Oatmeal, Flax and Blueberry Cookies

Caesar's stash of cookies including a couple of broken bones...!

Caesar’s stash of cookies including a couple of broken bones…!

So I felt like making some oatmeal cookies for my husband and myself (I very rarely have such a craving but I do know he has a sweet tooth!).  Halfway through making a basic cookie for us, I decided we should use ingredients that would also be healthy and therapeutic for Caesar.  Caesar really came out ahead with his stash — but we’re hoping people don’t notice us eating the occasional “dog biscuit” ourselves!!  Hope your dog will enjoy these as much as ours does!  Note: sugar can be replaced with honey or molasses for even healthier benefits! Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

our little plate of cookies

our little plate of cookies

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup whole flax seed

1/4 cup ground flax

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (without shell and unsalted)

1/4  cup frozen wild blueberries (can use fresh if available)

Combine all ingredients with 1/3 cup water, roll out dough and cut into desired cookie shapes.  Place on greased cookie tray and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until cookies look golden brown.  Caesar loves these!!! And ok, we do too…!!

Store in paper bags in fridge for 2 -3 weeks (if they last that long!!)

Happy Caesar!!

Happy Caesar!!

Kindly,

Dr. Menen

Bladder Stones – Part 2

Struvite Stonesstruvite stones

Struvite crystals only form when the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of urine is over 7 — if you’ve read about oxalate stones you will understand what a narrow range we have to try to keep our dog’s urine within for best health!  Pharmacies and health food stores sell urine dip sticks that check for this.  The strips can also check for blood in the urine, bacteria, glucose (sugar), specific gravity (concentration of urine).  The urine tested should be the taken first in the morning before any ingestion of food and checked within 5 minutes of collection.  Only a few drops of clean urine are required — you can try the suggestions for urine collection I have mentioned in my post about oxalate stones or you could tape a dipstick to a wooden stick and dangle it below your dog as he/she urinates.  This is the trickiest part since your dog will be unsure what you’re trying to do and is not likely used to you standing so close as he/she urinates!  But keep trying!!  :)

Struvite bladder and kidney stones are also called triple phosphate stones, infectious stones and urease stones.  They are made of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate.  These stones are most common in Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and Dachshunds.  These stones occur when your dog develops a chronic urinary tract infection – or “cystitis” with certain bacteria that have the effect of making the urine less acidic.  These bacteria have the ability to convert urine into ammonia because of a certain enzyme that they contain called “urease.” The most common bacteria that do this are Staphylococcus, Proteus and Klebsiella bacteria.  Ammonia in the urine changes its odor.  Ammonia is also toxic to bladder cells and causes the urine pH to shift detrimentally toward stone formation.  Once the stone formation process begins, the bacteria live within the stone itself where they are protected from the dog’s natural defenses and the effects of antibiotics.  These stones are rough (as in above picture) causing abrasion of the lining of the bladder and leading to discomfort as well as blood in the urine.  They can grow quite large and the size alone might limit the amount of urine the bladder can hold causing a frequent or continuous need to urinate.

The troublesome bacteria normally reside in the bowel where they cause no problems but when they move up the urethra and into the bladder, the body has few ways to control them.  Because the urethra of females is much shorter than males, this condition is often seen in female dogs.  Constipation can also predispose the body (humans or dogs!) to cystitis as the bacteria working on fecal matter in the colon can become more numerous and spread to other areas in the body.

Many dogs with bladder stones show very few symptoms.  A Veterinarian can often discover these stones through palpation of the abdomen of dogs during a routine physical exam.  But most owners will notice an increased frequency and straining from their dogs or an abnormally pink/red urine.  Some dogs will itch and/or scoot along their bottoms.  Occasionally, dog owners will find small pea-sized stones on their carpet.

To determine if the stones are struvite, they must be analyzed by a lab, although the pH of the urine of the dog will be a strong indicator of the type of stone.  Bladder and kidney stones are porous and bacteria living inside them are very safe from antibiotics.  Of critical importance in treating struvite stones is an antibiotic sensitivity test of the bacteria found in the dog’s urine.  This is the only way that the proper antibiotic and dose of the antibiotic can be chosen for the dog.  The best suggested plan of treatment that I’ve come across is to give the antibiotic for at least one month — and best to see that x-rays show no remaining stones.  Some even suggest that antibiotics should be given for one month after x-rays show no remaining stones to help prevent a new occurrence anytime soon.

In some cystitis cases, a “broad spectrum antibiotic” may be prescribed for an extended amount of time but although this will protect against many different bacteria in the short term, the long-term resistance to many bacteria is significantly reduced for the pet (as in humans!).  So if your dog has had their first struvite stone, please do not jump on the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent the time/effort/cost of determining which antibiotic would be best suited to your dog’s needs at the time.  The broad-spectrum antibiotic would best be saved as a “back-up” treatment for recurrent cystitis situations.

