Could your Dog be a Vegan?

Why Your Dog May Be Eating Plants………

Does your dog like to nibble on your plants? Is this behavior frequent or does it occasionally occur? Some plants may be harmful for dogs to ingest but there are also plants that are very beneficial to dogs as well.

   Sometimes the food or medication that we give our pets may not be the best thing for them. Because our dogs are of different breeds and are various ages, they all have a myriad of needs that some plants can aid in. In Callianne Bachman’s article entitled “7 Beneficial Herbs to Grow For Your Dog”, she lists seven different plants that are healthful to a dog’s well-being. These beneficial plants include chamomile, parsley, sage, dandelion, rosemary, echinacea, and fennel. These are all herbs we are already somewhat familiar with.

   As many of us know, chamomile has soothing properties that can aid in your puppies teething process when made into a tea. It can also ease anxiety which can improve sleep as well as assist in better digestion. Parsley, much like sage, can also help with digestion when added to our dog’s food by settling their stomachs and balancing their pH levels.

   I’m sure many of you have seen our dogs chewing on the dandelion plant. You can rest easy that these plants are helping your dog’s health instead of harming your curious canine. Like parsley, dandelioncontains potassium which aids the function of the kidneys. If your dog has kidney issues, dandelionscan also act as a diuretic to increase the production of liquid wastes.

   Rosemary, which many of us use in our cooking, can act as an anti-fungal, antiseptic and antibacterial, and is also great for their skin. Since this plant doesn’t last long indoors, having some rosemary on your patio or in your yard is best for the plant to flourish.

   Many of us are also familiar with echinacea and fennel as well. Echinacea can be used to boost your dog’s immune system, decrease inflammation, and can even fight infections from snakebites. Lastly, fennel seeds can improve digestion as well as rid your dog of intestinal parasites. With that being said, you want to make sure that you are monitoring the plants that your dog ingests because they can still consume very harmful plants too.

I .  n Hannah Gilman’s article, “The 11 Most Poisonous Plants for Dogs”, she lists 11 harmful plants that your dog should steer clear of, two of which are aloe vera and ivy. Of course we try to stay away from ivy ourselves because it can cause us to break out in rashes but it can also cause your dog to have breathing difficulties, or worse, lead to paralysis or a coma, depending on the dog and the amount that was consumed. However, we use aloe vera in many of our skincare products. This is fine to use on your dogs as a topical gel, but they should avoid ingesting the plant because it could disturb their digestive system.

In order to create a safe environment for our fur babies, here are five steps to take to get started:

  1. Observe your dog’s behavior. Are they eating certain plants or all plants? Is this behavior often or occasional? Is your dog showing other abnormal behaviors?
  2. Talk to your vet. Every dog is different and each pup requires certain needs, so ask your doctor if it’s ok for Rocky to eat these plants.
  3. Get your dog tested. Affordable Pet Testing is non-invasive and only requires 10-15 strands of your dog’s hair. They test for over 100 environmental items and the results are emailed no later than 7 business days!
  4. Do your research and examine your household and yard plants. Rid your house or keep your dog out of reach of harmful plants like aloe vera.
  5. Incorporate beneficial plants. Once again, talk to your vet and make sure that these plants are especially safe for YOUR pet. Also, monitor how their bodies react to the plants.

Follow these 5 easy steps and watch your dog’s overall health flourish! Your pet will thank you!


You Don’t Need Beads to Enjoy Mardi Gras

This past Halloween, 2018, was the first time I had the chance to visit New Orleans! We were there to celebrate my best friend’s birthday, so Halloween in such a festive town was an added bonus. Hopefully next time I visit it will be for Mardi Gras. Unfortunately, that will not be this year. Maybe next time around I will be there instead of just writing about it. I will keep you all posted on that.   Besides entertaining my curiosity about what Mardi Gras beads are made from, I also wanted to know where that tradition originated. It seems like at most parades or festivals all over the world, goodies like candy and trinkets are thrown into crowds. So, how did “Mardi Gras beads” become such a distinct novelty? Mardi Gras celebrations began around the 1830’s, typically taking place during Carnival season (January-March). Then in the 1870’s, sugar coated almonds became a popular treat for parade goers. They were thrown to those celebrating Mardi Gras. Bead necklaces were first noted at Mardi Gras following the trend of sweet almonds. These necklaces were first seen in the late 1800’s and were made of glass. These glass necklaces must have been a hit, because following into the 1900’s, other souvenirs like decorative plastic cups, frisbees, figurines, and toys became popular to give out and throw into the crowds during celebration. It’s a bit unclear at what point the bead necklaces were no longer made from glass and replaced with bright, colorful, plastic beads. Around the 1970’s the new trend was to throw coconuts out to Mardi Gras participants. However, there was a clear safety issue with throwing them. Because of this, in 1988, a bill was signed by government officials allowing coconuts to be handed out with the plastic necklaces. The trail of necklaces can be found along the parade route and the days following the celebrations.

   Back in the 1970’s, Dr. Howard Mielke, an environmental scientist from Tulane University, played a role in eliminating lead from gasoline and now he also studies the impact of lead absorption in the human body and in the environment. He has documented and mapped the concentrations of lead in the New Orleans’ soil, and discovered the highest levels are found along the Mardi Gras parade route. The amount of beads left over from the parade every Carnival season equates to four thousand pounds of lead hitting the street. Think about the repercussions of all the beads left behind. It’s one thing to consider the exposure that everyone who handled and wore those beads had before and during the parade, but Dr. Mielke is concerned with the beads left behind. The potential exposure to heavy metals found in Mardi Gras beads could affect wildlife, domestic animals, and children who may pick them up or even eat them. In my research, I’ve found that there are at least six heavy metals found in these bead necklaces. Those metals include lead, mercury, bromine, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium. Not only can these be dangerous if ingested or absorbed into the skin, but should also cause concern for the environment, as these heavy metals can (and do) soak into the ground.

