Pet Friendly Household Cleaners

Animals are family. We share our living space with them and we try to make that environment safe for everyone. Plus, they can be messy, they have accidents and don’t clean up after themselves, just like little kids. They need us to keep their environments healthy. I used to believe that clean meant safe, but unfortunately there’s a lot more to it than that.

The Pet Poison Helpline ranked household cleaning products as the sixth most toxic items for dogs. Cats are especially sensitive to phenols and even a small amount absorbed through the skin can be deadly.

There are an increasing number of studies being conducted today, showing direct links between household cleaners and illnesses in dogs and cats. Most people assume that this only relates to situations where the animals have ingested the chemicals directly, but this is not the case. Simple “normal use” exposure is enough to cause very significant damage over time. Paw pads are one of the only places on a dog’s body where they have sweat glands. This means they can absorb the chemicals not only by licking them or inhaling them, but simply by sniffing, walking and laying on the floor. Most of this kind of damage happens very subtly, over a long period of time, and by the time sickness occurs, it is too late to determine the exact cause. Lack of clinical signs early on mean by the time they are present, the animal is already extremely sick. In recent studies, animals that are affected develop some kind of metabolic disease (kidney, liver, or other organ system failure), cancer or some other diseases with similar severity. These diseases are often fatal and prevention means everything!

Another important thing to remember is that if your pet already has allergies, it could actually be these chemicals making them act up.

As concerned pet parents, it’s good to know to what to look out for in the products around the house. According to pet MD, this list is a good start:

  • Phenols (which are typically found in cleaners with the word “sol” in the name)
  • Phthalates (often used in scented products)
  • Formaldehyde (found in general household cleaners)
  • Bleach
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Perchloroethylene (found in rug and carpet shampoos)
  • Amonia
  • Glycol ethers

Watching out for all of this PLUS reading labels, can sound extremely overwhelming. I promise you, it’s not! An easy way to transition, is holding off on the commitment. Keep the cleaning products in your house but just do an experiment. The first thing I tried was just using vinegar… on everything! It was cheap and easy. After a week I figured I would know if this was something I could stick with. I am a germaphobe, keep in mind, so I was skeptical. Luckily it worked! I was surprised by the results and then graduated to making different things. It wasn’t over night, I just started changing things as they came along, and now I can finally say that I feel that my home is safe from BOTH germs and dirt AND toxic chemicals! Plus, now I can make things smell a little better too. Vinegar in particular can leave behind some unpleasant fragrance. I’ve learned just enough about essentials oils now to use them both as cleaning agents and for odor control. After all, it matters to me not only how clean but what my house smells like too!

Some of my favorite easy clean items include:

  1. Vinegar because it is a fabulous disinfectant. Almost any vinegar will work in a pinch, but I chose white distilled because I’m using it for cleaning only. The reason vinegar does this so well is because it contains acetic acid. It has antibacterial and anti fungal properties because it has a pH of 2.0. This kills bacteria and viruses so effectively, that in a study done in 2010 using vinegar vs lysol to kill the flu virus, the two had identical effectiveness. As a raw feeder, I worry about things like E.Coli and they also did a study using it to kill this on surfaces and sponges comparing it to bleach. Once again, the two were identical. It is also an organic compound that is biodegradable, and as we all know, it is completely safe to ingest. Dog’s may not like it, but it will cause them no harm. In household cleaners, it is usually mixed with water and the ratio is based on the task at hand. An example would be a cutting board vs the rest of the house. On the cutting board, I would use 100% vinegar undiluted, but for almost everywhere else a 50/50 blend is more than adequate.

The uses seem to be endless as it has also proven to be an incredible de-greaser, glass and mirror cleaner, wood and metal polish, soap scum remover, fabric softener, wood floor cleaner, ceramic, tile, linoleum or vinyl cleaner, odor eliminator, it can unclog drains, it loosens mineral deposits (lime and rust), stain remover, coffee maker cleaner, used in the kitchen and bathroom, outside, etc.

Citrus juices such as either fresh squeezed or store bought lemon, are often added to amplify and enhance these cleaning properties as well as improve the fragrance. They have natural enzymes that break down organic matter and very similar properties to vinegar in terms of cleaning. Rubbing half a lemon wedge on top of a cutting board for example, is an easy way to sanitize it.  I read somewhere that citrus fragrances are also uplifting so maybe that’s why I love this smell so much!

*Note: Places where vinegar or citrus juice should NOT be used: On marble, terrazzo, travertine and limestone surfaces or floors because the acid may cause damage. Also, never mix vinegar with bleach! (Or bleach with ammonia) This creates an extremely toxic chlorine gas that is potentially fatal to inhale.

