Now I’m sure everyone who is reading this is probably thinking that they’re relationship with their dog(s) is absolutely perfect. How do I know? Because I used to be one of those dog owners where really, my dog did no wrong, we had a great bond and of course the most important thing, I love my dogs. But the sad reality is that we can love love our dogs and they can love love us back, but the moment they see that squirrel or whatever, your left in the dust on your behind (and yes, I’ve been there too!). The minute I’ve ‘upped the ante’ in my relationships with my dogs, where good enough was not good enough, where I needed and asked more from them, that is where things changed. Here are some things I have found useful for building a really good solid and healthy relationship with my dogs:
Another thing that leaders do is they set boundaries. At first, they might fight you on it but then they will eventually get it if you are consistent enough, but the one thing that will go up is their respect for you. All of a sudden that squirrel doesn’t matter because you have now become their world, their leader, and who doesn’t want that?
Building a good leadership role will also strengthen the bond and relationship with your dog by providing a good basis for communication. Training tools (when used correctly) are great, but do not rely solely on them, because as soon as that training collar comes off, well then, audios amigos!
With or without the tool, you want your dog listening to you.
2. Give them what they need; mentally, emotionally and physically.
Don’t expect to get a well-behaved dog that has been cooped up all day and is now turning borderline aggressive or ‘too much to handle’, because now he has so much energy to even know what to do with! Dogs need exercise but not only that, they need to be mentally stimulated, boredom is not a good thing, especially for working dog. There are many fun and dynamic exercises (both mental and physical) one can do to stimulate their furry loved one, it can be as simple as taking a long hike in the woods rather than going around the block a few times (a new kind of adventure), this will also give them more stimulation, or ‘attention exercises’, where they need to mentally focus on you and ONLY you (a lot harder than it sounds-trust me!).
A good emotional support for dogs I find is giving your dog praise for doing the right thing or trying to do the right thing, such as, every time your dog looks at you give them praise, you are encouraging them to do the right thing (by placing focus and attention on you- the alpha, if that is what you are after), especially if the dog is a naturally pleasing dog and craves for that kind of support and praise, and don’t forget to praise the effort as well, it really is about the journey as much as it’s about the destination. At the end of any session, big or small, long or short, you want your dog happily trotting beside you tail wagging, spirits up and tail high!
3. Spend the time.
Without giving you won’t be getting.
At the end of the day, we spend the most time on what we think is important, don’t forget to show your dog that he/she is important just by spending time with them, especially when they would so much rather be with us than by themselves (hopefully!). I definitely increase my bond with all my animals just by spending quality time with them, either by doing something or doing nothing. For example, I’ve actually developed more of a bond with my horses over the years just by spending time with them, doing simple things like grooming or ground work versus actually riding them. Same thing with my dogs and cats, just by picking up a brush and stroking them I’m bonding, and according to the man himself- Cesar Millan that is, all animals respond to energy first. This is before body language and even words- energy is very important. Whenever I’m around my animals I try to not have my phone on me, so I can really be present, and maybe notice things that I haven’t before.
It is always beneficial to surround yourself with knowledgeable people for support, or if you are having a particular difficult time with your dog(s) investing in a good trainer or a canine behaviorist who can fully understand your particular situation and give you their professional recommendations is even better. You might be surprised just how much you learn about your dog and about yourself, whether you’re a new dog owner or a seasoned one.
One last thing, no relationship is perfect, some days it might be one step forward and two steps back, we are all WIPs (work in progresses), that is just life, the important thing is to keep moving forward and once you have a solid foundation in place, well then, anything is possible, even for a dog who was on death row.
A great book for reference is Mother Knows Best, by Carol Lea Benjamin.
Kibble is still the number one seller when it comes to pet food in North America, and while there are certain grades of kibble, from your run of the mill to premium, can it ever and will it ever be a ‘species appropriate diet’? Will your pet every really and truly thrive on it? I get asked this all the time, and here is my answer; no.
