How to bathe your dog without irritating his skin

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It can be a real chore to bathe your pet. Especially when your dog doesn’t like water and you try to keep the soap out of his eyes. If it is a dog with long and thick hair, it takes time to clean him thoroughly, and instead of standing still, your pet will wiggle around and try to jump out of the bathtub. But this is part of the fun!

The good news is, dogs don’t have to be bathed every week. This is not really recommended, because the animal’s skin is naturally oily and helps to keep his hair and coat healthy.

It is important to choose a shampoo that does not dry out your pet’s skin. A shampoo that contains harsh ingredients can harm the natural balance of oils on your dog’s skin and can lead to skin irritations.

How often do you give your dog a bath?

That depends on several factors. First of all, it makes a difference if your dog mostly lives outside or if it is an inside dog.

If you have a very active dog that likes to jump into puddles or roll around in chicken poop (like our dogs sometimes do) and then comes into the house, walks on the carpet and climbs on the sofa …. well, then it might be time to put him in the bathtub. Usually, we bathe our inside dogs about once a month.

The time of the year also makes a difference. We like to wash our dogs more often in summer. It’s just easier to air-dry a dog outside on the porch when it’s warm or even soap him in outside and rinse him off with the hose.                                                  bulldog-in-garden-tub

Summer is also when fleas and other insects proliferate. You might treat your dog regularly with a special shampoo that fights fleas and ticks.

We have 2 dogs that mostly stay outside in the yard and around the porch. They get bathed mostly in summer when it’s hot, that’s just easier on them. Also, it wouldn’t be a good idea to remove the natural oils from their skin and hair since a healthy coat protects them from harsh weather.

 

There are various types of dog coats

Just by looking at different dog breeds you will notice that their fur can vary in length and thickness. Each type of fur also requires specific care, because not all dogs need the same amount of grooming.

Dogs with a smooth (and short) coat, like bull terrier or dachshund, are very easy to keep clean. They don’t need a lot of grooming, and after bathing, dry him with a towel and then he just air-dries on his own.

Some dogs have a double coat. It means they have a dense and soft undercoat and an outer coat with coarse, longer hair. Examples are collies, golden retrievers, huskies, Newfoundland dogs. This coat, combined with the oil their skin produces, protects the dog against harsh weather. Needless to say, this type of fur requires more grooming and every day brushing. When he gets a bath, detangler and conditioner may be necessary.

Wirehaired dogs have a coat with a coarse texture that feels kind of rough to the touch. These breeds are relatively low maintenance and they don’t need to be brushed on a regular basis. Examples of wirehaired dogs are German pointers, Scottish terrier, Fox terrier and wirehaired dachshund.

Dogs with a curly or wavy coat do not need a lot of brushing but their curls need to be clipped regularly. This type of dog hair does not develop a lot of mats or tangles, but after shampooing the dog it is recommended to use a conditioner or cream rinse to hydrate his coat. Examples are poodles, bichon frise.

Longhaired dogs can either have a coarse or a silky coat. Long hair requires regular brushing and a detangler might be necessary to get out the tangles. Besides shampoo, a conditioner is recommended. Some people recommend using a hair dryer after bathing a dog with long hair (even though I am not sure if this is really the right way to dry a dog’s hair). Examples of long haired dogs are Maltese, Yorkshire terrier, Shi Tzu.

The last category: dogs with a hairless coat. Yes, they really exist, for example the Chinese Crested, Peruvian Inca Orchid or the American hairless terrier. All they really need for bathing is soap and a soft sponge!

chinese-crested-puppy

What shampoo to choose?

The most important thing is to keep in mind that a dog or cat cannot be washed with soap and conditioner that is destined for humans.

A dog’s or cat’s skin does not have the same pH balance than human skin, not to mention that the natural oils on our pet’s skin and coat protect them from harsh weather conditions. So, we don’t want to irritate their sensitive skin by using products that have too many harmful ingredients like sulfates, phosphates, colorants or other chemicals.

Also, we don’t want to dry out our pet’s skin because we have to bathe him, so choosing a shampoo that hydrates and nourishes his skin and coat while cleaning it at the same time is another important aspect.

