My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buddy, is a very healthy boy. The only physical problems he’s had in his 10 years have been of his own making: swallowing parts of toys, snatching and gulping down food off the Manhattan streets faster than I could stop him. The bacteria in old food has sent us to the vet a few times. Now I’m much more careful. Each trip to the vet was terrifying and, as you probably know, it’s a helluva lot of money.
The sole digestive problem my hairy little son had is messy poops. The vet said it wasn’t anything to worry about so I didn’t. Then I met Kevyn Matthews,The Dog Chef.
During our first conversation I joked with Kevyn that Buddy has promised me he will never die. But, seriously, I’m scared now that Buddy has reached double digits. Kevyn picked up on my fear and said if I wanted my dog to live longer I should feed him a raw food diet. My first concern was food poisoning, like salmonella, but Kevyn reassured me that his plan includes probiotics to fight off any potential infection.
That’s all I had to hear to give it a try.
What Kevyn said made sense. Wild dogs ate raw meat and vegetables. I looked up the world’s first dog and that was 31,700 years ago. There have been many pooches since then and they’ve been around long before packaged dog food, riddled with fillers and preservatives, hit the shelves.
Convenience dog foods became all the rage in America in the mid to late 40’s. Huge bags of dry dog food became increasingly popular the same time the first McDonald’s popped up in 1948. That was long before what our nation now knows about nutrition.
“Packaged dog food contains wheat, rice, soy, or corn,” Kevyn said. “That’s not what dogs would be eating in the wild. Dog owners figure if the kibble comes from a big bag and a big company, it must be good. Most people don’t know if they’re feeding the dog healthy food or not because they don’t read what’s in it. Dog food was created for convenience to humans, not what’s best for a dog.”
This is Kevyn Matthews, The Dog Chef, in the midst of preparing a customized raw food meal for a client’s dog.
A few months have passed since I switched Buddy to Kevyn’s raw food diet and, glory hallelujah, Bud’s poops have been solid and easy-breezy to clean up. I’ve also noticed Bud’s breath is sweeter and his coat is softer, silkier, and shinier.
The average American pet eats food processed at high temperatures and filled with preservatives to extend its shelf life. The heat kills naturally occurring enzymes that exist in raw foods. Enzymes are tiny protein molecules found in every living cell. They are the “workers” that provide energy, metabolize foods, and help remove toxins. Heat, pesticides, herbicides, food preservatives, additives, artificial colorings, and flavor enhancers destroy enzymes.
There are two key categories of enzymes:
To maintain every cell, tissue and organ.
To work in the stomach and intestines to break down food.
- Amylase aids in digesting carbohydrates and starches
- Cellulase breaks down fiber
- Lipase aids in digesting fat
- Protease works at digesting protein
When your pet eats heated and processed “dead” food without enzymes, their system will kick into survival mode to digest food. This means borrowing digestive enzymes from their metabolic enzymes. When that happens, your pet’s body is in overdrive and only able to partially digest food. Whatever isn’t digested can enter the bloodstream.
Kevyn said, “Inside your dog is an entire ecosystem that was designed to eat and digest foods in a certain way. Commercially cooked dry food with chemical preservatives is not what a dog’s system needs. By feeding a dog these foods we are changing their system from the genetic blueprint and making it work much harder. Fresh food takes your dog 6 hours to process; cooked foods take 12 hours or more to digest with some of it left sitting and rotting in the intestinal track. Stagnant food causes digestion issues and inflammation, which can lead to liver, kidney and pancreatic diseases, and cancer. When toxins aren’t processed and they spill out into the bloodstream, that can create serious health problems.”
“Obesity,” said Kevyn, “is increasing in this country and so are diabetes, cancer, and a host of other diseases. We have to stop and think about what we feed our animals. They need protein rich, enzyme rich, raw meat and raw vegetables.”
When fed grains, a dog’s pancreas have to produce large amounts of amylase to deal with starch and carbohydrates. Dogs were never built to digest grains, yet dog foods are filled with them.
Another reason I’ve switched to The Dog Chef’s raw food diet is the new knowledge that as my little Buddy ages, his body will produce fewer enzymes. If he doesn’t have enough his system will become taxed and age faster. I want my little four-legged fella by my side for another 10 years at least. I’m feeling hopeful since I switched to The Dog Chef’s raw food plan.
The oldest dog on record lived until the age of 29. Hey, you never know.
Q: Why do some dogs freak out when you go to pat them on the head?
