Safe herbs for dogs

herbs-for-dogsSometimes at Land of Holistic Pets we get asked what exactly are ‘safe’ herbs to give to dogs.

For thousands of years humans have used herbs in cooking and medicinally.

In fact there are many safe herbs which help promote and maintain health in the body and strengthen or boost the body’s own immune system.

Herbs can give relief to underlying health issues and can even sometimes help relieve acute symptoms.

It is usual to take some sort of formulation of herbs for a particular condition like cancer or arthritis. Other formulations might aid digestion or help control skin or ear problems.

Different traditions have developed their own understanding and combinations of herbs. At Land of Holistic Pets we combine the best of eastern and western herbal traditions.

The ‘safe’ herbal formulations sold through the Land of Holistic Pets shop have all been carefully selected to address specific health issues. These include:

We also have tips to help you get your dog to take their herbal medicine.

Take a further look at our Introduction to herbs where we examine the wisdom of herbal pet care.

Natural Dog Food is Real Dog Food

Food is natural. What a simple thought.

robbies-meat-free-mixer

Robbie's Meat Free Mixer

Nature is with us day and night and with some cultivation and care, she provides us with almost unlimited natural resources.

We and our beloved pet dogs are also part and parcel of the natural system of beings.
As such there are particular natural foods which are best suited to feeding, energising and sustaining all of us. Humans, dogs, cats and all.

In the west, in Europe and America we have become used to feeding our pets processed foods a lot of the time.

These foods are well packaged and marketed by large, experienced companies who know how to mass-produce and mass-market their products effectively.

The matter of health is not prioritised by large corporate entities. By definition these entities exist to make profits from customers buying their products.

It is us, the individual, and the individual pet owners and care givers who must make health a priority.

Health is a natural state of being.

Animal physiognomy is such that the body and immune system is working to maintain health all the time. It is up to us to understand what is healthy for our pets and to make sure we give them healthy, natural dog food and supplements as required to support their natural system. Dogs love exercise and communication too, so we shouldn’t neglect these either.

And of course healthy food needs to be tasty and palatable otherwise it wont be eaten. Or at least wont be enjoyed.

When we are giving our pets natural food we know that what they are eating and therefore can have a much deeper, clearer understanding when health issues arise as to what might be the cause of the problem.

Often a minor adjustment in diet can quickly alleviate a health issue before it becomes acute.

Keep fluid intake up.

Just as we know when to take water our pets are guided by their nature to drink when needed and sleep when needed. We should try to always keep a bowl of fresh water available for the dogs that they can access anytime. Common sense but not everyone realises these things straight away.

At Land of Holistic Pets online shop we only use natural ingredients in our foods. We love our pets just like you do and it’s an important principle for us that health is number one.

Being healthy means an animal can enjoy life and can be a willing and happy companion to us and our family and friends. What more could we ask for?

Dogs Shedding Hair

Dogs Shedding Hair

Dog shedding occurs in nearly all dogs and is a natural process of eliminating (shedding) dead hair. There are a few natural reasons for this – It is a bit like a human sweating,  to allow a new coat to come in and for seasonal changes in temperature. There is no such thing as a non-shedding dog,  excepting of course the hairless varieties. That said,  shedding varies greatly between the breeds because of dogs differences in genetics, environment and of course , the dog food it is being fed.

As a point of interest the difference between dog breeds and how dogs shed hair  rests with  the growth rate of the dogs hair (3 cycles: anagen, catagen and telogen),

Dog shedding is influenced by these three dog coat characteristics:

  • Different types of dog coats: hairless, presence of undercoat.
  • Different degrees of curl & wave in dog coats: wavy, wirehaired, and straight.
  • Different dog coat lengths: short, medium, and long.

Dog shedding can be problem  for two major reasons for dog owners: allergies and the time it takes to clean up hair that has shed.

“Very light shedders” are  breeds which  usually need to be clipped, stripped and/or cut with scissor’s.  Of course as mentioned earlier diet has also a major influence and those fed a very healthy natural dog food tend to shed very lightly except in the spring when dogs naturally shed all their hair so a new coat can grow. The phenomenon of seasonal shedding for some breeds occurs because the  dogs shed their winter coats in the spring and if you are the owner of one such breed, you will have to be prepared for large-scale shedding at these times of the year.