Natural and organic dog shampoos and soaps are usually specifically formulated for your pet’s skin condition.

One of them is BURT’S BEES OATMEAL SHAMPOO for dogs. Its main ingredients are colloidal oat flour, honey and beeswax. Colloidal oatmeal is known to improve dry skin and soothe eczema and honey helps to hydrate hair and skin.

It’s unscented and it foams less than some other commercial products.

This shampoo is about 97 % natural, does not contain harsh chemicals and it’s cruelty- free.

If you are looking for a completely natural dog shampoo consider the line of pet shampoo made by EARTHBATH, for example EARTHBATH OATMEAL & ALOE or EARTHBATH TEA TREE OIL & ALOE VERA, formulated for dogs and cats.

These products do not contain any kind of toxins or chemicals and claim to be 100% biodegradable.

EARTHBATH shampoos work wonders on your pet’s itchy skin and I also like the fact that each variety has it’s own natural fragrance, for example a fresh citrus scent if you go with EARTHBATH DIRTY DOG SWEET ORANGE OIL or vanilla and almond scent for EARTHBATH OATMEAL & ALOE.                                puppy-in-yellow-bath-tub

Flea shampoos

Even if you are treating your pet for fleas, sometimes you still find those pesty little critters in your dog’s or cat’s fur. Then bathing your dog with a special formulated shampoo can help to get rid of insects fairly quick.

If you are worried about DEET or other synthetic pesticides on your pet’s skin and coat opt for flea shampoos that repel fleas with natural ingredients, safe for adult dogs and cats and safe for puppies and kitten.

If you are more hand-on and you don’t like shampoo bottles, then DERMAGIC SHAMPOO BARS might the right thing for you and your pup.

DERMAGIC are handcrafted shampoo bars with all natural ingredients like a variety of essential oils. Choose the one with DIATOMACEOUS EARTH in it, a natural powder that eliminates fleas (if you want to know more about the wonderful properties of diatomaceous earth see my article “Natural ways to repel fleas and ticks“).

Besides getting rid of fleas and providing some anti-microbial protection this soap is gentle and soothing on your dog’s skin and also has a pleasant smell.

DERMagic Certified Organic Shampoo Bars                                                          click here         

                                       

NATURAL CHEMISTRY NATURAL FLEA & TICK SHAMPOO WITH OATMEAL is another great product that uses essential oils like cinnamon, clove oil and cedar oil. It not only nourishes and hydrates your dog’s skin and coat, it also kills fleas and ticks and is supposed to be effective for up to 7 days.

These are just two examples of flea shampoos made with natural ingredients, but of course there are more great products out there. By the way, most of these flea shampoos can be applied if even your dog has been treated with a topical flea product.

                                  adorable-springer-spaniel-in-bathtub

Waterless shampoo

For the days when you are on a tight schedule and you don’t feel like going through the ordeal of giving your pet a bath, there is “bath in a bottle” waterless shampoo. This is for spot-cleaning only and of course does not replace the more thorough ritual of bathing with water and soap.                                                                                                          

SHOW SHEEN waterless shampoo by ABSORBINE does not only clean without rinsing, it also helps to condition and detangle long and short hair such as horses, llamas or dogs.

ABSORBINE is a well-known company that started out with making tinctures with blended herbs and essential oils to relieve joint and muscle pain in horses. Since then, this company has developed many innovative products not only for horses.

ABSORBINE waterless shampoo is fortified with vitamin E to keep the animal’s coat shiny. Otherwise, I am not sure which the exact ingredients are, since there is nothing listed on the label. It does say that the product is combustible, that makes me think that it may contain alcohol.

Nevertheless, we love ABSORBINE products and we always have them in the house, and not only because we own horses.

If you prefer something 100% natural and alcohol-free, try BODHI DOG WATERLESS SHAMPOO. It’s non-toxic and gentle and works for very sensitive pups, cats, kittens, guinea pigs … for all kinds of animal fur.

This product comes in different scents like lemongrass or lavender and besides putting it on your dog’s coat it can also be sprayed on upholstery and bedding to freshen up.

 

Wash your dog, yes, but only when necessary

If you own a longharired dog or one with curly hair, it is important to brush him every day, because this helps getting the tangles out of his coat and get rid of dust and loose dirt.

