Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Raw Meaty Bones for Dogs (and Even Cats)

Raw meaty bones are a great way to improve your pet’s nutrition, keep his teeth clean, provide exercise and improve his psychological well-being.  Many holistic veterinarians, including Dr. Ian Billinghurst who wrote Give Your Dog a Bone and The BARF Diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), recommend feeding uncooked bony parts of chickens (necks, wings, backs), beef knuckles, marrow bones, turkey necks, lamb ribs.  And they should be a significant part of your dog’s diet. 

Raw Bones are NOT Dangerous
We’ve all heard how bones can splinter and get caught in your pet’s throat, but that is not the case for RAW bones.  Yes, cooked bones can become brittle, but raw bones are pliable and resilient.  Poultry bones can be chewed and digested (or swallowed whole, if you are a certain lab-chow mix who lives with me).  Harder bones like beef or bison are mainly recreational, not meant for eating, just chewing.  They provide marrow, gristle and connective tissue, contributing valuable nutrients, roughage and teeth-cleaning components.

Of course, you should supervise your pet while they are chewing, just like you should supervise them during play or with toys.  And thaw out the bone before feeding it since a hard frozen bone could chip a tooth.  Your white carpet is definitely in danger with a gooey raw bone around, so feed outside or in a crate or on a floor that can be mopped.  Choose a bone to match your pet’s head size--you can’t give them a bone that is too big, but you can give them a too small bone they might choke on.  One last tip...separate your dogs when you give them their bones.  Even the best of friends may get testy when there is freshly killed prey in the house!

Raw bones provide the perfect balance of minerals for a carnivore’s growth, development and maintenance.  Wild canines and felines depended for eons on the bones of their prey for adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other trace minerals.  Feeding raw bones in your raw diet helps achieve this balance without you having to worry about micromanaging supplements and additives.

Raw bones also provide essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins, blood boosters from the marrow, cartilage and collagen to prevent arthritis, proteins and important amino acids.  Poultry necks and wings contain glucosamine.  Meaty bones can constitute an entire meal, occasionally.  Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who wrote The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, even recommends a short bone fast once or twice a month to mimic lean times your dog might encounter in the wild.

Dental Health
Raw bones are nature’s toothbrushes!  Kristi has never had to spend $400 to get her pets’ teeth cleaned because raw bones act like floss in the mouth, polishing and scraping away tartar as the animal gnaws.  And raw meat creates a slightly acidic oral environment that retards plaque and tartar formation and freshens the breath.  The myth still prevails that dry kibble cleans teeth, but if that were true, then we should be able to brush our teeth with Chex mix and animals fed kibble should never need their teeth cleaned.

Have you ever watched one of those nature shows and seen the wolf or the lion feasting on its kill?  I usually turn the TV off before it gets to that point, but my point is that when feeding on raw bones, your dog or cat will use every muscle in its body to tear the meat from the bone, bracing its prize with its paws while pulling the meat with its teeth.  Cats will stalk that chicken neck and tackle it with gusto once it’s “dead.”  Watch your cat or dog crush, rip, tear and chew bones and be glad they are domesticated!  

Mental Health
You’ve heard of Runner’s High?  How about Chewer’s High?  I just made that up, but it is exactly the same thing...the act of chewing/gnawing on a bone, like taking a long run, releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins that continue to circulate long after the chewing is over.  

Ground Poultry Bones for Finicky Animals
Some dogs and many cats are hesitant about bones, or their teeth are poor and they have difficulty chewing.  Feed these guys Green Earth Pet Food Chompin’ Chicken (dogs), Lickin’ Chicken (cats) or Savory Salmon (cats), all of which contain ground chicken bone.  It’s not quite as effective at cleaning teeth, but does provide the same nutritional value.  Or you can try chicken feet … they are mainly cartilage so easy to chew but also provide teeth cleaning qualities (and all that cartilage really helps arthritic dogs).

We also sell organic beef marrow bones which are 2” to 3” long--small enough for the little dog or big enough for the large dog in your life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

3 Reasons to Feed Your Pet Raw

Being a blogging "newbie," we are so excited to have written a "guest blog" for Carolina Mountain Dog, a great place to learn about all things "dog" here in the Western North Carolina region!

You can read about the 3 main reasons to feed your dog a raw diet here:

And thank you, Carolina Mountain Dog for asking us to contribute!  You can check out Carolina Mountain Dog's "blogazine" here:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

These Boots Are Made For Laundry

These boots are made for laundry
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots
Are gonna wash off doggie doo!

That’s right ... I do my laundry using polka-dot rubber boots.  “But that’s crazy,” you may say.  Well, let me give you the background and reasons why ...

Five years ago I finally bought an eco-friendly front-load washer (costing over $700!).  Then last year, my washer stopped spinning and the repair would cost me almost $300.  I thought this is ridiculous – big ticket appliances lasting less than 5 years?!  So I did a little online research and discovered I can easily wash my clothes in my bathtub by “stomping” on them (think “I Love Lucy” + grapes) – and voila, my new “washer” was born.  The hardest part is wringing the clothes by hand so I can then hang them to dry.  Yes, the heating element on my 5-year-old dryer also died so I hang my clothes to dry.  I still use the dryer to “tumble” the dried clothes which helps to soften them (line-dried clothes tend to feel rough, especially towels, so tumbling them in the dryer on no heat for 10 minutes cures that).

Why would anyone be crazy enough do their laundry by hand?  For 3 Important Reasons:

1.  Save the Environment:  Basically, I use no electricity to do my laundry except a very small amount when I use hot water (one of these days I’ll invest in a solar water heater) and when I run the dryer for 10 minutes on air only.  So doing laundry by hand generates an extremely low carbon footprint!  I also make my own inexpensive, non-toxic laundry soap (mix 1/2 borax + 1/2 washing soda – not baking soda; use 1-2 T. per load).  And ditch the fabric softeners (they contain too many chemicals and VOCs).  Instead, add 1/4 cup white vinegar to your rinse water (the vinegar smell goes away once the clothes are dry).