In addition to dog coat characteristics, many other factors influence dog shedding:

  • Sunlight and temperature: The length of day may influence growth  of a new coat on the dog  and shedding of the old coat. Outdoor dogs usually shed their thick undercoat in the spring to prepare for warmer weather. Many indoor living dogs experience increased continuous dog shedding and decreased annual dog shedding.
  • Health: deworm your dog regularly and treat skin infections properly to maintain healthy skin and coat and decrease shedding.
  • Allergies: allergic dogs ( flea and tick infestation) shed more although a compromised immune system goes hand in hand with dogs allergies.
  • Dog Nutrition: a high quality natural dog food should provide the conditions for  healthy skin and coat on your dog.
  • Cleanliness; brush your dog regularly and use adapted shampoo (not for humans !).
  • Hormones affect skin and coat health:  A healthy thyroid, adrenal glands etc are essential to a healthy dog coat
  • Pregnancy and lactation: deplete calcium, minerals and energy stores so that many dogs shed heavily after the pups are born and are being nursed.

Excessive dog  shedding, should trigger questions about : skin diseases (Staphylococcus infection, ringworm, dog allergies (flea, tick and lice)), pyoderma), Cushing’s disease and autoimmune diseases as pemphigus complex, pemphigus vegetans, pemphigus foliaceous, pemphigus erythematosis and Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome and of course the dogs diet – is it a premium dog food or a natural premium dog food.

What can you do to reduce shedding?

Grooming helps! Brushing your dog once a day will greatly reduce the unwanted hair all over your clothes, carpet and furniture, especially during shedding season. Feed a high quality dog food diet which should not require the use of supplements as a natural dog food will contain all essential nutrients for optimal skin and coat health (vitamins, minerals, amino acids and omega 6/3 fatty acids).

Summary

Skin and coat health can be helped with natural premium dog food  of a complete formulation containing all essential vitamins, minerals, amino-acids and fatty acids.

Non or Low Shedding Dog Breeds – Hypoallergenic Dogs

Affenpinsher
Airedale Terrier
American Hairless Terrier
Australian Terrier
Basenji
Bedlington Terrier
Bergamasco
Bichon Frise
Black Russian Terrier
Bolognese
Border Terrier
Boston Terrier
Bouvier des Flandres
Brussels Griffon
Cairn Terrier
Cesky Terrier
Chacy Ranior
Chi-Poo
Chinese Crested
Cockapoo
Coton De Tulear
Dachshund
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Giant Schnauzer
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Greyhound
Hairless Khala
Havanese
Irish Terrier
Irish Water Spaniel
Italian Greyhound
Kerry Blue Terrier
Komondor
Lagotto Romagnolo
Lakeland Terrier
Lhasa Apso
Lowchen
Maltese
Malti-Poo
Manchester Terrier
Mi-Ki
Miniature Schnauzer
Norfolk Terrier
Norwich Terrier
Peruvian Inca Orchid
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Poodle (all types)
Poos
Portuguese Water Dog
Puli
Scottish Terrier
Sealyham Terrier
Shih Tzu
Silky Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Spanish Water Dog
Standard Schnauzer
Tibetan Terrier
Welsh Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Whippet
Wire Haired Fox Terrier
Wire Haired Pointing Griffon
Xoloitzcuintli
Yorkshire Terrier

Heavy Shedding Dog Breeds

Alaskan Malamute
Akita
Australian Shepherd
Belgian Sheepdog
Collie
English Toy Spaniel
German Shepherd
Great Pyrenees
Keeshond
Newfoundlander

Norwegian Elkhound
Pomeranian
Saint Bernard
Samoyed
Siberian Husky
Shetland Sheepdog

Natural Dog Food

Robbie's Holistic Cuisine For DogsYou would think it common sense to give our beloved pets ‘natural dog food’ all the time. It is nothing more than a natural instinct.