While there are many reasons, here are my top three reasons why:
1. It is dry:
With a species appropriate diet, i.e. when your dog or cat catches a bird, a mouse or say a rabbit, the first thing they consume is blood. Blood as you know, is very wet, which then assists to lubricate the GI tract and get the digestive process flowing, so to speak. A species or biologically appropriate diet contains a moisture content at about 60% give or take, with kibble you are getting roughly around 6-7% moisture content. That is a huge gap! Not only is kibble dry as a rock, it actually pulls moisture from your pet’s GI tract making it even harder for them break down and assimilate nutrients from an already non-bioavailable form of food. When your dog or cat is lapping up water from their water dish that is a sure sign of dehydration, not a good thing, as it’s very taxing on their liver and kidneys.
2. Too high in carbohydrates:
In a previous blog I gave an equation where you can calculate the carbohydrate/sugar content in your pet’s food, the ones who did it came back shocked, and it didn’t matter whether the food was bought from a veterinarian or grocery store. Carbohydrate content in kibble can range anywhere from 40%-55%+. That is just simply way too high, half or almost half of the pet’s food is compromised of non-essential simple sugars. I personally do not feed or sell any diet with a carbohydrate content over 15%-20%, and that is coming from fruits and vegetables (good sources). Especially for our feline friends, who should only be on a balanced protein diet with little to no carbohydrates at all, as they are obligate carnivores (meat only). Canines and felines are not designed like herbivores to break down high carbohydrate content, carnivores are made completely opposite to herbivores, with short and acidic digestive tracts meant to consume raw fresh meat. That is why they get bloated and gassy on kibble, and overtime excessive inflammation can lead to numerous health problems which can get quite expensive to treat.
3. Highly processed:
I’m known for the saying, “If I take broccoli (which we all know by now is a superfood), batter it up and deep fry it, can I still claim it to be a health food?”. Well, same goes for kibble, no matter what health ingredient the manufacturer claims it has, it is too processed to ever be considered a health food (think steak that has been cooked to death), so what’s left of it? If you were to go see your doctor and he/she told you that from now on you only have to eat this special type of cereal that comes straight from a box and it is all balanced for you vitamin/mineral wise so you absolutely need to eat nothing else day in and day out, what would your reaction be? Mine would be thanks but no thanks, I like my carrots and apples and steak and chicken and salads, etc. You get the point. Now think of your pet, who has no choice in the matter, only eating what you put in the bowl, even though they get bloated and gassy but it might be mild enough so you don’t notice, meanwhile they are always eyeballing your food and why wouldn’t they?! It’s real food! In order for kibble to be kibble, it has to go through an extrusion process that uses heat and high pressure to create the shape and volume of kibble, that is how it’s manufactured. While there are the lesser of evils, it still is a high stretch to say that is what they were meant to consume. If one is still skeptical all they need to do is look at stool samples of a raw fed dog or cat and kibble fed. With raw feeding stools are smaller with practically no odor, the proof is always in the pudding!
Tip to kibble feeders:
Hydrate your pets’ food to add moisture back either with warm water or better yet, bone broth. Also, supplement with a good quality probiotic and digestive enzyme to better help your pet digest the high starch and carbohydrate content in kibble, as they lack the enzymes to digest the incomplete amino acids in foods like peas and corn. Adding things like kefir and other whole foods to accompany kibble is also a good way for your pet to safely get some form of bioavailable fresh foods into their diet. We at Thrive4life Holistic Pet offer ‘kibble toppers’ to better add more bioavailable nutrition to your pet’s diet, or if you want to switch your pet off of kibble and to a less processed species appropriate diet such as cooked, raw or a type of raw diet that has the convenience of kibble but the nutrition of raw, contact us to learn more.
I love hearing all the wonderful testimonials my customers and especially new customers give- a few have made it to the website, and there are so many more to come. It makes all the struggles of being an entrepreneur so so worth it! Some of my customers even learn about their own health, which benefits them too! Without health we truly have nothing! What is the point of having a million dollars in the bank if you can’t even enjoy it?
So, this is why I do what I do, and if you think about it, whenever we do anything in life with both love and passion, it can’t help but grow and shine. Do what you do because you love it- and you never have to feel like you work a day in your life!
"What is done in love is done well." -Vincent Van Gogh
The information in this blog is presented by Dr. W. Jean Dodds, DVM, (Canine Nutrigenomics) on Angiogenesis, if your pet has cancer please seek veterinarian guidance.
