August 26th is National Dog Day. It also happens to be my birthday which is pretty appropriate since I am a true dog lover. Often referred to as “man’s best friend”, those of us who own a dog can attest to how true that statement is. Dogs are loyal companions who give to their owners unconditional love. There are countless stories around of dogs who have put themselves in harm’s way and risked their own lives to protect their human family from danger. Every dog deserves to live a life free from abuse in a home where he is happy, protected and well cared for.
Our own fur baby Molly has been part of our family for the past 10 years. We adopted her from Pets Alive, a no kill shelter in Middletown, NY. She was almost two years old when we got her, she had been rescued from a puppy mill down south. She was a thin, terrified little creature when we brought her home and I can tell you, it took quite a while for Molly to relax and trust us. It was heartbreaking to see how scared she was, it made us realize that she must have been through a lot.I’m happy to report that with a lot of love and patience, Molly began to trust us. She is now a happy and healthy dog and I’m so thankful that we found her and were able to give her the loving home she deserved. In truth she has brought as much joy into our lives as hopefully we have brought to hers. If you are considering getting a pet please check out the local humane societies and no kill shelters like Pets Alive. They have puppies and kittens if you really have your heart set on a young pet but be open minded to giving an older pet a home, they will repay you in love a thousand times over!
With pets, as with people, the right diet can make all the difference in terms of health and longevity. I feel very fortunate to have found the Walden Animal Clinic with two outstanding vets; Dr. Steven Kelly and Dr. Alicia Rich and a caring and compassionate staff. I recently spoke to Dr.Rich and asked her what she would recommend for a healthy canine diet. Here is what she said:
When picking the perfect diet for your pet think about your dog’s activity level, body condition, any stomach sensitivity and even skin disease. There is no one ideal diet for all dogs. For example, an overweight dog should be fed a low calorie diet and a dog with irritated skin often benefits from the omega-3 fats in fish based diets. In general, I recommend looking for diets with high quality meat- based proteins, less carbohydrates and no artificial coloring.
When I got my first dog , a Westie named Lucy, ( you can read about her in my post: The Long Goodbye) I tried her on many of the top, all natural dog foods available but they all gave her indigestion. She was continually vomiting after eating so it was suggested that I try her on a lower fat food. I gradually switched her over to Eukanuba Weight Management dog food and she thrived. No more vomiting. It sustained her for over 15 years and thats what Molly has been fed as well.
There are some things that I have always done with their food as well that I believe had contributed to their well being, and now continues to benefit Molly. In the morning I stir about a tablespoon of plain, unflavored, low fat yogurt into her kibble along with a sprinkle of Nupro powder and a splash of hot water. The yogurt aids in digestion and gives a boost of protein and the Nupro is a great supplement which creates a gravy when mixed with a little hot water that dogs love the taste of.Because Molly is a senior dog I buy the Joint and Immunity Support formula which helps her joints as well. They also have a formula for younger dogs which is an all natural dog supplement. Both can be found on Amazon. In the evening I stir a tablespoon of plain canned pumpkin into her kibble along with a little hot water. The pumpkin is rich in beta kerotene and high in fiber which helps keep her regular, and she loves the taste! Just keep in mind that whatever changes you make to your dog’s diet (particularly if you are changing the type of food you give them) has to be done gradually. When I asked Dr. Rich what some of the common mistakes that she has seen dog owners make this is what she had to say :
The most common mistakes I see dog owners make often stem from good intentions gone bad. I often see owners change to a higher quality diet after researching online and their dogs develop diarrhea. Any diet change should be done slowly over at least 1-2 weeks, longer if your dog is prone to gastrointestinal upset. Also, as previously stated, there is no one good diet for every dog. If your dog is doing well on a specific food it is often best not to rock the boat!
I also asked Dr. Rich what practices she follows which she believes contributes to her dog’s wellbeing, here is what she said:
Although simple, one of the biggest things I do that contributes to my dog’s well being is consistent heartworm, flea and tick prevention. After seeing heartbreaking cases of Lyme nephritis (kidney failure secondary to Lymes disease) and heartworm disease lead to debilitating conditions I am sure to never miss a dose.
Aside from preventive care, I always set aside time to snuggle with my girl! Quality time contributes as much to my well being as well as to my fur baby’s.
Dr.Rich also suggested to spend this special day giving your fur baby extra cuddles and attention, and maybe some homemade dog treats.
I am in the process of developing some recipes for all natural dog treats and will be posting them as soon as it cools down enough to turn the oven on! For now Molly is thoroughly enjoying fresh carrot sticks and sliced cucumbers from the garden!