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Archive for January, 2012

Mimi is ready for her lunch

When thinking about your best buddy’s health, digestion is the first thing to consider.  Their ability to digest and absorb what they eat is the critical first step to nutrition and health.

Health begins in the gut.  Your dog has a short digestive system, so it only takes about 8 to 9 hours for food to go from teeth and tongue to tail.

But before his food ever goes into his greedy little mouth he has to smell it and he must like the smell. Dogs can out-sniff you a million to one. No kidding, a dog literally has between 120 million to more than a whopping 220 million scent cells, depending on the breed. As mere humans, we have only about 5 million scent cells. And these canine super sniffers can store smells in their brains like we store data on a computer. Their heightened sense of smell helps with their more limited sense of taste. Our canine buddies have only about 1,700 taste buds enabling them to taste sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. We humans have about 9,000.

It seems the stronger the smell, the better dogs like it. Commercial dog food companies have understood this and have taken advantage by spraying fat smells and smoky scents directly onto kibbles, tricking dogs and dog parents. If you knew what some of these kibbles were made from, you probably would not buy them for your pet. And without the fat smell and added scents, your dog probably would not eat them.

Unlike humans who savor a good steak by chewing it thoroughly, when dogs think something smells good and tastes good, they tear it apart and swallow it in as few bites as possible. Their incisors teeth cut the meat, and the back molars crush. Canines do not chew their food, like humans, because their jaws never go sideways they only move up and down.

The saliva in a dog’s mouth does not have any enzymes that help break down food. But do have an enzyme in their mouth known as lysozyme. Lysozyme kills bad bacteria.  That’s why our sweet little angles can eat something rotten off the street not get sick.

Strong enzymes and stomach acids in the canine stomach digest raw chunks of meat and bones, turning food into chyme (a semi liquid mass of partially digested food.) The chyme passes from the stomach through the pyloric sphincter into the duodenum, where it then is passed on to the small intestines.  There, the food is broken down even further so that it can be absorbed into the intestine wall and into the blood stream, feeding the nutrients to the body.  By the time the chyme arrives in the large intestines, most of the nutrients have been absorbed and the waste is then eliminated.

When talking about digestion we can’t leave out friendly bacteria. They are a big part of the equation. Our dogs need to have a garden of friendly flora in their little guts to insure they are healthy. These friendly little bacteria support the immune system, help protect against food allergies, and may help with eliminating joint pain. They also may prevent ear infections, and itchy skin usually caused by yeast. They can also improve digestion and help normalize bowel movements. These friendly bacteria have about a thousand other tasks they perform in the body from building “B” vitamins to protecting against bad bacteria. I use Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics for my Canine kids. They are a little expensive but well worth it for my little treasures.

To have a healthy, happy furry companion, feed him/her a balanced diet, with fresh and high quality human grade food. Use plenty of good protein (grass- -fed if possible), fresh vegetables, and some fruit.

According to the 2005 Perdue Cancer Center studies of invasive urinary bladder cancer (invasive urothelial carcinoma or InvUC) in dogs, the findings were that “…reduction in InvUC risk is attributed to ingestion of vegetables.  In fact, dogs in the study who consumed vegetables at least 3 times per week had a 70 percent reduction in bladder cancer risk.”  The vegetables with the most reduction were green leafy, yellow and orange vegetables.

But our canine kids need to be able to digest those meats and vegetables. Because of the canine’s short digestive system, puree any raw vegetables that you feed them to help break the food down.

Herbs are another much overlooked ingredient that helps with digestion and a myriad of other uses. Three herbs that are inexpensive and excellent for digestion are fennel, ginger, and turmeric. Just a pinch is all that is needed for these super stars.

Fennel seeds, bulbs and leaves  -Fennel is good for digestion, reducing gas and bloating and has been used for infant’s colic and for pain. Place the seeds in a coffee grinder and grind them into a fine powder or puree in a food processor with other vegetables. The fennel bulb may be used raw or lightly braised and the raw leaves can be pureed in the food processor.

Ginger – use either dried ground or the fresh roots.  Finely mince or puree the raw root. Ginger is known for its digestive properties, for nausea and inflammation.

Turmeric -aids in digestion and acts as an anti-inflammatory.  Used for pain, arthritis, and to help protect the liver. Turmeric is called the poor man’s saffron because it turns food a beautiful orange or yellow.

A good digestive enzyme especially designed for dogs is another way to help insure your dog’s ability to digest his food.

If your dog’s digestion is healthy then you have a healthy dog.

Always consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.

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I know, I know. You are going to think I’ve gone over to la la land for giving caviar to dogs. But before you send for the men in the little white coats let me tell you some of the health benefits of caviar, especially the Wild Salmon Roe (always use wild  salmon roe for your canines).  According to researchers at the University of Almería (UAL) in Spain…

We have classified these eggs as unequivocal sources of Omega 3, and have proven that this appears at high concentrations in all the species studies”, says José Luis Guil Guerrero, director of this study and a researcher in the Food Technology Department of the UAL. “Omega 3 fatty acids are present in all fish roe, but especially in the eggs of Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda), mackerel (Scomber scombrus), squid (Loligo vulgaris), cuttlefish (Sepia sp.), lumpsucker (Cyclopterus lumpus), hake (Merluccius merluccius) and salmon (Salmo salar). More than 30% of the fatty acids found in these eggs were EPA and DHA. Small consumption of lumpsucker, hake or salmon roe satisfies the human body’s Omega 3 essential fatty acid requirements, because of its levels of EPA and DHA.” –  European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, December 2009.”