Other factors that can increase a dog’s susceptibility to struvite stones include:

Not drinking enough water:  The specific gravity or dilution of your dog’s first-morning urine should be 1.018 or lower.  Some urine dip sticks test specific gravity but they are not very accurate.  Better is a tool called a refractometer — which looks and sounds complicated, but is not.  Urine specific gravity is stable so the urine can be kept cool and tested when it is convenient.  A less accurate but somewhat useful way is to just look at the colour of your dog’s urine.  The less intense the yellow colour, the better!

Urine too alkaline:  Remembering that struvite crystals only form when the pH of the urine is over 7 (alkaline).  Check your dog’s urine with a dipstick every so often — maybe once a month or once every few months if you are getting good readings.  Remember to test first-of-the-morning urination and test pH within 5 minutes of collection.  You can tape a urinary dipstick to a wooden stick and dangle in below the dog as he/she urinates.  A less accurate but also somewhat accurate measure can be taken on litmus paper which is available in many craft stores.  Diets very high in grain and vegetables produces alkaline urine which allows the formation of struvite stones — this is when a commercially prepared diet may be more useful.  If possible, feed the canned form of the diet instead of the dry since most dogs rarely drink enough water after eating dry kibble and the canned foods will contain more moisture/water content.  But make sure you take time to brush your dog’s teeth regularly in these cases as canned foods are linked with more dental concerns.

Occasionally, bacterial infections in dogs are due to an anatomical defect in the dog causing urine pooling in the kidneys, ureters or bladder where bacteria can live.  Sometimes these are genetically inherited defects or caused by prior surgery such as spaying.  A contrast-dye x-ray study would detect such defects but such a study would not likely be performed unless standard treatments fail.

The average age when dogs develop struvite bladder stones is about 2 to 3 years.  So what can you do to help prevent these?   Try these ideas:

1. Increase fibre in your dog’s diet through things like raspberries, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, apples, pears, carrots, broccoli, beans, legumes and flax seeds.raspberries

2. As with prevention of any bladder stones, increase your dog’s water intake!  Either keep his/her food moist (home-made foods contain more moisture than dried kibble), or encourage your dog to drink from his/her water dish regularly.  Always have a fresh water dish available for your dog to drink from through the day (even if no one is home) and have several dishes available if you have more than one dog.

Soccer/Football Caesar3. Exercise your dog daily!  Exercise seems to help prevent cystitis.  Female dogs that are overweight also have an increased risk of cystitis because the vaginal area remains damp between voiding which allows bacteria to survive for longer.  (note that dogs that are spayed too early will often have infantile vaginas that will make them more susceptible to cystitis).  So make sure your dog has regular exercise daily to help prevent weight as well as bladder concerns!  Think about a minimum of 30 minutes of continuous moderate exercise per day but aim for one-hour of moderate exercise per day — this will be good for both the pup and human!

4.  Nutrition:

Specialty Diets: are formulated to maintain proper urine pH.  With time, these diets are often sufficient to dissolve struvite crystals.  If one brand doesn’t work, try another since each dog handles foods differently and a different brand of food might be more useful for your dog than the one that worked for your friend’s dog’s bladder stones.  Some of these diets are not recommended for indefinite use because they are so low in mineral content.  Some have been reformulated to help prevent oxalate crystals as well.  Despite labels warning against long-term use of these diets, in some cases there is little choice but to continue with long term feeding to save a pet’s life.  Since some of these diets are very high in fat, Miniature Schnauzer owners especially (and several other breed owners) need to be particularly sensitive to this information since prolonged intake of high fat can lead to pancreatitis which is a predisposition for this breed (see pancreatitis post I wrote earlier).

Proteins do acidify urine — safe choices include  turkey, chicken, beef and rabbit — note that shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops) are contraindicated and thus, NOT safe for the prevention of stones.  Removing grains from the diet seems to help prevent infections.

Adding cranberries (fresh or frozen) to your dog’s diet can aid in acidifying the urine.  Adding Vitamin C to your dog’s diet can be very useful for preventing cystitis to begin with, so this can be a useful option, but too much vitamin C in the diet has been linked in the production of oxalate stones!  So find out the best dose for your dog through a qualified Holistic (if possible) Veterinarian.

