Posts Tagged ‘holistic health for dogs’

Garlic for Dogs: Poison or Medicine

Garlic For Dogs: Poison Or Medicine?

Yes, I promote the use of garlic. Fresh, aromatic, organic garlic with a smell that lingers in the kitchen promising either a good meal or a good heal.So why do I go against AVMA warnings and give garlic to my dogs? I do it because common sense and an objective look at both the risks and benefits of garlic tell me it can provide great benefits to dogs with minimal risk. Remember, AMVA (American Medical Veterinary Association) members also think that raw food is unhealthy and would rather dogs eat a processed, chemical laden diet than fresh, raw free-range chicken or vitamin packed green tripe.

Why the controversy over garlic?

The primary reason AVMA is against feeding garlic is that it contains thiosulphate, which can cause hemolytic anemia, liver damage and death. However garlic only contains very small traces of thiosulphate and a dog would have to consume a huge quantity for any negative effects. Using Tylenol (acetaminophen) or benzocaine topical ointments to stop itching are far more likely to cause anemia in dogs.

Garlic’s medicinal properties

There are many health benefits to feeding garlic. Here are some things you might not know about this healthy herb:

  • Garlic is a natural antibiotic and won’t affect the good bacteria in the gut which are needed for digestion and immune health
  • Garlic is antifungal
  • Garlic is antiviral
  • Garlic boosts the immune system
  • Garlic makes dogs less desirable to fleas
  • Garlic is antiparasitic

What kind of garlic?

I stick with fresh, raw organic garlic and keep it on hand as a staple for both cooking and healing. If it’s fresh, I know the medicinal qualities are still there, unlike minced garlic which may originate in China and sit for months in a jar. Powdered garlic doesn’t cut it either. Kyolic Aged Liquid Garlic is a good choice if you don’t want to smash and cut every day.

How much garlic to feed

You can safely give a 1/2 clove per ten pounds of body weight each day, chopped or grated. Two cloves maximum per day for a large dog is a good guideline.

  • ½ clove for a 10 + pounds
  • 1 clove for a 20 + pounds
  • 1 ½ cloves for 30 + pounds
  • 2 cloves for 40 + pounds

My dogs are over 70 pounds but I stick with the 2 cloves.

Garlic tips

For optimum health benefits, let garlic sit for 5 to 10 minutes after cutting and before serving (or cooking). This allows the health-promoting allicin to form, so it’s worth the wait.

To get rid of the smell on your hands, rinse them under water while rubbing them with a stainless steel spoon! I don’t know why it works, but bless the woman who told me this long ago.

A great home remedy recipe

An ear medicine I’ve kept on hand for years started out when my kids got ‘swimmers ear’ one summer. It’s simple to make and since garlic is an antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal it covers several possibilities.

Crush 2 cloves fresh garlic; wait ten minutes and add them to 1/3 cup olive oil. Heat in a pan (do NOT boil) for several minutes. Let cool. Strain and store in a glass bottle with a dropper and apply it directly in the ears.

The only possible drawback to this remedy is every time I smell it I want pasta and garlic bread!

Another great article from Dogs Naturally Magazine.  Get this great magazine today.  Keeping your Dog Healthy.

White Oak Golden Retrievers


Lumps on Dogs

Is your dog lumpy ? Fatty lumps (lipomas), other lumps and  why surgery is not the best choice

By Dr. Peter Dobias

If you  find  yourself  confused about what  to do    when you  find a lump or immediately think of the worse  case scenario,  I hope that this blog will be useful.

One of my  readers sent me an email with a question: “My dog has a lump, where can I get it removed?” How could I  forget to write about such an  important  topic, I thought.  I need to share what  I have learned about lumps right now.  So, I  dropped  my  original plan and have taken on the lumpy topic to save your pooch some trouble and make things easier on your pocket.

It seems that most  people  think that lumps are like aliens from a  sci-fi movie and  we have to  get  rid  of  them. I went online and surprisingly, all the blogs and articles talk about diagnosis or surgery and I could not find any information about their prevention or any suggestions as to why  they happen.

