1416400778 <![CDATA[Blog]]> en pmiller@zukes.com Copyright 2014 2014-11-18T21:04:00+00:00 <![CDATA[Muscles, Joints and Bones, Oh My!]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/muscles-joints-and-bones-oh-my http://www.zukes.com/site/muscles-joints-and-bones-oh-my#When:21:04:00Z Without his musculoskeletal system, your dog would just be a furry blob on the ground! The health of his bones, connective tissues and muscle are factors that significantly contribute to his quality of life. When his bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments are all in in good working order, life is good. But when something goes awry in any part of this system, it can mean pain, weakness, and fewer adventures at the park.

What causes poor musculoskeletal health?
Age, overuse, lack of use, injury, genetics and poor nutrition all play a role, but fortunately we can help our pet through good nutrition that protects against free radicals and inflammation. "You are what you eat" holds true for our dog.

D in waterAn anti-inflammatory dietis one of the most important bulwarks against musculoskeletal disorders. Foods such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, kale and spinach provide many important nutrients for healthy bones and strong muscles that are not prone to cramping. Feeding these foods regularly to your furry friend may help keep him playing to a ripe old age. In addition to musculoskeletal supporting nutrients, such foods also provide anti-oxidant (“anti-rust”) and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals to help protect doggie bones, muscles and joints from damage.

Four of my favorite herbs for keeping doggies dancing and puppies prancing
In addition to providing an anti-inflammatory diet, you might consider plying your pooch with some of the following supportive herbs.

DandelionDandelion Greens are one of the most nutritious greens available. They are loaded with bioavailable nutrients important for musculoskeletal health, including phosphorus and potassium, along with vitamins B, C, D, K and beta-carotene (1). Dandelion leaf thus supports bone generation. It helps protect joint cartilage from free radicals, and encourages proper contraction and relaxation of muscles.

Moreover, dandelion supports healthy metabolism and waste elimination, which, in turn, may reduce systemic inflammation that worsens joint and muscle pain. About 1 teaspoon per day per 20 pounds of pooch daily should do the trick. It’s a tasty green, so simply adding ground or chopped leaf to regular meals should work. Note that dandelion greens will make your pooch pee, so make sure he has lots of drinking water and outdoor time!

Stinging nettles are a true superfood. Over a quarter protein by weight, nettle leaf is also rich in bone, muscle and cartilage-supporting nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene and vitamins C, D, K and B complex (1). In addition, nettles provide silicon, an important component of bones (2). Like dandelion, nettle leaf may help reduce arthritis pain by reducing the accumulation of metabolic wastes and other irritating chemicals that increase systemic inflammation. Nettle also contains phytochemicals that are more directly anti-inflammatory, and Zoe_campis chock-full of anti-oxidants, including chlorophyll, to protect those ever-important bits involved in mobility.

I used to add a pinch or two to the late, great Zoe’s meals, and she was able to go hiking with me until a ripe old age. I would give her breaks from it: 2 weeks on, 1 week off, as the silicon content may potentially irritate the kidneys if the herb is overused. Note that nettle should only be fed after it’s completely dry. If harvesting your own instead of buying it from an herb shop, remember to wear gloves. If you forget, don’t worry, you’ll remember pretty quickly!
Hawthorn berry
Hawthorn berry is well researched for cardiovascular health in pets, but did you know it also supports connective tissue health? Hawthorn berry flavonoidshelp stabilize connective tissue (3) by cross linking collagen filaments together, and may also reduce inflammatory and oxidative damage to connective tissue, such as tendons and ligaments. Dogs generally like the flavor and you can feed 1 teaspoon per pound of your mutt’s food daily (1).

Turmerichas a long history of use for arthritis and muscle pain. I used turmeric in clients of both 2- and 4-legged varieties. In addition to protecting musculoskeletal tissues from free radicals, turmeric reduces inflammation and pain by blocking the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body. In addition, curcumins, chemicals isolated from turmeric, may protect cartilage integrity (4), thus preserving the function of your dog’s shock absorbers.

I commonly use turmeric as a powder. Unlike the purified curcumins mentioned above, turmeric doesn’t cause stomach upset. You can try feeding 1/4-1/8 teaspoon per 10 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day. Turmeric is a bitter spice, though, and some dogs don’t like the flavor. I used to encapsulate turmeric powder in veggie caps and sneak it to Zoe wrapped in Z-Filets, or sandwiched between two Hip Actionsfor further joint support. Turmeric can be found in many of Zuke’s treats!

