For your dog’s mind, body and soul

Premium dog foods contain human-grade ingredients and have meat as the first ingredient, with an additional meat in the next four ingredients. The best kibble you can buy your dog will have three or more meats (ie: chicken & chicken meal & fish meal, or turkey & chicken meal & lamb meal) in the first 5 ingredients. High-quality meat sources include chicken, chicken meal or other specific USDA-inspected protein sources such as beef, lamb, turkey or fish. Avoid foods with vague meat sources such as “meat and bone meal” or “poultry/poultry meal” or “animal fat/digest” and those containing by-products.

After high-quality meats, look on the ingredient list for whole grains rather than flours or grain fragments. Ground brown rice provides more nutrients than rice flour and brewers rice. Corn is a cheap source of protein and is not easily digested by dogs. Most premium foods avoid corn all together. Other common grains are oats, oatmeal or barley. Avoid foods with artificial colors, preservatives and low-nutrient fillers like corn gluten meal.

A newer category of foods are those classified as grain-free. These foods are protein-rich and contain potato rather than grains. Makers of these foods follow the belief that dogs are not able to effectively digest grains and that a correct canine diet includes mostly meat and a smaller amount of vegetables and fruits. In the wild, the only grains (and fruits and vegetables) canines eat come from the stomach of their prey. In general, grain-free kibbles contain more meat than traditional kibble and are therefore higher in protein. These foods are nutrient-packed and easy to digest.

You will find high-quality dog kibble at feed stores, organic-focused grocery stores and dog boutiques. Large pet supply chain stores generally carry mediocre foods. Kibble you find in grocery stores is typically lower-quality. While this is not a complete list, some brands to look for include Innova, Wellness, California Natural, Solid Gold and Fromm.

If you are interested in a grain-free food, look for Evo, CORE, Taste of the Wild, Instinct, Orijen…to name a few. If your dog has allergies or a sensitive stomach, many of these companies have special formulas.

I would also recommend occasionally switching kibble to get your dog a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and to avoid an overload of any such supplements. Each company has their own vitamin/mineral formulation and switching provides a more complete diet for our companions.

You can supplement with canned food as well. Many of the above brands make canned varieties, including 95% meat options. Canned food is not exposed to the same high temperatures as extruded kibble and more nutrients survive the cooking process. Brands like Life4K9 and Orijen offer kibble that is baked rather than extruded—baking is a lower heat process that preserves more nutrients than the extrusion process.

If your dog needs to lose weight look for a food that is reduced fat, rather than reduced protein. Many weight-loss or senior formulas bump meat from the first ingredient. You end up with a food that is higher in grain. Reduced fat is a healthier formula for weight loss. Innova and CORE are to brands with reduced-fat formulas.

A special note for owners of large and giant breed dogs: The growth of large dogs needs to be carefully monitored. Such dogs should eat a puppy kibble specially formulated for large breed puppies until they reach 18 to 24 months old. This is to avoid an overload of calcium and phosphorus which can cause problems with bone growth. Innova, Orijen, Solid Gold and Fromm make large breed puppy food.

June 5th, 2008 at 10:24 am | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Here is a photo of Essa, our female Bernese Mountain Dog…

Essa - Bernese Mountain Dog

Here is a photo of our Great Pyrenees…

Coe - Great Pyrenees

August 9th, 2007 at 11:59 am | Comments & Trackbacks (5) | Permalink

There has been a lot of debate recently over what types of food are best for dogs, commercial food versus homemade food, raw food, cooked food, etc. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with all of these diets, and in this article, we will cover the views on the raw food diet for your dog, covering both sides of the issue, so that you can make your own decision.

There are many benefits that your dog will receive from being on a raw diet, according to some vets. If you choose to allow your dog to have bones, then some say that their teeth will stay in better shape, and will be cleaner, than those on other diets. This could potentially mean less money that you have to spend on dental care at the vet’s office, which is considered to be an added bonus for you, the dog’s owner.

Many dogs’ digestive systems are better able to tolerate raw food than commercial dog foods that are filled with by-products and preservatives. You also don’t have to worry as much about potential food allergies, since you know exactly what is in the food that you are giving to your dog.

Another belief is that dogs that are on raw diets have significantly reduced risk of becoming obese, which can cause many serious health problems, just as it does for humans. They are only eating what they need, without getting all of the fillers that many commercial dog foods contain, which cuts out excess calories.

One of the most common complaints that dog owners have about a raw diet is that it takes a lot longer for them to prepare their dog’s food than normal. They can’t just go to a bag and scoop out kibble into a bowl; they have to actually prepare the food, much as they would for themselves. You have to have enough meat on hand to feed your dog, you have to measure out the correct amount, and then mix it with the proper amount of vegetables, and bones if you choose to go that route. You have to determine how much food your dog should eat each day, depending on his or her ideal body weight, and then either prepare the food on a daily basis, or prepare it in batches and store it in the freezer until it is needed. Either way, you have a lot more time invested in the entire process, and for busy families, this isn’t always an option.

When you purchase meat, depending on where you live, it can be pretty expensive, so you will likely have to spend more money on a raw diet than you would a commercial dog food diet. To make this option more affordable, you will need to look for sales and then buy as much as you can afford and store it appropriately, which could also mean investing in a separate freezer, if you don’t already have one on hand.

Anytime you think about raw meat, you have to think about parasites and bacteria, which could be potentially harmful for your dog. Some meats are more dangerous than others, for example pork, but in general, you should be okay. Raw beef and chicken usually don’t pose any problems for dogs, as long as it is stored properly at the correct temperatures.