2. Baking Soda Also known as sodium bicarbonate, is another easy solution for so many things. For tougher cleaning jobs where something with abrasive qualities is needed, baking soda does an incredible job. Food bowls with dried on messes, countertops, etc. All you have to do is mix it with warm water and a little bit of salt to make a paste. Dry, it is also an incredible odor absorber, and many people keep an open box in their refrigerator just for this reason. I don’t have carpets any more, but it is my favorite pet odor absorber for rugs and fabrics that can be vacuumed. Simply let it sit for 30 minutes and after a vacuum run, the smells will be completely gone. (For tougher carpet stains, instead of baking soda, a vinegar paste can be made with salt. 2 tbs salt and 1/2 C white vinegar can be mixed into a paste, rubber in, left to dry and then vacuumed. If this doesn’t work you can try mixing 1 tbs of vinegar with 1 tbs of cornstarch and letting it dry for two days before vacuuming. These are much healthier solutions to carpet wash because it can be SO dangerous!)

Baking soda is also great to use under kitty litter and it can even be added to freshen up laundry! Plus, it’s edible so it can even be a great doggie toothpaste additive!

3. Coconut oil has very powerful disinfectant properties. It’s great for cutting boards because it also conditions wood. Mixed with baking soda it can remove upholstery stains. I use it to season cast iron and sanitize all wooded utensils. It does all this while moisturizing my skin!

4. Borax, Mineral oil and Castile soap such as Sal Suds (my favorite- this lasts FOREVER!) are some other common household items that are also considered safe.

And finally,

5. Essential oils such as Lemon oil or Lavender oil are considered safe cleaning solution additives. They contain some disinfectant qualities and can improve scent. There are many others, but these are the two most common. I use them mostly to make my own laundry soap. This is important because everything my dog lays on and touches all day, has usually been washed.

Laundry detergent has a huge track record of causing problems for humans. Studies on this involving pets are scarce, but I’m pretty convinced that it’s even more dangerous to them. This is ALL simply related to them breathing in the washed fabrics. If ingested, it can actually be fatal. I make sure that all of my dog’s toys are rinsed in vinegar or washed with organic soap only, and I try to never buy pet products that were made in China, including beds!

A very simple recipe for homemade powdered laundry detergent is:

  • 2 Tbs Sal Suds
  • 1/4 C Baking Soda

Or a recipe from wellness mamma that I like a lot is:

Dry:

  • 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s (or other natural fragrance-free soap bar) Grated with a cheese grater
  • In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda (sodium carbonate) – Arm and Hammer is a popular one, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap or 1 C of each and one soap bar
  • Store in a closed container and shake before use
  • Use 2 tbs to 1/4 C per load

Liquid:

  • 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s (or other natural fragrance-free soap bar) Grated with a cheese grater
  • Melt the grated soap in a pan with 2 quarts of water, stir until dissolved
  • Add 4.5 gallons of hot tap water to a large bucket and stir in:
  • 2 cups of Borax and
  • 2 cups of washing soda until completely dissolved
  • Pour melted soap into the bucket and stir well
  • Cover and leave overnight
  • Shake or stir until smooth and pour into containers for storage
  • Use 1/2 C to 1 C per load

*Note: adding 2 Tbs of Sal Suds to these two recipes can help avoid buildup in the washing machine and

I ALWAYS add some white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment because it really works well for that! I also add a lambs wool dryer ball (dryer sheets are horrible!) for extra softness and static cling. You can add essential oils to these recipes, but I just put some on the ball.

I also make my own coconut oil soap that I use in this and to wash my dog with, but thats a separate topic 😉

*Even natural Fragrances and rooms sprays can very taxing to an animal. There are many homemade organic room sprays, without propellant and other added chemicals, that are a better option when lightly used. I prefer to use 100% organic beeswax candles with pure essential oils to accomplish this. The beeswax has air purifying properties and the essential oils are transmitted lightly but effectively. They don’t need to be lit all the time either. When I’m home I often use a candle warmer instead.

For years now, I have been using homemade cleaners for most things around the house, but my introduction to organic cleaners was a little different than most people’s. I started for effectiveness and then stayed for the health benefits! I was living in a house with white tile floors and struggling on a daily basis to keep them clean. I tried every product on the market, and nothing worked! I had a friend who did organic house cleaning for a living. She recommend that I try white vinegar and Sal suds wiped with a towel. I was blown away by the results! It worked so much better than anything I had ever bought and cost pennies per wash.

My reasons for using it now are completely different, but the effectiveness of it is what keeps me from looking elsewhere. Needless to say, my dog licks the floor. If I used a product with bleach for example, it would be extremely dangerous to her over time.

