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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Is GMO grass seed coming to your dog's lawn?

As a dog, I like to eat grass on occasion. Grass in our protected fenced in and organic yard is healthy for me, consumed in moderation of course. And Mum let's me eat as much as I want. A little green can do a dog good!

But when we are out and about, attending dog events, or agility trials, Mum doesn't let me eat the grass.

Do you know why?

It's because she doesn't know or believes that the grass/lawn may have been treated with chemicals that can be harmful to me, including herbicides, pesticides, in-organic fertilizers and insecticides.

So, I wait until I get home to graze a little.

What you may not know is that these chemicals can be dangerous to dogs. We've written a lot about the importance of growing an organic lawn for the health of your dog; and why commercial chemicals are harmful to dogs with studies showing

Now there is another threat to dogs on the horizon and it could end up right in your back yard.

What is it? Genetically modified grass seed.

Why is that a threat? Let's explore....

Back in July 2011, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) announced that it 'does not consider a lawn grass genetically engineered to resist a weedkiller within its regulatory domain, ratifying a pathway for certain classes of bioengineered plants to bypass federal regulation,' shared the New York Times.

But how is that possible? One of the USDA's main missions is to regulate 'U.S. agricultural products and ensure(s) the health and care of animals and plants.' This time...
...'unlike these predecessors, the herbicide-tolerant (genetically modified) Kentucky bluegrass, developed by Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., contains no microbial material. The grass's tolerance to glyphosate, a common weedkiller, stems from the genetic material of corn, rice and Arabidopsis plants, and Scotts spliced the bluegrass's DNA with a gene gun, a common lab technique that shuttles DNA on high-velocity heavy metals. 
Given these specifics, and its determination that modified bluegrass should not be controlled as a weed at the federal level, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will allow Scotts to proceed with commercializing its (genetically modified) bluegrass product, the agency said in a statement.' (Source: New York Times)
Fast forward to this year...

In January 2014, a little article appeared in The Columbus Dispatch that shared this:
'Scotts Miracle-Gro in Marysville is preparing to test a genetically modified grass seed (the very one mentioned above) in the family lawns of a small number of employees this growing season. 
The employees will test Kentucky bluegrass that has been modified to protect it from being killed by Roundup, the weedkiller produced by agricultural giant Monsanto.'
The article also went on to share a quote from Jim Hagedorn, Scotts CEO, at their annual shareholders meeting in January of this year:
'The employee testing “is a major step forward. I think we will see limited commercial activity the following year (2015), and I think, if all goes well, much more (activity) in the consumer market in 2016.”
So what does this all mean?

It means that genetically modified and untested grass seed may be coming to a store (and subsequently, lawn, park, playground, school yard, common area....) near you in 2015, and more broadly in 2016, and you won't even know it.

Scotts says that their GMO grass seed will grow more slowly (requiring less mowing), have less weeds and require less water; all good things that appear appealing on the surface. But it's what's lying under the surface that concerns us.

We've written before about the potential dangers of genetically modified organisms including findings that indicate "animals fed on three strains of genetically modified maize created by the U.S. biotech firm Monsanto suffered signs of organ damage after just three months."

The resulting use of this type of GMO grass seed will surely lead to a dramatic increase in the use of Roundup, (aka glyphosate) already the most widely used and one of the most harmful herbicide in the world, according to trusted sources; and because of wind drift this grass (produced by seed) may end up in places that didn't even plant it originally.

Add to that research that indicates...
'Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide has recently been described by researchers as, “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” It’s been linked to a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer and autism
Studies have revealed a connection between the use of glyphosate and birth defects in frog and chicken embryos. A more recent study shows that the toxic herbicide was found in the breast milk of American women.'
What's important to know is that if Scotts proceeds in selling the GMO grass seed they are currently testing, you won't even know it as the packaging of the grass seed will not require it to be labeled as a GMO product; and locations where it's planted will not be 'labeled' either.

And GMO grass seed and the long and short term effects of this modified seed on people, animals and the environment has not been tested.

What can you do? Voice your concerns. Write, email, and share that you are against Scotts proceeding in marketing and selling their GMO grass seed, and that you will boycott any and all of their products until the plans are tabled for this new product, including their organic lawn care products and services.

Just say no.

United States Department of Agriculture
New York Times
The Columbus Dispatch

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What non-organic fruits and vegetables are safer for your dog?

If you feed your dog some yummy, healthy, safe fruits and vegetables like carrots, bananas, green beans, apples and more; feeding organic is the way to go. But sometimes you just can't find organic. So what's a dog to do?

In that case it's helpful to know which non-organic produce is the most dangerous when it comes to the levels of pesticide residue left on your produce when it reaches the grocery shelves.

The Environmental Working Group released recently their 'EWG's 2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, to help you make more informed decisions when selecting produce for you and your dog.

Some of the most pesticide laden non-organic produce included on their list are apples, carrots, blueberries and more. And the non-organic produce that has the least amount of pesticide residue include melons, green beans, watermelon and more.

