1422287628 <![CDATA[Blog]]> en pmiller@zukes.com Copyright 2015 2015-01-26T15:48:00+00:00 <![CDATA[Thinking Positively About Dog Training with Victoria Stilwell]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/thinking-positively-about-dog-training-with-victoria-stilwell http://www.zukes.com/site/thinking-positively-about-dog-training-with-victoria-stilwell#When:15:48:00Z Happy 2015! January kicks off the New Year with an important holiday for dog lovers: National Train Your Dog Month. To celebrate, I had the opportunity to interview one of the world’s most renowned dog trainers, Victoria Stilwell. What a way to start the year!

I’m thrilled Victoria took the time to chat with me since she is extremely busy with all of her projects. The charming English trainer is the star of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog,” CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training, editor-in-chief of Positively.com, author of numerous best-selling books, including her latest book “Train Your Dog Positively,” and founder of the nonprofit Victoria Stilwell Foundation, which provides financial assistance and canine behavior expertise to assistance dog organizations and smaller rescue shelters.

Victoria StilwellVictoria is passionate about spreading the word about the value of positive training techniques, so it’s no surprise she told me the No. 1 thing pet owners should know about dog training is, “It should be fun and positive both for you and your dog.”

“If you want to have a good relationship with your dog, if you want your dog to learn effectively and quickly, if you want your dog to trust you, if you want your dog to listen to you, if you want to shape and raise your dog to be emotionally stable, and if you want to have a better idea of your dog’s behavior in certain situations, use positive training,” Victoria said.

She said dominance training, which can include intimidation with physically aversive techniques or equipment such as shock collars, merely suppresses a dog’s behavior. In contrast, positive training, which involves praise and rewards, actually changes the way a dog thinks and feels. For example, if a dog is “leash reactive” on walks when he sees another dog approaching and starts barking and lunging, rather than punishing the dog, Victoria uses redirection and positive techniques to address his discomfort and insecurity around other dogs.

Victoria Stilwell with Jasmine“I teach the dog that good things happen when they see another dog,” she said. “And I do that by pairing the sight of another dog with something that my reactive dog loves. It could be food, it could be toys, it could be petting, it could be a game. And every single time it sees another dog in the distance, its favorite thing happens.”

After a while, instead of reacting by barking, growling or gnashing his teeth, the dog will look to his handler for a reward as the other dog walks past.

“I would rather work a little bit more to change behavior for the rest of the life of the dog than rely on having to suppress behavior throughout the life of the dog,” she said.

Victoria has seen countless success stories thanks to positive training, such as Scooby, a Pit Bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who had terrible separation anxiety. If his family left the house, he would leap through glass windows or chew through the garage door to get outside. But she worked with him and after six weeks, he became a completely different dog. She also helped an American Bulldog, Jed, stop biting people who entered his home.

“I think the most important point to make is that a lot of people have this idea that positive training only works on puppies or small little dogs – that the tougher the dog, the bigger the dog, the more aggressive the dog, the tougher you have to be. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “The tougher, the bigger, the larger, the more fierce the dog, the kinder you have to be. That’s what gets results.”

Victoria said positive training methods also work well with helping transition shelter dogs to their new forever homes. In fact, the foundation of her training was working with shelter dogs and she is mom to two rescued dogs, Sadie, a chocolate Lab, and Jasmine, a Chihuahua mix. Naturally, she adores them.

Victoria Stilwell with her dogs“They love each other. Jasmine spends a lot of time sleeping on Sadie’s back,” she said, adding, “Some of my best dogs are from shelters.”

Victoria said food can be a very powerful training tool because it is incompatible with fear. While adrenaline and stress hormones caused by fear can prevent a dog from learning, letting a dog smell food before it is agitated changes the way its brain works by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine.

“The anticipation of the food releases a flood of dopamine – which is your happy chemical, the pleasure chemical, reward-seeking, learning chemical, and a very important chemical for motor coordination – into the brain. So now the brain is flooded with happy thoughts rather than, ‘There’s another dog coming!’”

Victoria loves helping dogs as well as their owners. She said she believes most people don’t want to cause their dog pain or intimidate their dog, but might not know better. For that reason, she said it’s important to choose a trainer wisely.

“If your trainer starts to talk about ‘pack leadership’ and ‘alpha’ and wants to put a shock collar or a prong collar or a choke collar on your dog, just run away,” she said.

Ultimately, having well-trained dogs makes life happier for everyone and keeps dogs out of shelters. And as Victoria Stilwell has shown, training can even be fun.

“The future is positive.”

For more information or to find a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer in your area, visit www.positively.com/trainers.

All photos courtesy of Victoria Stilwell Enterprises LLC

Jen Reeder hugging RioAward-winning pet writer Jen Reeder is a proud member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association. She has found food to be an extremely powerful training tool with her “food-motivated” Lab mix, Rio.]]>
<![CDATA[Natural Ways to a Healthy Skin and Shiny Coat]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/natural-ways-to-a-healthy-skin-and-shiny-coat http://www.zukes.com/site/natural-ways-to-a-healthy-skin-and-shiny-coat#When:15:55:00Z Scratch, scratch, scratch...is this a common sound in your house? Is your dog constantly scratching and chewing at her skin? Is her coat dull and flakey? She could be having a reaction to a variety of things, including her food, nutrient deficiencies, chemicals in the home, fleas, an infection, or a disorder such as atopy, hypothyroidism or autoimmunity. Identifying the reason and dealing with it will result in a happy dog.

A common culprit that's easy to treat

A dry coat and itchiness can be caused by over-bathing. Most dogs don’t like baths. Maybe it’s the misery of being foamed up with shampoo or having their own doggy stink removed temporarily. I don't know, but if one of my pack rolls in something nasty he or she doesn’t get a say in the matter. In any event, it’s best not to over bathe or to use harsh shampoos on your dog. Either will strip the protective oil and acid mantle of her skin and coat, setting her up for itchiness and a dull coat.
An old-fashioned oatmeal bath

How many of you were subjected to an oatmeal bath when you were growing up? I was, for a bad case of chicken pox. It really did help ease the unbearable itching. Yes it’s messy, but you might consider doing a periodic oatmeal treatment for your dog. Make a watery pot of cooked oats (not the sweetened, instant kind), blend it and plaster your mutt. Massage the mush in well and do your best to keep her from licking it off before it’s had a chance to help! Let it dry if you can restrain your pooch that long, then rinse off.

Check your dog's diet

You've heard that you are what you eat. The same holds true for your dog. Healthy skin and a shiny coat starts with good nutrition. This means feeding nutrient-dense foods and avoiding foods produced with refined oils, unhealthy fats, refined flour, sugar and poor quality meats that can trigger inflammation.

Try supplementing with good dietary fats

1. Coconut Oil
One of my favorite natural fats for a pretty pelt as well as for itch relief is unrefined coconut oil. Adding a bit of to your dog’s food may provide some needed support. It’s also an ingredient in Zuke's Power Bones.

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Multiple research studies have established a role for omega 3 fatty acids in skin health, and many folks have observed the benefits first hand when they've added good quality fish oil to their pet's food. Avoid cheap fish oil supplements. They often contain inflammatory, oxidized fatty acids which may be counterproductive.

3. Sunflower Oil
Another oil to check out is sunflower oil. It’s high linolenic acid content may improve dry skin, dull coat and seborrhea (1). I use small amounts of the cold-pressed variety when supplementing my dogs’ diet. You'll find sunflower oil in Jerky Naturals, Skinny Bakes and Supers.

4. Vitamin Oil
Vitamin E oil is another commonly used aid for skin and coat health. In a study of dermatitis (inflamed skin), dogs that were fed supplemental vitamin E had healthier skin than those who were not (2). Avoid the use of synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol). It's not as well absorbed as natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol and other tocopherols) (3).