Over  the years ,  I have observed lumps and  bumps on many dogs.   Most  of them are fatty lumps called  lipomas. The name suggests  that  they are composed of  lipocytes –  fatty  cells  that decide to grow more than they should.

A relatively small  percentage of lumps end up in the “malignant” category, however, I  always like to know what I am dealing with before giving treatment  recommendations.The interesting thing that I have noticed is that most  lumps appear to be associated with the spinal segments that have the tightest  muscles or  evidence of inflammation and injury.

To  make things clearer, imagine  that  your  dog has a lipoma on the chest.  If you  draw a line from the lump up to the chest following the ribs,  you end  up at  a certain vertebra. If you  explore this area  further, the  muscles  are usually tight and inflamed and your dogs skin often twitches, suggesting  sensitivity discomfort and injury. If you find it  challenging to grasp the concept of  energy lines, imagine a salmon. The energy lines are much clearer as the muscle is separated in segments corresponding with the number of “ribs” or fish bones.   Mammals  do not have this clear visual definition, however the energy channels exist  along the same  lines.

I started to see  clearly that there was a connection between tightness or injury of  a certain spinal  segment and lump formation. I have always believed that a healthy back is the key to a healthy body and that the back is the energy flow channel that  maintains  even  energy flow throughout  the body, tissues and organs.

If  the  back gets  injured  or  tight,  the energy flow stops. I like to see the energy flow as  light flowing through the body’s channels; which Chinese practitioners  refer to as meridians. If the light reaches an injured or congested area, then energy stops flowing and  these  inflamed  areas ” suck the light – the energy out”  like the dementors from Harry  Potter books.

These injured parts are the black holes  of the body;  stopping the flow, creating congestion,  which leads to lump formation. In the most severe and chronic cases, this leads to cancer formation. I see the lumps and bumps as the signals of the body that there is  something wrong. They are  the markers of these injuries, inflammation and blockage and must not be ingored.

If a lump is removed,  the problem, the  congested  energy  spot and  the tightness  remains. Lumpectomy can be compared to removing the signal lights  on your car’s  dashboard at  a time when your  oil  is leaking.  You  will not see the signal, but the problem will go on if not  addressed  at the same time.

