What NOT to Feed Your Dog

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm going to be test driving some new dog treat recipes soon and thought I'd share some of them here but before I get into the GOOD THINGS I thought I should talk about the BAD THINGS first.

"When In Doubt, Don't" is a good rule to follow before offering your dog an unfamiliar people food. I found this list some time ago at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center site and I've included this information in the brochure I hand out with my dog treats. I frequently hear customers express surprise at the some of the foods on the list.  I was surprised at a couple of them myself. Who knew grapes and macadamia nuts were on the bad list? I didn't. I looked at countless lists when I was searching for this information but especially liked this one because it tells you why the specific foods are harmful.

Some of these are no brainers but take a look to see if there's anything here that you aren't aware of.

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ~ can cause intoxication, coma and death.

AVOCADO ~ has high fat content can lead to Pancreatitis.

CHOCOLATE ~ ALL FORMS contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline which can be toxic to the heart and nervous system. I've read some articles that say white chocolate is ok I'd rather use yogurt chips for icings.

COFFEE ~ ALL FORMS can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.

FATTY FOODS ~ cause Pancreatitis- includes fat from steak, roast, chicken skin, etc.

MACADAMIA NUTS ~ contains toxins which can affect the muscles, digestive & nervous system.

MOLDY / SPOILED FOODS ~ could contain multiple toxins.

ONION / ONION POWDER ~ contains sulfoxides & disulfides which can damage red blood cells causing anemia.

RAISINS / GRAPES ~ contain toxins which can damage kidneys, cause kidney failure and lead to death.

YEAST DOUGH ~ unbaked dough can expand in the digestive system causing bloat leading to death. I once made a frantic call to our local Animal Emergency Hospital when DisGrace snarfled a small amount of unbaked dog treat dough I was working on when I left the kitchen for a moment. Fortunately, she didn't get enough to make her sick but it could have been a disaster had she eaten more. If you're unfamiliar with Canine Bloat please learn more about it. Bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" ("GDV")  is second only to cancer as the leading killer of dogs. Bloat can kill in less than an hour so recognizing it and having an emergency plan can save your dog's life.

GARLIC ~ similar to onions except garlic is considered to be less toxic and safe for dogs when used in moderation. Often used to flavor food or treats but best used sparingly. FYI: I use 1/4 t. granulated garlic in my Chicken Treat recipe which yields 100 small treats so I'm comfortable that the actual garlic amount per treat is miniscule... just enough to add some taste.

PRODUCTS WITH XYLITOL ~ this commonly used artificial sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures.

BABY FOOD ~ can contain onion powder, refer to onion info above... this one also surprised me. Onion powder in baby food? Why?

CHICKEN OR FISH BONES ~ can splinter, causing lacerations and serious obstructions. My Vet told us to never give a dog any kind of bone that has been cooked because of the risk of splintering. He explained further that beef cattle are bred for maximim meat and the bones are soft. Makes sense to me.

CHERRY, PEACH, PLUM, APRICOT PITS / APPLE & PEAR SEEDS ~ contain cyanogenic glycosides which can result in cyanide poisoning. Avoid all pits & seeds unless you know them to be safe. I avoid them all...period.

GREEN POTATO SKINS ~ contains a toxin, solanine, which is only found in green tubers and green potato skins. Cooked potatoes are safe and nutritious for dogs.

MILK / DAIRY PRODUCTS ~ like some people, some dogs can be lactose intolerant.

MUSHROOMS ~ depending on the particular mushroom, toxic effects can include damage to the heart, liver or kidneys causing death.

TURKEY SKIN ~ the high fat content can cause Pancreatitis. (this one surprised me- probably just because I love it)

RAW SALMON ~ if you feed your dog a raw diet, avoid raw salmon, which can contain a parasite which causes an illness (SPD - read more here) which has a 90% mortality rate.

RAW EGGS ~ best to avoid since raw egg whites can cause a depletion of biotin and raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella.

SALT ~ Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

SUGAR ~ bad for teeth and could contribute to the onset of diabetes.

TOMATOES/TOMATO PLANTS ~ contain toxins known to cause dilated pupils, tremors, irregular heartbeat. Tomato plants are the most toxic, followed by unripe and ripe tomatoes.

WALNUTS / MOST NUTS ~ Walnuts are poisonous to dogs. Many nuts are not good for dogs in general; the high phosphorus content is said to possibly cause kidney stones. NOTE: Remember peanuts are legumes, not nuts. I use a good quality natural peanut butter for my Peanut Buddier treats.

I've shared this list you to make you aware that some "people foods" are not good for dogs and can cause serious illness or even death. I'm not a canine nutritionist or an expert by any means. I am simply sharing the guideline I adhere to with my own dog and in the preparation of my dog treats. Self- education, common sense and good judgement are our responsibilities as pet owners.  A visit to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center site is a good place to start. It's just not foods that can be toxic. Household products, insecticides, antifreeze, plants and medications contributed to the more than 140,000 cases of toxic substance exposure the APC Center handled last year.

When in doubt, CALL YOUR LOCAL VET IMMEDIATELY or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24 Hour Emergency Hotline 888-426-4435.
This is a toll free call but according to their site a $65 fee MAY be charged.


525,600 Minutes

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The devastation in Haiti has left us all stunned and in shock but no one more so than the Hightower family here in Washington state. Their beloved 22 year old daughter Molly didn't survive it. She was spending a year - or 525,600 minutes - in Haiti working with abandoned and special needs children for “Friends of the Orphans.” I didn't know Molly but reading and hearing about this incredible young woman and her dreams has been both inspirational and heartbreaking. She seems like the cute kid next door and I don't think she was a little saint-in-the-making but her story has hit a chord with me that keeps reverberating.

