Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It's That Time of the Year Again: Annual Wellness Exam

We take our guys at least for one wellness exam a year; usually two. 

There is no particular rule when during the year this should be done but we typically choose Fall and Spring for the following reasons:
  • there is no risk of it being too hot or the weather being to dangerous for the trips
  • the allergens load is lower though for that, Winter would be ideal
  • some of the tests make most sense being done in the Spring, such as heartworm testing or tick-borne diseases testing

This is how it's been working for us. Come Fall, we make our wellness exam appointment.

We didn't take any photos at the vet. The exam room is quite small so imagine two of us, the two guys,
a vet and a vet tech ... and somebody trying to take pictures? Not happening.

Normally, we get the physical exam, urinalysis, fecal analysis, and complete blood panel. This time, all we ended up with was a physical exam and we'll have to do the labs some time in the near future. Things weren't working out right for doing the labs:
  • we could only get an appointment with OUR vet at the end of the day, which means in order to have fresh urine it couldn't be first morning sample and there was no way we could have fasted blood that late in the day with our guys
  • both pups decided to go poop in a thick bush where we just could not find it

Best laid plans, right?

So some time soon we'll take the guys in early in the morning to get all these things; a vet technician can draw the blood. Just as well, because we want to include the new kidney function test (SDMA) and apparently there might be certain things that need to be done to provide the blood for this the way the lab wants it and since it will be the hospital's first time getting this test, they have to find out what the requirements are.

Testing non-fasted blood can skew the results and show things that don't reflect actual workings of the body which is what is the purpose of checking the blood in the first place.

Before the trip I made a list of all concerns and questions I had for the vet.

I find that making a list and checking it twice comes in quite handy. That way you can go over all of it with your vet and not forget anything.

We only had a few minor concerns (of course, if they were major concerns we wouldn't have waited for the wellness exam), and a list of bumps we found on JD.

One of the bumps is a skin tag, which we just wanted to confirm that's what it was.

The other two bumps were more of a concern.

They aren't very large and not angry at all; just bumps under the skin. However, they'd been there for couple of months now (at least that's when we first found them) and not going away. One on the back of his thigh and one on the "shin" of the hind left leg. It's not attached to the bone, otherwise we'd gone in right away too.

The vet examined the bumps and marked them on chart so we start a map of where, when and which bumps were found and what their size was.

Interesting thing is that both bumps felt the same to me but to the vet one felt soft and one hard. (Well, I'm not one to squeeze things very hard.)

While they appeared the same to me, they are not the same at all.

I was hoping for fatty tumors (lipomas). The vet felt that the on on the thigh likely is indeed a lipoma but the one on the shin is not.

Because one of the bumps is larger than a pea (the other one is a bit smaller, more like a smartie) and they have been there for long enough, we had them both aspirated.

Why wait?! Aspirate. Check out my blog for a preview of my cancer awareness program with VCA Animal Hospitals.
Posted by See Something Do Something Cancer on Sunday, June 15, 2014

I got to take a look at the slides.

The cells taken from the bump on the thigh looked very shiny, oil like. That's what the vet would expect cells taken from a lipoma to look like. Which surprised me because I always thought it would be more like lard type of thing. Funny how we picture things.

The smear from the other lump looked matte. The vet feels the other bump is a cyst because when probed it oozed liquid. I'm down with a cyst.

The skin tag is a skin tag. We didn't aspirate that one.

While we're still waiting for the lab results, I'm hopeful that one of them is indeed a lipoma and the other a cyst.

Both guys are at ideal body score condition 3/5.

That is what we strive for, even though I was under the impression that we kept JD below that because of his hips. Hubby, on the other hand, was worried that JD is too skinny.

Either way, JD is doing quite well, though he did respond to palpation over TCVM pressure points for hip pain. We are considering adding some turmeric to his supplements.

His muscles are good, except some slight muscle wasting over his glutes, from the way he compensates for the hips. We discussed exercises for him to strenghten them up some.

Other than that, everything is looking good, blood, urine and fecal testing pending.

From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Adoption Monday: Clarke, Hound & Pit Bull Terrier Mix, Armonk, NY

Clarke is one of the handsomest dogs ever and he has been in the shelter for a long time with zero interest for no good reason.

Clarke dog selective,but appropriate around all dogs ..He simply pays them no mind at all...he's smart and knows several commands, like sit and paw, and down...