You will need to decide whether or not to give your dog bones. Some vets say that you should never give your dog any kind of bone, because they could choke, or the bones could damage their digestive system, but others say as long as you are careful about the types of bones you give, this isn’t a problem. Many advocates of the raw diet grind bones up and mix them in, but again, that is your choice.

If you are thinking about putting your dog on a raw diet, you need to take the time to look at all of the information you can find, and then make your own decision based on your findings. The raw diet requires a commitment from you the dog owner, both financially, and time-wise, if you aren’t prepared for that, or aren’t certain that is the way you want to go, then you might want to think about other options.

by Cristy & David Giacomini - Holistic Dog (www.holisticdog.com)
For your dog’s mind, body & soul.

This article may be reprinted as long as it’s reprinted in its entirety including the signature line.

August 7th, 2007 at 4:01 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (4) | Permalink

When you acquire a new puppy, odds are you will have to spend some time training and working with him, if you want him to behave well. This doesn’t mean that you have to punish him, spank him, or abuse him in anyway to get him to act the way you want him too! There are many great positive training methods out there that are easy to use, and work well for all dogs, if you take the time to learn and understand how they work.

One of the most popular positive methods of dog training of the last few years is clicker training. This technique basically consists of a handheld device that makes a clicking noise when you push a button. When you first start using the clicker method, the dog may not like the noise the clicker makes, as it is rather loud, so it may take him some time to grow accustomed to the sound. When you work with your dog, and he does something well, you click the clicker and give him a treat. The dog will start to associate the clicker with a treat, and you will be reinforcing his good behavior. You can use this method to teach your dog to sit, to come to you, to stay, etc.

Just about every dog loves doggie treats, and they can be a great tool for you to use when training your dog. Again, the idea here is to reinforce the good behavior, so that the dog learns what is acceptable and unacceptable in a positive, healthy way. This method works much the same as the clicker method. You simply find a treat that your dog enjoys, and fill your pockets with the treat before you start training. When your dog reacts appropriately, you praise him and give him a treat. Over time, your dog will start to associate his good behavior with the treats, and will start behaving well just to get the “expected” treat. The treats that you choose should be healthy for your dog, and only should be used for training purposes. You will eventually want to encourage your dog’s good behavior with praise, rather than treats, but this can take some time.

Training your dog is a great way for you to bond, and builds your relationship with your new canine friend in a positive, loving way. Training does not happen overnight, no matter what training methods you employ, so you should be prepared to put forth the time and effort necessary for training your new dog, or either hire someone to do it for you. You will find that a well trained dog is much easier to handle and deal with, and you will both be much happier for it.

by Cristy & David Giacomini - Holistic Dog (www.holisticdog.com)
For your dog’s mind, body & soul.

This article may be reprinted as long as it’s reprinted in its entirety including the signature line.

August 7th, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Every pet owner, dog owners included, wants the best for their beloved friend. As a dog owner, you may even feel as though your dog is a member of your family, and take any necessary steps to ensure your dog’s well-being. One thing that many dog owner’s do, along with making sure their dog has a healthy diet, is to give their dog natural health supplements, to boost his or her overall health .There are many different herbal supplements out there that are successfully used for treating many common dog ailments, it is just a matter of taking the time to do some research to decide which ones will be best for your dog.

One of the most common natural health supplements used for dogs is flaxseed oil. Some pet owners use flaxseed oil to help keep their dog’s skin and coat healthy, either as preventive medicine, or whenever problems arise. Many common skin ailments can be healed, or at the least the symptoms relieved, by the use of flaxseed oil.

If you are not a fan of the many commercial flea repellents on the market for dogs today, then you might want to think about using garlic, as a natural flea repellent. In most cases, the garlic will be much safer for your dog and friendlier on your wallet as well!

Licorice root has long been used in many dog foods and natural health supplements because it aids in digestion, helping alleviate stomach upset, diarrhea, and even reflux.

For older dogs suffering from joint pain and stiffness, often a sign of arthritis, a glucosamine chondroitan supplement may do the trick. Not only can this supplement work for your dog, but you as well! Over time, the cartilage between the joints, especially the hips, starts to decay, or wear away, causing movement to be painful, and inflammation to occur. This supplement can help to replenish that lost cartilage, providing extra cushioning to those painful joints, and giving your dog some much needed pain relief.

Much like licorice root, ginger root can also aid in digestion, and is used to treat many canine digestive problems, such as gas and nausea. It may even help prevent your dog from getting sick in the car, which can be a common occurrence for some breeds.

Vitamin C supplements can help your dog as he or she grows older, by preventing muscle and tissue damage, and slowing down the aging process. This means that your dog will feel better longer, and may even live a little longer as well! Vitamin C has been used to prevent many different types of canine cancer, to treat urinary problems, and boost the immune system.

As always, it is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian before you start using any natural herbal health supplements for your dog, especially if he or she is currently on any kind of medication, or has had allergic reactions in the past. Do your homework, make a list of the supplements that you think would be beneficial for your dog, and then consult with your vet before you go shopping. Your vet can also tell you more about how the supplements should be used, and in what dosages.

by Cristy & David Giacomini - Holistic Dog (www.holisticdog.com)
For your dog’s mind, body & soul.

This article may be reprinted as long as it’s reprinted in its entirety including the signature line.

August 7th, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink