Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving with a Buddy

This is Buddy. 

Buddy is about 12-yrs-old and thinks his life is really rough (this picture was taken after he ate his morning dose of scrambled eggs). As with most Bassett Hounds, he always looks depressed. Unless, he is out on a "speed walk" with his human companions.... He REALLY perks up when he hears the familiar click of his leash coming off during these walks and he is FREE to roam!

This is Buddy's best friend Ollie: 

She showed him how to use the dog door (complete with a look of superiority). She is older than Buddy, but can still bat a suspicious piece of plastic around like no other. 

This is Buddy playing "Fashion Girls":

These are Buddy's new favorite treats:

Remember last week when I said I was going to make gingerbread dog treats? Well, I got a little sidetracked and went to the movie instead (With five kids and adult family members!). The dough, which has to chill for 3.5 hrs, ended up chilling for more like three days. BUT, they turned out fine!! Baking them was a rush job since I was heading back home in the morning. So, there was no cookie cutters and kids involved. Instead, it was me using the old peanut butter cookie technique of fork impressions. The important thing to note is that Buddy LOVED them. And he is a very picky eater... unless it is Prime Rib. 

Where is my Prime Rib?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Treats

Remember Roasting Pumpkins? I've been using those pumpkins all fall making pancakes for my two-legged kids. But, I finally got to cooking pumpkin treats for any four-legged kids that happen to come Trick-or-Treating this week.

These are really easy to make. They have four ingredients (five if you count water). All you need is:

2 c. of pureed pumpkin
1 tbs. of canola oil
5 c. of flour
1/3 c. dry milk powder 
approx. 1/3 c. water

Step 1: Throw all your ingredients into a bowl.


Step 2: Start by mixing with your spoon. Eventually, this will become difficult and you will need to work it together with your hands. You should end up with a ball that looks something like this: 

If your dough is not forming together, you may want to add a bit more water. Only add SMALL amounts at a time. Remember you can always add more, but you can't take it out! Too much water and you'll have a sticky mess. Don't worry if you have a few crumbs in the bottom of your bowl:

Step 3:  Flour your surface and start rolling out your dough.

Step 4: Take your favorite cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place them on a greased cookie sheet. 

Step 5: Bake at 350 for approx. 10-15 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown. Once golden, you can either take them out of the oven or turn off the oven and leave them in until the oven cools. Leaving them in the oven will result in a crunchier treat. 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Chocolate" Chip Cookies

One of my favorite cookies can also be eaten by my dog! We share. These cookies are vegan, gluten free and have carob chips in them.... and I really don't feel all that guilty if I eat half the batch in one day. In fact, I have been known to give them to my (human) kids for lunch. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 5/8 c. of natural peanut butter (usually I just "guesstimate" on this measurement)... and yes, using the natural peanut butter does work better than Skippy of Jiff for some reason.
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 c. of carob chips (as I human, I prefer CHOCOLATE chips. But if you want to share with your dog, use carob chips because chocolate is poisonous to our four-legged friends.)
All you have to do is blend the ingredients (minus the carob chips) in a blender:

The peanut butter has not been added in, yet! I usually heat the honey and peanut butter up for about 10 sec. in the microwave before I blend.

 Stir in the carob chips:

And spoon onto a baking sheet (no need to grease it):

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes:

I should warn you, when you eat them you will not think "OMG! These taste EXACTLY like a chocolate chip cookie." Because they don't, they have chickpeas in them!!! BUT, they are delicious. I like them better when they are warm. IF you happen to have leftovers the next day, just microwave them! My (human) kids love them warm or cold and don't realize they are eating something healthy. Shhhhh.... don't tell them! My dogs don't really care whether it's healthy or not... they just think I am awesome! AND... Honey has almost the same health benefits to your dog as it does for you (Google it)! But, don't over do it when feeding your dogs honey. It's a sugar and extra calories.1 tsp of honey a day (or less) should suffice. And last, like human babies, honey should not be fed to puppies.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Chicken Noodle Soup!!

Occasionally, on those really hectic days, I swing by the grocery store to buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner. After my family has devoured most of the meat, I use the left over scraps (bones included) to make chicken broth. Lots and lots of chicken broth that can be froze and used for any future recipe.