Natural herbs are gentle and effective

1. Dandelion leaf, nettle leaf and alfafa
These herbs are vitamin and mineral-rich, making them great supplements to help promote a shiny coat. A couple pinches of these can be sprinkled in dry form onto your dog’s food several times a week, or made into a tea and added to the food (up to a tablespoon of tea for a large dog).

chamomile2. Chamomile, lavender, peppermint, spearmint and sage
These are gentle and effective herbs to use for general itchiness. Bring a couple quarts of water to a boil then remove from heat. Toss in a handful of an individual herb or a blend of two or more in equal parts and steep until the liquid cools. Strain (for less of a mess!) and pour over your pooch in the shower, bath tub or outside. Make sure he’s soaked to the skin. You don’t need to rinse it off, and your pooch will smell good for a while (maybe not to other dogs but to people).

For more severe redness, flakiness and itching, herbalist and animal health specialist Greg Tilford simmers equal parts juniper leaves, calendula and peppermint for 10 minutes in water and soaks the animal with this mix (4).

If your dog has severe skin issues, I suggest visiting your vet for help and guidance.


  1. Campbell, KL, et al (2008) Effects of Oral Sunflower Oil on Serum and Cutaneous Fatty Acid Concentration Profiles in Seborrheic Dogs. Res Vet Sci. 53(2):172-8.
  2. Plevnik KA, et al (2014) Vitamin E supplementation in canine atopic dermatitis: improvement of clinical signs and effects on oxidative stress markers. Vet Rec. 175(22):560.
  3. Wulff-Tilford, ML & GL Tilford (2009) Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life Bowtie Press, Irvine, CA.

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

<![CDATA[Dr. Jen On-Call: Connecting Bad Teeth to a Heart Murmur]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-connecting-bad-teeth-to-a-heart-murmur http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-connecting-bad-teeth-to-a-heart-murmur#When:17:28:00Z Mitzi, a charmer with a malodorous mouth

A few years back I met a tiny grey 10-year-old teacup Maltipoo (Maltese-Poodle mix) named Mitzi. She weighed just under four pounds and could fit into the palm of my hand. Her charm was unmistakable. Just looking into her chocolate brown eyes would be quickly greeted with an enthusiastic tail wag and an eager kiss.

Mitzi’s owner brought her to me because she felt that Mitzi felt a little thin and that her sweet doggie kisses seemed a little less sweet than normal. I examined her and noticed that she was indeed a little on the lean side for her tiny four pound frame. She also had a grade 2 heart murmur and severe dental disease. This included several loose teeth, gums that bled easily, and large amounts of dark green slimy tartar. Eeew! Mitzi’s owner quickly panicked. A heart murmur? That sounds serious!

“Buddy'sCan bad teeth lead to a bad heart?

It may seem like an unlikely relationship, but bad teeth often lead to a bad heart. It is well documented in both human and veterinary medicine that long term periodontal (gum) disease can lead to heart disease via the bacteria that are living in the tartar on the teeth. Some of the bacteria living in the tartar will also colonize in the heart once they get into the bloodstream. This can lead to degeneration of the heart valves and cause damage to the heart itself.

The lungs, kidneys, nervous system, and liver can also be places where displaced oral bacteria can start or exacerbate problems. I have often seen patients with elevated liver enzymes which have been resolved after routine dental cleanings.

The best way to prevent dental disease

The statistics aren’t good. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates that as many as 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease by the age of three, and one of the leading pet insurance companies in the United States reported $10.2 million in dental care claims in 2013 alone.

“HealthyIs periodontal disease inevitable for our pets or is it preventable? I passionately recommend regular tooth brushing at home. This has been shown to be the absolute best way to prevent dental disease. It can be a challenge, but the effort is certainly well worth it. Teeth brushing can be augmented with a dental chew like Zuke's Z-Bones. But, as always, I recommend regular checkups with your veterinarian to assess the health of your pet. She or he can help determine if a full dental cleaning is necessary.