Here at Land of Holistic Pets we consider ourselves a ‘natural dog food company’, through and through.

Ever since we started making our own ‘natural dog food brands’ – Robbie’s and Luath’s – we’ve concentrated on making them natural and healthy. As a consequence we strive to maintain the highest standards and seek to always improve.

As a dog owner you are aware of all sorts of dog food brands and via the Internet there are unlimited ‘dog food reviews’ you can read through and consider. Not to mention all the expensive adverts aimed at getting you to buy mass-produced and mass-marketed products.

We are confident that our dog food (and our cat food for that matter) is among the best you can get, anywhere in the world. In the USA our dog food is rated number 1 in the ‘best dry dog food’ category of Whole Dog Journal.

But what practically can you do?

Should you choose frozen dog food, dried dog food, grain free dog food or what? What is the best dog food? And perhaps more importantly, what is the best dog food for your dog?

As mentioned already, Land of Holistic Pets are a natural dog food company. You only need to look at our food to see that none of it is artificial or chemical based. We only use fine quality ingredients in our quest to find the best natural balance dog food possible.

We have experience with our own pets along with lots of testimony from customers that our dog food is good for all dogs.

Young or old, healthy or not. Our natural dog foods, combined with carefully selected natural herbal supplements, have successfully helped countless animals.

Have you tried Robbie’s or Luath’s yet? It’s as natural a dog food as you’ll find anywhere.

The Role of Diet in Dog Epilepsy

I read an article recently which suggested that “an emerging trend in human healthcare is the focus on the link between diet and disease.”

The author of course missed the fact that Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC) raised the issue. “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”.

Here we are in the 21st century and only wakening up to this simple fact, that diet not only influences health but can cause disease.

Another very interesting little snippet is that out of the 30,000 or so edible plants thought to exist on the planet, eleven of them account for 93% of human consumption – corn, rice, wheat, potatoes, millet, sorghum, beans, barley, rye, oats and cassava.

As far as human beings are concerned very little has changed since man first started to cultivate food. Also, the animals raised for food today are the same ones that were domesticated for that reason in Stone Age times.

What has this got to do with epilepsy in dogs you might ask, but the history of human and dogs diets are almost one and the same thing since dogs were domesticated.

Dogs are scavengers and when left to their own devices will find food in whatever available form.  This is how I believe they came to be domesticated in the first place. Looking for food, man recognized a need and a use – the bond was created and satisfied the needs of both – man and dog.

Dogs diet then started to mirror that of the provider – man.

Subsequently, dogs experienced similar health issues that man experienced simply because the diets of both were locked.

The real problem is that man and dog have stuck with the same or similar food products and as choice has increased it is only at the expense of quality.

The industrial revolutions brought highly refined foods to all but at a price.  Diligence is required to avoid certain foods and in particular, highly processed foods contain a variety of the basic food making them harder to detect and eliminate.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Seizures

It has been recognized that there  are a number of specific nutritional deficiencies in both humans and canines that are known to cause or aggravate seizures.

Until recently some proponents of the raw diet blamed the cooking of food and its ‘apparent’ destruction of the nutrients as being the problem.

Modern approaches are leading us to a better understanding and the cause appears to rests with the damage done to the digestive system by certain foods. Particularly the duodenum and jejunum- the first parts of small intestine after the stomach.

The villi are the tiny, finger-like projections that absorb nutrients and some foods destroy these rendering humans and dogs alike, unable to absorb vital nutrients which in turn  provokes the seizures.

Causes of Damage to the Villi

Four foods known to cause villi damage are corn/maize, soy, casien and gluten.

The gluten comes from the gluten grains- wheat, barley, and rye.

Casein comes from cow’s milk/ dairy  products.

Adhesives are made from these four foods. Powerful, industrial-strength glues are made from soy, casein, and gluten whereas corn is used for paper/cardboard products. The glycoproteins which make up these foods  adhere to tissues and damage it.

Glycoproteins that we derive from foods are now called ‘lectins’. There are good and bad lectins in food with the most damaging coming from the same four foods listed above.

We now know that these lectins are central to autoimmune disease like thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes, lupus, and more.

