Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Could My Dog Eat This?

It would be an understatement to say that keeping a diet is hard.  Learning a new language can be hard.  Being surrounded by all of your favorite foods and not being able to eat any of them is more like slow torture.  

You are probably wondering what this has to do with your dog.  Well, chances are, he may need to go on a diet too; and anyone who has ever tried to kick a habit can tell you that the best way to do it is to have an accountability buddy.  
An accountability buddy is someone who helps you stay on track with your new goals by keeping you responsible for them.  Your four-legged best friend can be that very buddy you need.  Though you may be able to cheat yourself or lie to your friends, you should not be willing to cheat the one creature on this Earth who never speaks ill of you, never judges you, and gives you unconditional love every day of his life.  If you don’t owe it to yourself to make a change, then you owe it to your four-legged best friend.  

How do you make a dog your accountability buddy?  Any nutritionist will tell you, it’s not just about how much you eat but also what you eat that will make the difference.  Smaller portions may be important in your diet but most people are just making poor food choices.  And this is true for people of all sizes.  Just because someone is skinny does not mean they are healthy.  And just because someone is stocky does not mean they are unhealthy.  Everyone is built differently and it isn’t our job to judge ourselves or others by what we see.  It’s our job to make sure the things we put into our bodies are things that will make us feel good, look good, and give us energy to get through our day without large amounts of caffeine. 
This is where your dog comes into play.  Rely on your dog to help you make smart food choices.  Every time you go to eat something ask yourself, “Could my dog eat this?”  While this may be extreme in some cases, the basic principle is a good place to start.  For example, processed sugar is not good for dogs, but they love things with natural sugars, like sweet potato.  Use your dog’s dietary restrictions as your own to help you start making better food choices.  This Holiday season is a great time to start with baby steps.  Using the “Could my dog eat this?” rule, snacking with your dog is an easy way to create better eating habits without going cold turkey.  Instead of bringing home cookies and bon bons, here is a list of snacks you can enjoy with your dog:

Cottage Cheese - Non-fat, low sodium only.

Sweet Potato - Great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber.

Baby Carrots - Contains beta-carotene which helps dogs maintain a healthy coat.

Apples - Great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. NEVER feed your dog the apple seeds, core, leaf, or stem; they are highly toxic!

Green Beans - Good source of vitamin K, manganese, and vitamin C. Good for dogs on a diet since they are low in calories.

Boiled Eggs – Great source of protein, selenium, and riboflavin. Do not feed your dog raw eggs; it is very unhealthy! For dogs on a diet, feed only the egg whites, since all the fat is in the yolk. 

Yogurt -  Good source of calcium and good for the digestive system, if your dog is tolerant of yogurt.  Plain yogurt is best (stay away from artificial flavors, high sugars, and high fat content).

Rice Cakes - Natural or plain, not artificially flavored.

Banana Chips – Great for training treats as well.

Pumpkin – pumpkin puree, canned natural pumpkin (not sweetened), and pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, and iron.  Pumpkin can also help with indigestion, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, and even weight loss, among other things.

Seaweed – High in mineral content; enhances coat and pigment color, builds energy, enhances immune system, easy to digest, gives thyroid support, and potentially reduces the risk of cancer.  (Check out your local international food store for Asian packaged seaweed chip-like snacks. Do not give your dog Wasabi flavored seaweed snacks!).  

As a reminder, all of these snacks should be given in moderation.  Too much of anything is never a good thing.  If you stick to this, you will begin to form healthier eating habits for you and your dog and you won’t have to buy expensive dog treats to keep your dog happy either.  Good luck and good eats!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cooking for Your Dog

What will your dog be doing this Thanksgiving?  Will he be sunbathing on the back porch as you and your guests gather inside? Will he be chasing the cat around the living room, knocking over plants and lamps?  Or will he be patiently waiting under the dining table for any food scraps that might drop?   Whatever he is doing, this is the time of year to reflect and give thanks for the blessings in our lives, including our four-legged family members.  That faithful companion in the house is truly a blessing, no matter what mischief he may get into or how disobedient he can be at times.  So why not thank him for his service to your family by making him a Thanksgiving feast as well.