Mitzi’s Salvation

In Mitzi’s case, after checking her bloodwork and chest x-rays to rule out other diseases, I performed a thorough dental cleaning to remove the source of her infection and, hopefully, to restore her health. The loose teeth were removed, the tartar was scaled off, and the surfaces of her teeth polished to slow down the regrowth of tartar after the cleaning. I also prescribed a course of antibiotics to rid her body of any residual bacteria.

A few days later I called to check on Mitzi at home and was happy to learn she had more energy than she had in years and was eating enthusiastically! Her owner had no idea that Mitzi’s dental disease was so uncomfortable that she was eating less than she normally would. Restoring Mitzi’s oral health restored her quality of life.

We closely monitored her heart murmur after the procedure. Cleaning a pet’s teeth will not magically cure heart disease, but in Mitzi’s case it did greatly slow down the development of heart problems by getting rid of the source of the infection.

You cannot have a healthy body without a healthy mouth, whether you walk on two feet or four furry ones. Take care of your own mouth as well as your pet’s. Doing so will contribute to a long, healthy life for you both.

Related Blogs
5 Must Know Facts About Doggie Breath

“Dr.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[Achoo! Banish Your Dog’s Cold or Flu with Helpful Herbs]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/Banish-Your-Dogs-Cold-or-Flu-with-Helpful-Herbs http://www.zukes.com/site/Banish-Your-Dogs-Cold-or-Flu-with-Helpful-Herbs#When:21:09:00Z It’s that time of year! No, I don’t mean the holiday season. I mean cough and sniffle season. And you aren’t the only one in your household who can catch a cold!

Doggie respiratory infection

Dogs are susceptible to a whole slew of respiratory bugs. Some are viral, like the flu or common cold. Others are bacterial, like Bordatella, a common cause of kennel cough. Kennel cough is characterized by a dry cough and retching, along with flu-like symptoms. Viruses and bacteria are very different, but improving your pooch’s health increases resistance infection by either. Microbes illustration for sense of scaleThere are many different cold viruses that infect dogs, and dogs even have their own flu virus, canine influenza virus, that has similar symptoms as the annual variety of “people” flu: Runny nose, wet cough, fever and lethargy. Recent research shows that your dog can even catch your flu (1), so don’t sneeze on your mutt!

With so many bugs wanting to set up shop in your pup, what’s an owner to do? There are vaccines against a number of the common doggie respiratory bugs, something you can discuss with your friendly neighborhood veterinarian. But not all bugs have a vaccine against them and vaccines aren’t necessarily 100% effective.

So, in addition to a visit to the vet, it’s important to work naturally to improve your pup’s resistance. A nutrient-dense diet, active lifestyle, and clean living environment are key. The first two support a healthy immune system while the latter is important because respiratory bugs are shed in dog boogers that wind up all over your house if you have a sick dog wandering about. In fact, it’s best to isolate your puppy patient if you have more than one dog in the house.

Herbal support

In addition to the above approaches, many of the herbs I’d use for cold and flu are also appropriate for Milo, D, Zeke and the latest addition to the pack, Ratticus Finch, the willing model for this blog. A good resource for proper dosing and contraindications of each herb in dogs is "Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life" by Greg and Mary Wulff Tilford (2).

You may have used echinacea yourself, but did that you know that it works for dogs, too? Echinacea may reduce the duration of an illness or prevent it altogether. Give it at the first sign of sniffles or if your pooch has been playing at the dog park with a sick friend. The funky taste of echinacea may go down better in the form of a glycerite, a sweet-tasting vegetable glycerin extract. Note that echinacea is not a replacement for a healthy immune system. In fact, it is best avoided in animals with known immune dysfunction (2).

Elderberry has traditionally been used for colds and flu to reduce symptoms and the duration of infection, and this usage has been backed up by research studies (3). One way elderberries might help is by preventing the virus from attaching to it’s receptor on the cell surface (4). This stops the virus from infecting the cells lining the respiratory tract. Your dog will probably like the taste, so it shouldn’t be difficult getting him to take elderberry extract.

