Articles

 

National Cook for your Dogs Day!!!

 

I have five dogs that are my world. They range in age from 13 years old to six months old. With all the recalls on dog food, I decided a few years ago to either cook my dogs their own food or feed them a raw food diet. This way I know what’s in their food and the grade of ingredients used. I feel it is healthier for them too. If done correctly, they have shinier coats, healthier skin, improved dental health, increased energy, and smaller stools.

 

It can be very overwhelming for a first-timer. All the information that’s out there both for and against raw food feeding can send your head spinning.

 

I have tried twice before, over the past few years, before I finally stuck with it. I have been feeding raw for the past two and a half years and I continue to do research on it. I make changes that I see fit according to my dogs.

 

When making your own dog food there is a formula for how much meat, organs, bones, and vegetables to mix – the 80/10/10 ratio is only a guideline and not a set-in-stone plan to follow, with 80% meat, 10% organs (secreting) and 10% bone. I don’t worry about making it perfectly balanced every time because it all balances out in the end.

 

Skeletal muscle = 55% up to 65%

 

Organ muscle = 15% up to 25%

 

Secreting organs = 10% up to 12%

 

Bone = 12% to 18%

 

Vegetables = up to 10%

 

I feed a mixture of organ meats such as chicken gizzards, heart, kidney, spleen, lungs, pancreas, and liver. Muscle meats come from beef, chicken, rabbit, venison, turkey, and fish. For whole or ground bone, I use chicken or turkey necks, chicken feet, chicken wings, and chicken backbone. I also add eggs, fresh fruit, and vegetables that are safe for dogs, like blueberries, strawberries, apples, celery, cucumbers, bananas, kale, lettuce, carrots, green beans, eggplant, pumpkin, and chickpeas, and dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese.

 

I do purchase pre-made mixtures from MyPetCarnivore.com like whole ground beaver, whole ground muskrat, coarse ground whole mutton, ground green lamb tripe, duck, chicken or turkey necks, ground lake herring, ground lake trout, and ground lake whiting. This makes feeding easier for me because the meats are already ground up with bones and organs. I just add vegetables and their supplements.

 

Each of my babies gets about a cup of food mixture each meal (morning and night). I add supplements to make sure they get enough of their vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.

 

There is so much more information about raw feeding! – but that is another article. I just wanted to share why, what, and how I feed my pups.

 

I also want to share with you a beef stew recipe I make for my dogs. They love it! Unfortunately, I don’t use specific amounts. I usually eyeball my recipes. Since I have five dogs, I use at least one family pack of stew meat.

 

Ingredients:

Stew meat or beef roast cut up in small chunks
Beef or bone broth
Carrots cut into chunks
Potato or sweet potato cut into chunks
Celery

 

Directions:

Place in a slow cooker. Pour broth over top add (a little water if necessary). Cook on low for at least eight hours. I like to cook it a full day and night. Check and stir occasionally. Let cool in the bowl before feeding the dogs.

Put leftovers in the fridge for up to three days, or you can freeze them (but I never have anything left after the third day).

 

by Tracy Yun Johnson

Nov 21, et. Country Culture

 

Pet Safety During the Holidays

 

With the holidays right around the corner, all the holiday festivities, parties, decorations, visitors, and deliveries, we don’t realize that there can be unforeseen dangers lurking in the shadows for our pets.

 

This time of year, I become a more avid online shopper, which means more deliveries to my home. I don’t know about you, but my dogs love it when the doorbell rings or someone is knocking on my door! With the excitement of who is there (or it could be protectiveness), it’s easy for them to slip right out the door as you are bringing in a package or signing for delivery.

 

Since I have five dogs, it’s easier for me to gate off the area to the door. For most, who may only have one or two dogs, keeping a leash by the door and making sure they have their collars on (with the ID tag with your current name and phone number) for such an occasion will help in case they decide to make a mad dash out the door. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, you might consider having that done. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. You can talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure. Even your local Tractor Supply Company has monthly vet clinics that do microchipping!