Related Blogs
Other helpful supplements to consider, but not discussed in today’s blog, include glucosamine, chondroitin and eggshell membrane – all found in Hip Action.

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zeke and Milo’s human.


  1. Wulff-Tilford, ML & GL Tilford (1999) All you ever wanted to know about herbs for pets. Bowtie Press, Irvine, CA.
  2. Rodella, LF, et al (2014) A review of the effects of dietary silicon intake on bone homeostatis and regeneration. J. Nurt Health Aging. 18(9): 820-6.
  3. Rackel, D, and N Faass (2006) Complementary Medicine in Clinical Practice: Integrative Practice in American Healthcare. Jones and Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA.
  4. Clutterbuck, AL, et al (2009) Interleukin-1beta-induced extracellular matrix degradation and glycosaminoglycan release is inhibited by curcumin in an explant model of cartilage inflammation. Ann NY Acad Sci. 1171: 428-35.

<![CDATA[Sassy Seniors: Keeping Your Elderly Pet Spry]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/sassy-seniors-keeping-your-elderly-pet-spry http://www.zukes.com/site/sassy-seniors-keeping-your-elderly-pet-spry#When:16:49:00Z Welcome to senior pet month, when we celebrate our older furry companions’ and thank them for the years of happy wags and slobbery kisses they have selflessly shared with us. While tiny puppies eventually—and all too quickly—grow into a geriatric dog, there are many things we can do to keep them young for as long as possible. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your furry friends happy well into their golden years.

The Most Common Senior Condition: Arthritis

The once unflappable, hyperactive Frisbee catcher or trail running dog that now acts stiff and sore after getting up from a nap may indeed have one of the most common afflictions in senior patients. Gradually worsening stiffness, especially in humid or cold weather, can signal the painful condition of joint inflammation and cartilage damage.

The absolute best way to manage this problem is to help your dog maintain a healthy body weight. Any extra pounds on an arthritic frame compound the discomfort they feel by increasing the force on their joints. Keep your dog as active as possible to maintain crucial muscle mass. Offer a thick padded bed to sleep on too.

Glucosamine supplements can help slow down the progression of arthritis in older dogs. A tasty way to give your dog glucosamine is Zuke’s Hip Action treats. Yum!

If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog still seems uncomfortable, then schedule a trip to your veterinarian to make sure the problem really is indeed arthritis. There are prescription medications that are safe for long-term use to significantly improve your senior dog’s mobility.

Senior DogVision or Hearing Changes

Most dogs over age 7 have at least some degree of hearing and/or vision loss. Have you noticed some haziness in your dog’s eyes? Many people assume this condition is cataracts. Quite often this haziness is a normal aging change that occurs when the lens of the eye hardens over time. It can cause some changes in depth perception but your dog can still see fairly well. Cataracts, similar to the ones us humans can get, can cause more profound vision loss. The good news is that in many cases they are removable with surgery.

Hearing loss in senior dogs is also a frequent problem. Mild, gradual changes are considered fairly normal. Any rapid change of hearing, however, should be investigated further. Ear infections or foreign bodies (grass seeds, parasites, etc.) can cause damage to the eardrum and quickly cause hearing loss.

Thirsty Dogs

If your dog seems to be drinking more than normal, a trip to your veterinarian is in order. Diseases such as kidney dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and diabetes can all cause changes in thirst and urination. All of these conditions are more common in older dogs, and many are treatable!

Weight Loss or Gain

Any significant changes in body weight, either up or down, can suggest major problems brewing. One of the most common endocrine (hormonal) diseases in middle-aged to older dogs is hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland gets sluggish over time and slows down the body’s metabolism significantly. It requires a simple blood test to confirm and is inexpensive to treat.

“Age is Not a Disease”

This is a favorite adage from veterinary school. Just because a dog has reached the 7 year milestone, the designated age when a dog goes from “adult” to “senior”, they don’t necessarily have to start acting like an invalid. Weakness, decreased activity levels, reduced enthusiasm for food, and weight gain are not necessarily “normal” aging changes. All of these can be signs of potentially treatable conditions.

Have you ever watched a 10k race (or marathon for that matter) and seen at least one 70+ year old who is easily keeping up with the youngsters half their age? There is at least one in every race. Most dogs have the potential to be the canine equivalent of these folks! By keeping your dog active, seeking appropriate medical care, maintaining a good weight, and feeding healthy foods, your dog can still be catching Frisbees well into their teens!

Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.