One of the dangers of putting your dog on a specialty diet which helps reduce struvite stones is that the size of the stones reduce so much that they pass into and block the urethra — so one must always be on the lookout for a sudden inability to urinate.  Ironically, diets that help prevent/treat struvite stones by making the urine more acidic can lead to the other type of stones commonly found in dogs with an overly-acidic urine (oxalate stones) — ah, pH strips are wonderful for helping you keep your dog’s urine in a healthy range whenever possible.  Especially important to monitor pH regularly if your dog has had a history of bladder stones of any kind.asparagus

I have to tell you that Traditional Chinese Medicine would encourage the use of barley for kidney health as well as celery andasparagus.  If my baby had stones, I would certainly want to increase his intake of these ingredients.  Since he’s good right now, I believe I will add even more of these helpful ingredients into his home cooked meals to encourage prevention!  I hope this has encouraged you to do something new/different and helpful for your dog(s) too!

Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Kindly,

Dr. Menen

 

Bladder Stones – Part 1

bladder with and without stones in dogs

Miniature Schnauzers are one of the dog breeds that has an increased susceptibility to the development of bladder stones.  Other dog breeds with an increased risk include:  Miniature Poodles, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriors.  Notice that these are smaller dogs and they are more likely to produce oxalate stones, but they are also gaining popularity so vets are seeing these more often in practice which could make it look like they are more susceptible.  Larger dogs may have a genetic advantage, or may actually be more likely to have more exercise outdoors with more opportunities to urinate which also helps decrease the development of bladder stones.  Either way, if you have a dog (and especially a miniature schnauzer), this blog entry should be good information for you.

Understanding Bladder Stones and Development:

Caesar’s learning how to examine urine!! haha!!

Bladder stones are a fairly common occurrence in domestic animals such as dogs and cats.  For simplicity, we can think of urinary crystals as minerals, and a concentration of these minerals into a mass becomes a bladder stone.  The stones form in the urinary bladder and can vary in size and number secondary to infection, dietary influence and genetics.

These stones can become so numerous that they can fill the bladder in some cases, resulting in the need for surgical removal. There is also a chance that they can cause blockage, particularly in male dogs, which is very dangerous and requires immediate veterinary attention. – See more at: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/bladder-stones-crystals/#sthash.Z6E4E7Iv.kusstr0J.dpuf

Stones can form in any part of the urinary tract in dogs but unlike in humans, kidney stones are less common and do not often cause significant disease although they can contribute to infected kidneys and chronic renal (kidney) failure.  Types of bladder stones include struvite, calcium oxalate, urate, cystine, calcium phosphate and silicate.  Since struvite and calcium oxalate stones are by far the most common, that is what I will elaborate about here.

Is this an Emergency?

It can be.  Remember that dogs always need to be able to urinate.  If the tubes from the kidney to the bladder or from the bladder to the urethra are blocked by a stone, your dog’s health will deteriorate rapidly.  Remember that dogs rely on urination to regulate their body’s water and electrolyte balance.  The ability to urinate is critical to maintaining their proper blood acidity and in eliminating the waste products of metabolism.  The biggest crisis occurs in male dogs that have a bladder stone enter the ureter that gets stuck — if you have ever heard of a man going through the pain of passing a stone through their urinary tract, you might already know that this is often described by men as an excruciating experience.

For a dog, if this blockage lasts more than even just a day, one of their electrolytes (potassium) that is normally excreted through urine can reach dangerously high levels which then effects the heart rhythm and function.  Obstructed dogs will become depressed, weak, and they often experience nausea and vomit.  If partially or fully obstructed dogs are left untreated, the abnormally high pressure of urine behind the obstruction can rapidly destroy their kidney function.

So prevention is always the best medicine!!

Symptoms in Your Dog with Possible Bladder Stones:

Symptoms of dogs with bladder crystals or stones include straining to urinate, dribbling urine, urinating only drops or small amounts at a time, depression, vomiting, or blood in the urine.  A check-up for these symptoms is strongly recommended and should include a palpation of your dogs bladder, urinalysis and a lab culture of the urine.  Urinalysis will determine if there are red blood cells and/or white blood cells in the urine and the culture will determine what kind of infection (if any) is present for the right medication to be recommended.  The lab culture is very important since if the wrong antibiotic is given, an infection will continue to harm your dog.  If crystals are seen in the urine or stones are suspected from palpation and/or an x-ray of the bladder, this will also determine the best treatment choices.

As one of the readers of this blog mentioned in a question to me earlier, statistics seem to show that calcium oxalate stones are most common in male dogs and struvite stones are most common in female dogs.  I believe that both male and female dogs are very sensitive to dietary and lifestyle factors that will produce various stones, so it’s good to work with prevention of either in either your male or female dog.  These 2 types of stones account for approximately 80-90% of the bladder stones found in dogs, so it’s a good idea to know what to watch for.

calcium oxalate stonesOxalate Stones:

