Organic Bone

November 06, 2016

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Perk up your morning routine with coffee and a walk with your dog

Perk up your morning routine with a cup of organic coffee and a walk with your four legged friend.

What is your morning routine like? Do you wake bleary-eyed, reaching for the snooze button before finally giving in and getting up only to stumble across your pet pooch who has far more energy and excitement than you think possible for this time of day? Or do you spring out of bed rearing to take on the day?

Taking your dog for a walk in the morning is one of the best ways to bond with your pooch. Spending time with them in a way which stimulates their natural pack behaviour and helps you both to spend time together in a way which will start to create a lifelong bond with your furry best friend. But, a lot of us fall into that first camp and find getting started in the morning a bit difficult. We can often do with a little something extra to get us up to speed and ready to keep pace with the dog in our lives first thing.

A bit of early morning exercise can be great for us. It is a good way to start the day and get you moving. Taking your dog for a walk helps you to reach that goal of walking 10,000 steps a day too. So how do we get you awake enough to walk your dog in the right way to create a bond?

A good cup of organic coffee, just like this Nicaragua High Grown Organic coffee, goes a long way to waking you up in the morning, boosting your energy levels so you are awake enough to have a great and fun walkies with your dog.

Creating a bond with your dog takes effort from both you and your dog. You both have to invest time, energy and emotion to create a deep and lasting bond, just like when you bond with people. As you make the effort and put in the time together with your dog, you will start to establish and then strengthen your bond, building your position as their ‘Alpha’ or pack leader.

Starting and ending your days together with a walk helps you to form that bond you want to build with your pooch. Part of building that bond means walking your dog in the right way. That doesn’t mean a lazy walk, rather it means walking your dog in the right way - leadership walking. Leadership walks means taking charge and becoming your dog’s pack leader. You take charge of when they are allowed to sniff, mark their territory or stop and sniff. Your job is to encourage your dog to stay at your side and focus their attention on you and your walk together.

Learning how to take that walk together is one of the basics of dog ownership. It starts when you first bring your new friend home. Most dog classes will teach you how to correctly walk your dog, showing you the proper way to keep your pooch under control and at heal by your side.

Walking your dog in the right way is not rocket science, but not all dog owners have been to classes or know how to walk their dog in the right way. Have you ever seen someone jogging behind their dog, trying to keep up with their pooch? It can be a bit comical seeing people being dragged along. On the other hand it’s often difficult watching an owner struggle, almost dragging them or having to stop and pick them up if they are small enough.

Taking your dog for a pack walk or leadership walk is the key to creating and building an everlasting bond with your dog. As you build up time spent walking together, you dog will look forward to the walks and start to respond better to them. During these walks, your dog will learn to follow your lead as you set the pace. You choose where the walk takes you, when it starts and when it ends. Following establishes you as the leader of the pack.

Another good way to build your bond with your furry friend on a pack walk is by talking to and encouraging them. Give them praise, praise and more praise as they are walking the way you want. Show your dog how pleased you are with them as they calmly walk by your side. Your dog needs clear signals showing when they are doing right. They really want to do nothing more than to please you, their boss. Through associative learning, repetition and positive reinforcement of good behaviour, your dog will learn to repeat this behaviour. Remember, you can never praise them too much.

To keep your dog interested you need to keep your walks long enough that they get exercise, but short enough that they are left wanting more and have their interest stimulated. Switch up parks you visit and routes you take. These walks are a great way to keep your dog under control, focused on you and stimulated through the day when you are at work. 

Talk to your dog, let them know you’re pleased with them and that they are doing well. Spending time together doing things which are fun creates that bond you’ve been looking for and that morning cup of coffee can help keep you awake enough to fully enjoy it!

Taking a morning walk with your dog for as little as 20 minutes each time. Keep your dog under control, talk to them and show them how proud of them you are. In just a week you’ll see a huge difference and start to feel that bond growing.

October 06, 2016

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Springtime Salve-ation!

Ahhhhh, springtime.

Think daffodils, birds singing, new life, the smell of fresh cut grass, blue sky and lambs skipping. Try not to think about the accompanying seeding grasses, the pollen of a million freshly opened flowers, equinoctial winds, hot pavements and the return of all your favourite pestiferous insects.

