Spring is Officially Here – And so are the Fleas!

We are all enjoying the longer days and the warmer spring weather.. However, in addition to the welcome showers, spring also brings some unwelcome guests that should be of concern to pet caregivers. As outside temperatures and humidity rise, the onslaught of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks begin. It is important to be conscientious about flea and tick prevention because these pests are more than itchy annoyances to your dog. Both fleas and ticks can transmit other parasites and diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and flea allergy dermatitis.

The best way to deal with fleas to prevent them! According to Dr. Michael Dryden, a leading expert on fleas, preventing flea infestation is one of the most important things pet caregivers can do for their pet. “For some reason,” asserts Dr. Dryden, “most people tend to react to fleas AFTER the fact. They seem to treat pets when they see fleas, then stop once the problem seems to be resolved.” Not a good idea. That philosophy only results in a frustrating ongoing cycle of re-infestation. We encourage responsible pet caregivers to use preventative treatment all year round! An even more serious parasite than fleas and ticks is heartworm which can seriously damage your dog’s heart. Spread by the bite of a mosquito, adult heartworms settle inside the heart and lungs, and slowly strangle these organs until they cease to function properly.

Many over-the-counter flea, tick and mosquito control products can be purchased at pet stores and on the internet. However, all products are NOT equal. If they are misused, they can sicken or even kill your pet. We urge you to talk with your veterinarian about the best preventative treatment for your four-legged companion. Parasites are a medical problem and it is wiser to spend a little time, energy and money preventing a medical problem rather than playing catch up to cure an existing one!

With the continual pet food recalls, more pet caregivers are making homemade food for their furbabies. The TLC has a Canine Recipe Book and a favorite recipe is Poultry Loaf. Served on top of their dry food, dogs snarf it down with intense concentration. For those of you who don’t have the TLC Canine Cookbook, here’s the recipe for Poultry Loaf (and if you would like a copy the cook book, just contact us):

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • ½ cup chopped carrots.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Put into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour( or until done) Crumble into pieces and serve over dry dog food. Freeze in small portions for later use.

The Season for Caring and Sharing

‘Tis the season for caring and sharing, with the holiday season definitely in full swing, which means an over abundance of rich foods, many of which are not healthy for our four-legged friends …..actually many of them are not healthy for two-legs either, but we won’t dwell on that (or the fact that we stuffed ourselves at Thanksgiving)!

Holiday staples that are hazardous to pets include your turkey, which is usually basted in tasty herbs and spices that would likely upset her stomach. The fatty skin, and added salty brine isn’t good for her. Resist her begging looks and don’t share more than a small, (very small), bit of turkey breast, or you risk causing a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas which requires immediate medical attention. .

When the turkey is gone, the bones that remain are NOT good chew toys ….they are brittle choking hazards that usually splinter if chewed. Be mindful of any bones on the table, kitchen counter, or trash, so your inquisitive pooch doesn’t make himself a bone buffet.

What do you put in your stuffing? This is a dish that usually includes some onions, mushrooms, garlic, and butter, none of which your dog should have. And then there’s the gravy, often loaded with garlic, onions, spices and herbs that are not safe for dogs. Since garlic is a member of the onion family (as far as dogs are concerned), garlic bread is also a no-no for them Sausage also contains onions, garlic, and other spices harmful to a dog’s health.

Raisins should never be given as a treat, and fruit with seeds or pits should be avoided, because they inflame the intestines. No plums, peaches, or grapes either!

If you bake for the holidays, it is important to NOT leave yeast dough on the counter unattended. Dogs will eat anything, and if yeast dough sits in his stomach, it can expand due to the warm, moist environment which can cause stomach upset, bloat, and twisting of the stomach. Yeast dough which ferments in the stomach can morph into alcohol and carbon dioxide which can become toxic very quickly as it is rapidly absorbed into the dog’s G.I. tract.

Most cooks know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but dogs are curious creatures, and can often snag a chuck of chocolate off the table or counter. Theobromine and caffeine are two components in chocolate that stimulate the nervous system and cause severe symptoms.

Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute used in a ton of products, including baked goods, some peanut butters, gums, mints, chewable vitamins Life threatening conditions can result when ingested by dogs,

Both pumpkin and sweet potatoes are good for dogs, but at the holiday season, many people add cinnamon and nutmeg to their pumpkin or sweet potato dishes. Not good for the dogs!

Dogs shouldn’t be eating desert anyway, but some are worse than others. Pecan pie contains nuts which can cause muscle spasms and weakness of the legs, and is also loaded with sugar, nutmeg, and other not-so-dog friendly ingredients. (Nutmeg is added to many holiday desserts and is toxic to our canine companions.) Walnuts and macadamia nuts should be kept out of paw’s reach..

You certainly don’t intend to feed your dog rotted, moldy food, but trashcans are treasure cans for canines. Your overflowing trashcan can contain moldy foods that produce harmful mycotoxins, which can do serious damage to your dog’s health.

If you serve alcoholic beverages, keep them away from your dog. Accidental ingestion can cause severe coma, slowed respiration, and a life-threateningly low blood sugar in your dog.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian right away, but prevention is a better solution. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!!!

Halloween Pet Dangers

Halloween is a fun time for the kids, but it can be a time of stress and anxiety for your pets. PLEASE do not leave your dog outside where it can become the prey for pranksters. Many animals are teased, injured, stolen, or even killed on Halloween. If badly frightened, a pet may escape even from a fenced yard and get lost or injured. If you, or someone you know, keep pets outside, we encourage you to make changes and keep them indoors. It is best to keep them in a separate room during trick or treat time. Too many strangers in weird costumes can frighten even the calmest dog, and a frightened pooch may bolt out the door.

Very few dogs enjoy being dressed up in a costume. It is big business for pet stores and the internet to offer really cute doggie costumes, but we really advise you to forget the costume. As cute as they are, costumes pose a danger to your pet’s well-being. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your pet’s hair coat, it’s easier than you might think for him to overheat while all dressed up. Pets have also been injured when their range of motion, vision, or hearing is restricted by a costume, or when they frantically try to remove it. Many costumes contain buttons, bows, and other small accessories that can be pulled off and swallowed. It is important to make this about your pet. If he seems anxious, fearful, or uncomfortable, don’t force him to wear it. If you can’t resist dressing him up, just use a decorative bandana!

Candles, including the small ones inside jack ‘o lanterns, are fire hazards. You don’t want your dog getting too friendly or feisty with a carved pumpkin with a candle inside it. Make sure that any of these types of decorations are up well out of the dog’s reach.

We also discourage taking the dog along trick-or-treating. He may become overexcited and break loose. Leave the dog home.

Do not leave Halloween treats where the dog can reach them. Dogs do not properly digest sugary treats, and chocolate and candy with zylitol are toxic. (Zylitol is a sugar substitute that is showing up in all kinds of products, including sugar-free candy, gum, mints and baked goods.) A small amount of xylitol can cause a rapid, dangerous blood sugar drop and acute liver failure.

Halloween candy isn’t the only health hazard for pets. Empty candy wrappers smell like what was in them, which can intrigue your pet. Ingestion of cellophane wrappers or foil can case life-threatening bowel obstructions. Emphasize to everyone, especially the kids, the importance of keeping all candy wrappers out of paws’ reach.

Some people give non-candy treats, and a recent fad is the small boxes of raisins, or small bags of trail mix containing raisins. Raisins are toxic to dogs and very small amounts can trigger kidney failure. Chocolate covered raisins pose an even larger risk.

Talk to your children about the importance of respecting animals, and not pulling pranks on dogs. Encourage them to tell you if they see anyone annoying an animal. It is a good opportunity to discuss respect, responsibility, and compassion toward both humans and animals.

Taking just a few common sense precautions will make Halloween a lot more fun for both four-leggeds and two-leggeds. Have a safe, happy Halloween.

 

Down in the Dumps

“Down in the dumps” is a phrase humans often use when depressed or unhappy. This was a commonplace expression used frequently in plays and manuscripts from the 16th century on. Shakespeare used the term several times, for example, in The Taming of the Shrew. No one really knows if dogs suffer from clinical depression similar to humans but we know that they experience mood and behavior changes. Since dogs can’t talk to us, we must rely on observation to determine if a canine is feeling “down in the dumps.”

