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Sam Dobson Writes: January 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Raw Feeding For Dogs 101

So my sweet boxer has been battling some allergies lately. Hades is scratching at her ears, has small hive-like bumps on her legs, and is incessantly licking her back left foot in between the pads. She's obviously uncomfortable and I can't stand it. I did some research and discovered that the yeast infection she's got between her toes and the itchiness is most likely caused by a certain fungus that lives in the dog's gut. When this fungi overpopulates, it can spread to different parts of the body such as the ears and feet. Aside from treating the affected areas topically (which I am doing and will write more on that later) you also need to treat the tummy. The goal is to feed a balanced diet with enough protein and less carbs. This means going back to raw feeding. 

Yes, I said "back to". We did a stint of raw feeding a few months ago and it went really well. However, I do the lazy version of raw feeding where I just buy the pre-made raw patties instead of measuring out everything on my own. It's easier and who has time for all that prepping anyways? My friend Jessie, that's who. She has become my raw feeding guru. To me, raw feeding is this overwhelming and complicated process. I run to Jessie when I need a "Raw Feeding For Dummies" shortcut. If you are as lost as I am when it comes to raw feeding, check out what Jessie has to say about it:

#1 Dogs (and cats) can handle it!

Your dog is a descendant of the wolf. Yes, they have been domesticated over the years into the adorable poodles, puppies, and fur balls we know today. Domestication did not and has not changed their biological structure. Domesticated dogs still process food the same way wolves do.
The acidity of the dog’s stomach is designed to kill pathogenic bacteria because it is implicitly designed to process raw meat. Grains and other foodstuffs which are not common to a carnivore’s natural diet will alter the pH of the gut, making it more alkaline. This change in acidity will negatively impact the dog’s ability to destroy potentially harmful bacteria such as salmonella. - Dogs Naturally Magazine 
So does this mean Salmonella is something to never worry about with dogs? No. As stated in the quote above, unfortunately since the majority of dogs are fed diets with grains and other species inappropriate items, this can hinder their natural ability to kill off bacteria such as salmonella, especially since it can also lower their immune system. And, putting salmonella aside, raw is not always the best option for every dog. Just like people and differing dietary needs, not every dog can handle raw, as much as I hate to admit this it's true. Genetics, diseases, and lowered immune systems for varying reasons other than diet can increase a dog's risk to bacterial infection.

#2 Maintain proper hygiene practices and you'll be fine.

I've heard the "what about harmful bacteria, it's not safe for me or my family" comments multiple times. Practice good hygiene and you'll be fine. Do you not have to handle raw meat before it's cooked? Unless you're getting pre-cooked meat or those amazingly delicious and cheap rotisserie chickens from Costco, chances are you've had a few slimy butcher moments with raw meat. Wash your hands, surfaces, and prep tools just as you would if you were preparing raw meat to cook for you or your family. Same thing! For messy dogs or dogs with beards, a quick wipe down is all they need (same with any feeding surfaces). Apple cider vinegar or lemons are good natural cleaning agents. I personally more at risk for getting salmonella from eating cookie dough...and boy do I love cookie dough!
**As always, people with lowered immune systems are always at risk for catching something, whether it be from bacteria from raw food or other sources.

#3 There's a flip side to this coin!