Angiogenesis is the process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels (Mercola, 2012). Creating new blood vessels serves important functions; two examples are during pregnancy to form the placenta or under a scab to facilitate wound healing. In these instances, the body releases special proteins that stimulate angiogenesis. But once these newly formed vessels have done their job (i.e., the baby is born or the wound heals), the body returns them to their previous level by releasing substances that inhibit angiogenesis, called antiangiogenic substances.
Scientists have discovered that when the process of angiogenesis is out of balance creating either too few or too many blood vessels, a variety of diseases can occur. For example, if your body cant produce enough blood vessels when you’ve been cut, the wound won’t heal properly. Too few blood vessels can also lead to poor circulations and diseases such as coronary artery disease and stroke. Too many blood vessels, on the other hand, cause a different type of problem, leading to diseases such as obesity, arthritis and cancer. Angiogenesis, or the growth of too many blood vessels is related to every type of cancer (Li, 2010).
Just as a person cannot grow and flourish without oxygen and nutrition, neither can cancer cells. So, where do they get their nutrition? It is delivered by the blood vessels, cancerous tumors would not be able to grow beyond the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen! This means that by blocking angiogenesis, we can literally “starve” tumor cells of the nutrients they need to grow and turn dangerous (Li,2010).
The problem is that cancer cells can actually release factors that turn on angiogenesis, providing themselves with the nutrition they need to thrive. The blood vessels formed during angiogenesis also create a “superhighway” for the cancer cells to enter into the bloodstream, enabling them to metastasize (Li, 2010).
The promising news is that certain drugs and dietary ingredients are antiangiogenic, meaning that they block angiogenesis and cut off the supply of nutrients to the cancer cells. Antiangiogenic therapies have been used to treat various types of cancers, including mast cell tumors, in more than 600 dogs, with an overall 60% response rate (Li, 2010).
Interestingly, researchers have found that nutritional ingredients were in many cases as successful as-or even more successful than-drugs to reduce angiogenesis (Li, 2010).
Here are a few “dog approved” antiangiogenic foods to add to your canine companion’s anti-cancer diet:
Other antiangiogenic foods exist that are not safe for dogs (e.g., grapes. nutmeg and dark chocolate) and so we have not included them here; but you can certainly feel free to take advantage of their cancer-protective effects!
And since fat tissue is dependent upon angiogenesis, feeding antiangiogenic foods will also help keep your dog at a healthy weight- which is essential to fighting cancer and all disease (Li, 2010).
*For sources of quality antiangiogenic food/ supplements please contact us and we will help pick the right ones for your pet.*
With this one I’ll get right to the point- No.
All probiotics are definitely not created equal, and how can they be with so many strains and different species of bacteria and yet, there is a lot of variety out on the market when it comes to probiotic supplements and even foods that contain live bacterial cultures.
When it comes to food choices you have things like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, etc. All great choices as food grade probiotics, I personally like coconut milk kefir, not only because it’s dairy free and I make it myself and it tastes delicious, but because of how it makes me feel.
However, I want to shed some light on probiotic supplements because let’s face it, when you need it, you need it!
Interestingly, when I started my career in the nutraceutical industry what was boasted as the ‘best’ at the time was to look for probiotics on the market with many different strains, in fact the more strains the better! When it came to the bacteria count, again the more the better. You see as high as 100 billion count with more that 8, 10, 15+ strains on the market, so is more really better?
What if I told you the probiotics I’ve had the most success with, both using myself and recommending to others with tremendous success had no more that 2-3 strains!
Crazy I know! That is because I don’t quite frankly care about the quantity of what I’m getting, rather, I care about performance.
I care about what specific strains do in the gut, can they even last in the gut? Do they cancel each other out in the gut? And if I’m taking in a probiotic that has a rainbow of strains, how do we know they’re actually not competing with each other? Remember this is live bacteria we are talking about. For example, let’s look at the three strains Bacillus mesentericus, Clostridium butyricum and Streptococcus faecalis, these three strains have been actually studied together for over 60 years in Japan, and they found that not only did they not cancel each other out, they actually boost each other, ‘they play well in the sand box’ to put in other words. That is called a symbiotic relationship. Not only are they extremely effective, but they actually inhibit bad bacterial growth, which is something we need to really consider when shopping for probiotics, how do you know the components in there aren’t feeding the bad guys?! Scary I know…
Look for probiotics that have the strains studied together, not apart, and remember that more does not always necessarily mean better.
