms such as sugar pellets, liquid drops, creams, gels and tablets.

Tellington Touch (TTouch), created by Linda Tellington-Jones, is a technique to help your dog’s physical and emotional health.  It can help with behavior problems, pain, circulation and the clearing of energy flow.

Water Therapy includes swimming, treadmills and underwater massage, all wonderful ways to help your dog with muscle tone, pain management and relaxation.

 

FitPAWS Paw Pods

FitPAWS Paw Pods

 

We recently got some FitPAWS Paw Pods.  They are great for balance,  neural stimulation and building core strength.  Your dog can stand on either the dome side or for a bigger challenge, he can stand on the flat side.  They in a pack of 4 and can be used individually or together.  We are just starting out with them, so the first thing we did was get used to touching them with right and left front paws.  Then we moved up to standing on them, one paw at a time, then both at the same time.  Our goal is all four paws on four different paw pods.  I’ll post an update as we get there!  It’s a lot of fun working together on the training too!

Read more about FitPAWS in our blog post here. 

 

FitPAWS Exercise Demonstration – Step Up

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FitPAWS are Happy Paws!

I thought I’d share some of my FitPAWS exercises with you! Mom needs to get one of those iPhone tripods so she can photograph me while supporting me, but we thought we’d go ahead and get started!

This is a step up from the FitPAWS Disc to the FitPAWS Donut. It elongates my back and give me a good stretch, while improving my muscle tone. We do some rotations that go about 5-8 minutes every day.

You can learn more about FitPAWS in my blog post FitPAWS for your Dog’s Fitness.

If you want to try FitPAWS, you can get a 15% discount at FitPAWSUSA with my special Barking Princess friends and followers code 18A-AMBTBP

 

 

 

FitPAWS for Your Dog’s Fitness

 

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FitPAWS is a great way to build your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness.

Are you looking for ways to improve your dog’s fitness, core conditioning and balance?  FitPAWS is a great tool to add to your dog’s fitness and conditioning regime.

What is FitPAWS?  It’s canine conditioning and rehabilitation equipment.  FitPAWS helps develop confidence, body awareness, strength, balance and coordination. Their inflatable platforms such as their discs, pods, peanuts and donuts are fun ways for your dog to improve his fitness.

The equipment is used by dog trainers and rehabilitation professionals as well as many pet parents who want to offer an additional way to help their dogs whether they are getting ready for the show ring, are recovering from an injury or just want to get in better overall shape.

Improving balance and stability is important for dogs of all ages, from puppies who are just starting to develop their coordination, to senior dogs that might have lost some of the strength they had in their earlier years.  The more your dog improves his balance and stability, the more body awareness he will have.

The amount of time your dog will need on FitPAWS varies from dog to dog.  Some dogs tire after 5 minutes and other can go for 15 minutes. The key is to not over-do the exercises, but to do them regularly and in short increments. Some of the balance work is more about endurance than repetitions.  A few minutes of balancing on a K9Fitbone goes a long way!  Working together through the exercises is also a great way for you to build your relationship and communication with your dog.

You will use treats to encourage your dog to go through the movements, so be sure to select something that is high value but not too high in calories.  Lamb or bison lung are great treats because they can be broken into small pieces and both have a lot of air so the calorie content is low.

We worked one on one with a rehabilitation expert who introduced us to FitPAWS, but you can learn all the moves you need by watching some FitPAWS videos online.   It’s important that your dog be closely supervised when using the equipment.  It’s not play-equipment, but truly exercise and rehabilitation tools that can greatly enhance your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness and well being.

As a Barking Princess reader, I’m able to share a special discount code  with you.  Use discount code 18A-AMBTBP  at checkout for 15% off any regular priced equipment.  Please note, it can’t be used on kits that are already discounted, sale items, apparel or third party products.

FitPAWS are happy paws!!