Here are some practical suggestions to addressing lumps

  • If you see a lump,  do not panic. I  suggest    getting  it examined physically and perform a fine needle aspirate, (collecting a few cells by inserting a needle in the centre of the lump).   The procedure is simple and the samples of a few  cells  obtained  can be sent to the lab.  Sometimes people  wonder if there is a potential of spreading a malignant tumour  this way. I have not seen  any  evidence of worsening  prognosis if fine needle  aspirate is done. Ultimately, it is better to know the diagnosis  than worrying sick over a lump that is benign.
  • Most veterinarians have not been trained to see the connection  between back or  muscle  injury  and lumps and many practitioners will not even recognize that there is an energy  flow issue or injury in the related spinal segment. I suggest  finding a good  animal  chiropractor  or o physiotherapist using a technique called  IMS –  intramuscular  stimulation  to  reset  the muscle  fibres and  improve the energy  flow.  Both  treatments,  chiro  or  IMS  have to  be  repeated  until the body “relearns” its patterns.  One treatment is often  insufficient to yield good results and in  older dogs  it is better to create a preventive treatment  plan –  once a month or so to help the body stay  in  balance.
  • In my opinion, lipomas should not be removed  unless they obstruct your dogs  movement.   Removing lumps gives us an illusion that the problem is gone, while in reality, it doesn’t  get rid of the cause; the “black hole” in  the spinal energy  flow. I often see dogs  getting  worse  after surgery with more  lumps  cropping up.  It seems as if the body is trying even harder to signal that there is something wrong.  The signals get “louder and louder” and if we do not hear or can’t  recognize them, sometimes cancer sets in.
  • If you see  a lump,  track it to the  related  spinal segment by drawing a line from the lump to the back. It is relatively simple. Follow the ribs or if the lump is on the abdomen,  draw a line up and slightly  forward on an angle that is parallel to the last rib. If lumps  are present  on the hind legs,  the issue is  usually  located in the lumbar region.  If on the head,  neck or  skull,  alignment may be the problem; if on the abdomen,  lumbar or thoracic, the spine needs attention.  If the spinal segment is tight,  I  recommend treatment by a chiro, physio and massage in conjunction with homeopathy.
  • I have also  noticed  that some lipomas occur in  areas where the skin and fat  under the skin or the underlying  muscle gets  injured or overstretched .  Some people believe that the  excessive stretch of tissues  results  in  trauma  to the fatty  cells – lipocytes.  These lipocytes try to repair, start multiplying  and a lump is  formed. If your dog is a fast  and wild runner, lumps may be more likely to happen.
  • If you are wondering if there is a miraculous natural  cure  for lipomas.  From  what  I have seen,  I must say that  once  they happen,  they usually  do not  disappear. You may as well spare yourself  the money buying “miraculous” lipomacures and spend it on a chiro or  physio  instead.   You can  decrease their  growth  rate by improving the energy  flow in the spine and the body in general.
  • If the cytology  results of fine needle  aspirate come back with confirmation of cancer, this is a much more complicated topic and a consultation would be needed. I  personally am  not  in favour  of chemotherapy and  radiation and have seen dogs living longer and happier lives without  these. I find  it  ridiculous to see that we have accepted poisoning as one of the ways of “healing.”
  • Surgery may be a reasonable measure  in  case of some malignancies – for  example  bone tumors because they are so  aggressive.  I have seen some dogs  surviving for years. However,  once again  I want to remind  you  that surgery does not remove the original cause of the tumor and the treatment should include  changes in  nutrition,  supplements, homeopathy and spinal alignment  techniques.
  • Some people  believe that the higher tendency to inflammation the body has, the higher tendency to cancer.  I agree.

Here is what you can provide for your dog to statistically decrease the chances cancer :

  • Healthy exercise,  not   too much.
  • Good natural, ideally  raw  diet.
  • Feed  less than 1/3 of large animal  red  meat as it has a tendency to  cause more  inflammation in the body.
  • Use a good source of whole food anti-oxidants and minerals for proper function of the immune system and every cell. I could not  find one on the market,  so  I  formulated one myself – GreenMin.
  • Use only  natural  vitamins  and supplement. Synthetic supplements are not what nature intended and often create disharmony of excess in the body.
  • The body knows the difference. My dog Skai  has also been getting SoulFood – Certified Organic Multivitamin for Dogs.
  • For muscle injury and back pain or  as a general cancer  prevention,  I like  using Zyflamend, a turmeric based  anti-inflammatory  that is also known for its anti-oxidant, anticancer  properties.  If your  dog  has a  moderate to severe problem,  you can give  Zyflamend daily or  as a preventive once or twice a week.When it  comes to  omega oils,  I like to give Skai and my patients  WholeMega – a wild salmon oil that is processed gently to  maintain  its properties.  For cancer prevention, you  want to go for a Omega 3 as in most diets  these ones  are missing.
  • As a general  cleansing and immune system support, I like to use Probiotics.
  • Activated mushrooms such as LifeSheild Immunity.

– See more at:

Another great article by Dr. Peter Dobias, a holistic veterinarian.  Please visit his website for other great information in keeping your dog well.

White Oak Golden Retrievers

Feeding a Raw Diet

Dog Breeders Who Only Feed Raw Dog Food Diets

Why dog breeder Denise Flaim began feeding raw dog food to her Rhodesian Ridgebacks and has stuck with it through the years.


You know you’ve been feeding raw for a long time when it no longer seems like a radical, ground-breaking, or – ubiquitous adjective for beginners – scary way to feed.

Just a few of Denise Flaim’s healthy kids, canine and human. Having raw food and raw-fed dogs and puppies in the house has never harmed Flaim’s triplets.