The idea of “going green” is becoming a lot more popular. For the most part, this is great but I’ve also noticed a lot of products entering the market with more creative “green” labels, and less reputable ingredients. As with everything that gets popular, it’s unfortunately something we have to pay attention to, especially considering the fact that many ingredients that are safe for people are not safe for animals as well. I like to buy organic soaps for example, because Castile is too harsh on my skin. I’ve tried and failed to make a good liquid soap, so I buy them where I get groceries. I’m busy and not interested in googling anything, so my rule of thumb is simple. If I don’t recognize it, I don’t buy it, period. Later on if I want to look up an item I will, but on the spot I won’t take a chance. I’ve made the mistake before of thinking that the front of labels were truthful. Most are somewhat accurate, but many had plenty of things in them that just made them expensive versions of chlorox. (Natural laundry soap was a biggest offender here.)

As far as the floor is concerned, I stick with my original formula.

1/2-1 tbs Sal Suds (any Castile soap is fine)

2-4 C distilled white vinegar

Added to a bucket of mop water

I make my own counter sprays just with vinegar and water or some lemon in a spray bottle. I aim for 50/50 but I honestly probably make them stronger now since feeding raw. For hand and dish soap, I usually just buy it from the store. Dr. Bronner’s or Mrs. Meyer’s are my favorite.

An easy dish soap from diy naturals is:

  • 1 3/4 C boiling water added to a bowl with
  • 1 tbs borax
  • 1 tbs grated castile soap (dr. bronner’s is a great one)
  • Add essential oils of your choosing
  • Mix until combined and let cool for 6-8 hours before putting in a squirt bottle and using.

An easy hand and/or dish soap recipe from live simply is:

  • Mix 1/2 C distilled water with 1 tbs white vinegar
  • Add 1/2 C Sal Suds and 1 tbs jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, olive or other moisturizing oil and stir
  • Add mixture to a dispenser
  • Shake before each use

For my dog’s bowls, I use straight vinegar and sometimes baking soda.

I like DIY for quality control, but it can get very time consuming, so I really want to find brands I trust. Right now, its a short list that still a work in progress, but it includes:

Dr. Bronner’s, Mrs. Meyers, Thieve’s, Skout’s Honor, Green Shield, Planet Ultra, Better Life, The Honest Company,  7th Generation, Earth Friendly, Eco Care, Ecover Zero, Emma Eco Me, Planet Natural Detergent, and Gaia. Method and Green Works are ok and a bit easier to find.

We are still in the process of making the switch 100%. My focus started with what’s safe for my dog. Now I’m trying to slowly transition the rest of the house. In addition to this with winter coming, and closed windows, I worry about the air quality. We live near an airport so we’re getting a second air purifier. I also have a list of natural air purifying plants that I hope to share in a future post.

The product swapping can feel like a lot all at once, but over time it starts to become an easier way to live. I hope at least one of these recipes was helpful! Before next year I am hoping to have a lot more of my own recipes to share!

j

Just for laughs… dogs and vacuums! 😉

Facts about Pumpkin and Ways To Use Fresh Leftover Pumpkin!

Every fall we get pumpkins and save the seeds to roast. The ones we carve will spoil but the rest usually just go to waste. This is a shame because pumpkins are an incredible source of vitamins A and C, the antioxidant beta carotene, zinc, iron, soluble fiber and potassium.

*I should note that pumpkins can spoil quickly. Ones left outdoors may not be good options. This is the only time of year they are easy to get, so this isn’t really about recycling old pumpkins, but utilizing ones that were recently bought maybe right around Halloween. (I’d err on the side of caution and say no more than a week old.)

The first thing people always think of in terms of pumpkin is always treating issues related to digestion, but I assure you there is so much more!

Vitamin A is important for vision. Vitamin C aids in joint health and boosts the immune system. Beta carotene is beneficial to healthy aging. *The antioxidants from the carotenoid family (beta-carotene included) are considered especially useful because they are long acting and absorb more effectively into dog’s cell membranes. Zinc helps coat shine and health. Potassium is a blood electrolyte. It’s something to look out for if your dog has a kidney issue because often they need to limit potassium in their diet. Levels of potassium in the blood stream that are too high or too low are an indication of an underlying problem. (A good thing to look out for in a blood test.) In healthy dogs, potassium is great for muscle and blood vessel function as well as regulating the acidity of body fluids. It is also a great way to replace potassium lost during a bout of diarrhea. Soluble Fiber helps weight management because it slows digestion and helps dogs feel fuller longer. It also helps to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

A lot of people keep plain organic pumpkin around in case of tummy trouble because it’s so good at taking care of both constipation and diarrhea. This is because it absorbs water in cases of diarrhea and the high water content and fiber help the stool pass more effectively.