Brain Stimulator

Glutamate is one of the principle neurotransmitters in our brain. Too much and we or our dogs get too excited.

Thus excessive glutamate can lead to over-stimulation of neurons and result in seizures, reduced pain threshold, sleep disorders, emotional disturbances and so on.

Glutamic acid is the parent protein in MSG (mono sodium glutamate).

MSG is used as a neuro-stimulator, acting to sensitize the open-ended nerves in our taste buds so that food will taste better. MSG is a known trigger of seizures, as is its sister amino acid, aspartic acid, the parent protein in the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet). Both amino acids are neurostimulators  stimulating our sense of taste.

Wheat gluten is 25% glutamic acid by weight. Casein protein in dairy products  is 20%  while soy protein has much more glutamate than either of these two. Corn contains the least amount but it can do more harm to the intestinal villi in susceptible individuals, leading to malaborption of essential nutrients and worsening food allergies.

The toxic effect of corn is now a hot topic with people interested in autism.

Conclusions – Diet and Supplements.

The first foods to eliminate are the gluten (wheat, barley, rye), casein ( dairy products), soy, and corn. This stops further damage to the intestinal villi. It may be advantageous to also cut out chicken since they are often fed on corn.

Eliminate the other sources  of glutamate like peanuts, soy’s closest cousin,  all beans  (except green beans) such as  garbanzo, lima, black, kidney, and navy. Lentils are another source of glutamate.

Consider supplementing with calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, vitamin C, and trace minerals but only once you have followed the above – the body should now be able to  properly absorb them.

Taurine  is an essential amino acid made by dogs but requires the essential amino acids of Cysteine  and Methionine in order to produce it.  It appears to be released by the hippocamous during seizure activity. It is not known exactly why this happens and some suggest as  protective measure by the body while others suggest that it just part of the process. As such taurine supplementation may be worthwhile for some dogs.

Magnesium – supplementation has been successful in some dogs but should not be used if renal failure is evident.

by George Burns (Article first appeared on Burns Pet Health US.)

My Dog Is A Fussy Eater

Let me start with a few facts about dogs  -

It defies the laws of nature for a dog to starve itself to death.

If left to their own devices dog would scavenge to satisfy not only their appetite but their nutritional requirements.

Dog training is remarkably easy and if your dog is a fussy eater you have probably inadvertently trained it that way.

Just think about this situation -  We sit a 4 year old child down at the table with a choice between a plate of vegetable broth or Ice cream and Jelly and left the child to make its own decision.  You know the answer and you also know which one  is the healthy option.  As responsible parents we do not allow the 4 year old child to make that kind of decision -  we naturally insist on the healthy choice first.

The Pink Floyd Album  - Another Brick in Wall – “If you can’t eat your meat, you cannot have any pudding” – it has been drummed into us down through the generations – responsible eating or no treats!  So why do so many dog owners ignore these basic rules of parenting with their dogs? Why do dog owners constantly try one food after another looking for something the dog will like? All the while , what owners do NOT realise is that they are encouraging,  training their dog  turn up their nose at food.  The dog learns that this behaviour results is some other form of food, hopefully tastier than the last.  . Often as not, and I  hear about them every other day – the dog  finishes up getting  fed nothing but chicken or turkey or mince.

One of the questions I ask in the Pet health questionnaire – “Does your dog eat all its food at one go?” Or ” Leave some for later? ” -  The later answer comes through time and time again and it is the first big indication that the dog is getting too much food and someday  will probably stop eating for a number of day and the owner starts to worry! The dog is not eating! An owner gets comfort from seeing the family pet eating and if it’s not eating, it’s a worry.

So how do we deal with the Fussy dog? How do we retrain the dog to eat naturally and to eat the healthy option and make both the owners life and the dog, much healthier and happy. Let us take a lesson from normal parenting  – What do we do with children?  - We exercise discipline!

Firstly, to prevent the problem developing we should be feeding enough that the dog eats all that is presented and is going round the bowl looking for more. So if your dog walks away leaving food then that needs to stop. Measure out the amount of food presented and if any is left measure that and deduct from the next meal plus a little more. Use this approach at every meal until all that is presented is eaten – At every meal!

