When you think of vitamin D, the first thing you consider is the sun. Humans can convert a chemical precursor from sunlight and utilise it as a source to manufacture our own vitamin D. Dogs and cats, on the other hand, can't meet their requirements from sunlight to produce their own.
So where can dogs and cats obtain the correct vitamin D? Good sources come from eggs, pork, wild salmon, sardines and liver ( care needs to be taken when feeding liver as they are abundant in other nutrients and can cause excess problems). While vitamin D can also be found in plant sources in the precursor form D2, cats cannot utilise D2 efficiently. Not enough research has been performed to know if dogs have this ability, so it is preferable that dogs also obtain vitamin D through animals sources ( which contain D3)
But here is the catch, you are what you eat plays a role. Let's take the egg, for example—a 2013 study assigned three groups of chickens to various conditions. One group were kept indoors, one outdoors and one with an indoor/outdoor option over 4wks. It was found that the vitamin D3 content in eggs was three to four times higher in the groups that were exposed to sunlight compared to the indoor group. In contrast, free-range eggs from supermarkets had low vitamin D content. Why is this so? Definition of free-range can be very vague. Free-range means that birds are given "access to a fixed space" that can be as small as one sqm per bird. Free-range can also mean birds are free to forage over expansive tracts and rotated land. That is a big difference in describing free range. Sunlight is not the only form where chickens obtain vitamin D but also in the plants and bugs they forage.
Given that supermarket-bought eggs are mass produced, it's easily guessed which definition of 'free-range' most would fall under. So how can you tell the eggs you are purchasing are from foraging chickens? Their are two ways, 1. Look for labels that contain pasture-raised eggs; a new definition farmers use to differentiate themselves from mass-produced eggs 2. Get to know your local egg farmer and ask how the chickens are raised, how many chickens per hectare, do they rotate on different land and how much outdoor time do they receive and exposure to sunlight ( exposure to sunlight does not mean a window on a shed which I have heard a few times)
Wild-caught fish are shown to be more beneficial compared to farmed fish. They contain higher levels of vitamin D, can be leaner in fat and have a better-balanced ratio of omega 6:3 ( a whole different topic I will eventually cover). Fat has a higher calories density than protein and carbs and does not contain vitamins and minerals. While the right fat plays an important role, too much can mean the ratio of nutrients is low for the amount of daily KJ required for your pet, not to mention the risk of overweight pets as KJ requirements can easily be exceeded.
So why is vitamin D important? Not only does it play a role in calcium/phosphorus conversation and absorption for healthy bones, but we are also learning, it plays a role in many chronic diseases. Cancer, arthritis and skin health, to name a few. In fact, many of the body's tissues contain Vitamin D receptors and plays its part in cell growth, immune function and reduction of inflammation.
So let's recap what we have learnt. Dogs and cats need to obtain vitamin D from quality food sources as they can't efficiently absorb through their skin. Vitamin D plays many roles in the body to keep it functioning and healthy. Lastly, sourcing pasture-raised and wild animals, create an excellent opportunity to support local farmers who make positive farming environments and also encourages humane farming practices, with a better understanding of where your food comes from and how they are treated.
If you would like to know more, links and sources are added below. If you would like a detailed description on vitamin D and the role it plays in dogs and cats, I highly recommend reading the link below from The Possible Canine a great source of information in all things dog health.
There is growing concern amongst pet groomers about the promotional language used by some breeders of the “designer dog breeds” known colloquially, collectively as ‘Oodles (e.g. Labradoodles, Spoodles, Cavoodles, etc.) which is misleading first-time owners about the grooming requirements of these dogs. As a consequence, the welfare of these animals is suffering, whilst new owners find themselves in for a shock the first time they take their ‘Oodle to be professionally groomed; leaving the groomers in a very difficult position.
So first, let’s talk about hair. All mammals grow hair somewhere on their bodies, if not all over, in the case of most dogs. Hair is the same structure on all of these animals - on people, sheep, platypus, dogs; whether we choose to call it hair, fur, pelt, wool, fleece... it is all in fact the same thing: hair. Each individual hair is a chain of protein molecules strung together, specifically, a protein called keratin. This chain grows in strand-like form from a follicle - or opening - in the skin.