In cases of diarrhea, it’s important to remember that the diarrhea has a cause. When the body is trying to detox or get rid of something harmful, diarrhea is an effective method. It is very unpleasant but it has a purpose. Pumpkin may be good to help reduce symptoms but I would only use very minimal amounts. The fiber it contains is soluble, so it slows digestion and this is not good in detox. I would prefer to use the seeds in this case to aid in cleansing.

Pumpkin also doesn’t work to fix tummy troubles in every dog. Many do better with slippery elm for example (which I’ll discuss in an upcoming article). I personally like to let nature run its course. Diarrhea usually clears up quickly and if doesn’t, after a few days, it’s time to see the vet.

Dosing is also an important factor when adding pumpkin. Too much is not good and dogs don’t need a lot for it to be effective. The use determines the dose, however, it’s always good to ask your vet! I’ve seen 1 tbs to replace every 1/8c of food for weight loss and for stomach upset:

• 0-15 lbs dog: 1-2 tablespoon

• 15-35 lbs dog: 2-4 tablespoons

• 35 lbs dog or more: 2-5 tablespoons

Again these are just very general guidelines and every dog is different. I always err on the side of less especially in this case because it’s so high in carbohydrates.

Now for my favorite part, the seeds! The seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. They are also a natural dewormer. They contain an amino acid called cucurbitin which paralyzes things like parasites and tapeworms and helps them pass out of the system. The oils in them can help support urinary health, help treat kidney stones and aide with incontinence. They are also anti-inflammatory. The best way to use them is ground plain roasted (no salt).

For years I’ve been adding pumpkin to recipes for dog cookies and purées. It’s an easy thing to bake with and many dogs like the flavor. It never occurred to me to make my own because frankly, I had no idea how to cook a pumpkin… until now! This year I opted to get organic pumpkins for a few extra dollars, just so I could try to use them now, but any pumpkin should work just fine.

Because this is my first year trying, I used directions I found on-line by a woman named Kim Cromptom who had it looked at by a certified vet.

“Choose a small to medium size pumpkin and clean well, removing any dirt. Cook the cleaned pumpkin at 375 °F for 45-60 min (pumpkin should be soft). Remove pumpkin and allow it to sit for 5–10 minutes. Chop pumpkin in half, remove seeds and separate the skin from the flesh. Place hot pumpkin flesh in a food processor or mash by hand or with electric beaters.”

Pretty darn easy! I had no idea! I no longer have to buy expensive organic canned pumpkin because I plan to freeze it. Every holiday I love to make themed treats. I know carbs are not ideal for dogs but sometimes you just want to make something cute! This is a healthy way to do that. Whatever is left over I’ll keep around in case I want to add it to a purée. Below are some simple recipes but there are MANY many more and a quick google search will give you more options than you will know what to do with!

Easy Fall Themed Cookies

*Both of these recipes use natural peanut butter (no xylitol) however you can substitute this with bananas and they will come out just as good! I use all organic ingredients when I can. I also have two versions of each. One is with coconut flour (my favorite!) for grain-free and the other is for whole wheat. They are different because of differences in flour absorption but they are basically the same in flavor.

Whole-wheat recipe:

  • 2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C pumpkin purée
  • 3 tbs natural peanut butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix all ingredients together
  3. Roll thin and cut into desired shapes
  4. Spread out onto a greased cookie tray
  5. Bake for 30 min

(Thickness can affect cooking time so I start checking on them after about 25 min)

Coconut Flour (grain-free) recipe:

  • 1 cup of coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix pumpkin, eggs and peanut butter in a large bowl
  3. Add in coconut flour and mix well
  4. Roll and cut into desired shapes and place on a greased baking sheet
  5. Bake for 20-25 min (cookie thickness may affect this so I start checking after 20 min)

* A great tip for both recipes is to add 1 tbs of raw honey for flavor and/or 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

The good thing about these recipes is that they are basic and leave room for personalized added touches. I even hide vitamins in mine, they are great for that!

No-Bake Flour-free option:

  • 1/2 C natural peanut butter
  • 1 C natural pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbs raw honey

*optional: rolled oats, these help a lot with easy handling

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Roll into balls (optional: lightly roll through rolled oats)
  3. Place on a parchment lined tray
  4. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour, just so they harden a bit
  5. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator always (2 weeks max)

* In all cases pumpkin can be substituted with sweet potato, some dogs prefer the flavor.