<![CDATA[Homeless Dogs Become Heroes]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/homeless-dogs-become-heroes http://www.zukes.com/site/homeless-dogs-become-heroes#When:22:05:00Z I always say I didn’t believe in love at first sight until my husband and I walked into an animal shelter in New Mexico and adopted our Lab mix, Rio. He’s a fun-loving pooch with a real zest for life. I even had him certified as a therapy dog to share his exuberance with hospital patients who need a smile.

I’m just one of countless people who have had their life changed by rescuing a pet. But there are still lots of people who act surprised when they learn we adopted Rio from a shelter – they think homeless dogs must have something wrong with them.

To challenge this misperception and encourage people to adopt from shelters instead of buying from breeders, the American Humane Association named October Adopt-A-Dog Month. In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d profile Freedom Service Dogs, since their work shows that shelter dogs can make not just terrific pets, but valuable service dogs.

Freedom Service Dogs, founded in 1987 in Englewood, Colo., is one of America’s only nonprofit organizations that rescues shelter dogs and trains them to become service dogs – then gives them for free (yes – free!) to people with disabilities and veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Each year, they adopt about 30 dogs from shelters and rescue groups in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Kansas, and custom train them to help clients become more independent. Freedom Service Dog VelcoThis can include retrieving dropped objects or something from the refrigerator, calling 911, turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, helping balance while walking or climbing stairs, assisting in pulling wheelchairs, tugging shoes, socks or coats off, pulling a client up from a reclining position, nudging a client during a flashback and waking them from nightmares.

“They can graduate with over 40 basic and custom commands,” said Karen Morrow, Director of Marketing, PR and events for Freedom Service Dogs. “The transformation of the dogs is quite impressive. They come to us from all different backgrounds.”
Velco helping with keysShe told me the dogs will even go above and beyond their training once paired with their new owner. A military veteran with PTSD and TBI found that his dog, Sapphire, started noticing that his heart rate increases when he becomes nervous. When that happens, Sapphire refuses to move another step, forcing her owner to stop moving until his heart rate slows down.

“It’s really amazing that she just started doing it – we didn’t train her for that,” Morrow said. “That’s how innate the connection is between the client and the dog.”

The dogs are typically less than 2 years old, and often don’t know basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” So some of the dogs spend six weeks in a Colorado prison being socialized and trained 24/7 by inmates (I’ve seen the program in action at Buena Vista Minimum Center, and the dedication of the “offenders” and the change in formerly abused dogs is incredibly moving). Then Freedom’s staff of four caretakers and seven trainers step in for the custom training, which Morrow noted is by positive reinforcement only. Freedom also has a program that teaches at-risk youth to help train the dogs, another win/win situation for dogs and people.

“Our slogan is, ‘Free a hero to save a hero.’ We really believe that dogs want to work, they are heroes to us … and the people that they go to are heroes,” Morrow said. “They march on.”

Another cool thing about Freedom Service Dogs is they never return dogs to shelters. If a dog doesn’t make the cut as a service dog, Freedom finds them a forever home.
Sharon Santella and husband Ernie with ChuChu and SophieSharon Santella and her husband Ernie adopted a Lab/Basset Hound mix named Chu Chu from Freedom Service Dogs in January 2013. Chu Chu wouldn’t stop barking at other dogs when she was on a leash, so she couldn’t be a service dog, but she gets along great with their yellow Lab, Sophie.

“She’s just been a love and a joy,” Santella said. “The two of them make us laugh every day.”
ChuChu enjoying the sunshine
And Chu Chu showed special skills when Santella’s father-in-law was in hospice care. The day before he died, Santella brought Chu Chu for a visit and she was touched to see the way her dog responded by becoming focused, then sitting by his bedside all day while he petted her.

“The training that Freedom provided came back to her,” Santella said. “It was just a wonderful moment for all of us.”

For more information about Freedom Service Dogs, visit freedomservicedogs.org.
For more information about Adopt-A-Dog Month, visit American Humane Association Adopt-A-Dog Month.

Jen Reeder hugging RioJen Reeder is an award-winning pet writer and proud member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association. It breaks her heart that approximately 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year, according to The Humane Society of the United States. She hopes readers will consider adopting their next pet from a shelter.

She hugs her rescued Lab mix Rio every day.

