Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My Rotten Cats: Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Minnows #ChewyInfluencer

I often preach about my love for single or limited ingredient treats for my dogs. The same holds true for my cats; the fewer ingredients, the better.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to let my girls try some cat treats with ONE INGREDIENT from our friends at Chewy.com.

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Minnnows contain just that - freeze-dried minnows. Nothing else. Little whole prey treats for my girls. VE does a "slow" freeze drying process, over 48 hours, and their treats are shelf stable. No refrigeration required!

Rare is the treat that they will take from my hand. These must be amazing!

They have a very faint fish smell, not overpowering at all. After a couple brief sniffs, the girls were eagerly devouring them.

I like that they are 100% meat, decent size, and don't crumble at all. They help to satisfy the kitties' carnivorous needs.

And the dogs love them too!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Northern Breed Coat Care Featuring Nourish by Isle of Dogs

While all three of my dogs are "northern breed mixes" they have three different fur types. Caring for the coat of any dog can be a challenge, though it doesn't have to be.

Coat health starts within, and Isle of Dogs Nourish products are a beneficial addition.

This post is sponsored by Isle of Dogs. All thoughts are my own. 

Diet. The best thing I do for my dogs' coats is feeding them a raw diet. I personally feel that unnecessary ingredients, fillers, and poor quality ingredients will take their toll on a dog's coat by making it either too dry or too oily, "dirty" feeling, and even increase the rate at which they shed. Proper nutrition can contribute to a healthy coat, be it in the form of a raw diet, a balanced homemade cooked diet, or high quality kibble or canned food.

Neeko has a very woolly coat, with long guard hairs, and the thickest undercoat I've ever encountered on a dog. Bruce has what I consider a typical northern breed coat, and Faolan's is a combination of northern breed and GSD.

Coat care is not one size fits all, especially in my house.

Bathing. I am not a fan of or believer in over bathing dogs. It can strip the natural oils and dry out the skin, contributing to itchiness and fur loss. If a dog feels oily or is stinky without good reason, the problem could be due to diet or genetics. Some fur types are prone to holding odor more than others.
My boys haven't had baths in five years, yet both are soft, and neither stink or feel dirty. Neeko gets 4-5 baths per year, usually all in the spring and fall, due to the changes in her coat during these time periods.

Brushing. Regular brushing of northern breed dogs is important, not only during periods of seasonal shedding. It helps to spread the natural oils and keep the coat conditioned, and remove debris. It also helps to prevent small tangles from becoming large mats that must be cut out. It can be a way to bond with your dog, and also a way to examine the rest of their body and structure.  Don't wait until your northern breed is blowing coat to brush, brush them regularly throughout the year. (Disclaimer - none of my dogs are huge fans of being brushed...)

How Isle of Dogs can help

Nourish Grain Free Functional Dental Chews contain beneficial dental benefits on the outside, and beneficial skin and coat ingredients on the inside.

Bruce LOVES dental chews. However, most contain yeast, which he is highly allergic to. Isle of Dogs Nourish Dental Treats do not! What they do contain is kelp, chicken liver, parsley, and turmeric, amongst other ingredients I am comfortable offering to my dogs. 

Daily Fix Nutritional Probiotic Supplement - Skin + Coat Formula contains fish oil, vitamin E, and biotin for coat health, and probiotics for GI health. My dogs find the taste irresistible, and it is easy to dose in a clean/drip free pump. Omega fatty acids are well-known to benefit a dog's coat, and also overall health. This is a convenient way to offer them. 

As I mentioned above, my dogs are NOT fans of being brushed. They tolerate it at best. We have lengthy brushing sessions in the spring when they are shedding, and shorter brushing sessions throughout the rest of the year. One way I get them to cooperate with and tolerate the brushing sessions is by offering them yummy treats during the brushing sessions. 