A few of the Benefits : 

1. Helps protect the brain and damage from strokes

2. Because of the salmon roe’s phosphatidylcholine, it is beneficial in chronic liver disease.

3. The high lysine in caviar, when combined with certain drugs, has the ability to cause a cancer cell to destroy itself. Some doctors even recommend eating caviar after major Surgery and chemo treatment.

And it is sooo good!

As a matter of fact, the reason there is only one Wild Salmon Roe Egg in the picture is because Mimi, Casper, and I decided we would just take a bite or two to test the recipe, and then the eggs just disappeared.

Here is a simple but delicious recipe for ….

Stuffed Jeweled Eggs:

4 hard cooked eggs peeled
1 teaspoon of dried dill or 2 teaspoons of fresh dill chopped
½ tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon of Wild Red Salmon Roe

Slice eggs lengthwise and gently take out the yoke.  Place in another bowl; add mayonnaise and dill and mash mixture together with a fork. Fill eggs with mixture. Divide the salmon roe into eight even amounts and top each egg.

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Mimi has a little friend Bebe that she met at the Doggie Park about a year and a half ago. At that time Bebe was a fourteen year old Jack Russell. She was a little cranky and had some issues with her joints. However, Mimi saw a kindred spirit and they hit it off and became great friends.

I ask Bebe’s mom if she was on any supplements and she told me Bebe was on some really good canine vitamins. I mentioned to her that   The Gift For Life  was one of the best products I had found for all dogs but especially for dogs or cats with aging conditions.

She said she would give it a try and now Bebe is running and playing at the doggie park and no one can believe she is now fifteen years young because Bebe is The Queen of the Park.

As I have mentioned before in a previous blog, my Casper had been rescued but he had been kept in a crate with about twenty-five other dogs in the same room for quite sometime. So when I adopted this sweet boy he was under stress and his hair was coming out in handfuls. Also more disturbing was his teeth. I immediately took him off all commercial dog food that had grains, corn, potatoes and started feeding him high quality human grade food with no starches. I also did some research and found a Brush-less Breathless Toothpaste and a product of enzymes, Plaque Zappers  I put in the water that breaks down tarter on there teeth. This little guy now has beautiful teeth and he gets rave reviews at his annual checkups.

Casper’s Beef Recipe

Double or even triple this recipe and store in individual servings in the freezer. 

1 lb raw roast (I use grass-fed) cut in ½ inch cubes for small to medium dogs and 1 inch cubes for larger dogs
3 small cans of sardines or 1 large can in water, rinsed of salt, drained
1 Lg carrot chopped
2 Lg collared green leaves stemmed and chopped
¼ cup frozen peas (thawed)
¼ cup parsley chopped
¼ cup of frozen cranberries (thawed)

Casper and his cute  girl friend, Kayla ( he likes her more than she likes him) Bless his heart.


1 Tbl flax seed meal (I use sprouted)
1 Tbl coconut oil

1 Tsp eggshell calcium powder ( I grind the eggs shells myself)
½ Tbl of nutritional yeast

Place all ingredients, except beef, in food processor and process until blended thoroughly. Add beef and mix.

All dogs like humans are unique in their likes, dislikes and their nutritional needs so please ask you veterinarian what is best for your furry buddies.

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Casper Mimi & Me

As a child I was always sick. I had whooping cough at six weeks and amebic dysentery at two months.  My doctor tried every kind of antibiotics but nothing helped.  I just kept getting sicker. Finally he told my mother that he was going to give me caster oil and if it didn’t kill me it just might cure me. Well, I lived. But I had allergies, asthma, learning disabilities, and was diagnosed with classic narcolepsy.

Life is strange. I married an eccentric artist and met my best friend, Hitchhiker, a coy dog, and we moved to an isolated location in the

Mom & Hitchhiker (Coydog-half feral dog half coyote)

desert. I started forging in the desert and started eating organic foods. In 1983, the artist left but my dog stayed. I cooked for Hitchhiker and myself and kept getting healthier.  After about a year, I stopped having episodes of narcolepsy. Today I still have issues with allergies but not anything like when I was a child.

Now, I am a nutritionist chef and currently conduct nutritional research for a nationally syndicated natural health radio talk show which I help produce.  I also co-run an on-line health food store.

A couple of years ago when I first met and adopted my animals, Mimi and Casper, their health was less than optimal. Mimi, a Dachshund/Chihuahua and whatever mix, was a little street dog, smart, sassy, and a natural born thief. She was also nervous and had digestive issues. Casper, a Dachshund/ Sweetheart mix, had been rescued and kept in a crate in a room with twenty-five other dogs. When I got this little angel he was in extreme stress and his curly white hair was coming out in handfuls.

I saw how my “babies” were suffering, so I started to focus my research on canine nutrition. I drew upon the experience I’d gained as the Executive Chef for a gourmet cooking Oil Company and as food editor for a Dallas magazine.  I started to make delicious, healthy, and interesting food for my dogs that I could enjoy too.

As I got happier and healthier, my furry canine kids did too, (and they became a little bratty while getting spoiled).  They have nice wet noses, clear sparkly eyes that are full of mischief, slim muscled bodies, and shiny beautiful coats. Mimi is still a thief.

One of their favorite snacks is frozen almond butter and blueberries.

Frozen Almond Bites

1/2 jar of Almond butter

1 pint of fresh organic blueberries, washed

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Place several rows of almond butter mounds (a little more than a teaspoon) on the cookie sheet making sure that the dollops are not touching. Then place 1 or 2 blueberries in the center of each mounds. Place in freezer.

Great for a hot Texas summer day!

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