When I first met 5Strands Affordable Testing, I thought this technology was really fascinating (and I still think it is!). I was so intrigued to learn about my results from the Adult Deluxe test. The Deluxe test not only tests for food and environmental factors, but also indicates nutritional deficiencies, and minerals and heavy metals in the body. My test results showed that I had quite a few metals in my body! I was so alarmed, because I couldn’t imagine how that happened. My nutritional deficiency list was very short, and I have become very active in my health in the last few years. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a nut about avoiding plastics and heavy metals. I have seen all of the documentaries about the risk of using metals and plastics in “normal,” everyday products (thank you, Netflix). It turns out, I had recently sorted and rolled my multiple coin jars. In fact, over three hundred dollars worth of coins. That could do it! Since then, I’ve detoxed my body of metals through plenty of activated charcoal, and cilantro in my drinking water and food.

In Mardi Gras beads specifically, I have found they contain quite a few metals. Although they are made of plastic (which I could do a whole other post about the plastic itself), we cannot forget about the paint and glazing that goes onto the beads. There is a company called Zombeads that recognizes this issue and makes beads using organic and biodegradable ingredients. The more people become aware of products we don’t necessarily think about as being dangerous to our health, the more we can make progress to help others and the environment. If you believe you may have a heavy metal issue or toxicity, we test for all of the metals I have found to be used in making Mardi Gras beads.

Enjoy Mardi Gras celebrations safely!

pet training

Tips for Training Your Dog

January was national train your dog month, and I wish I wrote this at the appropriate time. February is national pet dental health month, but I’d rather talk about training tips. In respect for this month’s theme, brush your pet’s teeth! Dry food is not good for teeth – that’s a myth! There are so many great products out there for dental health, including Dr. Mercola’s dental gel and chews. Check them out. That’s my snippet about national pet dental health month (in a way, you got a two-fer with this one)

I have worked in the pet industry for thirteen years in a variety of occupations including animal hospitals, dog daycares, retail, and grooming facilities. There are different schools of thought when it comes to training, which makes sense because we are all different (animals included) and something that works for me may not necessarily work for you. I can only speak to what I have found successful when communicating with dogs and cats. Consider this the “goal setting” article for your pets, as a follow up from January’s tips for yourself. Just like us, our pets are creatures of habit. If your pet has a habit or behaviors that you wish to alter, I hope these tips will help you do just that.

Dogs are pack animals, and cats tend to be solitary animals, but can and do live in colonies, peacefully. When we adopt or care for them, they look to us to be the pack leader. For me, being a pack leader, or leader of any situation means guidance. Our pets are not objects that we just own, but rather living beings under our care and guidance. Socialization as puppies is important for dogs to learn how to communicate with each other and for future social settings as adults. As humans, it’s our first instinct to back away when our dogs greet each other, but trainers have explained to me that this can be confusing to some dogs because they expect us to lead. If a dog is unsure, nervous or overwhelmed, then miscommunication can result in scuffles. If you stay calm and stay in the group at first, then your dog will follow suit. They feed off our emotions and energy levels. This also applies to one-on-one meetings on or off leash (but always ask first when approaching another dog, if it is okay to do so). I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we shorten the leash during an initial meeting, but that tension communicates to your dog that there is something to be alert about, and potentially something bad.

Similarly, if a dog has a high energy level and pulls you up to another dog, that can also be a red flag that may cause the other dog to become defensive. Showing your dog what you expect of them when walking, helps you maintain that calm demeanor during encounters with other dogs. There are harnesses and collars designed for dogs who pull, and aid in training. I believe in rewarding good behavior, such as sitting, walking right next to you with a loose leash, and waiting to go through doors after you. A great way to start working toward these behaviors is to start asking your pup to sit periodically during walks, while you wait to cross the street, if another dog is approaching, and before walking through doorways. This also stimulates them mentally. It keeps them on the toes about paying attention and listening to you when you speak.

From there, you can work up to any other behaviors or tasks you’d like to teach them. You can also practice sitting until you call them from different distances. This way, if you have a dog that barks when someone is at the door you can work on keeping them focused on you, while remaining calm and sitting quietly. Another tool to use for dogs who get excited in certain situations is something that will snap their attention back to you. For some, this can be a clicker, a spray bottle with water in it, or an aerosol can that sprays a puff of air. I have a habit of making random noises with my voice. I usually switch between “shh,” “ahh,” and “na na na” type of sounds. These techniques help bring their attention back to the task at hand, without falling into a distraction.

Just like us, dogs need consistency and routine. Cats too. My cat, Simon, learned “sit” when he was still very young. He’s seven years old now, and still sits when he is waiting for a treat, or his food. He can’t sit still for very long, but he’s got it down. He also has an exercise wheel that he learned to run on by himself within a month of purchasing it. I know how crazy I sound when I tell people how smart Simon is, but he loves learning new tasks. As long as we stick with the same routine, our dogs (and cats) will follow along. The brain is a muscle, so the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Furthermore, with proper nourishment through quality foods can assist in that growth. On the other hand, if our pets have a sensitivity to something, then it’s possible it may affect their behavior. If you think your dog or cat is having symptoms of intolerance to something, we test for over three hundred food and environmental factors with just a simple hair sample.

Of course, reach out to your local trainers if you need assistance with training and behavioral issues. Like I mentioned before, different techniques work for each of us differently. You may find that another way of training fits you and your dog better than what I’ve discussed here. Changing our habits takes time and patience. Let’s set them up for success!