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)


  • 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


  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 😀 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.


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 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.


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.


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












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!

Recent Dog Food Recall Alert — FYI

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

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

Time for Training

Cautious at first, Caesar now loves agility equipment!

Many people ask me how much time I take to train Caesar.  Well, it’s small amounts of time (5-15 minutes) per DAY.  Yup, I don’t think that dogs enjoy learning new tricks or tasks over long periods of time at once, but they do respond well to a regular frequency of training time.  Since Caesar is very food-motivated, he looks forward to this time because of the reward he knows is attached to training, but he can still get frustrated if we train for longer periods of time or if he knows he’s somehow not understanding the task at hand.  Always remember to end any training sessions with something your dog finds easy (may have learned earlier) so that your training session “ends on a high note”.  You want your dog to look forward to this time so that it’s a pleasure for both you and your dog.  I like to look at dog-training books and videos to get ideas for tricks/tasks that I would like to teach Caesar.  I will also add some personal training videos here soon.  For now, start with simple commands — the basics like sit, down, stay are the best to start with.  Then progress to things like catch, roll-over, play dead, etc.  Again, remember to end your training sessions with a successful and positive conclusion.  If your dog is having a lot of difficulty with a new command, go back to something familiar so that your dog feels proud of his/her accomplishment, then re-introduce the new command with enthusiasm and encouragement.  Your dog will always pick up on your own energy so do not train when you are tired, frustrated or ill-tempered.  When the energy around your dog is calm, loving and positive, you will achieve the best results from your dog.  Happy training everyone — again, I will post some training videos soon.  For now, here are some links to some of Caesar’s best trick videos:

Fun Tricks Video

Sneaky Caesar

Caesar Gets “Shot” and Plays Dead

Playing Basketball

Playing With Rings and Colours

Lots of Tricks

Some New Moves

You know that even the simple commands that you have taught your dog are huge accomplishments for both of you.  Don’t forget to praise your dog for these accomplishments regularly, and know that you have achieved something wonderful together!! 🙂

Remember: “Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.”– H. Jackson Brown

More to come soon,

Dr. Menen

Wag Bags — why you and your dog will love them

I Yam what I YamEver think about how your dog’s nutrition may prevent either acute or chronic illnesses?  It’s not just the daily meals going into him/her that matter.  Treats can promote good health just as much as daily meals.  The ingredients I’m listing here might be what you need to add to your dog’s daily intake either through meals or treats.  Let’s see why:

These are my “I Yam what I Yam” Chips made from Sweet Potatoes (not the same as yams) but the terms are often mixed and the yam suited this Wag Bag name best, I thought 🙂  Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene, and Potassium among several other vitamin and mineral nutrients in smaller quantities.  This means that they can help improve heart health, skin health, muscle cramps and even the prevention of diabetes!

Can't be Beet

Can’t Beet This Chips: Red beets are a low-calorie food, and also a good dietary fibre. Fibre plays an important role in digestive tract health, helping to prevent constipation and facilitating the movement of food through the intestines.  Red beets provide a good source of folic acid which is an essential vitamin that helps in the development and maintenance of new cells in the body.  They also contain beta-carotene, a precursor molecule to vitamin A that boosts eye health. The phytochemicals that give beets their red color belong to a group called betalains. Betalains act as antioxidants, destroying free radicals that could damage cells when consumed and lead to chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer.  And since these are just some of the benefits of beets, how could I possibly not include them in Caesar’s diet?!

Kookoo for Kale Chips

Finally, my Kookoo for Kale Chips
Kale is beneficial for eyesight because they are also a great source of beta carotene as well as lutein and zeaxathin which helps to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.  Kale chips contain a variety of other important nutrients including vitamin C which supports healthy immune function and skin health,  as well as vitamin K for proper blood clotting. The olive oil I use to make these chips also contains vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties.
As many of you might suspect, these chips are edible by humans due to their natural ingredients!  Anyone can make these treats but many people might not like to take the time to do so.  If you would like to get some Wag Bags for your own dog or for a friend with a dog, just contact me through — Wag Bags are $8 per bag or 2 bags for $15 (plus shipping if needed) and I believe they would make a great gift for any dog!
Available through this holiday season (Dec 2015) while quantities last!!

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”- Hippocrates

Dr. Menen

Healthy Dog Treats


“You have got to get some healthy treats into your diet!”

There are so many treats available for dogs but of course I look for what I believe are the healthier choices.  I like to stick to things that have only a few, natural ingredients in them and ones that are made in Canada if possible (since we know how much controversy surrounds some imported foods).  Some time ago I came across some “chicken jerky”-like treats which contained only chicken in them and had a wonderful “Canadian quality checked certified laboratories” stamp on them and of course Caesar loved them… but soon after, he got significant itching of his skin.  I thought maybe it was just a coincidence (although I only give him one “new” food or treat over a few days), so I decided to continue with these treats.  The itching got worse.  So I stopped the new jerky treats and wouldn’t you know it, the itching improved and then was gone in just a few days.  I looked more carefully at the package I had bought and saw that although there was only chicken in the ingredients, the food had been irradiated so humans were advised to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water after giving them to their dogs.  What?!  If my hands are vulnerable to this irradiation how could my dog not be?  I used to buy sweet potato chews for him but have noticed the same itching reaction. Perhaps they were also irradiated…

So I did a search on irradiated dog treats and found quite the controversy surrounding this issue.  I even came across this NBC news article which is worth reading:

I have since that time made my own chicken-bites and sweet potato treats for Caesar although I will still buy some non-irradiated cookies or yogurt treats for him too.

But I don’t want Caesar to be getting too many cookies.  I like him to get fruits and veggies into his diet regularly and even though I do use a lot of veggies in the meals that I prepare for him, I decided it’s time to create healthier treats for my fur-baby.   So I have started making chips-for-dogs, or as I like to call them “Wag Bags” — because Caesar does do a happy-wag for them (of course he loves most treats)!  I am making 3 varieties at this time: sweet potato, kale and beet chips.  No additives, no preservatives and of course, no irratiation!

These crunchy/chewy snacks are antioxidant-rich, good for his teeth because of their texture, and good for my soul in knowing that he’s getting some great sources of vitamins and minerals from treats that he loves so much.

In my next post, I will share with you the benefits of these treats on the canine body so that you can look for similar nutrients to get into your dog!  Pictures to come soon of my own treats — $5/bag — what a tasty gift of health for your dog!!  Happy Holidays everyone!

“We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made.” —Author: M. Acklam

Dr. Menen