These stones only form in urine that is acidic (pH is less than 7).  Dogs love meat and meat is acidic.  Ideally, you will want to keep your dog’s urine between 6.6 and 7 (best range varies slightly between veterinarians but oxalate stone problems seem to be associated with dog urine pH that is less than 6.5).  Too basic urine (pH more than 7) has its own challenges.  Urine pH is a test that you can easily perform at home using urine dipsticks or colour-indicator strips of paper that you can find in health food stores and/or pharmacies.  Urine pH varies during the day.  The best sample to check is from the first fresh urination in the morning before he/she eats anything.  After your dog has eaten breakfast, their urine pH will begin to rise from his/her nighttime levels. Now “catching” the urine is the challenge!  If you wear a plastic/disposable glove, you can just try to aim your dipstick or paper in the stream of your dog’s urine to “catch” a sample and stay clean while doing this!  If you need to bring a sample to your Vet for analysis, this was an interesting suggestion I read from a Vet’s site: the urine sample should be free of contamination, refrigerated or chilled and brought to the Vet as quickly as possible.  A foam cup, taped to a broomstick helps in collection.  You do not need much — a tablespoon full will do.  You can also attempt to get your dog to pee on a layer of Saran Wrap and transfer what you can to a cup.  Cover the sample with a (new) piece of saran wrap held in place with a rubber band or ask your Vet for a urine collection vial/cup prior to collection. If you are monitoring your own dog’s pH, you may not be successful in keeping his/her pH within the ideal range, but it seems that dilute urine is better than concentrated urine for health!!! This means that it is more important to keep your dog’s urine dilute than to raise his/her pH.   

Things You Can Do for Prevention or Bladder Stone Management:

1. Increase Water Intake!!

Increased water consumption leads to dilute urine! From what is known about calcium oxalate, it is very unlikely to crystallize into discrete, urinary tract stones when a dog’s urine is dilute – even if oxalates are present at the time. There are several ways to increase your dog’s water intake including feeding him/her only home-cooked diets as they are higher in water content, or using only frozen or canned foods.  Increasing salt in a dog’s diet will encourage drinking fluid (though I’m not sure that this is an ideal choice) and in some cases, diuretic medications may be prescribed which encourage frequent urination and likely, increased thirst (again, not my first choice, but necessary in some cases).

Do not attempt to increase your dog’s water intake by pouring water on dry dog food in hot weather or when the food will stand for more than an hour.  Bacterial growth in the mixture can cause digestive upsets.  The same can happen if you leave opened canned food at room temperature for long periods.

Dogs also need easy access to fresh and clean water throughout the day and multi-dog families should have multiple bowls available.  Since the most important thing you can do to prevent urinary stones from developing or recurring in your dog is to keep him/her well hydrated and to ensure their urine is as dilute as possible, this should be monitored as well.  The dilution of urine is monitored through something called “specific gravity.”  The lower the specific gravity, the more dilute the urine sample is.  Aim to keep your dog’s specific gravity below 1.025.  Urine dipstick strips can help determine specific gravity, but a device called a refractometer is quite specific to accurate readings of specific gravity.  Although I have not used this device, I understand that it is not a difficult tool to use and I would especially recommend getting one for anyone who has a dog with a history of oxalate stones.

2. Frequent Opportunities to Urinate

Dogs that are free to urinate when they wish appear to be less susceptible to oxalate stones than dogs that need to wait for their owners to return from long hours away from home.  This is not possible for many dog owners, but fewer urinations have been found to be associated with greater risk for oxalate stone production.

3. Frequent Feeding

The acidity (pH) of your dog’s urine fluctuates through the day.  it is usually lowest through the night and slowly rises after his/her morning meal.  Thus, having many chances to munch during the day should give your dog a less acidic urine which would be less conducive to oxalate stone formation.  Give your dog his/her last meal shortly before you go to bed.  Just make sure the total amount that you feed your dog does not increase since weight gain has it’s own health issues/concerns associated.

4. Periodic Blood Work

It is always important to check standard blood chemistry panels at your Vet’s office from time to time.  This is especially true when oxalate stones remain in your dog’s kidneys or when there was any prior elevation of “BUN” (blood urea nitrogen) or creatinine levels (both measure kidney function).  There are some dogs that develop oxalate stones because their blood calcium levels are abnormally high (hypercalcemia) and some of these dogs have underlying hyperthyroid concerns.

5. Radiographs (X-Rays)

Periodic x-rays are useful for detecting new stones that may form and in determining the size, growth and position of stones that have not been removed.  When stones are discovered early, it may be possible to remove them from the bladder through a process called “urohydropropultion” or to extract them in what’s called a retrieval basket through the urethra or a small abdominal and bladder incision.

Medications for Oxalate Stones:

Veterinarians have traditionally given potassium citrate solutions to dogs with oxalate stones. The thought is that when the citrate passes to the dog’s urine, it will tie up the urinary calcium which would make it unavailable for calcium oxalate formation.  It is also hoped that the citrate will keep the urine less acidic.  Studies show conflicting results about the usefulness of this treatment.  We do know that to have a continuous effect, postassium citrate would have to be given many times during the day; or it might be best to give the whole daily dose at bedtime since night time conditions are the most conducive to stone formation.

