Titer Testing and the Dangers of Over-Vaccinating

As pet parents, it can be extremely overwhelming being in charge of so many decisions in regard to their health. The bottom line is we ALL want to do what’s best for them. The problem comes in when it’s so unclear what that is.

There are countless studies proving different schools of thought. Vets that stand strong on both sides and an enormous amount of information available on the internet with large communities of people backing both sides. This gets even more confusing when there are more than two sides.

I am an advocate for holistic medication and natural remedies first always, but I still believe there is a time and a place for conventional care. This puts me somewhere in the middle in most cases including vaccines.

TO TITER or NOT TO TITER That is the question!

When I first heard about titer Testing, my initial reaction was overwhelming gratitude. It felt like an answer to my prayers and an easy way to cut out most of our vaccines. After taking a step back, I looked into the other side’s stance to get more of a full picture. Things that sound too good to be true, usually are and my dog’s life could be at risk if I make rash decisions in either direction. This is a big decision, and I need to make an educated decision.

So, to start examining this more closely,

What is titer Testing?

Titer tests are a tool used by dog owners and veterinarians to help minimize the risks of both infectious diseases and unnecessary vaccinations.

According to veterinary doctor, Jean Dodds,

“A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents). For instance, your dog may be more resistant to a virus whereas your neighbor’s dog may be more prone to it. Titers accurately assess protection to the so-called “core” diseases (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis in dogs, and panleukopenia in cats), enabling veterinarians to judge whether a booster vaccination is necessary. All animals can have serum antibody titers measured instead of receiving vaccine boosters. The only exception is rabies re-vaccination. There is currently no state that routinely accepts a titer in lieu of the rabies vaccine, which is required by law.”

The benefits of using a titer test:

Dog’s that have been properly immunized early on almost always develop the required antibodies that prevent the illness for their entire lives. These tests prove their immunity and reduce their chances of being harmed by over-vaccinating. Furthermore, I have yet to see a single study proving that a titer test showed immunity when it wasn’t there. The only evidence I’ve seen of false results is when they tested low, and immunity was actually completely adequate. Titer tests have actually proven nothing but how incredibly stable they are. It is generally suggested to titer every 3 years however, after two consecutive positive tests, you can safely test even less or not at all. I’m a worrier so I’ll probably stay in the 3 year camp. There are countless examples of this being unnecessary, however I know what I need to do to sleep at night!

“Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, is a pioneer in vaccine protocol studies. According to her research, at least 95% of dogs actually retain immunity against the viruses in question (Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus) for YEARS after being vaccinated. She also discovered that “evidence implicating vaccines in triggering immune-mediated and other chronic disorders is compelling.”

I have looked and not seen one single example of this not being true.

Downsides to Titer Testing:

-Mainly, the cost, anywhere from $40-$200 depending on your vet.

-Titer tests can “miss” undetected immunities that are present, so you end up paying for the titer test + the unnecessary vaccine.

This is “because a titer only measures antibodies, not cell-mediated immunity, which is the real-world measure of protection. In fact, as I learned, pets can sometimes come up negative (unprotected) on the titers and still have plenty of perfectly protective, cell-mediated immunity.” Jean Dodds

-There is not a titer test for everything. Non core vaccines such as Canine leptospirosis, bordetella or Lyme disease vaccines only provide short-term protection. This significantly compromises their value first of all, and most reasons to give them have to do with life style. In most cases the benefits do not outweigh the risks, but a vet can assist with this. It’s a particularly important thing to pay attention to, because these are considered particularly dangerous. Two good references to assist in making this decision are Non core vaccines  And Necessary vaccines

-Depending on where you live, you might still need to legally do rabies. Some places allow the vet’s to makes this decision, others don’t.

This is something worth looking into because unlike the other vaccines, even just ONE single extra rabies shot can be life threatening.

*IF A DOG IS SICK or has a compromised immune system, they should NEVER be vaccinated. This could be extremely life threatening. Most vet’s should know this, but it’s very important to remember. Weather its something serious, a minor cold or even parasites, some vets may overlook this and exposing a dog to a virus at this time is never a safe thing to do.

Risks of over-vaccinating

From Dogs Naturally:

“When your dog is protected by the vaccines he’s already had, vaccinating him again does not make him “more immune”.

Most vaccines contain toxic chemicals.

One example is:

Thimerosal

This is a mercury based additive used as a preservative. Mercury toxicity is well known and repeatedly proven in studies. Yet it’s still contained in most veterinary vaccines today. Even some vaccines that claim to be thimerosal-free may still contain small amounts of thimerosal. That’s because it can be used in processing but not added as an ingredient, so the manufacturers don’t have to disclose it.”

