Posts filed under ‘Food’

Following on from “Hair Loss and Crusty Skin”

I notice that the blog entries about Boogie’s skin issues get the MOST visits and comments compared to everything else on this blog. This “hair loss” post is many years old, and so are all the posts tagged Skin, but the comments and questions keep coming in. Lots of questions from parents of suffering dogs who want to know which remedies worked and which ones didn’t.

I don’t have answers for other people’s dogs, but here is an update for Boogie….

After spending $$$$ on vet bills, products, and visits to the dermatology clinic over the past 5 years, I decided NOT to go the path of allergy testing and lifelong injections. Our pet insurance doesn’t cover this stuff because anything skin-related is considered a “pre-existing condition”, so I have been focused on more cost-effective solutions.

2015: Boogie’s skin is not great but it is SO MUCH BETTER. In fact, over the past 12 months, Boogie’s skin has been at its best, and looks pretty good compared to previous years.  The summer of 2014 was the first time in 5 years that he did not go on a long course of antibiotics and lose most of his hair. He also had no crusty bits.

The “Solution”:

It took roughly 8 months before I saw the difference with Darwins food and the Pet Cod Liver Oil. Boogie’s coat became fuller and shinier; not rough and dry like before.

Benadryl was recommended by our vet. It seems extreme to be giving this to him every single day – but he is less inclined to scratch, and scratching is the FIRST STEP to infections. In warmer/itchier seasons, he gets 1 benadryl per day. In cooler seasons, he gets one every other day. He still scratches, and is still itchy… but I think it would be much worse without the benadryl.

I also bathe Boogie with Vet’s Best Allergy-Itch Relief shampoo, and occasionally soak him in a tub of diluted Vet’s Best Hot Spot Spray or I wipe him down with a cloth that I put some spray on. Especially after he has been rolling around in the grass.

Boogie on the grass

Boogie still gets red and raw spots… especially on his face and in his armpits. I have found that the Virbac Resicort lotion (from our vet) helps with his armpits, but unfortunately this is a recurring problem.

P.S. I tried the coconut oil and apple cider vinegar… these didn’t do anything.

April 15, 2015 at 7:08 pm 1 comment

Trying out Darwin’s Pet food – eating “rare”

We were at the vet again last week. Boogie is now on Cephalexin (antibiotics) and Temaril-P (steroids).  30 days of Cephalexin.

The itchiness has stopped but Boogie’s skin is still splotchy. Hopefully it won’t take too long to heal. One side effect of Temaril-P is increased hunger, so the poor little dog is constantly starving. Walks are frustrating. He has become obsessed with scavenging off the sidewalks (“Leave it” only works 50% of the time) and at home he often sits looking up at me, pleading for treats. He won’t even play fetch or tug. He would rather eat.

The upside is that Boogie is paying no attention to his usual triggers on the street. He is ignoring other dogs and scary humans and concerned ONLY with finding food scraps on the ground.

I told Dr. F that I cook for Boogie, and she mentioned that she orders her dog’s meat from Darwin’s Pet . Knowing that Boogie does not eat raw meat – he has either walked away from it, or eaten it and vomited later –  I at first figured that this wouldn’t be something worth trying out.  But when Dr. F told me that she cooks the meat and that it is ok to do so, I  placed a trial order…


The prices seem really good. I spend about the same amount of money each week at the local market anyway; and the meat from Darwin’s Pet is organic, antibiotic-free and already mixed with organ meats, bone meal, veggies, apple cider vinegar and supplements. In the photo above – our first shipment of 10lbs of food – $15. When the box arrived, my first thought was – there is NO WAY THIS IS GOING TO FIT IN MY FREEZER – but then I realized the contents were mostly dry ice. The meals comes sealed in 1/2 lb packets. They include a fed ex slip for you to send the box back to be recycled.


Left: empty container; Right: that’s 4 x 1/2 lb packets of food (Beef)


Interestingly – the instruction sheet says that if the dog has a compromised immune system, he should not eat raw and it is advisable to cook the meals


Left: raw, sealed food Right: Cooked RARE

This evening I started transitioning Boogie over to Darwin’s Pet food… I sauteed 1lb of food – as you can see in the photo the meat is still red in color – definitely rare – and added 2oz of this to his usual fully-cooked mix of meat and veggies.

I have a question – does “rare” meat keep longer than “raw” in the fridge? This is a transition period so I won’t be feeding all of this rare meat too quickly but I don’t want it to go bad sitting in the fridge for too long… How many days is safe? I suppose I could cook it some more…

July 27, 2013 at 8:25 am 6 comments

Home cooking: Week 5

Still following a home cooked diet. About 20% of the time anyway, as I still mix in a bit of Stella & Chewy’s or Primal  freeze-dried food from time to time. I have bags of these foods bought a month ago, that would otherwise go to waste.