If you are unsure what probiotics are best for your pet at their current stage in their health and wellness journey, come see us, we would be happy to discuss bacteria with you! The good that is ;)
This is my home-made organic fruit and vegetable medley I make for my pets for a number of reasons;
To boost their nutrition intake, adding a source of prebiotic fiber, antioxidants, and to add extra calories to their food as a way of ‘bulking’ up their diet. For those who think that they ‘don’t need vegetables’ have neglected to do their homework. In fact, a very well-known holistic veterinarian has even gone as far as saying fruit and vegetables should make up to 25% of their diet- even though industry standards say no more than 15%!
So here it is;
Stores in refrigerator for 5 days or can pour in molds and freeze for long term use.
Great as frozen treats or to accompany meals.
With ‘grain-free’ this and ‘grain-free’ that, everyone is practically obsessed with the phrase grain free! “What do you feed your pet?”, “Oh I feed a good brand of kibble- it’s grain free!”.
Does that necessarily mean that your pet is out of the woods? Unfortunately, not.
You see, kibble needs some sort of a starch so that it can bind, and of course, when something is removed that also means that something is added. And unfortunately, with what is added comes at a price. The trend I’m seeing now is kibble foods that are high in legumes, which means that you just switched your dog and cat from a grain-based diet to now a high lectin diet, which I’m afraid can be worse.
You see, a high lectin and phytate diet overtime can actually erode the precious mucosal layer of cells that line the stomach wall, literally eroding a hole in the stomach lining- what does that mean? Think Leaky Gut, IBS, over active immune system, etc.
Above all that, canines and especially felines lack the enzymes such as phytase to break down the proteins and substances such as phytates in these foods. Phytates are substances that carnivores can't break down and they bind to minerals, leeching them out of your pet's body.
Now let’s talk sugar, conventional dry pet foods (and even prescription diet kibbles) can exceed over 40-50% in total carbohydrates, that means that about half of the food is compromised of nonessential simple sugars. Yet, when you call the manufacturer and ask about sugar content a typical response would be that they do not add any sugar, and yet we know that carbohydrates are broken down into sugar (glucose) in the body, feeding inflammation and chronically spiking glucose levels which can lead to diabetes and obesity.
A simple equation can be applied to find out the exact % of carbs (sugar) in your pet's food;
100-% protein- % fat- % moisture -% ash (if not listed, assume 6%) = % carbs
For more information feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you with your pets well being journey every step of the way, and to transition to a more wholesome diet appropriate for your pet's breed and age.
Taking a pro-active approach to your pet’s health is one of the best decisions you can ever make as a pet guardian.
One area to never neglect of course, whether you choose natural or otherwise is de-worming. When dogs and cats are fed a species appropriate diet they become a not so ‘inviting’ host for parasites to thrive on, that being said, it is still very possible and probable to collect parasites along the way and in that case: consider olive leaf extract.
But first, lets talk about the overall benefits, as that alone has several impressive studies to back this antioxidant rich powerhouse. Olea europaea has been around since the biblical times, in fact, the olive plant is referenced several times in the bible. Both olive leaf and oils are found to have high concentrations of phenolics, tocopherols, flavonoids, antioxidant power, and the leaves also contain chlorophyll and carotenoid concentrations.
The study also concluded that by adding olive leaf to the oil it progressed it’s shelf life thanks to its uber antioxidant properties, “The enrichment of the oils with antioxidant compounds from the leaves also led to a remarkable increase in the nutritional quality of the Oueslati oil…
…In conclusion, the addition of a small percentage of olive leaves could improve the nutraceutical properties of extra virgin olive oil by increasing the phenolic compound content. These compounds, together with tocopherols, play a protective role against oxidative stress, being also able to extend the extra virgin olive oil shelf-life due to their antioxidative properties.” (Tarchoune, Sgherri, Eddouzzi, Zinnai, Quartacci, Zarrouk. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2019).
So, what does this all mean for our beloved pets?