Another herb I commonly use for respiratory infection is thyme. Thyme eases excessive coughing and is strongly anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Thyme may even bump up the immune system to help with preventing or shortening the duration of illness. Because of it’s intense, pungeant flavor, thyme might be best used in glycerite form for your pooch. Be sure not to use thyme essential oil, which is too irritating to use for your pet.

YarrowYarrow is another useful herb for respiratory support. It is strongly anti-bacterial, so it may be helpful for bordatella or bacterial respiratory infections. Also, yarrow may reduce some of the general bluckiness associated with the flu. Because the tea is bitter enough that your dog is unlikely to drink it, a tincture is a good way to go. Don’t use yarrow in pregnant or nursing animals.

Mullein is an herb that works well together with all of the herbs I’ve mentioned. The leaves of this common weed can be made into a tea, strained well and used for viral or bacterial infections of the respiratory tract. Mullein soothes the respiratory lining and eases overly intense coughing. In addition, mullein has mild anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects, though perhaps not quite strong enough to use alone. If your furry friend has frequent respiratory issues, mullein can be used regularly as a tonic to improve the health of her lungs.


  1. Song, D, et al (2014) Canine Susceptibility to Human Influenza Viruses (A/pdm09 H1N1, A/H3N2, and B). J Gen Virol. Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Wulff-Tilford, ML & GL Tilford (2009) Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life Bowtie Press, Irvine, CA.
  3. Zakay-Rones, Z, et al (2004) Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res.32(2):132-40.
  4. Roschek B, et al (2009) Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 70:1255-61.

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

<![CDATA[Zuke’s Super Holiday Dog Cookies]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/zukes-super-holiday-dog-cookies http://www.zukes.com/site/zukes-super-holiday-dog-cookies#When:17:11:00Z We first published this recipe back in 2012 and it's still a hit with the dogs here at Zuke's headquarters in Durango, CO. The cookies are gluten-free and full of healthy ingredients like brewer's yeast, yogurt, honey and molasses. You can make them any time of the year, but it's fun to top them with a red or green Zuke's Super treat to celebrate the Christmas season.

If you haven't tried Zuke's Superfood treats, they are soft, little Z-shaped dog treats in tasty fruit and veggie flavors. Our Yummy Berry Blend contains beets and berries (cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries). And our Tasty Greens Blend is full of, you guessed it, green veggies - green beans, spinach, broccoli, peas, asparagus, kale, cabbage, and kelp. Plus, both blends have rosemary and turmeric,two herbs with wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients for holiday cookies

I headed to the local Natural Grocers to shop for some of the ingredients like brown rice flour and brewer's yeast although I found the brown rice flour in the gluten-free section of my supermarket a week later. Brewer's yeast isn't like the yeast you use to make bread rise. It's considered an inactive yeast and contains all kinds of healthy vitamins plus it's a good source of protein. I had to ask the friendly store clerk where it was located and she walked me over to the supplements area. I learned later that brewer's yeast is used in beer making and totally missed out on the opportunity to make a visit to Durango's ownSKA brewery to borrow a cup of yeast. Next time!

Place holiday cookie ingredients in a bowl

Just throw everything into your mixing bowl...the flour, yeast, oil, yogurt, honey, molasses and applesauce. Except for the Zuke's Supers. Those will be the twinkling star on the top.

When I finished mixing it all up, the batter wasn't that thick clumpy cookie consistency that I expected which might be attributed to the careless way I measured the yogurt and applesauce. I kind of just scooped those ingredients out of their containers. So I added a bit more brown rice flour and a dash of brewer's yeast. I'm not an expert baker, but it made sense at the time and turned out fine. The dogs didn't know the difference. They never suspected a thing!

Zuke's Super Holiday Cookies on the cookie sheet

Roll the dough into little balls or use a handy cookie scooper. I used a small scooper which made just the right size. Then press a Super treat onto each ball. Make sure to either your grease your cookie sheet or use parchment paper. I just plunked the first batch right onto the sheet and the cookies were practically superglued to the sheet because of the molasses.