Pupsicles

The size of your ice cube trays or silicone molds sort of determine the amounts here, but the amounts can be easily reduced or doubled.

To fill 1 large tray use:

  • 1 C pureed cooked or canned pumpkin and
  • 1 C pain yogurt (I use raw goats milk yogurt),

(you can also add a ripe banana if your pup likes them!)

  • Fill trays and freeze!

*You can also do this in a Kong

Simple Veggie purée

Trying to pick just one purée recipe is next to impossible because the options for these are endless. This is just one example. I encourage purees because of the ease of digestion and nutrient availability. I didn’t put organic before each item here but as always, organic is definitely the highest quality nutrition and safest option. I also always make sure to wash them.

(Tip: To help get my dog to eat her veggies I usually mix them up pretty well into the rest of her food and don’t give her too much per meal. About 1/4 C or less for a 25 lb dog. Many people also freeze them and their dogs like the crunch!) I also usually add some green Lipped mussels powder into my purées because unlike her other supplements, my dog really hates the taste of these!

  • One bag of baby spinach (at least 5 oz)
  • Two fresh red beet top greens
  • 1 chopped red beet
  • 5 leaves of kale
  • 5 stalks of parsley
  • 1 C puréed pumpkin
  1. Place all items in a blender or food processor (mine is small so I break the recipe in half and combine and stir at the end)
  2. Get to the finest level of purée that you can and

Done!

I’m no culinary expert, that’s for sure, but I hope this provides a good jumping off point! Best wishes and happy fall! Love Jeanne & Jersey Girl

Turmeric for dogs

A few years ago Turmeric (or Curcumin) became a huge hot topic in the human nutritional world and it didn’t take long for the animal world to follow suit. This is mostly good news because it is hugely beneficial and may reduce the need for chemical intervention for both human and animal health conditions. However, just like with anything that becomes really popular, the value can become compromised by people looking to make a profit. Marketers can use the name to make an inferior product look good or inferior qualities of the turmeric itself can be sold. This happens with everything of course but when something gets such a high level of exposure it seems to happen even more. The other thing to watch out for is the simple fact that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Overdosing on turmeric is uncommon because it passes through the digestive track quickly but it can absolutely happen so it’s good to be aware of how much you are giving or how many products might contain it within their ingredient list. Diarrhea is the most common side effect but it can also interact with other issues and medicines so it’s always good to check with the vet especially if you’re using a dose high enough to treat a medical condition.

The other important detail is the form in which it’s given. Without the proper combination of ingredients present, the benefits will go through the system without being absorbed (the same is true for people). This is why you often see “with black pepper” or “with bio perine” added to a label for increased absorption. Dogs need an additional additive because of the speed in which dogs metabolize. For them, coconut oil or something similar is also crucial for absorption. This is important along with it being organic because otherwise the quality or amount of curcumin may be too low and it is rendered useless. The same is true for dogs and vegetables, if they’re not broken down to a digestible level, the nutrients pass through and may provide great low cal ruff-age but no nutritional value.

Having gotten that out of the way, I still LOVE turmeric! As time goes on we seem to keep finding increasing benefits and more and more real life examples of the difference it can make for both animals and people alike.

So, what is Turmeric?

In short, a spice ground from a root that looks a lot like ginger except it’s orange. Like I said before, the list of benefits is extensive so here are just a few:

TURMERIC decreases inflammation and can help with itchy skin issues, is a powerful antioxidant, helps thin the blood (lowing the risk of blood clots), protects the liver from toxins, naturally relieves pain (can replace some medications that have damaging side effects), naturally detoxifies the body, helps with allergies, eliminates parasites and stomach ailments, increases heart health, and can help protect the body against things like cancer. It can put a stop to ongoing skin infections caused by various yeast, bacteria and fungi. It improves the skin shine and coat. It is effective in fighting and preventing infections caused by viruses and bacteria, and enhances wound healing. It improves the activity level and socialization in older dogs by stimulating cognition and has recently been identified to induce neural stem cell proliferation which may explain its positive effect on brain function and depression. Reduced inflammation is important to gut health and may improve a variety of stomach conditions. It increases the levels of glutathione in the liver and this component is a major antioxidant and conjugating agent which is used to detoxify and eliminate harmful compounds.

The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin but to date, at least 235 compounds have been identified. These compounds are fat soluble so the coconut oil is used along with piperine (ground black pepper) because it is necessary for the metabolism of curcumin by considerably slowing its excretion and prolonging the positive metabolic effect.