To make the most of this beautiful time of year you’re just gotta get out there and take the challenges in stride. While we’re dusting off our Daisy Dukes, and stocking up on our favourite sunscreen and lip balm, it’s important to remember that our four-legged friends can face just as many springtime challenges as their two-legged family members. Whether it’s crusty noses from wind, sun and seasonal sneezles, sore paws from hot pavement, insects bites, or an itchy rash from a long and blissful scruffle in the grass - spring is the season to make sure your canine firstaid kit is stocked and ready.

Wondering just where to start? Organic Bone have got you covered! Just in the nick of
(spring)time, we’ve landed the absolutely gorgeous apothecary range by Loyal Canine. Lovingly made in Canada, this beautiful range of natural salves was born of founder Allan Glenfield's efforts to find a natural solution for his French bulldog Frankie’s chronic dry nose. Well, from Frankie’s nose to the noses of the world, we’re so very excited to bring Loyal Canine to dogs Down Under!

Don’t Come the Raw Paw With Me, Mate…

As the days get warmer, and particularly if you walk your dog in the city or the ‘burbs, always take care when you step out onto hot pavement or concrete. On hot days it’s often best to play it safe and stick to grass verges or head to the park. Remember the 5 second rule: put the back of your hand on the pavement, if you can’t hold it there for a good 5 seconds it’s likely to cook your dog’s paws like the proverbial Aussie prawn on a barbie. Yet no matter how careful we are we all know that, when it comes to #doglife, accidents do happen! Loyal Canine’s No.1 Pawmade Paw Protector is an all-natural ointment that protects and heals a dog’s paw pads from everyday wear and tear. The carefully selected ingredients create a barrier between the ground and paws, protecting them from future wear, while promoting healing and pain relief from existing damage.

Rub Your Nose in It…

When the nose you love has a case of the crusties, whether from sun or wind burn, too little (or too much) tongue, or a breed-related chronic dry nose, it’s Black Lightning Nose Balm to the rescue! Loyal Canine’s Black Lightning is an all-natural ointment that will heal, protect, and bring back a bright shine to your dog’s nose. Developed from a unique blend of natural moisturising ingredients combined with the healing powers of sea buckthorn oil, the balm helps soothe any existing cracking, dryness, and soreness, as well as protect from future damage.

First Aid is the Best Aid…

The pièce de résistance of any canine first aid kit, Loyal Canine’s First Aid Healing Ointment is for the adventurous dog; the larrikin, the maverick, the eye-on-the-prize-but-not-where-I’m-going type character. Great for minor cuts, sores, burns, skin irritations, rashes and eczema relief, this allnatural healing ointment is formulated from a special blend of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antiinflammatory ingredients that will speed up recovery and minimise scaring. Quite simply, the perfect accompaniment for springtime escapades.

When It's Time to Come Clean…

When all that fresh grass is just perfect for scruffling and bounding through, a consequential case of the springtime itchies can be a real downer. Loyal Canine’s Lucky Pup Dog Soap soothes and moisturises dry, angry, itchy skin, washing away all those irritating irritants, leaving your little hooligan refreshed and ready to scruffle another day. Lucky Pup champions the highest quality plant-based ingredients including Shea butter, African black soap, coconut oil, and glycerine - all rich in natural emollients, minerals, and anti-oxidants. This exceptional all-natural soap includes a proprietary blend of essential oils to relieve stress, condition fur and help scare off ticks and fleas. Oh, and did we mention it comes with a super cute and totally functional little finger-rope attached? Soaping-up at bath time has never been easier!

September 13, 2016

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The Art Of Bathing

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The Art of Bathing

Zen and the Art of Bath-time

Whether your dog is a wave-diving hose-chaser or a run-and-hide hyrdophobe most dog owners know that there’s definitely an art to bath-time!

Some of you may already be bath-time masters, but we totally understand what it’s like if you’re new to bathing your dog, or struggling with particularly a nervous Nellie. No matter what your canine-cleanliness initiate level there are some simple tips and tricks out there that can make make bath time a fun and positive time for all involved!
 

Hydro Love

Just like humans, dogs have their own unique personalities, loves and fears - both intrinsic and learnt. And just like humans, with some understanding and encouragement many fears can be transformed into positive experiences. A fear of water is a common one for a number of dogs, and one that can make bath-time a nightmare without a little help to overcome.

