Healthy Dog Blog

About the Healthy Dog Blog

Mary (1)

What makes a healthy dog? More than good genes are needed for a dog to reach his highest potential. It takes feeding a species-appropriate diet, minimizing exposure to environmental toxins and unnecessary medications, and plenty of exercise and love. We will explore these issues and more in the HealthyDogBlog.

Mary has been breeding welsh terriers since 1993 and following holistic rearing principles for much of that time. When comparing the life span of dogs she’s bred and kept with that of their littermates who were placed in homes that did not follow holistic rearing principles, the dogs she’s kept have lived on average of 18 months longer than their littermates.

March 2015 Tip – Reduce the Risk of Antibiotic-Resistant Infections


The rise in the number of antibiotic resistant infections in humans and their pets is a growing public health concern. Excessive and unnecessary exposure to antibiotics can increase your risk (and your pet’s risk) of these potentially deadly infections. An often unrecognized source of antibiotic exposure is from agricultural products and wastewater contamination. Antibiotic resistance is a risk for humans and their pets, because antibiotic-resistant bacteria can give rise to infections that do not respond to treatment with most antibiotics. The World Health Organization states that antibiotic resistance is “putting at risk the ability to treat common infections in the community and hospitals. Without urgent, coordinated action, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill.” Antibiotic resistance is resistance of a microorganism to an antibiotic drug that was previously effective for treating infections caused by that microorganism.  The term antimicrobial can be substituted for antibiotic, to encompass a broader range of infections and microbes (eg, parasites, viruses, fungi), which have seen a similar increase in resistance. While the development of resistant strains can occur naturally, it can be accelerated by unnecessary and often...

February 2015 Tip – Play a game of fetch or tug


Joyful play and love are two of the most important ingredients of good health. What better way to show love for your dog than to engage him or her in a game that involves interacting with you! Some dogs, like retrievers, instinctively enjoy a game of fetch, while a game of tug of war may come more naturally to a terrier. Many dogs enjoy both. Not only do games such as these bring joy to you and your dog, they also give both of you some beneficial exercise and offer your dog great mental stimulation. If you are unsure how to engage your dog in play, google ‘teach your dog to fetch’ or ‘teach your dog to tug’ for some great tips.    Tweet

End of Life Care for Pets – The Peaceful Transition


An important part of responsible pet ownership is helping your pet through the final stages of life. The impending death of your pet brings up all sorts of emotions and questions.  Is my pet suffering? What can I do to make my pet comfortable? What will the end be like? Should my pet be allowed to make a natural transition in my home? Should I euthanize before the condition gets worse? How will I know when it’s time? This post will describe the peaceful transition process so that you will be better prepared to make these challenging decisions. Death is a process.  Except in catastrophic situations, it does not occur in a single moment. Instead, death occurs over time, hence the use of the term transition when describing it. Stress at the time of transition may make it difficult for you to think clearly and make the best decisions for you, your family, and your pet.  As difficult as it may be to consider your pet’s passing, it is important to explore these questions in advance.  Modern society has a tendency to deny death and to distance ourselves from the process. Consequently, most of us make decisions regarding end of...

Food ‘Allergy’ and Food ‘Sensitivity‘ Basics


Many of our pets suffer from food allergies, food insensitivities, or food intolerance.  Signs of these conditions can range from an immediate reaction like hives or difficulty breathing to delayed reactions, such as chronic gastrointestinal problems (irritable bowel, excess gas), itchiness, and chronic skin, ear, and foot infections. Recognizing that these conditions are related to your pet’s diet, identifying the food(s) to which your pet is reacting, and eliminating the offending food can be challenging, but help is available! Food allergies and food sensitivities (or intolerance) are two very different things, with sensitivities being far more common. In fact, it is actually uncommon for pets to exhibit true food allergies. Symptoms of food allergy appear almost immediately after the offending food is eaten. An example is peanut allergy, in which individuals allergic to peanuts experience an immediate reaction, which may range from rashes, hives, swollen eyes or lips, to a more serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing and reduced blood pressure (anaphylactic shock).  Allergic reactions are associated with elevations in specific body proteins or immunoglobulins (Ig), called IgE and IgG. In contrast, food sensitivity often results in chronic conditions, most often affecting the skin and gastrointestinal tract. Food sensitivity may...