Hydrochlorothiazide is often used to make a dog thirstier and to urinate more, but I wouldn’t recommend this diuretic choice unless significant dietary changes and increased fluid intake measures have failed.  If your dog is on a thiazide diuretic like hydrochlorothiazide, please monitor their electrolytes regularly (an imbalance can be created which can lead to what could have been an avoidable emergency).

DIET MATTERS!!

Special diets will not likely dissolve calcium oxalate stones that have already formed.  But dogs that have had an episode of calcium oxalate bladder or kidney stones do have special needs.  They shout NOT be fed dry dog food again and they should NOT eat a diet that contains plant products that are high in oxalates.

Many foods can be purchased from your Vet that have been designed (theoretically) to reduce the formation of calcium oxalate tones.  They are formulated to provide as little dietary oxalate as possible, provide no more than the necessary amount of calcium and they attempt to keep your dog’s urine pH and specific gravity in acceptable ranges.  You still need (or should) monitor through urinalysis if these foods are producing the desired results for your dog.  If they are not, I would suggest you think of making meals for your dog yourself.  Mini Schnauzers are not big dogs, so you don’t need to make a lot of food (although I make larger batches and freeze containers for use through the week), and I have to say that if you have a bigger dog (schnauzer or other) I would still encourage making your own dog food for the health benefits for your furry family member… but that is a whole different discussion.  This is the only way that you can truly know what is going into your dog.  I am of the opinion that a dog’s diet should be based on meat (although I do know of some friends that have significantly improved their dog’s health through using purely vegetarian diets).  If your dog has a risk for an oxalate stone, use moderate amounts of low-oxalate vegetables, and do add supplements such as vitamins and minerals (but ask a holistic practitioner for amounts that would be best for your dog).  There is contradictory information about benefits of protein restriction for the prevention of calcium oxalate stones.

Low amounts of calcium in your dog’s diet will increase their chances of forming calcium oxalate stones. They can benefit from some calcium in the diet to bind oxalate in the intestines. This helps reduce the amount of oxalate being absorbed by the body, so stones are less likely to form.  Calcium-rich foods (low fat cottage cheese for example) or the supplementation with calcium-citrate may be helpful. Oxalate is an end product of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) metabolism. Large doses of Vitamin C may increase the amount of oxalate in your dog’s urine, increasing the risk of oxalate stone formation. Small amounts found in foods or some supplementation should not be a concern.

Foods to avoid/restrict if your dog has a history of oxalate stones: high-oxalate foods include beets, spinach, rhubarb, swiss chard, strawberries, nuts (almonds, peanuts and their butters are quite high in oxalates) , organ meats (like liver – because much of the oxalate formed in the body is produced in the liver), wheat bran, buckwheat, miso, tahini, and all dry beans (fresh, canned, or cooked), excluding lima and green beans (which are safe).

Do not feed your dog products that contain soy or yellow corn or ingredients that are derived from soy or corn.  Soybean and corn-derived products have the potential to be very high in oxalates. Many pet foods – both dry and canned are full of yellow corn products and corn gluten isolates to boost the label’s protein content.  Besides being potentially high in oxalates, corn glutens have the potential to also increase the acidity of your pet’s urine.

Safe foods: these would be the low-oxalate foods such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, endive,  water chestnuts, peas, coconut, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, asparagus, lima beans, canned pumpkin, apples, apple sauce, bananas, lemon juice, melons, nectarine, pear, papaya, oat bran, white rice, wild rice, red meat, chicken and turkey.

The internet has many resources of food lists of high and low oxalate foods so my lists above are a general idea of safe/unsafe foods.  For the lists you might find on the internet remember that suggestions might differ from one site to another and most lists are for humans (so do think carefully if the “safe” foods/low-oxalate foods are really safe for your dog).

Also note that boiling high-oxalate foods and then discarding the water used to cook them greatly reduces the amount of absorbable oxalate in vegetables and grains :)

Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.
–Doug Firebaugh

Kindly,

Dr. Menen

For the simplest explanation, crystals are minerals and stones are composed of several crystals that can come in many shapes and sizes. These stones can become so numerous that they can fill the bladder in some cases, resulting in the need for surgical removal. There is also a chance that they can cause blockage, particularly in male dogs, which is very dangerous and requires immediate veterinary attention. – See more at: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/bladder-stones-crystals/#sthash.Z6E4E7Iv.kusstr0J.dpuf
For the simplest explanation, crystals are minerals and stones are composed of several crystals that can come in many shapes and sizes. These stones can become so numerous that they can fill the bladder in some cases, resulting in the need for surgical removal. There is also a chance that they can cause blockage, particularly in male dogs, which is very dangerous and requires immediate veterinary attention. – See more at: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/bladder-stones-crystals/#sthash.Z6E4E7Iv.kusstr0J.dpuf

Cookies

COOKIES

Here are a couple of recipes that can be used as homemade cookie treats — let me know if you try them (or if your dog does!) ;)

so worth it!!

so worth it!!