Clarke would be a fairly low maintenance dog...he rarely barks, he has no food or toy aggression ... and he is easy to walk..He takes a few minutes to warm up to you, but once he does, he's happy to sit right by your side and snuggle.

Clarke is neutered and current on vaccinations.


Adopt-a-dog's mission is to save, socialize and secure loving homes for unwanted or abandoned dogs and cats. The dogs and cats at Adopt-a-dog receive the highest level of care as they await their forever home.

Adopt-a-dog is a recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission has been to Save, Socialize and Secure Loving Homes for Unwanted or Abandoned Dogs and Cats. We have been serving the tri-state area and beyond for over three decades. Our shelter is open seven days a week. Our dedicated staff and volunteers strive to provide the best care possible while the animals are at our shelter awaiting safe and permanent homes.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dogs Are Always Testing the Waters

Dogs are always testing the waters, trying to find new ways of getting what they want. If we're not on our toes, they always manage to teach us some new tricks. It's quite endearing, really.

Begging at the table

Dogs will beg at the table as long as it works, at least sometimes. If it NEVER works, they will stop trying, even though every now and then they might test whether the rules still apply.

They will stop trying unless something changes.

If one thing changed, maybe other things changed too, right? Gotta try and find out!

Last week, hubby was down South doing some courses and staying with his brother who has two German Shepherd dogs. There are stringent rules about begging at the table at their house. No begging at the table, no giving any food to the dogs at the table ever.

The dogs know the rules and don't bother trying.

But something had changed.

There was a new person at the table. "Maybe this person doesn't know the rules and might give us something," figured the dogs. They'd be fools if they didn't try. So they kept trying for all they were worth.

Hubby's brother was starting to get upset, trying to discipline the dogs.
"Just let them be," hubby said, "they'll figure it out eventually."

To the dogs' disappointment, the new person at the table didn't have any manners and didn't share any of their food.

So eventually they stopped trying. Took a while because there was steak for dinner and that is certainly worth the extra effort.

Because at our house the dogs always get something off the plate at the end of the meal, hubby asked if he could share a bit of his meat with them when the dinner was over. He could, as long as it wasn't at the table. So they all went outside and the dogs each got a bit of steak with a side of hubby's fingers from all the excitement.

At home we don't have to go to such lengths; at the end of the meal we share some at the table. Our guys know they have to wait for us to be done first and then they get something. They know there is no point of trying to get anything earlier. So they wait patiently. The fact that what we share at the table isn't at all detrimental to their patience.

Can't blame a dog for trying.

There is no need to get bent out of shape when dogs are trying to test the rules, whether it is because enough time has passed or because some other change provided a good reason.

I think it's awesome that they do that.

All one needs to do is to make sure their attempts are not fruitful. That's all it takes. No discipline, no scolding is necessary. If their attempts don't bare fruit, they will go on thinking up a different plan.

Somebody is always training somebody. Might as well be you.

And remember, most of the time the proper response is no response at all.

That's really what it's all about. Not trying to control the actions by all means but controlling the outcome. If you want a particular behavior, you make sure it results in something the dog wants. If you don't want a particular behavior, you make sure it doesn't result it what the dog wants.

It's all about feedback.

With proper feedback, dogs figure things out quickly.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?  
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone? 
Dog Training And Emotions 
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either 
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear 
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy? 
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT) 
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two  
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See" 
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers  
Distance Is a Relative Concept  
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You
The Benefit of the Doubt 
Putting The Guilty Dog Look To Rest?
The Stench of Fear: Is There Good and Bad Timing for Vet Visits? 
I am a Helicopter Dog Mom
Routines: Easy Come, Hard to Go
Mosquito Apocalypse 
Things Always Change: Cookie's Hunting Adventures 
The Advantage of Your Dog Not Barking All the Time: Cookie Saves Horses' Asses
"Look at That" (LAT) Game and Barking at Traffic  
The Role of Thresholds in Dog Training and Behavior
Dog Days of Summer: Keeping an Eye on Cookie 
Dog Days of Summer: Cookie Gets Her SprinklerThe Evolution of My View on What Is and Isn't Dirty
Not F***ing Cheerios, That's for Sure
Hi, My Name Is "No", What's Yours?
Dogs, Porcupines, Wasps and Learning
Mouse Hunting, Leash Pulling, Begging at the Table and Intermittent Reinforcement 
Self-Entertaining Dog? Dogs Need Interaction  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Puppy Proofing a House, Things Animals Eat, and more ...

