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Scroll down the page to read some general information about a variety of topics including "Diet & Nutrition", "Oral Hygiene", "Alternative Remedies" and OTC Medication.

Articles referring to diet and health issues are personal opinions only, intended as guidelines, not meant to replace the advice of your veterinarian nor as a substitute for proper veterinary care.
The Basics
Temperature 38 - 39 C
(100 - 102 F)
Using a rectal thermometer: carefully insert thermometer using a mild lubricant such as Vasoline (tm) or KY (tm), wait approx. three minutes or until it "beeps".
Heart/Pulse Rate 60 - 160
The easiest method to check your dog's heart rate is with a stethoscope; have the dog stand at rest or lay on his/her right side, the beat is heard best in the area where the elbow touches the body. Count the beats for fifteen seconds, multiply by four to determine beats/minute. Large breeds average heart-rate is 60 - 100 bpm; small breeds, less than thirty pounds, average 100 - 160 bpm.
Respiration 10 - 30
Capillary Recovery Time 1.5 seconds Hold the dog's lip open and press down firmly on the pink flesh inside the lip until you see a white spot around the pressure point. The white spot is caused by your having blocked the capillary blood vessels. The time it takes for the spot to return to its normal pink color is the capillary recovery (refill) time.

Diet & Nutrition

We're often asked what we feed our dogs or for our opinion on a particular diet or brand of dog food. We feed a natural, home-prepared diet based on Raw Meaty Bones (RMB's), raw meat and organs, fish and eggs as well as a small amount of vegetables and fruit. The only supplement we use on a regular basis is fish oil to ensure our dogs are getting sufficient Essential Fatty Acids (the omega's); other supplements are used only as needed. Although there're numerous manufacturers of raw diets we prefer to know what goes into our dogs, what the exact ingredients are and how much of each is used. If a dog needs to have his or her diet tweaked a bit we can do so with confidence. There're many proponents of feeding raw who do not believe it's necessary, or even desirable, to include vegetables and fruit however we found that if we didn't add at least some plant materials the level of copraphagia would increase significantly. The addition of as little as 2% (5% in the winter) plant material stopped this unsavory habit. There are many excellent resources online where you can find information on how to provide balanced home-prepared meals for your dog. Remember we are aiming for balance over time!

While we believe this type of diet is best for our dogs, our little carnivores, we do accept it's not the life-style many would choose preferring to have the convenience of a prepared diet. For those who do not want to prepare their pet's meals there are a variety of sources of prepackaged frozen raw diets available both in Canada and the United States. Personally I find it very satisfying to prepare the dogs' meals. For those days that I know time will be at a premium I have some "Meat Mix", with or without added veggies, frozen in re-sealable containers in the freezer compartment OR what can be faster, or easier, than tossing in a chicken or turkey neck or chicken leg or cracking an egg in a bowl - shell and all - (we like the double yolk eggs) or perhaps some thawed frozen sardines or, periodically, tinned salmon? Just to see what the dogs think of this life-style have a gander of the picture below of a litter of pups at five weeks old gnawing on a meaty beef bone!

5wkpupsbeefbone.jpg - 20683 Bytes

"But doesn't it cost at lot?". Yes it can be more expensive, especially when purchased mainly at the local grocers, but you can reduce the expense by shopping in bulk or joining a cooperative reducing price/unit costs. In some areas you can go to authorized butchers or slaughter houses and ask for cuts others are not interested in such as liver, thymus, heart, tongue, trachea or other organ/meats. Even if you do find yourself paying a bit more than a premium kibble the dogs look and feel much better, you won't have those large vet bills for tooth cleaning, the dogs' energy levels are improved, clean-up time is a snap and 'composts' in just a couple of days - a definite plus in a multi-dog family! These are just a few of the advantages!

Worried about "Fido" choking on a bone? You could grind up chicken quarters, necks, wings etc and add it to chunks of meat if you have concerns about your dog choking on bones or, better still, feed larger bones with lots of meat on them (the bone itself is invisible) which makes an excellent meal and has the advantage of keeping the teeth sparkling clean while exercising the jaw and neck muscles.

If a home-prepared raw foods diet is not a lifestyle you feel comfortable with perhaps you would prefer a home-prepared cooked diet? Although not as good as a diet based on wholesome RAW foods we believe a well thought out home-cooked diet superior to kibble. We are not talking about just tossing out a few table scraps for "Fido" but properly researched and prepared cooked meals providing all the nutritional needs for your dog. We're not "anti-kibble", if, after your researches, you decide the best course for you and your pet is to feed kibble we would suggest feeding a premium brand based on human-grade ingredients with minimal grains and other carbohydrates.

A word of caution. I strongly recommend that regardless of which method of feeding your pet you choose that you first read about nutritional requirements and health from a variety of resources available through your local library as well as online. The authors of the books I have suggested above each have their own beliefs on what is best for our pets. Read, read and read some more from a variety of sources; educate yourself so you may be able to choose the best for your pet. And remember no one author or person has all the answers.

IMPORTANT - Consider carefully not just WHAT you feed your pet but also HOW MUCH you feed them: At a breeders' symposium (2005) one of the presenters related findings of a long-term study on the effects of controlled vs "free" feeding. The results were astonishing and should serve as a wake up call to us all! Dogs fed restricted diets lived longer with fewer health problems than those that were free-fed. We should always be able to distinguish a waistline with just a light layer of flesh over the ribs.

Oral Hygiene
Dental Care - The Gateway to Health & Longevity

Dental care has become a major concern with many dog owners and rightly so. An unhealthy "mouth" opens the body up to any number of invaders which have been shown to lead to heart failure, kidney disease and much more! The overall health and longevity of our four-legged friends is significantly influenced by how we look after their teeth and gums. There are a multitude of products on the market that assist us in the proper maintainence of our pets' oral hygiene including a variety of pastes, gels, toothbrushes, dental picks and scalers, additives and chew toys to list a few.