More on this Here

There is no debate that the diseases these vaccines are designed to prevent are VERY serious. However, once a dog has been vaccinated as an adult, these vaccines become more of a threat than the diseases they are supposed to prevent.

Places such as Banfield are promoting vaccines every 6 months, with is currently being scrutinized by the national veterinary association because this is in NO way accurate and extremely dangerous.

Dogs Naturally reports that:

“Ronald D Schultz PhD proved decades ago that most dogs will be protected for many years (and probably for life) by one round of core vaccines as puppies – usually when they’re about 16 weeks old. So, after their puppy shots, most dogs don’t need to be re-vaccinated ever, let alone year after year after year.

Dr Schultz reports:

“The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.”

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have announced publicly that annual vaccination is unnecessary and can be harmful.”

This hasn’t stopped Bannfield yet, but it really should.

Most other vet offices do not do this, but rather, recommend certain ones every certain number of years as per the AAHA guidelines. This is not legally required except for rabies and there is still no proof of this being necessary at all. It is a much more reasonable course of action thankfully, but not substantiated as being necessary or worth the risks.

Even when given more responsibly, most vets will tell you that vaccinations are very safe, and only minor side effects directly after administration may occur.

We know now, that this is not true. Vaccines are very hard on the immune system. Deadly vaccine reactions and lifelong chronic illness, including autoimmune diseases and cancer can and have been proven to occur.

The best source of complete benefit/risk analysis of some of these is HERE

Some examples of risks are:

  • “Those containing adjuvants, or chemicals that stimulate the immune system, have been linked to cancerous tumors known as fibrosarcomas.
  • The distemper vaccine has been strongly linked to joint disease and arthritis – two increasingly common chronic diseases in dogs.
  • The parvo vaccine has been linked to heart disease and can create a chronic form of the disease, the symptoms of which include chronic gastritis, hepatitis and pancreatitis, chronic diarrhea and food sensitivities.
  • Every lepto vaccine contains an aluminum adjuvant which causes cancer.
  • The risk of Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Disease is greater than the risk of lepto and the lepto vaccine carries a higher risk than most other vaccines.”

There are increasing studies being conducted today, and an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the dangers of continuing these vaccines.

Myths about vaccines:

  1. They prevent the intended disease 100%
  2. They lose effectiveness over time
  3. They can be made more effective by continued administration – revaccination does not mean more immunity
  4. Vaccinations work on every animal

Risks of not vaccinating

Almost every vet agrees that it’s a good idea to vaccinate puppies. Some say one additional booster is needed. Then it becomes murky. Some say the titer tests are not adequate but fail to show evidence of this being true. Others rather be “safe” than sorry but fail to consider the incredibly negative impacts of the vaccines themselves. Many think that the vet offices just want to make money or avoid interpreting titer results. Regardless of the reasoning, the arguments for continued vaccinations seem to be generated by fear and lack of information.

I looked deeply into this because I have a very active, social dog. She swims, plays in dog parks and is exposed to everything that these vaccines protect against. I wanted to be as sure as I could be before her next annual check up. I found nothing that made me believe that they were necessary.

Conclusion:

I am not going to waste my time getting my dog titer tested at our current vet. I am working very hard to find a new vet who can interpret these correctly, among other things. With someone who is educated on this, I can decided whether or not any additional vaccines are needed. My analysis of the not titer-testable vaccines is that she does not need them, but this is not a decision I would make on my own.

Some people will criticize me and say I’m exposing my dog to dangers by eliminating vaccines. Others will say I’m wasting my money on a test she doesn’t need, because it’s incomplete, and she doesn’t need any more vaccines regardless of the test. I have to be ok with this. Ultimately, it’s my decision. I often say on here that I’m not a vet. However, most of what I share comes from reading things written by doctors, and it still boils down to being a very personal decision. That’s the bottom line. We’re all just doing our best. This is the best of what I’ve found. If nothing else, I hope this helps bring the issue to attention. I know it’s one that I missed for a long time. I wish we could trust our vet but this is just another reason why it’s so important to find one that we do!

This guide offers some additional info.

My next battle, will be our monthly heat guard pill. This is not something I will discuss until after seeing a new vet. There is a TON of holistic resources for people, if they are interested in finding other methods. Because of where I live, I can’t take them away during cold weather months, so I’m stuck using something stronger than the alternative methods I have seen. I am not without hope however, and I hope to share some encouraging news on that in the next coming months!