I should first note, that some of these pictures contain ingredients like ONIONS or GARLIC (I was making it for humans, not dogs). Never give you dogs onion (or garlic). It's poisonous. And when in doubt about your ingredients, you can always double check on this Humane Society link.  Here are some ingredients that are good for dogs that would be good in any chicken stock:
  • Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Basil Thyme
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Green Beans
  • Peas 
  • Squash
and of course:
  • Chicken scraps and bones 
Now for the chicken broth steps: First grab a giant stock pot with a colander that fits inside of it.

Next grab your ingredients. In this picture, I have some carrots, green beans and kale. I also added celery. As a general rule of thumb, celery and carrots are a good base for any soup stock. Chop your ingredients into big chunks. There is no need for finely dicing anything. That will just waste your time.

Next, throw all your chunks into the big stock pot...including the chicken scraps and bones (p.s. the secret to any good soup stock is having BONES). Add your seasonings and fill up the pot with water. Please don't use salt if you are going to give it to your dog. ***The below photo has ONIONS. DON'T USE ONIONS (this was my human version)***

Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer (uncovered) for a couple hours and the liquid has reduced a couple of inches. Your house will smell AMAZING and you might have trouble keeping your dogs out of the kitchen!

Once the stock has cooled enough that you won't scald yourself or end up in the emergency room with serious burns, take the pot over to the sink and carefully lift the colander out. TAADAA!! You have beautiful chicken broth that is WAY healthier and cheaper than grocery store bought.

 After that, you can make wonderful Chicken Noodle soup for your dog... and you (you might want to add some salt to your own bowl...)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dog Food Allergies

This is Marley. Marley was my first dog (American bulldog/mastiff mix). We adopted him from the Humane Society. He was 2-yrs-old and had never been outside. He wasn't house trained and had food anxiety (he would get nervous and start shaking if a human was in the same room when he was eating... tells you something, right?) We had A LOT of work to do with Marley, but eventually he became a somewhat normal dog (like eating 2 lbs of burger right out of the pan which is on the stove or leaping over the back of the couch to be the first one to greet whomever was at the door). BUT, Marley always had food anxiety on the back burner of his mind. It just sometimes lurked around the corner as a subtlety that we forgot about...Until we put him on a diet.

Looking back on the infamous diet, I probably should of done a lot of things differently. I should have added fillers (like pumpkin!) to his food instead of giving him smaller portions. That would have been the more intelligent option since I was dealing with a dog that had a complex relationship with food. Regardless of the past choices I could have made, the stress of the diet triggered Marley's food allergies to surface. Suddenly, I had a dog that was frantically and ALWAYS getting into the garbage! It became an extremely stressful situation because he was ALWAYS sick (think getting up at 3am every night to wash out his kennel.) At first, I thought he was always sick because he was always getting into the garbage. But it was vice versa. He was getting into the garbage because he was sick. His body was rejecting the food I had been giving him for THREE YEARS.

Before "the diet", Marley had been slightly obese at 90lbs. He went down to a 65 lb skeleton in a very short time. During that time, I did everything I had learned I was supposed to do with chronic gastritis. I fed him a simple diet of rice and chicken and tried almost every exotic pet food on the market. Nothing worked and he just kept getting worse. Finally I had his blood tested, and when the results came back I found out he was allergic to almost everything... Including RICE. The acute gastritis diet was making him worse. We ended up putting him on a special prescription diet.

Marley is an extreme case of food allergy. But, I wanted to share my story to help dog owners spot allergies before it gets as extreme as Marley. Here are the top symptoms:
  • Chronic ear inflammation (Marley always had ear infections (usually yeast) and patches of fur missing around the edges of his ears.)
  • gastrointestinal issues.
  • chronic diahrrea
  • chronic gas
  • obsessively licking the feet (I would wake up at night from Marley licking his feet in his kennel)
  • itchy rear end
Why does this happen? Food allergies don't necessarily surface during puppyhood. They can suddenly show up later in life. According to WebMD it is a multi-factorial issue. Scientists think it is hereditary and animals become more predispositioned to allergies during puppyhood. Sometimes, it can be something like an antibiotic altering the environment in your dogs stomach that triggers the allergy to surface.

What can you do? If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, the first thing I would do is TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VET. If you cannot afford to go to the vet, check to see if there is an agency in your area that will help you with your veterinary costs. This link is a great resource for finding such agencies. Preventative measures that you can discuss with your vet are things like a rotation diet or giving your puppy probiotics. If your dog does indeed have food allergies, you will need to find a food that is right for your dog. Some people opt for a raw diet. If you choose to make your own dog food, I would suggest you work with a dog nutritionist or your vet to make sure your pet is getting the nutrients it needs.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pumpkin Roasting

Fall is quickly coming. Soon it will be time for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread... pretty much pumpkin anything and everything. Did you know that pumpkin is an amazing food for your dog (or cat)? Pumpkin helps with digestion, urinary health and weight loss (Google it!). BUT, you do not want to give your dog canned pumpkin PIE filling. It has sugar and spices that are not so good for them. Instead, opt for the plain canned stuff or you can easily roast your own pumpkins!

