Rodney Habib and the IACP Educational Conference

Hello there. So, it’s been just a little while since I last wrote. I am ashamed to say its been nearly 4 years. As many of you know, I am a professional dog trainer and I started my business approximately 5 years ago. Things took off and I am sad to say that in the craziness this blog was put to the wayside. Unfortunately so did my dogs diets as well as my own. Enough is enough! I have a new found commitment to health especially for my dogs!

Rainy and Hobbes

Best buds, puppies Rainy (>1 year) and Hobbes (1.5 years)

About this time last year I adopted a new puppy, Rainy. Rainy is now just over a year old and will eat pretty much anything I put in front of her. She is basically a walking garbage disposal just like little Daisy. Sure makes feeding her easy. The key is not over feeding. Then on the other end of the spectrum we have Nakia, Rose and Sensi the cat who are SUPER picky! And right in the middle we have my boyfriends dog, Hobbes,  a beautiful red Doberman. So now we have 5 dogs and a cat to feed…oh and did I mention I also currently have 16 chickens? All that and with all the dogs who come into our care with the business it almost seems like all we do all day is feed the hordes. Why am I telling you all this? I guess to try to help you understand why I fell back into the ease of kibble. BUT NO MORE! As you may guess, feeding this many dogs a raw diet takes up A LOT of fridge and freezer space. So, I found a used mini fridge on Facebook Market Place (negotiated down from his asking price of $75 to $45. Quite proud of myself!) which I will be picking up today and have been stocking up on meat, supplements, Tupperware, etc. Sooo…keep an eye out for more posts to come. I promise you will not have to wait another 4 years for the next one.

 

With all that being said, on to today’s actual post. This last week my boyfriend (who also happens to be my employee) and I attended the IACP Educational Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. No not the Insane Clown Posse conference, the International Association of Canine Professionals. Basically 4 days of dog talk and fun! While there I had the privilege to see Rodney Habib speak. If you have not seen any of this guys YouTube videos. I highly suggest checking them out. If you follow our Facebook page you have more than likely viewed one of his videos. I re-post them a lot.

Rodney Habib

Rodney Habib speaking at the IACP Educational Conference

Speaking the first day, I was ecstatic to see his presentation. I have been a fan for quite a while and the topic he choose sounded very interesting. K9 Bio Hacks for a Better Brain and Body. He spoke quite a bit about the ingredients of most dog food kibble on the market today. Did you know, the average bag of dog food contains 40%-70% carbs and starches? That includes grain-free bags! He spoke of the amount of sugar in a bag of dog food and the results were absolutely shocking. Here is the link for a video by Rodney Habib discussing the sugar content of a few major brands of dog food, including some that are prescription diets. With all of this, it’s no wonder so many pets today are obese.

So, WHAT ARE the 5 Bio Hacks for a Better Body and Brain according to Rodney Habib?

  1. ADD HUMAN FOOD – as a trainer, it always makes me sad when people tell me veggiesmixduring a consultation, “don’t worry we don’t feed Fluffy human food”. Many people don’t understand that what we really want to hear is that you are not feeding Fluffy from the table and that you are feeding Fluffy fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables. You’d be surprised to hear how many people feed Fluffy, “a Wendy’s kid’s meal and Twinkies for dessert”. Or something along these lines.
  2. EXERCISE
    Pack hikes in the mountains

    Dogs exercising their minds and their bodies hiking in the mountains with a pack and following their pack leader.

    and no, letting your dog run around in the back yard doesn’t count. That is unless your back yard is 5+ acres, then possibly.

  3. DOGS FED LESS LIVE LONGER – “Study findings revealed that the median lifespan of the lean-fed dogs was extended by 15%, or almost 2 years”! Except for the chihuahuas we fast our dogs…well kind of. I always feel guilty so it’s technically just a bone day where they receive some kind of weight bearing bone to chew on.