With the fussy eater – put food down – if it does not eat- remove all food after 5 minutes – and do not give any food until the next meal .  At the next and subsequent meals follow the same procedure until the dog eats the food. Do not worry if it takes 1 , 2 or even 8 days – the dog is simply not hungry enough. By taking this approach you are exercising discipline and at the same time training your dog that there are no alternatives!

Best Dog Foods

When at pet shows or dog shows with Land Of Holistic Pets some questions are always asked on numerous occasions – “what is the Best Dog Food”  and  “what makes Land Of Holistic Pets  products  the best dog food for my dogs?”

The pet food industry is a multimillion pound industry and it is of little surprise that some of the world’s leading marketers are employed by some of the biggest companies to get their message over about why their products are the best dogs foods and why you should buy this for Fido because it is rich in this and that and is the best dog food on the market.

On reading the dog food trade industry magazines you regularly see almost meaningless claims but ones which push the right buttons “New leader of the Grain Free Pack”  “Top performer in the food sensitivity category”  -  I even noticed a bill board the other day with the words – “voted best retailer of the year in fish and meat”.

The greatest claim of all in the best dog food stakes are the words “New and Improved”.  I always subconsciously ask myself the question – “was the product substandard before that they need to improve it” – but equally important is wither the potential customer in fact looks at the negative connotations of such claims.

Do we really ever ask what is the “Grain Free Pack and was there ever a leader?  Was there ever a food sensitivity category and who voted that company best retailer of the year?

Claims all being made to the pet owning public which are meaningless yet they influence consumer demand.

Another popular yet meaningless claim is “hypoallergenic dog food” which simply means not likely to produce an allergic reaction!  or to be more specific  – designed to reduce or minimize the possibility of an allergic response, as by containing relatively few or no potentially irritating substances.

This is dog food we are talking about and what company with any sense is going to try and sell a dog food, claim it is one of the best dog foods and include ingredients which are going to cause an allergic reaction and them tell potential customers – the ingredients could cause allergic reactions.

Of course the issue of “New and Improved” has a lot to do with consumer demand simply because dog and cat owners, or at least some of them, are in the business of learning about what is right for their dogs.

No New Leader in the Grain Free Pack or even the  Best Dog Foods stakes is  going to influence a consumer unless there is an improvement, even short term in their dogs or cats general condition.

The vast majority of dog food companies are simply creating niche’s in the ever competitive market place.  This is where Land Of Holistic Pets distinguishes itself in this extremely competitive market place and lifts its position in the Best Dog Food Stakes .

Land Of Holistic Pets products are formulated for Health!  Not some changing fad and to win attention but for the benefit of the dog.

The only shareholders at Land Of holistic Pets are George and Debi Burns – there are no hidden financiers investing money and demanding profits regardless of how it is done or what claims are being made.

In summary, many of the dog foods and cat foods and claims of best dog foods and best cat foods are simply marketing hype designed solely to grab the pet owning public’s attention with the simple intention of converting a doubtful mind to make of a purchase of a particular product.

Land Of Holistic Pets dog foods and intended for the health of the general population of dogs, to give them what we consider to the correct level of nutrients in the most available form for digesting.

Yin and Yang of food for pets

In Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Eastern medicinal practices, diet is used in the prevention as well as treatment of disease.

The philosophies used are very different than the approaches used by Westerner practitioners who by and large view the symptoms as the problems and suppression of them, the cure.

The Eastern approach sees the symptoms as a result of another underlying problem. A bit like a Tsunami being a symptom but the earthquake the underlying cause.

In  Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal herbs are regarded as part of the diet when symptoms become apparent.

Food is not simply a source of calories and chemical compounds like protein, fat, and minerals for dogs and cats. Foods are looked at in how  they influence the pets  body as a whole: blood, fluid, individual organs and a body’s Qi (energy/life force).

One of the basics of  Traditional Chinese Medicine  is balance.

Each food has yin or yang properties to consider, and each food has a yin (cool, damp) and a yang ( hot, dry) constitution.

