Fresh for all! #FridgeChallenge wrap up

This past week I’ve been sharing insights from my participation in the Freshpet Fridge Challenge. The challenge was established to bring attention to the importance of fresh foods in your dog’s diet. And while my dogs didn’t go without fresh food for the length of this challenge, I did, and let me just say, it really drove home the importance of fresh for all! Take a look.

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Carbs, additives, and headaches, oh my! #FridgeChallenge

Hi there. Checking in on day five of my one week Freshpet Fridge Challenge. If you haven’t already, make sure you read my post on how this all got started, I’ll wait.

Ok, welcome back. So…let’s just say Freshpet didn’t call it a “challenge” for nothing!

 Carbs, additives, and headaches, oh my! #FridgeChallenge

As someone who tries to eat healthier (most of the time), I really didn’t realize how much I depended on my refrigerator. Here are just a few of the things I’ve noticed this week:

Inconvenience. These days when I shop, as much as possible, I like to load up on fresh veggies, fruits, meats, frozen items, etc. And I’m a big fan of cooking in batches for less effort later in the week. Well, without a fridge the above scenario isn’t that possible. I did try shopping right before cooking a meal, but that is inconvenient and buying in small quantities is hard as I’m only cooking for two people. Throwing away ingredients or leftovers because they can’t be chilled seems so wasteful. After all, I was brought up being told by my mama that there were starving children in Ethiopia!

Carbs! Oh holy jeez, a lot of carbs! A lot of the shelf-stable ingredients are carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, oatmeal, etc. Don’t get me wrong, carbs are tasty! But eating a lot of carbs for meals this week has left me feeling not so great. An average day has been oatmeal for breakfast, soups (with more carbs than protein) for lunch, pasta with jarred sauce for dinner, etc. As a result of all the extra carbs, and quite possibly the additional salt in these products, I’ve noticed headaches a few days in a row now.

Making items shelf stable involves some nasty additives. For example, I’m used to having eggs in the morning. Is there a shelf stable alternative? Yep. Powdered eggs. They have a shelf life of about three years (ewww!) and include an “anti-caking” agent (who is anti-cake!?). Milk for my coffee? Yep, a powdered version exists. It has four times the ingredients of fresh milk and has been fortified (meaning the original nutritional properties were lost in processing, and re-added afterwards). Again, it has a shelf life of a bazillion years, which is pretty scary. And we won’t even talk about most proteins. With the exception of tuna fish, not many shelf-stable proteins seem that appetizing, and even tuna needs refrigerated mayo to make it palatable. And any protein that becomes shelf stable involves a lot of sodium in the process.

So what does this mean for my dogs?

I’ve realized quite a few things this week about my dog’s nutrition, the convenience factor, and how I’d like their diet to be a bit more fresh. At the conclusion of my seven day challenge, I will be posting my insights on pet nutrition that have resulted from my personal fridge-less experiment. Come back and join me on Tuesday, October 1st!

Remember, it’s not too late to join in – click the image below for details!

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It’s on! The Freshpet #FridgeChallenge

In honor of National Pet Obesity Month coming up in October, this week I’m taking part in the Freshpet Fridge Challenge, which helps promote the importance of fresh food for the health of dogs and their humans. So, as of yesterday, and for the next week, I’ll be living without the use of my refrigerator. Stay tuned for updates on how the ability to keep things fresh might affect us all, and insights on why fresh food is equally as important for you and your pups.

 Its on! The Freshpet #FridgeChallenge

What does eating fresh mean to me?

It’s odd how it took me until at least my 30s to truly pay close attention to the correlation between food and fueling my body. In my 20s, I’d make due with whatever was in the cupboard; it might be Top Ramen, it might be some cheap canned soup, a box of day glo orange mac and cheese, or some margarita mix. Frankly, you guys, I’m surprised I survived my 20s. In my 30s and 40s I started paying attention to what food did to my body as its fuel. How I felt eating certain things versus others. And I can tell you, highly processed, shelf-stable items were no longer the norm. Those items were replaced with a variety of fresh produce, fresh proteins, some frozen items, and taking the time to prepare meals from a combination thereof. Increasing the number of fresher items and decreasing the amount of preservatives and chemicals, made a difference in my diet and health.

But I’m not saying fresh is easy. At times the convenience of processed food wins out over taking the time to make a healthier meal. Sometimes I’ve wished there were human kibble – that I could pour a big bowl of kibble for the husband and he’d get as excited as the dogs do over theirs. That would be sweet.

What does eating fresh mean to my dogs?

I’m not going to lie, my dogs would eat french fries or cheese at each meal if their nutrition was left up to them. However, since day one of bringing each dog home I’ve kept an eye on the quality of what they eat. Typically their favorite “treats” are things fresh from the fridge like turkey, chicken, turkey bacon, apples, pears, carrots, jicama, and they can hear string cheese being opened from any room of the house. While they do get kibble as a base for their meals, it is usually supplemented with a fresher food like those from FreshPet, or leftover protein and/or vegetables from our home prepared meals.

My goals for this week?

I’m going to have to get creative with meal planning if I want to keep it healthy. Sure it would be easy to eat out at every meal, but I know from experience on vacations how that can make you feel sluggish and bloated. No fun. Not to mention the dent in your pocketbook. Yesterday I headed to our local co-op market to see what I could find for this week. I managed to find a few healthier soup options, and some fruits and veggies that didn’t require the fridge. The ingredients for last night’s dinner were bought at the store, and brought home and cooked immediately. There was no option to keep leftovers. This morning I had to go to that coffee giant with the green mermaid to get my coffee with some fresh milk in it. Not so convenient, and I couldn’t sit around in my jammies with my coffee as I usually do. The positive so far? I’m glad I live in Washington state and apples are in season  – because I’ve had three since this challenge began. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I should be good for a bit.

