You likely know eating fresh, wholesome food is sensible, but what about what your dog eats?
The Canadian dog food market is worth a little under a billion dollars. I was oblivious to the wide range of choices until we got our puppy last year and then I felt overwhelmed.
Before we got our puppy, I read Dr. Ian Dunbar's book, Before and After You Get Your Puppy (You can download much of it for free at www.DogStarDaily.com). Thanks to this book, our puppy does not pee (or have any other accidents) in the house. She sits, stays, comes when called, doesn't eat my shoes and is a beautiful companion. I'm as surprised as you!
We spent quite a bit of time reading dog food labels too. It seems the dog food industry invests millions of dollars vying for my loyalty with catchy adverts, pretty labels, calorie breakdowns and long lists of “good for you” ingredients.
Dr. Loridawn Gordon, owner of Whistler Animal Health Clinic, spoke recently at the Whistler Public Library. She shared her expertise that echoed many of the topics in my book (for humans)!
The tips: speak kind words (to your dog), do your best to provide a wholesome diet, enjoy gentle exercise, prioritize sleep and use non-toxic cleaning products.
Dogs have a good sense of smell and avoiding toxic, phthalate-containing fragranced household or cleaning products is essential. Avoid over-washing your dog to prevent drying out the skin — not always easy after they roll doggie “au du poop” cologne behind their ears! We wash our dog every few months, which currently I regret as she has an aroma resembling a ripe cheese.
Dogs mirror our own fears, joys and insecurities and so shouting at your dog is not the answer. Rather, you should take the time to tune into your own feelings. De-stressing may improve your relationship with your dog and your dog's behaviour. If strange and peculiar things are going on with your dog, check in with yourself and see how you are feeling.
Dogs get bored with nothing to do and that is when they nibble your shoes or just smarten up that piece of furniture for you. It is unkind to expect a dog to sit at home all day without some entertainment.
Our dog loves the Kong dog toys, especially the squeaky ones. Quieter entertainment is a “bully stick” to chew. They are wonderful for cleaning their teeth too. For the squeamish I apologize: there are dried bull penis (called pizzle). On the plus side, chewing alleviates boredom and prevents having Ikea on speed-dial for furniture replacements.
Dietary-wise, Gordon agrees probiotics are the missing link in our modern diets; something as simple as a teaspoon of natural yogurt every so often is wise.
An ideal diet contains 75 per cent protein and 25 per cent vegetables. Never give a dog raisins, grapes, chocolate or mushrooms, all of which are toxic to dogs.
We give our dog a raw mix of meat and vegetables that has been dehydrated. Occasionally we also give the puppy green beans and broccoli (blanched), lettuce, fennel and watercress or perhaps a piece of carrot. Apple is popular, but a rare treat as they are very sweet. Salmon skins result in total overexcitement. Fortunately, Whistler Happy Pets have salmon skins and a collection of high-quality treats and food for dogs.
Finally, speaking positive words to your dog is one of the areas that can be overlooked. As Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
Dogs are no different; praise them, tell them you love them. Kind words are powerful. Saying “my dog is so naughty” will give you that. If you take the time to visualize dog training, you will usually be successful at it.
Next time, I will discuss the herbal product range Gordon has developed, which includes non-toxic solutions for fleas, ticks, worms and skin issues. To contact Gordon, visit www.whistlervetservices.ca.
Joanna writes for www.ActualOrganics.com. Her book, The Radiant Woman's Handbook is available at Armchair Books.