When you clean your pet, don’t use detergent, shampoo or conditioner made for humans. It’s ingredients can damage the sensitive balance of oils on your pet’s skin and dry it out. In general, I recommend using a gentle soap/shampoo with natural ingredients, one that can sooth and relieve dry and itchy skin and keep your dog’s coat soft and shiny at the same time.

If you are on the go and you need to freshen up your dog, a waterless shampoo will do the job temporarily.

                                                      dog-in-bathtub-being-shampooed

                                           Otherwise: Happy bathing!

 

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How to keep your dog’s teeth clean naturally

dog-with-jaw-open

 

I have always wondered if it is really necessary to brush my pet’s teeth.

And is there a way to keep my pet’s teeth clean without having to use harmful substances? Also, I have a busy schedule and having to brush my dog’s or cat’s teeth every day seems time-consuming to me,

At the same time, dogs seem to scoop up anything that’s on the ground and I don’t even want to think about the bacteria that form in their mouth. And every dog owner knows how disgusting our doggie’s breath can be!

Every pet expert agrees that our pets’ teeth and gums need to be taken care of because dental problems can lead to infections and ultimately to heart, liver and kidney disease.

Finding the right toothpaste for your pet

Ideally, you should do this once a day with a tooth brush designed for dogs and just a child’s toothbrush. A cotton swab also works. If you have several dogs, each dog gets his own toothbrush.

Additionally, it is also recommended that your dog gets a professional cleaning by a veterinarian about once or twice a year.

When you brush your pet’s teeth, what kind of toothpaste should you use? seafood or peanut butter flavors are added to make it more attractive for animals.                                                                                                                  dog-having-teeth-brushed

ARM & HAMMER offers a toothpaste for dogs and cats that contains enzymes to fight plaque and tartar. It comes in various flavors like vanilla-ginger or poultry to freshen your dog’s breath. All Arm & Hammer products contain baking soda, which can be controversial to some people. When I looked at the list of ingredients used I am wondering if they are really safe for pets.

Virbac CET toothpaste for dogs and cats also comes in several flavors that your pet will like. It contains enzymes to fight dental plaque and keep your pet’s mouth fresh. Since it doesn’t contain foaming agents, it is supposed to be safe to swallow.

For pet owners who take the idea of “all natural” seriously and who prefer homeopathic products with the least amount of chemicals and other harmful ingredients there are these dental products to be considered:

  • Dr Mercola Dental Gel claims to be 100 % natural, no toxins or other harmful substances. It is purely plant-based and contains essential oils like neem oil, cardamom, grape fruit and peppermint for flavor. It prevents periodontal disease and keeps gums healthy by mixing with the dog’s saliva. It’s easy to use because it can be applied with your fingertips and your dog can lick it.
  • Vet’s Best Dental Gel toothpaste for dogs uses natural ingredients like neem oil, grapefruit seed extract, aloe and enzymes. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to fight dental plaque and tartar and keeps your dog’s mouth fresh. If you don’t like toothbrushes, this gel can be applied with your fingertips, 2 or 3 applications per week are sufficient.
  • TruDog Spray Me is a dental spray/dental mist made with 100 % natural ingredients containing essential oils like neem oil and peppermint oil. It reduces harmful bacteria in your dog’s mouth, maintains healthy teeth and gums and freshens your dog’s breath. It is a mist-like spray which means it is easy to administer and it beats tooth brushing for sure.
  • LEBA III dental spray for dogs and cats works through enzymes found in animal’s saliva and keeps teeth clean by maintaining the chemical balance in his mouth and not killing good bacteria. If used on a regular basis, there is almost no brushing required.

I want to mention that it is not a good idea to give your pet human toothpaste simply because most of them contain fluoride which is poisonous to dogs and cats.

Also, there are a lot of DIY ideas on the internet on how to make your on tooth- brushing kit for your pets. Most of them use baking soda as one of the main ingredients. Some experts (according to an article on vcahospitals.com) advice refraining from using baking soda when it comes to pets because of its high alkaline content. When swallowed, it can upset the acidic balance in the animal’s digestive tract.