When I started feeding raw – a dozen years and three generations of Rhodesian Ridgebacks ago – it was the Middle Ages of raw feeding. Ian Billinghurst’s Feed Your Dog a Bone was the hard-to-find illuminated manuscript (the lax editing could have stood some sprucing up by Benedictine monks), and everyone used the unfortunate acronym BARF, which stood for “bones and raw food” (or, later, the loftier-sounding “biologically appropriate raw food”). No commercial raw diets were available, and new converts dutifully ordered their Maverick sausage grinders over the Internet. The instruction booklet said the table-top grinder couldn’t be used on any bones harder than chicken necks or wings, but everyone ignored that. I can still remember the painful whirring of the motor, and then the crackles and pops as the thin ropes of ground meat and bone came out the cylinder.

Early days Like many people, I started feeding raw reactively, not proactively. I had a new dog, my first show dog and first Ridgeback, who just wasn’t thriving on kibble. I remember setting down Blitz’s first raw meal with great fear and trepidation. And then – anticlimax – he didn’t choke, die, or even look at me cross-eyed. He ate, he thrived, and off we went and never looked back. Three more adult Ridgebacks followed, and dozens of puppies, who in turn had puppies of their own. All got their start in life on raw-food diets.

Back then (and still today), the Holy Grail of raw feeders was a quality meat source at affordable prices. Through local dog folk, I learned about Armellino’s, a butcher in nearby Huntington Station, New York, who was a wholesaler of naturally reared poultry – chickens and turkeys raised without hormones or pesticides. Joe Armellino was your go-to guy for a free-range Thanksgiving dinner. And he had turkey necks – dare I hope? Did I hear that right? – for a bargain 79 cents a pound.
By my second or third trip there, as I gratefully accepted my 10-pound bag of turkey necks, Joe asked me quizzically, “Are you starting a soup business or something?”

“No,” I replied with a chuckle. “I grind this stuff up for my dogs.”

And as I explained my feeding regimen – the noise, the blood, the guts, the time – lights started going off for Joe. Maybe he could buy a commercial grinding attachment. Maybe he’d order that BARF book. This was a bit of back to the future: His father, who had owned the business before him, used to sell minced meat for dogs.

A dog’s or puppy’s health shows from the inside out. No matter how fantastic a pedigree, it can be ruined by bad nutrition and bad rearing.

Today, 12 years later, my dogs still eat at Joe’s. His business has gone to the dogs – literally – and his store walls are lined with dog photos, from Danes to Dachshunds, who get their sustenance there. Joe doesn’t do mail order, he doesn’t do any fancy packaging or marketing. He just gets the meat directly from the source, grinds it, puts it in 2- or 5-pound sleeves, freezes it, and then sells it to the steady stream of doggie customers who are now a major part of his business.

Passing it on My puppies are weaned on Joe’s ground food mixed with evaporated milk at four weeks old. When the pups are around six weeks, I tell their new owners what I’m feeding, instruct them to order a good multivitamin and fish-oil source (for those nifty omega-3s), and have them stop by to visit Joe. (If they’re not local, many will invest in a freezer and schlep back for a food run every few months.)

I also provide them with a list of “don’t panic” points, including, “Don’t freak out if you don’t see your puppy drinking a lot. Her food is so well-hydrated, she won’t be constantly lapping up water like her kibble-fed counterparts.”
The three main problems with raw feeding for newbies are the time, the cost, and the learning curve. Joe solves the first two: His food is convenient (just thaw out overnight, dump in the bowl, and add supplements) and affordable (about the same price as a high-quality kibble).