 

Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays without the decorations: lights, greenery, Christmas trees and plants. That’s a lot of temptation for a dog! Just think of all the electrical cords for the lights on the tree or around the house. Keep all cords hidden or covered out of reach of curious pups that might think they would be a tasty treat.

 

If you’re anything like me, I want to make my Christmas tree last for as long as I can with very minimal needles loss. Adding a water additive for Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pets. They don’t know that it’s dangerous; they just see it as “I need a drink and here is water.”

 

The lower part of my Christmas tree (no matter how silly it may look) is pretty much bare. I don’t place any ornament where my dogs can simply reach or jump and knock it off the tree. Broken ornaments can cause injury and if they are ingested, they could cause a blockage requiring surgery or even be toxic if it’s homemade. Tinsel is another holiday favorite to watch out for. Many things can happen if your dog tries to eat tinsel. It could wrap or get stuck around their tongue, teeth, or stomach, not passing through the intestines as it should. This can cause extreme pain and could be life-threatening.

 

Decorating with festive plants and flowers could result in a trip to the emergency room if you don’t keep them out of reach.

Amaryllis, poinsettias, pine, mistletoe, balsam, cedar and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. The ASPCA website offers a list of plants that are toxic to both cats and dogs.

Each of my dogs is very different in their personalities. I have one who gets anxious around strangers and when there is a lot of commotion going on. I have one partially blind dog; I have two very loveable but also excitable dogs; and last but not least one very protective dog. So, if you’re planning a get-together or a holiday party you should inform your guests ahead of time that you have pets.

 

Provide a safe place for your pet to escape the excitement should they want a break from all the festivities. Make sure your pet has a room or crate somewhere away from the commotion, where your guests won’t follow, that it can go to anytime it wants to get away. You should consider placing pets that are nervous or excitable around visitors in another room or a crate with a favorite toy and or comfortable bed or blanket.

 

Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.

 

Keep people food out of the reach of your pet and ask your guests to do the same. Make sure your pet doesn’t have any access to treats, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions, or other toxic foods.

 

Clear your table, counters and serving areas when you’re done using them – and make sure the trash gets put where your pet can’t reach it. A turkey or chicken carcass or other large quantities of meat sitting out on the carving table or left in a trash container that is easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).

 

Nothing can spoil holiday cheer like an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic.

 

by Tracy Yun Johnson

Dec 21, et. Country Culture

 

Celebrate Love Your Pet Day

 

Love Your Pet Day is February 20, and while it seems like an easy enough thing to do, there are good, healthy ways to show your love best.

 

I’m always being told, “When I die, I want to come back as Tracy’s dog.” I know it sounds morbid, but if you knew how my fur babies are treated, you’d understand. They get to lay on the couch, sleep in our bed, and have a big fenced-in yard to explore and play in, tons of toys and good, wholesome food in their bellies.

 

For Christmas, each of my babies has their own five-foot stockings that get filled with toys, treats, and food.

I know what you are probably thinking – “Wow, those pups are spoiled!”

 

It’s true, they are spoiled, but they have to behave, and I also make them work for treats.

 

There is a lot more to loving my pets than just letting them sleep on the couch or bed and buying them toys and treats.

Duchess, Kaos, DaVinci, Endora, and Monty

 

Even though I do buy them store-bought treats they are not healthy to give to your dogs all the time. There are many other healthier alternatives available. I will give them cucumber slices, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, and broccoli, just to name a few. Sometimes as a treat, I will freeze cups of yogurt and give them as an ice cream treat. They say to use plain yogurt but since I do not do it all the time, I use vanilla and I try to get the low sugar/low fat variety.