This article explains my concerns regarding heart worm pills along with some alternatives for those who may be interested.

In the mean time, we do this annual Cleanse.

titer-test-584x276

Raw Dog Diary 11/4/17

Some things on the agenda for next week:

Titer testing for vaccines and Heart worm prevention

Also, how to safely serve fish

This week I got a bit off track from what I had originally planned to talk about. It happened organically, as I face new challenges making my own food. That being said, I’m looking forward to getting back to discussing food and supplements because I have about 30+ new topics to share about on that!

I got my new freezer set up today, and we’re making progress! Tomorrow is meal prep day and I’m very excited!

I’m still learning what Jersey likes so I won’t be making anything in bulk quite yet, but I look forward to the process! She amazes me daily and is doing so well on this food!

I’m still trying to track down a holistic vet. We have some time, but I really hope to see someone before her next comboguard (heart guard pill).

I’ll keep sharing info on that as I find it.

I really hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! I don’t like it getting dark earlier now but …I’m super excited about the extra hour of sleep!! 😉

Love and Best wishes,

Jeanne & Jersey Girl

Toxic Plants and Dog Friendly Gardens

Most dogs love to chew on things, puppies especially! My dog loves to do this when she is happy or excited about something. This basically means every time she goes outside! For the most part, this is absolutely fine. (Some dogs will chew on rocks though, which can be dangerous.) Sticks are her favorite and she just chews them up and spits them out. If there are no sticks available however, she will chew on fallen leaves. With the holidays coming up, it occurred to me that this may be something to pay more attention to as more foreign plants may enter the house. In addition to this, we are currently renovating our backyard. Both of these things got me thinking about the subject of dog safe plants. Even though she doesn’t eat them, I know that certain plants could still pose a threat, so I decided to do some research before we decide what to buy and plant. Originally, this article was going to just be a top 10 dangerous vs safe list. As I began doing more research, however, I was shocked to discover a list of 400+ toxic plants!

Gardening is certainly not my forte, and I’m definitely not medically trained for a subject like this, so rather than try to figure this out, I will just share a few, along with a link from the ASPCA.

Toxic and Not Toxic Plants List

They cover plants that are toxic and safe for dogs, cats and horses alphabetically which is great! They warn that it’s not 100% complete, but it’s the most comprehensive list that I’ve seen. My game plan now, is to look at plants for my garden that I like and then check them against this list. I would never be able to remember all of these, even if I tried. My guess is 80% are plants we will never even see, but it’s still a very good reference to have. Out in the world, I can’t always control what she eats but if she displays any symptoms, I can at least check them on here, if I am lucky enough to identify the cause. I would only do this after first going to the vet, as some of the symptoms can be pretty severe and life threatening.

If you suspect toxicity immediately call

ASPCA Animal Poison Controll Center

(888) 426-4435

It is not always easy to tell when poisoning has taken place, because symptoms can vary widely. This list is only a few of the most common.

Symptoms of plant toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Loss of appetite

Without intervention, significant kidney damage or system poisoning can occur and this can be life threatening.

It is best to seek medical help in these instances.

For immediate intervention in highly toxic plants, sometimes you can induce vomiting. Ipecac can do this as well as placing some table salt on the back of the tongue. Sometimes feeding a small amount before hand helps this. For less dangerous plants, you may be able to simply flush the mouth. All of this is appropriate ONLY after communicating with a vet because in some cases inducing vomiting can actually make the problem worse. Pet CPR is an important thing to learn, especially if you have a puppy. Many of these toxins may affect breathing.

Even though 400 plants sounds like a lot, in comparison to how many species of plants we see everyday, this number is not actually so high. This is definitely good news!

Below is a list of some common types of plants to look out for that pose significant risk.

Toxic plants:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Iris
  • Baby’s breath
  • Geranium
  • Azalea
  • Begonia
  • Chrysanthium
  • Daffodil
  • Hydrangea
  • Morning glory

Plants that are ok to induce vomiting for:

  • Mistletoe and berries
  • Lillies (most types)
  • Yew
  • English Ivy
  • Crown of thorns
  • Foxglove
  • Larkspur
  • Lily of the valley
  • Monkshood
  • Oleander
  • Belladonna
  • Datura
  • Henbane
  • Jessamine
  • Jimsonweed
  • Holly
  • Rhubarb
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Wisteria bulbs

Plants that are NOT ok to induce vomiting for:

  • Azalea
  • Caladium
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • Nightshade
  • Potato (greens or eyes)
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Philodendron
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue/Snake plant

Pesticides and Fertilizers

Almost all pesticides are dangerous but ones containing snail bait (metaldehyde) are considered the worst. Most fertilizers contain heavy metals and/or herbicides etc. that can also be deadly if ingested. One of the biggest concerns with both of these things is indirect ingestion through paw contact and subsequent licking of feet. They do not need to eat them directly to be at risk.

