Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog

6 Sep

As more and more pet parents are making fresh food for their fur-kids at home, it is important to be aware of foods that can be harmful for your dog.  Here are some big ones to avoid.


Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Immediately.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset.

Cooked Bones
May splinter and cause punctures in the digestive tract which can be fatal.

Grapes and Raisins
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.



Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk and Dairy
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.

Onions, Chives, and large amounts of Garlic
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.

Uncooked Salmon and Trout
Dogs in the Pacific Northwest acquire Salmon Poisoning Disease after ingesting raw fish that contain the parasite Nanophyetus Salmincola. This disease is specific to the Pacific Northwest mainly seen in Oregon and Washington and is found in river run fish such as salmon, trout, and steelhead. This disease does not affect cats, humans, or species other than dogs.

Xylitol (a common sweetener in human products)
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).



“Species-Appropriate” Kibble?

28 Jun
Pet food companies that claim their kibble is “species-appropriate” because it is high-protein not only doesn’t make sense but can be harmful. Kibble is never species-appropriate for dogs and cats!!  Kibble is “pet-food-industry-appropriate”. You show me a dog or cat hunting down kibble in the wild (or eating kibble at any point over 100 years ago) and I will change my mind. I will eat my “species-appropriate” hat; see how absurd that sounds?
So many harmful effects occur from the process of creating a kibble. But, I would like to focus on the high-protein kibble issue.
About 95 percent of dry pet foods are manufactured using the extrusion process. When the originally raw, species-appropriate, high-quality protein undergoes the extrusion process (along with the rest of the ingredients) there are many unfavorable results; a major one is protein denaturation. protein-denaturation
Denaturation not only makes these once healthy proteins more difficult for your dog or cat to digest and assimilate, but the changes that occur in the structure of a healthy protein molecule during exposure to high heat is a trigger for food allergies.  I hear many dog & cat parents say “I’ve tried every protein and my pet is allergic to them all!” or “My vet says my pet is allergic to protein so he/she is on a special, prescription hydrolyzed protein diet”. BUT, the only foods these pets have been fed have been processed by extrusion. Research has shown that the immune system does not recognize the altered protein structure and treats it as a foreign invader. Could this be why so many dogs and cats who are fed processed food have allergies? I say YES, this is one of many reasons, and most likely the MAIN reason. 100% of the dogs and cats I see with allergies magically resolve when fed a truly species-appropriate diet – fresh, raw food in it’s whole form.
No one should need a prescription to eat.