Taking care of your dog’s teeth with dental chews

Dental treats or dental chews are an additional way to maintain your dog’s teeth and it is surely less tedious for the pet owner and more fun for the dog. Some chews claim to be as effective as brushing teeth.

MILK-BONE is a company offering popular dog treats, and their BRUSHING CHEWS DENTAL DOG TREATS come in various sizes for small, medium and large dogs. These dental treats are shaped like a bone and come with bristle-like nubs and ridges to clean teeth that are hard to reach. They are very effective in fighting plaque and tartar and reduce your dog’s bad breath. They are very nutritious because they contain a list of essential vitamins and minerals.              giving-dog-milk-bone

Nevertheless, some ingredients are not as natural and healthy as some dog owners would like them to be. These treats contain chicken by-products and chicken meal instead of quality meat, they contain added starch and preservatives. Still, our dogs love them!

Another popular dental treat for dogs are GREENIES, also available for cats. These treats have a chewy texture that helps in maintaining healthy teeth and gums and freshens your dog’s and cat’s breath. Besides added vitamins and minerals they are made with natural ingredients highly soluble for easy digestion. Note: they contain wheat.

If you are especially concerned about your dog’s diet and like to opt for grain-free treats, you will like BLUE BUFFALO dental bones. These dental chews shaped as bones are made with real ingredients, no poultry by-products. They are grain-free, no wheat, no soy, no corn, no preservatives and easy to digest, perfect for animals with food allergies. At the same time they take care of your dog’s dental hygiene and freshen his breath.

NATURAL BALANCE offers dental chews with grooves and ridges to help the dog’s chewing action. Besides being grain-free they are rich in nutrients and high in protein.

VIRBAC CET ENZYMATIC ORAL HYGIENE CHEWS for dogs are made from select beef hide. Their anti-septic quality and abrasive texture reduce tartar and keep teeth clean. Downside is the smell which can be pretty bothersome to pet owners, but your dogs won’t care!

This is just a selection of dental chews that caught my attention. Since they are edible, they should be in addition to a regular meal and should be limited. Make sure you give your dog that right chews for his size, otherwise he is eating additional calories and not benefiting his teeth.

Dental chew toys for dogs

They are not edible and made from hard and preferably durable material. Chew toys are perfect for dogs because they activate the animal’s chewing instinct and the right toy can distract him from chewing on other things. Some chew toys have grooves and ridges to massage the gums and remove dental plaque, so while doggie is having fun chewing he is taking care of his oral hygiene.

If you are looking for a tough chewing product there is the NYLABONE Durachew bone made from durable plastic and nylon. They can be flavored e.g. with peanut butter (allergen-free). The bone has ridges and knobs so that with the chewing action doggie cleans his teeth at the same time. Bones come in different sizes, for gentle to extreme chewers. I have heard of negative accounts of dogs chewing the nylabone apart too quickly and swallowing the pieces. Since this type of toy is not edible, some pet owners are afraid that swallowing pieces of it may harm the dog. But the package clearly states for which size of dog a particular bone is intended.

dog-with-chew-toy

For pet owners who prefer ecofriendly and organic products there are several companies that offer natural and non-toxic dog chew toys:

Earth animal.com has products for pets that are veterinarian formulated, organic and comply with the highest standard of quality. The MULTIPET CHILLY BONE for puppies and adult dogs is freezable and promotes healthy teeth and gums. It is made from durable, natural and non-toxic materials.

Another great chew toy that your dog will love to gnaw on are elk antlers. Besides keeping the tartar off your dog’s teeth antlers are a great source of minerals. They don’t splinter and they don’t have that unpleasant odor as hooves or bully sticks.

Loofah Dental Dog Toy is made from natural and organic materials. When chewing on this bone-shaped toy your dog is practically flossing his teeth in a playful way. It can be used several times and if your dog swallows a piece it will not cause any digestive issues.

So, do I really have to brush my dog’s teeth?