One of the best ways to start the bath-time journey is with no water at all! Familiarise your dog with the empty bathtub everyday for a few weeks. Encourage them to get in, sit and stay, rewarding positive behaviour with a treat, praise and a cuddle. Always be patient, never scold or punish as it’s very important that this is established is a positive, safe place for your dog. Once they’re familiar and comfortable with the tub you can introduce a little water into the mix, less is more at first and always encourage and reward good behaviour.

As with any form of training, the younger you can start familiarising your puppy with water in a safe and positive way, the better. But even with older water-phobic dogs a little love and patience can do wonders.

 

Take Care

For the ultimate level of bath-time success it’s important to be gentle with your bathing technique and to understand the areas that are particularly sensitive to water.

Be very careful not to get water in your dog’s ears. Water in the ears is uncomfortable for dogs and can also lead to fungal or bacterial ear infections. To avoid the ears it’s a good idea to only wash from the neck down. If your dog lets you put a cotton ball into each each before their bath that’s an even better way to protect those ears, if they’re not a fan of that idea just take care not to spray water in or around the ears.

Be cautious around the eyes and mouth too as spraying or flowing water over a dogs head can often cause anxiety. That, and we all know how much shampoo in the eyes can sting! A great solution is to use a damp wash-cloth to gently clean the face. I like to do this last after the rest of the body is all done and rinsed.

 

Silky Coat, Happy Skin

Choose your weapons wisely! When stinkiness strikes and cleanliness intervention becomes an a matter of urgency, you can take comfort in knowing your favourite dog-friendly shampoo is on hand. Always remember that canine skin has a different PH to human skin. Avoid using shampoos and soaps designed for humans as they can disrupt the PH and natural balance of oils causing irritation, itching and even dermatitis. Instead choose products specifically designed for dogs and free from parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances, sulphates and petroleum derived mineral oils.

Here at Organic Bone we’ve hand picked some of the very best natural, skin-safe canine shampoos and conditioners like the wonderful Mr.Paw and the gorgeous Ivory Coat range. So go forth and transform yourself into a bath-time Zen master leaving only silky coats, happy skin, delightful scents and wagging tails in your wake!

August 06, 2016

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Itchies and Scratchies - DIY Skin Soothers

Itchies and Scratchies - DIY Skin Soothers

We all know and love the scratchy-bliss face. That moment when we happen upon the perfect unreachable spot - between the ears, just above the shoulder, or right at the top of the tail - the instant rise of those furry eyebrows above a blissfully wistful distant stare of neck-stretching, leg-kicking, scratchy-spot perfection - the undeniable pinnacle of good itchies.

But oh, when it comes to the bad itchies - the bitey, chewy, flakey, rashy, inflamed or, at worst, infected itchies - life takes a decidedly far-from-blissful turn. The world of skin irritants our pups navigate is a wide and varied one that ebbs and flows with changes of season, diet and environment. Insect bites, chemical ingredients in grooming or pest-prevention products, dietary incompatibilities, pollens and seeding grasses are just a few of myriad causes that can tip things toward the less blissful end of the itchy scales.

So how can we tip those scales back in our favour and sooth our furry friend’s skin back to optimal health? Luckily there are some beautifully simple preventative steps and wonderfully easy-to-use natural soothers than can ease the burden of the undesirable itch.

 

Grooming products

Just as we bipeds take care in choosing our own shampoos, soaps, moisturisers and ointments to be as gentle and biologically compatible as possible, that same level of choice and care should be applied to choosing grooming products for our four-legged companions. Your dog’s skin is naturally more alkaline than human skin (approx pH 7, compared to our pH 5.5). This means that using shampoos and soaps designed for human skin on your pet can disrupt their natural balance of oils and alkalinity leading to dry or flaky skin, excess shedding, and the potential onset of eczema or dermatitis. Always choose grooming products designed especially for pets, and avoid any that contain harmful chemicals like parabens, sulphates, dyes or synthetic fragrances. The wonderful natural range of grooming products from Ivory Coat are my personal favourites.

 

Diet 

Always remember that the health of your dog’s skin can be a strong indication of their overall health. So, just as with humans, a bad diet can lead to an overall decline in health and compromised immunity which can lay the skin open to sensitivities, reactions and infection. Always feed a quality diet rich in good oils, grain free if possible, and free from fillers like corn or beet meal and the classic ‘meat by-product’. The key is really to know exactly what your dog is eating - get acquainted with the ingredients lists on the food your feeding, or go raw and real - and make informed choices. Whatever you choose to feed, there are some wonderful natural, bioavailable and nutrient-rich supplements that, when added to daily meals, can do wonders for strengthening immunity, skin and overall health. Augustine Approved’s Super Boost and Meals for Mutts Green Tripe Powder are perfect examples.