January 2015 Tip – Give Your Dog a Bone


Raw meaty bones (RMB) are a great source of nutrients for your dog and a wonderful way to keep his teeth clean and shinny. RMBs may be used as a source of calcium in a raw-food diet or for recreational chewing. COOKED BONES SHOULD NEVER BE FED TO YOUR DOG. Examples of types of RMBs that can be fed include turkey necks, beef ribs, chicken backs, pork tails, or lamb necks. RMBs can be messy, so crate your dog with his bone or feed the bones outside or inside on a towel or blanket. If you have more than one dog in your household, be sure to provide privacy to the dog eating his RMB so as to avoid resource guarding. Image Source: Hungry Hound    Tweet

Give Yourself a Treat and Soak Your Feet!


While most of our posts are about pets, we like to post helpful information for humans too. This post from Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri, PhD, gives some quick and easy formulas for natural foot soothers. These formulas are particularly helpful if your feet are tired from standing in long holiday checkout lines or to sooth your nerves during the busy holiday season. After all, if your feet hurt, you won’t feel much like walking the dog! Give yourself a treat and soak your feet!   Mary Jo’s Foot Soak Add 1 Tbsp wet yellow mustard and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to hot water. Soak (up to ankles) for 20-30 minutes. Tumeric is anti-inflammatory, cayenne opens pores. Good for general detoxification, as well as migraines and headaches. Peppermint Tea Soak Brew a large amount of peppermint tea, making it very strong. Pour into foot bath when comfortably warm (not too hot). Soak 15-20 minutes. Anti-inflammatory Foot Soak Using cheesecloth or an old towel, make a sachet pocket. Fill with 2 mint tea bags (or 2 tsp loose tea), 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Tie off sachet with yarn...

December 2014 Tip – Holiday-Food Risks to Your Pet


The holidays are here, so please take note of these common risks lurking in the kitchen. Grapes and raisins, particularly non-organic products that are heavily sprayed with insecticides, are often featured in holiday recipes. RISK: kidney failure. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in gum, mints and other candies, and baked goods. Xylitol is toxic to dogs. RISK: internal hemorrhaging and liver failure. Chocolate and cocoa contain the chemical theobromine, a caffeine-like compound that is toxic to pets and one of the most common causes of canine poisoning. The amount of theobromine is highest in dark chocolate, so be especially careful with products such as bakers and semi-sweet chocolate. Espresso beans dipped in chocolate are especially problematic, as they provide a double dose of poison (caffeine and theobromine.) RISK: vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, rapid heart rate, seizures and death. Uncooked yeast-containing dough, RISK: abdominal discomfort and potential rupturing of the stomach or bowel. Hot, aromatic liquids, such as meat drippings, soups, and gravy, can be very enticing. Keep them away for the edges of the stove, counters, or tables where your pet can easily reach them. If your pet is a climber, prevent them from using chairs for stools...

De-stress for a Longer Life


Stress is an important cause of disease in humans and animals and the impact is more profound as we age. The level of stress is reflected in cortisol levels – the more stress, the higher the levels of cortisol in the body.  Increased cortisol levels suppress the immune system, decrease cognitive function, and enhance tumor growth in us and in our pets.  Two studies conducted in dogs reveal some interesting information Long-life is associated with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. To learn more about this study visit Joyful play reduces stress, while aggressive ‘play ‘increases stress. To read the full report, go here While this research is in dogs, similar results have been shown in humans.  How do you and your dog de-stress?    Tweet

My Dog’s Just not Acting Right – How to Take a Health Inventory


It isn’t uncommon for owners to get the sense that something’s just not right with their pet, but be unable to characterize the problem so they can tell the veterinarian.  Sometimes, changes in your pet’s health are subtle and occur over weeks or months. It can require all of your attention and perception to identify what has changed. We’ve developed a simple health inventory to help guide you in characterizing your pet’s health.  This list can be used for a monthly assessment of your pet’s health or reviewed prior to going to the veterinarian so that you can be sure to tell him or her about all the changes your pets is experiencing. The more information your vet has, the easier he or she can diagnose any underlying conditions. What is your pet’s general demeanor? Has his level of activity changed? Has his interest in playing changed? Does he tire more easily? Does he sleep through the night? Are his eyes bright or dull? Does he have a discharge from his eyes? What color is the discharge? Does he hug the wall or the furniture when he walks? Has his hearing changed? Does he paw at his ears? Does he...