Changes in behavior symptomatic of depression, including lack of appetite, having accidents in the house, sleeping more than usual, reluctance to exercise, and sudden aggressive behavior in a usually mild mannered dog should be evaluated by a veterinarian. If the dog gets a clean bill of health, perhaps the problem is depression.

Dogs are social animals and many are left alone long hours without access to human contact, access to bathroom facilities, or an outlet for their energy. If the time you are able to spend with your dog doesn’t seem adequate, consider asking a friend to stop by while you are gone, or consider doggie day care, or hiring a dog walker.

  • Pets do best when their daily routine is consistent. Try to keep exercise, walks, playtime, bedtime, and other regular activities on as regular a schedule as possible.
  • Be careful to not reward his depression. Giving extra attention to a dog who is displaying an undesirable behavior can reinforce the behavior.
  • Give it time…..your dog’s depression may take a few days or even weeks to blow over, but usually most bets return to their normal selves.
  • Keep your dog’s mealtimes and diet the same. It is important to give him the same food he’s used to, at the same time each day, but you might consider making him some homemade treats. Here are a couple recipes that will be appreciated by any dog, whether ‘down in the dumps” or not!!

PEANUT BUTTER-PUMPKIN TREATS

  • 2 ½ cups flour (preferably whole wheat)
  •  2 eggs
  •  ½ cup canned pumpkin (NOT pie mix)
  •  2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  •  ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Mix together.
  2. Add enough water to make the dough workable, but stiff.
  3. Roll into balls.
  4. Flatten with a glass or the palm of your hand.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. For harder treats, bake for 40 minutes.

MICROWAVE BOW WOW BONES

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon bacon bits or grated cheese (or both
  1. Grease a microwave safe dish (and grease your hands!)
  2. Mix the ingredients and knead with your greased hands (add a bit more broth if needed)
  3. Roll into small rolls…like mini tootsie rolls
  4. Place in a dish and microwave for about 4-5 minutes or until hard (microwaves differ, so check the bones a couple times)

Rethinking Treats

We all love treats, and our dogs look forward to them, but before you make a decision on what type of dog treat to buy, do a little research. Many popular treats are full of artificial ingredients, fillers, and other harmful additives that are not good for your dog. Treats in all shapes, sizes, and colors fill entire aisles at pet stores. Marketing these treats has become big business, and since dogs are indiscriminate eaters, who will devour just about anything, so it is the responsibility of the humans to choose treats that are healthy for their pooches. Some people foods are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Chocolate and dogs don’t mix. Just an ounce of dark chocolate can be a serious problem for a small dog. Dogs are also sensitive to a chemical in grapes and raisins that induces kidney failure. Chicken, turkey, or ham bones can cause gastritis and perforate the small intestine. Macadamia nuts can cause fever, diarrhea, and neurological problems! Other foods to avoid are avocados which can cause heart damage, and onions which can damage red blood cells.

To take the guesswork out of what’s a good treat, and more importantly, what is not, you can check the website of the ASPCA at www.aspca.org where they give a comprehensive list of treats to avoid. Some people foods are great treats. Most dogs love raw carrots, and they are good for the animal’s teeth. Beef knuckle bones, or large, sturdy leg bones are usually safe if you trim off excess fat that could trigger diarrhea. (In a multi-dog household, be aware that even normally gentle dogs may decide a bone is worth a fight). Animal based chews are hits with most dogs, but rawhide, hooves, and pig ears can all cause problems, especially with aggressive chewers. If big hunks of rawhide are chewed off and swallowed, serious internal problems can result. Never give these treats to your dog unless you are there to supervise! If you buy commercial packaged treats, check the ingredient list on the package BEFORE you buy. (You will probably be horrified to find out what is really in those cute little tidbits!)

Good treats should NOT contain:

  • animal by-products …this term can mean almost anything
  • artificial preservatives such as BHT, BHA, or Ethoxyquin
  • artificial colors…your dog doesn’t care what color his food is. He doesn’t need exposure to unnecessary chemicals, and green, red, and yellow treats contain dyes
  • propylene glycol, a chemical which is added to some “chewy” treats to keep them moist.