So… dental health, detox, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, increases heart and liver health, reduces blood clots that can lead to strokes, reduces heart attacks by thinning the blood, promotes digestion, acts as an antioxidant, relieves allergies, prevents cataracts, has been used to treat epilepsy, natural pain relief, treats diarrhea (at the right dose) and the list just goes on and on.

Sourcing and dosing takes some homework but I think it’s more than worth it. PLUS you can take it too! I work very hard not to over supplement because I am always trying to give my dog the best of everything and sometimes that can cause more harm than good. Some supplements can even counteract each other like raw goats milk and apple cider vinegar or coconut oil (which will be in another article) so it’s important to be careful. However, turmeric in the correct dose for a healthy dog has been shown to be hugely advantageous, so we keep it in her diet. We take breaks and it’s not every day, but I like to always have it on hand.

Below is a recipe (from keepthetailwagging.com) for a very simple “golden paste” there are TONS of variations out there (and I actually bypass the paste with the coconut oil I put in her food most days) but it is a very convenient way to keep it readily available in a form that’s already made for easy absorption.

1. Warm 6 cups of water in a pan on low heat

2. Add 3 cups of organic turmeric powder and stir

3. When the mix thickens, add either 2 cups of organic coconut oil OR 1 cup coconut oil and 1 cup bone broth AND 3 tbs freshly ground organic black pepper

4. Turn off the heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens into a paste

*optional: adding 2 tbs Ceylon ground cinnamon if the dog has an odor issue after ingestion (some do and this will counteract that!)

Storage: keep in the fridge for 2 weeks and then freeze

Dosing: For healthy dogs: about 1/4 -1/2 tsp per meal

For pain relief: 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs body weight at least 2x a day (it’s recommended not to start at full dose but gradually work up to it by adding 1/4 tsp every 7 days)

This is a large batch recipe but like I said, there are a lot out there. Some even get more specific about curcumin mg etc which is great but as long as the ratios are correct, that’s all that really matters!

Calcium and Feeding Bones and Bone Alternatives

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Most people learn early on that it is 100% unsafe to give dogs cooked or smoked bones because of the fact that they are brittle and pose choking and digestive hazards. Due to this a lot of pet parents stay away from bones altogether. As a result the pet food industry is full of all kinds of manufactured bones for dental health, chewing, recreation, vitamin supplements etc. These are just as bad (if not worse) then the kibble products and in some cases aren’t even safer in terms of choking and digestive hazards. If you feed raw you most likely already know a bit about bone safety but if not here are a few reasons so many raw feeders love RAW meaty and recreational bones.

1. They are a wonderful source of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is an important part of your pet’s health! (Without calcium in the diet, the body extracts it from its own bones, which leads to many issues related to mobility.) They also contain a variety of minerals not found in other food.

2. They are the best possible form of teeth cleaning outside of the vet’s office. They promote gum health and reduce bad breath.

3. They provide ruff-age and help to maintain anal glands naturally

4. They can help balance the digestive tract and tone digestive muscles that can help reduce stomach issues later in life.

When fed appropriately (about 2-3 times a week unless ground in food at 10%) the digestive hazards are avoided because raw bones break down naturally in the stomach and don’t stay large enough to pose any threat. It’s important to always supervise your dog with a bone no matter what. Instinctively they should know how to chew and swallow them correctly but anything can happen. Aside from the smaller raw meaty bones like poultry necks, spines, feet etc. the general rule of thumb for recreational bones is that they should be about the size of the dogs head or larger. Never smaller because these types of bones are meant to be chewed on and scrapped of marrow but NOT eaten completely. I am personally not a fan of the recreation bones because they can chip teeth and don’t contain the nutrition components that make their positive attributes outweigh their risks. If my dog loved this activity, I’d make an exception but otherwise I see them as completely unnecessary. Marrow can be obtained without them so she doesn’t need a knuckle bone to pass the time and possibly break her teeth on. Raw meaty bones on the other hand are a different story. They should never be weight bearing bones because they are too hard to chew and unlike recreational bones are meant to be eaten completely. I see the value of these bones but they still make me nervous so I plan on sticking with necks and backs because the are considered to be the safest. Chicken wings can be cut to be made safer, but I still don’t love these because I have other options. Ideally I would give her lamb and goat bones because they are considered to have the perfect balance of hardness to effectively clean the teeth but not break any. However these bones, for me at least, are very hard to find. Although red meat should make up about 50% of her diet, chicken, duck, lamb and duck are closer to a dog’s natural prey so they make the safest bones to eat. Chicken and duck are much more readily available where I live and while they might be considered too soft to clean teeth by some people, I brush her teeth daily and am more interested in their nutrition than their dental care anyway. That being said, if your dog (or you) is really against dealing with raw bones in general there are 100% adequate alternatives available and you do not need to feel forced to do so. It may be controversial in some circles but I truly believe you can go without bones and still have a healthy and balanced raw diet as long as you are educated. Things like bone meal are dangerous alternatives (most are toxic unless from a local farm that makes food Grade) but egg shells are a GREAT alternative source of calcium! You can dry and crush them into a powder very easily and make your own supplement. I love this because there are a lot of concerns about the safety of many calcium sources in supplements on the market and as long as you get good quality eggs this takes away the guess work. A lot of people also just add one whole egg shell and all to get the same result. I don’t do this daily so I keep the shells as back up on a day she doesn’t get a bone. For the other minerals you can simply use a mineral supplement, which actually should be given even if you do feed bones because it’s broad spectrum and you know that your pets needs are being met. Some feeders are against supplements altogether because your dog wouldn’t “get fish oil pills etc out in the wild” however I disagree. We need supplements now because of the world we live in TODAY. We have depleted the soil and changed the environment. For this reason I think it’s appropriate to adjust. My dog’s wolf ancestors didn’t live in the same world and it’s the same reason I take supplements myself. I just want the best shot and as long as I am getting them from trusted sources and know how to use them, I think they’re great! Teeth cleaning can be substituted rather easily as well. Any mouth size appropriate tooth brush will do. You can make your own toothpaste or even just use coconut oil. If your dog won’t let you brush, a bit of ground kelp added to the food should help. For more advanced dental issues and plaque you can either get a cleaning at the vet or look up where to get one that is anesthesia free. This method is increasing in popularity, so they’re relatively easy to find now. Either way there are many alternative methods, all of which would be great to add EVEN with the help of bones.