A diet should be designed to minimize imbalance in your dog or cat, not create further imbalance.

Balance is determined by Yin and Yang although both contain elements of each other. The white area is Yin with a Yang pair (black circle within the white area) The black area is Yang with a Yin pair (white circle within the black area).

It is not necessary to fully understand the principles of Yin and Yang to understand their influence in terms of diet.

Basically foods have a variety of effects on the body dependant on their Yin or Yang nature. Foods which heat the body are Yang, foods which cool are Yin. Thus we need to watch for balance in terms of not only Hot and Cold (Yang and Yin) but Dry and Damp (Yang and Yin).

In normal health the relationship between Yin and Yang is harmonious and dependent on each other.

Foods are broken down into many categories. Those being:

Direction – does the food influence Qi (energy), blood, or fluid upward, downward, inward, or outward. Skin problems for example are usually considered to be outward problems associated with excess body conditions. In simple terms, the body is pushing out the excesses through the skin.

Flavours – sweet (help digestion), sour (astringent/ drying) , pungent (spicy/ stimulate circulation, ie Garlic), salty (soften) and bitter- (aid digestion).

Meridians – how the food affects specific organs: spleen/ pancreas/ stomach (warming foods), lung/ large intestine (moistening foods), kidney/ urinary bladder (sweet), liver/ gall bladder (cooling foods).

Temperature which has to do with the way you feel after you have eaten – cooling as with salads,  warming as with oats, hot as with spices and neutral where there is no appreciative change.

And in addition, Traditional Chinese medicine attempts to achieve balance with the seasons
 – spring/summer (cleansing – why many skin problems only occur in these seasons)
 – and fall/ winter (warming/ nourishing).

Examples of cooling (Yin) foods:

  • Cooling Meats/Fish: Duck, Pork, Salmon
  • Cooling Grains: Millet, Barley, Wheat
  • 
Cooling Vegetables: Celery, Broccoli, Spinach, Cucumbers

Examples of warming  (Yang) foods:

  • Warming Meats:  Lamb, Red Meat, Shrimp
Warming Grains: Oats, Quinoa, Safflower
  • 
Warming Vegetables: Squash, Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans

Thus a proper holistic dog food or holistic cat food will pull together many of the facets above in order to produce a product which avoids excesses and seeks to balance the impact that the combined ingredients have on your pets body.

Protein and Dog Food

The term ‘Human Grade’ ingredients of which Robbie’s and Luath Products are made is taking on a literal meaning with consequences. Simply because we use the human edible part of the chicken we are facing a world demand from companies who are producing foods for human consumption.

In effect, where before the chicken we used for our pet foods was only used for that, the Asian human food companies are not only eyeing up raw material in America – they are buying them for inclusion in human consumption goods for their own markets.

At Land of Holistic Pets, we see this as an ongoing and increasing problematic area in terms of maintaining the quality of our products and keeping costs to a minimum.

Also, this development is putting severe pressure on other protein sources driving up demand and thus price. Coupled with this is a shortage of chicken fat and the domino effects spill over to turkey and other poultry fats.

Combined with the above has been the severe storms and tornado’s almost wiping out the poultry industry in Arizona. Most of the producers there do not own the livestock – they simply rear it on behalf of bigger players. In effect, they are sub-contractors rearing the chicks to a suitable age.

The effect of the storms destroyed the rearing houses and left them with many young birds with nowhere to live. They will probably find that their short life is curtailed even further simple because of the lack of habitat

The other interesting facet of quality protein, and this showed up during the big pet food recalls, is that in order to limit prices increases, pet food manufacturers were turning to cheap protein sources and supplementing the diets with synthetic essential amino acids. In Europe, they have become quite skilled and making a low quality ingredient look impressive.

In many diets you see the term ‘ vegetable protein isolate’ which is a fancy name for vegetable protein rather than the real deal . The giveaway is always further down the list in the form of L-lysine or DL-methionine or even taurine – amino acids – the later which dogs normally make themselves but need other amino acids which normally are in the protein.

We are keeping a close eye on developments but envisage that over time, quality protein will become more and more expensive.