If you are serious about giving your dog healthy treats, the best solution is to make homemade ones. Remember, the dogs don’t care about appearance. They go for taste, and there are many simple recipes to satisfy the most finicky dog! Here are two, guaranteed to please, easy to make, recipes from our TLC Canine Cookbook. ENJOY!

SSS BISCUITS (Simply Scrumptious Simple Biscuits)

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 6 Tablespoons oil
  • 2/3 cup meat broth
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix ingredients well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

 

CORNMEAL TREATS

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/ ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup oatmeal

Mix thoroughly. Drop walnut sized pieces on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

Tony Buffington, professor in veterinary clinical services at Ohio State University stresses that treats do not have to be food…”Treats are things that bring joy….if you want to provide your dog with a good treat, take him for a walk, and give him extra attention. He appreciates your time more than a snack.”

 

Appreciate Your Pet

While we always love and appreciate our pets, the Animal Welfare Association claims this as a special month to appreciate them even more, stressing that appreciation means love, understanding, paying extra attention to your pet, and doing something special. Here are just a few ideas for you to celebrate your pet this month.

  • Good old fashioned attention is always welcome…taking them to an extra long walk (maybe on a new route, with new sights and smells)…extra tummy rubs or ear massaging…. quality lounging time with your dog.
  • Nothing shows your appreciation more than making sure your pet is happy and healthy. It is important to stay up to date on necessary vaccinations, and have regular checkups. Many problems can be easily corrected if detected early. Sounds gross, but fecal checks are probably one of the first indicators of health problems. Usually a healthy poop is well-formed, firm but not hard, moist, and doesn’t fall apart when picked up. If your dog’s poop strays from the norm for a day or two, it may not be serious, and even blood doesn’t mean that your dog is dying, but it definitely warrants a visit to the vet, and just because you don’t see worms doesn’t mean that parasites are not infecting your dogs. A fecal sample should be taken to the vet for examination at least once a year, or if you detect a change in color, odor, consistency, contents, or amount of poop.
  • A couple new toys are a great way to appreciate your dog, but if your pooch already has an over-abundant supply of toys, have a “toy exchange party. Your dog-lover friends probably have the same situation. Toys that are in good condition can be washed and exchanged… toys that a friend’s dog is no longer interested in can become a “new” toy for yours! And it gives you an excuse to throw a party!
  • Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue…your opportunities are almost endless…writers, graphic artists, and photographers can help produce fliers, newsletters, or information packets; dog health professionals and groomers can offer free or discounted services….dog trainers can provide positive training methods….socializing or transporting the dogs …money, supplies and your time are always needed. Keep in mind that anything you do is appreciated.
  • According to research, dogs have the genetic potential to live 20 years, but humans often rob years from their lives by feeding low quality pet foods. Deciphering a pet food label may be confusing, so www.dogfoodafvisor.com, an independent on-line site, ranks all the major dog foods. Click on BRAND and it will rate any specific food, or you may also review all brands A to Z. If you check the ranking of the dog food you are currently feeding, you may decide that it’s time to make a change. (Popular foods like Beneful, Iams, Kibbles and Bits, Pedigree, Purina, and Science Diet all rate law). It is also important what treats you are giving your dog. Most commercial treats are not healthy, and some are downright toxic. There are continual warnings about dog treats (and foods) that are potentially poisonous to your dog.

We recommend NO commercial treats, but especially avoid those that are imported from China. Make your own homemade treats for your companion animal. There are plenty of recipes that can be found online. Here is a very easy-to-make healthy treat:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ cups flour (preferably wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup non fat dry milk powder
  • 6 tablespoons of margarine.

Mix ingredients and knead until the dough forms a ball Pinch off small bits and drop on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (If you want to make fancy looking cookies, roll to ½ inch think and cut into dog bone shape… the dogs don’t care about their appearance, but if they are for gifts, they will look more impressive.)

“Dogs have given us their absolute all…We are the center of their universe….We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.
They serve us in return for scraps….It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made…they are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” (Roger Caras) CELEBRATE PET APPRECIATION MONTH BY SHOWING YOUR DOG SOME EXTRA LOVE AND ATTENTION !

