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Thursday, February 26, 2015

GMO apples and potatoes coming to a store near you!

If you like apples as much as I do, you will want to know this!

Very recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the commercial planting of genetically engineered apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised.

This is the first GMO apple to be approved. The apple will join several other genetically modified fruits and vegetables already approved including papaya, corn, potatoes and soy beans.

The so-called 'Arctic' apples, available in only the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties at this time, are genetically engineered in a way to suppress the production of an enzyme that causes browning when cells in the apple are injured, from slicing, for example.

The apples are genetically altered by manipulating the apple's own genes rather than adding genes from another species into the apple's DNA, which is how most GMO crops are altered.

Under the law, approval for GMO fruits, vegetables and even meats is based on whether a genetically modified crop (or animal) poses a threat to another plant or animal. The USDA determined that the apples posed no such risk, which is why it was approved.

Within the approval process there is no basis for consideration of whether the genetic alteration of the plant or animal poses a health risk to humans or other animals. In Europe and the US there are some studies that have been done that have shown health risks, including infertility, changes/damage to organs in tested animals and more.

I'm not a potato eater, but another significant event you should know about...in November 2014, the USDA approved a genetically engineered potato developed by the J.R. Simplot Company that uses a similar technique that alters the potato’s DNA to create less of a chemical called acrylamide, which is suspected of causing cancer in people. This chemical is produced when the potato is fried or baked at high temperatures. The potato is also modified to aid the potato in resisting bruising which creates waste in the food industry.

It will take a few years for 'Arctic' apples to be widely available because trees have to first be planted and then become mature enough to produce fruit. By 2016 approximately 5-10,000 lbs of apples are expected to be ready to provide samples to potential buyers with the product expected in the stores in small quantities in 2017.

Right now there are no plans to label the apples as altered, although they will be called 'Arctic' apples. Currently, three US states require GMO labeling. Connecticut and Maine have both passed such laws, but they contain provisions that state the labeling can't be implemented unless several other states approve similar labeling laws. Vermont, however, has passed a labeling law that will go into affect in November 2016.

As we've discussed before, many pet food manufacturers source their meats from a wide variety of farms across the country, with many of them sourcing from factory farms. The main feed for cows and chickens in non-organic factory farms is corn and soy. In the US, 90% of the corn and soy grown is genetically modified..

What this means is that through the food chain, unless your dog is eating an organic source of kibble or raw meat, they are effected by GMO's in their food, which is passed on through the meat source, i.e., cow, chicken, pork and other highly utilized meat source.

Read more about the potential health risks of GMO's.

What can you do? 

Stick with organic, or a food for your dog that contains meats, fruits and vegetables that aren't sourced from factory farms that feed the meat sources with GMO corn and soy.

And, we always recommend if you feed snacks like apples to your dog, go organic to avoid GMO's, pesticides, insecticides and more.

NY Times
NY Times
USDA

Monday, February 23, 2015

That's right...biodegradable bags don't really biodegrade in landfills. So what do you do with your dog's waste?

Dog poo, it's inevitable and it's prolific!

For years we've been discussing how you can best dispose of your dog's waste to be more environmentally friendly and healthy. And for years we've always recommended just two ways:

- Flush it if you live in the city.
- Compost it if you live in the country.

Why?

If you live in the city and flush your dog's waste, it goes into your cities waste management system and is treated for health and safety just like your waste.

If you live in the country and are not on the cities waste treatment system, you really don't want to fill up your septic tank with your dog's waste (especially if you have a large dog or multiple dogs). In this case, the most environmentally friendly way is to compost your dog's waste with a purchased or homemade composting system.

If those aren't two good enough reasons, these methods are first recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency and by several large city governments (which maintain their city waste treatment systems).

For years, we've received comments and recommendations to use biodegradable dog waste bags and we have always said that they don't really biodegrade. Now the FTC is agreeing with us, finally!

In early February, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent a letter to marketers of 20 manufacturers of dog waste bags, saying that the “biodegradable,” “compostable,” and other environmental claims in their marketing may be deceptive.

Biodegradable bags need air, water (rain) and light (sun) to biodegrade. This is what creates the process of biodegradation.

If you add your dog's waste in a biodegradable bag to your weekly trash pick up, the bags end up in a landfill, with tons and tons of other trash, and may never see the light of day. In this scenario, biodegradability may never occur.

Over the years the marketing claims of biodegradable dog waste bag manufacturers have developed and developed to the point of potential false and unqualified advertising claims the FTC indicates. "Based on the FTC’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (the Green Guides), such a claim without any qualification generally means to consumers that the product will completely break down into its natural components within one year after customary disposal. Most waste bags, however, end up in landfills where no plastic biodegrades in anywhere close to one year, if it biodegrades at all."

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection says, "Consumers looking to buy environmentally friendly products should not have to guess whether the claims made are accurate. It is therefore critical for the FTC to ensure that these claims are not misleading, to protect both consumers and honest competitors.”