Now, in people, only one hair grows from each follicle. In dogs, up to 27 hairs may grow from each follicle. One of these hairs is coarse and colourful, and is called a primary or guard hair, which in some breeds, like the Poodle, can grow all the way to the ground. The other hairs are fine, soft and pale, and are called secondary or undercoat hairs, and do not grow longer than a few centimetres. If you have ever seen a cashmere goat in Winter, this is the clearest depiction of guard hair versus undercoat hair: long, strikingly coloured, guard hairs poking through masses of soft, fluffy, creamy coloured undercoat hairs. This undercoat is often referred to as “fleece”, but is still, in fact, hair.
Hair, no matter how fine, coarse, straight or curly, has a life cycle. Each strand grows, rests, dies, and eventually falls out, when a new hair grows in its place. This is true of all hairs on all mammals. Any woman with long hair, or any man who has ever unblocked a shower drain, knows this to be true. Relatively speaking, guard hairs have a longer life cycle than undercoat hairs.
Thus, when ‘Oodle breeders claim their dogs are “non-shedding”, this is biologically incorrect. All breeds of dog shed hair. Granted, their pattern of shedding varies - some, like Labradors, shed lots of hair all of the time, because their hairs have a very short life cycle. Some, like Golden Retrievers, shed large amounts of hair twice a year, and only small amounts the rest of the time, because their guard hairs have a long life cycle, but their undercoat hairs, which increase in number during winter, have a short life cycle. Others, like Poodles, who have long lived guard hairs and few or no undercoat hairs, shed very small amounts of hair all of the time.
‘Oodles are created by crossing Poodles, with their long, fast-growing, longer-lived, curly guard hairs and few or no undercoat hairs, with, for example, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers or Cavaliers, with their shorter, coarser, straighter, short-lived guard hairs plus masses of fluffy, even shorter-lived undercoat hairs.
Many ‘Oodle breeders are claiming this creates a wonderful new “fleece” coat which requires only monthly brushing and yearly trimming. Sadly, this is wholly untrue. But first-time owners don’t know this, until they take their new dog to the groomer for the first time, usually when it’s almost 12 months old.
The groomer is then faced with something resembling a sheep left out in the wilderness for the past 5 years. Whilst the top few centimetres of the coat may look terrific to the untrained eye ... this is because it is comprised solely of the tips of the ‘Oodle’s longer guard hairs, which the owner has probably been brushing happily every few weeks. Closer to the skin, however, the guard hairs are intermingled with the shorter undercoat hairs, which, due to the non-shedding genetics of the Poodle inheritance, are now not shedding out as easily as they would in a Labrador, but staying put for longer and thus matting tightly together.
You see, when you brush a dog, if the brush doesn’t go all the way to the skin with every stroke, your efforts are completely pointless. Achieving this takes skill and the correct tools - and is impossible to achieve with a long-haired dog if not done at least twice a week. None of these facts are being communicated by ‘Oodle breeder to their puppy buyers.
The saddest part is, these owners love their new dogs. Often they’ve paid handsomely for them, and honestly believed they were looking after them correctly based upon the breeder’s communications. And then, instead of returning proudly from the groomer with their beautiful pet, they leave with something which looks like it’s been waxed from nose to tail, because the matting was so bad and so close to the skin it would be extremely cruel, if not impossible to brush it out, and only the shortest of clipper blades managed to cut underneath it.
What these poor owners - and equally poor dogs - don't know, is when they leave, the groomer feels just as tearful as they do. Groomers love dogs - but most especially, we love fluffy dogs! We love styling their hair and making them look and feel amazing. We love seeing the joy on their owners’ faces when they come to pick them up. And ‘Oodles, when properly maintained, can be the stars of any grooming salon, with that amazing “big hair” look lending itself to all sorts of fantastic styles like Asian Fusion and more.
Groomers hate shaving dogs. It deprives us of any chance of demonstrating our creativity, the love we have for our job or the skills we’ve worked hard to acquire.
So, on behalf of groomers everywhere, this article is a plea to request ‘Oodle breeders reconsider their approach to the promotion of their dogs: because if all ‘Oodle owners knew their pets needed to be brushed to the skin twice a week and groomed professionally every 6-8 weeks, every grooming salon in the country would be such a much happier place!
Biologist, Behaviourist, Veterinary Nurse and Groomer (and former Wool Classer)
Water is often overlooked when talking about nutrition, but it is in fact the single most important aspect of your dog’s diet. While many dogs are more than happy to drink from a muddy puddle on the floor, there are those few who can be very fussy in drinking water on a regular basis. This can result in dehydration, especially on those hot days. So here are some tips on increasing your dog’s water intake.