<![CDATA[Herbal Support for Doggy Digestive Upset]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/herbal-support-for-doggy-digestive-upset http://www.zukes.com/site/herbal-support-for-doggy-digestive-upset#When:21:14:00Z Like us, dogs can have upset tummies, or to be more technical...indigestion. Maybe the mutt snuck a meal from the cat’s bowl (or even from the litter box....yuck!), or ate too many table scraps, or was suddenly switched to a new brand of food. Indigestion can also stem from food sensitivities. In Zeke’s case, indigestion might be from eating a sock (generally considered indigestible). In the late Zoe’s case, it was from drinking a half-gallon of cooking oil. Also, some breeds simply seem more prone to digestive upset, including German Shepherds, Collies, Great Danes and Golden Retrievers.

How do you know your dog has indigestion, since you can’t just ask her?
One obvious sign is gas. If you have a gaseous hound, then it’s a good sign there may be some indigestion. Sometimes a gurgling gut is the tip off. Another possible sign of chronic indigestion is really horrible “doggy dragon breath.” It could also be caused by tooth and gum issues, but a belchy dog with a truly deadly form of dog breath usually has indigestion. Have you noticed that dogs always seems to burp right in your face?

Sometimes there's a quick fix
For example, put the cat food bowl and litter box out of Fido’s reach. Hide the socks and vegetable oil. Skip the table scraps. Gradually switch your dog to the new food rather than changing it all at once. You get the idea...

Help may be as close as your spice cabinet
Two of my favorite digestive herbs are German chamomile and fennel. Both herbs have a long time of traditional use in humans and animals, and holistic-minded veterinarians, herbalists and those in the know turn to these herbs for their tough cases (1). Don't automatically give herbs without first looking into potential causes of the digestive distress.
Pass the Chamomile!
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) relieves digestive spasms as well as discomfort due to gas. It is especially helpful for nervous animals where there is vomiting, gas, lack of appetite or other issues. Chamomile in the form of either a liquid extract, glycerite extract or tea may be helpful. Herbalist and holistic animal health specialist Gregory Tilford doses with approximately 1/4 teaspoon of Chamomile Glycerite per 30 pounds of dog weight, every 2-3 hours (2). Glycerites are sweet-tasting so they tend to be more appealing to pooches than alcohol-based extracts and teas. Your dog might even lick the glycerite right out of your hand! If using the tea, try 1 tablespoon every 2-3 hours or more frequently if needed. Sometimes the dog will drink it in their water, but you may have to try pouring it right into their mouth. Make sure the tea is cool before doing this.
Fido’s friend fennel
Like chamomile, fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) may help with gas and digestive tract spasms. If your dog doesn’t like the flavor of chamomile, you can try fennel seed, and vice versa. Fennel seed may be particularly helpful for the doggy dragon breath, and it can be used for an acute issue as well as for long-term digestive upset. Just add a few tablespoons of fennel tea per 20 pounds body weight (3) to their food or water, or make a little “soup” with a couple of crumbled up treats like Jerky Naturalsor Z-Filets.Like chamomile, fennel is also available as a sweet-tasting glycerite that can be fed directly from a dropper bottle, around 10-20 drops per 20 pounds of body weight (3).

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zeke and Milo’s human.


  1. Wynn, SG (2004) Case Report : Chronic abdominal pain in a dog. J. Am Holistic Vet Med Assn. 23 (2): 33-39.
  2. Tilford, G. The calming herb, Chamomile. Whole-Dog-Journal.
  3. Tilford, G. Fennel.The Animal Herbalist.

<![CDATA[5 Reasons Dogs Make Better Co-Workers]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/5-reasons-dogs-make-better-co-workers http://www.zukes.com/site/5-reasons-dogs-make-better-co-workers#When:17:22:00Z If your workplace is dog friendly, nominate your business on Bark's Best Places to Work by October 31. You could win a year's worth of Zuke's treats for every dog in your office!

Here's just a few reasons why our canine companions make better co-workers.

1) You don't have to share the bathroom with your dog...or the lunchroom fridge.

2) Your dog never delegates anything to you. The most he will do is mandate a belly rub every once in a while.

3) Your dog doesn't want your job. Competing for a coveted position can be exhausting. Thankfully, your pup isn't in the running.

4) Your dog never partakes in office gossip. If by some miracle your pup learned to speak human, we are certain she would only have good things to say about you.

5) Your dog is always lovable - even with bad breath, body odor and lack of respect for personal space. If you have human co-workers with these issues...good luck!

<![CDATA[Dr. Jen On-Call: 7 Helpful Tips When Adopting a Dog]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-7-helpful-tips-when-adopting-a-dog http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-7-helpful-tips-when-adopting-a-dog#When:15:40:00Z October is Adopt-a-Pet Month! One of my favorite aspects of being a veterinarian is seeing newly adopted shelter dogs come in with their families. It’s the beginning of a new, lifelong relationship between a homeless dog and their new forever family. I also look at these appointments as a good opportunity to troubleshoot issues that may arise in the early days after a new adoption.