She goes on to say,"Don’t be surprised if they (biodegradable poo bags) are harder and harder to find. If they can’t substantiate their claims (of biodegradability), they need to stop making them,” says France. “We’ll circle back.” If manufacturers don’t change their deceptive advertising, (the) FTC will open an investigation, file a complaint and they will ultimately end up in court."

The FTC advised the companies that they should review their marketing materials and contact agency staff to tell them how they intend to revise or remove the claims, or explain why they won’t.

What's the most environmental way to take care of your dog's waste?
  1. The most important thing you can do is pick up your dog's waste. If left in the environment, it can contaminate ground water, streams, lakes and ponds; not to mention, it's disgusting and potentially unhealthy to find other dog's waste on your dog's walks or hikes. And in some places, it's against the law.
  2. The second most important thing you can do is flush your dog's waste if you live in the city and compost it if you live in the country for the reasons we described above.
  3. The third most important thing you can do if you are travelling and away from home, pick up your dog's waste and flush if you can. If you don't have the ability to flush, utilize a biodegradable bag to pick up and deposit your dog's waste in the trash as a last resort.
Doing these three things will help keep our environment healthier and cleaner, keep our two and four leggers healthier and happier, and keep millions of tons of dog waste out of landfills.

If you'd like to learn how to make your own dog waste composting system. visit our Hub for more information.

Sources:
EPA
FTC
Science Learn
Salt Lake County Engineering
City of Albuquerque

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Will you be my Valentine? Homemade treats you can make for your dog this Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner!

For guys and gals, there is no need to go without a pawsome date for the big day. Dogs make amazing Valentine's Day dates!

When they slobber it's not gross. They don't interrupt you when you're talking. You don't have to go all out, spending a lot of money...dogs like the simple things in life. You don't have to dress up, dog's love day old sweatshirts. And there are few things better than cuddling on the couch, sipping your favorite beverage and watching a great movie with your four-legged best friend.

So why not make some pawsome treats for your favorite four legged Valentine to enjoy the day!

Here are two of our favorite Valentine's Day Dog Treats that you can make quickly and easily with little ingredients.

Sweet Potato Cookie Crisps

Ingredients:
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 2 eggs
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake sweet potato until cooked (this is a good time to make some for yourself too!).
  • Once cooked, scoop the sweet potato flesh out of the skin and mash.
  • Add one cup of sweet potato to a mixture of the whole wheat flour, applesauce and eggs.
  • Mix until it forms a dough then roll out the dough about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut out into desired shapes (dogs, hearts, paws and more) and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake until crisp for about 35 to 45 minutes, cool on a wire rack.
Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com.

Red Kisses Dog Treats

Ingredients:
  • Organic Strawberries
Directions:
  • Clean and trim strawberries.
  • Slice.
  • Lay out strawberries without touching on either your dehydrator trays or on a baking sheet with parchment paper for your oven.
  • Dehydrate in your dehydrator for 3-4 hours, or in your oven at 140 degrees for 3-4 hours until they are no longer sticky, but still bendable. Check often.
Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!

Photos courtesy of Tnkntx, Wellsphere,

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Learn how you can keep your green dog's teeth healthy for years.

February is National pet Dental Health month, a great time to focus on keeping your green dog's teeth healthy and strong.

Believe it or not, I am going to be 11 years old in June of this year.

Not once in my 10+ years have I had my teeth cleaned - knock wood. And not once in all those years has a vet told me I needed my pearly whites worked on.

My teeth aren't perfect, I have a couple of insignificant chips, one on my front tooth (you can see in the photo) and one on one of my back molars. But overall, I have really, really healthy teeth.

So how do we keep my teeth so healthy, strong and clean?

Many talk about the importance of brushing your dog's teeth, and yes, we believe that it is really important; especially if you feed kibble (hopefully if you are feeding kibble (we eat it sometimes) that it's super high quality).

I do get my teeth brushed on occasion, but because I eat raw food part of the time, I don't need my teeth brushed nearly as often.

Raw meaty bones are what keep my pearly whites clean. Yep, that's right....gnawing and chewing and grinding away at those chicken backs, chicken necks and chicken feet 3-4 days per week have kept all the plaque, tarter and yucky stuff that decays teeth away from us!

Oh you can see a little yellow on a few of my teeth, but I'm due for my raw food this week as I haven't had it in at least five days, oops....bad Mum!

Here is one of the chicken backs (organs included) that Mum cuts up and divides for me and Gracie!


Mum says there is nothing better than the sound of me crunching away at all the bone, meat and cartilage, so natural. Oooooo....Mum....raw chicken feet? Let me at it!


Remember, it's important if you feed raw that you do your research! We suggest visits to Dr. Karen Becker's blog and do a search for raw dog food to learn the ins and outs. Also, you can visit Dog Food Advisor to learn about prepared raw dog foods; and RawLearning.com for more information.