You can see the full report on the Environmental Working Group website.

Remember: Safe fruits and vegetables are a great addition to your dog's diet, just be certain that the produce you feed them is not only safe, but free of pesticides that can be harmful to your dog's health.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Welcome Rainbow Light GreenDog Naturals to the RAGD Partner Pack!

We are very pleased to welcome Rainbow Light GreenDog Naturals to the RAGD Partner Pack!

Whether I'm barn hunting, running agility, herding birds in the yard, herding a few sheepies, or wrestling with my sis Gracie; staying in shape is imperative to my healthy, happy life, especially at my age of nearly 10 years old!

When the nice folks at GreenDog Naturals talked with us about becoming a new Raise A Green Dog Partner, we spun at the chance (because that's what shelties do when they get all excited, they spin!).

GreenDog Naturals supplements deliver pure and organic ingredients in optimal, therapeutic potencies and combinations, addressing common issues such as digestion, coat, and nervous system support.

They have an amazing line of healthy supplements for dogs of all ages - from their Whole Dog Daily to help boost natural defenses and support healthy digestion to their Healthy Motion that supports healthy joint function and mobility to their Complete Calm® Chewable tablets that can help maintain calm and relaxation during times of stress like separation, car rides, visits to the vet and groomer, and transition to a new home, and more!

All of the GreenDog Naturals products are 100% natural and contain no wheat, soy, corn, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, fillers, binders, excipients, added salt or refined sugar. And they are Made in the USA and Certified Organic by QAI. You can't get much healthier than that!

In addition, as part of Rainbow Light, they offer a full line of human organic supplements as well including Multivitamins, Plant Based Iron, Organic Immuno-Build Greens and Certified Organics® Mushroom Therapy™ to help support your two-legger's body’s well being and immunity.

To help my sis Gracie build her immune system further after her bout with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, she's been religiously taking the Immuno-Build Greens and the Whole Dog Daily. Not only does she love the taste even all by itself on raw food day, we are seeing a distinct difference in her energy level and stamina at agility; and (knock wood) she has had a reoccurring bout of RMSF in about two months!

If you are looking for a great line of healthy, organic supplements for your dog check out the GreenDog Naturals website, and while you're there, don't forget to have your two-legger check out some super healthy supplements for themselves. We need our two-leggers to keep up with us, don't we?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make a homemade heating and cooling pad for your dog!

Whether you are an agility and hiking dog like me, or just enjoy walks with your Mum or Dad, there may be times where you strain or pull a muscle, or have a few aches and pains that would be helped by a little home treatment.

Heating and cooling pads can be a bit cumbersome and sometimes expensive. So we wanted to share one of our favorite DIY ideas for making your own heating and cooling pad from some old socks and plain white rice.

It's super, super easy, and quick.
  • Fill a sock with (uncooked) rice. White rice is the least expensive. Choose a sock size that fits well with your dog and the placement of your heating/cooling pack.
  • Tie the end of the sock off. Or you can finish off the ends with a needle and thread like Crafty Little Gnome did if you have more time.
  • Optionally you may want to add a few drops of safe essential oils or dried plants like lavender or chamomile to the rice. These aromas are both very calming and helpful in times of stress.
Then, put it in the freezer for a nice cold pack to have on hand when needed; or to quickly turn your rice sock into a heating pad, put it in your microwave for only about 30 secs to one minute (depending upon how large the sock is and how much rice you utilized).

Be certain to test first on your skin to be sure it's not too hot for your dog. Your rice sock heating pad should last about 30 minutes to one hour.

 You can use your cold pack sock for:

Recent injuries where swelling is occurring. Ice helps reduce inflammation on recent injuries and also numbs a bit to reduce pain. Utilize for recent pulled muscles, ligament tears, sprains, etc.

You can use heat packs for:

Chronic soreness in joints, and muscle aches and spasms that are ongoing and reoccurring. Only use on ouchs where there is no inflammation. You can also use a little heat before vigorous exercise to increase blood flow and circulation, but not too much to steer your dog to nighty-night.

For example:
  • The first time I pulled my iliopsoas muscle during an agility run, Mum instantly pulled me from the rest of the dog agility trial and took me home to ice up my inflamed and pulled muscle. 
  • However, over the years, I've had a little bit of soreness and tightness in my back-end and top hip area (the cause of the original iliopsoas pull) on occasion, as well as occasional soreness in my shoulder from another long ago injury. To keep me loose, supple and feeling my best to run agility, Mum utilizes a heating pad on these areas between trials and the night before an agility trial. It helps me and my muscles relax, and sets me up to sleep well for a great trial for the weekend.  
See the difference of when you should use ice and when you should use heat? For more information, feel free to visit our friends at Whole Dog Journal and read their interesting article on 'Home Treatments for Injured Dogs.'

Photos courtesy of StuRay_from_LA and Crafty Little Gnome.
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