“Grain-free” is often a distorted concept in pet food, even though some dog owners believe that pet food identified this way is of special value. “Grain-free” pet foods were developed and marketed in response to what people were seeking, perhaps as part of a human dietary trend to avoid carbohydrates, rather than the actual nutritional needs of dogs.
What Does Grain Free Actually Mean?
In grain-free dog foods, ingredients such as potatoes or rice replace the grains in the food. Often these ingredients have more carbohydrates than the grains used in dog food, or in the case of potatoes have a glycemic index which has its own effects (as any human diabetic will know).
There is also the sim-identification by most people who include corn as a “grain” to be avoided, when corn is not a grain – as anyone on a gluten-free diet can attest. A side note is that corn is actually a really nice food source, whether for people or dogs (not cats, who should be getting barely any carbohydrates from any source!) but that is a story for another day.
Blaming Grains for Medical Problems
I am concerned that pet owners go to “Dr. Google” or chat with friends and come up with their own diagnoses and remedies for their pets’ illnesses.
I received a question from a lady about her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who began having seizures when he was 6 years old. She said that after hours of googling on the internet she found that corn (sic) and wheat were the probable reason, even though she had him on a premium dog food. She switched to a grain-free food and he never had another seizure, for which she credits the removal of grains – clearly without knowing that corn is not even a grain!
In any case, seizures are most likely an inherited genetic trait, or related to a medical condition. There is no logical way to tie seizures to any sort of pet food, nor to attribute the cessation of symptoms in two mere weeks to changing foods.
So is It Good to Feed Grain Free Food?
For me, it’s not really a concern that people are making a choice for “grain-free” without fully understanding what they are getting. They are surely getting nice quality foods that are made without grain – so all to the good. I will say that people have a misconception that they are getting a ‘carb-free” free at the same time, as mentioned above. All dry foods need carbohydrates to be manufactured. While there might not be “grains” like wheat, all kibble, grain-free included, necessarily has “carbs” of various kinds, whether it’s rice, potato, or a similar binder.
If Grain Free Isn’t “The Answer” Then What Is?
We all have a dizzying array of premium and “super premium” (whatever that means, quite honestly?!) foods to choose from. So how do we pick and choose in a way that makes us feel comfortable about the philosophies of the company we are supporting with our purchase, and the thought that goes into what their ingredients are and where they source them.
I guess this explains why I’m so happy about my personal choice of using Halo dry food for my dogs. It has been a wise one from those perspectives, since their commitment to giving back to shelters has been there from the beginning, and using only whole meat and no animal byproducts or rendered meal. They have recently gone one step further to choosing meat that is American-sourced, humanely raised and without growth hormones or antibiotics, along with non-GMO fruits and vegetables. In addition, I feed the canned varieties of Halo Stews made of salmon, lamb and chicken.
My dogs also eat dehydrated foods as part of their daily diet, which also contain whole meat (and also never any meat meals). These foods have also been proven to be more “bioavailable,” with the dog’s body able to absorb more nutrients because they are highly digestible, as is Halo.
I’d recommend that you should find also find companies that make “top shelf” foods and also have a heart and conscience.
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve been looking at golden retriever pedigrees. One rather unusual thing about golden retrievers is that they are a common breed, but they have relatively complete pedigrees. They were created by elites in the United Kingdom, many of whom were students of English agricultural improvement. For example, the Marjoribanks family, which founded the yellow strain of wavy-coats on which the breed is based, were active in breeding Aberdeen-Angus cattle, the famous “black Angus” that now dominate the beef market.
Golden retriever pedigrees are easily accessed online. This website has vast listing of goldens living and dead, and it isn’t hard to follow the links back from any backyard-bred dog to animals that might have sat next to Winston Churchill’s aunt or may have been shot over by George V.
But it is also easy to trace virtually any dog back to the foundation stock. The pedigrees merge after just a few generations. The popular sire effect is really strong in the breed, with certain males siring many puppies that went on to sire many puppies. The foundation stock for the breed appears to pretty diverse. Any line-breeding that exists is relatively loose. I find it hard to find early pedigrees in which someone bred tightly for more than a generation or two.
Retrievers were the dogs of the elite. They were bred from stock that had to serve a purpose, and what’s more, they came from diverse stock. Every one of these breeds is a distillation of crosses of St. John’s water dogs. They were bred much like lurchers are now. Sir Bufton Tufton would breed his own sort of retriever, maybe crossing the St. John’s with a foxhound or perhaps he’d breed to a setter or a collie. Lord Fauntleroy might say nuts to that, and he would breed Irish water spaniel dogs to his St. John’s bitches.
But they were still molded in the breeds we have today. Different features, such as the smooth coat of the Labrador retrievers or the tight curls of the curlies, would be selected for within the strains. These strains eventually were molded into breeds that we know today, but it was a process that took place over 80 years or so.
Going through these golden retriever pedigrees, I’ve come to appreciate this process of formation, but my curiosity has been piqued. We have very good records on the foundation of golden retrievers. Virtually no other breed has these records.