Bottom line, raw bones are WONDERFUL if your dog likes them but if not you can absolutely still feed raw! Some dogs warm up to them over time so I’d say don’t give up but don’t stress over it too much either! It’s no reason to wait to go raw or worse not at all.

Personally I am doing about one small raw meaty bone per week because my dog doesn’t love them. Chicken feet are the easiest to find organically and they are an excellent joint supplement (glucosamine and chondroitin) so because she eats egg shells and takes supplements I know her dietary needs are being met. Eventually I hope to move to a food that has some ground in so this 1 per week will probably stay at that and if we miss a week it’s no cause for concern.

My super easy calcium supplement is pictured below. My dog is 25 lbs so she needs 550 mg of calcium per day. (50mg per kg) She gets calcium from other sources so I only use 1/4- 1/2 tsp. based on the assessment that:

“One whole medium sized eggshell makes about one teaspoon of powder, which yields about 750 – 800 mgs of elemental calcium plus other microelements, i.e. magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, etc. There are 27 elements in total.”

A vet should be able to assist you if you don’t want to measure it out on your own. Fortunately dog’s having a “fast track” metabolism helps mitigate some concern. A good thing to remember is the simple fact that wild dogs eat what they find. Some days they get a lot of one thing and other days none. It tends to balance out over time but I also do blood tests at her annual check up. Hair tests can be very helpful also. So far we’ve been right on track but never hesitate to ask a medical professional. I know many holistic vets even offer nutritional counseling now so there are resources available if you have any concerns!

*Another great bone replacement for calcium is raw green tripe! It has an ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio and most dogs absolutely love it!

Homemade Bone broth and bone marrow soup

I’ve been using bone broth for some time now. There are some great ones on the market so I never really intended on making my own until today. Today I got to visit a real working farm and it was incredible! In my effort to be efficient I grabbed a little bit of everything. In doing so I ended up with a package full of recreational knuckle bones that were WAY too small for my dog to eat. Rather than let them go to waste I decided to turn them into broth. Because these bones were full of marrow, this is sometimes called ‘marrow soup’ however the process is the same. I chose to add in some chicken feet because I had a lot of them and they are a great broth source because of their high glucosamine and chondroitin concentration. The process takes a while (about 24 hours for chicken, 48 for beef) in a crock pot or on the stove top but the recipe is super easy.

Fill a pot with the bones you want to use and cover with filtered water. Add 2-4 tbs of raw apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hr for chicken, 2 for beef. Reduce to low and leave on heat for 24-48 hours and that’s IT! The same goes for the crock pot (high medium and low settings). You can add dog-safe vegetables if you want but that’s the basic process. I’d say it’s important to keep an eye on the water level because I had to add some half way through but other than that I ignored it.

