K9 Wellness Challenge Week #3 Nutrition
"Food is thy medicine & medicine is thy food." 
I hope everyone has been bonding with their dogs and enjoying that sacred time together.  Connecting and engaging with your dog is critical in rearing him/her and yet quite simple. So now, let's move onto something a bit more multifaceted.  For this week's topic I'll be discussing  NUTRITION . This is like discussing Hillary and Trump! I'm compelled to share this information despite any flack I may get but I really don't care. It's a controversial topic that needs to be discussed. The reality is that dogs are dying at alarming rates from diseases they shouldn't be getting.  I'm taking a leap of faith with this topic. Some may poo - poo it while others I hope will heed it. Those that are willing to make a shift, I know unequivocally will  make their dog's lives exponentially better . Those of us in the holistic animal community have empirical proof that food is powerful and now top veterinarians around the world are concurring!  I have seen time and time again the positive effects of a healthy diet and the disastrous ones of an unhealthy one. And yes, I've heard it all:  "Well my dog ate Alpo and lived till he was 15". That's like saying you lived to 100 and drank, smoked and ate fast food every day.  Sorry, folks ... there is absolutely zero quality of life there. Better to live a vital happy, healthy life than one of pain and suffering. I think people forget a basic life tenet ...foods can either heal or harm.   Functional foods  are what we should be feeding - these are foods that have nutritional ingredients to aid the body. We are here on this earth to live our best lives and  since humans domesticated dogs, it's our responsibility to provide them with the best life, too!
The truth is that dogs are severely suffering on a daily basis, struggling with allergies, gastrointestinal, eye, ear and heart disease, cancer, and dying much, much too young.   It's an epidemic that has been growing since the inception of commercial dog food.  Nutrition (and over vaccinations ... that's a topic for later) are at the core of it. It's deplorable that conventional vets and pet food manufacturers are promoting kibble and dangerous food to well intentioned dog guardians as yourself. These are the dirty little tricks of the pet food business. Veterinarians are experts in medicine. They do not have a background or knowledge in nutrition. We need to dig deeper on the topic of dog nutrition and begin a smarter healthier approach.  Be an architect of change for your dog!  I understand completely how difficult it is to figure this all out. I was in the same position 30 years ago. Today , after decades of research, studying, certifications and trial and error I'm convinced there IS a better way.  There are many resources out there to be your guide and my goal is to help steer you in the right direction.  
Cost is always a question/concern.  I look at it   this way: healthy food supports the body, making the immune system strong. Wouldn't you rather put a few more dollars into your dog's food   now   and reinforce that concept; than spend 100s and 1,000s of dollars in medical appointments & medicine later because your dog's body is too weak to fight off an illness? Did I mention devastating heartache?  I know you don't want to have any regrets. You won't if you make a conscious choice to feed your dog better.
Healthy food creates a healthy body.   Food can be complicated but I'm here to say it doesn't have to be.  The choices we make have a cumulative effect on one's body.  I implore you to have an open mind on this topic and trust what I have to offer. We are all stewards of our dogs. They rely on us for their well being.  I want your dogs to have a superb quality of life, a happy mind  and  live many years beyond what you could ever hope for.   If at the very least I can plant a seed of healthy mindfulness for your dog's well being, then I've made a positive difference. 
Click here to watch Rodney Habib on   "How To Grow A Dog To Be 30"   &
"If we chose this new healthy mindset it will benefit dogs in perpetuity!"
Let's begin with  what a dog should eat . Canines were created to eat what is referred to as a   "species appropriate diet" . That means' whole food.  Meats, fish, fruits vegetables and raw bones. Void of fillers, wheat, soy, animal by products, mycotoxins (that's what killed thousands of dogs a few years back) carcinogens and the like. Commercial dog food as we know it is disease ridden food.  
There-in -lies the question ... then why do dog food manufacturers continue to offer poor quality/dangerous dog foods AND then conventional vets recommend them? The short answer is money and ignorance. There is a perception that there is whole food & healthy  ingredients in the food that we feed and that dogs will thrive on it. Yes, some kibble has some decent ingredients; however, by the time it's cooked at such high temperatures most of it is lost.  Talk about over processed! It contains very little, if any nutritional value to your dog. If you are bent and determined to continue feeding kibble, then I strongly encourage you to supplement with some whole food. Cruciferous vegetables are packed with phytonutrients  (a naturally occurring compound found in plants believed to benefit health and prevent some disease). Dice some  food up ... they will  surely enhance the kibb le!
