1413883310 <![CDATA[Blog]]> en pmiller@zukes.com Copyright 2014 2014-10-20T21:14:00+00:00 <![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.

<![CDATA[Supplements: A Sea of Choices]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/supplements-a-sea-of-choices http://www.zukes.com/site/supplements-a-sea-of-choices#When:19:13:00Z A common question I get as a veterinarian is regarding supplements and their benefits. With a steadily increasing variety of choices on the shelves of pet stores and even our local mega-marts, I find that people want to know if any of these supplements are worthwhile for their pets. Let’s address some of the more commonly found products and their potential benefits.

Happy Joints, Happy Dog: Glucosamine

Research has shown that one of the best things you can add to your dog’s diet when they start getting older is glucosamine. This is not a new recommendation by any means, but recent studies continue to show the benefits of long-term glucosamine supplementation. Products containing glucosamine have been shown to protect cartilage from wear-and-tear, decrease damaging enzymes in joints, provide cartilage “building blocks” for repair, and increase joint fluid production. What’s more is that giving glucosamine daily can reduce the amount of prescription pain medication that a dog may need to help with arthritis pain. Many foods designed for senior dogs have some added glucosamine, but I find that most of these do not have enough to be considered therapeutic. A supplement or treat with glucosamine in combination with one of these diets can be a great way to help your dog stay active in their senior years. Ask your veterinarian how much glucosamine is right for your dog.

Other supplements in the joint-friendly family include chondroitin, MSM, ASU (modified avocado/soy extracts) and hyaluronic acid. I am a fan of all four! Hyaluronic acid is available in oral products but has better long-term effectiveness when given by injection under the treatment of a veterinarian.

Fish Omega 3Here Fishy Fishy! Fish Oils And Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids, often noted on the label as EPA or DHA, are long chain fatty acids that reduce inflammation in the body when in higher amounts than omega 6 fatty acids in the body. This translates to reduced pain from arthritis and reduced itchiness from allergic skin conditions. In people, they can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, and certain cardiac arrhythmias as well. When looking for a good source of these beneficial fatty acids, I recommend sticking with a fish or krill-based source.

Healthy Guts: Prebiotics and Probiotics

A popular new addition to the supplement market is prebiotics (fiber) and probiotics (beneficial bacteria). These can be very helpful for the maintenance of a healthy digestive system and also for treatment of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal parasites, post-antibiotic diarrhea, and certain digestive disorders. Probiotic lactobacillus and acidophilus are most commonly found for human use and can be quite helpful in pets, but I recommend the ones designed specifically for domestic animals. Fortiflora or Probiocin are two brands that I like the best. As far as the prebiotic side of the equation, adding psyllium or flax seed hulls to a pet’s diet can help with both chronic diarrhea and even anal gland problems.


Milk ThistleWe “Zuke’s Dog Community” blog writers have frequently touted the benefits of antioxidants in our active canine companions. I cannot understate the potential help that this family of supplements can provide. CoQ10 (ubiquinol) is a potent antioxidant for the heart, kidneys, and liver. Milk thistle (silybum marianum)/ SAMe has tremendous benefits for slowing the progression of many types of liver disease. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-ulcer when given in proper amounts. These are only a few of the thousands on the market! This is a very broad family of supplementation—it would likely take several posts to cover them all—but I do recommend specific antioxidants to my patients depending on their health status and needs.

A Word on Supplement Safety

Most supplements fall under the umbrella of “nutraceuticals.” The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate these products. This means that the quality, purity, and dosages of these substances vary greatly from brand to brand. For example, cheaper fish oils may contain contaminants such as lead or mercury. Some milk thistle supplements are often made from crushed dried herb and have unpredictable concentrations of the active ingredient. Online organizations such as www.consumerlab.org conduct independent testing on nutraceuticals and can help guide a consumer to more reputable brands of supplements.