Honestly, we never did and we have dogs (and they are mixed breeds) now several years old and their teeth are just doing fine. That’s just my opinion though, a vet would tell you differently. But the proper nutrition is important also, in general it is better to give your dog dry food instead of wet food because the kibbles are more abrasive and don’t get stuck in his teeth.                 bowl-with-dry-food

I should mention that certain dog breeds are more prone to periodontal disease and bad breath than others. Chihuahuas and other small breeds, short-faced dogs like English and French bulldogs and pugs usually struggle with dental issues. Dogs like shelties can have a genetic predisposition that affects their dental health.

If you own one of those breed you should pay special attention to their oral care and follow your veterinarian’s advice.

It helps tremendously to give your dog quality dental chews and treats on a regular basis. A nutritious chewing bone or other quality chew toy also helps to fight tartar and massage the gums. This is a good way to cut down on brushing teeth if you have to, because we know we have days with really busy schedules, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are dogs always hungry?

One of the behaviors typical for dogs is they always seem to beg for food. We are sitting at the dinner table and here they come, all three of them. One sits quietly next to us, her eyes fixed on my plate, observing every move I make. The other one lays by our feet, sometimes putting her paw on my foot like she is saying “don’t forget about me”. The youngest dog is more daring and not so well-behaved yet, she is putting her front paws on my lap and trying to put her nose close to my plate. So, are they really that hungry?

dog grabbing chicken bone

Dogs are scavengers

Dogs don’t need to eat every day. Their ancestors were scavengers and picked up food wherever they could, getting scraps from humans as well. Once they get hold of food, they wolf it down out of fear that there might not be enough. They have a tendency to overeat because the next time they might not get enough food. Dogs are attracted by the smell of food and will accept every bite regardless if they are hungry or not.

Even if your dog just had a big meal, he might still hunt for food inside or outside the house. If you live in the country like I do, there are plenty of smelly and rotten-looking things that a dog will pick up and eat. Our dogs will walk around with their nose on the ground looking half-dead critters or chicken excrements and then will proceed to the barn where they eat horse manure like it was dessert.

How much food is enough

It is always recommended following the directions printed on the dog food you buy. Of course, if it is a puppy or a very young dog, it may eat several times a day. Adult dogs usually have one good meal a day. In my opinion, it also depends on how active your dog is. Younger dogs tend to be more playful and energetic and therefore have a bigger appetite. Dogs are related to wolves, and in the wild these animals may only eat 2 or 3 times a week. But when they finally hunt down their prey, they are able to gobble down several pounds of food since their stomachs are able to stretch considerably. So it s not uncommon for a dog to wolf down his food and feel the need to eat more if he is stimulated by the right smells, but at the same time he will be able to stay without food for a number of days if necessary.

Be careful what you feed your dog

We love our pooch and in the event we cannot resist those wet eyes begging for food when we sit at table, here is a selection of different types of human food your dog shouldn’t eat at all.

  • Don’t give your dog chocolate, especially no dark chocolate which contains more caffeine.
  • Limit food that contains a lot of salt, too much salt can lead to water deprivation.
  • Don’t let your dog eat grapes and raisins, this can lead to kidney failure.
  • Be careful with onions and garlic, even onion powder. Garlic and onions contain compounds that are toxic to dogs.
  • Don’t give your dog avocados, they can be harmful.
  • Be careful with caffeine, especially coffee, tea and soda. Caffeine is toxic to pets and large amounts can damage organs like liver, hart and kidneys. The ingestion of 9 mg/pound of caffeine can harm a small dog,  so we are talking about several cups of coffee that a dog would have to consume to get seriously ill ( https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/caffeine-toxicity-in-pets).  It is not unusual that your dog will take a few licks from your morning cup of coffee without you noticing, but that shouldn’t affect him much. Still, be careful, especially if there is a lot of sugar in your coffee.
  • That brings me to the dangers of sugars as an ingredient in candy bars, other sweets and sodas. Too much sugar can seriously harm your dog and cause pancreatitis.

What if my dog is not eating

We know that dogs, under normal circumstances, are voracious eaters, and if you do notice an increase in appetite for no obvious reason there may be an underlying medical problem like diabetes. But the opposite can be true too, if a dog has no appetite he may be feeling ill. I know from my dogs’ eating behavior that if they are constipated they won’t eat. Another reason why dogs might not eat is their emotional state of mind. A dog might have anxiety because the owner is leaving the house or he might be grieving because his playmate died or a person close to him is not there anymore.