1. Adding water to their food
Adding water or liquid stock to their dry food or wet food will increase their water intake. You can also add a mixture of water and yoghurt to make it more palatable for your dog.
2. Electrolytes help dogs too
There are specific products for dogs but human versions diluted can be used as well. Great if your dog is showing signs of dehydration. If your dog is showing signs of dehydration also seek vet advice.
3. Water fountains
Some dogs don’t like to drink stagnate water (this is instinctual as stagnate water sources can be prone to bacteria and germs). Sometimes dogs prefer to drink from a flowing source, this also helps add oxygen to the water.
4. Behaviour modification
Whenever your dog goes to get a drink, praise and give a treat. Rewarding this behaviour can increase the habit.
5. Icy poles
Making your own pet icy poles for those hot summer days will not only increase their water intake it can also reduce boredom and be a fun game. Fill a container with water and then add food items that will interest your dog, such as dog food, carrots, dog treats, peanut butter, yoghurt etc. and freeze overnight.
6. Adding flavour
Adding a small amount of chicken, beef broth or drained water from a tuna can, to your pets water can make it seem a little more interesting for your pet to drink. You can then gradually decrease the amount of broth added until your dog is drinking plain water.
7. Switch to raw
Dry dog food only contains a water content of about 10% meaning pets on this diet are required to source water elsewhere to meet all their needs. Wet dog food has a water content of about 75% but feeding just wet food can cause dental issues down the track as it does not allow tartar build up to be scrapped off through chewing and grinding. A raw diet of meaty bones not only gives a higher water content than dry food, it also helps keep your dog’s teeth in top condition.
I often get asked by new clients do I pluck the dogs ear hairs; a short answer would be not unless requested. Ear plucking was once a normal part of the grooming process, but in recent years new knowledge has changed whether it is a help or a hindrance to ear health.
So, what is Ear Plucking?
Ear plucking is the practice of using fingers, haemostats or other tools to remove excessive amounts of hair from a dog’s ear canal. Floppy-eared dogs or very hairy breeds such as Poodle, Schnauzer, Maltese and Bichon Frise can be in need of plucking. It was originally performed because it was believed that this would help increase air flow to the ear canal and prevent all too common ear infections.
It is now thought that ear plucking can have the opposite effect to what we are actually trying to prevent. When we pluck the hair from the ear canal pores are opened up from where the hairs are removed and can now become exposed to bacteria and debris.
“Healthy ears are self-cleaning”
The number one rule I like to follow while grooming is ‘if it’s not broken, why fix it’. Human and canine bodies do a great job of maintaining themselves. So if I come across an ear that is healthy, I usually leave it as is. However not every dog is the same and like in humans some dogs are prone to health problems. When I do come across an ear that is not too healthy my first suggestion is a vet visit. There could be a number of reasons for a problem; some examples are if the ear canals are too small, problems related to allergies, bugs or other foreign object inside the ear or a yeast infection. Once a vet has figured out the base-cause a groomer can then assist in keeping the ear clean. Shaving around the ear canal can prevent leaving pores open but still assist in air flow and help make it easier to apply any treatment necessary.
Going on holidays with your pet can be a lot of fun. Here are some tips to keeping your pet safe and happy while away.
· Make sure your dog’s microchip details and I.D tags are up to date. Being in an unfamiliar environment can heighten their desire to escape and increase the risk of becoming lost. Staying on top of your pet’s identification will enable a quick and safe reunion if needed.
·Packing essentials. A list of things needed to make the experience less stressful:
Ø Ample food and water (for the car ride and your stay)
Ø Prescribed medication
Ø Insect repellent and sunscreen (yes, dogs require this too)
Ø Carrier /crate
Ø First aid kit
Ø Treats and toys
Ø Lead and collar
Ø Bedding and familiar items from home. Your dog may feel out of place in a new environment so having familiar items will help them feel more settled and at home.
Ø Doggy towels if you’re heading to the beach
Ø Travel food and water bowls
Ø Poop bags
· Pet safety in the car is a must, not just for your pet but also for you and other family members in the car. Dogs should never be seated on the driver’s lap or the front passenger seat. A crate or harness is a good way to keep your dog secure and safe.
· If it’s a long drive, regular breaks are essential to keeping your pet comfortable and allowing them to have a stretch, play, have a toilet break and hydrate.
When You Arrive
· Spend time introducing your dog to the new environment. Having a play or throw of the ball will even give the new area a positive feel.