How to puppy proof your house
Dr. Justine Lee/LinkedIn

There is nothing as adorable as a puppy. There is nothing as naturally curious as a puppy. But curiosity could kill a pup. A typical household can be full of dangers, starting from electrical cords and ending with human medications, cleaning products and toxic food stuffs.

It's important to take the time, put on a detective hat and sweep your house for hidden dangers. Keep your pup away from dangerous things or keep dangerous things away from your pup.

Animals Eat the Craziest Things!
Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

Puppies are not the only offenders when it comes to eating things there were not meant to be eaten. Every year Veterinary Practice News (VPN) holds a contest where veterinarians send in the most eye-popping x-rays of what their patients have eaten. Some of those things really are crazy.

This years content winner was a Doberman Pinscher who ate 26 golf balls! But I've seen x-rays of dogs having eaten serrated knives and other really wild stuff.

This is what swollen 26 golf balls look like on x-ray. Image Veterinary Practice News

I'm so thankful that the worst thing any of our guys ever ate was an accidentally eaten sock, which came out on its own.

The simple rule of thumb is: if they can't get into it, they won't eat it.

Spondylosis Deformans vs Discospondylitis
Dr. Daniel Beatty/Dog Kinetics

These two diagnoses can be easily confused one for another but they are different. One is a painful condition which can cause neurological issues, while the other is painless and conventional veterinarians consider it incidental finding which doesn't require any treatment. Can you guess which one is which? Watch Dr. Beatty's video and find out.

Urinary Bladder Cancer in Dogs
Dr. Christopher G. Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Urinary bladder cancer is relatively uncommon but can have significant impact on quality of life.

The definitive cause  is typically not known, and is generally considered to arise from a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Scottish Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Beagles, West Highland White Terriers and Wire Hair Fox Terriers are particularly predisposed breeds.

Exposure to pesticides and insecticides were documented to be strong environmental risk factors.

Symptoms resemble those of urinary tract infections (UTI). Frequent urination of small volume of urine, blood in urine, painful urination and straining to urinate ...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Pet PT Pit Stop: Blame it on the Weather, Really!

by Susan E. Davis, PT “pull in for a helpful refuel!”  

It’s all about guiding and empowering you to help your dog avoid injury, provide practical solutions and achieve rapid restoration of health and function!   

“The dog ate my homework” may not work as a viable excuse with teachers, but “this weather is killing me” definitely resounds with physical therapists!

Yes, weather affects arthritis and other inflammatory conditions in human beings as well as animals!

I’m not a meteorologist, but having spent summers on a farm as a kid, I understand a bit about ‘dew points’ (temperature at which the sir cools for saturation to occur), and humidity (the amount of water in the air compared to how much it can hold). As a sailor, I am always aware of wind direction and current speed. But the most significant weather factor by far for a physical therapist treating patients having inflammatory conditions is the atmospheric pressure of surface air: barometric pressure.
Remember when your grandmother claimed she could predict when rain was coming? She was pretty wise, after all!

Folks and pets having inflammatory conditions affecting the joints and soft tissues can feel symptoms when the barometric pressure drops, before the actual precipitation occurs. 

When the barometer falls, water molecules in the air spread out and start to rise, escaping the earth’s surface.  Low pressure causes their expansion; they become heavier which eventually causes precipitation to fall. The time between this rise and fall is precisely when patients feel their symptoms increase due to tissue swelling and tell you “wet weather is ahead”.  Of course, your dog can’t tell you this verbally, so you must be on the lookout for subtle signs of pain or discomfort and take proactive steps to help when the barometer starts to fall!

In contrast, when the barometric pressure is high on fair weather days, molecules in the air compress and actually (unperceptively) push against our bodies, providing a natural, external support for swollen joints and tissues. We know from studies on bone loss with osteoporosis, that external stimulation via gravity, weight bearing and resistance training helps bone growth.  Pressure is good for bones and joints.

What’s a dawg mamma or daddy to do when their pets are hurting due to changes in the weather? 

Here are my top 10 tips:

Know which conditions in your dog are considered to be inflammatory and which are not. 
For example, those ending with ‘itis”, such as arthritis, spondylitis, are. Degenerative Myelopathy is not. Your veterinary professional can help you differentiate.

Watch the weather, stay alert to changes in barometric pressure. 
Know that within an hour or 2 of a large drop, pain symptoms will occur.

If you can start making preparations (per the following list) ahead of the rain or other precipitation, your dog will benefit greatly.

