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 2014 Tip – So you’ve put on a little weight recently…


This is the time of year when we all begin to look in the mirror and wonder if we’ve gained a little weight. It’s easy enough for both us and our canine companions to do. In fact, obesity is one of the fastest growing problems in dogs. It is estimated that 53% of US dogs are obese. Obese dogs are at higher risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, a compromised immune system, and even some cancers. This month’s tip addresses how to tell if your dog is overweight or obese. How do you know if your dog is overweight? First, can you feel your dog’s ribs? Each rib should be covered with a thin layer of skin and muscle. When you run your hands along your dog’s sides, you should be able to just feel the ribs. If you can’t feel the ribs, your dog is probably overweight.  Second, stand over your dog and look down at his back. Looking toward the tail, you should see an hourglass shaped ‘waist’ Just past the ribs. If there is no waist, your dog is probably overweight. Third, look at your dog from the side. If you don’t see a slight tuck up...

February 2014 Tip – Teach your dog to do puppy push-ups!


The weather over the past several months has kept many of us indoors and we and our pets are getting cabin fever. The less mental and physical activity your dog has, the more mischief he tends to get into. To help counteract his boredom, consider teaching your dog some new activities that will exercise both his brain and his body. One activity I like is the puppy push-up. It is fun for you and your dog and helps to reinforce the bond between you.  When your dog gets pushy for attention and won’t leave you alone, have him do a few push-ups. A push up is a sit, followed by a lie down, and then back to a sit, with this sequence repeated several times. Photo Credit: Brian Kosoff There are numerous videos on the web teaching puppy push-ups. This is one of my favorites.


January 2014 Tip – Give Your Dog a Bone


January Step by Step Image Source: Hungry Hound 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.    Tweet

December 2013 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...

November 2013 Tip – Winter Is On Its Way: Tips for Staying Healthy


As the weather changes, consider the following tips to help keep your pet safe and healthy all winter long! Keep the Immune system strong. Be sure to feed a complete species appropriate diet. Also have your pet checked for parasites and treat them if present. Support the nervous system. Add B complex daily to your dog’s diet to help strengthen the nervous system. Keep exercising. Continue walks, playing ball, and other games to keep your dog mentally stimulated, happy, and healthy – and to keep off those extra pounds! When the weather is severe, switch to indoor activities, such as tug of war or obedience activities. Consider body work at least twice per month. You can do massage yourself or take your pet to a professional body worker. Try pet massage, chiropractic, or polarity. Protect your pet from the elements. Your pet is part of the family and should be housed indoors, if possible. If your pet must stay outdoors, provide him a warm, well-insulated place to live that is out of the elements. The space should be small enough to maintain body heat and there should be blankets or other bedding material provided. Those pets housed indoors should be...

October 2013 Tip – Brush or Comb Your Dog


Regular brushing and/or combing of your dog’s hair is important for several reasons. It helps to build a relationship between you and your dog, improves your dog’s circulation, keeps your dog looking tidy, removes loose and dead hair (leaving less hair to find its way to floors and furniture), and allows for early identification of skin problems. Different techniques and tools may be required for grooming different breeds of dogs, so check breed books, ask breed or grooming experts, or visit the internet for tips on how to groom dogs of different breeds and with different hair types. A good general overview can be found at If your dog isn’t cooperative at first, don’t give up. Do a little grooming each day and most dogs will eventually allow you to do a full grooming in one session!      Tweet

September 2013 Tip – Brush your dog’s teeth


Good oral health is as important for your dog as it is for you. Unless you routinely feed your dog raw meaty bones, raw chicken or other animal parts containing bones or cartilage, you will probably need to routinely brush his teeth. Avoid the use of rawhide and most synthetic chew products as they can be harmful. Daily brushing is best, but at a minimum you should brush at least twice weekly. Take a few minutes to inspect your dog’s teeth. You’ve got some brushing to do unless they are white and sparkling all the way to the gum line! You will need a good doggy toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for your dog – don’t use human toothpaste. While there are many alternatives to doggy toothpaste, you should check them out closely to make sure they are safe to use. One alternative that is safe is coconut oil – dogs love the taste and it works well. Coconut oil is particularly useful in dogs with gum disease as it can help to reduce bacteria in the mouth. If your dog is not cooperative initially, just do the best you can. If you keep at it, he should become more...

August 2013 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...

July 2013 Tip – Beat the Heat – take a swim!


The hot humid summer heat can be challenging for your dog. Humans regulate body temperature by sweating from pores located over much of the body. In contrast, most of a dog’s sweat glands are located around the pads of the feet, so sweating is not a very effective method of cooling down. Dogs rid themselves of excess body heat primarily by open-mouthed panting. A simple and effective way to help your dog cool down is to spritz him with water, provide a tub of water or baby pool for him to walk or play in, or take him for a swim. Be sure to avoid stagnant water, which may harbor pathogens or be a haven for mosquitoes. Some dogs, like Jordy in the video below, love the water. Others are more cautious and a tub of water or baby pool may be more suitable. If your dog is like mine, he will find some place to wet his feet in the hot weather, even if it is just his water bowl!    Tweet

June 2013 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

April 2013 Tip – Take a Walk


rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0;fs=" height="200" width="275" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" align="left"> Obesity is one of the five most common chronic diseases in dogs and cats. The two best ways to combat obesity are portion control and exercise.  Regular exercise, including at least one 20 minute walk a day, will go a long way in improving your dog’s health, as well as your relationship with your dog. Longer walks are even better, but be sure to increase your walk time and pace slowly, giving you and your dog time to build your endurance. Some dogs and owners might even need to start with less than 20 minutes daily.  Keep in mind, that unless you dog is elderly or in poor health, walking alone may not be adequate exercise, but, it is a GOOD START! Take a look at the video from Mary Cerria, Personal Trainer and dog enthusiast, for some quick tips on walking your dog. If you’d like more information on walking with your dog, leash etiquette, and walking the exuberant dog, check out The Whole Dog Journal ( ). Enter the term walking in their search engine and you will be rewarded with a long list of the resources they’ve prepared on the topic....

March 2013 Tip – Feed Whole Foods


Feeding whole foods is increasingly recognized as an important step in maintaining and improving health. One easy way to begin incorporating whole foods into your dog’s diet is by feeding raw, whole food treats instead of commercial dog biscuits. When you are munching on healthy foods, share them with your dog! Examples of raw whole food treats you can feed your dog include root vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips, apples, berries, and melon. Keep treat-sized morsels of these whole foods in the refrigerator for easy access when your dog deserves a treat.    Tweet