· Check that all fences and gates are secure and if needed find a safe place that your dog can be tethered out from all the elements.
· A thunder shirt is a great tool for those dogs that tend to get a bit of anxiety in new places, helps them feel safe and secure.
Lastly, have fun and enjoy!!
Ever seen your dog swallow a piece of food whole, or eat something that would make you sick? Here’s a break-down on how they digest their food.
Human jaw- can move up and down side to side and in a rounded motion. Teeth are designed for grinding having a flatter surface.
Dog jaw- can only move up and down. The teeth are designed to crush dense objects, having a three root system and are solid and sharp.
Human- used for breaking down food and lubricating digestion.
Dog- also used for lubricating food but they lack the enzymes to break down food. Instead their saliva contains enzymes that kill off bacteria. If you've ever seen your dog eat something old and gross and not get sick? Now you know why.
Humans- helps keep food from entering the wind pipe and designed for food to stay in our stomachs
Dogs- Good gag reflex. Even though dogs cannot chew up their food before it goes down the throat, it must still be the right size and amount to fit. If not, the dog simply throws up! Your dog is not sick. It's just his body telling him to try again. I know it's gross but completely natural.
Humans- food takes about one hour to move through our stomach, but depending on the amount and complexity sometimes longer.
Dogs- this is where most of their ability to break down foods take place. Their stomach is more acidic so it can break down large pieces of meat and bone. Food is kept in the stomach for a longer period of time, allowing the acid to break down animal proteins, bones, and fats. This explains why dogs can live with being fed only once or twice a day. They feel full longer because the food remains in their stomach longer.
Humans- where absorption of food takes place, the human intestinal tract is a lot longer than a dogs and therefore the body has more time to absorb nutrients from more complex foods such as plant and grain based foods.
Dogs-Digestive tract is a lot smaller. This means the dogs have less time to absorb nutrients from their food. This is why dogs do better on foods that are easily broken down such as meats bones and organs. But can struggle on complex foods such as plants and grains. This also means that bacteria have less time to multiply and cause problems. Ever seen your dog eat poop? Yes very gross, but plant based nutrients found in poo have been pre-digested making it a very convenient meal for our canine friend.
Yes some of our doggy friend’s habits may not be socially accepted by human standards but as you can see there may be reasoning behind their behaviour. Just maybe hold back from those doggy kisses!
We hear about a lot of foods that we should not feed our dogs but sometimes it’s hard to get an understanding of why? Here is a list of foods that can be dangerous to your dogs and why:
Macadamia nuts are unlikely to be fatal in dogs, it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours. Affected dogs develop weakness in their rear legs, appear to be in pain, may have tremors and may develop a low grade fever. Fortunately, these signs will gradually subside over 48 hours, but dogs experiencing more than mild symptoms can benefit from veterinary care. The mechanism of toxicity is not known. Dogs need to ingest more than 2g of nuts per kilogram of their body weight before signs are shown.
Many of us have heard not to let dogs eat chocolate, but why? Chocolate contains a caffeine-like substance called theobromine. Dogs metabolize theobromine more slowly and can get sick and die from eating too much chocolate. How much is too much? It depends on the type of chocolate, so if your dog has ingested chocolate it is best to contact your vet immediately so they can advise you on the next step to take. This affects a dog's nervous system and can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures, and even death.
Fruit Seeds and Stones
The pits in stone fruits can obstruct your dog's bowels. They also contain small amounts of cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs (and humans).
Apple Seeds - The casing of apple seeds are toxic to a dog as they contain a natural chemical (amygdalin) that releases cyanide when digested. If a large amount was eaten and the seeds are chewed up by the dog, this can cause the chemical to enter its blood stream. To play it safe, be sure to core and de-seed apples before you feed them to your dog.
When it comes to bones, the danger is that cooked bones can easily splinter when chewed by your dog. Raw (uncooked) bones, however, are appropriate and good for both your dog’s nutrition and teeth.
Corn on the Cob
This is a sure way to get your dog’s intestine blocked. The corn is digested, but the cob gets lodged in the small intestine, and if it’s not removed surgically, can prove fatal to your dog. Additionally, too much corn kernels can upset the digestive tract as well so be cautious to not feed too much.
Just as the wrong mushroom can be fatal to humans, the same applies to dogs.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins have been found recently to induce kidney failure in some animals. This failure can be permanent and life threatening. It does not seem to relate to the volume ingested, and not all animals seem to be equally susceptible. Although some dogs have been eating grapes for years, the safe course is to avoid grapes and raisins completely.