Bone Broth for Dogs and Cats

17 Nov
Recently, our 3 year old Labrador became very sick.  He was vomiting and became lethargic very quickly.  Knowing that something had to be wrong since our Hugo was usually very full of energy and mischief, we took him into the vet immediately.  After all the diagnostics came back that Hugo’s health was not in danger, his last test, for Giardia, did come back positive. It was decided that his symptoms were either from the Giardia and/or having possibly eaten a wild, toxic mushroom while on a walk.  Whatever the reason for his illness, I thought I would share his treatment protocol and discuss the nutrition benefits of bone broth and how this is key for Hugo’s supportive care.
As Hugo’s GI tract is under stress (diarrhea and stomach upset) our focus is to support his body through gentle, easy to digest food, and key supplements.
Getting Hugo on a bland but nutritious diet is our first step. We want to calm his stomach and also give his body vitamins and minerals to help him heal.  Bone broth has been used for hundreds of years as a nutritive and healing medicine.  There are many different ways to prepare bone broth; there isn’t just one way.  There are many types of bones you can use as well!  But there is one good rule to remember:  NEVER GIVE YOUR PET A COOKED BONE.  Feeding cooked bones is dangerous as they they shard and can perforate the intestines and cause death.  We are not going to feed the bones, we are going to draw out their nutritive minerals into the water via slow cooking – thus bone broth!  As I said, there are many ways, but this is how I prepare bone broth.
I use a whole, organic chicken from Whole Foods, put it in a large pot large enough to cover the chicken with water, add Apple Cider Vinegar* (~1 tsp per gallon of water), cover it with a lid, and simmer until the meat falls off the bones. This takes about 2 and a half to 4 hours depending on the size of the chicken and the heat. Since Hugo hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours, he was pretty hungry (good sign!) so I used this boiled chicken meat for his first bland meal.  I added goat’s milk and Bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is a “healing” clay, taken internally not only for it’s abundance in minerals, but also for it’s ability to draw out toxins from the body. We are also giving him a supplement containing herbs including Berberine, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Gentian Root, Black Walnut Hull, Goldenseal Root, and Sweet Wormwood. This is a supplement that often works well for dogs (and people) with Giardia that conventional medication no longer affects.  These herbs and supplements have proven very effective in creating an unfriendly environment for parasitic organisms such as Giardia.
*Note: Apple Cider Vinegar is a source of acetic acid we add to help extract the minerals out of the bones.
Okay, back to the broth.  The bones from the carcass of the chicken will now be used to make bone broth, which will give Hugo many essential nutrients that will assist him with his healing.  As I mentioned before, we DO NOT FEED COOKED BONES TO DOGS so after we separate the meat from the bones, put the bones back into a pot, add water, a little apple cider vinegar, and simmer for 16-24 hours.  During this process, the bones release their minerals and marrow into the water.  Skim the layer of fat off the top, let cool, and…. Voila!  You have just prepared bone broth!  You can freeze excess broth in containers or even ice cube trays (fun as a summer treat!) to thaw and feed as needed.
The cooked chicken meat will be used for bland diet throughout the week and can be helpful to use for the transition back to Hugo’s regular raw food diet when his system is mended.  For Hugo’s meals this week, I will add bone broth, goat’s milk, and cooked white rice to the boiled chicken meat.
As I mentioned earlier, bone broth has been used for nourishment for hundreds of years and for various reasons for people and pets! You can make bone broth for your pet who is experiencing GI issues, like Hugo, or perhaps for a finicky, senior, or anorexic pet. Other benefits include support for joints, the immune system, and skin and coat health.  You can also make bone broth as a winter comfort for your pet and add it to his/her meals for yummy and nutritive reasons! A lot of pets will eat bone broth towards the end of their lives, when lapping is preferable to chewing.  And it will be a delicious comfort.
What you will need to make chicken bone broth:
  • Water
  • Raw bones (or 1 raw, organic whole chicken if you need the meat)
  • Braggs Organic, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (any vinegar or lemon juice will do if you do not have Braggs)
  • Large pot with lid


Note: *bone broth is not a complete diet and should not be used as such

Eggs for dogs and cats- feed or not to feed?

7 Aug


“Is it safe to feed eggs to my dog or cat?”  This is a question that I am asked by my clients frequently, so I would like to explore the answer thoroughly with the current information we have about eggs and how they affect our dogs and cats nutritionally.  Like many other pet nutrition questions, the answer varies based on your individual dog or cat, but here are the facts as we know them today.


Avidin and biotin deficiency from feeding raw eggs

Uncooked egg whites contain a protein known as avidin, which binds to biotin and causes a biotin deficiency if too many uncooked eggs are fed.  Biotin, more commonly known as vitamin H or B7, is essential for the growth of cells, metabolism of fat, and transference of carbon dioxide, amongst other functions. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include:

  • hyperkeratosis (thickening of the outer layer of skin)
  • increased salivation
  • bloody diarhea
  • hair loss (in cats)
  • dry secretions around the eyes, nose and mouth (in cats)

However, cooking the egg whites inactivates the avidin and removes the risk of biotin deficiency. 

Benefits of feeding eggs to your dog or cat

Eggs provide a unique combination of nutrients, including omega-3s, antioxidant minerals like selenium, and high biological value protein.  Eggs are a nutrient rich, natural, whole food.  The chart below explains what approximate percent of the total nutrient amount is found in the yolk and the white of an egg.  You will notice that the first four nutrient groupings are those that are found predominately in the egg white, while those that follow are found predominately in the egg yolk (all except for the last nutrient, selenium, which is divided fairly evenly between the egg white and yolk).