Please keep in mind that as a rule, if some is good, more is not necessarily better! Two good examples are zinc and calcium. Zinc can be great for the skin and certain hair coat conditions in dogs. Excessive zinc can cause breakdown of red blood cells in dogs and risk severe anemia. Calcium is essential for normal muscle function and bone health but too much in a growing large puppy can cause permanent changes that can make them more prone to arthritis later in life.

Supplements can often be an important part of a healthy lifestyle for pets and their people. I strongly encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about which ones and what dosages will be the best and safest for your furry family members!

Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.

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[Swim Season - Treating Canine Ear Infections Naturally]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/swim-season-treating-ear-infections-naturally http://www.zukes.com/site/swim-season-treating-ear-infections-naturally#When:00:32:00Z Swim season!
Now that it’s warm outside, getting in the water to swim, or just cool down, is part of many dogs’ daily get-out-and-go activities.

That mean’s getting soaked when my pup shakes dry right next to me, and it means muddy footprints in the car when I forget the towel, and it sometimes means.....ear infections! But all of this is worth it for the joy of your pup playing in the water; especially since ear infections can be relatively easy to deal with if you catch them right away. You know the signs...your dog starts scratching at her ears, then that distinctive odor becomes apparent if you haven’t caught it early. Ear infections seem to be more of a problem in those floppy eared hounds like my late lab Zoe than in the pointy-eared variety like Milo, my Chihuahua/Terrier.

There are many handy commercial products for getting rid of canine ear infections, but did you know that you can make your own remedies with a common plant and what’s likely in your kitchen?

MulleinMullein flower oil
Mullein flowers show up in the summer on distinctively tall flower spike above a fuzzy rosette of grayish green leaves. Mullein is commonly found along roads and in other areas where the ground has been disturbed. It’s best to gather the flowers away from the road to avoid the road debris that will have inevitably settled on them. For ear infections, the flowers seem to reduce inflammation, helping with discomfort and speeding recovery time.

To make the oil, let the flowers wilt overnight to reduce water content. (Water = mold when making infused oils.) Then add the flowers to a small, clean jar, filling the jar about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Add olive oil to fill the jar, tap the jar to get rid of any trapped air bubbles and top off with oil. Any flowers sticking out above the surface of the oil may mold. Cap tightly and place the jar on a shelf in the sun for 2 weeks to a month. Strain through a natural cloth when ready. Don’t squeeze the flowers too hard when straining or you may release water into the oil, which will cause it to mold or ferment. Store the oil in a dropper bottle in the fridge. Olive oil will solidify in the fridge, but it melts quickly at room temperature.

Garlic OilGarlic oil
Garlic is one of the strongest herbal antibiotics. It is active against bacteria, as well as fungi and viruses. To make garlic oil the fast way, you can crush a garlic clove put it in a small, clean jar and add 2 tablespoons of warm (not hot) olive oil. Let it sit overnight on the counter with the lid on. Strain the next morning and store the oil in the fridge.

Please remember that dogs should not ingest raw garlic in large amounts – discard the garlic cloves and use the oil only in their ears. But Zuke’s uses garlic powder in some treats you ask. Dogs really like garlic and small amounts of dried garlic powder as a seasoning is perfectly safe – just keep the raw cloves and oils out of reach.

Zoe and MiloAnd, now the ear...
I like to combine one part mullein flower oil with one part garlic oil. This is useful not only for your four legged friends, but can be for people as well. It’s actually easier to work with kids, who you can bribe to sit still...not as easy with a dog! I carefully add about 4 drops to the ear canal with a clean dropper and gently massage the ear, repeating it 3-5 times throughout the day. You should start noticing a difference quickly -- less scratching at the ear -- but keep it up for a good three days. Your pup may smell like garlic, but it’s a small price to pay. If symptoms don’t change or seem to get worse, it’s time to bring your best friend to the vet.

You could also cheat and buy pre-made mullein/garlic ear oil from a reputable herb seller! Either way, it’s good to have either your home made mix or a commercial prep ready to go before your pooch hits the water, so you can get right on it at the first sign of infection.

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. ]]>
<![CDATA[Hot Dogs: Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Dogs]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/hot-dogs-heat-exhaustion-and-heatstroke-in-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/hot-dogs-heat-exhaustion-and-heatstroke-in-dogs#When:17:09:00Z
How hot is too hot?

