Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Ruben the little porcupine

I think cottage cheese is a great occasional meal for dogs especially if they are recovering from an illness. Cottage cheese contains amino acids which are excellent for healing wounds and building muscle and it's also high in protein and easily digested. For all those reasons it's really good to feed to doggies that are pregnant or feeding their puppies and for dogs that work or exercise really hard (not Ruben obviously).

I feed the full fat version as the low fat one can sometimes have a higher sodium level which isn't good. Don't buy one with chives or other bits in - that's just plain silly.

Unfortunately Ruben has always suffered with his back so he regularly has acupuncture and yesterday Alistair Greenway, his acupuncture vet, paid us a visit. Ruben is extremely relaxed when he has the treatment, in fact we always laugh that he seems to go into some kind of meditative trance even before a needle goes in. Ruben also rather sweetly gives Alistair a kiss at the end of the treatment to thank him, bless him!

You can find out more about all the amazing work Alistair does at:

Friday, 24 February 2012

A dog in wolf's clothing

Raw food diets for dogs, which have seen a healthy increase over the last few years,  base their theory that a dog is essentially a wolf and as such should eat what a wolf eats. This would be an animal's carcass, organ meat and (sorry if you've just had breakfast) the contents of the animal's stomach. They would also scavenge for anything else available, be that fish, windfall fruit or honey.

So feeding raw meaty bones including beef, lamb and chicken is at the heart of this diet as well feeding raw crushed vegetables and fruit to mimic the stomach contents and a small proportion (about 10% ) of offal like liver, heart and kidneys.

I feed Ruben raw food a lot of the time but not exclusively. I think it has enormous health benefits and whatever you feed your dog, giving them a raw beef bone to gnaw on is always going to be a good idea.

I like to 'line the stomach' before they eat bones, either by feeding some other softer food first or by rolling the raw bones in bran so as to mimic the fur and skin that the wolf would naturally have to eat first.

If feeding a raw diet really floats your boat then reading The Barf Diet by Dr Ian Billinghurst is your first port of call. 'Barf' stands for biologically appropriate raw food in case you were wondering.

Or a Saturday night in Essex.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A history of dog food...........part one

To understand why commercial dog food may not always be the best thing to feed your dog, I think it's useful to know why it exists in the first place. There's really only two reasons - commercial and circumstantial.

The first history lesson takes us back to 1859 when an American salesman called James Spratt, who was working in London, watched sailors throwing their unwanted hard tack biscuits to some hungry stray dogs.  He had a light bulb moment and started producing a biscuit that was specifically made for dogs. Other products followed and soon they were sold all over the world and the dog food industry was born. Spratt's was very well marketed and convinced a public used to feeding their dogs scraps, meat and bones that what dogs really needed were biscuits.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Honey honey

Hippocrates, the great Greek herbalist doctor, had two basic remedies with which it was said he cured the sick of almost all their ills. One was hydromel - honey and water; his second was oxymel - honey and vinegar.

Although honey may not seem like an obvious dog food at first, when you think of a bear or a lion raiding a beehive it starts to make more sense.

Honey is certainly one of nature's great energisers and can give an instant energy boost especially to sick or older dogs or even puppies. It can be swirled on to an oat based meal or biscuit or can even be added to their drinking water. One of the reasons it's so effective is that the bees have cleverly done all the predigesting hard work so it's absorbed immediately into the bloodstream of the lucky eater.

Most honey you buy in supermarkets has been heat treated and as a result has lost some of it's health benefits so it's worth seeking out the pure raw stuff.  But either way, something so medicinal and beneficial never tasted so good.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Don't you know that I'm toxic.......part two

Despite my best efforts of feeding Ruben a natural homemade diet you can't blame a dog for picking up a packet of treats he found on a walk. He was very pleased with himself.

It hardly needs pointing out that anti-freeze is toxic but I hadn't realised that even the stuff that is supposed to taste bitter can still smell sweet enough for a dog to want a taste. So in this rather nippy weather be very careful to mop up any spills when topping up the car.