As for the learning curve, I’ve fed this family of dogs for more than a decade. I know what to expect in terms of their growth needs. The biggest advantage to feeding raw is being able to control what you feed. (Which is the disadvantage to commercially prepared raw diets along with, frankly, price.) I am sure an Alaskan Malamute breeder instructs her puppy people to feed differently than I do, as would a Yorkie breeder. Our dogs, in their genetic programming, process food differently. So when my Ridgeback puppies hit 4 months, and their ears start doing a Sally Field (hello, “Flying Nun”) because teething is taxing their little bodies, I know to increase the calcium and fat in their diets, and I can literally watch their crimped ears flatten and their flat feet knuckle up.

Such breed-specific nutritional knowledge doesn’t happen in a decade, or two. I am fortunate in my breed to have a long-time mentor, Alicia Hanna of Kimani Kennels. She’s taught me how to reverse rickets in Ridgebacks; that’s what the above description is, really. And she drove home for me the importance of the old British saying “Half the pedigree goes through the mouth” – you really are what you eat.

Getting vets to buy in Veterinarians are often the biggest obstacle to owners who would like to feed raw. And I understand why: They are worried about owners who will take shortcuts and compromise their dog’s health in the process, far more than any fear of salmonella contamination. (Your garden-variety smoked pig’s ear carries a similar risk.)

Any skeptical vet I have ever encountered has been put at ease when I tell him or her these two things: First, I know the source of my dog’s meat, which is raised as holistically as anything I can buy in the supermarket for my own consumption; and second, I understand the importance of having a calcium source. This meat has a more-than-adequate bone content, and it’s finely ground to the consistency of hamburger meat to mitigate any issues of perforation or compaction. (Supposedly, grinding the bones negates any teeth-cleaning benefit, but life is nothing if not a series of compromises. And that’s one I can live with.)

“Well,” the vet invariably says. “You’ve done your homework. But the average pet owner isn’t as conscientious.” Maybe so, but it’s my job as the breeder to instruct my puppy people on how to feed correctly. And there’s a huge piece of me that thinks the lowest common denominator is a terrible place at which to set the bar.
All this is not to say that raw-feeding doesn’t have its drawbacks. Last year, I almost lost a litter of puppies when they contracted enteritis, an intestinal bacterial infection, presumably from the constant licking of their very fastidious raw-fed dam. Desperately watching as my puppies faded, and unsure what to do, I put them on a liquid antibiotic, and they all rebounded. Now, all my expectant mothers go to a cooked diet with added carbohydrates for increased milk production about halfway through their pregnancy until the puppies are weaned at eight weeks.

It works, it works, it works After that close call, why do I continue to feed raw, you might ask. Because in all the years I have been feeding this way, I haven’t had any major health issues with my dogs. They stay vibrantly healthy and look like a million bucks. The longer I am in dogs, and the more I talk with old-time breeders who themselves are becoming an extinct breed, the more I take this simple truth to heart: Health shows from the inside out. No matter how fantastic a pedigree, it can be ruined by bad nutrition and bad rearing. Common sense prevails: Dogs need sunshine, exercise, and good, whole, hydrated food.

Dog people – especially serious dog people – like to get all self-righteous about how they feed. It’s our way or the highway. I want my puppies to be raw-fed and I strongly encourage that way of feeding (just as I do minimal vaccination and pesticide-free landscaping), but in the end I realize I don’t have control. And I also realize that changes in lifestyle and economics also impact how we care for our dogs. In an ideal world, they shouldn’t, but who lives in an ideal world all their life?

My Ridgebacks aren’t the only litters I have around the house: My human kids consist of 6½-year-old triplets. When they were toddling, I was concerned about bacterial cross-contamination. And the cost of diapers and formula (I’m holistic, but breast-feeding triplets? – I’m not that holistic!) was beginning to make a real dent in our budget. So I began cooking the Armellino food, boiling it up in a pot with a grain source such as barley, to stretch it a little further. I did that for about two years, until the kids were bigger and could be trusted not to, say, lick the dogs’ food bowls or stuff fistfuls of raw turkey in their mouths.