This article was 100% not intended to generate fear. Most dogs go through their entire lives chewing on things without ever encountering a problem. I thought it was important to mention, only because if it does ever happen, the problem can be extremely severe. Immediate action is crucial and it’s a good thing to just keep in mind.

Plants truly make our lives more beautiful. Many even help to purify indoor air! To end things on a more pawsitive note, this is an extremely short list of some of the plants that are the most Dog Friendly!

Dog Friendly Plants, Herbs and Flowers:

  • African violet
  • Hibiscus
  • Corn flower
  • Pansies
  • sage
  • Thyme
  • bamboo
  • Palms
  • Gerbera Daisies
  • Sunflower
  • Zinnia
  • Petunia
  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Cilantro
  • Spider plant
  • Boston fern
  • Bromeliad
  • Haworthia succulents
  • Peperomia
  • Blue echeveria
  • Jasmine
  • marigold
  • Snapdragon
  • Impatients
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Rose
  • tiger orchid
  • Wild hyacinth
  • Phalaenopsis orchids
  • Prayer plant
  • Swedish Ivy

And there are SO many more!

This link has even more options with photos to help make the search a little easier!

Dog Safe Plants

Additional Photo guides:

TOXIC:

SAFE:

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! 😉

Natural Wound Care and the Dangers of Hydrogen Peroxide and Neosporin

Hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin are two of the most common household items in our medicine cabinets for treating wounds. While these may be fine for humans, they can actually be very dangerous and detrimental for treating animal wounds.

First, I must start by stating that I am not a vet. The information here is based on my own life experience and independent research. This is meant for minor cuts only. For anything more serious it is ALWAYS best to see a vet. This includes puncture wounds because while they may be small, they could be hazardous even if the animal that caused them had no known diseases.

Ok, so now back to minor cuts and why it’s not good to use hydrogen peroxide!

The number one reason for this is that while killing bacteria it also kills the body’s natural healing cells. These cells are called fibroblasts, and they are crucial to proper wound healing. The gratifying fizz effect is not only killing off bacteria but skin cells as well. In a pinch, it can be used for immediate attention but only when diluted. I would also flush with water afterwards because you definitely do not want your dog licking this!

How to properly clean a wound

  1. Stop the bleeding. Applying pressure with a piece of gauze or something like it should do this effectively. If this doesn’t work relatively quickly it’s time to get to the vet, immediately!
  2. Remove as much hair around the wound as you can with a simple pair of clippers (no razors). This will allow the area to heal faster undisturbed.
  3. Flush the area. Saline or even water is great for getting rid of dirt or debris. Pressurized washes are ideal. There are many “wound washes” but a saline eye wash will work just fine in a pinch. I just use a squeeze bottle with a pin hole opening and it works very well.
  4. Now it’s time to disinfect.

My favorite method is simply to continue with saline. Repeated flushes with warm water and saline until the area looks clean should be entirely adequate and making a saline solution couldn’t be easier. There are many methods out there. I use this one:

1. 1 cup of boiling water poured into a bowl

2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to dissolve and leave it to cool.

It is always good to make a fresh solution each time you need it or one per day, but every two days would most likely be fine also.

Another method is

1. Using approximately one level teaspoonful (5 mls) of salt (or Epsom salts) 2. Added to two cups (500 mls) of water.

Both are effective.

I use this twice daily until the wound is healing, then once gently until it’s healed.

Another method that I’ve seen used in cases where wounds seem dirtier or when people just want extra peace of mind is:

Povidone iodine or Bentadine:

I am not a big fan of this but I do keep it in the house. It’s very important to remember to dilute it to a 1% solution. I wound use this in the beginning maybe but then switch to saline. (Also note that some animals can be allergic so it’s a good idea to test it before continued use.)

It is technically considered safe if an animal licks a small amount, so I am slightly more comfortable with this option.

The other commonly used wound care option is Chlorhexidine. I am not a fan of this. When used properly and in a solution form only (not a soap or scrub) it may be safe. If it is diluted to no more than .05% and made with “diacetate” salt and NOT “gluconate” salt, it can be an appropriate day 1 option. My biggest issue here is that it is 100% not safe to lick. It contains hibitane which is very hazardous when ingested and is an irritant to skin, eyes and nose when inhaled. I also have seen studies that show that repeated or prolonged exposure to chlorhexidine soap can cause serious organs damage. I know this is not a study done on the solution version but I still don’t like it.