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    Slide from Rodney’s Presentation

  4. MIX COCONUT OIL WITH OMEGA-3s – Now this one was a surprise to me. I had heard that it was bad to feed the two oils together as they counter act one another. However, upon more research it seems that it is more beneficial to feed them together. Rodney also talk liking fish sources with shorter life spans, like anchovies or sardines because these have less time to absorb the pollutants from our oceans.
  5. CHANGE THE DIET – Assuming you don’t feed any raw food at all at the moment and are reading out of either curiosity or research, Rodney Habib suggests that feeding even a little raw or fresh food can make a big difference. He claims that even changing 20% of the diet to fresh food can vastly lower your dog’s chance of disease.

I highly recommend checking out Rodney Habib’s YouTube channel. He has some really great information, recipes, etc on there. I also recommend checking out Dr. Karen Becker a veterinarian with a lot of really great things to say about pet nutrition as well. Dr. Becker also took part in the new documentary Pet FOOleD which you can find on Netflix.

 

 

 

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Butternut Squash Garden Veg Puree

Squash from our garden

Squash from our garden

I know I recently talked about the benefits of pumpkin, and the benefits of butternut squash are not far off, but I love it so much that I had to write about it. This year we attempted (successfully I might add) to grow our own butternut squash. This magical winter squash is one of the healthiest vegetables you can feed to your dog. It is higher in Vitamin-C than any other winter squash. It is also a packed full of fiber, vitamin A and potassium. Vitamin-c helps boost your dog’s immune system while vitamin-A helps with vision health.

For the Butternut Squash Garden Veg Puree I started off by peeling, seeding and cutting up the squash. 20130930_160935[1]

I then pureed the squash in a few different batches because it quickly filled my food processor. I added olive oil to the puree to help my processor out. 20130930_161459[1]

I then separately pureed some Swiss chard, kale and a pear from my garden. I also added some apple cider vinegar and some more olive oil.

20130930_162242[1]I then mixed all the purees together. You can do this all in one batch if you use smaller quantities or if you have a giant blender…which I don’t.

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And, Voila! You have a big mixing bowl full of veggy puree. I bagged it up into six labeled and dated freezer zip locks and one small tupperware. The tupperware portion will be served up for the pups meals for the next week or so and the freezer bags will keep me stocked for a while. Of course, I still have plenty of produce  growing in my garden so I’ll probably make a couple more fresh purees before the snow really starts to fall.

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Peanut-Butter Trail Crunchies

Peanut butter face

Peanut butter face

I have been looking everywhere for a biscuit or cookie recipe that does not contain any wheat. I finally stumbled across one when flipping through the latest issue of The Bark magazine. I then adapted their recipe, Granola Peanut-Butter Crunchies, adding my own twist. You can find the original recipe at TheBark.com/recipes. Here you will also find a recipe for homemade peanut butter that my dogs went absolutely crazy for. If you are following either The Bark’s Granola Peanut-Butter Crunchies or my Peanut Butter Trail Crunchies recipe and wish to make your own homemade peanut butter you will need to triple the recipe to have enough. Also, The Bark’s recipe just calls for pumpkin seeds. The only pumpkin seeds I could find were shelled and I spent a lot of time shelling. So, if you can find unshelled pumpkin seeds, I strongly suggest that route.

For my Peanut-Butter Trail Crunchies you will need:

  • 2 cups 100% Natural Whole Grain Old Fashioned Oats (not instant)

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  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

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  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

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  • 1 tablespoon golden flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup shredded or grated coconut (I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips)

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  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried apples

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  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used raw honey)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted peanut butter (preferably homemade)

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  • 3/4 cup almond milk

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Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

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2. Grind pumpkin and sunflower seeds slightly in a food processor.

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3. Combine seed mixture, flaxseed meal, coconut, and dried fruit in a medium-size bowl.

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4. Heat the coconut oil and honey long enough to soften.

5. Slightly beat egg in a small bowl.

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6. Put the peanut butter and almond milk into a food processor and process until mixed.

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7. Add the egg, honey and coconut oil and mix again.

8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the medium-sized bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon. It should be at a consistency that can easily be rolled into balls. If it seems too wet add a more flaxseed meal in small quantities.

9. Roll into small balls. I made two sheets of different sized balls. Large balls for big dogs on one sheet and small balls for little dogs on the other sheet. You can space them close together. Bake for 20 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

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10. Cool balls on a rack and store in an airtight container.