We know that with regular brushing and good dietary habits our teeth with last us a lifetime! Our best friends, on the other hand, can't brush their own teeth so we must do it for them and ensure that we provide them with the proper nutrition as pups to lay down the solid foundations of good health and continue to do so through their lifetime. If you have chosen to rawfeed using RMB's encased within large chunks of meat you'll find that brushing may not necessary to maintain those pearly whites. Ground foods, whether raw or cooked, will not give the required action to keep your dog's teeth clean and brushing may be necessary. If you feed a kibble based diet brushing is a necessity.

CAUTION! Recently there have been reports of dogs becoming ill or requiring extensive surgery from ingesting chew toys which break into tiny pieces causing blockages or rope toys made from manufactured fibers, natural fibers break down in the acid of the dog's stomach whereas many man-made fibers do not. Always monitor your dogs when they have these and removing them if the materials appear to be breaking down.

There are a variety of online sources where one can research the in's and out's of oral hygiene for our dogs. Just type in "canine dental health care" in your favourite search engine and watch the pages roll in!

Worming the Natural Way

Internal parasites are a normal part of our pets', and truth be told, our lives. Having chosen a more natural approach to rearing our dogs we opt not pump their bodies full of poisons, unless necessary, preferring to use what Nature has provided us. Below are some remedies which have been used, with varying degrees of success, by a number of Natural Rearing (NR) homes. This list is far from complete; as we learn of other remedies we'll include them in our list.

There are many other "natural" vermifuges but one must be very careful with some of these products which can be more toxic and potentially harmful than products you can purchase from your veterinary clinic.

Alternative Therapies: Homeopathy

There has been an increased interest in "Alternative" therapies for our dogs in recent years. Homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, and others have been espoused by various practitioners. Since there are numerous excellent reference sites online, as well as some excellent books in the library, The purpose here is to act as a quick reference only not intended as medical advise.

Homeopathic First-Aid Primer
Remedy Symptoms
(leopard bane)
Used for bruises or traumatic injuries like sprains; not to be used on open wounds or abrased skin. This would be the medicine to reach for after a dog fight, when animals exhibit soreness or sensitivity to touch; can be used for tooth extractions and cleaning; and is excellent for use with brood bitches before and after labor to reduce swelling to tissues.
Calendula Can be found as a lotion (non-alcoholic), salve or tincture (gen'ly 80% alcohol and should be diluted - 2 drops in a cup of distilled water). Calendula is used to soothe inflamed, injured tissue regardless of cause, red ears, scratched skin, wounds, hemorrhages and more. Not for use on infected incisions.
Caulophyllum Assists normal contractions of uterus during labour; considered essential for breeders. Although some practitioners recommend giving caulophyllum once a week for two weeks prior to whelping others suggest to wait until labour stalls and to use 2 or 3 doses ,if necessary, before going to the vets.
Chamomilla A mild stomach soother, especially useful with puppies. (I have used this with bottle-fed pups that tend to be 'gassy'; a couple of drops five minutes apart works wonders.)
Champhora Used for sudden collapse or anaphalaxis.
Hepar sulf Used to treat swelling, redness, areas very sensitive to touch; injuries that have become infected and festering; general irritability. Low potencies tend to drain pus while high potencies are used to stop pus.
(St. John's Wort)
Use to treat injuries in areas rich in nerve tissues such as crushing of toes, fingers and tailbone as well as spinal injuries. Hypericum tincture, diluted as in calendula, is useful for extremely itchy ears or for flushing wounds that are hypersensitive or too deep to use calendula or can be used in conjunction with calendula. Can also be used with ledum as a tincture to clean wounds and help prevent tetanus.
Rescue Remedy Focuses on emotional shock, severe fright (eg: car rides, injury, vet visits, grooming, training, shows etc). Rescue remedy can be used in conjunction with homeopathic treatments. Give diluted (2-4 drops in 1 oz water) one dropperful as often as needed OR can be absorbed through the skin when it's not possible to give internally.
Rhus-toxicodendron (Rusty gate) For use in the treatment of muscle injuries from overexertion; sprains, strains, torn ligaments and tendonitis. The key symptom indicating its use is pain and stiffness on initial movement and then as they gently move around and limber up, they move more easily and freely.
Salica Especially useful in removing porcupine quills from delicate noses. Used with individuals that are pale, weak or chilly and may be fearful or timid.
Thuja This is the best anti-vaccination remedy; reduces irritability often brought on by vaccine reactions (we used this remedy with one of our standards and had no more problems with boosters and rabies shots). Also used in the treatment of warts, tumors, skin and ear problems.
Travel AnxietyHomeoPet
How much is enough? How much is too much?!?! Many "over the counter" medications for humans can also be used on our pets - WITH CAUTION. This table was given me by a veterinarian a number of years ago.
REMEMBER! This is NOT meant to replace proper veterinary care.
Generic Name Trade Name Forms Dosage by body weight
1-5kg 5-10kg 10-15kg 15-25kg >25kg Int
Diphenhydramine Benadryl 2.5 mg tab
25 mg cap
1 tsp
(baby form)
1/2 tsp adult form
25mg 25mg 50mg 50mg 3xday
Clemastine Tavist 1mg tab none 1/2tab 1/2-1tab 1-1 1/2tab 1 1/2-2tabs 2xday
Terfenadine Seldane 6mg/ml
60mg tab
1/2 - 1 tsp 30mg 60mg 120mg 180mg 2xday