Want to join me?

Over at the FreshPet #FridgeChallenge headquarters, you can keep up with all the bloggers taking the challenge, as well as take a mini challenge, or win some extra awesome prizes for letting Freshpet know (in 50 words or less) why you couldn’t live without your fridge.

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Too big? Too small? Just right? Dog body condition

At almost every general vet visit for my dogs, their weight has been mentioned. At one point, Izzie was too fat. Yep, she’s a couch potato. Gotta get her to move more. Maddie was usually too skinny. Yep, she never stops moving, gotta feed her a bit more. But here is where I was confused. If according to the vet, my dogs were either too fat or too skinny, what weight was just right?

 Too big? Too small? Just right? Dog body conditionLord knows I’ve been to Weight Watchers enough to have had the concept of “goal weight” drilled into my head, so I’d always ask the vet for an exact number each dog should weigh. Nine times out of ten, the vet would look at them both and instantly say 17 pounds. 17 pounds is how much my dogs should each weigh? For dogs with clearly different sized frames? It all seemed very unscientific and still very confusing, but hey, I’m not a vet.

I decided I would consult the internet for how much my dog breed should weigh. Because certainly the internet knows, right? Uh, nope. More confusion.  My girls are both Schnoodles, which can be made up of any combination or percentage of Schnauzer (which come in Miniature, Standard, and Giant size), and Poodle (which come in Toy, Miniature, or Standard size). How do I know which combo and percentage each has? And then do you do some sort of average of whatever you guess they are? Blah. I’m not a mathematician either, but I think that is possibly 72,679 different combinations. Too much math. Too much guessing.

A simpler answer must exist, right?

[Read more…]

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Guest Post: Essential dog vaccines to obtain before boarding

Dog Vaccine Doctor Guest Post: Essential dog vaccines to obtain before boarding

photo credit: smilemark via photopin cc

Editor’s Note: Keep in mind, dog vaccines can be beneficial to your pet whether they are being boarded at a large facility with many dogs or a small home with maybe only one other pet. You can’t control what other people’s pets have been exposed to, but you do have control over how an exposure could affect your dog. Check with a trusted veterinarian to determine the best plan for your pup.

For dog owners intending to leave their beloved canines in a pet boarding facility, it is important to get all your bases covered. Keep the pet’s health in mind, and get your dog vaccinated before sending your pet to a dog boarding facility such as a kennel. Kennels have varying requirements when it comes to vaccinations and pet care so it is best to ask them before getting your pet vaccinated. Here are some of the more common ailments and vaccines given to pets bound for boarding.

Common Dog Ailments

Kennel Cough – Aptly named kennel cough, this ailment is often caused by the Bordetella bacteria or the parainfluenza virus. The disease is commonly found in poorly ventilated kennels, but kennel cough is transmitted in a similar way as the common cold in humans. Dogs can easily get infected when they come into contact with another canine that has the virus.

Parvovirus – A parvovirus infection is a fatal disease commonly found in unvaccinated dogs. The virus can affect both the cardiac and gastrointestinal areas in the dog’s body. It is highly contagious and can set in quickly. Puppies are the most susceptible due to their weak health.

Distemper – Canine distemper is caused by the distemper virus. The ailment commonly affects the gastrointestinal area and respiratory system. Although commonly found in dogs, the virus can also infect other types of animals such as ferrets, wolves, foxes and raccoons. The disease is spread by inhaling or coming into direct contact with secretions from an infected animal.

Rabies – Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus which can affect all types of animals. It is easily transmitted by getting bitten by an infected animal. The virus attacks the victim’s nervous system, causing the person or animal to act wildly or unusually fearful.

Common Dog Vaccines

C5 – For kennel bound dogs, ask for the C5 vaccine. This vaccine will help protect the canine from kennel cough, distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza and hepatitis. If the dog’s vaccinations have lapsed or if the canine has never been vaccinated before, a booster shot is also required. The booster shot is commonly given approximately two to four weeks after the initial vaccination has been injected. Inter-nasal formulas are available and work quicker. These can work as last minute vaccinations for dogs bound for the kennel.

 It is important to note that although the vaccination can help increase the dog’s resistance from acquiring the kennel cough, it cannot make the dog fully immune from the disease. Similar to the common cold in humans, in a few cases, getting vaccinated can also produce symptoms similar to kennel cough. This can occur around three to ten days after getting the shot, which is why vaccinations should be given at least two weeks before the dog is left at a dog boarding facility.

C4 – This type of core vaccine can protect dogs against the parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper. It can also provide protection against the parainfluenza virus, one of the causes of kennel cough. In some cases, dog boarding facilities will allow dogs to be boarded as long as they have been injected with this vaccine.

 C3 – The C3 core vaccine provides protection against the parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper. This type of vaccine will not provide any protection against the parainfluenza virus or the Bordetella bacteria. As such, dogs will still be susceptible to the kennel cough even after being injected with the C3 vaccine. On its own, the C3 is not a suitable pet care vaccine for a dog entering the kennel facility.

Rabies vaccine – The rabies vaccine is given separately from other forms of vaccines. Puppies that are at least 4 months old can be given the rabies vaccine. For optimal pet health, rabies vaccines should be given once every 3 years while the booster can be administered once a year.

It is important to remember that it takes several days before the dog vaccines take full effect. As such, you need to plan ahead and send your pet to the vet at least two weeks before leaving it at the kennel. Keeping your pet’s vaccines up to date ensures that your canine remains healthy even when left at a pet boarding facility.

Written by Robert Gold, a writer for Paradise 4 Paws DFW.

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