The name of Molly's blog is 525,600 Minutes, inspired by the lyrics of Seasons Of Love from the Broadway show Rent and it recounts her time in Haiti from her arrival in June 2009 ending with her last post on December 30th. In the final post on January 15th her family confirmed, after 3 agonizing days of waiting, they had learned that Molly had not survived the earthquake. Molly posted less than two dozen times so I thought I'd sit down a while and skim through her blog in an hour. Didn't happen. I got sucked in and found myself re-reading each post before going to the next. Her daily experiences are too much for me to imagine... the endless, grinding poverty, the hopeless, helpess children...the pictures of those little dark faces that were in her life one day and gone the next are gut-wrenching.  As her family said in their post "...hope that you will learn from Molly's writings what drove her to leave a life full of family, friends, hot water, clean water, plentiful food and peppermint frappuccinos, to a life of cold showers, bug bites, rice and beans everyday, and hot muggy days. Its very simple, THE CHILDREN."

What has insprired me most in young Molly's story is her not only her obvious dedication to help those children that drove her to leave family, friends & frappucinos. It's her mindset as to how she decided she could achieve her goal... one minute at time. 525,600 minutes... one year. I can't imagine that she thought she could change the lives of every abandoned child in Haiti but she could try to make things a little better...one minute at a time... and commit to the challenge to make those minutes turn into days and weeks. I admire and envy the self-discipline it takes to make that kind of committment.

Molly's dream was one of determination- that when faced with what seems an insurmountable challenge,  to break it down and take it one step- one minute at a time. You can make a difference.

My condolences to the Hightower family at the loss of their beloved Molly. Read more about her family's tribute to her and their plans to carry on her dream of helping the special needs orphans and people of Haiti.

Winter Gastronomy Swap

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One of the cleverest bloggers I know, Jen, aka The Gregarious Homebody just arranged a foodie swap and it was really fun because it was simple & easy, with a hint of anticipation & surprise -all very good things. Jen set up the partners and the object was to spend no more than $25 and put together a package for your (complete stranger) partner following the "Winter Gastronomy" theme.

 My partner was little Ms. Jenni, my polar opposite. She's a young wife living back East, about to become a first-time mother. While I was two of those things in 1965, I'm now an old NW grandma/widow with one foot you know where (and the other one frequently in my mouth) so I wondered what common ground we might have, food wise. After seeing her Facebook photos,I must say I had momentary visions of getting some much dreaded healthy stuff, given her age and physical condition. She's lovely, thin and just glows with good health. (me too--in 1965) but I was game to try anything she sent. I'm sure she thought this old lady from the Pacific NW would be sending her ten pounds of dog treats & coffee flavored Mylanta. No need to for either of us to worry.

She sent Choc-o-late... major choc-o-late...Hot chocolate- on a stick. Chocolate covered cheesecake... on a stick. Is there anything better than portable chocolate? (only IV chocolate, Im thinking.) Day-yum, girl, you might be the daughter I never had.

The four bags are all chocolate! Two bags of chocolate covered cheesecake lollipops and two bags of hot chocolate on a stick (stir into hot milk).

She sent two bags of seasoned pretzels that I had to hide from the guys after they tasted them. She shared the recipe with me too so I'll be able to make & enjoy them any time I want to.

The colorful bags are produce bags. One is shaped unevenly because it's homemade from a round vintage table cloth. How clever is that? She found it at her localFarmer's Market.You KNOW how much I love Farmer's Markets. She also sent two of those super little crocheted dish cloths that are so impossible to find. All in all, Jenni's package was a real delight. Thanks Jenni and I'm looking forward to seeing more of your clever work on FB especially that darling baby girl's room you're creating.

My package for Jenni was a TASTE OF WASHINGTON STATE

At one point in my career at SeaBear, several years ago, I was a buyer for their NW gift catalog. What fun that was! SeaBear owns all the Made In Washington stores, which feature gifts from local artists, craftspeople and companies. Some things never change. WA still abounds with talented, creative folks who share their love of food and the NW. Our local Seabear store carries a bit of everything so I was able to pop in and pick up a few things I thought Jenni might enjoy.

Good coffee collection and a Washington apple mug.

We aren't all Starbucks freaks up here, you know.

The Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Pass makes the most fantastic pancake mix. I'll bet there's a package in every home pantry in the state.

SeaBear makes their Salmon Chowder in a retort package making it totally shelf stable. No refrigeration. Retort is like canning only much, much kinder to the product inside. Yummy!

Maurer's Essence of the Northwest Seasoning  is another pantry staple here & no salt is an added bonus.

and since I wanted to send something from my kitchen I included a vaccuum sealed  kit for Just Another Rainy Day Soup with the seasonings and finally for Whitney, Jenni's BFFF, a package of my Peanut Buddier dog treats.

I hope Jenni enjoyed everything. I'll be fighting the rainy day blues with all the chocolate she sent. Thanks, Jenni and thanks Jen for putting the Winter Gastronomy Swap together.

Better than nothing I guess but...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

..this is still a mess..... no options to customize and lost all blogs & widgets.... gonna be a while before I get it all put back together...

MAJOR Malfunction

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The site where the cool blue jeans background was linked to, has vanished , leaving me with a an ugly white so I'll be busy for a while looking for a suitable background. It took me forever to find the the blue jeans so this may be a long, dark trip. I have to find a background compatible with the last six months' posts. oh yeah, 2010 is going to be SO much better. @#$%^&*!