Also, be prepared for your kitchen to smell like a brewery - just a little. Just in a good way.

Super holiday cookies on a plate

The recipe makes almost 3 dozen cookies, so you'll have plenty for your dog(s) and their furry friends.

While you might have tried nibbling on your pet's Zuke's treats - some are kind of tasty - don't bother with these. The brewer's yeast and brown rice flour are yummy for Fido, but it's a pretty strong combination for the human tastebuds. I speak from experience!

Zuke's Super Holiday Cookie Recipe Card

<![CDATA[Dr. Jen On-Call: The Puppy with a Broken Heart]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-the-puppy-with-a-broken-heart http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-the-puppy-with-a-broken-heart#When:21:02:00Z With Christmas a couple weeks away, I wanted to share a heartwarming story of little Eva, the sweet terrier mix puppy. She stole my heart, the hearts of my coworkers, and the entire community of Durango, Colorado this year.

Little Eva and her littermates were found abandoned miles from the nearest town in early spring. Animal control officers found an organization to bottle raise the litter and find them homes once they became adoptable.

Weeks later, the adorable bundles of fluff and wiggles were placed in their forever homes. Eva, with a black mask and speckled white coat, went to live with a Durango couple and their 7-year-old son who were all immediately head over heels in love with her.

A broken heart

Eva’s new family brought her in to me for a puppy wellness check. Her effusive personality and puppy kisses melted my heart. She had a beautiful coat, perfect teeth, and bright shiny eyes. It wasn’t until I listened to her heart that I realized something was wrong - very wrong.

Eva had a severe heart murmur. An echocardiogram revealed pulmonic stenosis, a condition causing rapidly escalating pressures in the muscle of her heart. For now, Eva’s energy was good, but she probably wouldn’t live to see her first birthday.Eva and Reese snuggling

The human heart

Watching their new bundle of love deteriorate was not an option for the family. A surgical procedure could repair the defective portion of Eva’s heart, but it was prohibitively expensive and required travelling across the state to Colorado State University’s Cardiology Unit. The family was determined to save money for the surgery and had started, when by a stroke of luck, a nonprofit organization offered to help raise funds.

I hoped that enough money would be raised to help offset the travel costs for Eva’s owners, but what happened was far better than any of us dreamed. The nonprofit group rallied the community through local social media and little’s Eva’s story even made the cover of the local newspaper. Through the touching of human hearts, enough money was raised to cover the entire surgery for Eva’s heart!

In July, Eva went up to CSU for her heart surgery. It was a huge success, reducing the excessive pressure in her heart by 90%. She recovered well, returning home the next day.

Eva and palToday, Miss Eva is thriving. She is a lightning-fast ball of puppy energy, making up for lost time by playing with her little boy and her doggie companions at her home in southern Colorado.

A wholehearted request

I’m sharing this story for two reasons. First, I always like to tell a happy story, but secondly, and most importantly, I wholeheartedly recommend you take your adopted pet (many people adopt pets during the holidays) to your veterinarian for a thorough check. If Eva’s family hadn’t brought her in to see me when they first adopted her, the heart condition may have gone undetected until more permanent damage had been done.

Preventative care can help avoid heartbreak later. Give your new addition the healthiest possible start by talking to your veterinarian about:
  • Vaccines that may still be needed
  • Proper diet and nutrition
  • Pet safety during the holidays

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10 Pet Safety Tips
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I wish you all a Happy Holiday Season and a healthy 2015 for you and your furry loved ones!
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[An All-American Mutt Brings Home the Westminster Trophy]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/an-all-american-mutt-brings-home-the-trophy http://www.zukes.com/site/an-all-american-mutt-brings-home-the-trophy#When:16:55:00Z In celebration of National Mutt Day

I love all dogs, but as the mom of a Lab mix, there’s a soft spot in my heart for mutts. So in honor of December 2 being National Mutt Day, I thought I’d profile one of America’s mutt superstars: Roo! The energetic husky mix made history earlier this year as the first “All-American” dog (i.e. mutt) to win a Westminster Kennel Club competition.