Onions are tasty for our pets as well as us, but too many onions can be dangerous. High levels of onion ingestion in dogs and cats can cause life-threatening anaemia.
The levels of thiosulfate found in onions means that even small amounts can hurt and quickly kill your dog, cat and other pets. Onions also contain allyl propyl disulphide, which causes permanent damage to red blood cells, causing anaemia and oxygen deprivation. Animals that eat onions can suffer from liver damage, discoloured urine, difficulty breathing, dermatitis and anaemia.
I love to spoil Chase! He just needs to give me that look over his shoulder and I want to drown him in food and love, but it’s the food part that can sometimes be dangerous for our dogs. Not only can it add kilos to their waist line, some products contain ingredients that may not be good for our pets.
So here are some healthy snacks that can keep your pets happy and their waist line trim.
1. Raw Meaty Bones
This is one of my favourite snacks/meals for Chase. Not only are they a great boredom buster, they can also give your pet a good workout (watch how your dog uses the muscles in their legs upper body and jaw to eat) and can offer your pets a lot of good nutrients.
What are some bone no no-s?
· Never feed your pet cooked bones. This can splinter into shards and cause health issues for your pet.
· Be careful when giving bones around young children. Dogs may become aggressive or guard bones if they have not been taught to relax around people and their bones. If you have children or even strangers at your house make sure the dog has its own private space to eat that bone and people are aware that your dog has a bone in its possession.
· Appropriate bones for your dog’s size and eating habits - If your dog tends to swallow their food whole or eat fast, larger bones are best that you know they cannot swallow whole. Same goes for smaller dogs to get the best nutrients from a bone you want to give them ones they can chew and eat all of.
What are my favourite types of bones for Chase? The No. 1 bone I love to give him is lambs necks. For smaller dogs chicken necks are great as well as chicken wings and legs. You can also give lamb shanks, whole chicken carcases, and large beef bones for those scoffers.
2. Vegetables and Fruits.
Chase’s favourites are raw carrots, raw broccoli, cooked pumpkin, apples (make sure seeds are removed) pears (also seeds removed) capsicum and zucchini.
Other vegetable and fruit suggestions for your dogs can be: spinach, oranges, asparagus, blueberries, strawberries, peaches
3. Dried Treats
While these should be very occasional foods, they can also be great treats. This includes dried liver, pigs’ trotters, roo meat as well as dried sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots. If you own a food dehydrator, why not make your own!
Got a pooch that eats like you are throwing a raw chicken to a starving crocodile? This behaviour can cause problems such as vomiting, food aggression and bloating. So here are some inexpensive tips to slow down their eating habits:
1. Changing their bowl - Making food harder to access from the bowl is one way to slow down your dog. One easy way to do this is to flip their stainless still bowl upside down. The crevice makes it harder to get to the food. Muffin trays are also a great idea; it divides the food into smaller portions and allows the dog to pause between mouthfuls. You can also place a tennis ball on top of each muffin cup and turn it into a fun game!
2. Nothing in life is free - This is the number one rule for dogs that I find helps with many behavioural problems. Not only does it create good manners it also changes the dogs thinking process from scoffing food as fast as possible, to slowing down and thinking about what they have to do next to receive that food. It is also a great bonding experience. How it works: Start out simple, asking your dog to sit and hold that sit until you give a release command. Asking your dog to preform a task before giving each portion of food.
3. Feeding toys and games - Another great way is toys and games. However while they do work well there is no need to buy expensive food balls. Filling containers such as water or coke bottles with food works cheaply and effectively. You can also use PVC pipes with the ends sealed and holes drilled for the food to drop through. Placing food in an old cereal box and sealing the ends is another great idea.
4. Food mat - on a plastic table mat smear wet food around and then sprinkle dry food on top. The longer the mat the more fun!
5. Splitting up family members - Sometimes fast eating can be caused by fear that food is going to be taken by other family members. Giving them their own space when eating takes out that fear and allows the dog to eat in a calm manner.
A bath and Tidy is great for inbetween grooms, specially during those cold winter months when a full groom maybe to much. This service can help keep your pet matt free, allow the coat to gain length, give a healthy coat all year round and keep them hygienic and smelling fresh.
So what happens after you drop your puppy off for a Bath and Tidy at Funky Fur? Check out the process below.
Bianca is the owner and groomer at Funky Fur dog grooming and always looking for ways to help you care for your pet.