For my first batch, I kept it very simple. I don’t have a crock pot yet but I found one on Amazon that claimed to be lead free (the problem with many crock pots is chemical leaching). It’s stone ware so I think they are considered safest. When that comes maybe I’ll get more creative, but Jersey definitely gave her stamp of approval! It’s a great supplement to help her eat her vitamins and an all around great dietary addition no matter what (for both of us) so it’s one of the best mistakes I ever made!

Here are just a FEW awesome benefits that bone broth provide:

It helps maintain a healthy gut, especially for dogs with digestive issues.

It supports your dog’s immune system and detoxes the liver.

It helps protect his joints and is a wonderful source of collagen and glycosaminoglycans including glucosamine and other joint protecting compounds.

Also the “glycosaminoglycans from bone broth are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form. According to Dr Shanahan, they act like hormones, stimulating cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the arteries.”

It’s full of minerals, including calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium and phosphorus.

The list goes on but these are the highlights and why so many people love it for themselves and their dogs!

NOTE: Excess bone broth should be frozen because the shelf-life of this is very short. 3-4 days in the fridge max

Homemade Organic Dog Toothpaste

I was always a big fan of using enzymatic toothpaste until I looked at the ingredients. Unable to find a brand offering a better option, I decided to bite the bullet and make my own. I still use a dietary kelp supplement and organic spray additionally but because I brush my dogs teeth daily, I just couldn’t keep using all the chemicals. I’ll admit I was even shocked by the results! After only one weeks I saw a noticeable difference! Using simple household items her teeth looked better than they did after 2+ years of using the expensive enzymatic brands! (For occasional brushing these are probably just fine.) I may still experiment and come up with new formulas but due to the positive results I wanted to share this one right away!

1/4 c organic coconut oil

A pinch (or 1/4 tsp) organic Turmeric

” organic kelp

” baking soda

” organic dried crushed parsley

> 1/4 tsp organic cinnamon

Mix them together and store in the fridge. I have no problem using it solid but you can let it soften to help get it onto the toothbrush if you like.

Another tip is trying gauze in place of a toothbrush to target certain areas or if your dog doesn’t like the toothbrush.

I haven’t added mint leaves or peppermint oil but they can help freshen.

I also haven’t had to add flavor but I’ve seen a lot of recipes with added chicken or beef bouillon or human Grade flavoring such as this one by Basics (pictured below)

Another recipe that is even simpler is:

2 tbs baking soda

2 tbs coconut oil

For a stronger version or gingivitis you can add:

10 drops of colloidal silver

1 tsp colostrum

1/2 tsp turmeric

(I haven’t tried this one yet)

Dealing with Anxiety, essential oil recipes for calming and relaxation

If you have a dog that suffers from anxiety you are probably well aware of the multitude of treatment options on the market today. Just like people, treating the anxiety is highly individual and trial and error is most likely the best way to find out what works best. Some dogs respond to multiple forms of treatments and others prefer just one, it all just depends on the dog. Thunder shirts, rescue remedy and essential oils are great non evasive options to start with. One thing I like about essential oils in particular is that you can make any blend in a variety of delivery methods, alter the ingredients and strength relatively easily and enjoy them right along with your dog and use them yourself! Here I’m going to share just one simple blend of easily acquired oils. I try to always buy the highest grade oils I can afford but sometimes if I can’t find a particular oil in a brand I trust, I just make sure not to use it for direct skin contact purposes. They have oils now labeled as being “kid safe” and I’m not sure how dependable that is but it’s a place to start if you just want to experiment.

Also dimming the lights and adding a massage can never hurt!

The following combination can be used to make a coat spray, room spray or massage oil.

5 drops lavender oil

5 drops roman chamomile

5 drops rosemary oil (OR 5 drops lime oil for a spray)

For a light coat or room spray mix with 1 cup distilled or purified water.

For a roller oil or massage blend add 2-4 oz of a carrier oil such as jojoba (this affects the scent the least) sweet almond oil, olive oil or fractionated coconut oil. Suggested placement for the oils can be behind the ears, and thigh but if your worried about licking a little on their back or a secured diffuser charm for the collar is a safe bet. I got one of these made for necklaces that attached with no problem. It’s also good to test your dog’s reaction to the oil both aromatically and on the skin just to be sure there’s no bad reaction before using too much. These oils are considered safe but you just never know and they may not enjoy them all. You can also do a scent test before actually making a full batch by mixing one drop of each on a paper towel.

Two other oils that I have just recently worked with and loved are petitgrain and neroli. They are not as common but are great when combined with lavender!

There are literally hundreds of recipes out there so I’ll try to keep posting the ones I have tried and include new ones when I do.

Seeing a dog go through stress is very difficult because we just want to help them. I’ve been told that staying calm is the best support for them however this is not always possible so finding things that help can really make a difference!