Not meaning total crate rest, but a reduction or modification in function. For your dog this may mean shorter, slower leash walks for a few days. For another, it may mean restricting their space to move about in the home, blocking stairways and reducing activity sufficient to cover the time of acute inflammation until the weather changes to dryer condition.

Ice or cold compresses.
When in doubt, use cold rather than heat, for inflamed joints.

Think about what feels good when a joint is swollen and painful:  usually some type of wrap or corset to provide compression and support. If your dog uses a brace or external support to provide relief, now is the time to put it on your pup.

Let gravity help to drain swelling and inflammation away from the farthest part of the dog’s limbs and toward the heart, to eliminate it naturally from the body. Use a pillow, rolled towel or folded blanket under the limb to for support while the dog rests.

If the dog is on their side, place support between their thighs.

Anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your vet such as Rimadyl, Carprofen, Deramaxx, Adequan injections and others should be continued during these weather changes.

If the medications are on an ‘as needed’ basis, start them at the first sign of barometric pressure drop, before your dog starts to show outward symptoms.

Joint protectants like Dasuquin, Cosequin and others should be continued daily and considered as maintenance supplements, regardless of the weather!

Physical Therapy.
Modalities which help to reduce inflammation include: Cold Laser, Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy, pulsed Ultrasound, and effleurage Massage.

Simple Exercises.
Exercises can be done during this time to help decrease pain, such as Range of Motion for the affected joints and active open chain movements (using a toy or other prompt to encourage the dog to lift a limb, turn their head, etc.)

Avoid resistance and weight bearing, functional exercises.


Susan E. Davis (Sue) is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 30 years of practice in the human field, who transitioned into the animal world after taking courses at the UT Canine Rehabilitation program.  She is located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

She has been providing PT services to dogs and other animals through her entity Joycare Onsite, LLC in pet’s homes and in vet clinics since 2008.

She also provides pro bono services at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, NJ.  Sue is the proud “dog mommy” to Penelope, a miniature Dachshund with “attitude”.  For more information see her website www.joycareonsite.com , or follow on Twitter @animalPTsue.

Sue is also the author of a fantastic book on physical therapy, Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation For Animals: A Guide For The Consumer.  

Physical therapy can do so many great things for your dog. Understanding all the possibilities physical therapy can offer will change your dog's life. This book definitely belongs on the shelf of every dog lover.

Articles by Susan E. Davis:
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
Paring Down to the Canine Core
Canine Massage: Every Dog ‘Kneads’ It”
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog?  
Physical Therapy in the Veterinary World  
Reiki: Is it real? 
Dog Lessons: Cooper  
The Essentials Of Canine Injury Prevention: 7 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safer 
It's Not Just Walking, It's Therapy! 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I)
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
Range Of Motion: It’s A Matter Of Degree…
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs 
By Land or By Sea? A Comparison of Canine Treadmills 
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part I)
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part II) 
Scar Tissue: Is it Too Much of a Good Thing? 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ramps! 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Indoor Duo Dog Exercises!
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ideas to Chew on - Can Physical Therapy Help with my Dog’s Digestive Problems?
Wrap It Up: Using Soft Supports For Your Dog
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part I) 
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part II) 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Safe Summer Boating Tips for your Dog 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Hip Dysplasia - What’s a Dawg Mama to Do?
PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part I)
PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part II)
Staying in the Loop with Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
Addressing Frailty Syndrome in Geriatric Dogs 
The Pet PT Pit Stop: "Where's The Evidence?"
Physical Therapy is Great, Except When It Isn’t 
Top Dogs and their Toplines at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Part I)
Top Dogs and their Toplines at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Part II) 
What's in a Dog's Gait? 
A Practical Method to manage your Dog’s Care Plan 
Wound Care 101 (Part I The Basics) 
Wound Care 101 (Part II Wound Management)
Prevention and Management of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies: Attention all Breeders!
Support and Braces
Vaccinosis - A Vexing Conundrum 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cookie Tests Nature's Variety #InstinctRaw Bites: #Sponsored Review

This post is sponsored by Instinct® and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Instinct Raw but Dawg Business only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Instinct is not responsible for the content of this article.


Would you believe it? We got to shop for dog food at PetSmart! We have never, not once, bought food for our dogs at PetSmart before. We sometimes shopped there for collars, harnesses, leashes or toys but never for food. The reason was simple—they didn't carry any we'd be interested in buying.

I was quite surprised and excited when I found out that PetSmart now carries Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw dog food.