Olive leaf proves to show its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiparasitic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and neuroprotective properties- just to name a few!
Another study proved that both inflammatory and cancer cell models show that olive leaf polyphenols are anti-inflammatory and protect against DNA damage initiated by free radicals.
Animal studies prove, “It has been associated with numerous health benefits including the ability to: lower blood pressure in rats, decrease plasma glucose concentrations in rats, inhibit the growth of microbes grown on agar plates, inhibit cultured parasitic protozoans and has also shown the ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cell models: colorectal, breast and prostate.” (Boss, Bishop, Marlow, Barnett, Ferguson. U.S National Library of Medicine, 2016).
Another good thing to note is that OLE only kills the harmful bacteria, not the good, and is proven to be a great source to combat yeast (candida) infections (yeast buildup in ears, mouldy 'cheesy' smell, greying skin, itching, yeasty paws, etc.)
One should also take care to get OLE from a good and reputable source as not all herbs and supplements are created equal, and to dose accordingly, because as we all know, too much of a good thing can end up not being a good thing. It is best to treat OLE like medicine, in the right dose it will do the trick, but too much medicine is, well, too much medicine. OLE can be an integral part for any deworming protocol however, it is always best to speak with your vet/ holistic vet when introducing something new to your pet.
We at Thrive4life Holistic Pet stand by only quality products, ensuring you that only the best is provided for your beloved four-legged member of the family.
“Sure”, I said reluctantly, when my vet called me about a case of an 11-month old German Sheppard who was being scheduled to put down, even though he was clinically healthy, but such a case that his owners did not know what to do with him, no shelter would touch him. Of course, who do you call? The girl on a farm apparently.
“He is very nervous and anxious, especially around people, he knocked down his owner’s wife”, said my vet.
I inevitably said I would take him in because I did not want the animal destroyed over what I thought was ‘not enough a reason' to end a life, but I had no intention on keeping him. I already had two large breed dogs and five cats (all on raw), I did not need another raw mouth to feed! I also realized I said I would take him sight unseen, I really did not know what I was thinking.
I was going to merely ‘fix’ him as best I could to re-home him, but in order to do that I needed to dig a little further.
So, I contacted the owner, asked him a lot of questions, I could tell by his voice over the phone that he seemed sad about it, but I asked and asked away. I asked him why he even picked the dog anyway, he said, "he was the only pup who left his mother and siblings to be with my kids", and right then and there I knew that nothing was wrong with the dog, not neurologically anyway, he was just a product of being in the wrong environment, but even though, I remembered telling him that if this did not work out (I had other 4-legged family members to think about), he was going to have to come right back to him in London. He told me he would hope that would not be the case and that he probably wouldn’t be able to do that…
…I let out a big sigh…looked up at the ceiling, and a thought came to me. I don’t even know his name...
...“What’s his name?”, I asked.
“Monty”, he said.
My eyes immediately welled up and my voice started to shake, “Okay”, I said, "I'll take him".
You see, Monty was the name of my 7-month-old German Sheppard pup I had lost a few years ago due to a tragic accident, a devastating time that had left me asking why.
I immediately felt a cosmic connection and decided to take him. The plan remained the same though, I was going to take him in to ‘fix’ and re-home him to a house hold where he would be the only pet, the only star of the show, the only one to spoil. He would only get lost in the shuffle in my crazy farm life house-hold!
I was working at a health food store at the time and was in for my shift, knowing Monty was going to be dropped off in the afternoon, I thought about going home with a bottle of Boch flower remedy tincture, supposedly to help animals who are highly stressed. I though this would help him.
So, later on that day I pulled up on my very long driveway to my fenced area where a beautifully bred German Shepherd was barking and growling profusely at me. The minute I laid eyes on him I knew he was special, I just knew, and if a dog can look intelligent, well, that’s how he looked. I went in the house to change before I went out to meet him.
I finally went in to introduce myself, and to slip him some of that remedy. To my surprise, he was taking it very well, straight from the dropper in fact! I thought to myself, ‘Well, this is easy!’, a couple seconds later, Monty went right behind me and nipped me right from the behind! Yep, thank goodness I was wearing sweat pants! Put a hole right in it too!