Take for example a client of mine named Crista. She brought in a beautiful shepherd/heeler mix dog that she recently adopted from the nearby humane society. It turned out that Lilly was the perfect companion when they were at home together, but when Crista left, Lilly would attempt to chew up Crista’s house – shoes, door jams, kitchen cabinetry, you name it! Frustrated, Crista brought Lilly in to see me, requesting medication to calm Lilly down and reduce her destructiveness. More on Crista and Lilly later...

First, let me share some ideas on how to choose and welcome your perfect shelter companion.

Utilize Shelter Employees
Most reputable shelters will test incoming dogs’ compatibility with other dogs and cats. They may also have information on why the dog was brought to the shelter in the first place. This information may not always be available, but it is important. Ask the shelter staff if they have any specifics on the dog you are interested in.

Location, Location, Location
Do you live in an apartment or a house? Do you have a fenced yard or a park nearby to exercise your new dog? A larger breed is better suited for a home with lots of room to move, whereas a smaller one can thrive even in a small apartment. All dogs need daily access to vigorous exercise whether it is a nice long walk, games of fetch in the back yard, or off-leash time at the local dog park.

Medical Bills
As a veterinarian I must caution you to consider medical costs when selecting a pet. I find that in general the larger the dog, the higher the cost of care. This includes not only feeding and grooming, but also medications and surgeries. Certain breeds are more prone to specific diseases, too. I strongly recommend that you research the breed you are considering adopting.

Do you or any people in your house have allergies? Some breeds such as the Poodle, Lhasa Apso, or Shih Tzu have continuously growing coats, which means they shed very little and are less allergenic. It also means they will need regular grooming to keep their coats from matting!

Hugo with MichelleWorking Nine to Five
What is your work schedule like? Dogs really shouldn’t be alone at home for more than 8 hours at a time. They get bored and unhappy—and bored dogs bark more often and tend to be more destructive. If you’re gone for long stretches at a time, be prepared with these options:
  • Come home at lunch for a quick walk
  • Enlist older kids to entertain your pup when they get home from school
  • Consider doggie daycare. It’s a popular concept that is becoming more widespread, and many of my pet patients seem to enjoy going each day for their supervised playtime with other dogs.

Take advantage of any free extras that come with adopting your new family member. Quite often local veterinarians will offer a free exam to make sure your new addition is healthy. You can also often get access to good deals on dog food, toys, and classes (obedience, agility, etc.) when you adopt a new pet. Keep an eye out for these and it will start you off in the best possible way to enjoy your sweet furry new family member!

Family Matters
Are there kids in your household? Other pets? A gradual introduction into the household will help reduce stress for your new pup and increase your chances for a harmonious home. Before placing your new pet in the same room with your existing pet(s), consult your veterinarian or a certified dog trainer for tips on successful introductions. Also, be prepared to supervise playtime between your dog and children so little ones learn the right way to play with their new friend.

Back to Crista and Little Lilly
After speaking with Crista, it turned out that she had a 30-minute commute to work and a 9-hour workday, so we talked about ways to keep Lilly entertained while Crista was gone all day. Crista was able to find a neighbor girl to come over and play with Lilly when she got home from school. In the end we didn’t need to resort to medication for her separation anxiety. We also discussed other behavior modification strategies and specific toys designed to engage Lilly’s mind. With these changes, along with other gradual adjustments to Crista’s routine, Lilly became a very contented pup in her new home.

Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.

<![CDATA[Has Work Gone to the Dogs?]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/has-work-gone-to-the-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/has-work-gone-to-the-dogs#When:06:00:00Z We sure hope so! We’re celebrating canines who punch the clock and the innovative companies that are leading the way by presenting this year’s Bark’s Best Places to Work contest. Enter your business to win a year’s worth of Zuke’s treats for all the dogs at your office!

Celebrating our Canine Colleagues

Zuke’s offices went to the dogs a long time ago. In fact, they really always belonged to the dogs. Zuke, a chocolate lab who had the honor of being the company’s inspiration, namesake and mascot, was the first employee, setting the stage for over two decades of cubicles and offices furnished with as many dog beds as chairs.

Now, on any given day there are as many dogs as humans at work. They are welcome everywhere by everyone. During work hours, they are our taste testers, quality control experts, de-stressing specialists and relaxation authorities. On their breaks, which are frequent throughout the day, there is a beautiful creek that runs through the property with trees, grass and toys for the pups to enjoy. They are an integral part of our team, the reason we come to work each day, and our daily reminder that life with dogs is the only way to live.