So I started perusing about the internet, looking into breeds I don’t really know that well. Golden retriever pedigrees include listings of dogs that were alive in the 1860s. I began to wonder about what other breeds have parallel histories in this fashion.
Well, I found another common breed, the Yorkshire terrier, had a very different sort of breed foundation. They aren’t like retrievers at all. In fact, their history is sort of the inverse of golden retrievers.
Golden retrievers have their foundation in Scotland. Their founders were among the elite who had made big money in England over the generations and were now living large across the Tweed. The Yorkshire terrier breed is derived from dogs belonging to Scottish migrant laborers who had come into the Industrial North of England to escape poverty and the Highland Clearances. These Clearances were the Scottish Enclosure, and they made possible the vast estates that fell into the hands of the wealthy, who shot grouse and needed gun dogs to retrieve them
Laborers from Scotland brought the terriers south. Terriers are useful dogs for the rural poor. They keep the rats down. Grain stores will always attract them. You need a dog that will murder them.
And the Scottish working class had many sort of terriers, including several strains with silky coats. Two of these breeds were developed into show dogs. The Skye terrier is still around, but there was another breed that was developed from that same stock. It was called the Paisley terrier, and it is from this breed that the Yorkshire terrier was created.
What essentially happened was that clothing factories in Lancashire and Yorkshire became breeding grounds for rats, and rough-bred strains of Paisley terriers were used to control them.
A woman living in Yorkshire named Mary Ann Foster (or “Mary Anne Foster” as some sources spell it) happened to obtain some of these factory rat catchers, and she exhibited them in shows.
And unusual dog of this strain was born in Huddersfield, and Ms. Foster wound up owning him. He did very well at shows. He was called Huddersfield Ben, and over his short life of only six years, he was bred extensively to other dogs of this sort of Paisley-type terrier. Although it is almost impossible to find the pedigrees of these early Yorkshire terriers, it is likely that all Yorkshire terriers descend from him.
This dog’s pedigree was very tight.
A sample golden retriever pedigree from roughly that time period is not nearly that tight.
The reason the golden retriever pedigree is not as tight is because there was a belief that retrievers should have some amount of crossbreeding, and these dogs were being bred by nobles with access to lots of different gundogs of different breeds. They had money and resources to develop strains much more slowly.
Yorkshire terriers arose in a different milieu. They came about when working and middle class people in the North of England wanted to produce a distinct show dog strain. These people did not have access to all the elite strains of terrier, and they did not have unlimited resources to devote to breeding programs. In order to establish the strain, they bred very tightly.
The British Empire had long promoted “breed improvement” in livestock. Since roughly the year 1800, livestock showing became a major part of the common culture. Livestock shows were widely attended, and the landowner or noble who produced the best strains of cattle, swine, sheep, and goats became much celebrated in the nation. By the middle of the nineteenth century, these shows were a major part of British society,
But these big breed improvement shows were inaccessible to the working and middle classes. You have to have vast acreages to maintain herds of cattle and other hoofed stock, and anyone outside of the elite would have been unable to participate in these programs.
However, dog shows provided that outlet. They were a way that the average man could participate in the elite’s game of producing new strains, and small terriers don’t require that much in terms of resources to maintain.
Yorkshire terriers come out of a society in which everyone wanted to produce animals for exhibition. Breeding small terriers provided this opportunity.
To understand breed formation, it is important to understand the society in which these breeds were founded. Britain in the nineteenth century was a class conscious society, but one in which people could move from the lower class to the upper middle class (at least in theory). There was a tendency to imitate the nobility, even if this desire was inchoate or in defiance.
It is no wonder, then, that the foundation of Yorkshire terriers is almost the exact inverse of the founding of golden retrievers. Different social classes do dogs differently.
So much about dogs is really about people, and the inverse foundations of these two popular breeds really does show it.
Many people have experienced their dog suddenly stopping on a walk, fascinated by something and unwilling to move. Thankfully when Shelly Colette’s dog did that on a walk this summer, the alert owner paid attention to what had caught her dog’s notice.
According to The Star, Cash is a black border collie who belongs to Shelly Colette in Sackville, New Brunswick. Early this summer, the two were on a walk when Cash suddenly stopped and wouldn’t budge. Shelly saw that Cash was stopped by a manhole in the ground, so she looked down. Shockingly, she saw an orange cat on the other side of the manhole’s grate. According to Shelly, “Cash was very intrigued and refused to leave. He wanted to save this cat.”
A four-year-old orange cat named Ghost had gone missing six weeks earlier. Shelly told reporters, “I had never met Ghost, but I had seen the missing cat signs around town and I thought, ‘That’s Ghost,’” about the cat in the hole. As one pet parent to another, Shelly called Izzy Francolini, Ghost’s owner, to tell her that she had spotted Ghost.