 

Coconut Oil

You’ve probably already read about the complete and utter awesomeness of virgin cold-pressed coconut oil as it applies to humans - its anti-microbial properties, its perfect balance of healthy fatty acids, the benefit of those medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) in promoting healthy metabolism and cognitive function, and its many topical applications as a soothing/healing/moisturising skin balm and hair treatment. Well, it’s every bit as wonderful (and safe) for dogs! I give a heaped teaspoon to my dog daily to help promote the production of good skin and coat oils, along with many other bonus health benefits. She adores it, and loves to lick it straight off the spoon. Topically, it’s also a soothing, safe and lickable balm to smooth into dry noses, scratchy paws, chafing between toes, rashy or flakey skin - and with its added anti-microbial properties can help prevent fungal and bacterial skin infections when applied regularly. Always remember to choose virgin cold-pressed coconut oil for supplementing and applying it you or your pet. The processed varieties of coconut oil have unfortunately lost much if not all of their beneficial properties during manufacturing. You’ll find Augustine Approved’s Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil (also a key ingredient in their Super Heal) right here at Organic Bone.

 

Manuka Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar

Both known for their astounding anti-microbial and healing properties I consider this dynamic duo to be the most important two ingredients in my healthy-skin toolkit for my bull terrier, Lulu. I use medicinal grade UMF 5+ Manuka Honey and organic unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar both supplementally and topically to help keep Lulu’s allergenic and dermatitis-prone skin healthy and free from bad itchies. I add 1/2 teaspoon of UMF 5+ Manuka Honey to her daily diet, along with 1 teaspoon of ACV to maintain good pH levels and a healthy systemic microbial balance, allowing for optimal immunity and skin health. As if that wasn’t enough, topically these two truly come into their own. I always keep a little bottle of Lulu’s magic skin spray (as we call it in our house) mixed up and at hand ready to treat any signs of skin irritation, dermatitis or pyoderma (skin infection). To make the DIY spray I mix 1:1 cold filtered water and ACV with 1 level teaspoon of UMF 5+ Manuka Honey in a 100ml spray bottle and shake well until the honey is dissolved. Vinegar being a natural preservative, it keeps well without refrigeration for 2-3 months. Whether it’s a simple grass rash, insect bite, a sneaky patch of atopic dermatitis or hotspots, this simple DIY spray always saves the day. A quick spray over the affected area, then smoothed over with some soothing virgin coconut oil when dry is enough to keep almost all nasty itchies at bay. AND it just so happens that it’s great for treating rashes, eczema and psoriasis on us two-legged animals as well!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lix North - Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, founder of www.lulubully.com

Lix grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand, surrounded by animals. 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered her to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as her bull terrier puppy Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care. The results speak for themselves through the healthy, energetic, cheeky, now 13 year old, Lulu Bully.
July 10, 2016

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Is Grain-Free for Me?

Some call it the ‘latest craze’ in pet food. To the big commercial dog food companies, now seemingly all scrambling to jump aboard the grain-free pet nutrition craze, perhaps that’s all it is - a ‘craze’ to be cashed in on before the fickle minds of pet owners latch on to the next new thing.

Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m no fickle minded pet owner. I can tell you that I was feeding a quality homemade grain-free diet to my dogs long before anything gluten, grain or filler free was available on retail shelves. I didn’t read about it online (back then ‘online’ wasn’t really the thing is today), or in a magazine, or on TV, and it certainly wasn’t recommended by my vet. I began feeding grain-free because it felt right - in my head and in my gut. Nearly 14 years later I still rate it as the singular best decision I’ve ever made for my dogs’ health.

Domesticated dogs still share 99% of their DNA with wolves and, biologically speaking, are what’s known as scavenging carnivores (not omnivores). A fact easily confirmed by simply taking a look in my own omnivorous mouth, with that solid offering of flat molars for pounding plant matter, and comparing with that of my dog, packing those magnificent pointy, shiny nashers right to the hilt. With their obvious lack of flat molars, not to mention a lack of opposable thumbs with which to competently build or operate grinding or milling tools, it’s safe to say that grains have never had a look-in on the dog’s biological shopping list.This fundamental biological truth endures regardless of the psychological and behavioural evolution of domesticated dogs.