 No need to buy an extra turkey and can of yams, this simple recipe from Rachel Ray uses items you’ll be serving for your human Thanksgiving meal.  This recipe also makes two servings so you can save a little for later.  


1 cup shredded roasted turkey meat

¼ cup breadcrumbs

1 large egg, beaten

½ sweet potato--baked, skin discarded and potato coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons cranberry sauce


1.     In a medium bowl, combine the turkey and breadcrumbs. Gently mix with your hands, then mix in the egg and sweet potato. 

2.     Shape into two 1/2 inch-thick patties

3.     In a medium skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the patties and cook, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

4.     Place the patties on a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. 

5.     Top with cranberry sauce and let your dog enjoy!


From our pack to yours, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Heroes Among Us

It’s that time of year again, the time to honor those extraordinary dogs that go above the normal call of dog duty and change the lives of those around them.  Every year a national competition searches for America’s Hero Dogs to compete in eight categories including: Law Enforcement & Arson Dogs, Military Dogs, Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Guide Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero dogs (for non-working dogs).  Eight finalists are chosen, and of those eight, one dog is chosen to be the American Hero Dog of the year.   

The Hero Dog Awards were created by the American Humane Association to celebrate the dedicated bond between dogs and people.  The awards are presented by Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and broadcast across the country on the Hallmark Channel.  Out of over 350 contestants, the public votes for the winners of each category and the eight finalists are flown to Los Angeles to be awarded at a red carpet event.

The winners were announced on October 6th, but the awards ceremony was just broadcast on the Hallmark Channel last Thursday, November 8th.  

This year’s finalists included:

Daniel - Emerging Hero Dog Award – Daniel was miraculously still wagging his tail after being locked in a gas chamber that killed eighteen other dogs.  The shelter did not have the heart to try putting him down again.  He quickly found a foster home and then a new forever home.

Tabitha – Guide Dog Award – Tabitha helped her owner overcome the shock and depression of losing her sight.  With Tabitha’s help her owner was able adjust to her new situation both mentally and physically which enabled her to finish her undergraduate and graduate studies.

Tatiana II – Hearing Dog Award – When her owner was experiencing a severe asthma attack in the middle of the night, Tatiana raised the alarm, got help, and saved her owner’s life.  She has given her owner back her independence and helped her earn her Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Jynx – Law Enforcement & Arson Dog Award – While trying to execute a warrant, Jynx alerted his handler of the heavily armed suspect in camouflage which was targeting them from a vantage point. Jynx flushed out the suspect but his handler was fatally wounded as the suspect fled.  Jynx tried to drag his handler’s body down the mountain to safety and move another officer to safety as well. Though his handler’s life was lost, Jynx’ actions saved many other officers from the same fate. (Jynx pictured with Bailee Madison at Hero Dog Awards)

Soot – Search and Rescue Dog Award – On a cold December morning, Soot help locate a 78 year-old diabetic hunter who had gotten lost on a remote mountaintop in West Virginia.

Holly – Service Dog Award – Being a seizure alert and response service dog, Holly has saved her owner’s life on several occasions and has helped her owner live a full life despite her seizures.  Holly has also helped her owner give back to the community by raising thousands of dollars each year for various charities and by going to elementary schools to teach children about service dogs. (Holly pictured with owner and Betty White at Hero Dog Awards)

Stella – Therapy Dog Award -   Stella gives love, hope, stimulation, and motivation to people with significant intellectual, medical, and physical disabilities.

And while each finalist is deserving in his or her own right, the 2012 Hero Dog Award goes to the Military Dog finalist, Gabe.  Gabe served in Iraq where he completed over 210 combat missions with 26 finds of explosives and weapons.  When he wasn’t on a mission he was visiting wounded men in the hospital and children in elementary schools.   Gabe retired in 2009, highly decorated, with over 40 awards and coins of excellence for his work, including the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog Award in 2008.  After becoming the runner up for the American Humane Association Military Working Dog category for the 2011 Hero Dog Awards, Gabe can now add his title of 2012 Hero Dog to his list of achievements. 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 Hero Dog Awards.  And thank you to all the of the dogs out there who love us unconditionally, never give up on us, enrich our lives, and make us better people.  

For more information on the Hero Dog Awards and how to get involved, check out the Hero Dog Awards website