Some of the top 10 worst foods to feed your dog list are Hills/Science Diet, Eukanumba /Iams, Purina and Pedigree. And guess who recommends that we feed them to our dog(s)? When your dog gets sick, you take him /her  to the vet, spend a ton of money, and this continues. Ever wonder why your vet recommends to feed REAL chicken (and rice)? E ver wonder why/how come your dog's eyes light up and their body begins to heal after eating fresh food?! Is the picture getting clearer about how this vicious cycle works?
Let's address a few   MYTHand FACTS  right off the bat
1) Most conventional vets do   NOT   have any nutritional background/experience.    FACT
2)    Kibble does  NOT  prevent tarter build up. ( S eriously)  MYTH
3)   Dogs can/should eat "people" food.  What?!  They've lived on it for 10's of 1000's years!  FACT
4)   Canine disease  ha increased dramatically with the inception of kibble.  FACT
5)   What your dog eats affects his/her health   AND  behavior. Positively and Negatively.  FACT
So where do you start you ask?   Mindset is everythingIf we challenge ourselves to make a shift in what and how we feed our dogs it will benefit them in perpetuity.   It's very easy to be convinced by veterinarians and talented advertisers that the XYZ Kibble is just what your dog needs to thrive. I know when I see a Purina or Pedigree commercial it tugs at my heart strings. If I didn't know better I'd run out and grab a bag of the food because I was just convinced that it's the best for my dog. But what they aren't telling you is that dogs don't thrive AT ALL on food that has been cooked at high temperatures of over  300  degrees. That food has very little nutritional value.
 My intent is not to give you a "how to guide" on revamping your dog's diet. It IS to plant a seed of awareness so that you can make smart choices. Take the bull by the horns in this and be your dog's health care advocate.  Nutrition is a journey and what one dog eats another may need a slight variation. But  stick with the basics of what nature intended .Wolves and wild / feral dogs are not suffering from obesity, allergies or diabetes.   Hmmm ... Ever wonder why that is?  
A good and safe place to begin is with treats. Now if you are saying "I don't give my dog treats", then I'm saying "what are you waiting for?" Healthy whole food treats are a wonderful way to gradually introduce good food to your dog's diet while also reinforcing his/her manners. And no, they will not put on extra pounds by doing this. They will pack it on if you give highly processed dog treats. So go grab a treat and give it to your dog when he looks at you, sits, lies down or comes!  By the way, this is a brilliant way to  BOND with your dog!  J What kind of treats you say?  Look in your refrigerator first! Try to stick with food that is seasonal. Right now my dogs are getting  blueberries, zucchini, and melonEggs are always a good bet, too!
These are examples of  " functional foods".    Small pieces are all you need.  There are also a wide variety of treats out there that are USA made and a single ingredient.     Click here for my recommended food list.   Once you get into a habit of feeding healthy treats you will see what your dogs likes and what he doesn't.  Click here for foods to and not to feed.  Where do you buy healthy treats that your dog will love? Not at Cosco or Petco. Seek out specialty dog stores. We are fortunate to have a good amount in our area!  Look under Recommended Resources below for a list of great places to buy from!
Once you've gotten your paws wet by introducing healthy whole food treats to your dog, then I encourage you to transition into meals. There are quite a few complete meal foods out there now- a-days and they run the gamut from kibble, freeze dried raw to real  raw Yep, raw... as in raw meat. Nope, they don't get sick and salmonella blah blah blah is not running rampant at my house. You just need to be smart and clean. That's what nature intended them to eat! If you want to and can do the best,  RAW is THE best and it's super easy.  You need to decide what you are comfortable and willing to feed and then let your dog be your guide as to what he/she enjoys Whole food is nutritious because it's bio-available  (easily digested and assimilated). Meaning, your dog is getting everything it needs from the food. Run of the mill kibble is not. It does not delivery any nutritional value. If you choose to still feed kibble, please research the reputable ones that are grain free and don't contain any of the "dirty dozen" ingredients. Remember, you can supplement with lots of vegetables and some fruit, too!  Dogs do  NOT  have a biological requirement for wheat, corn or soy.  Here's another myth that I'll dispel for you. Canned dog food is better for your dog than kibble. Why? Because dogs eating kibble live in a  constant state of dehydration.  You can only imagine the toll that takes on all of their organ function, . Canned food has moisture that will feed all of your dog's organs.  Whatever wholesome food(s) you select, remember to introduce new food slowly and transition over a 7-10 day period.  Also  a good ratio to keep in mind is 75% 20% 5%. 75%  M eat, 20%  V egetables 5%  F ruits.   