Next, it’s time to

5. Dry the area and keep an eye on it.

Gauze bandages can help protect large wounds. Infection can happen at any stage so it’s important to keep checking.

6. Clean once or twice a day. You can gently massage it as it’s healing with a piece of saline soaked gauze. It is actually best to remove scab tissue during the healing process because it actually speeds up healing quite a bit. This doesn’t mean rip, which could cause more damage, but rather soaking and massaging until it’s ready to come off.

Aftercare

Ok, now it’s time to discuss

Neosporin

(Or polysporin)

I’ve had problems with Neosporin when treating myself because each and every time, my wounds got worse! I know a lot of people also use it on dogs, so I thought it was worth investigating.

First of all, it is made of petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly originates from crude oil, which is toxic to skin. It also forms a film on the skin surface that slows down the healing process and prevents the wound from closing fast. Also, continued use of things containing antibiotics leads to stronger and more resistant bacteria. Then there’s the simple fact that most dogs will lick anything greasy, which creates additional trauma to the wound and prolongs healing. It is not healthy for them to ingest this either!

A lot of people prefer using nothing. In many cases this is the best method. (I stop the licking though at all costs because I know first hand this is always counterproductive to healing!)

For larger wounds that may need more care, I use a healing balm that I made myself. Colloidal silver is also wonderful. I’ve also tried plain old coconut oil and had great success! Although there are many great products on the market, I have learned the hard way not to just trust something because it says natural or organic. I still research the ingredients and one that I like a lot is resQ organics.

ResQ Organics (green label) makes an incredible product with manukora honey that I LOVE! It’s soothing, great for healing, safe to eat and helps heal any issue very fast!

Many people advise against the use of essential oils because they are not always safe when in contact with the blood stream. I support this entirely, when they are undisclosed, because it’s not worth the risk. However there are safe alternatives that can help relieve pain and speed up the healing process.

Healing Sprays And Rubs

For minor wounds, helichrysum, niaouli, sweet marjoram and lavender are all considered safe. (If you are unfamiliar with Helichrysum oil, it’s an antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and an anti-inflammatory just to name a FEW of it’s qualities. It’s amazing, and very worth checking out!)

There are more safe and healthy oils but I have a recipe for a natural

wound care spray that is:

120 ml base oil (coconut, olive, almond, jojoba etc)

4 drops helichrysum oil

5 drops niaouli oil

5 drops sweet marjoram

10 drops lavender oil

This can be used directly on an open wound to clean and treat.

For AFTER the wound has closed, I have a natural disinfectant spray recipe that is also great for stings, bites, rashes and poison ivy. It is always best to use this in moderation and no more than one or two weeks max, but it can be a lifesaver!

240 mls water

5 drops eucalyptus oil

5 drops lemongrass

2 drops cinnamon

Shake well

For scar tissue (that can be problematic down the road) I use

30 mls sweet almond oil

1 drop bergamot oil

1 drop German chamomile oil

1 drop helichrysum oil

1 drop rose oil

1 drop patchouli oil

10 drops vitamin E oil

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and massage into healing scar tissue (I use this on myself as well)

For paw pad injuries:

Anti-inflammation and moisturizing wound care:

30 mls extra virgin coconut oil

2 drops rose hip oil

1-2 drops rose oil

1 drop helichrysum oil

Massage into paws as they heal from small cuts scratches or abrasions.

I used these and like them a lot but I can’t help but mention here my version of the gold standard, which is Dr. Dobias’ healing spray. The ingredients here along with resQ organics helped inspire my own healing balm. (I am holding off on sharing that recipe only because… quite frankly I lost it! We moved recently and I know that it is somewhere. When I find it I will make a separate post because I was blown away at how great it worked even on my own cuts!)

Dr. D.’s

Healing Spray

“BASED ON EUROPEAN TRADITION, MADE FROM THE FINEST HERBS

Calendula is used topically for healing wounds, acne, reducing inflammation, soothing irritated tissue and to control bleeding. It has antiviral, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Hydrastis (Goldenseal) is considered a great natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial herb and is often used to boost the medicinal effects of other herbs.

Witch Hazel has astringent properties and reduces inflammation and swelling by shrinking and contracting blood vessels back to their normal size. It is also used to treat acne, bruises and insect bites.

