Archive for September, 2014

6 Benefits of Walking Your Dog

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Happy National Walk Your Dog Week!

National Walk Your Dog Week is Oct. 1st – 7th. Here are some benefits of walking your dog.

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6 Benefits of Walking Your Dog

-Exercise (stay fit and healthy)

-Energy outlet (less destructive behaviors in the house)

-Build your bond (gain trust and strengthen your relationship)

-Digestion aid (moving helps digestion for you and your dog)

-Live longer (dogs that receive regular exercise live longer!)

-Exercise for you too (staying active has many of the same benefits for people and dogs–use each other to help keep motivated to be healthy!)

Try taking your dog on a walk every day this week (even if it’s a short one!) and see what differences you see in yourself and your dog!

Friday Funny 9.26.14

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Happy Friday Funny! Have you met Jimmy Choo the Bull Terrier yet? How cute is he?!

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Eat Better Eat Together (Guest Post!)

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

EAT BETTER EAT TOGETHER MONTH

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We are excited to welcome Urban Dogg to our Broomfield complex family! They have a plethora of good information about canine and feline nutrition. In honor of Eat Better Eat Together Month, here is a great article written by Urban Dogg Broomfield’s store manager, Sarah.

Before the beginning of this year, I used to joke with customers that my cat ate a healthier, more evolutionarily appropriate diet than I did, but then I realized this was ridiculous.  Why was I prioritizing my pet’s health over my own, and why not eat better together?  I had transitioned him from a kibble and canned food diet to a raw food diet in January 2013, and I could see his health benefit from the change within a month.  His coat was softer, he had no dander, his drippy eye cleared up, and his bloated belly had slimmed.  So why was I continuing to eat processed “kibble-esque” food myself?  My habits had to change; it was a sad fact that my cat was healthier than I was.

I started to think critically about what I was eating, and I started to set standards for myself and ask questions about the food I was eating.  Where was my food being sourced from?  Where was it manufactured?  How many pesticides had been sprayed on my fruits and veggies?  What were all these unpronounceable chemicals being added to my food that made it more of a food-like product than real food?  Is the meat I’m eating hormone and antibiotic free, and were the animals raised humanly?  These were my standards for choosing a pet food, so they became my standards for selecting my food as well.  I started shopping at farmers markets, Sprouts, and Whole Foods, and I generally avoided the center aisles of the grocery store where all the processed, shelf-stable food was kept.  Though it is easy to survive on the processed foods, was I thriving on them?  Probably not, and the same was true for my pet. So let’s eat better together!

We’ve traditionally been taught through marketing, and even some of our veterinarians, that kibble and canned food are what animals are meant to eat and are the healthiest diets for them.  The alternatives to kibble are not as well known and I’d like to give you some information about all the different diet options your pet has.

First, I’d like to explain my argument against an exclusively kibble diet. Dogs are very genetically similar to wolves. There’s nothing in the wild that a wolf would eat that is even the slightest bit similar to kibble.  A wolf does not consume corn, wheat, soy, rice, or potatoes in the wild; yet somehow these ingredients have become the most common kibble ingredients for both dogs and cats.  Wolves are also not consuming food that is cooked at high temperatures or of such a crunchy consistency.  It just doesn’t make much sense to be feeding these things to our furry family members.  So what are the alternatives?

For kibble diets, I strongly recommend sticking to smaller, independently-owned brands.  They have much stronger control over the sourcing of their ingredients as well as the production.  They are less likely to experience recalls because of their higher level of quality control, and they are more likely to be transparent about their business practices, from where they source their ingredients to where and how they manufacture and pack their ingredients.  In order to avoid low-quality foods with questionable sourcing of ingredients, I strongly recommend shopping for pet food at independent retailers.  Many smaller food companies will only sell their foods to these independent stores and these stores are less likely to carry foods that have experienced recalls and more likely to be informed about the recalls that are happening.

My main suggestion is incorporating non-kibble or canned foods into your pets diet.  This can come in the form of raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, or air-dried food.  You can even make your own raw dog food from raw meat and fresh produce.  There are a number of recipes online to follow if this is the route you choose to take.  If you’d prefer not to take this route, there are other options! I will go over raw, dehydrated and freeze-dried diets in the next few paragraphs.

Raw food may sound gross, I know; it took me a while to come around to the idea of feeding it to my pet.  The FDA claims it is more dangerous to you and your family, but treat it as you would any other raw meat you cook with, washing your hands after touching it, and you will be fine.  It is also perfectly safe for your pet to consume.  Their digestive tract is much shorter and more acidic that the human gut.  They process their food much faster than we do and any bacteria left in the food will be killed by the acids in their stomach and intestines.  Still concerned about bacteria?  Choose a pre-made food that tests for bacteria in every batch and takes precautions such as high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) in treating their meat for salmonella and E. Coli.  Primal Pet Foods treats all of their poultry with HPP prior to mixing the food.  Stella & Chewys treats all of their raw meat with HPP.  Smallbatch uses organic apple cider vinegar to kill the bad bacteria on raw meat.   Most of these brands allow you to search the batch number on their website to pull up the results of their pathogen tests for individual batches.  Because raw food is much richer than kibble or canned diets, I recommend a slow introduction of it into your pets diet.  A little bit of raw goes a long way; the nutrients in raw food are unprocessed and bio-available.  Feeding your pets a raw diet is as close as you can get to the diet they would consume in the wild. Along with it’s being easier for your pet to digest than kibble, you also end up feeding smaller quantities on a raw diet since it is so nutrient dense.