 

Reward Your Dog With Healthy Treats

Hopefully last week’s Paw Prints article on healthy (and unhealthy) pet foods was useful to pet caregivers as they navigate the maze of confusing marketing info. Several of our readers expressed an interest in some factual info about what to look for, and what to avoid, when buying treats for their dogs. Dogs love treats, and what better way to show love to your dog than by giving him treats, but it is important to choose HEALTHY treats, and to not over-treat your dog, which adds calories to his diet and puts him at risk of becoming overweight. Treats often add a substantial amount of calories to your dog’s otherwise healthy diet, and many treats are filled with artificial ingredients, fillers, and other additives that are not good for your dog. They usually provide your dog with few health benefits and are typically high in “empty calories.” Veterinarian Tami Pierce stresses that treats and snacks should make up only 10 percent of a dog’s daily diet. People often give their dog two, three, or four treats at a time without even considering the calories involved. The result is obesity.”

My favorite treat is carrots. A raw baby carrot makes a great on-the-go dog treat. Or cook them or freeze them. Carrots are healthful, delicious, inexpensive, non-messy, low calorie, and safe. Lots of dogs like sweet, crispy apple slices. Just remove the core and seeds. Pumpkin is a super treat (Plain pumpkin…not canned pie mix). Just drop small spoonfuls on a tray and freeze. Put into a plastic baggie and take out as needed. Left over bits of chicken can also be saved in the freezer, and low fat broth can be frozen in an ice cube tray, and stored in a plastic bag. Some dogs like green beans, and sweet potatoes, and I have yet to meet a dog who didn’t simply love a small tidbit of cheese. (Do not feed grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, or anything with caffeine or alcohol because of potential toxicity.)

If you buy commercial treats, don’t be swayed by powerful marketing techniques used by the industry. Most dog treats contain high amounts of sugar, and are ripe with preservatives, allergens, artificial colors, carcinogenic additives, and more. Even the popular Milk Bones contain BHA and some varieties are loaded with sugar. Snausages contain corn syrup and BHA and also contain polypropylene glycerol as a moistening agent derived from a highly toxic compound used in automotive antifreeze. Snausages , Pup-peroni, and Beggin’ Strips all contain artificial coloring, and are also all made in China—yet another reason to be wary, given the historic danger of Chinese produced dog treats. (Be aware of where the treats are sourced also, because just because a package says treats are made in the U.S., doesn’t necessarily mean that the ingredients are not sourced from elsewhere). Don’t feed jerky or rawhide, imported or domestic, to your dog…just ask your vet how many emergency visits have been necessary because of these treats!

I have yet to meet a dog yet who hasn’t liked Beggin’ Strips, but they are preserved with carcinogenic BHA, and they contain both sugar and artificial food coloring. Does your dog need to be eating sugar? Absolutely not! Do they like it? They LOVE it and will gobble up this cheap, addictive filler that is just as bad for your dog as it is for you. We offer you a simple, easy- to- make recipe for homemade Beggin’ Strips:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine in a medium sized bowl, using your hands to blend everything well:

  • 3 cooked slices of bacon, cooked and finely chopped
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 egg

Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick. Use a knife to cut the dough into 1 inch wide strips, 4-6 inches in length. (You can use your fingers to ripple the dough if you want it to look like a piece of bacon) Place the strips on an oiled cookie sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes. BONE appetite!

Another VERY SIMPLE treat is Sweet Potato Chews: Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and slice a sweet potato into thin slices. You don’t need to peel the potato, just scrub it well. Place slices on oiled cookie sheet and bake for about 3 hours. Baking time will determine the hardness of the chew.

We all love to see the excitement and anticipation on our dog’s face when we offer a treat, but it is important to realize that many commercially-available treats are not good for them. Choose wisely to keep your companion healthy as well as happy!

How Will You Spend Your Check from Uncle Sam?

According to Bankrate.com, about 54 percent of Americans expect to get a tax refund, and recession-weary taxpayers, awaiting their refund, say they will not be indulging on something fun , but instead will be paying down debt, saving or investing their windfall, or using it for food or utility bills. Only 7 percent plan to fritter the money away on an expensive vacation or shopping spree for stuff they probably really don’t need anyway. “I think it is a sign about how people feel about the economy and where the country is going. There is a lot of uncertainly out there,” says Bryan Pukoff of Rehmann, one of the largest financial services in the Midwest. “That is different from what we have seen in the past.”