A: Moving toward a dog quickly and reaching over the top of a dog’s head can feel threatening. Just like humans, some dogs are born less affectionate, not touchy-feely, and don’t like having their personal space invaded. We unfairly put pressure on our dogs to accept everything we throw at them. It’s important to know your dog’s individuality. If your pet doesn’t enjoy being picked up, snuggled, or hugged, respect those feelings. Some dogs will shun touch because of past unpleasant experiences. Dog owners who constantly pick the dog up, grab their collar, discipline their dog physically by hitting them or approach too quickly or in a threatening way are programming that dog to lose trust in hands. Dogs don’t understand our emotional reasons for doing things. Even well meaning owners who attempt to interact in a loving, affectionate way can cause a freak out. Some approaches feel overbearing from the dog’s perspective. Think about relatives who grab you too fast and hug too hard. It feels overwhelming and you hate it, right?
Q: Why do dogs look like they feel guilty when they misbehaved?
A: What we interpret as a guilty look can be a display of submission, a dog’s way of saying, “I understand that you’re not happy right now.” Signs of submission include tail down, ears down, head down, or body low to the ground or rolling onto their back to expose the belly. This type of dog body language does not mean the dog feels guilty. Many dog owners say, “My dog knows when he did something wrong.” The reality is, if you walk into a room and your favorite shoes are lying in the middle of the floor chewed to bits, and you shout, “FIDO, WHAT DID YOU DO?!” your dog may slink away and retreat to a safe place but not because he knows what you’re unhappy about. Only if you’ve caught your dog in the act of an unwanted behavior will your body language and stern tone be associated with the canine-misdemeanor taking place at that moment.
Q: Why is it so difficult to train dogs not to bark or pull on their leash?
A: Confusion is the biggest underlying factor where problem behavior is concerned. Don’t assume a dog should know how to walk on a leash. You have to teach the dog what you want. Dog owners complain, “My dog won’t come when I call him.” How much time has been spent teaching what the word “come” means? To raise a happy, well-behaved dog, owners need to commit time to teaching. Another issue that can get in the way is not providing leadership. Dogs who perceive themselves as the boss may pull on the leash or bark. Exercise is very important, too. If a dog is not physically and mentally stimulated they can suffer from boredom or anxiety and problem behavior will ensue.
Q: Does a dog have to be extremely intelligent to learn complicated tricks?
A: Some of the smartest dogs I’ve met were accused of being stupid, stubborn, or deaf. They weren’t. They were confused by their owners’ unclear communications.
Q: How can a dog be taught not to eat food off the street?
A: Take time to teach the command, “Leave It.” Begin instruction inside the house where’s there’s less distraction. That will make it easier for your dog to learn. Use less tempting items at first. Get your dog to understand that looking to you when he hears “Leave It” will get him a higher-value reward, like a piece of cheese or meat, and lots of praise. Incrementally move to more distracting environments and use more tempting items to test your dog. Don’t expect your dog to learn if you haven’t worked toward creating this habit. Also make sure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs daily. If your dog isn’t starving for nutrition he’s less likely to scavenge for food on the street.
Q: My dog swallowed pieces of toys a few times but never made a connection between that and the intestinal surgeries. Why?
A: Dog behavior is determined by immediate outcome. It makes sense to us that the dog shouldn’t want to re-live an unpleasant operation but the dog doesn’t make a connection between the two events. That’s human thinking. The dog thinks, “I like swallowing chewed pieces of toys because they smell good and make me feel full.”
Take Your Dog for a Long Walk in the Mornings
Your dog won’t be happy with the diminished time they get to spend with you due to your business commitments so it’s important you make sure you take your dog for a long walk at least once per day, even if that means you have to get up an hour earlier in the morning. There is no good to come of letting your dog out in the garden and then expecting another family member to take the dog out for a walk during the day when you could be getting up earlier to do it instead. Deep down, your dog will wonder why they don’t get to see you as much, but as long as they get to spend at least a little time with you per day, that’s is all that matters.
Make the Most of Your Weekends Off
When running a business, it’s hard to have any time off at all, but any time you do get off should be spent with the family and that includes your dog. Whether you go on a day trip somewhere or even just for a walk around the park, try to get your dog involved as much as possible so they don’t feel left out. Even if you are running a successful business that takes up most of your time, it’s always important to make time for your loved ones and that includes your dog.