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These turned out to be a big success. I took them to the training center and tested them on the dogs there. 15 out of 16 dogs LOVED them. The rest of the evening, whenever I would walk by the kennels the dogs would get out of their beds and sit nicely by the door with hopeful looks and drooling jowls. These treats also made my house smell delicious. I tried a nibble myself and while a little dry for my taste they were pretty good. I really debated about posting my recipe because I think I may start selling these through my business. So enjoy while you can. I may delete this post in the future and lock the recipe in my vault. 🙂

Thanks to Rose, none of the peanut butter went to waste.

Thanks to Rose, none of the peanut butter went to waste.

The girls licking the bowl. They love it when I bake.

The girls licking the bowl. They love it when I bake.

Ruby loved 'em...

Ruby loved ’em…

...Foxy loved'em...

…Foxy loved’em…

...Tucker loved'em...

…Tucker loved’em…

...Athena loved'em...

…Athena loved’em…

...Kernal loved'em...

…Kernal loved’em…

...Neo,  not so much.

…Neo, not so much.

An assault on my nostrils.

IMAG1529As I mentioned in my last post, I bought some offal to dehydrate. For those of you who do not know what offal is, it is organs. My friend Ali always refers to it as “awful offal”. And after my attempt to dry liver, I will also probably be referring to it this way in the future. I decided to try drying the offal products not only because its fun to try new things but because trying to get Rosalie to eat liver is like trying to get a  five-year-old to eat brussel sprouts. I have try so many different things to get her to it. Mixing it with vegetables, other meats, drenching it in fish oil, making various purees, etc. However, as you read in my previous post I finally succeeded in this quest before I started drying. The answer was so simple too. Just try a different kind of liver in this case it was chicken. I had previously only tried beef.

This did not deter me from dehydrating though. Although, after the stench of the liver wafting through my house for several days makes me wish it had.

I began by rinsing all the offal. The chicken hearts, gizzards and livers I just plopped right on to the dryer racks after their rinse. The beef liver I sliced into long strips before setting on the racks. I turned on my dehydrator and left for work. I do not know what temperature it was set at because my dryer does not have the option to set different temperatures. When I returned about 7 hours later, my nostrils were assaulted as soon as I opened my front door. I do not suggest drying liver inside your home! If you can, do it outside somewhere, like in your garage, DO IT! Unfortunately I do not have this option so I am now cursed with a house that smells really, really bad. Hopefully the smell will dissipate soon. Otherwise I may have to move. 😉

IMAG1482The other problem I had when drying the liver was that it stuck to my racks and was very difficult to get off. I am still soaking and scrubbing the trays from the first batch. For the second batch of beef liver (hey, my house already reaks might as well get it all done now), I sprayed the rack with Canola Oil cooking spray. This made a world of difference. It was SO much easier to get off the racks.

IMAG1477I will probably never dry liver again. The dogs loved the smell though. You know how your house smells when you have some delicious dish cooking all day in your slow cooker? Well, this is how I imagine my house smells to them. They spent a lot of the evening with their noses in the air taking in the doggie goodness.

I didn’t have any problem with the hearts and gizzards and will most likely dry them again in the future. The dogs love them too. Rose even liked the dried beef liver! Another offal success.

IMAG1490Unfortunately, I think I left my dehydrator on for too long. After two days of drying, I woke up this morning to a partially melted drying rack. Also, don’t strain the scalding hot water from your dinner’s pasta onto the plastic trays sitting in the sink. This will also melt them.

Pre-dried Beef Liver

Pre-dried Beef Liver

Pre-dried chicken hearts and gizzards

Pre-dried chicken hearts and gizzards

Pre-dried chicken livers and beef livers

Pre-dried chicken livers and beef livers

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Dried beef livers

Dried beef livers

Dried chicken livers

Dried chicken livers

Dried chicken hearts and gizzards

Dried chicken hearts and gizzards

The finished product

The finished product

Nutritious and delicious: Dehydrating treats for your dog.