Top financial priorities certainly include paying off high-interest debt, spending it on necessities, or starting a savings account, but we would like to suggest spending just a little of it on your loyal four-footed companions, and we have a few dog friendly ways to spend part of your tax return money.

  • Start a fund for your pet’s health care, or use it to pay for your pet’s health insurance. Hopefully it won’t be needed, but it is comforting to know that if your animal needs special care, there is money available.
  • Sign up for some dog-obedience training. It is important he know basic safety commands—sit, stay, come—but more advanced training is always good – good for your dog, and good for you. Check out the classes to make sure they use positive reinforcement training methods, and have fun!
  • Toss out the old frayed collar, and leashes, and give her a fresh look for spring with new ones.
  • Upgrade his bed, (or order a second bed, because most dogs sleep everywhere). Find a bed that will keep long-haired dogs from overheating, or a cozy, snuggly bed for little dogs. Select an orthopedic memory-foam bed for older dogs with less-than-spry joints.
  • Treat her to a professional grooming. Stay and watch…you may learn some tips that you can use at home.
  • If you have a secure fenced yard, consider adding a doggy door. Your dog will love the extra freedom, and you will enjoy the convenience. Do some research to get the best door for your environment…some are cheaply made and not suitable for harsh weather. (If you are afraid that other critters might creep inside the house at night, you can always close it off with the permanent panel that comes with all the doors.)
  • Buy a few SAFE toys to replace some of the tattered and torn ones. Toss out those cheap latex ones that are probably toxic! A few quality toys will last longer and will certainly be safer! A new Kong (or two) is always appreciated!

Our pets give us so much, and we can pay their goodwill forward by doing something special for them and here’s a way to help even if you didn’t get a refund: make some homemade treats. Make a double (or triple) batch! Some for your dog, some for a neighborhood dog (check with his caregiver first), and some for your local shelter or rescue group. Won’t cost much, and will be MUCH appreciated.


 HEALTHY MEAT BALLS

  • 2 cups LEAN ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup collage cheese
  • 1 cup canned sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Mix all the ingredients together, and then drop spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. . Let cool and freeze extra treats…in the freezer these treats stay fresh for several months. (Your dog will love them frozen or thawed.)


CANNED DOG FOOD NUGGETS

If time is limited, convert a can of high quality canned dog food into a crunchy treat. Just place gumdrop sized spoonfuls of canned food onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes, and voila—a great training or on- the- go treat. Store in freezer. (Your dog will love them frozen!)

Here A Pumpkin, There A Pumpkin

HERE A PUMPKIN, THERE A PUMPKIN, EVERYWHERE A PUMPKIN

It is October and definitely pumpkin season! The time when everyone focuses on pumpkin flavored treats, and while there are many people foods that you should not share with your pooch, pumpkin is not one of them. Pumpkin is high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol, and loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. All those nutrients sound impressive, and they are all good for both two-legs and four-legs.

Veterinarians have long known the benefits of adding a little canned pumpkin to a pet’s diet regularly. The fiber in canned pumpkin (PLAIN pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix) is a great source of fiber and helps with digestive regularity. If your dogs are experiencing constipation or diarrhea, mix a tablespoon of pumpkin straight from the can into their normal food. Not only will they love the taste, but it may also ease stomach issues. There is some evidence that the nutritional benefits of pumpkin mean healthier skin, healthier eyes, a healthier coat, and a healthier immune system…not too shabby for a treat that almost all dogs like. “As with any remedy,” says Tony Buffinton, DVM, “I recommend consulting with your veterinarian about the amount and the frequency, and following up if you don’t see a problem resolve.”

Interested in trying a healthy, homemade pumpkin treat for your dog? Here are a few easy recipes :

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter/Pumpkin Treats

  • ½ cup peanut butter (check to make sure the peanut butter does not contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs)
  • 1 cup canned plain pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 1 ¾ cups wheat flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together and drop by small spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 8-l0 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months

Yummy Punkin Biscuits

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 2 ½ cups flour ( brown rice flour gives the biscuits a crunch but wheat flour is okay)
  • Water as needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients together. It is easiest to mix with your hands, adding enough water as needed to make the dough somewhat workable.
  3. Drop by small spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet. If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork.
  4. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, and bake 15-20 more minutes.

