Monday, 25 July 2016

‘The way to your dog’s healthy heart is through its stomach’

Extract from SOON to be Released: 
What's in your Dog’s Dinner?
How to Save your Dog from dietary boredom and disease
by J. Hodges

We think of our beloved dogs as friends, sidekicks, guardians and often the most important relationship we have. They give, give and give and we try to keep them happy and healthy.

As a dog owner all my life and now working at least half of my year as a professional dog sitter for dozens of dogs of all shapes and sizes, I’ve come to the obvious conclusion that like ourselves we’ve all been fed a lie about the pet food industry. The more I’ve researched its practices and oversights the more outraged I’ve become. This has led me to write this book to try to help and advise all dog owners and to ease the dietary suffering of so many beloved pets.

Many dog owners struggle with the cost of keeping their pooches well fed and the nightmare of the almost inevitable vet bills, I know I’ve been there. We often spend more on our dog’s wellbeing than we do on ourselves. The stores and retail outlets offer a myriad of dog food choices. We’re bombarded by cute marketing and colourful packaging, all claiming to be the best and the healthiest option for our pets. This usually comes with a high price ticket though and can’t always be trusted.

Thankfully with the rise of the internet pet owners have a platform and community to share experiences and ideas with each other. The wealth of knowledge about nutrition is trickling down and benefiting no only ourselves but the animals we share our lives with. We all want to be healthy and so do our dogs. They rely on us to nourish them with not only food but also love and compassion. Providing a healthy diet is the best thing we can do for ourselves and our dogs. 

Not all food is made equal and just because it tastes good it doesn’t mean it’s actually doing us good. Some ‘foods’ can affect our biology fast and have severe and noticeable effects. But in most cases, the damage is cumulative and goes by unnoticed for many years. Only knowledge can protect us from these hidden dangers. Don’t rely on the food companies, your peers or your God to protect or to have your best interests at heart. I wish it was that simple, it should be but sadly commerce is more about extracting your money than supplying you and your pets with safe products.

As the epidemic of obesity and disease is having a vice-like grip on the humans in our society, so the same appears to be happening to our doggie companions. The simple solution to these problems is DIET.

As everyone knows prevention is a way better choice than cure. When it comes to health it is simple, you are what you eat. If we spend a lifetime consuming low nutritional, artificial, processed food (I use the term food with a large pinch of sarcasm) our complex bodies start to fail and eventually die. 

With this poor choice of diet, we and our dogs are constantly hungry. Why is this? 

When we have a nutritional imbalance and our body lacks the fuel it needs to function optimally, our brain sends a message for a fuel top-up in the form of food. This process has evolved over eons of time as a very efficient solution to the problem of staying alive. We can now fill our stomach with stuff that’s cheap and looks and smells like nutritious food. The sad truth is the majority of commercially provided food available is far from nutritious and I certainly don’t want my dog to eat it. The result is we’re constantly looking for the next meal or snack. 

The obese die from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers ironically brought on by malnutrition which in turn compromises the immune system. Our dogs are now dying from the same epidemic but they have it even worse. They can’t make their own nutritional decisions; that responsibility is in our hands. It’s a crazy world! 

Of course, nobody wants this to happen to ourselves or our dogs. On a positive note, there does seem to be a shift in attitudes concerning our nutritional needs. As health care bills skyrocket to the point of crushing economies even the governments are finally promoting healthier lifestyle choices.

This fills me with optimism but has anyone stopped and realised that our poor dogs are having the same health problems? Most dog owners don’t really give too much thought about what goes into the dog bowl in the morning. They just accept that the branded commercial food products are nourishing and safe for their dogs. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Apart from a few table scraps most dogs suffer from a very poor selection of food and are starved of variety and nutrients. How many of you have had dogs with common complaints such as skin problems, diarrhea, arthritis, bad teeth and gum disease and even depression? I could go on but I think most dog owners are familiar with these ailments. All these common ailments can be either prevented or reversed with a change to a whole food nutritious diet.

When our dogs become ill the first thing we do is either go to the pet store to purchase expensive over the counter remedies which are often toxic or we run to our local vet. 

Most of these problems can be avoided by paying attention to your dog’s nutritional needs. This advice is also very relevant to you the reader for your own health.

Most processed dog food is full of chemicals, preservatives, E numbers, fillers and meat by-products and God knows what else. The regulation for pet food is alarmingly very poor and in some cases none existent. Have you ever met a dog food taster? Or read a survey of dogs discussing the food industry? Is it any wonder our babies are becoming sick? They are getting away with murder.

The easy solution to this is to feed your dog healthy food, the same as you should be feeding yourself. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for my dog. Although it’s tougher for me now since I changed to become a vegetarian. 

You’ve all noticed that the first thing your dog does when you take him for a walk is looking for some fresh grass to eat. Why? Well, grass is an amazing source of vitamins and minerals. It’s also very alkalizing and when your dog has an upset stomach a portion of fresh living grass is his medicine. Not only does it help the dog purge the acid from his gut it also help alkalize the stomach. I highly recommend everybody should consume wheatgrass, either fresh or powdered and dogs love it. Just mix a teaspoonful of powder into his food. Check it out on Google; you’ll be amazed at its benefits.

Dogs also love fruit and vegetables. Our dogs love carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples (always cored and without the seeds), bananas, melons. They love blackberries and they love picking their own when shown how to. In fact, our dogs will have a go at just about anything.

As part of my personal & preventative health insurance for the last five years, I start every day with a vegetable and fruit smoothie. It gives my body all the complex nutrients it needs for the day. My health has never been better and at 47 years old my health is improving daily. I haven’t had any type of sickness in half a decade. My weight is kept in check, my skin glows and I have loads of energy. Our dogs love this because we have more energy for walkies and play.

My dogs deserve the same. This is when I realised that maybe our dogs would appreciate and thrive on a simple smoothie protocol. Guess what, they do!! If you have smoothies in the morning share some with your pooch. Of course, check out the section on “Food to avoid” first, you don’t want to be giving him something that will cause problems.

Safe vegetables your dog will love

Brussels Sprouts
Green Beans
Romaine Lettuce
Sweet Potato

Safe fruits your dog will love

Cantaloupe Melon (remove seeds)
Water Melon (remove seeds)
Apples (remove core and seeds)
Pears (remove seeds)

For easy treats try raw fruit and vegetables such as carrot pieces or celery pieces dipped in unsalted peanut butter, banana chunks, frozen or fresh blackberries. Your dog might be cautious at first basically because he doesn’t recognise these new foods. I found a sure way to get your dog to try new varieties of fruit and veg is to sit on the floor with him and share the treat, one for me one for the dog, works every time.

Finally, remember if you’re cooking yourself any vegetables always prepare a little extra for your dog. My dog always has Sunday dinner with us; he just loves a large bowl of steamed sweet potatoes, a few brussel sprouts, some cabbage or kale and a few carrots and peas. To finish off I put on a good ladle of gravy made from the vegetable water. Our dog licks his bowl clean every time.

Important: The final release of this book will also include a large selection of healthy, home made recipes and health tips for your pooch. 
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