Dogs have taste buds and they get used to their specific food. When the owner for some reason or another changes the type of dog food, it can happen that the dog won’t eat it. Dogs can be really picky sometimes and a small change to their feeding routine can have a negative effect on their appetite. A dog can go without eating for one or two days but after that I would consult a veterinarian if he still does not eat.

Can I stop my dog from begging

I don’t think it is really possible to stop dogs from begging for human scraps, but there are certain ways to limit this behavior. First of all, make sure you give your dog the right amount of food to make sure he doesn’t go hungry all the time. You could supplement his food with some vegetables (meaning more fiber) to make your dog feel fuller.

It is also a good idea to split up feedings: Instead of giving him one big bowl of food, give him 2 smaller bowls throughout the day.

Some people train their dogs to sit several feet away from the dinner table, but I don’t think this method has ever worked in our house, especially not with a couple of dogs around.                                                       dog sitting at the table

Another suggestion is feeding your pets at the same time the owner sits down for dinner. Some dog trainers say since the pet owner should establish himself as the leader of the pack there should be a pecking order when it comes to who gets to eat first. Dogs should have to wait until their master is finished eating, and if there are several dogs in the house, the oldest dog eats first. All this makes sense, but if your dog is happier eating at the same time you do? Whatever works.

The gluttonous dog

I am wondering, are there dog breeds that have a bigger appetite than other dogs? Well, I started researching a little and it turns out that there really is a dog breed more gluttonous than any other breed, and that is the Labrador retriever. Labradors are obsessed with food and have a strong instinct for scavenging. And not only that, according to scientists they have a genetic disposition that is responsible for the Labrador’s big appetite. Researchers found a gene mutation in the Labrador’s brain (in the hypothalamus) that affects unconscious processes like the control of appetite. According to a survey of veterinarians, about 60% of all Labs are overweight.

And here are some funny facts, according to Vox.com the Labrador’s appetite has lead to some interesting and strange eating choices: a whole bar of soap, a plastic baby Jesus, lawnmower clippings.

We know as pet owners that giving out dog treats is like an act of love. It is so hard to resist that cute face with those begging eyes asking for a handout. But if we really love our dogs we need to stick to the recommended amount of food. Dog obesity (and cat obesity) has become a big problem among pets and this leads to other medical problems like diabetes. Rather, feed your pet less but more nutritious and quality-oriented food that leaves him satisfied instead of giving your dog or cat a large meal with no health benefits at all.

english bulldog overweight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How safe are your dog’s favorite treats

Chewing and gnawing is one of your dog’s favorite pastime, be it a puppy or an adult dog. There is so many treats and chews on the market that it can get really confusing. With this article I am trying to present the main categories of dog treats and dog chews and discuss how safe and wholesome they might be.

dogs love their treats

 

Rawhide chews and bones

These chews are made from the inner layer of cow or bull hides (which is skin) and sometimes horse hide. During manufacturing, the hide is cleaned, cut and pressed into chewable shapes and sizes. Sometimes flavors like beef, chicken, liver or peanut butter are added to make these treats more attractive.

Rawhide chews a very popular treats since they support the dog’s natural chewing instinct. They are mostly considered as natural and safe, but there is also that group of dog owners and veterinarians who point out the dangers of rawhide chews. Puppies love them because they relieve teething pain and they reduce your dog’s tartar and plaque build-up and keep his jaws strong. When you look in your local grocery store, there is a big selection of all kinds of rawhide chews and they are usually affordable.

rawhide bone

Rawhide chews come with certain risks that cannot be ignored and there are even dog experts who would consider these chews as very unsafe and dangerous. First of all they can be a choking hazard for your dog. He can swallow a bigger piece of rawhide and it can get stuck in his esophagus. There could be digestive complications if your dog is sensitive to the rawhide and the substances it is treated with. Depending on where the rawhide is coming from, it could be processed with chemicals or contaminated with salmonella or E.coli bacteria.