This was a big deal because for 137 years, the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had only offered a conformation competition (if you’re a fan of the movie “Best in Show,” you know that dog shows involve judging purebred dogs against their breed’s “standard”). But on February 8, 2014, when Westminster introduced The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster, mixed-breed dogs were allowed to participate because it’s a skill-based competition – contestants are timed as they race through obstacles, running through tunnels, jumping over hurdles and weaving through poles. Around 225 agility dogs competed in the inaugural event.
Roo AKC Champion
Instant Celebrity

When Roo! won her height category (24”) and the “Best All-American Dog” trophy, she became an instant celebrity and was all over the news, including “Good Morning America” and “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.” She was suddenly the poster child (poster dog?) for mutts – and for rescue, since her mom/trainer, Stacey Campbell, adopted her from a shelter.

Campbell, owner of Go Fetch Dog Training in San Francisco, Calif. and staff trainer at the San Francisco SPCA, met Roo! when the shelter assigned her to work with an 11-month-old “problem dog” who had been found roaming the nearby hills.

Stacey & Roo
“She was just an out-of-control adolescent dog, what we call ‘rude, jumpy and mouthy.’”

But Campbell could tell there was something special about Roo! After a man adopted Roo! as a guard dog, she worried that Roo! was “the dog that got away.” So when the man returned Roo! a week later, Campbell didn’t hesitate to adopt her.

“There was just something about her. I just thought she was too smart for her own good. She has this sort of fun, party-girl mentality – she’s a little bit of a rabble-rouser,” Campbell said with a laugh. “She had a lot of energy and I have a lot of energy. I thought, ‘This could be a good fit.’”

Her instincts were right. Campbell named the pooch after the baby kangaroo in Winnie-the-Pooh books since she’s an awesome jumper – “and the exclamation point is because she does everything in life with enthusiasm” – and started training her for obedience competitions. Roo! won many events until becoming fearful of other dogs after being attacked several times. Campbell decided agility might be more fun for Roo!

Roo on the frame“Roo! loved it. She’s a very athletic dog.”

In a sport typically dominated by border collies, Roo! began making a splash. She was the 2012 AKC Invitational Champion and the 2013 AKC National Agility Champion, and was one of the first mixed-breed dogs to earn a spot on the U.S. Large Dog Team at the European Open in 2013.

Time for Westminster

“My whole family was watching on ESPN, so I felt a little bit of pressure going into the event,
but once I set foot in the ring, all my focus is on my dog. I don’t remember being nervous at all.”

Roo handling the weavesRoo! was the fastest in three races and came out on top in her division. “She was just on fire that day," Campbell said. "I really felt that was some of our best teamwork and focus together.”

On February 10, Westminster presented Roo! the “Best All-American Dog” trophy in Madison Square Garden during their 138th dog show. “It wasn’t my night, I felt like, but her night,” Campbell said. “I was just really proud of her.”

Then the aforementioned media frenzy started. In an airport on the way home, Cambell looked up and saw CNN was airing a feature on Roo! Campbell said she hopes Roo!’s success inspires people to consider adopting mixed-breed dogs.

Roo champ
“Just because a dog is in a shelter doesn’t mean it has issues or can’t make a great house pet, so I hope it did bring more light on going to shelters before heading to breeders. I think it is a personal choice and I’m not against people getting dogs from breeders, but I do think if people want a nice family pet, a shelter is a great place to go.”

For more information about Stacey and Roo!, visit http://www.gofetchdogtraining.com/.
For more information about National Mutt Day, visit http://www.nationalmuttday.com/about.htm.

Jen Reeder hugging RioFreelance journalist Jen Reeder is a proud member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association. She’s had fun bonding with her rescued Lab mix, Rio, in agility classes, even though they’re both too slow to ever compete.