Yucca is used to treat skin lesions, sprains, inflammation and to stop bleeding. It is also beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and joint pain.

Skin Spray is non-toxic, all natural and contains no chemicals or preservatives. It can be used for the whole family – children, adults and all pets.”

So, there you have it! That’s how we treat minor wounds now and I can’t express enough how much better things heal! My dog recently lost a dew claw. It was bad! She even needed minor surgery. After the bandages came off, she kept reopening her wound, so I had to keep it covered. In the past I used prescription cleaners. This time, I went all natural (not against the vet’s advice) and it made SUCH a significant difference, I will never go back. We don’t take chances, we see our vet, but when it comes to managing small injuries, we finally have a plethora of solutions that work incredibly well for my whole family!

Safe Ways To Store Food In The Freezer Without Plastic

For years now, I’ve being hearing all the negative studies and chatter going on about the dangers of storing food in plastic. I always used to use Debbie Myers Tupperware without a care, but these just gave me a false sense of security. Even BPA free plastic is considered unsafe. All plastic leaches chemicals and many have proven to be even worse than BPA! I knew this, but at the time I only really had to worry about refrigerated items and making the switch to glass and silicone was pretty easy.

Now as a raw feeder I’m a lot more concerned. First of all we need to freeze EVERYTHING! Second, freezing and thawing items in plastic is a lot more dangerous because the process of freezing and thawing causes a lot more toxins to be released. Third, dog’s are more sensitive to these toxins than humans are. Fourth, my dog gets enough toxic chemicals just from her heart worm pill and Fifth, this is her FOOD!

I know most people use ziplocks and call it a day. They see no ill effects and everyone is fine. For the items I buy that are already frozen, I don’t have a choice. If I want duck necks, my local butcher is never going to have them, so I’m forced to either buy them as they are (in plastic) or not have them at all. What I CAN do however is change the container when I get them. It may not do a whole lot at this point, but it’s worth a try. The other thing I can do is transfer all the fresh meat I buy immediately before freezing and gain at least some measure of safety that way. Some people can take their own contains to buy the meat. Currently our supplier is not set up that way or I would do that also.

Then comes the issue of the freezer itself. Space is problematic and I really need to make the most of every inch. I know I have some good containers that can technically go in the freezer but they are not meal size portions and it’s important not to defrost too much at a time. This led me to finding a better solution.

The best way to store small items in the freezer

Answers pet food uses milk cartons. I love this idea plus they are recyclable. I own some bags that are paper and waxed on the inside. My problem is I’m not 100% confident about what the wax is made of in these. The ways to buy them are limited and I’ve yet to see a decent explanation of what’s inside. I’m sure there are safe waxed boxes and bags out there, I just haven’t found them yet. I also need things that are reusable!

Reusable options

Silicone is not only great in the fridge, but works awesome in the freezer too. These containers are also collapsible, so if they are not full they can be pressed down without risk of breaking open.

They are also expensive, so my next thought was silicone freezer bags! They are a great option for items that are very moist. There are a TON of brands that make them and many you can even vacuum seal! It is however important to research the source a bit. I haven’t found a favorite yet but when I do I’ll update this! My problem here is again economical. I would love to use more of these but I will have to reserve them for wet items only.

Glass is another great option. I think I like glass the most in general. These in particular come in a good variety of sizes and have silicone lids. They make a lot now also for baby food which is too small in most cases, but because of this the options are widening.

Mason jars are awesome too and they make silicone lids now that fit any bowl, but I just don’t have the space. I will use the jars for bone broth though.

All of these are expensive methods however. I don’t have the budget for this many containers of either kind. That led me to finding my two new favorite things!

Natural parchment paper and one that’s even better because it’s reusable is

Beeswax storage paper The obvious problem with these is the fact that there is no seal. Freezer tape doesn’t cut it. To remedy this I would prefer to double wrap but with so many meals to freeze, this just isn’t economical. I choose to fit a week of wrapped food inside one glass container. I just happen to be a glass fan, but Stainless steel would work great too. This remedies both freezer burn and leakage. (Many people double wrap with tin foil but this worries me.) For the items that are longer term stores, I will also use the parchment and wrap a lot heavier.

Another great idea is using muffin tins. You can fill them with meals and cover them with the bees wrap. My dog’s meals are a bit too large, so this options out for us, but I’m sure it would work great for someone!

If you’re really ambitious, you can make your own beeswax paper much cheaper. I haven’t tried this yet but I really want to! Homemade beeswax wrap

One day I hope to be able to invest in 100% glass or maybe silicone… I’d like to see more studies done on it first though. I feel like silicone is just too new. I also hope to get a second freezer. Until then however, I’m just doing my best!