 

I feel there is a simple formula for raising a good dog: Exercise, disciple and then affection. One of my favorite sayings is “a tired dog is a good dog.” When your dog gets enough exercise, he or she will be too tired to be getting into anything bad. But there is also mental stimulation. Challenging your dog mentally can tire your dog out just as much as physical exercise. What do I mean by mental stimulation? It can be as simple as teaching your dog a few simple tricks to start, like sit, shake, down, come, stay, roll over, spin, play dead or crawl. But before giving them one of those healthy snacks you make them do a command or trick.

 

Some dogs like to go through agility courses. You can easily set up a few things in your yard like getting a hula hoop and teaching your dog to jump through the hoop or place it on the ground and have your dog sit in the circle until you release him from the spot. Interactive dog puzzles are another good choice to help mentally stimulate your pup. You can place treats (this is where I would use store-bought treats) or food inside and they must figure out how to get the food out.

 

As for discipline, just like a child, they need to learn that there are boundaries and limitations on what is allowed and what is not allowed. Each dog learns differently. I always like to start off with positive reinforcement with treats and affection when they do things right. Dogs love to please, so when they do something wrong or bad you correct them right away don’t baby them or give them treats or attention. But you need to be consistent. It takes time and a lot of patience, but consistency is the key.

 

It will be well worth it, in the end, to have well-mannered and healthy dogs that just want to give you all their unconditional love!

 

by Tracy Johnson

Feb 22, et. Country Culture

 

Making Safe Outdoor Spaces for Pets

 

With the nice weather approaching us, not only do we humans want to be outside more but so do our pets. Along with that comes some dangers that can affect our pets while being outside – some more obvious dangers than others.

 

First and foremost, make sure they always have plenty of fresh and clean water.

To combat natural elements, make sure they have some kind of cover or shade or shelter for when it gets too hot or cold.

You never know what wildlife your pet may encounter outside so ensure your pets are current on vaccinations. For dogs, that could include rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirus, adenovirus-2, parainfluenza, Bordetella, coronavirus, Lyme disease, and canine flu, based on the risk factors in your area.

 

Being outside more creates greater exposure to parasites. Preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms based on your dog’s risk are also a good thing to keep up with.

 

Sunburns – yes, that’s right, I said sunburns!  Short-haired or short-shaven pets and lightly colored pets are prone to sunburns. The tender skin of snouts, noses, ears, and tails are also exposed to UV rays. Rub on doggie sunblock (at least SPF 15 in strength) about 15 minutes before a long stretch in the sun.

 

Know the symptoms of heatstroke. Humans cool down when we sweat. Dogs chill when they pant. But if your pet can’t stop panting, has labored breathing, their gums turn white or blue or they become lethargic, get to a vet right away. These are warning signs of heatstroke, which can cause serious illness or even death.

 

With spring in the air, I’m sure many of you will be outside planting flowers and gardens. This could expose your dogs or cats to many toxic plants. Make sure you know what you are planting and how it could affect your pet.

Pools and ponds – Although it’s a great way for many dogs to cool down and have fun, always make sure they know how to get out. Never leave them alone in the water. Salt and chlorine are not good for your dog’s skin, eyes, nose, or stomach, so don’t let them drink the water. After a swim make sure you rinse them off well.

 

Never let your pet drink from standing water. They could become seriously ill. It’s a good place for bacteria and parasites to breed.

With greener lawns and gardens many people use chemicals to keep the pests away. Fertilizers and weed killers can make your fur baby really sick. Look for pet-friendly options. Make sure any spray-on chemicals have fully dried before allowing your dog or cat to roam the yard. Always make sure the containers are sealed tightly and placed where they cannot get to them.

 

Bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets may be good for your garden but not so much for your pets. Watch out for burrows where these insects build nests. If your dog gets stung, scrape out the stinger. Apply a paste of baking soda and water, then ice the area. An OTC antihistamine, in the right dose for their weight, may also be needed (call your vet for the right amount). But go straight to the vet if they have trouble breathing or there’s lots of swelling.

 

A little precaution means both you and your furry friends can enjoy outside time!

 

by Tracy Yun Johnson

Apr 22, et. Country Culture

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