We believe, it's also very important that if you do feed raw that you purchase organic, all-natural, hormone and anti-biotic free meats....so as not to add those nasty chemicals and drugs to your dog's diet.

Puppy Rach is getting in on the raw. Mum remembers when he first came to live with us, how quickly and eagerly he devoured his first raw chicken neck about a week after he came to us. Now when he eats raw, since he's such an eager eater, Mum makes sure he gets ground raw - meat, bone and organs, until he gets the hang of it.

video

If you'd like to give your dog a little raw, you can start like we did by adding some chicken necks (you can order them at your local organic grocery or butcher), then graduate to other items like backs, feet, other protein sources and more.

If you don't feed raw, but feed a super high quality kibble, it is very important to brush your dog's teeth frequently. We recommend at least 3-4 days a week.

Happy eating, healthy smiles!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Apple Cider Vinegar for dogs.

Over the years we've used Apple Cider Vinegar for our dogs in a wide variety of ways.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?

Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from crushed apples (preferably organic). Over time, the sugar from the apples is converted through yeast fermentation into acetic acid. Many believe it is the acetic acid which is responsible for all of the health promoting benefits of ACV.

The most potent form of cider vinegar is unpasteurized or organic ACV, which contains the “mother” of the vinegar – a cobweb-like appearing substance that makes the vinegar look slightly congealed.

We are very selective about which Apple Cider Vinegar we use. Our preferred brand is Bragg, because it contains the amazing 'Mother of Vinegar' which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. It is unfiltered, unheated and unpasteurized. It is made from organically grown apples and processed and bottled in accordance with USDA guidelines. It is Certified Organic by Organic Certifiers and Oregon Tilth; and is also Kosher Certified and Non-GMO Certified.

So how do we uses ACV for our dogs?

Itchy feet?

We have never encountered this, but some of our friend's dogs have had itchy feet, If your dog bites at his feet they may have yeasty feet. Give your dog's feet a good sniff. Do they have a yeasty smell (a little like Fritos)? If so you're dog may be a great candidate for a good ACV foot soak to stop the itching and biting. We recommend dipping your dog's feet in an ACV solution (start with 1 tbs. to 1 cup of filtered warmer water) and dab dry. Leave the solution on their feet to help it work more effectively, and continue this process twice a day for at least a week.

Dandruff and itchy skin?

Over the first months that we had new puppy Rach (photo above), he had a lot of dandruff, little bug like bites on his inner thighs and a lot of flaky, scaly skin on his spine and rump. A few treatments of an ACV rinse (1 tbs. to 8 oz. of filtered water) on the affected areas and he was so much better and all healed! We still occasionally give him a little ACV rinse to keep the condition from returning.

Got fleas?

Fleas, and perhaps even ticks, hate the smell of ACV. Even though you may only smell it on your dog for a very short time, fleas and ticks are more sensitive to the smell. We don't utilize an over the counter flea treatment as they can be harmful to your dog, so we keep a spray bottle of diluted ACV (same recipe as above) near our front door and give the dogs a good spray before heading outside during flea season. It's keeping the fleas from jumping on our dogs and keeps our home and our dogs flea free.

Dirty ears?

Some of the ear cleaners on the market have a very strong smell, even the holistic, healthier ones; which made ear cleaning time very unpleasant for our dogs. So we've started using ACV as our mainstay ear cleaner, and have used it for years now. With all the dust and sandy dirt we have around our cabin, dirty ears are a staple, so we clean our dog's ears every week during nail trims and feet fur trims. We dip a cotton ball into a 1/2 ACV, 1/2 filtered water solution and gently swab out the inside of the ear. We use as many cotton balls (with solution) needed until there is no more dirt or wax.

Yeasty ears?

On very rare occasions YoYo will have a little head shake when he barks. That's a true indicator of the potential of an ear infection. So what do we do? We get out the ACV, make a nice ear rinse (1 tbs. to one cup of filtered warmed water) and treat YoYo's ears with it daily for a few days. I utilize a syringe (we purchase them in bulk and use them for a variety of things), 'inject' about 1-2 ml of solution into each ear, then fold down his ear flaps and massage his ears while giving him big kisses to distract him and make the process a little more tolerable. Then after about a minute or so, I allow him to shake it all out. Poof, no more head shaking and we've most probably headed off an ear infection. This is not a fun thing for dogs, but beats an ear infection by far; and overtime YoYo has become used to it; especially since he gets lots of treats after.

A few words of caution:

  • Make sure to keep ACV or an ACV solution from your dog's eyes.
  • Do not use on open wounds or cuts as it can burn.
  • If your dog's skin, ear, foot or flea problem is more severe or these little remedies don't work, please consult your holistic vet and get your dog checked out.

Some people believe that adding a little ACV to your dog's diet may be very beneficial to their health. We've never done that, even though little Rach loves to lick up the ACV when I'm treating his coat. If you want more information about the good side and bad side of adding ACV to your dog's diet, be sure to read this article first from Whole Dog Journal.

Oh and don't forget...it's great for humans too!
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