There is a movement towards plastic free options. Blogs like My Plastic Free Life are making a difference and spreading information. My hope is that in the years to come it will be easier to accomplish this!

Dog Cancer and the Keto Diet

Dogs are getting cancer in this country in epidemic proportions. An estimated 6 million dogs and nearly 6 million cats will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Cancer has been responsible for the deaths of 47% of dogs, especially over the age of 10 and 32% of cats. This means 1 out of every 4 dogs and 1 out of every 5 cats. These numbers are staggering and it is very obvious that there is a very serious problem going on. A lot of what I talk about on here is prevention related. Raw feeding, quality meat sources, vegetables, holistic approaches to medicine, cleanses, organic cleaning products etc. are all great things to incorporate to help improve your odds. However, just like with people, we all know that we can do literally everything in our power and still lose. We just can’t control everything and it’s a horrible reality to face.

When it comes to this topic, I am truly at a loss. I don’t have any answers, I truly wish that I did. What I can say is that I am studying and hope to share some insights in the future. I wanted to write about this now because of things I’ve seen recently that have given me a lot of hope. Cancer is incredibly time sensitive and treatment is crucial. I was not going to wait to share the information that I found!

We have hope.

There are incredible people on the front lines trying to fight these statistics everyday and they are making headway! Dr. Becker and Rodney Habib are two of those people.

Video

The Truth About Pet Cancer

There is an incredible amount of free information here:

Introduction

They provide a free version of this series for Vets.

Resources are growing by the day, these are just two, but they are recent and they are absolutely worth paying attention to.

One of biggest takeaways I got from this, is the Keto (Ketogentic) diet. The Keto diet is effective in treating a variety of things that I will discuss in an upcoming article, but it’s been used and in many cases actually cured cancer. The idea is that it is designed to starve cancer. A holistic vet should be able to provide hands-on advice, but research is a good place to start. There are multiple resources on this, but here is the best one I’ve found.

Keto Diet

Here is an interview with Rodney and some additional useful tips about this diet.

Keto Diet Tips

I truly hope and pray that progress continues to be made and this information can get to and help someone! There is nothing worse than cancer for people and the animals we love. Let’s not give up the fight!

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The Science of Raw Pet Food

Addressing reasons why raw diets aren’t recommended by more vets.

The Raw Feeding Community

One of the most common arguments that opponents of raw diets use to discourage owners from feeding raw is that there isn’t enough research to prove raw diets are safe or effective. While we can all agree there are not nearly enough clinical studies comparing raw diets and kibble, I disagree that there is no evidence to support the idea that raw diets can be more beneficial and safe for dogs, cats, ferrets, and other meat-eating pets in comparison to a commercial dry food diet.

Unfortunately, there is a high prevalence of logical fallacies and misinformation in many raw feeding resources and circles, which only helps to further diminish the legitimacy of raw diets. This article will aim to address the current science based evidence that can be used as support of the merits of raw food diets.

Commercial dry pet food has significant drawbacks

First we must address the…

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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

Beets for Dog Health

There is a lot of debate about how much dog’s can benefit from vegetables. It is 100% true that their digestive systems were designed for meat. That being said, they also are meant to receive vegetables pre-digested from prey and definitely sometimes used to eat fruit whole. I’ll go more into vegetables in general in another post. For now I want to assume that they can access at least some nutrients from vegetables, especially when prepared properly and talk about why beets can be so beneficial.

Beets and especially beet greens are an incredible resource of nutrition that you can easily add to your dog’s diet (as well as your own!). Although it’s already become a popular dog food additive, this is mostly for filler reasons and profit margins, because the processing involved takes away almost all of the nutritional value. In many cases also, they are using sugar beets which are even cheaper and have absolutely no nutritional value. (Beets or beet pulp is actually a good thing to look out for and avoid in food!)

The two best options for beets are fresh or freeze-dried. Never canned or pickled.

The primary reasons people choose to add beets to their dog’s diet is for liver detox, allergies, inflammation, iron deficiency or weight management, but these are only a few benefits they offer.

The great thing is that because they are so packed with nutrition, a little goes a long way so you don’t need to use a ton of them! (This is good because too much could lead to red tinged diarrhea.)

Red tinged urine on the other hand, should not be an issue because in a balanced diet, this most likely will not occur. The same thing happens to people. Pink urine indicates a lack of hydrochloric acid in the digestion process. This is not dangerous and some digestive enzymes or a good probiotic should prevent it if it becomes an issue. Pink urine and stool can be a scary thing to see and this is the reason many companies that use beets properly (like Darwins) has removed them from their food. It is not dangerous but it is startling.