IMG_20130214_214503  “In November 2011 the Food and Drug Administration issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products from China after receiving over 1,000 reports of illness associated with the consumption of the product.” (Palika, 2013) With all the recalls on chicken jerky treats from China this last year I have become more and more wary of commercial dog treats. And if I’m making the big move away from commercial dog food why not treats as well. For my birthday last year my mom gave me my very own food dehydrator. Never would I have thought when I was younger that I would start asking for kitchen appliances as Christmas and birthday presents. (I got a bread maker for Christmas last year and hope for canning supplies this year.)

Most meats, fruits and vegetables can be dried, such as:

  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pig
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Carrots

Don’t be afraid to get a little creative! Only use things that are fresh though. Don’t dehydrate anything for your dogs that you wouldn’t eat yourself. In fact, when I’m dehydrating stuff for me I usually put aside a portion of it for the dogs.

Dehydrating homemade treats for your dog removes moisture thus inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. The nutrients, however remain intact unlike cooking the treats because the temperatures used in dehydration are lower.

Be careful not to over-dry your treats. Certain foods will lose their nutrients if dried too much. You will know when your meat and fish are dry when they are leathery and tough. Fats might still appear moist making them a little more tricky to tell when dry. The leaner the cut of meat the better it will dry. Vegetables will be crisp. dried bananasFruits will have no more spots of moisture but are still pliable. Tear the piece of fruit in half, if there are no more spots of moisture then it is done. Some fruits need to be pre-treated before dehydration to prevent discoloration. Mix about 3 cups of water with a few tablespoons of lemon juice and dip the fruit in the mixture before dehydration. Also check your foods every couple of hours. They all dry at different rates. After drying store in air tight containers preferably in the fridge or freezer.

I will be making a batch of Flaxseed Salmon Treats soon so keep an eye out for that post. Happy drying!

Citation:

-Palika, Liz. (2013 Annual) Do-It-Yourself Dehydrated Dog Treats. Natural Dog, 28 – 35.

Dreams of owning a freezer

IMG_20130303_121156Earlier this week I stopped by my favorite place to get meat for the dogs, Clay Meier’s Game Processing only to find the doors locked. When I told my friend this she told me, “yeah, it’s their off season so we have to call ahead to get meat now.” This made sense. I don’t know why I thought a game processing place would be open even with no game to process. Although, I have to admit I really have no idea when actual hunting season is. I just start seeing men in camo and hunter’s orange on my usual hiking trails or sitting in their big trucks on the side of the road peering up the mountain side with binoculars glued to their eyes.

IMAG0715So, we called ahead and the owner’s, who live on site, were out of town but had someone coming in Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00. Because there were several of us who were trying to get products from Meier’s and the time window was so small we possed-up so that one or two of us could go down and get meat for the rest of us. (Thanks Jill!) My friend Ali and I usually split a 48 pound box of ground deer and elk meat with bones because neither of us can fit 48 one pound blocks in our freezer. Hell, I can barely fit the 24 pounds in mine.

IMAG1277Earlier in the day on Saturday, my landlord came to the house to take his beehive from the back yard. Unfortunately during the winter, moisture had gotten into the hive and killed all the bees. When he opened it up, the bodies just poured out. It is so sad to see tens of thousands of honey bees laying lifeless in a heap. The silver lining though is that they left most of their hive full of honey. My landlord was nice enough to give a rack which I am going to process myself and use for both me and the dogs. IMAG1288

Later in the day I stopped by my cousin’s house. While I was there she handed me an egg carton. Opening it revealed  a rainbow of chicken eggs. Green and brown, big and small! The picture really doesn’t do it justice. And here, yet another wonderful thing the dogs and I can share.

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That is one of the reasons I love feeding my dogs the way I do. We can share our food. If I get too much of something for me to eat, I can often give the left overs to the dogs. It also reduces the amount of food I waste. They help me eat things before they go bad.

freezerSaturday just seemed to be falling together as a stock up day for me. I never in a million years would have thought that someday I would have dreams of owning a stand alone freezer. Some day when it is more in the budget, or when I find one for super cheap that I can justify putting on my credit card, I will own an upright freezer.