Things to AVOID
  • Fillers - wheat soy, corn or gluten - #1 cause for canine allergies!
  • Food made outside the U.S
  • Absolutely no animal by products 
  •  BHT BHA Propylene Glycol, Ethoxyquin (these are carcinogens)
Things to SEEK
  • Simple ingredients that you can pronounce! Minimally processed.
  • One - two free range protein sources ie: just chicken, fish, beef, etc.  Listed in first 3 ingredients.
  • Made in the USA
  • Organic fruits and veggies
Think back over your life about your eating habits.  How have they changed?  Do you eat food with no regard for what is on the ingredient label? Or do you look carefully to see what is in the food you are nourishing your body with to make sure it is the fuel that you need? Crack the code of sneaky pet food companies! Once you do you will be on a path to providing your dog with superb health! When in doubt, return to nature I'm a voracious label reader and want to know where everything is sourced from. I'm not expecting everyone to be a fanatic like me; but I am hoping that you will apply a certain set of guidelines when it comes to feeding your dog.  Wherever you are on your journey it's also important to keep in mind that we are also responsible for our dog's nutrition choices. We have to be their health care advocate.   No one has the right to give or recommend toxic food to your dog.   Not even your veterinarian.  You are their guardian and it's your responsibility to care for your dog with the utmost respect. 
Unfortunately some people believe that well...it's just a dog...and that they somehow are fine with a lesser  priced and lesser quality of food than a human.  Aside from the fact that someone that believes this needs to reevaluate being a dog guardian, in the end, just as with us humans, if we put some careful thought and time on what we put into our bodies,   l ong term we can often enjoy healthier lives, longevity, less time at the doctor's office and more time enjoying life, friends and family If it were up to our dogs, they would be eating small wild animal, grasses/greens, fruits and berries. But it's not up to them, WE need to go the extra mile and do our homework (or find someone that has) and feed our dogs a species appropriate food.
As I've    said before, let's   return the love to our dog's  .... give them what they need to live a happy, healthy and balanced life.  Just as with humans, dogs can experience problems with leaky gut, their microbiomes, and cell toxicity.  Measures to counteract and help move in the direction of wellness can include alterations to diet such as following a Canine Ancestral Diet, a Nutrient Dense Diet and a Raw Food Diet.  There are also a good amount of core supplements that we can give our dogs to help aid their bodies in the direction of wellness including probiotics, oils, and spices. This will be a separate topic addressed later in the K9 Wellness challenge! Just remember,   Food is the foundation of life!  There are a lot of dog foods out there on the market that do not have a great list of ingredients in the food, even though they may be touting that they are healthy/ good for young dogs / old dogs/ grain free etc. Break free from the chains of conforming.  Until we explore alternatives and educate ourselves our dogs will continue to be plagued with chronic disease.  We do not nor should we believe in the dogmas handed down to us by those in authority; especially when they do not have knowledge on nutrition.  At the end of the day it comes down to us, as our dog's guardians, to make educated well-informed decision about what we are putting in our dog's bodies.  At the end of the journey you want to know you did right by your dog(s) and did everything possible to obtain optimal health for them.