Granted, we are a pet treats company and are therefore somewhat biased, but we believe that the positives far outweigh the challenges for workplaces with dogs. And we know we’re not alone. There are thousands of businesses across the country that welcome their canine colleagues, understanding that the joy and warmth they bring to an office is undeniably beneficial to the business and to the people who work there: improved morale, reduced employee absenteeism and lower stress-related ailments like heart disease and diabetes.

By makingBark’s Best Places to Work one of our biggest sponsorships and promotions each year, our goal is to cheer for the dogs who punch the clock, celebrate the companies that are making it happen and increase the likelihood that more dogs will join the workforce each day.

If you have a dog-friendly workplace, enter to win a year’s worth of Zuke’s treats for all of the dogs in your office: www.thebark.com/bestplaces

<![CDATA[The Skinny on Fats & Oils]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/the-skinny-on-fats-oils http://www.zukes.com/site/the-skinny-on-fats-oils#When:21:09:00Z How many of you have added oil to your dog’s food to help with a dry coat? Healthy fats and oils are critical to both human and hound health. Beyond healthy skin and fur, fat also forms the building blocks of steroid hormones, which in turn, regulate reproduction, growth and development, salt and water balance, stress responses and more. Did you know that every cell in the body is lined with a fat-based membrane that controls what gets into and out of the cell and helps the cell communicate with its neighbors? And that a large percentage of brain mass is due to fat? If you call your dog a “fat head,” it’s actually a compliment!

So, adding a little bit of oil to your dog’s food is a good idea, right?
It depends! If you mean that big, clear plastic jug of olive oil on the kitchen counter, then not so much. Unsaturated fats contained in oils like olive, sesame and fish are sensitive to damage by light and oxygen. Feeding damaged oils to Fido introduces free radicals (“rust”) and inflammation, which contribute to chronic diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis and arthritis, among others.

Then why does coconut oil come in a clear jar? Because it is composed of saturated fats, which are resistant to damage by light and oxygen due to their chemical structure. More on saturated fats later...

And the plastic jug? It’s a source of unhealthy chemicals that leach into the oil. These chemicals, even in small amounts, may be sufficient to disrupt hormone balance and cause other problems (1). The solution? Buy your unsaturated oils in small, dark, glass bottles and store them somewhere cool and dark.

Unmodified, unrefined oils are the way to go!
Another important factor to consider is how an oil has been produced. Take coconut oil. In the late 1970’s and ’80’s, it got a bad rap due to studies employing hydrogenated (chemically modified) coconut oil. Hydrogenation results in an unhealthy, artery-clogging trans fat. In contrast, more recent research shows that unmodified, virgin coconut oil has many health benefits (2). Oil StructuresPalm oil is another dietary fat with a bad reputation; however, the unrefined/virgin form commonly known as red palm oil is high in carotenoids and other strong antioxidants, which provides support for vitamin A deficiency and may benefit cardiovascular health as well (3).

Saturated fats in coconut oil
Coconut oil is composed largely of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), a form of fat that is efficiently metabolized to produce energy in the body. This is one reason that coconut oil is an ingredient inPower Bones.Unlike unsaturated forms of fat, MCT are resistant to oxidative damage (“rust”), so they do not clog the arteries. (It’s rusty forms of fats and oils that contribute to plaque formation in the arteries). Studies show multiple health benefits from consumption of coconut and coconut oil, including protection from microbial infection, improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride profiles, improved blood sugar regulation, improved skin health, improved liver health and other benefits, better quality of life during cancer treatment and possible protective effects on nerve cells (2-5). Remember to get virgin coconut oil. Avoid hydrogenated as well as the “liquid coconut oil” showing up on grocery store shelves.

Fish oil...It’s where it’s at for Omega-3s
My grandmother took cod liver oil daily dose of cod liver oil and was still working in her garden well into her 90‘s. While cod liver oil may not have been the sole reason for her longevity, it probably didn’t hurt! I use a good quality fish oil daily and notice the difference when I don’t. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which lower damaging inflammation in dogs (6-8), thus providing a wide range of health benefits. In human studies, fish oil was found to improve mood (9) – something I notice myself – along with providing protection against muscle deterioration (10), cardiovascular disease (11), and cancer development (12).Coconut fish and sesame oils

A short shout out to sesame oil
Another of the favorites around here is unrefined sesame oil, which protects against heavy metal toxicity in the liver and kidneys (13), increases the level of antioxidants in the body, decreases the level of rusty fats and improves blood balance of serum cholesterol and triglycerides (14). Sesame is an ingredient inZuke's Hip Action.