Nutrient Egg White Egg Yolk
Protein 60% 40%
Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium 10-25%    
Vitamin B3 90% 10%
Vitamin B2 62% 38%
Total Fat 10% 90%
Omega-3 Fats 0% 100%
Vitamins A, D, E, K 0% 100%
Carotenoids 0% 100%
Vitamins B5, B6, B12, Folate, Choline 10% or less 90% or more
Calcium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Iron 10% or less 90% or more
Manganese 30% 70%
Vitamin B1 25% 75%
Biotin 20% 80%
Selenium 41% 59%


Sourcing your eggs

Of course, fresh, local, organic eggs from free roaming hens is best.  This way, you know that the eggs came from hens who were not fed chemicals, antibiotics, growth hormones, medicated feed or were given other unhealthy treatments.  The nutritional value of organic eggs will also be higher than eggs from caged hens.


When not to feed eggs to your dog or cat

Eggs do contain some fat content and may be contraindicated for some animals, such as dogs suffering from pancreatitis or hyperlipidemia.  However, in the absence of a specific contraindication for the fat content, this may not be a major consideration for many pets, especially if the eggs are fed in moderation.


Bottom line

Occasional consumption of raw eggs is not an issue, but if fed in excess, avidin will interfere with the functioning of biotin in your pet’s body.  Even with cooked eggs, moderation is key.  For more information on how many eggs your pet should consume and how often, please contact your veterinarian or pet nutritionist.


Does You Pet Suffer From Seasonal Allergies?

22 Mar


It’s that time of year. Yep. Seasonal allergies. According to a survey conducted by Novartis Animal Health, over half of pet owners aren’t aware their fuzzy family members can also spend the spring season feeling miserable thanks to pollens and other environmental allergens. Unlike humans, who experience mostly respiratory symptoms, dogs and cats will generally exhibit symptoms such as itchy, red and inflamed skin, puffy and red eyes, scratching ears, licking of paws, and rubbing their face and body along the carpet or furniture for relief. This can lead to hot spots, skin and ear infections, eye infections, etc. Respiratory symptoms can occur but are less common, and may include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and runny nose.

Conventional treatment includes prescription steroids, antibiotics, and anti-histamines, which give temporary relief but drive the root issue deeper into the pet’s system, causing their symptoms to be worse with every subsequent year, and in some pets, their symptoms will remain year-round. After several years of this treatment, vets will usually refer the patient to a dermatologist, who will likely recommend allergy testing, allergy injections, and a prescription diet most likely void of nutrients. These are all band-aid type treatments that do not address the root of the allergies- your pet’s immune system. But, don’t despair! There are other options. Nature has provided.

If your pet suffers from seasonal allergies, there is no better time than now to address the root cause. I have experienced great success with allergy-afflicted pets using a variety of support and common sense.

1. Anti-inflammatory Diet!
Every ingredient of your pet’s food affects them. Avoid inflammatory ingredients such as grain and potato. The starch from potatoes and other carbohydrates are converted into sugar pretty quickly in their bodies and an encourages an overgrowth of candida (yeast). The diet plans I formulate are individualized per pet, but I generally recommend minimally processed and/or raw, fresh, wholesome, LIVE foods that consist of high quality meat, organs, fruits, and veggies. This kind of diet contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and enzymes in their natural and unaltered state and are the building blocks for optimal health. Processed pet foods use a manufacturing process which involves high levels of heat which radically alters the chemical structure of food. Proteins are denatured, fats are oxidized and potentially dangerous compounds are produced, such as trans-fatty acids, free radicals and other toxic hydrocarbons. This process “kills” so much of the natural vitamins and minerals that they have to be added synthetically and they are not recognized and utilized nearly as well as they are when given naturally in their “whole food state”.

2. Frequent Bathing
Just like a human dermatologist will recommend, it is a good idea to wash the allergens off the body at the end of the day. Be sure to use a grain free (oatmeal free) shampoo.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Vaccines and Drugs
A pet with allergies already has an overactive immune system. Vaccines will stimulate the immune system further and exacerbate symptoms and minimize long-term relief & health. Talk to your vet about titer options and a Rabies vaccine exemption letter if your pet is due for the Rabies vaccine.