Thank you on behalf of dogs everywhere.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Give the dog a bone

Not the prettiest picture I know but the truth is they are one of the most nutritional things you can ever give your dog.

A generation ago it was perfectly normal to go the butcher and get bones for your dogs.  Now we give our dogs bone shaped biscuits, bone shaped toys and bone shaped treats but draw the line at giving them the real thing. Once you've seen your dog gnawing on a bone you know it's what they're supposed to eat. There are so many health giving benefits to feeding bones in terms of nutrition (including protein, fatty acids, anti-oxidants and enzymes) but they are also nature's toothbrush.

Main rule never to be broken - only ever feed them raw.

Cooked bones can be brittle and splinter and can be dangerous.

So go and make friends with a butcher today, they normally give bones away for free or certainly for very little. Beef bones are a great introduction if you're new to the whole raw feeding frenzy. Ask nicely and they will chop them up for you with their special big cleaver if your dog is only small.

All that goodness for just a few pennies. Think of all the money you'll save on those processed dental sticks in the supermarket. It's funny you know, I've never seen a wolf eat a detastix.........

Monday, 6 February 2012

Juicy gossip

One of the main problems of feeding fruit and vegetables to dogs is that they struggle to digest cellulose. They aren't cows after all. So essentially there are two ways of breaking down the cellulose and making it much easier for your dog to get the nutritional benefits. The first way is to cook them, but you can lose out as vitamins and other goodness may be leached out into the cooking water -  so always use the least amount of cooking water as possible.

The other way, perhaps best way, is to crush them. It really breaks down the cellulose and it also means you are feeding the fruit and veg raw which is also a good thing. By far the easiest method of doing this is in a juicer and it's the pulp that you would normally throw away that you use. So you can either make yourself a juice and keep the remains for your dog's dinner or make loads in one go and freeze in individual bags adding a bit of the juice in as you go. Once defrosted the pulp can than be stirred to any dog's meal.

Carrots, courgettes, celery, peppers, apples and pears all seem to juice well but you can have any combination you have to hand or use what's on special offer at the supermarket. Don't bother to peel and just remember to leave out onions or grapes as they can be toxic.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Let it snow

We woke this morning to an avalanche of snow. Well about half an inch actually.

It got me thinking about some huskies I met in Lapland at the beginning of the year. They're so suited to the snow and want to run so badly they howl in frustration if they have to stop for any reason.  Many of the dogs are given reindeer meat to supplement their diet.

As they can't stop to drink, the huskies take mouthfuls of snow as they run and unfortunately for the person sitting at the front of the sledge, they also poo while they run. Which takes a certain skill I think.

Friday, 3 February 2012

On a cold and frosty morning

It's a cold one this morning but Ruben loves it and spent most of his walk doing ice rolls....

There's something about cold mornings that always make me think of having porridge for breakfast and as oats are such a good food for dogs there's no reason why they can't have their own version.

Just add one cup of rolled oats to 2-3 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes. When it's cooled down sufficiently add a squeeze of honey or maple syrup. If your dog likes fruit you can chop up and add some dried figs too.

Central heating for dogs.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

An excellent choice

So William and Kate have got themselves a cocker spaniel puppy have they? I won't say anything about having excellent taste........

One of the things about feeding a homemade diet is to get away from the dog food company line that every meal should be complete and balanced. (Whether or not some dog food is complete and balanced is another argument). A dog's diet should be complete and balanced over a couple of days, not necessarily in one meal.

So, here's an idea for a meal that's very much on the protein powerhouse side of things.

Mix together:

Raw beef (you can cut up very big chunks if your dog is only small or use mince)
A raw egg (beaten up)
Cottage cheese (the plain one, not with pineapple chunks or other bits and pieces)


It makes an excellent breakfast for either dogs or circus strongmen.