One last thing about all three oils...they have flavors that your pooch will love!

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zoe and Milo’s human.


  1. Wagner, M and H Oehlmann (2009) Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water: total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic bottles. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 16(3):278-86. doi: 10.1007/s11356-009-0107-7.
  2. DebMandal, M and S Mandal (2011) Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 4(3):241-7.
  3. Ojuntibeju OO, et al (2009) Red palm oil: nutritional, physiological and therapeutic roles in improving human wellbeing and quality of life. Br J Biomed Sci. 66(4):216-22.
  4. Z. Law, KS, et al (2014) The effects of virgin coconut oil (vco) as supplementation on quality of life (qol) among breast cancer patients. Lipids Health Dis. 13(1):139.
  5. ZZ. Nafer F and KM Maerow (2014) Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β on cortical neurons in vitro. J Alzheimers Dis. 39(2):233-7.
  6. LeBlanc, CJ, et al (2008) Effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil on in vivo production of inflammatory mediators in clinically normal dogs. Am J Vet Res. 69(4):486-93.
  7. Waldron, MK, et al (2012) Plasma phospholipid fatty acid and ex vivo neutrophil responses are differentially altered in dogs fed fish- and linseed-oil containing diets at the same n-6:n-3 fatty acid ratio. Lipids. 47(4):425-34.
  8. Hansen, RA, et al (2011) Menhaden oil administration to dogs treated with radiation for nasal tumors demonstrates lower levels of tissue eicosanoids. Nutr Res. 31(12):929-36.
  9. Rice, SM, et al(2014) Youth depression alleviation: the Fish Oil Youth Depression Study (YoDA-F): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial. Early Interv Psychiatry. Aug 13. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Ewaschuk, JB, et al (2014) Role of n-3 fatty acids in muscle loss and myosteatosis. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 39(6):654-62.
  11. Mori, TA (2014) Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: epidemiology and effects on cardiometabolic risk factors. Food Funct. 5(9):2004-19.
  12. Jing, K, et al (2013) -3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cancer. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 13(8):1162-77.
  13. Chandrasekaran, VR, et al (2014) Beneficial effect of sesame oil on heavy metal toxicity. J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 38(2):179-85.
  14. Alipoor, B, et al (2012) Effect of sesame seed on lipid profile and redox status in hyperlipidemic patients. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 63(6):674-8.

<![CDATA[Celebrate Your Dog on National Hug Your Hound Day!]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/time-to-celebrate-national-hug-your-hound-day http://www.zukes.com/site/time-to-celebrate-national-hug-your-hound-day#When:18:42:00Z I love any excuse to celebrate dogs, so I was excited to learn that this Sunday, September 14 is National Hug Your Hound Day! The “unofficial” holiday (no time off work – sorry!) was founded 15 years ago by renowned Chicago Dog Coach Ami Moore, author of The Alphatude Attitude: Your Dog Wants You to Lead.

Moore says the day is about celebrating the “bond and emotional joy that having a dog in your life brings,” and trying to make America even more dog-friendly.

“The human/dog bond, I call it the superglue of the heart," she told me.

She says she got the idea for Hug Your Hound Day after studies showed the health benefits of hugging and petting dogs, such as relieving stress for both humans and canines alike as hormones like serotonin and oxytocin are released. (Studies continue to prove the health benefits of touching dogs; for example, in 2012, the American Journal of Cardiology published research (1) that found people with chronic disease and pets had more adaptable heart rates.)

“Most people get dogs because they see dogs as their emotional comfort food – their furry macaroni and cheese,” Moore says with a laugh.

But it’s not enough just to love our dogs – being a responsible dog owner is the other major component of Hug Your Hound Day, if we want to make the U.S. more dog-friendly.

“You should be able to take a well-mannered dog anywhere that you go,” Moore says. “But the key is ‘well-mannered,’ which means the dog should not bark, not jump, not growl, should not bite at anyone, not steal any type of food or anything.”

She says having well-trained dogs around makes everyone feel happier, and spreading that happiness is the fun of Hug Your Hound Day.

“The first thing is take your dog everywhere you can. In most states, the way the law is written, you can take your dog anywhere as long as food is not being served,” she says. “Have people hug your dog. Say, ‘Would you like to pet my dog? You can hug him – give him a treat.’ It’s a holiday to bring dogs to people who might not have them in their lives.”