Cinnamon Bites

2 cups (500 mL) whole wheat flour
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp. (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) water or milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil (what original recipe called for — can substitute other oils if desired)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) honey
1 tsp. (5 mL) cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl stir together water, oil and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until you have a soft dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat the dough into a rectangle that measures roughly 8×14-inch. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Starting from a long edge, roll up jelly-role style and pinch the edge to seal. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice half an inch thick and place slices cut side down on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until springy to the touch. Wait until they have cooled completely before you spread them with cream cheese.

Makes about 2 dozen biscuits. Store extra in a tightly covered container of freeze. If they are frosted, store the container in the fridge.

Note — I have also used this recipe combining the cinnamon and honey into the mixture directly and using my cookie cutters to make the desired shapes (as in picture) — I believe he liked these just as much as the rolled cookies!

Homemade Flax Seed Dog Biscuit Recipe

(note: I have not tried making these yet, but came across this recipe some time ago and think it would be a very good one — though I might try substituting with other types of flour to avoid too much wheat… I’ll let you know how things work out when I try this)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz (340g) whole wheat flourYummy!
  • 12oz (340g) bread flour
  • 2 oz (55g) wheat germ
  • 1 t (5g) sea salt (I might still cut this amount in half too…)
  • 2T (30g) brown sugar
  • 3-4T Flax Seed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1c (240ml) vegetable oil
  • 3oz (85g) powdered dry milk (I’d use low fat)
  • 1c (240ml) water

Directions:

  1. Combine wheat flour, bread flour, wheat germ, salt, and brown sugar, and flax seed in mixing bowl. Stir in eggs and vegetable oil.
  2. Dissolve dry milk in water then incorporate the mixture.
  3. Mix to form a very firm dough that is smooth and workable. Adjust by adding a little extra flour or water as required.
  4. Cover the dough and set aside to relax for 15-20 min.
  5. Roll the dough out to 1/2″ (1.2cm) thick. Cut out biscuits using a bone-shaped cutter 3″x1.5″ (7.5×3.7cm). Place the biscuits on sheet pans lined with baking paper.
  6. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for approx. 40 minutes or until biscuits are brown and, more importantly, rock-hard. Let biscuits cool, then store in a covered container five to six feet off the floor :D. Use as needed to reward your four-legged friends.

Enjoy!  And hope your dogs will too!!

Dr. Menen

Enjoy!!  And let me know if you try these recipes!

That’s NUTS!!

That’s NUTS!!

So we all know that dogs can go to some lengths to share our food.  Sometimes it’s the famous “puppy-dog eyes” and sometimes the head on the lap, pawing at us or even bringing us a toy or other “trade” tool :D But there are some serious concerns when it comes to sharing what is normally a healthy snack — nuts.  All nuts are not created equally — some can be safe for your dog and some can be fatal, so please read on to learn more.

Caesar's willing to bring us treats... if he can have his own!!

Caesar’s willing to bring us treats… if he can have his own!!

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are dangerous for dogs to eat. This is one that could be fatal.

Level of toxicity: mild to severe!!

Common signs to watch for:

  • Severe lethargy
  • Increased body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Joint stiffness
  • Inability to walk

The toxic mechanism is unknown but can effect nerve function (specifically, the motor neurons, neuromuscular junctions, muscle fibers or neurotransmitters).  Lack of muscle coordination, high fever, tremors and an increased heart rate are the most common symptoms of ingestion. Adding to the danger of macadamia nuts is the fact that they are often found, and eaten by dogs, in combination with chocolate. The combined effects of a reaction to the nuts and the chocolate can be fatal for even the healthiest dog.

Moldy Nuts

You know that most dogs will eat just about anything — including moldy nuts. Moldy walnuts and pecans are often eaten by dogs, but any moldy nut can cause serious problems as moldy nuts of any variety can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms such as loss of motor ability/poor coordination. In large amounts they can be deadly.  Please remember also that we cannot always see mold as mold on nuts — that white film on the inside of peanut shells is a mold that can be particularly challenging to both human and dog immune systems (but often this is missed as we’re not inspecting shells or the peanuts may not be in their shells).  Dark spots on roasted nuts may look like a function of the roasting process but may in fact, be mold.