Raw food still sound gross to you?   Try a dehydrated diet, like Honest Kitchen, that comes in a variety of complete and balanced formulas as well as base-mixes where you just add your own protein.  It only takes minutes to rehydrate with warm water and is much less processed than canned food.  One 4 pound box of Honest Kitchen makes the equivalent of 21 13oz cans of dog food, and it costs less because you aren’t paying for the cost of packaging and processing.  This can easily be mixed with kibble, or fed separately, and it ends up looking like oatmeal once it is rehydrated.  It is also 100% human-grade, so try it if you dare!

Freeze-dried foods are another great option.  Most freeze-dried foods are either steamed at low temperatures prior to the freeze-drying process or freeze-dried from a completely raw state.  Freeze-drying is a process that usually takes about 48 hours, where all of the moisture from the food is slowly removed, without damaging the integrity of the food and the nutrients within.  Freeze-dried foods, however, take longer to rehydrate than dehydrated foods.  Primal and Stella & Chewys both make freeze-dried versions of their raw food, which many people use as a food attractant/topper for kibble or canned food by simply crumbling it over the top.  These two brands give you the option of rehydrating the food or not.  They provide a chunkier/meatier texture for your dog than the dehydrated food, which some dogs prefer.  I also always advocate a high-moisture diet for pets, so I recommend rehydrating all freeze-dried diets to prevent your pet from becoming dehydrated. Plus, many common ailments, like kidney issues and urinary tract infections can be prevented with high-moisture diets, especially if your dog or cat does not drink as much water as they should.

Lastly, there are air-dried meat diets available.  These typically look like beef jerky and are slow-cooked at low temperatures, between 135 and 147 degrees.   These are great as kibble-toppers for picky pups and for dogs with a lot of allergies as they have few ingredients compared to other foods.

This is a lot of information, but if I had to break it down into a few points for choosing a healthier dog food or adding healthier components to your dogs diet, these would be them:

Less processing = healthier.  Kibble and canned foods are cooked at very high temperatures and once cooked retain a fraction of their original nutrient value.  Many highly processed foods have to add in synthetic vitamins to make them complete and balanced, however these are not absorbed or utilized as easily as naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

Source of ingredients matters.  Ingredients sourced from China make dogs sick every day and are the main cause of food recalls industry-wide.  To lessen the likelihood of your dog getting sick from a food, be picky and stick to foods where ingredients are sourced from: United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and European Union nations.  You’ll spend a tiny bit more money on the food, but you will also prevent a massive veterinarian bill as well.

Talk to the people at your local, independent pet food retailer.  They are typically trained very well, receive more animal nutrition training than a veterinarian, and are informed about pet food recalls as they happen (not after they make your pet sick).  They are also able to take specific details you provide about your pet’s allergies, activity level, and nutritional requirements and tailor them to a specific diet recommendation for your canine companion.  They also typically stand behind their foods 100%, meaning if your dog doesn’t like the food you buy or has a bad reaction to it, they will let you exchange it or return it for store credit even if the bag is more than half empty.  No one wants to be stuck with something that just doesn’t agree with their animal friend; it’s not fair to the consumer or their wallet.

Treats are food too.  Don’t set strict standards for your dog’s diet but forget about them in regards to treats.  If your dog is allergic to grains, make sure to buy grain-free treats as well.  Treats can be a commonly overlooked aspect of your dog’s diet, but they can cause problems as well, so make sure to keep the same standards for treats as you do for food.

 

Information Kindly Provided By
urban-dogg_FB2

Friday Funny 9.12.11

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Funny Cats! Happy Friday!

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9 Ways To Help Your Dog Age Well

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

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1) Walk Backwards

Kneel with your dog between you and a wall, put one hand under their belly to keep them from sitting (not to support their weight). With the other hand, use a treat to lure their nose to their chest and help them to move backwards (or put gentle pressure on their chest if that doesn’t get them to back up). Have them walk backwards a few feet, once or twice a day to help build hamstring strength.

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2) Warm or Cool Compress

If a joint or limb seems particularly painful, place the compress on the area for 5-10 minutes to help with pain relief.  For a warm compress, put rice in a sock and microwave until warm. For a cool compress, use a bag of frozen corn or peas (whatever you currently have in your freezer).

3) Side Steps

Stand perpendicular to your dog, place one hand on their collar (so they don’t go anywhere), place your knee/leg on their flank, and your hand on the other side to keep them pressed against you. Then slowly step into your dog to get them to shift their weight away from you and take a step. Make sure to repeat on the other side.

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4) Walk

Try to take your dog out for a walk at least once a day, even if it’s a really short one (either because of your busy schedule or your dog’s physical limitations).  Regular exercise helps keep bones and muscles healthy and every little bit counts (even if it’s just down the driveway and back!).

5) Sit to Stands

Ask your dog to sit. Be sure they’re sitting squarely so their back paws are facing forwards and they’re not lounging on one hip or the other. Ask them to stand on all 4s from the seated position. And repeat! Doggy squats!

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6) Diagonal Leg Lift

Gently lift the front leg and opposite back leg at the same time and hold for 3-5 seconds. Hold the wrist in front of the shoulder, and the ankle behind the hip so they can’t bear weight through you–they have to balance themselves. Repeat with the opposite two legs.

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7) Couch Walks

Take a cushion off your couch and have your dog walk across, or have them stand on it while they eat dinner. This is a core exercise and will help with balance.

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8) Trim Nails

Keep your dog’s toe nails and toe fur trimmed to help with slipping and difficulty on hard floors.  Throw rugs, yoga mats, and dog boots/socks with good grip can help also.

9) Range of Motion

Anytime your dog is relaxed, with open hands, gently guide your dog’s limbs into flexion and extension to keep the joints healthy.

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**If your dog is having any issues or pain when doing these exercises, please consult your veterinarian, or contact us at www.dog-swim.com (303) 762-SWIM.