Having our dogs interact with many different people is important too.

“I always advise people to really socialize their dog well, especially the people that don’t look like you,” Moore says. “Like if you’re tall, socialize your dog with short people. If you’re skinny, socialize him with fat people. Because the world is filled with all different types of people, and you don’t want your dog to scare anyone because they look a little different than Mom and Dad.”

Other ways to celebrate include volunteering with our dogs at hospitals, nursing homes or children’s literacy programs; teaching our dogs a cute trick like “shake” to entertain people; and, of course, throwing a party for friends and their dogs. In fact, Moore says Hug Your Hound Day is always on the second Sunday of September because after Labor Day, dogs are more likely to be allowed in public places like beaches – she throws a barbecue for her clients and their dogs at a local beach every year.

As for “petiquette” when you want to pet a new dog, Moore says to ask the owner for permission, and then let the dog come to you.

“The third one is always ask the owner, ‘Do you have a treat I can give the dog?’ Because affection combined with food creates a pleasant experience for the animal as well as the human.”

Ultimately, National Hug Your Hound Day is about helping our pups spread happiness to other people, ourselves, and back to the dogs themselves.

“That is always something that we who love dogs are pushing for: to create a bigger and better place for our dogs to enjoy their life,” Moore says. “For them to have a big life so we can have a big life with them."

For more information, visit http://chicagodogcoach.com.

Jen Reeder hugging RioJen Reeder is an award-winning pet writer and proud member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association.

She hugs her rescued Lab mix Rio every day.


  1. Chan, Amanda. "Pet Ownership Linked With Adaptable Heart, Study Shows." HuffingtonPost.com. Huffington Post, 14 Feb 2012. Web.

<![CDATA[Put Out that Fire! Inflammation and Diet]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/put-out-that-fire-inflammation-and-diet http://www.zukes.com/site/put-out-that-fire-inflammation-and-diet#When:19:42:00Z Science has recognized that chronic, low-level inflammation in humans is a contributing factor to essentially all of the major, chronic disorders, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, allergies, cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and arthritis. So, perhaps, it’s not so surprising that dogs also suffer from issues related to chronic inflammation. The nerds amongst you can check out the following canine-related examples in the science literature, including oral inflammation, inflammatory bowel diseases and chronic allergies.

What exactly is inflammation?
It is a process mediated by the immune system in normal response to tissue damage from injury, infection, toxins, extreme heat or cold, or other influences. The acute inflammation triggered by such injuries is a protective response for the person (or dog) involved, and includes swelling, redness, heat, pain and possible loss of function. This normally is a self-limiting process that is initially signaled by chemicals released from the damaged tissues and/or by immune cells residing in the area.

Chronic inflammation
Inflammation becomes a problem when it becomes long-term. This may be in a particular part of the body or can become systemic, in part because those pesky inflammatory chemicals that are secreted don’t necessarily stay put. A common trigger of chronic inflammation in people and pups is food (1). Yes, food can be injurious! No worries, though, because not all food is. The main culprits are highly processed foods. These are products made with refined oils; refined flour; refined sugars; processed, poor quality meats, processed dairy products, processed vegetable proteins and other dubious ingredients.

Anti-inflammatory FoodsSo, if there are pro-inflammatory foods, are there anti-inflammatory foods?
Yes! Examples include vegetables,fruits (especially dark-colored berries), and cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, halibut, trout and herring that contain anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.

How does this translate to my dog?
Look for dog foods and treats that contain real food as ingredients, such as berries, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, and other flavonoid-rich foods salmon, grass-fed beef, etc. Avoid dog foods and treats that contain wheat flour, artificial colors, artificial flavors, sugar, and corn syrup. Small amounts of good quality herbs and spices are a good addition (2), for example turmeric, rosemary,parsley,sageand other of the “spaghetti spices” (not the purified essential oils!). Many of the functional foods discussed in my postings are, at least in part, anti-inflammatory.
Dogs D and Zeke
Finally, no pudgy pooches! Obesity increases systemic inflammation, and is also a result of chronic inflammation, so it turns into a vicious cycle (1). Make sure that your dog gets exercise every day. And, do not overfeed your dog, as tempting as it may be when looking into those soulful eyes!

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zoe and Milo’s human.


  1. Muñoz, A and M Costa (2013) Nutritionally Mediated Oxidative Stress and Inflammation. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 610950.
  2. Nilius, B and G Appendino (2013) Spices: the savory and beneficial science of pungency. Rev Phusiol Biochem Pharmacol. 164: 1-76.