English Walnuts (light-tan coloured shells)

Walnuts can cause a stomach ache or can lead to intestinal blockages. Dogs aren’t so good at chewing up walnuts. They tend to get in a hurry and swallow large chunks. These chunks don’t break down very easily in the stomach and can move into the intestine and stop up the entire digestive system. If it goes untreated, the blockage could be fatal. Walnut shells (of course) can have the same effect — but I really hope your dog is not getting these shells!!

Note: According to VPI Pet Insurance, walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion. The average cost to treat walnut poisoning is $315.74. The average cost to treat an upset stomach, according to VPI’s claims data, is $214.69.  Best to try to avoid any unnecessary vet bills and most importantly — avoid unnecessary doggy-distress!

Here are some more details about nuts:

Black Walnuts

Black walnuts contains a toxin called juglone which can cause a vascular disease in horses known as laminitis, but doesn’t appear to cause the same problems in dogs. For dogs, eating black walnuts can, however, cause gastric intestinal upset or an obstruction.

Pistachios

Like English walnuts, pistachios are not really toxic to dogs, and an occasional pistachio isn’t likely to have much effect on a healthy adult dog. A large amount of pistachios, however, can cause pancreatitis , or a swelling of the pancreas (particular concern for miniature schnauzers especially) . Many cases of pancreatitis can be successfully treated, but if too much damage is done there is not much that a veterinarian can do to save your dog. Even though they aren’t necessarily poisonous, it’s best to keep pistachios to a minimum with your dog.

Pecans

Pecans also contain the toxin juglone that can cause laminitis in horses. Feeding dogs pecans can cause gastric intestinal upset or an obstruction. Like walnuts, moldy pecans can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.

Almonds

Dogs love the taste of almonds, particularly the flavored variety (jalapeno, barbecued, smoked, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.).  While not toxic, almonds are not easily digested can give your dog an upset stomach and create gastric intestinal distress.

Cashew Nuts – a healthy (“healthier”) choice?

Cashews provide fiber and have nutrients beneficial to your furry friend. Cashews contain antioxidants and omega-6 fatty acids, which the ASPCA says that, in the correct balance with omega-3 fatty acids, help heal inflammation in the body. They also contribute to healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat. Cashews include calcium, copper, flavanols, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K and zinc. Dogs benefit from all of these vitamins and minerals in moderate amounts.

BUT:  Although cashews are lower in fat than most other nuts, they are still high in fat and calories. Too many calories and too much fat in your dog’s diet causes unhealthy weight gain and increases his/her risk of developing pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas (again, this is of particular concern with miniature schnauzers especially). Cashews usually come salted, and too much sodium causes problems for dogs just like it does humans. There have also been reports that regular consumption of cashews can lead to bladder stones caused by the high phosphorus content.

So then,cashews are OK for your dog to eat in moderation unless he/she is allergic or already prone to pancreatitis or bladder stones. And like any other nuts, use only unsalted or reduced-salt cashews to limit your dog’s sodium intake.

Overall

Dogs are not really meant to eat any type of nut. While nuts have a lot of protein, they also have a lot of fat. In large amounts, just about any type of nut could be fatal, either by causing pancreatitis or salt toxicity. Peanuts, for example, are not necessarily toxic, but can be dangerous because of their high fat content and the fact that large amounts of salt is usually added. Many dogs, just like people, are also allergic to certain nuts. A severe reaction could cause the throat and nose to swell rapidly, choking your dog to death. Most of the research I’ve done shows that don’t need nuts as part of their diet, so it’s better to be safe and avoid them altogether.

If you are convinced to share nutty treats with your dog due to one of their many persuasive tactics, just be careful in the choice of nuts and the quantity shared (stick to 2-4 nuts at most on any day) to be safe — and NO moldy nuts, walnuts, or worst of all, macadamia nuts!

FYI: Caesar absolutely loves nuts (and most food really) but I am able to break the nuts that we occasionally share (almonds, cashews and pistachios) into smaller pieces so he gets two to three “treats” from any single nut! :)  Keeps us both happy.

Remember: “Puppy dog eyes only work on the naive “- Author Unknown 

Dr. Menen (and I bet we’ve all been naive at some point with our dogs…!)

My Baby Caesar

I hate hats but wear them for Mom and Dad...

I hate hats but wear them for Mom and Dad…

I think that many people wonder why Caesar has become my “baby” — although he’s a full adult dog at 3.5 years old right now.  I also think that many think since I don’t have a human child, Caesar has filled my life with this role.  But I wanted to share how I think about my relationship with this wonderful part of our family:

When I think of Caesar, I think of a little baby puppy being taken away from his mother and siblings at the fragile age of only eight weeks without his consent or even full-knowledge of the fact that he will likely never see his birth family again.  He came into our loving home and accepted us fully, finds joys in our joys, shares our sorrows and brings us constant love and affection.  When we are not with him through long days (whether due to work or otherwise), I think of those two sweet eyes whose only source of regular companionship and love comes from us.  Up until recently I believed that he slept through the day but thanks to a webcam that my husband set up for us to watch Caesar live if we should feel the need to check in on him, I have discovered that he is awake for much of the day (at this time).  He barks at neighbours/dogs/cars that pass by our front window and he gets through all of the kongs/treats that I have placed around our main floor of our house.  And then he waits.  And waits.  One could say he’s content with a full tummy and cozy home — and he is.  But there’s a qualitatively different contentment I see even in his eyes when we’re together.