4. Foot Soaks
Dog and cat paw pads are like little sponges and soak up many allergens and toxins throughout the day as they walk on grasses and pavement. Nightly foot soaks will wash the topical residue off, give relief and also reduce the amount of tracking these allergens will have into the house by your pet.

Here are 3 foot soak recipes. They are simple, easy, fast, and effective.

#1 Iodine Foot Soak – removes toxins, disinfects paw wounds, and has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
Iodine is a common disinfectant carried by most pharmacies. It will remove toxins (road salt, herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides) from the surface of your dog’s paws and also reduce inflammation and give relief to itchy paws.
Fill the container you are using with warm water.
Add enough iodine to make the water turn the color of ice tea.
Have your dog or cat stand in or hold his/her paw in the the water/iodine solution for 30 seconds.
Then pat your dog’s or cat’s paws dry.

#2 Apple Cider Vinegar & Hydrogen Peroxide Foot Soak – for yeast infections and irritated paws
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties (primarily from the acetic acid and malic acid in ACV).
Combine one gallon of water with one cup of hydrogen peroxide and one cup of apple cider vinegar.
Soak your dog or cat’s paws in the solution for 30 seconds and then just pat their his/her paws dry.

#3 Apple Cider Vinegar, fresh squeezed Lemon Juice and Peppermint Essential Oil Foot Soak
Peppermint contains cooling essential oils (such as menthol) and has antiseptic and slightly anesthetic properties. Directions:
Combine one gallon of water with one cup of apple cider vinegar, the fresh juice of one lemon and 20 drops of
peppermint essential oil. Just soak for 30 seconds and then pat your dog’s or cat’s paws dry.

The following herbs can also be added to the recipes above:

Chamomile – chamomile is a non-toxic soothing all natural additive. Just add a few chamomile tea bags to the liquid solution wait a few minutes and then soak your dog’s feet in the solution. You can also prepare the tea as you normally would (as you would to drink it), just wait for it to cool down and add it to the liquid solution.

Green Tea – green tea (use decaffeinated only) is a non-toxic and rich in antioxidants – an aid to healing. Just add a few green tea bags to the liquid solution wait a few minutes and then soak your dog’s feet in the solution. You can also prepare the tea as you normally would (as you would to drink it), just wait for it to cool down and add it to the liquid solution.

MOST IMPORTANT is to attain long-term allergy resistance through a healthy immune system! This works from the inside out via an anti-inflammatory diet and allergy-fighting supplements including probiotics, Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other specific supplements that I recommend on an individual basis.

Stop the allergy cycle and let Nature heal!!!

Toxins and their effect on pets

17 Mar


Where Do Toxins Come From and How do They Get Into Your Pet?

Toxins can get into your pet’s system via many ways. There are the casual, everyday toxins from chemical household cleaners, polluted air, motor oil, mold & mildew, and more. Toxins also enter your pet’s body by way of drugs; these include vaccines, over the counter and prescription drugs such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and anti-fungal drugs. Some drugs are recommended monthly to prevent heartworm, fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites. And then there are the chemicals in preservatives and artificial colors that are often found in some commercial foods and treats. Toxins are also found in the water they drink, and plastic toys and bowls. Toxins are everywhere they turn, as they inhale, ingest, and absorb them through their skin.

More and more pets are suffering from an array of chronic ailments ranging from common symptoms like bad body odor, smelly breath, greasy or dry coat, to more serious conditions such as recurring skin, ear, eye infections, digestive problems, allergies, asthma, kidney failure, and even cancer. These ailments are actually signs that their bodies are working hard to push toxins out of their systems. It is no wonder, as their immune systems do have a limit and can only take so much.

What To Do?

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help lighten your pet’s toxic load.
1. A wholesome, fresh, species-appropriate diet will promote a healthy immune system.
2. Detoxification – to be done via nutrition and herbs with the supervision of your pet’s nutrition counselor or holistic veterinarian. This is extremely beneficial for just about any dog or cat.
3. Discuss titer tests as an alternative to vaccines with your veterinarian.
4. Eliminate unnecessary toxins from your pet’s environment, food, and medical protocol.
5. Use BPA-free toys and dishes

If you would like individual assessment and counseling for your pet, please contact me.