Maybe you’ve already thought about the equation of grain based diets for dogs from a biologically appropriate perspective, or perhaps you’ve been inspired to try grain-free options as a means of helping a pet with sensitivities. For me the decision to go grain-free was a combination of the two, along with a healthy dose of scepticism when it came to the nutritional advice of ‘experts' whose training was more often that not either funded or unduly influenced by major commercial dog food manufacturers.

The bond we have with our pets is unique, and when that bond is strong it’s not hard to see and to intuit the difference between whether your dog is merely surviving on their current diet or thriving on it. When you have a dog with extreme food sensitivities, as I do, it’s impossible to ignore the symptoms. Similarly, the difference in a dog’s quality of life upon a shift to a grain-free, quality diet can be just as blatantly obvious and, for me personally, fundamentally inspiring. Even for those without extreme sensitivities, it’s important to realise that many of the things we thought were just normal pet foibles - stinky breath/skin/coat, itching, shedding flakey skin, hyperactivity or lethargy, gas and upset tummies - are more often than not either caused or exacerbated by a poor quality, processed grain and filler rich diet that your dog’s system is simply not built to handle.

It’s important to think about each and every thing you feed your pet, just as you would a child. Read ingredients lists and along with looking for ingredients you want to avoid, also remember that they’re listed in hierarchical order - the higher the percentage of the total content the higher it is on the list. Beware of ‘grain-free’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ options from the bigger commercial pet food brands, as many fail to understand that these are actually valuable nutritional concepts, and not just ‘buzz words’ that will sell more product. If they’ve removed the grain, the chances are it’s been replaced it another variety of filler (like soybean hulls, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls, feather meal - I know… feather what?! Eww!), or bulked up the carb content (ie. potato or vegetable husks/byproducts) to minimise the production costs associated with quality meat ingredients.

If you’re here on at organicbone.com.au then you’re likely already weary of the ingredients lists served up by the big commercial dog food brands (incl. ‘prescription’ diets) and consciously thinking about what your furry friend truly needs to get the best out of life, live long and prosper. Some pet owners find joy and fulfilment in creating quality homemade meals and treats themselves, but for those who find there just aren’t enough hours in the day for a DIY doggy diet it doesn’t mean you have to compromise. There are some wonderful solutions for ethical, quality, biologically appropriate, grain-free and affordable diet options, right here at Organic Bone, that can provide you the peace mind that comes from knowing you’re honouring your pet’s biological requirements and enabling them to truly thrive. The best way to know whether a grain-free diet is right for your pet is to try it, commit to it for at least 6months to give your pets body time to eliminate any toxins from their old diet, and experience the difference for yourself.

 

 

References and further reading:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/13/dr-mercola-becker-on-pet-food-industry.aspx

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/10/31/veterinary-practice.aspx

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/02/28/commercial-pet-food-fillers.aspx

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lix North - Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, founder of www.lulubully.com

Lix grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand, surrounded by animals. 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered her to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as her bull terrier puppy Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care. The results speak for themselves through the healthy, energetic, cheeky, now 13 year old, Lulu Bully

June 16, 2016

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Supplements - Healthy Dog, Happy Life!

It’s probably safe to say that if you’re already here at Organic Bone, then we can count you amongst the health-conscious. Welcome to the club! We’re the ones who’ve figured out that there’s more than a grain of truth to the old adage ‘we are what we eat’. We know that the way we treat our bodies effects not only the way we feel and perform tomorrow, but also our resilience to disease and age-related degeneration as we get older.

You’ve likely already personally experienced the benefits of quality vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and superfood supplements on your own health; whether treating a vitamin or mineral deficiency, boosting immunity, preventing wear and tear, assisting our body’s natural resilience during times of stress or helping our bodies detox from the unavoidable environmental toxins that come with modern living. Imagine what it might mean for your pet’s health and longevity if you could share that same experience with them?

It’s well researched and documented that in this modern era, due to degraded soil qualities, artificial ripening, chemical spraying and genetic engineering, the food we (and our pets) consume just doesn’t pack the same nutritious punch it did, say, a hundred years ago. Just like us, dogs just don’t get everything they need for optimal health from the food they eat alone, even on the healthiest diet. And just like us, they respond amazingly well to a quality supplement regime tailored to suit their needs.