So there you have it — we’ve taken this dog away from everything that would be most comforting and natural for him, created a world for him that is filled with rules that we set, and we get the very best energy from him through (in spite of?) all of this.  Do I baby this dog?  You bet I do.  I have taken on the responsibility to care for this lovely family member and I want to make sure he never forgets how grateful I am that he is part of our family.

I think he feels pretty special too — hope you give your all to the relationship you have created with your dogs :)

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we have” — Thorn Jones

Dr. Menen

Collar vs Harness

dog harness

harness

collar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We originally used a flat collar for attaching Caesar’s leash to when we took him out.  And like most new puppies, he was certainly a puller and a barker!  He could pull/bark at people, other dogs, birds, a new patch of grass, cars… anything.  And as we would gently tug at his leash to bring him back (ok, sometimes less gently than other times for his own safety and our own sanity), he would pull/bark harder.  So I started researching this behaviour.  I learned that collars can pinch the blood supply to the carotid artery in the neck (thank goodness that made sense to me medically)… and this produces stress in many dogs which will make them demonstrate stress reactions (maybe extra barking/pulling?) even more.  I learned that a harness with a back attachment for the leash would not create such a stress reaction, so it would be easier to teach dogs the behaviours we would like from them when we gently tug the leash and teach the behaviour (note: you won’t always need to tug, but this is often the easiest way to get Caesar’s attention if he’s being distracted).  So I gave the idea an open-minded try, and our leash-training suddenly became much easier!!  Immediately.  Really :)

So Harnesses win!!  If you’re not using one with your dog, why not give it a try and see if your dog is more attentive to your guidance  and less stressed overall than without one?  Remember that stress can be from excitement (good stress) or anxiety (bad stress) — either way, it can bring with it a behaviour that you may not want to see from your dog.  During any time of stress, cortisol is released from the adrenal glands and creates a “fight or flight” natural instinct in animals as well as humans.  I believe that neither dogs/humans should release unnecessary levels of cortisol for optimum health, so keep your own, and your dog’s stress levels low to conserve these useful resources for times when they are truly most needed (i.e., real emergencies).

I know I will do just about anything to decrease stress on Caesar and if you’re like me, I suspect you’ll be happy to see the results of trying a harness with your own dog.

“It isn’t stress that makes us fall – it’s how we respond to stressful events.”
― Wayde Goodall

Dr. Menen

Your Life As a Dog…?

For anyone who has wondered what it might feel like to be a dog, here is a cute video I came across — hope you enjoy it!  I’ll get back to writing a few new informative posts soon!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=K8nq3eRCSMQ&NR=1

Recent Dog Food Recall Alert — FYI

dog food in a dishHad to post this recent information that I came across:

http://www.californianaturalpet.com/voluntary_recall/Natura%20FINAL%20Press%20Release%20061813.pdf

Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care

 

Clean and Happy

Dogtor Caesar after bath with Burt’s Bees Products

Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care

Burt’s Bees for Pets!I was recently offered an opportunity to try and review a new product line for Pet Care by the familiar company “Burt’s Bees.”  Since I’m very cautious about what products we use on our Caesar’s very sensitive skin, I was nervous but excited to try a company that has traditionally given many human patients good skin care.  So we tried a shampoo, conditioner and hot spot spray (all during and after a recent grooming) — and I’m so happy to report that Caesar responded very well to the products!  We were surprised that the shampoo was considerably more watery in consistency than what we’re used to using on Caesar, but there was no harsh chemical smell to the products at all.  In fact, there was very little smell which would make it ideal for many dogs and their very-sensitive noses.  My husband even commented on how fresh Caesar smelled even without the natural vanilla scent that we’re used to smelling in our other favourite doggy-shampoo.  All of the products were light and fresh on Caesar.  There was no residue with any of the products and his fur has been getting wonderful compliments since his grooming (note: Caesar’s fur often feels fantastically smooth after a recent grooming).  True test for us is watching how much Caesar itches after a bath to know whether he’s sensitive to the shampoo/conditioner — and we saw no itching!!  Yes, I will be getting more of these products. I have also not been coerced into writing this positive review or held back from writing a negative review (in case any of you are wondering) — let me know if you’ve tried this product or others that you’ve tried that you either really like or dislike.

Remember: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” – Author Unknown

Dr. Menen