<![CDATA[Feeling Stressed in an Airport? Look for Therapy Dogs!]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/feeling-stressed-in-an-airport-look-for-therapy-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/feeling-stressed-in-an-airport-look-for-therapy-dogs#When:17:08:00Z The holidays are just around the corner, which means many of us will be getting on airplanes. I love heading off to see family, but the early mornings, airport security lines and delayed flights don’t exactly fill me with holiday cheer.

So I’m delighted about a growing trend in North American airports: therapy dog programs. Volunteers circulate through the terminals with certified therapy dogs, asking if anyone would like to pet them. Their whole goal is to provide stress relief for frazzled travelers.

“People just love it,” says Heidi Huebner, director of volunteers at Los Angeles World Airports, where she launched the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program on April 15, 2013. “I love watching people’s reactions … you can just feel their stress level drop.”

Airport Therapy Dog SadieHuebner has a team of 32 volunteers, so at least one handler and a PUP dog visit the airport every day for a few hours. Often, the dogs are barely through the security line when people start coming over to pet them – sometimes gathering crowds of 400 people!

“Once the first person starts, it’s like a chain reaction,” Huebner says.

Airport Therapy Dog Sparky
On slower days, PUP volunteers will approach people seated in the terminals, asking, “Who wants to give and get some love from a dog?” or “Who wants to hug a dog?” They hand out trading cards featuring the therapy dogs, which are a hit with kids. Sometimes people will wave a dog over, like a woman who asked if PUP Sparky, a rescued shih tzu, could sit in her lap. She started crying and told Sparky’s handler and Huebner that her own dog had been hit by a car the night before and died while she was trying to travel home to him.

“She said, ‘Just being able to hug this dog – you have no idea how much I needed this,’”Huebner says. “You just never know what’s going on in somebody’s life.”

Other times travelers will share their excitement about their upcoming vacation, or show handlers photos of their pets on their phones or laptops. Huebner said the dogs also work as conversation icebreakers between passengers – people will put down their devices and talk to one another about their pets or upcoming plans.

“I think that’s one of the best parts about it,” she says. “We’ll walk through and on the way out we’ll still see them talking a half an hour or an hour later. It’s like there was some sort of a connection made.”

Airport Therapy Dog TruWhile the dogs calm the nerves of passengers – such as 20 people waiting in a customer service line after being bumped from a flight – they also help airport employees relax, from TSA agents to retail cashiers.

“A lot of employees look forward to when the dogs come,” Huebner says.

Sometimes people will tell a handler they’re afraid of dogs, but after seeing others approach the PUP dog, they’ll overcome their fear and pet the dog, even posing for pictures. “That’s pretty cool when that happens.”

In that way, the PUP dogs are ambassadors for their species as well as for the airport. And because almost all of the LAX therapy dogs were adopted from shelters, they also spread awareness about animal rescue. A passenger will say something like “What a great dog!” and when they learn the handler rescued the pooch from a shelter, they’ll respond, “My next dog, I’m going to do that!”

“That makes me very happy,” Huebner says.

Airport Therapy Dog VegasShe’s also happy when representatives from other airports call and ask her how to implement a therapy dog program. She started the PUP program after visiting California’s San Jose airport, which started a program after 9/11. Huebner thought, “We need a program like this.” It was an immediate success at LAX, so she gave a presentation about the PUP program in October 2013 at a conference for the American Association of Airport Executives. She started getting calls every month from other airports for advice on how to start their own programs, and now 27 airports have created therapy dog programs, including San Francisco, San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (she said Phoenix and Denver might start programs in 2015 – fingers crossed!).

“I hope more airports continue to jump onboard,” Huebner says. “I’m always reachable if anybody has any questions or needs help to do that.”

Huebner said airport representatives are welcome to call her with any questions at 424-646-8471, or email hhuebner@lawa.org. You can also find more information onwww.lawa.org.

Jen Reeder hugging RioJen Reeder is a proud member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association. Her rescued Lab mix, Rio, is a certified therapy dog who visits hospital patients.

<![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.