As those of you who visit here regularly know, I frequently post about my clean eating journeys, and also about how important it is to me for my kids to eat wholesome meals and snacks. Admittedly though, we fall off the wagon (and often) – both in terms of choosing healthy foods and when it comes to making health conscious lifestyle choices in general. Thankfully, after paying closer attention to when and why these hiccups occur, I’ve discovered a pattern to this act of getting lazy and giving in, and it’s always when we’ve been depriving ourselves of indulgences. I’ve learned that by allowing ourselves some (much deserved!) indulgences – but in ways that are good for us – we’re more likely to stick to healthy routines.
1. Watch a silly movie or television show. I wish I could say my kids had no interest in screen time, but they do. Big time. I try to limit it and mainly allow only educational shows, but it seems like when I’m being especially stringent about it, they ask for those silly shows more and more. By allowing them to watch those not-so-educational programs now and them, they seem to ask for them less and stick more to the shows where they’re learning (or even better, no screen time at all) the rest of the time. The same applies to my husband and myself. We have very little time to watch movies or Netflix together, and when we do we tend to stick to documentaries or more serious shows. But I find myself craving entertainment that is less heavy, and when we watch the occasional “bad tv” or shows that are “dumb” but make us laugh, I notice myself actually feeling less stressed. Sometimes not thinking and just enjoying some light entertainment for a little while can make a positive impact on our overall mental health.
2. Take baths. Before I had kids, I took baths all the time. I mean all the time. Now I’m lucky if I have time to take a 5 minute shower. Baths may take more time, but they’re easy ways to treat yourself, and they’re good for you. I feel so much more relaxed – physically and mentally – after I take even just a short bath. My kids love them too! They look at them as fun water play time (where they just happen to get clean). Baths rule.
3. Eat cookies. Yes, you read that right. The greatest reason for me to fail at clean eating challenges is completely depriving myself from sweets. Along the same lines, my little ones start to obsessively beg for sweet treats when they haven’t been allowed to have them for a while. My solution is to indulge in our current favorite, the original superfood cookie, Sejoyia Coco-Roons. These super delicious, organic, gluten free, vegan, paleo, non-GMO (should I go on?) cookies satisfy our treat cravings without any refined sugar. They’re made with ingredients you can actually pronounce, like yummy coconut and cashews and pure, organic maple syrup, and they provide nutritional value. Oh yeah, and they’re produced with 100% wind power too. My favorite is Lemon Pie (so light and refreshing!), and my kids love Brownie (made from raw, organic cocoa!). We get our Coco-Roons at Walmart, in the gluten-free set. You guys need to try them. They’re genuinely the perfect way to give into treat cravings without the guilt
4. Daydream. You read all the time about how preschools are focusing more on playtime than structured learning these days, and I think the same can apply to adults. My kids are way more likely to sit down and read books or (for my 3.5 year old) practice writing if I give them time to just use their imaginations and play how they want to play the rest of the time. And I notice that when I allow myself to just spend a few minutes closing my eyes and daydreaming, I’m more focused on work and things that need to get done the rest of the time.
5. Focus on moderation. There is something to be said for the expression “everything in moderation.” Give yourself a break, man. If you want to have a ladies night complete with lots of wine now and then, go for it. If you want to eat something unhealthy on occasion, it’s okay.
6. Take an exercise break and just play outside instead. Our family is pretty good at getting regular exercise – my husband is runner, Essley is in dance, gymnastics, and soccer, and I do yoga (and when I’m being good, run or do occasional cardio). I’m admittedly not a natural athlete (or a big fan of exercise, if we’re being honest), and structured workouts get old fast – sometimes to the point where I just stop doing them, for weeks (or even months). I’ve noticed though if I give myself days off from working out (especially when I’m really not feeling it) and just give myself some time outside (to take walks, to chase my kids around, etc.), I feel more motivated to get back to a regular workout routine in general. The same applies to my husband and kids. I firmly believed that outdoor playtime is one of the healthiest indulgences you can give yourself.
How do you allow yourself (and/or your kids) indulgences without falling off the health wagon? Who else is a Coco-Roons fan? (P.S. Take advantage of the $ 0.75 off ibotta offer when you purchase 1 Sejoyia Coco-Roons at Walmart, while supplies last! Also, get an additional $ .50 for redeeming the rebate on 3 different shopping trips! Woohoo!)
It’s always scary when a pet runs away from home. However, the Ward family in Durham, England, had an extra joyful reunion with their dog, Flash, after he disappeared overnight. While away from home, Flash managed to find a woman who had been missing since the day before!
According to The Telegraph, an elderly woman disappeared on Saturday, July 22. Police began searching for the woman at the request of her family. The search involved a search and rescue team, members of the public, a police helicopter, and more than 20 officers. As one officer noted, “The whole community chipped in.” However, it was the ten-month-old Patterdale Terrier, Flash, who ended up the hero.
When you need to find a dog groomer to keep your pet looking its very best, a good place to start is with your regular vet. A lot of veterinarians, especially those with larger facilities or animal hospitals, also offer dog grooming. The groomers employed in facilities like these are professional dog groomers, trained in the correct methods of grooming …