7 days of food… I store these in the freezer and thaw a new container each day.

Freshly cooked dinners.

It takes only about 1-2 hours per week  and it is so much cheaper! 25lb active dog: 3lbs of ground meat, 2 lbs of veggies, and supplements. Under $30 a week. Amazing.

Is the food making a difference to Boogie’s skin condition? It’s really hard to tell. He is still itchy and has those flaky bits and blistery bumps. But I *think* his fur is growing back a bit more. And he LOVES this new diet.

I have a couple of questions about using a dehydrator to make meaty dog treats (like Bravo treats):

  • If I want to dehydrate pieces of chicken, beef, or liver, do I have to cook the meat first before dehydrating?
  • What if the meat is frozen? Does it need to be thawed out first? Or can it go straight into the dehydrator?

March 14, 2013 at 7:19 am Leave a comment

Pawalla mini box!

He’s a lucky Boogie. You may remember that about a year ago, Boogie was sent a Pawalla box for review. See the blog post here.

Pawalla now offers a mini box  and  it contains just a handful of doggie products… definitely less overwhelming :) Again, these are products that are new to me; I have never heard of them before, and they all look and sound pretty cool. Here’s what we got:

  • Wild Salmon treats <– Boogie loves these! Nice that they are grain-free.
  • Grain-free Baked Duck treats made with potato and tapioca flours.
  • Wigzi (treat-stuffing) ball 
  • Gerard Larriett “Balancing Rose” Aromatherapy Freshening and Shining Spray <– this is the only item we are not keen on. I would never spray Boogie with fragrance anyway, and he hates being sprayed. The only stuff I am applying on his sensitive dry skin are raw coconut oil and/or Virbac Resicort skin lotion (which unfortunately, has a fragrance).

“Another salmon treat, please”.

I checked out the website. It costs $12 per month to have a mini box of surprises shipped to you, and “Limited offer available only for the first 200 subscribers.” 

February 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm 4 comments

Cooking for the Boogs

I am still reading Monica Segal’s K-9 Kitchen. Most of the information about understanding nutritional values of food items, calculating allowances by the dog’s weight, and preparing custom spreadsheets has gone way over my head. I will need to return to earlier chapters and figure out these nitty gritties. There is also a chapter on how to read a blood panel and what all the values mean but my brain cannot cope right now after having just spent the past two days on taxes & assorted spreadsheets…

I want to cook for Boogie again. I used to feed Boogie a mix of homecooked and The Honest Kitchen but it was a lot of work so I switched to 100% freeze dried/dehydrated raw and add fish oil, probiotic and kelp supplements. I want to see if an expert-formulated homecooked diet makes any difference to Boogie’s energy level and skin condition (which is still not good… his coat is thinning).

There is a chapter of raw, cooked and combo recipes in the K-9 Kitchen Book and tonight, I made a big pot of food for a 25lb active dog.

I may have made a mistake with the quantities.  I later read that the ounces of veggies and meats in the recipe are for COOKED portions. I had weighed raw ingredients and cooked them all together. Oops. Next week we will do better. Boogie has not eaten grains in ages, but he used to do ok on oats (The Honest Kitchen: Keen) so we’ll see. The only complicated part was having to handle beef liver – which I had never touched before – and this was pretty gross. Slimy and bloody… worse than chicken liver, and it is stinky when cooked. I also hoped I used the correct amount of Calcium supplement… I stirred in some capsules as I don’t yet have the powdered version.

Look at Boogie. He wanted his big pot of dinner NOW. When the food was stored away in the fridge, he refused to leave the kitchen. In between games of fetch, Boogie kept running to the kitchen hoping that I would follow him and get the message. Each time I got up from my desk or couch, Boogie would dash to the kitchen and drop his ball at the door… “Please can I have some of that stinky meat sludge? Please?”

February 9, 2013 at 9:28 am 3 comments

Home from Clicker Expo

After three full days of Clicker Expo, a total of 14 seminars, half a notebook full of notes and scribbles, my brain is so full I don’t even know how to start writing about this experience. I may need a couple of weeks to process and streamline everything!

I attended my first Clicker Expo 2 years ago (you can read about it here  and here) and this time I went all out and registered for the full event. I wanted to learn new things, be inspired, meet up with my clients, make new contacts, listen to expert trainers like Ken Ramirez and Kathy Sdao, meet Dr. Susan Friedman in person (she ordered multiple copies of my poster!) and sit in on Sarah‘s and Irith‘s shorts presentations, which were really great. I must say that even though I was in the 2% of attendees who don’t work professionally with animals – I didn’t at all feel overwhelmed or lost. 