This summer, I grew sugar pumpkins for the first time and just found out TODAY that I can roast them in the oven whole! This makes the infamous "cutting and gutting" a lot less time consuming. In fact, I roasted seven little pumpkins, cut them and froze them today.... all on a whim! Here is the process:

Beautiful pumpkins. Note how I placed them next to various other fruits in an attempt to show you the approximate size of a sugar pumpkin? Yes, that is a green tomato in the background... It was a casualty of my garden hose and now must be fried.

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut slits around your pumpkin and break off the stems.

Place the pumpkin(s) on a baking sheet and slide into the oven! Bake for approximately 30-minutes or until a knife can be inserted easily.  Once done, take the pumpkin(s) out of the oven and allow them to cool. This part takes a while, so you may want to do some housework, run some errands or take a nap.

Once cool, you start the cutting up part. First, slice off the ends and stand it upright. Next, slice the skin off.

Slice the pumpkin in half and scrape the guts out with a spoon. 

It should look like this when you are done...

Now Dice....

...and store...

Put it all into the freezer!! Now you can use as much or little as you want with out it going to waste. Give your little puppy a frozen pumpkin cube, bake it, cook it or puree it.... endless opportunities for pumpkin recipes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pretzel shaped dog treats

 I found this recipe on Babble and decided to give it a try. I did one alteration: I substituted water for the chicken stock. I make my own chicken stock and was wary of giving it to a dog, because I put quite a bit of onion and garlic in it....and a lot of salt. The substitute did not seem to affect the results.

The Ingredients:
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. skim milk powder
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. water
2 tbsp. olive oil
sesame seeds for sprinkles

 Next, I gathered my helpers......

 .... and we mixed everything together. I like to mix all the dry ingredients before I add the wet ingredients. Once, the mixture starts to stick together and becomes hard to stir, I use my hands to form it into a ball (think play-doh). We let our dough ball sit for ten minutes....

Then, we rolled out long logs and shaped them into pretzels!!! It took a little practice to figure out how thick and long the log should be in order to get the right sized pretzel and shape. Once shaped and on the pan, they got sprinkled with the sesame seeds.
 Bake at 350-degrees F. for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, leaving the pretzels inside as it cools. This will help them harden.

Try them on an unsuspecting dog that performs tricks for food (she LOVED them!).....

The End!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Keep Your Dog Cool

It's Summer and It's hot. Dogs don't sweat like humans do. The only way they lose heat is through the little pads of their feet or by panting. Therefore, it's really important to take extra measures to keep your pooch cool in the heat.

1. Exercise your dog in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit cooler.

2. Give Fido a summer haircut!

3. Go to a dog park with a pond, so they can swim or invest in a kiddie pool for your back yard.

4. Be mindful that pavement can get REALLY hot! Try not to have your dog walk or lay on pavement in the heat. Dog booties can help provide a barrier from heat on your dog's paws. This will help them remain cool and prevent heat blisters from hot pavement.

5. Ice pops! Not for you, but for the dog. Make sure they are specifically made for dogs. Human ice pops have too much sugar or may have ingredients that are poisonous for you dog. You can buy dog ice cream/ pops at certain retailers in your area or you can make them at home. We have a ton of recipes pinned onto Pinterest that you can check out here.

6. If it's just too hot out and you are stuck inside, play a game with your dog to occupy their mind and keep them out of trouble. Some dogs like to chase bubbles! A game my dog likes to play is hide-and-seek. I have my (human) children "hide" and then call out my dog's name. He runs through the house "seeking" my children.Giggles and wags for everyone!

7. And finally, always watch for signs of dehydration and heat stroke:
  • Drooling excessively
  • lethargic
  • eyes are bloodshot
  • appears pale
  • If you lift your dog's skin and it takes longer to fall back into place
7. NEVER leave your dog in the car on a hot day.... NEVER. 
If  you suspect your dog has heat stroke, call your vet immediately! Also remember that dogs can get sunburned. If your dog has short fur, bald or very light skinned apply sunscreen.