Especially rawhide produced outside of the US in countries like Thailand and China may contain toxic substances like formaldehyde and arsenic. There even have been reports of rawhide mixed with skin from slaughtered dogs. are rawhide bones really safeEven if produced in the USA, there is still the risk that rawhide may contain toxic animal by-products and chemicals like mercury simply because there are no FDA regulations that limit the type of ingredients used.

Nevertheless, if you want to buy safe and premium natural rawhide for your dog, it is still the best option to look for real beef hide made in the USA.

Bully sticks

Bully sticks, also known as beef sticks, are made of beef pizzle and come in different sizes, for smaller and for larger dogs. Even though the package might say “dried muscle”, they are in reality bull penises from mostly North dog treat made from pizzleAmerican cattle. They are thought to be a fairly safe chewy treat for dogs, one reason being the fact that they are 100% natural. They are rich in protein (crude protein ca. 80%), contain crude fat, fiber and about 20% water and are easy to digest. They are also beneficial to your dog’s dental hygiene as they reduce plaque and build-up. Another reason why they are so popular among dog owners is that they are long lasting, a larger dog for example can chew on a bully stick for several days.

One draw back can be their odor. Some of them smell pretty bad, and if you have dogs that like to chew in the living room you know what I am talking about. It depends on how they are manufactured, and if they are cleaned and processed the right way they are not as smelly. For highest quality, choose natural bully sticks from grass fed cattle, this also reduces the odor. dog chewing on bone

Other natural dog chews

Another healthy alternative for rawhide are pig ears or cow ears. They are perfectly digestible, and if you are looking for pig ears, choose the ones that are oven baked. As a matter of fact, there are recipes for baking chewy pig ears at home.

Cow ears are most wholesome if they come from free-range cattle, not treated with antibiotics or preservatives. They are low in fat, high in protein and keep your dog’s teeth clean. This is definitely a natural and wholesome treat which is affordable, available by the piece or in bulk.

If you or your dog do not like pig or cow ears, there is still natural chews made from Pacific salmon. These are very nutritious chews, rich in omega 3 & 6 fats. They are especially great for dogs who are food sensitive, so make sure they are made with natural ingredients, no by-products, no sugar, no preservatives or added colors. To ensure the best quality, look for processed in a US facility.

MILK BONE, a popular dog biscuit

My husband likes to buy these dog cookies, he gives them to our dogs at bedtime, and they love these cookies! MILK BONE biscuits is a US based brand that has been around since 1908. They are very popular dog biscuits and besides being a tasty treat they are supposed to keep your dog’s teeth clean and refresh his breath. But are they really natural and wholesome dog treats?    dog-eating-treat

 

The company claims the biscuits are made with wholesome ingredients, and it is true that they seem to contain various minerals and vitamins. Also, their texture helps remove dental plaque and tartar. They also contain nutrients like protein (15% crude protein) and beef fat. The percentage of protein is lower than I have seen in other wholesome dog biscuits, and the package doesn’t say what kind of meat is used, but it lists turkey and poultry by-products. They are definitely not grain-free, wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat bran and malted barley flour are listed, which means plenty of carbohydrates for added calories. Another drawback to me are artificial ingredients like preservatives, added flavors and colors.

Dog cookies can be all natural

There is a large variety of all natural dog cookies on the market, but there is one type that recently caught my eye. They are made from invasive Asian carp, and I like this idea of being environmentally conscious. They are grain-free and soy-free and have no artificial ingredients. They contain lots of nutrients, over 20% protein, omega 3 & 6 fats, fiber, calcium zinc and more. And even though the list of ingredients sounds pretty basic, they must be tasty because our dogs eat them gladly.

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What about that good old bone

We know that dogs love to chew and gnaw on bones. So why not giving them a real bone every day and be done with it instead of buying all kinds of dog cookies and treats? Not all the bones are the same. Cooked bones, besides being less nutritious, are more brittle which makes them splinter easily. That’s why they are considered a choking hazard for pets, they can get stuck in the dog’s esophagus or digestive tract and cause inner injuries.

The best bones are raw bones, they are safer and contain various nutrients, especially in the bone marrow. Big bones from beef or bison are great for dental hygiene and help break down tartar. And the constant gnawing is definitely a great exercise for your dog’s jaws.

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