Clicker Expo was everything I hoped for, including the joy of seeing doggy “down-stay” butts every time I visited the hotel’s ladies’ restroom.

photo by Cindy Bennet Martin

photo by Cindy Bennet Martin

I could write a day-by-day review and this would turn into an epic 3 or 4 part blog post  but for now, let me direct you to this Flickr Set where I have posted some photos and quick notes.

Some topics that I want to think/write more about and do illustrations for….

  • Anthropomorphism & Mechanomorphism (Karen Pryor)
  • Classical Conditioning in relation to Clicker Training (Kathy Sdao, Susan Friedman)
  • Dealing with Unwanted Behavior in the Least Intrusive Way (Ken Ramirez)
  • TAGTeach – Clicker Training for human beings  (Theresa McKeon, Irith Bloom)

I enjoyed every single talk and Learning Lab at Clicker Expo but the highlight for me personally was Kay Laurence’s “Targeting” Lab on the final day, which was amazing to watch. I am so in awe of Kay Laurence’s skills, her sensitivity to the dog, and her way of articulating reasons for every little training choice that she makes. There’s something about seeing a LIVE training session that can’t be beat by watching a YouTube video or DVD.

And after those three intense days of learning and meeting people, it was so good to be back home with Boogie, who is a refreshing change from all the “well-behaved” dogs at Clicker Expo…

Boogie in his new tiny teacup doggie bed.


Boogie unstuffs his new bed.

In other news, I have started reading Monica Segal’s K9 Kitchen: Your Dog’s Diet. The Truth Behind The Hype. It is a fascinating read but I am now even more aware of how much conflicting info there is about dog nutrition floating around… for instance, the  “grain-free, potato-free” diet that is said to prevent yeast infections. See this earlier blog post.

According to Monica Segal, cutting carbs out of a dog’s diet won’t make any difference to yeast growth.

“A very popular myth circulating on the Internet claims that yeast feeds on carbohydrates…. There isn’t a direct link between carbohydrates or sweet vegetables and yeast. The focus should be on eliminating the food culprit whatever it may be” (usually proteins or grains or supplements)

She also adds that grains can be a GOOD THING for some dogs (better coat)… so long as they are thoroughly cooked to be digestible. I am particularly interested in the chapter on  recipes and on how to prepare a home cooked diet that has the correct balance of nutrients…

More later…

January 31, 2013 at 8:37 am 8 comments

Happy Holidays!

Apologies for the long silences between posts and thank you to everyone who has left comments (advice, tips, personal stories etc) on this blog, particularly with regards to Boogie’s skin issues. I have been out-of-town; now I am happy to be back home and snuggling with the Boogs again. He is less itchy now that the weather has cooled down. His coat is still very thin with the same bald patches, and his poor skin has been dry, flaky, and dandruffy.

I am trying a few new things:

  • No chicken in his diet at all. He has been eating lamb and/or fish-based meals. It has only been 1 week… I can’t tell if there is any difference.
  • Adding Pet Kelp to his food. 3 weeks, now. Can’t tell if this is making any difference with his skin, but his poop is looking very good!
  • Virgin Coconut Oil massage, every other day <– THIS is making a difference! Skin is noticeably less dry.
  • New Year Resolution: Make pet treats with the new dehydrator (which is still in its box)

I am determined to do anything to avoid more vet visits & antibiotics! In fact, I took advantage of Monica Segal‘s recent Black Friday Sale and ordered a dietary consultation for Boogie in the new year. I need help figuring out what foods (if any) that Boogie’s system may not be tolerant of.


 Check out Jordan Rothman’s new book  The Misunderstood Dog, with my illustrations. I would describe it as a simpler, easier-to-read version of “The Culture Clash”, written for dog owners. The Boston on the cover is the author’s dog.  Here is the page.


Order a snazzy little name tag that I designed for blanketID.  A percentage of sales goes to Boston Buddies rescue. I think this would make an awesome Xmas gift. They come in red or blue, and small or large sizes. The photos that I have of Boogie wearing this blanketID tag on his collar are kinda blurry…. Will try again later.  ORDER HERE

Who is going to Clicker Expo in San Francisco next month? I would love to meet up! I know names but not faces, so if you recognize me, please say hi! I will be there for the full three days. First time that I am staying for the whole expo and very excited!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! – Lili & Boogie x

December 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm 5 comments

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Commission a pet portrait

A gallery of Boogie Art

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