Honey-Pumpkin Bites

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 ½ cups wheat flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix and knead with your hands. Dough should be workable, not too sticky, but not dry and stiff. Add a few drops of water if needed.
  2. Pinch off bite sized pieces and place on lightly greased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes until golden brown. If they get too brown, it’s okay…they will just be crunchier…if they are soft, they will be chewier. Dogs love them any way they turn out!

The best way to store leftover canned pumpkin is in the freezer since it will only last a short time in the refrigerator. Scoop your canned pumpkin into an ice cube tray that has been sprayed with a cooking spray, freeze and, when frozen solid, pop into a freezer bag. Thaw one out when you need it, stir to blend any separation of water, and mix into your dog’s next meal.

 

And Now For the Good News

Last week’s Paw Prints received many responses from caregivers who honestly did not realize that some of the people-food-treats they were giving their dogs could cause harm to them… various forbidden people food for dogs include chocolate coffee, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, apricots, cherries, peaches plums, avocados, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, grapes, raisins, onions and any things containing xylitol, the natural sweetness that is found in chewing gum, baked goods, and some toothpaste. It can also be purchased as a sugar substitute to bake with or sweeten beverages. It is not harmful to humans, but it is toxic for dogs, and it is becoming increasingly popular in more foods.

Now for some good news: there are many favorite people foods that are dog friendly… in fact, some offer health benefits (to both two-legged and four-legged). These are just a few that we serve regularly to our TLC residents.

  • Carrots are one of the very favorite treats at the TLC is raw baby carrots. Carrots are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, and most dogs like them. (If your dog is unsure, rub a bit of peanut butter on them J) Missy, one of TLC older residents even does a little dance when she hears the rattle of the bag of carrots…
  • Sweet potatoes are a source of fiber and Vitamin C, and are great sliced and dehydrated as a chewy treat…easy to make and much healthier than most commercial treats.
  • Lean meat, especially chicken, given in moderation, can be added to almost anything to make it tasty for dogs… just avoid fatty meats with added sauces or seasonings.
  • Peanut butter contains heart healthy fats, along with vitamin B, niacin and vitamin E, and I have yet to meet a dog who didn’t like the taste of peanut butter… this favorite people-food has always been considered a safe treat, but there some new brands of peanut butter and other nut butter spreads that dog owners need to be aware of because they may contain the ingredient xylitol. Be sure that your peanut butter isn’t sweetened with xylitol if you plan to share it with your dog.
  • Yogurt is another favorite with TLC dogs. It is high in calcium and protein, and yogurts with active bacteria can act as a probiotic and are good for your dog’s digestive system. Just choose only yogurts that do not contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
  • Apples and pears cut into bite-size pieces help to clean residue off a dog’s teeth, and are a good source of fiber as well as vitamin A and C, and are enjoyed by SOME dogs…However do NOT feed the core…seeds can be toxic. Blueberries, and strawberries are also safe, healthy treats.
  • Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, which can be especially beneficial to dogs with bowel irregularity issues. It is also a great alternative grain for dogs allergic to wheat. Just cook it well and do not add any sugar or flavor additives.
  • Cheese is a great treat of any dogs that are not lactose intolerant. Opt for low or reduced fat varieties and don’t overfeed. Cottage cheese is always a good choice.
  • Rice is great for any dog, especially if there are stomach troubles. We usually flavor the rice with low fat, salt free broth for a little added flavor!
  • Pumpkin is a good source of fiber as well as beta-carotene/vitamin A. It can help keep the GI tract moving and can aid with digestive issues.
  • Scrambling up an egg for your pooch is another great way to give a protein boost… Eggs are a source of easily digestible riboflavin and selenium, making them a healthy snack.

Good nutrition may result in extending your dog’s life, and although the people food suggestions are not meant to replace your dog’s normal, balanced died, they offer alternatives to add a little variety to your dog’s meals.