Nourish Grain Free Jerky Bites contain no wheat, corn, potatoes or rice. They are 90% beef or lamb, and contain Green-lipped mussels. These small treats contain limited ingredients, are easy to pass out, and my dogs love them. They definitely make the brushing sessions quicker for all of us. 

Feed the highest quality food you can, brush your dogs regularly, bathe them when needed, and supplement as necessary. 

How do you care for your dogs' coats?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fear, Control, Trust, and Relaxation: Leaving my Dogs with Someone

Until last week, I had not had a vacation in five years. Five years ago I went away with some girlfriends to celebrate one of their birthdays. I boarded the dogs during that time period. It was an awful fiasco. I had taken the dogs to meet the gentleman prior to leaving, and he was sure he would be fine with them. This was a licensed kennel, and a very nice place.

He had to go out of town, and things got bad, apparently. When I picked my dogs up, they were separated, and all three were wearing bark collars. I was told they were not welcome back, and that Bruce was "unboardable."

I scrapped the idea of ever leaving town again, though four years ago I attended a Nicole Wilde seminar in a neighboring state with a friend while my ex cared for the dogs.

Earlier this year, I relinquished a little control, but mostly overcame a little fear, by asking my sister to come over one night and feed the dogs for me. I set everything up so it would be easy for her.

It went perfectly smooth.

I knew I could trust her. My dogs love her, they trust her. Mostly I knew she could follow the directions. My dogs resource guard, so I was worried about a fight breaking out over guarding the food, or because they saw my sister as a resource to guard.

She has since done it for me a couple more times. I probably leave overly-descriptive instructions for her.

A couple of months ago, I decided it was high time I get away, if only for a few days. I booked a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. I asked my sister to stay at my house for four nights. She agreed.

I prepped and labeled easy to feed breakfasts and dinners. Explained about setting food out to thaw. Made sure Bruce had plenty of medication. Bought her several bottles of wine, and stocked my refrigerator with food. Gave her a check to cover her gas and inconvenience of staying at my house.

And I left. drove 6 hours away to enjoy beautiful scenery, good food, and time with someone important to me.

She sent me texts to let me know things were going ok.

My biggest fear was getting a phone call that there had been a fight, that one had escaped, or that one of them was sick. None of these things occurred.

I had a wonderful time, it was a much needed break.

I knew all along I could trust my sister, I just needed to give up the control, and overcome my fears. I hope she knows how appreciative I am of her.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tricks (f)or Treats! #StellaAndChewys Carnivore Crunch

Halloween is approaching, and we are gathering costumes and treats, for humans and canines alike.

One way to treat your dogs for Halloween (and the rest of the year) is with Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Crunch.

My Rotten Dogs are Stella & Chewy's ambassadors. We are being compensated to help spread the word about Stella & Chewy's, but only share information that is relevant to our readers. 

Keeping trick-or-treaters happy is a priority for me, and I cannot resist a good costume. Candies and chocolates for the humans, and Carnivore Crunch for the canines.

dog in a witch costume

Carnivore Crunch are small treats (perfect for training) that are 98% meat, organs, and ground bone, and made with cage-free, grass fed and wild caught proteins.

They are grain and gluten-free, and at less than 3 calories per treat, you can offer them without guilt.

Their small size makes them ideal for training, and also as a "just because I love you" treat. I also love that hardly crumble at all, which is a bonus for any treat.

Neeko was more than happy to join the #StellaSquad, don her costume, and go trick-or-treating for some Carnivore Crunch!

If your dogs do tricks for treats, offer them some Carnivore Crunch!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stella & Chewy's. The opinions and text are all mine.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Free Puppy to Good Home - Neeko's Embark DNA Results

To read about Bruce's Embark DNA results, click HERE

To read about Faolan's Embark DNA results, click  HERE.

I have written about how I came about owning Neeko in the past - stumbling upon the "Free to good home" puppy ad in my previous employer's online employee bulletin board, going to look at puppies, and falling in love with a 12 lb ball of fluff.

She was seriously the cutest baby dog ever.