Be well,
Tamara Tokash
Raw food with fresh fruits, veggies and supplements!
This Week's Exercise
Objective:  Formulate a food "Plan of Action" for your dog (and you!)  that is attainable and sustainable.

What is the best food for your dog? That is really a question that should be answered by you and your dog.

For this week try and be mindful of the following:
  • Did you read the labels of the food you fed your dog today?
  • Was he/she itchy, tummy issues, or behaviorally reactive?
  • What does your dog like or dislike?
  • What foods do you have in your fridge that you can share to create variety in their diet?
  • What foods are appropriate for a canine's species diet?

Mini Challenge!
WHEN IN DOUBT...Return to nature!  
Or in other words, your fridge...


Look for treats in your fridge ... not in a bag of treats from the pet store.  Check out below to see what foods you can share with your pooch!  If you have a poorly stocked fridge (and shame on you if you do!) check out my list for recommendations. 


Nutrient Dense Foods!
  • Organic Eggs
  • Fermented Veggies (no onions)
  • Raw Goat milk
  • Organic Bone Broth

Spice up Your Dog's Life!
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Chia
  • Spirulina

Foods you can share with your pooch!
  • Yogurt/Kefir: Adding yogurt or kefir to your dog's diet is great for adding healthy flora/bacteria to their digestive system!  Humans are not the only ones to have a microbiome that needs to be kept healthy!
  • Raw Goat Milk: Steve's Real food and Answers sells it
  • Pureed PumpkinWonderful source of natural fiber! (Sweet Potato is another good one!)
  •  Flax or Hemp  OilWonderful for heart, joints, coat and overall health. Nordic Naturals for Pets
  • Coconut Chips/OilSame as above.  Great food topper! Wonderful for digestion, skin, ears, & coat!!
  • WHOLE FOOD!  Feed your dog real, human, food - cooked or raw! They WILL thrive on it! 
  • Fermented Food/Veggies  
    Great natural source of probiotics mixed w/ nature's perfect food.
Good rule of thumb for serving is 1 tsp / 20 lbs

Dog's are getting cancer more today than ever before and at an earlier age.  AND DID YOU KNOW THAT CANCER CELLS LOVE CARBOHYDRATES!?  Well guess what the most common ingredients in most dog foods? Yep...carbohydrates!  At some point a good amount of dog guardians were convinced that super market "kibble" and canned foods were what we should feed our dogs.  Let's re-examine and rethink this!  We have a lot of information available to us in this day and age - let's help each other weed through the bad and extract the good!

How would your mind, body and spirit function if you ate Doritos® every day for your entire life?!! How do you think feeding "kibble" to a dog (or any living being for that matter) impacts them on a daily basis?  It affects their physical and mental well being.  A healthy diet creates healthy behavior, too!  Adopt the mindset or mantra of "species appropriate whole food!" When in doubt...use nature as your guide. If you can't decipher what it is by looking at it ... don't feed it! It's that simple.

Quote of the Week
"Food is thy medicine, medicine is my food!"  

- Hippocrates

It doesn't matter if you are human, dog, horse or cat (any animal!)  This quote holds true for all living organisms.  You are what you eat.  
Beat the Heat!
Take a kong®, plug little hole with a piece of carrot or meat, put in a glass (large hole facing up) pour low sodium bone broth or soup (or even better... home made!) into the kong, freeze and serve outside. Supervised. Watch how grateful your dog is! 

Recommended Resources
by Jean Dodds 
by Steve Brown
Another Good Read!
Pottenger's Cats:  A Study In Nutrition

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