January 2015

Healthy Treats for Fido

Author: Becca Edwards

This year Santa brought everyone healthy presents—including the dogs. Our black lab named Lefty and pit bull mix named Harlan celebrated Christmas with their very own copy of The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company, a husband and wife business that focuses on wholesome food for Fido. Both my girls (my three daughters ages four, six and seven) and my “boys” (the dogs) dedicated an entire rainy day to reading the cookbook, rounding up the ingredients, baking and testing.

Our top three picks were “Energy Barks” (with molasses, rolled oats and granola), “Ohm These Are Good” (with pumpkin puree and cinnamon) and “Dragon Slayers” (with parsley, applesauce and mint to ward off bad breath). All these recipes also called for organic oat flour, brown rice flour, one egg and water. Additional recipes required other equally on-hand ingredients like peanut butter, honey, bananas, tomato paste or a ground protein (preferably organic and antibiotic-free).

When it comes to feeding man’s best friend, some of the top human food allergens—like wheat (gluten), soy and corn—are also problematic for pooches. Yet, eliminating inflammatory ingredients can be tricky for many pet owners, especially since many dog foods contain wheat, soy and corn as primary nutritional components or fillers. Many of the most common brands leave consumers asking, “Where’s the beefed up nutrition?” Purina One® Smart Blend’s first four listed ingredients are “turkey, corn gluten meal, soy flour and animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols.” Kibbles ’n Bits® Bistro Meal contains (in order) first corn soybean meal, then meat and bone meal and ground wheat. And what about some of the higher-end grocery store brands? Iams® Large Breed Proactive Health’s leading ingredients are chicken, cornmeal, ground whole grain sorghum and “chicken by product.” Even celeb-named brands like Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® and Newman’s Own Organic Premium Dog Food®, which market themselves as being canine health conscious, include soy and/or corn. (In fact, the only two dog foods in the pet aisle that I could find that did not contain wheat, corn and or soy were EVOLVE and Nutrisca®—two companies I have never heard of, and I’ve had one dog or another since childbirth.)

Of course, not all dogs are allergic to wheat, soy and corn, and Dr. Jennifer Meade of Plantation Animal Hospital says she has nothing against these ingredients unless they are truly problematic for your pup. According to PetEducation.com by Drs. Foster and Smith, food allergies account for about 10 percent of all the allergies seen in dogs and is the third most common cause, after flea bite allergies and atopy (inhalant allergies). Food allergies generally account for 20 percent of the causes of itching and scratching in dogs.

Meade recommends the following steps to determine if your dog has a food allergy:
• Look for alerts. Ear problems, especially chronic ear problems, are mostly associated with a food allergy. Vomiting and diarrhea are usually not associated with a food allergy.
• Take note of your dog’s behavior. Chewing and itching are also indicators.
• Evaluate all intake. Not only should you rethink your pet food, but also treats like milk bones and any leftovers you are feeding your dog.
• Consider an elimination diet. Plantation Animal Hospital recommends a 12-week course of either hypoallergenic or limited ingredient food. (They carry both Royal Canin® and Science Diet®.)
• Consult your veterinarian.

More and more consumers—whether they are buying for their pet or themselves—are barking up the gluten-free and or grain-free tree. And as diets like the Elimination Diet and Whole30 Plan gain momentum, many wellness-minded people are thinking twice before they take another bite of soy or corn. As a previous sufferer of chronic inflammation, my diet is void of wheat, corn and soy, as well as legumes, artificial sweeteners and cow’s milk.

Furthermore, as a holistic health coach, one of the first recommendations I make for someone struggling with an inflammatory response (whether it is chronic pain or digestive issues) is a close look at their diet, and I often recommend eating non-processed foods like organic fruits, vegetables and protein.

With the New Year and its resolutions nipping at our heels, I find it interesting that while we might be hyper-focused on what we put on our plates, we sometimes forget to think about what we put into our furry companions’ bowls. I have seen the wonders whole foods do for my wellbeing, and I know that Lefty and Harlan are wagging their tails with their new organic, wholesome treats. 

Becca Edwards is a certified birth doula, holistic health coach, yoga and Barre instructor, writer/blogger, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).

Energy Barks
Ingredients
1 1/4 cup oat flour
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned, not instant)
1/2 cup granola (no raisins)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Roll into small balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet (they can be close together as they do not spread while cooking). Press each one down with your hands to flatten the cookies.
Bake 18-22 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature in a loosely covered container.
*You can also substitute gluten-free flour mix or almond flour, which is grain-free, for the oat and brown rice flour.
Recipe courtesy of The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook by the Bubba Rose Biscuit Co.

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