I didn't meet her parents. I was so enamored by the adorable-ness of her that I didn't care. And, at that time, I didn't know any better.

I figured she was a "husky" mix. She grew, and grew some more. I had no idea she would end up as large as she is. Her coat changed. She went from a typical grey northern breed coloring to a blond bombshell. She is very "leggy." I did tons of research, and wondered if she didn't have something different in her. I could see German Shepherd in her personality and trainability based upon what I had read.

Several years ago, I ran an older version of Wisdom Panel on her, and wasn't really impressed with the results.

After being so pleased with the process of Faolan's Embark DNA testing, I decided to test both Neeko and Bruce. I have only nice things to say about the company and the process. (The only thing they have been inaccurate on is weights. They grossly underestimated the weights of both Neeko and Bruce, and both are very lean dogs.)

I received Neeko's results more quickly than either of the boys, they took a little over 4 weeks to process.

She mostly German Shepherd, with some northern breed thrown in for good measure, and a smidge of grey wolf somewhere in the woodpile.

Due to some of her physical traits, I am somewhat shocked that collie or great pyrenees didn't show up in the mix. Her coat is insane.

I have always called her my beautiful mutt, and have learned that is indeed what she is. The best things in life are free, and she is proof of that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Easy Bone Broth Recipe You Can Share With Your Dog

I am a huge fan of bone broth, both for myself and my dogs. On a cold day, I enjoy a hot cup of bone broth in the afternoon more than a cup of coffee.

I don't claim it to be a cure-all, but it is nourishing and hydrating. And something about drinking it feels soothing for me.

It is a source of various nutrients and minerals, along with the well publicized collagen, for both humans and dogs. The collagen and nutrients in bone broth can potentially be beneficial for joints, GI systems, skin and hair/coat.

Why not make a batch that is beneficial for dogs, but also delicious for humans?

  • Large, cut beef joint bones
  • 8-9 cups water
  • 4 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Several smashed garlic cloves
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt for the humans, added just prior to drinking

The key to delicious bone broth is roasting the bones.

Start with some beef joint bones. I purchased mine from a local butcher. Line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat oven to 450.

Place bones on sheet, and pop in oven. Roast for 25-45 minutes, depending on size. They are done when they smell delicious, and are nicely browned. Try not to eat the marrow that may be attempting to seep out. (If you haven't tried roasted bone marrow, I highly recommend it.)

Place roasted bones in a large crockpot, and cover with water. Smash several garlic cloves. It's ok to leave the skin on. (Omit this step if you are not comfortable giving your dogs garlic.) Add garlic, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and fresh ground black pepper. Some optional, but not necessary additions are other dog-safe herbs, carrots, celery, etc. If it is just for human enjoyment, I like to add a rough chopped whole onion, skin and all.

Cover crockpot, plug it in (I have forgotten this step!), turn on low, and forget about it for 24 hours or so.

I find starting a batch of bone broth in the evening the easiest. It cooks for 24 hours, and needs to be refrigerated at least overnight. By starting it in the evening, I never rushed in the morning to move to the next step. 

After it has cooked for 24 hours, remove the lid. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove all solids, placing them in a colander set over a bowl. Return any liquids that drain into the bowl to the pot. If their are carrots, celery, or the like present, use the spoon to push any liquid from them into the bowl to return to the pot.

Transfer contents of the crockpot to a large room temperature pan or bowl, cover and place in refrigerator.

Let refrigerate at least overnight, and remove.

The fat will solidify at the top, and can be easily scooped off with a spoon. I like to leave a little fat behind, for flavor.

You should now have a container of broth the consistency of jelly, thanks to all that beneficial gelatin.

Scoop the beautiful, gelatinous broth into bowls or storage containers, and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze.

For my dogs, I feed it cold, as is.

For myself, I cut it with water, add a little salt, and heat up to make a soothing, nourishing beverage.

It also makes a great base, when cut with a little water, for any soup or recipe that calls for broth!

Have you tried bone broth?