With the thermostat climbing, a fun day outside can quickly become uncomfortable (and dangerous!) to those wearing fulltime fur coats. It likely seems quite logical, but if you are outside and uncomfortable in the heat, than most likely your dog is too. Always be sure to provide plenty of fresh water and shade. Be sure to be cognizant of acclimation as well. In other words, if you were born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, a 90-degree day may feel quite mild. If you were raised in Barrow, Alaska, then that same 90 degrees may feel like the surface of the sun. The same goes for our pets. If your are travelling this summer with your dog and you are used to living and playing in cooler temperatures, a journey south to a warmer and/or more humid climate may pose more of a risk to your pet.

Which breeds have more problems with heat?

Dogs with short noses like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers more commonly have problems simply due to the shape and size of their airways. A 2006 study on canine heat stroke reported that Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Belgian Malinois have an increased risk as well. Smaller breeds are less commonly affected but this may be due to the fact that they don’t run/bike/swim/exercise with their owners as often or as intensely as their large breed brethren. Remember that dogs can’t sweat the way your or I can, so their body cooling mechanisms are limited to panting and a little through the pads of their feet. This makes them more heat sensitive than us humans.

When should I be concerned about my dog?Titan on the Bridge

The main symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are:

1. Excessive panting
2. Red gums or conjunctiva (the normally light pink part of the eye)
3. Dry mucous membranes (the dog version of “cotton mouth”)
4. Lethargy, sluggishness
5. Gastrointestinal upset (vomiting/diarrhea)
6. Hypersalivation (extra drooling)
7. High heart rate (consistently more than 100 beats per minute when dog is not running around)
8. Staggering, stumbling, loss of balance or coordination, changes in normal personality

What should I do if I see any of these signs?

The best thing to do if you see any of these signs is to seek medical care immediately. The longer that a dog’s core body temperature is over 104 degrees, the more permanent damage can occur. A normal body temperature is less than 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If you cannot make it to a veterinarian right away, try to encourage your dog to drink water, and attempt to cool his/her body temperature by letting him stand in cool water if some is available. Ice packs applied to the armpit and groin areas can help as well, but don’t leave them in place for several minutes at a time. They can actually cause the temperature to swing too far the other direction and cause hypothermia (low body temperature). Rinsing your dog in cool, not cold, water helps to gently reduce body temperature safely. If no water is available, rubbing alcohol applied to the pads of the feet can help lower body temperature too.

What can happen to my dog if he/she gets heatstroke?

Dogs with untreated (or delayed treatment for) heatstroke can cause some very rapid and very serious problems. To name a few, heatstroke causes clotting problems, kidney failure, seizures/brain damage, heart arrhythmias, multiple organ dysfunction, and eventually death. Yes, it’s scary stuff.

Any other summertime cautions?Titan and Jasper
I would like to mention a potential problem with outdoor activities that many overlook. Concrete, asphalt, and sand can heat to easily over 140 degrees in the sun. You may be wearing shoes but your dog is not. I strongly support taking your dog for walks but if it is in the middle of the day in the hot sun and you are stuck on paved surfaces, be aware of the excessive surface temperature. I have treated some pretty nasty burns on dogs that have been walked on hot pavement by well-intentioned folks. “Booties” are available at many pet supply stores that can protect your dog’s feet if needed and no grass or dirt paths are nearby.

Also, UV rays can affect our pets too. If your dog has a lot of white or tan on its coat, he or she can get sunburned, especially in the thin-coated areas around the nose and ears. Ask your veterinarian what kind of sun protection would be appropriate for your pet.

I would never encourage a pet owner to stay inside all summer. We love to get outside and play! But pay attention to the heat index in your area. Excessive temperatures and/or humidity can quickly turn an outdoor adventure into a scary ordeal. Consider playing in the cooler parts of the day, and be sure to provide some shade where your dog can cool off when needed. Now go enjoy the summer!

Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.

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.