So in the spirit of the day, I stopped by The Dog’s Meow to check out their green tripe selection. I picked up a few different packs of green tripe. OC Raw Dog has a frozen green tripe which The Dog’s Meow sells for about $7 for what I beleive is a pound. IMAG1294I also picked up some canned beef green tripe by tripett. They make green tripe from many different animals. Unfortunately, The Dog’s Meow was sold out of the lamb tripe so I got the beef. The sales associate told me they will be getting buffalo tripe in soon as well. The tripett beef green tripe costs about $2.50 a can at The Dog’s Meow. You can also buy a case of 12 cans for $32.99 from Amazon with free shipping which works out to be about $2.75 a can.

IMAG1296After my trip to The Dog’s Meow, I made a run to my local grocery store and bought a bunch of their clearance meat. I bought a little over 5 pounds of pork chops, half of which had bones and about 3 1/2 pounds of chicken drum sticks, all for total of about $15.00. Then came the really challenging part of my day, trying to get it all in my freezer, minus the cans, honey and eggs of course. Now you can really see why I need a freezer, ha ha. IMAG1297

How do I start feeding my dog raw?

I like to tell people who want to know where to begin feeding there dog a RAW diet to start small and build slowly. I started out by adding just a little of Stella & Chewy’s frozen raw patties to my dogs kibble.20394 I began by adding about a quarter patty to Zuke and Nakia’s food for about a week or two then slowly built from there. Eventually I got to the point where I would feed them kibble 5 days a week, fast them on the 6th day and feed strictly the RAW patties on the 7th day. I then started increasing the number of RAW days.

Feeding a pre-made raw food like Stella and Chewy’s is an easy and convenient way to feed RAW. My dogs loved Stella and Chewy’s but it got pretty expensive for me. Plus, I could not stand the smell. It was torture for me every time I had to prepare their meals. I am glad I switched because I really enjoy putting together the components of their meals myself, I find it more rewarding. If you are interested in taking the already prepared RAW approach, I suggest Stella & Chewy’s.  Plus, they also make RAW food for your cat.

When I say, “just start out simple” I mean to add things gradually. Don’t go all out right at the beginning. Of course, if you have done your research and want to start out big, feel free. For the average beginner though, start with something simple. Start adding pieces of raw chicken pieces or a little bit of ground beef on top of their kibble.

Great source of Omega-3 for your dog. Only $5.99 from Costco!

Great source of Omega-3 for your dog. Only $5.99 from Costco!

I also suggest starting out with fish oil. I love the capsules of fish oil from Costco. It’s only $5.99 for 400 soft gels. Most dogs will just gobble them up with the rest of their food. I give Nakia 2 capsules at night with dinner and cut open 2 capsules and drizzle over Rosalie’s food. I have been told that Alaskan Naturals Wild Salmon Oil (currently $25.89 for a 32 oz bottle on Amazon) is a winner but I have not tried it myself. It comes in a pump bottle and is much more convenient for dogs like Rose who can not eat the capsules. I don’t mind the extra work of cutting open the capsules though so I prefer to go with the cheaper option.

Slowly work up to larger portions. Your dog’s stomach pH needs time to adjust to the change in diet. It is best to start with bland, easy to digest foods, like chicken. Worry about vegetables and organ meat later. Don’t get too crazy at first with protein sources either.

dog with boneLet your dog get used to it. I like to tell people to start with raw bones too. You can find raw beef marrow bones at your local butcher. They will usually cut them into smaller pieces for you.

You may find as you are building up to more and more RAW meals that your dog begins to refuse to eat his or her normal kibble. He or she now knows there is a better option. Don’t worry, your dog is not going to let itself starve to death. However, if your dog goes a few days without eating at all, see your Vet asap. It could be a sign of something more serious.

Some people start feeding their dogs RAW using what is known as the cold turkey method. With this method, you stop feeding kibble immediately start feeding all RAW. Of course, your dog will most likely have an upset stomach and the runs for the first little bit. I personally did not want to cause my dogs the stomach upset so I used the slow method.

Keep in mind while most dogs do really well on RAW it is not necessarily for every dog. If your dog just doesn’t seem to enjoy it or suffers from lots of tummy upset it just may not be for him.