I’m a huge believer of natural supplementation for dogs. I mean, if you maximise their longevity and their quality of life, the longer they live and the healthier and happier that life is, the more joy you both get out of your time together.

For years now I’ve been supplementing my bull terrier Lulu’s diet with carefully researched high-quality, human-grade supplements to suit her changing needs as she ages. Lulu’s walking proof that the benefits of supplementation can be extraordinary. She’s now thirteen, passed her latest senior checkup with flying colours, and she’s just ridiculously spritely! She is, in fact, so very cheeky and active that she often barks at my husband and I to keep playing when we’re the ones who get tired and have to sit down for a break!

For Lulu I focus on three main areas of supplementation - detox and organ support, immune and digestive support, and joint support. If there was just one tip I could pass on to anyone thinking of starting a supplemental regime for their dog it would be - don’t settle for anything other than HUMAN-GRADE ingredients. There are a lot of gimmicky pet supplements popping up everywhere from pet stores and vet clinics to eBay and discount online stores, making it easy to get confused about what’s best for your pet and your budget. Remember, price doesn’t necessarily reflect quality - just because a product might be more expensive, if it isn’t completely transparent about its ingredients and the sources of those ingredients, steer clear. Make your pet supplement decisions with as much care as you would do with your own.

I’ve always made my own supplement mix for Lulu from human-grade supplements, carefully adjusting dose rates to suit her. I make them myself simply because when I started out there just wasn’t anything else on the market that came close to what I wanted. Thankfully, times have most certainly changed!

There are some absolutely wonderful ethical, quality supplement blends for dogs starting to lift their heads boldly above the pack.The company I’ve been the most impressed by is Augustine Approved. Their supplements are created with the same passion, for the same reason and with the same principles that started me on my supplement journey for Lulu, years ago. Their formulas are not just natural, they’re certified organic, beautifully thought out and balanced - ensuring that the essentials their Super-Boost blend delivers come from bio-available, whole food sources as opposed to the cheap synthetics that can be found in many other products. For anyone considering starting out with supplementation for their dogs - Augustine Approved’s Super-Boost is a wonderful place to start.

One last thing to remember, is that supplementation is only as effective as your dog’s ability to digest and absorb those essential nutrients. So to make sure your dogs digestive system is in tip-top shape when you hit them with the good stuff, be sure to include a quality pro-biotic in their diet. Meals For Mutt’s Intestinal Health Plus is a good one and available right here on Organic Bone.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lix North - Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, founder of www.lulubully.com

Lix grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand, surrounded by animals. 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered her to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as her bull terrier puppy Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care. The results speak for themselves through the healthy, energetic, cheeky, now 13 year old, Lulu Bully

May 15, 2016

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Doggone Sneaky Sensitivities!

 

If you were anywhere near a TV in the 90s you’ll undoubtedly remember Phoebe from Friends’ infamous little tune with the rather prophetic lyrics “…smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat it’s not your fault!”1.  Well, following in Phoebe’s footsteps, this little article goes out to all the itchy, scratchy, stinky, weepy, flaky, snotty, rashy, shedding, belching, four-legged farty-bums out there. I hear you!
 
We humans are relatively lucky in that, in this modern era, if our two-legged family members or friends suffer from recurring digestive, skin or inflammatory issues, testing for food sensitivities is often one of the first medical avenues of investigation.
 
Our furry friends don’t have it quite so lucky just yet. While there are a few holistically aware vets out there who can spot the symptoms of a food sensitivity from a country mile, it’s unfortunately much more likely that a trip to your local clinic for a skin problem will result in a tube of cortisone cream, and a recurring ear infection will just reap yet another antibiotic prescription. When that tube is empty, the antibiotics are done and those issues just pop right back up, “why does this keep happening?!” can become a soul-destroying mantra.
 
Canine food sensitivities are not uncommon and are often over looked. An undiagnosed food intolerance is an insidious wee beastie that can detrimentally effect your furry friend’s health on a number of levels.
 
Could my dog have food sensitivities?
 