More and more people strive to feed their dogs a better, more natural diet and, as a result, it is becoming more available. Today, there are many choices for anybody who wants to try raw. And now, PetSmart is one of the places where you can get it. Even our rural local store had some.


What criteria do I use when choosing food for our dogs?

I appreciate the sentiment that nutrients matter but I disagree that ingredients don't.

Ingredients do matter. 

For a minute I don't believe that a diet consisting of identical nutrients derived from corn, soy, vitamin supplement mix, and who knows what else is just as good as a diet made of real meat, organs, bones and veggies. If our dogs really had a choice, what do you think they'd choose? I know what our dogs choose. "We want real food, momma. We won't food we can't recognize."

What I want for my dogs is food made of ingredients as close as possible to what would make up their diet in the wild. Because that's what they have evolved to live on.

Here is the thing about food and evolution. For a body that evolved to live on certain foods, those foods contain exactly what the body needs, in the form and proportions it needs them in. It's a match made by evolution. There is no substitute for that. And you know what? Species appropriate ingredients naturally contain the nutrients dogs need.

Processing matters.

Yes, cooking, even freezing food technically qualifies as processing. Anything one does to food qualifies as processing. Some processing will always be necessary. The key is to do as little to the ingredients as possible.

What I want for my dogs is food that still retains its integrity. Whole foods with all their nutrients and non-nutrients. There is much more to food that the few nutrients we decided to count.

For a long time I was hesitant about raw diet.

While deep inside I understood the benefits, being bombarded from all sides about the horrible risks kept me from trying it. So Jasmine and Cookie were both on home-cooked diets. This was as close to what I considered ideal as I dared to get.

Then we moved up North and Cookie got her own ideas.

She would catch and eat small critters. She was transitioning herself to raw diet. Who was I to argue? I figured I ought to take a hint. Gingerly, I got a couple of pre-made raw foods and tried them out. "Ah, now we're talking," said Cookie.

Cookie has been on raw for about a year now and she's thriving on it. She enjoys her meals, her coat is lush and shiny and her teeth, which we had a hard time keeping under control in spite of daily brushing are looking so much better.

How does Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw measure up to what I consider ideal diet for my dog?

For our review we got the try Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Bites for dogs. Of course, before I'd even consider trying it I headed over to their website to see what's in it. What I found made me very happy.

The foods contain 95% meat, organs and bone, and 5% vegetables, fruits and a few other goodies such as flaxseed, montmorillonite clay, kelp, cod liver oil, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, and chicory root. The diets are all complete and balanced and designed to reflect dogs' ancestral diet. Which, of course, also means grain free. Food dogs were intended to eat. High protein, healthy amount of fats and very little carbs.

So what did Cookie think of it?

"Yeah, momma, this is good stuff." Overall, the food isn't all that different from some others we used in the past year. That's a good thing, because I've been very selective about my choices.

In some ways it is different, particularly in terms of its appeal to Cookie.

However awesome they'd look on paper, Cookie turned her nose up on some of them. The culprit being, for example, very strong apple smell. I like having apples as an ingredient, but, apparently, it can be too much. When the food smells more like apples than meat, Cookie will not eat it without having it embellished.

She will eat Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Bites just as they come out of the bag.

That is quite a compliment. She got to try beef and turkey. Unfortunately, other than chicken, those were the only choices available at our local rural PetSmart.

Meanwhile, there are many more available. Beef, turkey, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit and tuna. They do have all of these at the store where we normally shop. Which is good because I like offering variety.

Cookie's favorite is rabbit which is good because it's cooling as well and Cookie tends to run a bit hot.

We normally use patties but we liked the bites.

Cookie seems to enjoy the little bites as opposed to patties. Perhaps she finds them more fun, perhaps they are easier to eat. They are certainly easier to portion out because with patties you can really either use whole or a half and if you want something in between than you have such a ridiculous amount left you might just as well feed a whole or a half. For the sake of keeping the calories on the lower side, I just use half and add something to it.

The little bites are also quite handy if you want to introduce a little bit of raw as a food topper.

The bites also thaw out faster than patties. I prefer thawing out raw food in the fridge and some of the patties are still half frozen 18 hours later.

Here is the main verdict: will I continue feeding Cookie Instinct® Raw?

Yes. She likes it and I like what's in it. It will not be the only food she gets (I never feed just one type of food) but I will be including Instinct® Raw in the range of products we use.


To find out more information about Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw check out their website at www.instinctpetfood.com or connect with them on Facebook.
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