2.  Great Exercise:  Have you tried stomping on clothes or wringing wet clothes by hand?  It’s a great workout for the muscles of your core, legs, arms and hands!

3.  Save Money:  Because you’re hardly using any electricity, you save money.  Because you’re not buying new appliances or getting older ones repaired, you save money.  Because you’re making your own non-toxic laundry soap/fabric softener, you save money.  And because you’re getting a good workout without joining a gym, you save money!

So there you have it ... 3 great reasons to do your laundry by hand ... or should I say by feet?  J

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Transitioning Your Cat to Raw Food


Bagged kibble may be convenient and easy to serve, and your kitty may love her crunchies, but more and more veterinarians are concluding that we are not doing our cats (or dogs) any favors by feeding them kibble.  Cats on kibble are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, urinary tract blockages and kidney problems.  Cats need a diet high in both meat (min. 90%) and moisture (min. 70%), and raw food provides both.  If your cat is like my Quetzal, the transition won’t be easy, but in terms of her health and well being, it will be well worth the effort.

The kibble makers add strong-smelling flavor enhancers to their products.  When presented with a milder smelling food, like raw or canned food, your cat may not exactly respond with gusto.  Try these ideas to overcome kitty’s “finicky” ways:

  1. Pick up food after each meal and introduce a new food the next meal. A cat who is free-fed and thus never hungry has little biological incentive to try something new, especially if it doesn’t smell like food or if it’s a different texture. So, after each meal, remove all remnants of food, wash the dish and leave the feeding area clean. For the next meal, introduce a small amount of canned or raw food. Use a flat dish, not a bowl, for easier access
  2. Begin the transition with a strong-smelling moist food, like Green Earth Pet Food Savory Salmon which has salmon added for smell/flavor.  Fish-based or gamey flavors are best. You may need to try different brands, flavors and textures, as minor differences in ingredients can make a big difference to a cat’s palate. For example, Quetzal eats pate and flaked tuna, but turns her nose up to anything called "stew" or "cutlet."  Later on, try to mix in different meat sources to avoid a diet of exclusively fish-based food.
These two steps will work for most cats, but if you have a stubborn case (ahem...I’m looking at you, Quetzal), you may need to go a step further.  Here are some more ideas:
  • Start by mixing canned or raw food with their dry food and decrease the amount of dry food in the mix over time and/or crush some of the kibble and sprinkle it on top of the raw food.
  • Release the scent of raw food by adding some warm (not hot) water or raw goat’s milk that your kitty can lap up like gravy.  (I serve Answer’s brand raw goat’s milk and Quetzal LOVES it.  LOVES it!  And it's got additional probiotics for belly health.)
  • Sprinkle some Bonito flakes or freeze-dried salmon or liver treats over the new food (Ask at your pet store for treats or even samples.)
  • Add the juice from a can of your favorite tuna.
  • Sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the new food – some cats love it.

The transition may work overnight, or it may take days, even weeks, depending on how long your cat has been eating dry food and whether or not she’s ever been exposed to wet food.  But you can do it, and your kitty will be all the healthier and happier for your efforts.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to contact us if you have more questions. am I going to brush my teeth?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cat Chronicles: Buckwheat & Dora

Dora hiding in the buckwheat

Buckwheat is not the name of one of my cats, but Dora is.  Dora, named appropriately after Dora the Explorer, is 8 pounds of fluffy fur, pure fun and curiosity with zero amount of fear.  She is one of my kitten foster “failures” who managed to climb her way into my heart (using my pant leg) at less than 3 weeks old.

The reason I mention buckwheat is because I want to talk about what a wonderful, versatile plant it is.  Buckwheat makes a great warm weather cover crop (from seed to flowers in just 4-5 weeks!), bees absolutely love the flowers for forage, the dead plants add organic “green manure” to your garden, and the plants will self sow into more beautiful buckwheat.  But the best reason to grow a quick crop of buckwheat during the summer: the cats love to play hide and seek and “stalk” each other in the tall buckwheat jungle (pun intended)!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hey, Kristi...

Hey, Kristi,

Just wondering why that wet kitten ended up in the plant?

Kristi (who fostered many a kitten, and kept quite a few) answers:

I don't remember how she ended up on top of the plant...this is why kittens rule the internet!  But she wasn't wet ... she was the "runt" of that litter and was sickly with patchy fur for the first month.  Once she started eating the raw food, she quickly caught up in size with her siblings and her fur filled out and got nice and fluffy like Dora's.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween

Halloween is a fun time for people, but it can be hard for dogs. Here are a few tips for keeping your dogs safe while the ghosts and goblins and mini-Gagas are out prowling:

1.  Keep the candy in a safe place away from your dog (it may contain xylitol, which can be very toxic to dogs) and give your dog a safe and happy place to be when the trick-or-treaters come. 
2.  Stuff several Kongs in advance and pop them in the freezer. Use low-sodium chicken broth, boiled or baked pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, or raw dog food (or all mixed together).
3.  Put up a baby gate or keep your dog in a room away from the front door (preferably not alone) if your dog or puppy might escape, so that you don’t have to pay as much attention. If you have a dog with aggression issues, turn out your lights or go outside with your candy so that the doorbell doesn’t ring. 

Have a Happy Halloween, everybody!

P.S.  If you are carving a pumpkin this year and you know someone with a flock of backyard chickens, those chickens would really LOVE the pumpkin seed innards of that jack-o-latern.  Just sayin'...cluck cluck.