Ask any dog owner what makes their dog special and the adjectives will undoubtedly flow - we all know just how unique each and every dog is in personality, intelligence and eccentricities, but it’s important to realise that it doesn’t stop there. Just like humans, each and every dog is unique, inside and out, with their own unique DNA, genetic successes and failings.
 
Food sensitivities often effect purebreds more than mixed breeds due to inbreeding perpetuating any present hereditary genetic mutations. Some specific breeds are known to be more susceptible to food sensitivities than others. Research suggests that Irish Setters may be particularly inclined toward coeliac disease2, while Bull Terriers and West Highland White Terriers commonly exhibit the autoimmune skin and inflammatory symptoms relating to grain and diary-related sensitivities. More research continues to come to light on breed-specific sensitivities, but the truth is that any dog of any breed or mix can carry the SNPs (gene mutations) that may make them susceptible to the development of food sensitivities.
 
But how would I know?
 
If your dog suffers from any of the following; chronic or recurring skin or foot sores, ear or sinus infections, runny or mucousy nose or eyes, gas, diarrhoea or vomiting, joint stiffness/arthritis, excessive shedding, dull coat, rashes, smelly skin, seasonal allergies, lethargy or a decreased desire to play or exercise, then sussing out potential food intolerances should be a priority.
 
To get to grips with your dog’s unique dietary foibles, a shift in perception is important - a willingness to think holistically. This means understanding that the issues listed above not isolated conditions, but rather symptoms of a greater imbalance. Finding and addressing the underlying sensitivities causing that imbalance can have a dramatic effect on your dog’s quality of life, leaving you relieved, empowered, and saving a lot in vet bills!
 
Where do I start?
Just as with diagnosing human food intolerances, an elimination diet is an ideal place to start. The initial aim should be to remove as many potential allergens as possible from the diet, including grains, dairy, preservatives, and commercial fillers (.ie rice, beet, corn or wheat meal)3. Make the switch to a quality protein source and avoid ingredients lists with dubious descriptions like ‘meat byproduct’. Given a little time this change should help reduce elevated antibody levels in the blood, alleviating systemic inflammation, oxidative and immune stress. The idea is to wipe the slate clean, allowing the immune system more tactical discernment rather than remaining constantly at arms.
 
Fabulous all-natural grain, dairy, preservative and filler free foods, like the Ivory Coat range, make it easy to switch your furry friend to a hypoallergenic diet and start the elimination process. It’s important to remember, when you begin an elimination diet, to allow time for the body to detox any accumulated toxins and re-establish normal, healthy eliminatory and immune function before expecting to see changes in symptoms. Don’t give up too soon! Allow at least 3 months, optimally 6 months, on a completely hypoallergenic diet before truly assessing whether the change in diet has made a noticeable difference to your pet’s health.
 
What next?
 
If you’ve noticed a positive change, you might choose to just stick to a completely hypo-allergenic diet (why change a winning game, right?). But if you’re a curious type and want to know for sure which specific sensitivities are at play, you may chose to re-introduce controlled amounts of a singular potential allergen at time while motoring for symptoms.
 
After solid detox period on a safe diet, subsequent immune responses to food sensitivities can often become more immediate, which can actually make it easier to spot a negative reaction. For example, after a happy, healthy first year on a completely hypoallergenic diet it took the addition of just two tiny pieces of cheese fed a couple of days apart to notice my bull terrier beginning to scratch and rub at the skin around her mouth. I ended my dairy experiment there and then and the rash around her chin and lips subsided after a few days. A careful rinse-and-repeat with rice, and then with oats, also elicited independent negative symptoms. She has since remained her very best, happy, healthy, active self on a fully grain and dairy free diet.
 
If you do chose the course of experimentation, going gently is the key. Only give one allergen at a time, in small amounts, well spaced, and give each experiment space and time for reactions to manifest. Be vigilant and on the lookout for new symptoms, stop immediately should if any arise, and mark that one down as a definite ‘no’!

 

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 References:
 
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jlGRq8xZ4
2. http://www.natural-dog-health-remedies.com/celiac-disease-in-dogs.html
3. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/02/28/commercial-pet-food-fillers.aspx

 
ABOUT OUR LOVELY BLOGGER:
 
Lix North - Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, founder of www.lulubully.com
 
Lix grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand, surrounded by animals. 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered her to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as her bull terrier puppy Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care. The results speak for themselves through the healthy, energetic, cheeky, now 13 year old, Lulu Bully