The general suggested amount is around 1/8 c.

Beets are full of antioxidants, vitamin C (immunity), vitamin B folate (cardiovascular support & normal tissue growth), manganese (helps bones, kidneys, liver and pancreas), fiber (aids digestion), iron (aids formation of healthy blood cells), potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function), and magnesium (bone health and nerve function).

Some dogs with issues such as allergies, inflammation or anemia can benefit from these properties but dogs with diabetes should probably stay away. Although beets are low in calories they are higher in sugar than other types of vegetables and may not be good for this reason. (An important note here however is that unlike other high glycemic index items, beets have a LOW glycemic load, so contrary to intuition they are still moderate in terms of affecting insulin levels making them still a great weight loss tool.) The greens however, would work just fine!

I’ve read a lot of articles and it is still unclear to me exactly how well beets are digested and absorbed in the digestive tract. I looked into the different ways to prepare them, for this reason and still could not find any one method that out-shined the rest. I already know that fermentation is the best way to allow the unique digestive system of dogs to absorb nutrients. I am in the process of learning how to do that, but now I try to do the next best thing which is to purée.

The idea is that the further broken down something is, the easier it’s absorbed. The important thing is to break the cell wall to release nutrients. The finer grind purée the better. Feeding this along with an enzyme supplement or probiotic that contains amylase is my go to solution when I can’t get fermented.

This is because dogs don’t have salivary amylase (what breaks down the cell walls in fruits and veggies so the nutrition can be released). They do have some amylase in their pancreas but not very much overall.

Cooking, freezing and pureeing are all ways of breaking the fruits and vegetables down into a more usable form.

I know this works well for spinach for example. It’s also true of beet greens. For lack of further evidence, I will assume it’s also true of beets. They lack fiber this way, but hopefully add more nutritional value. After fermented (not jarred) Raw or puréed seem best. Cooked is the next best after that and is easier for some dogs to accept. Juiced is usually ok for leafy greens but in this case it is not good because of the release of sugar.

I can definitely see myself using them as healthy treats because the fiber is filling and my dog needs to lose a few, but for meals, I primarily use the beet greens with one raw beet as just one ingredient in a big purée. I also like to change up my purée ingredients a lot to add variety. If you supplement with beets to treat a certain condition, it’s always best to get dosing information directly from a holistic vet.

Beet greens are high in protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Beet greens contain more iron than spinach, improve immune function and help protect bone health.”

The compelling reasons listed here are good to consider because while hard evidence regarding digestion is still lacking for this particular vegetable, if they can be fed in a way that they are absorbed, they would be a tremendous resource. This is from dogtube:

“5 Reasons to treat your dog to red beets

1. Beets are believed to lower blood pressure – The natural nitrates in beets covert to nitric oxide which relaxes and dilates blood vessels improving blood flow and blood pressure.

2. Fight Inflammation – Beets contain betaine, which “helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.” (World’s Healthiest Foods)

3. Anti-Cancer Properties – It is believed that the Phytonutrients in beets may help prevent cancer.

4. Detoxification Support – The betalain pigment in beets cause toxins to break down so they can be eliminated from the body and help purify the blood and liver.

5. Beets boost stamina – Thought to be the result of beets reducing the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.”

To me it sounds like this is geared more towards people, but there is no debate that beets are good.

This all brings me to the reason I decided to write this article:

Yesterday I was ecstatic to find out that my local pet store had the highly anticipated Answers Turkey Stock with Fermented Beet Juice! I’ve been waiting for this one! First, because of their fermentation process, that unlocks nutrients and maximizes the benefits of everything they make. Second, because red BEETS are included now!

I will still use the greens and some beet on my own, because this is only beet juice, but with this product I am more confident that my dog is benefiting from the beet. This is exciting because beets have a lot to offer!

* For a good freeze dried treat style option I love Olewo for their dedication to quality! (Sold on Amazon, chewy etc)

Finally, a wonderful article on vegetables for dogs is written by Dr. Dobias

Here he explains more about which vegetables dogs can benefit from the most! (Note *The feeding guide fermentation he mentions here is not the same as the process we make.)

Beets are below their greens, but they’re still on the list!

Here is a good quick list of useful veggies (I leave out peppers)

And here is just a quick way to remember which beets are best for dogs (the only really bad one is the sugar beet – the one that looks like a bull’s eye)

The highly anticipated new Answers product: