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homemade balanced dog food

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The Liver Cleansing Diet

Receiving abnormal blood test results can be very unsettling for dog owners. Be thorough in your research and seek out experts, and remember: the internet can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Gather as much information as you can and discuss with reliable sources. Dr. Jean Dodds, an expert in thyroid disease, immunology and nutrition, formulated a liver cleansing diet for dogs that has helped save and prolong many dogs’ lives. If your vet has handed you a diagnosis of liver disease, try this diet before you panic. Dogs with numbers though the roof and on the brink of complete liver failure, have bounced back from switching to this diet alone.

You can feed this home made formulation for for up to three months before you have to worry about balancing it out with out with additional ingredients and supplements. Before rebalancing, have your dog’s blood rechecked.

Ingredients: 

1.5 cups white potatoes 1.5 cups sweet potatoes 1.5 cups of zucchini 1.5 cups string beans or celery *2 cups cod fillet (or pollock)

*Cod is ideal but some dogs will not eat it. In this case, you can use chicken breast (skinless)

Preparation: 

Peel the potatoes, chop and simmer until thoroughly cooked. Drain and mash. While the potatoes are cooking, wash and chop the zucchini and string beans or celery and cook until very tender. Poach the cod in a pan with some water. Mix all ingredients together until it is well blended.

If your dog is a picky eater it might help to cook the fish first, then use the water to steam veggies or cook potatoes.

Feed three (or four) equal meals per day; breakfast, dinner and before bed. It is especially important for dogs with impaired liver function to eat before bed.

I recommend preparing the recipe in double sized batches, and freezing what you won’t use within a couple of days.

How much to feed depends on the dog, but this a low fat diet and you will need to use considerably more of this food than you would kibble. The measurements above will feed a 10-pound dog for 2 – 3 days. If your dog is bigger, then double or triple this recipe. Once cooked, it will keep for 3 days in the fridge so freeze any excess.

The only downside to feeding this diet is the smell. If you don’t cook fish often, it may bother you. But it’s only temporary, and your dog’s health is more important, right?

Please keep in mind that artificial air fresheners and fabric sprays are toxic, so please don’t try to cover up cooking odors with them. Here are some safe alternatives.

It is worth noting that beneficial supplements for the liver include Milk Thistle Powder and SamE (see dosages below). You may include them with this diet, but I recommend first letting your dog get used to the food, and then adding supplements later. Continue them long term even after your dog’s numbers improve.

Milk Thistle (powder or capsules) dosage: 70 – 200 mg per 5 kg of body weight SAMe  Dosage: 100 mg per 5 kg of body weight – empty stomach

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The Connection Between Diet and Behaviour

By now most of us know that the food we eat directly affects our mind. Studies have proven that kids who consume a lot of “convenience foods” as opposed to fresh, whole foods, have greater difficulty concentrating, learning and managing conflict. It’s down to the second brain - you know, those neurons in the small intestine that send messages to the main brain. This gut-brain is responsible for a large portion of our emotional state. It’s true. Think about how diet affects people with Autism. The first part of treatment is to remove all food colouring, chemicals, preservatives, etc from the diet. In every case the result is a decrease in symptoms. What does this have to do with dogs? Everything. They have the same neurons in their guts, and I’ve personally witnessed positive behaviour changes that have coincided with a change in diet. Possibly, so have you.

I often use Boxers a prime example since so many on them seem to have “sensitive stomachs.” They also happen to be a relatively high-strung breed who often end up on veterinary “prescription” diets to curb diarrhea. The diarrhea might go away, but the anxious state remains. I believe this is down to their body’s need for, and drastic lack of bioavailable nutrients in the kibble (such as B vitamins) which are crucial in times of stress and anxious episodes.

Consider also, the fact that 50 to 90 percent of people with IBS suffer from a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety or depression, even when the disease is not active. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada is funding an investigation to examine the link between depression and changes in the bacterial composition of the gut. This will determine what, if any, are the physiological responses to a person’s emotional state. I’m not betting on the “if any.”

If you have a dog who suffers from anxiety or exhibits behavioral problems that you can’t seem to correct, it might be worth considering that it might be due to digestive issues - chronic loose stool or mucousy stool can be a sign. A diet change might be the answer. After all, if your dog doesn’t maintain a healthy-gut-brain connection, all the training and behaviour modification in the world will be in vain – kind of like teaching a dog with a broken leg how to fetch. If you would like to provide a fresh home-cooked diet for your dog, I would be happy to help. Your holistic veterinarian can also offer guidance on home cooking, raw feeding, and supplementation. If you don’t have holistic vet, here’s how to find one.

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"Wholesome and Complete for Canines"

Ten years ago, I got a puppy. I brought him home, and about a week or so later, thought, as I scopped kibble into a bowl, "this can't be right." It made no sense to me that something so "convenient" could be healthy and balanced. Within another week, I was cooking for my dog. I was probably doing it wrong, but I believed then and I still believe that a dog needs fresh food. That was just the start. I began to study and read every good resource on the subject of home-cooking. Believe me, the information (although we don't have nearly enough) is overwhelming, because so much of it is conflicting and based on small studies and anecdotes. For now though, I'm ok with this, because common sense dictates that real food is better than processed. The more I learned on the subject, the more I realized what a huge responsibility it would be (not to mention how difficult) to instruct other dog owners how to home-cook. So naturally, I delved even deeper.

The scientific part of my education came from my studies through CASI, where I've earned a certificate and in both Canine Nutrition and Advanced Canine Nutrition. The holistic component came from reading materials by Dr. Strombeck, Dr. Pitcairn, Dr. Dodds, etc. I also attend seminars on nutrition whenever I can. Seminars are great because I learn the latest, both opinions and facts. I have a working relationship with a highly respected veterinarian who assists on some of my cases. She is at the forefront of nutrition research and it's an honour to have her reviewing and approving many of my diets.

It has taken me years to get here, but I'm finally ready to officially assume that resposiblity. Using the requirements of the National Research Council, I'm now formutlating balanced, home cooked meals for individual dogs. This means your dog's new diet will be tailor made to meet the nutrient requirements for a dog his age and size. But beyond that I'll use ingredients your dog enjoys and is known to tolerate. We'll work together to ensure the plan is working, making necessary adjustments along the way.

Commercial dog food, with a few notable exceptions, is making our pets sick. The number of dogs I meet with skin diseases, supressed immunity, kidney and liver problems, diabetes, heart issues, etc, is staggering. Yes, more dogs, poor breeding practices and over-vaccination all carry some of the blame, but we are what we eat. Like humans, what your dog eats plays an integral role in their health and behaviour. Think of food as the foundation. We need to start there to build healthy canines. I don't believe we can truly achieve the greatest potential for health by feeding kibble. How would that be possible? It's no secret how kibble is made, and that most manufaturers add flavour enhancers and scents to entice your dog. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about labels and laws and ingredients so that you can make a conscious choice on behalf of your pet. You cannot trust large corporations to do this for you. They've proven that.

Many people wait until their dog is sick to make the transition, which tells me they do believe in the power of food. But it's often marketing and pressure from some vets that won't allow the lightbulb to go off before that. Picture the commercials, or bags of food with images of fresh cuts of meat, whole grains and vegetables. Why not just feed those things to your dog instead of what's left over after processing, extruding and rendering? Ok, I'm over-siplifying a little; of course you do want to ensure balance, but we're lead to believe that's only achievable though processed, commercial products. I promise you, that's not the case.

My goal is to make cooking for your dog fun, easy, economical and fast. I've always said it, and I'll continue to say it, even if you cannot commit completely to feeding fresh food, every bit helps. It may feel overwhelming in the beginning, but once it becomes a part of your life, you won't look back, and the rewards are incredible. Let's Do This!

Click here to read my testimonials so far and follow along on Twitter @wholesomecanine

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