Of course, my father saw all this unfolding and let me just say, he was not very happy. This dog’s attitude was a product of no boundaries, lack of leadership and lack of direction. The German Shepherd is a breed that needs direct leadership, they crave it in fact, or else, you will make a monster. They don’t necessarily need a ‘mommy’, they need a partner, a leader, any one who has ever had a Shepherd can attest to this.
Monty taught me a lot, a lot about his breed, a lot about myself, and a lot about canine behavior, but most of all, about energy. I never met a dog more in tune with energy, it’s wild. I can write a book just on that!
Three days later and a completely different dog! I still remember how my hands used to shake every time I would try to latch the leash onto his collar!
There were times where it was very hard, let me just say, I used to be a rabbit owner (R.I.P Angel), and times that were very easy, but that is a relationship. Some days it was one-step forward and two-steps back, but Monty taught me a lot, especially about people, as a psychology major, I picked up on a few things that I used to miss before.
I personally believe that animals are here on this earth to help and teach us, if we allow, and to touch us in ways we never thought possible.
Now, you are probably wondering, did I end up keeping him? where is Monty now?
After about a year, Monty stopped acting like the devil himself (more or less) and got more sociable and used to people. My mother mentioned that a friend of ours had been on the property a few times now and absolutely loves Monty and wants to take him home for his family.
She said, -“We should consider it, two large breed dogs are more than enough for us and we really should ‘lighten’ our load, what do you think?”.
Monty continues to reside on ‘his’ farm with his pet guardian Lucy. He has also joined a Schutzhund club and loves it! He was made to excel at the sport. He has found his purpose.
We aren’t the only ones who are affected by this epidemic. Stress puts a lot of strain on our immunity and on our DNA. Dr. Oz did a whole segment on stress and how it actually affects and modifies our DNA. Do our pets suffer the same? Answer is yes.
Just like us stress affects our pets too, they may not have tight deadlines or have bills to pay, but stressors like inflammation, exercise, medications, separation or any kind of anxiety, disease, all these things can put a lot of stress on them and you better believe takes a toll on their system, not just psychologically but physiologically as well. Their immune system takes a hit and gets affected just like ours does. So, what to do?
Enter Bovine Colostrum. There was a study published by the British Journal of Nutrition to evaluate the immunomodulatory effect of dietary supplementation of bovine colostrum in dogs. The dogs were randomized in 2 groups and both groups were fed a nutritionally balanced diet, at the end of the ‘pre-test’ phase, all dogs received a canine distemper virus (CDV) vaccine, and the dogs in the ‘test group’ were switched to a diet supplemented with BC. “Response to the CDV vaccine was evaluated by measuring vaccine-specific plasma IgG levels. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue response was assessed by measuring faecal IgA levels. Gut microbiota were evaluated by the temporal temperature gel electrophoresis methodology. Dogs fed the BC-supplemented diet demonstrated a significantly higher vaccine response and higher levels of faecal IgA when compared with the control group. Supplementing diets with BC also resulted in significantly increased gut microbiota diversity and stability in the test group. In conclusion, diets supplemented with BC significantly influence immune response in dogs.” (British Journal of Nutrition, 2013). In addition, a study was also conducted on sled pulling dogs, two control groups were used, one supplemented with BC and one without after a sled run. Dogs who were fed the BC had a significant increase in recovery and immune support versus the ones who weren’t. Bovine colostrum significantly increases the diversity in the microbiome, hence promoting healthy gut microbiota, which as we know is 80% of our immune system.
Furthermore, evidence suggests, it increases natural antibodies and other bio actives as well as balancing beneficial and potentially harmful intestinal bacteria. These findings could be relevant for improving protective immune and gut responses to various stress factors including infections, allergies, etc.
If you are planning on supplementing your pet with BC, make sure it is from a good quality grass fed source. If your pet has severe medical issues, always consult with your vet or holistic vet when introducing anything new to your pet.
Lucy is an avid pet mom; with dogs, cats, goats and horses to keep her busy! All of her pet 'kids' are fed a species appropriate diet with proper supplementation so she can watch them thrive. Her expertise and experience lie in nutraceutical supplementation and is a health advocate for proper diet and nutrition. Her other passions in life are schutzhund and equestrian riding.