Buy Your Dog Regular Treats
This doesn’t necessarily mean buy your dog any treats related to food. Instead, buying a new chew toy once every couple of months, and a small treat every week or so, could be the difference between your dog knowing you care and thinking you don’t.
You may well have achieved an online MBA degree via one of the many online MBA programs to give you the business administration experience required to succeed in running your own company, but none of that will matter if you do not spend some time with your loved ones once in a while. Your dog might be a dog, but it doesn’t mean that they do not understand what is going on around them. So please keep these tips in mind to keep your beloved dog a priority.
We know how that feels, clothes can be restricting. If you’ve ever had to wear brassiere you KNOW the relief of taking it off at the end of the day. How do we know it’s not the same for our puppy pals? When I take my dog’s collar off to give her a good brush, she seems to relish in her nakedness. I feel bad putting the collar back on, but I know it’s necessary for her to wear. After all, it has her personal ID and immunization records, so if she’s found wandering away from home (fingers crossed this never happens) the kind stranger that finds her will know her name and to whom she belongs. Though just as an extra safety measure, she’s been microchipped too.
Understanding Your Pooch
Like humans, dogs have unique eccentricities. Some like to run through a dewy field and others would prefer to lie in front of the stove all day—keeping their paws nice and toasty. Some dogs adore playing fetch for hours at the local dog park, others show absolutely no interest in rubber balls. No two dogs are the same, so why would we expect them to be happy with the same uniform collar and tags? I know what you’re thinking…different styles appeal to the dog owner’s taste. Fido may not have our delicate fashion sensibilities. To keep our dogs and ourselves happy about canine accessories it’s fun to check out personalized pet ID tags and collars. It’s fun mixing and matching to find a favorite combo.
What’s in a Lifestyle?
The comfort of a dog collar first depends on your dog’s fur type. Typically, rolled leather collars are best for dogs with long hair, and flat collars are ideal for dogs with short hair. However, the material of the collar and the design of the ID tag depends on the activity levels of your pooch.
For the active dog, the flat nylon collar would be the most durable, particularly if most of the pup’s movements have to do with water sports. The nylon collar forms well around the dog’s neck, and its flathead buckle keeps from being a hindrance. The only problem with the nylon flat collar is that it only lasts for about a year before showing considerable signs of wear and tear. And because the material becomes weakened over time, sewing in a flat, engraved ID will cause it to weaken that much quicker. Thus a nylon collar requires the traditional ID tag.
One way to keep the traditional, dangling ID tag from bothering your four-legged fur baby is by framing the tag in a rubber tag holder. That will keep the tag from bouncing around as much and will silence the clinking of tags, proving to be less of a distraction for your puppy in training.
You can get a flat leather collar for the active dog too, but it requires more care. When leather gets wet, the oils of the leather bind with the water, making the leather more brittle. If the wet collar is not removed and cleaned properly, the water will damage the leather beyond repair. This is about the only drawback of the leather dog collar. Leather collars are more form fitting and move with the movements of the dog. And unlike the nylon collar, you can sew a nameplate tag into the collar without fear of weakening the material.
Here’s to a new year of fun with your dog!
Photo above: Chihuahua Chai Latte shows off her fabulous pink nails.
Celebrity Catwalk’s dog fashion weekend, “Paws in the City,” in Manhattan lived up to the hype. Furry beasties and besties got together in the Big Apple and whooped it up for three days thanks to the founder Jennifer Bartok-Taylor. Their mission? To have a blast while raising funds for K-9 brethren through nonprofits: Zani’s Furry Friends, Pugs for Pinky, and Yorkie911 Rescue. It was three days of nonstop fun and heartwarming holiday tales of tailwaggers.
“Merry & Bright Yappy Hour” kicked off the weekend on Friday, December 9, followed by “Santa Paws & Pups” on Saturday, and Sunday’s “Bah Humbug Brunch.” Crafty canine fashion designers included Dapper Dogues & Glitzy Paws, Roxie by the Baie, and Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets.
One of the stars this year was Angel Song, an adorable Chihuahua dressed pretty in pink by designer Barbara Klubeck. Angel Song was rescued by fitness coach Summer Strand and their love story is epic. “Ada Nieves of a Chihuahua Meetup group sent an email about a homeless Chi,” said Strand, “Somehow I just knew with my whole being this Chi belonged with me.”
Thinking about adopting a shelter dog over the holidays? Sniff & Barkens’ in-house dog expert Amy Robinson has five reasons to adopt an adult dog instead of a puppy.