But it wasn’t until I looked back over that time that I noticed some subtle changes in my dogs. They were still generally healthy on the cooked, carb-loaded diet, but I noticed an increased frequency of acute problems: the occasional ear infection or impacted anal sac, for instance. A homeopathic vet suggested I start a journal to note these little changes, and if I had followed that advice during that period, I’m sure I would have noticed additional “nickel and dime” changes that the cooked food brought – and not for the better. If ever I needed proof of the price we pay when we destroy the enzymes and nutrients in our dogs’ food by cooking it, there it was.

So, in my heart of hearts, do I think raw is better than home-cooked is better than canned is better than kibble is better than plasterboard? To be honest, yes. But do I think I loved my dogs any less by making the lifestyle and economic concessions that I needed to, when I needed to? To be honest, no.

In the end, what raw feeding taught me were the same life lessons we all take to heart: Never act out of a place of fear. Embrace common sense. (If whole foods are good for us, why should our dogs be any different?) Keep things simple. Act locally. (Thank you, Joe.) And master the use of the prepositional phrase “In my experience” at the beginning of any sentence involving a controversial subject like raw feeding. Because your experience is your experience, whether others agree or not.

Denise Flaim of Revodana Ridgebacks in Long Island, New York, shares her home with three Ridgebacks, three 6 ½-year-olds, and a husband.

This is a great article that was shared in the November 2010 Issue of; The Whole Dog Journal.  A wonderful online magazine that shares important information about healthy dogs.  Thank you for giving us this information.

Thank you to Denise for writing this important information.  It helps take the fear out of feeding raw. 

White Oak Golden Retrievers

Raw Feeding For Dogs

The Best eBook available is on Raw Feeding:

A Guide to Raw Feeding ebook by Angel Leandres from

If you want your dog to live a long time in health; this is the best $15. you can invest in their health. 

White Oak Golden Retrievers

Coconut Oil for Dogs

L+D Health: The Benefits of Coconut Oil

From The Magazine | L+D Health

Coconut oil is rapidly growing in popularity. No longer found in health food stores only, large grocery store chains have begun to carry multiple brands in response to the increased demand. People have discovered the health benefits from cooking with it, baking with it and even using coconut oil as a hair conditioner. Now even our dogs can experience the health benefits inside and out from coconut oil.

The Science: The fat in virgin coconut oil is largely made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). This type of saturated fat is easily metabolized and turned into energy. There are two types of coconut oil, refined and unrefined. Refined usually is tasteless, because it is refined to the point that you are able to fry with it or bake with it without imparting any coconut flavor or taste into your food. However, the refining process may include harsh solvents and chemicals. If possible, look for a slightly more expensive brand that uses a chemical-free cleaning process. On the other hand, unrefined coconut oil is typically virgin and extra virgin, and similar to olive oil—the oil comes from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut. There are pesticide-free organic brands as well. With so many choices and price points, reading the labels closely is highly recommended.

There are many healthful benefits to adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet. The unrefined type has a taste that most dogs immediately love. You can incorporate it directly into your dog’s meal by adding a 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon, depending on the size of your dog. As with any added fat to a diet, you will want to start slowly so your dog can properly absorb and process the oil and avoid diarrhea.

Why it’s Good for the Inside of a Dog:

  • Virgin coconut oil contains fatty acids such as lauric acid, which is also found in breast milk. Lauric acid has natural antibacterial properties.
  • The anti-fungal properties of coconut helps prevent and treat Candida and other yeast infections.
  • It improves digestive system function and enables better absorption of nutrients from the foods your dog normally eats. 
  • Coconut oil is also known to stimulate the thyroid gland which in turns helps maintain a healthy weight and activity level.

How it Can Help the Outside of a Dog:

  • Coconut oil is a great moisturizer when applied to your dog’s skin, healing hot spots and rough cracked foot pads.
  • You will notice overall improvement in your dog’s coat
  • Inflamed and itchy skin from flea bites or sores benefit from this oil applied directly.
  • Add it to your dog’s shampoo or rinse water to add a nice smell, and take advantage of its antioxidant properties.

 This article from L + D Health Magazine,

White Oak Golden Retrievers