Teach your dog to come


Come is an important command to teach your dog. The come command is more than a convenience. It can be used in emergency situations to call your dog away from danger and back to you. There are several different techniques for teaching your dog to come when called. Here’s one great video that gives some good tips on teaching the come command.    Tweet

The 1-Day a Week Boost to your Dog’s Health


Nutrition is the foundation of good health for people and their pets. If you feed your dog a kibble or canned dog food diet, you may find significant benefit in supplementing with fresh whole foods. Even the highest cost commercial food cannot provide all of the fragile, crucial nutrients your dog needs to live his best life. Steve Brown, developer of Steve’s Real Food and author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, has proposed a 1-day-a-week diet that can boost your dog’s health. He lists the benefits of feeding a nutritionally complete ancestral diet as healthier cells, better brain function, better eye health, a stronger heart, weight management, and reduced risk of health problems in general. See Steve’s book for more information on each of these benefits. The basic diet can be fed once a week and consists of beef heart, sardines, eggs, vegetables and fruit. The regular kibble diet is feed the other six days. You can find Steve Brown’s recipes for once a week and daily home-prepared diets in his book.    Tweet

August 2014 Tip – Make Your Own Dog Treats!


Why make your own dog treats when you can so easily purchase them at your local grocery or pet food store? Three reasons. First, the treats you prepare from ingredients obtained at your local grocery will be made from far higher quality ingredients than most commercial dog treats. Second, the huge number of pet food recalls due to contamination has included dog treats. Just Google ‘dog treat recalls’ and you’ll by amazed by the number of stories on the topic. By making dog treats or cookies yourself you can be assured that the ingredients are fresh and reduce the risks of feeding your dog tainted treats. Third, your dog with LOVE them! It’s really not as hard as it might sound to make your own dog treats and there are plenty of resources out there to get you started. Some of my favorites are: How to Make Your Own Top-Quality Dog Treats, by the Whole Dog Journal The Dog Treat Kitchen ( gives great advice about making your own treats and offers many recipes to get you started. Once you make treats a few times, you might even begin to create your own recipes! Your dog will love you...

June Tip 2014 – Basic Training


Every dog should receive basic training. Basic training includes teaching the skills sit, stay, down, come, and wait. Once a dog knows these skills, they can be used in a variety of situations to redirect unwanted behavior. Many dogs have unwanted behaviors such as jumping on people to greet them, sniffing at parts of our anatomy we wish they wouldn’t, dashing through doors, racing up and down stairs, jumping in and out of the car without permission, and begging at the table. There types of behaviors can lead to embarrassment, an unhappy household, or injury to your pet or others. We can’t anticipate all possible unwanted behaviors and certainly don’t want to dampen our dog’s enthusiasm for life by constantly telling him ‘no.’ By teaching basic skills, such as sit, stay, down, come, and wait, we can redirect our dog when these unwanted behaviors occur. You can train your dog in these basic skills yourself, take him to a dog training class, or seek private dog training. There are numerous sources of information on training techniques available on the internet or you can refer to dog training videos or books such as Dog Training for Dummies (by Jack and Wendy...

May 2014 Tip – Keep Medications Out of Reach!


Accidental ingestion of human medications is the number one cause of pet poisoning. The most common medications ingested are heart and blood pressure medicines, but other medications, including over the counter drugs and prescription pet medications are also a risk. Always keep medications out of the reach of your pet, following the same precautions you would if there were a child in the house. Your dog can break open a child-proof container in no time and can scoop up dropped medications faster than you can react. Store medications out of your pet’s reach and place purses containing medications in a safe location. Don’t leave medications on the seat of your car or on a low table where you dog can get them. Don’t walk around with loose medications in you hand or with an open (or closed) bottle of medication. When taking medications, do so behind a closed door or over a counter or sink so that your pet will not have access to accidentally drop drugs. Remind house guests to be careful too! photo credit: John Tesh – PetIntel    Tweet

April 2014 Tip – Vacationing With Your Dog


Many of us are beginning to think about our next vacation and considering taking our dog along. Vacationing with your dog requires additional planning and special consideration of the activities you want to do and whether your dog will be able to participate. Many facilities advertise that they are pet friendly, but you should get details on exactly what that means before assuming you and your dog have unlimited options. Here are some questions you might ask before deciding how pet-friendly a location will be for you and your dog. Where exactly are dogs permitted? Hotel/Motel?  Campground? Beach? Sidewalks? Walkways? Paths? Trails? Local attractions such as stores, wineries, galleries or parks? Are there size or weight restrictions for the dog? How many dogs are permitted? Are there extra charges for dogs in the hotel or at attractions? Must the dog be on leash at all times? Are there dog-friendly areas where your dog can be off leash? Off-leash dog parks? Beaches? Are health certificates or proof of vaccination required? May dogs be left in hotel room unattended? Is there a doggie daycare center or pet sitting service onsite or nearby? Will air temperature and your dog’s comfort and safety limit...