"Don't be hatin'" All raw food wants to do is make your dog happy and healthy, it can be scary, yes, but think about this:
In the last 7 years, at least 4,500 cats and dogs have reportedly been killed by tainted commercial (box store, specialty pet, veterinarian) pet foods, with issues such as melamine poisoning or, ironically, salmonella poisoning. - Rodney Habib, Pet Nutrition Blogger (Paraphrased from an article written by Dana Scott for Dog's Naturally Magazine)
Many people forget that a wide spectrum of brands of kibble and canned food have been recalled for multiple reasons including mold, salmonella, and, if you haven't heard, just recently a popular brand has been recalled and the plant shut down due to small metal fragments found in the dog food!
I'm not lying or being biased, I switched to a raw diet and recommend it for a reason! I'm a Dog Snob, remember? If you'd like to read more upon recalls and the shady things that happen in the commercial pet food industry, mingle about these links for a little while (warning: may contain shocking material):
I also urge anyone and everyone to do their own research. I am only human and I have my own perspective, opinion, and thought process. There are usually always different sides to a story and I try my hardest to look at both and make my decisions from there. Not ALL kibbles are bad, not ALL commercial raw foods are necessarily good either. Feeding kibble does not mean you're a bad dog owner and I'm not here to guiltily force you to "the dark side" -- though there are cookies here ;)
#4 Some personal experience to sooth the nerves
Raw Feeding For Dogs 101
Follow Jessie & her dog Axel on Instagram
Prepping a 52lb raw order from www.rawfeedingmiami.com :) Axel stealing some tastes in between!
Most dogs do perfect on a raw diet. Axel was fed premium kibble for 3 years until I switched him to a raw diet in July 2013 -- he is perfectly fine and more than just that, he's thriving. Here are some things I, and many other people, experience when switching their dogs to raw:
  • Awesome Poops -- Axel's stools are no longer runny, mushy, huge, or stinky. Raw fed poops are smaller, biodegradable, and don't stink!
  • Shiny and Healthy Coat -- As per the picture above, he has great skin and a healthy and shiny coat. He also sheds significantly less and feels amazing! Many people also report that "dog smell" is significantly reduced if not non-existent.
  • Pearly Whites -- Dogs eating a raw diet get their teeth cleaned naturally by chewing raw bones. Many owners who switched to raw from kibble see a dramatic decrease in plaque and dogs who are started on raw at a young age generally do not have any plaque build up their entire lives, unlike what you see in kibble fed dogs who show signs of gingivitis at the age of 3.
  • Energy Boost -- Many dogs get a natural boost in energy from a natural diet!
  • Skin Problems/Allergies Reduced -- Axel has never had skin allergies, but I can not tell you how many success stories I've read wherein people who have dealt with skin issues and allergies in their dogs, sometimes for years, have their dogs completely recover and thrive when put on a raw diet and in a short period of time as well!
  • Longetivity -- Many raw feeders have had dogs live 15+ years (even large breeds!). A healthy dog means a healthy and long life!
I am also an active member in multiple raw feeding groups and know hundreds if not thousands of people who successfully feed their dogs raw from people who have only been feeding a couple weeks and see amazing results, to people who have been feeding for 20+ years and to dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages (with no run-in with any type of bacterial poisoning or infection from raw food). If this was dangerous for my dog, I would NOT be feeding it to him. I have done my own extensive research and continue to learn every day from articles, books, magazines, and amazing and experienced raw feeders.
Raw feeding is dog snob approved! If you would like to transition your pup to raw, let us know and we can help or guide you to helpful sources! Support is huge in making the transition. Truth be told, I almost gave up raw feeding when first transitioning, I stayed strong and made it through and never again will I ever feed any dogs I own anything but a raw diet.

Don't forget to follow Jessie on Instagram! 


Monday, January 5, 2015

What I Learned In My First Year Of Marriage

Blake and I spent the last week in Napa Valley celebrating the new year and our first anniversary as a married couple. It's a good thing we were in wine country because we had plenty to cheers to. We survived our first year practically unscathed, which is saying a lot considering we had purchased and completely renovated (a pain-staking ordeal) our first home within six months of saying "I do". You always hear that old adage that the first year of marriage is the hardest. How much truth there is in that statement, who knows? Despite the stress we endured throughout our reno, I highly doubt we will look back and think of our first year as the hardest.

To be honest, we had a pretty great first year of marriage. That's a good thing though, right? No major fights, we didn't fall on hard times, and we accomplished some big things. Of course it wasn't always rainbows and butterflies. I definitely learned a few things about me and my relationship during our first year that I hope will help me (and maybe you too) in the many married years to come.

First Year Marriage Advice

1. Feeling Sexy Is Important

Since our wedding one year ago, I've put on more than my fair share of weight. While there were some pathetic and short-lived attempts to loose those extra pounds, I pretty much did nothing to change it all year long. All the while feeling totally self conscious and unhappy with my weight gain. It became increasingly more apparent as the year went on that my self confidence had a direct affect on my marriage. While my husband will forever compliment me and do his best to make me feel beautiful, if I don't feel sexy (due to nothing else but my own feelings about my body) it's hard to get in the mood. I'm not saying I have to be skinny to get my libido going, that's not it at all. Now I realized that it's just as important that I feel sexy as it is for my husband to think I'm sexy to encourage a healthy sex life. Just another reason to get my ass back in shape. 

*Side note: It's just as important to give each other compliments. I love getting random "you look hot in those jeans" or " you're so sexy" compliments from my husband and I always make sure to return the praise.

2. You Need A Household Budget

Unless you are one of those fortunate enough to be in the now infamous 1%, you will most likely always have to keep a close eye on your finances and marriage will only further the need. No longer are you responsible for your small handful of bills and the rent for a small studio. Being married brings in another income (hopefully) and even more bills. I do most of the book keeping so the juggling of checks and balances has mostly been on my plate, but I do go over our budget at least once a month with the hubby. I make sure he knows exactly how much we need for which bills and how much we have to spend on extras. During the first year of marriage, it becomes obvious that both partners need to be on the same page financially. And while we are on the subject, it's probably about time to get a real live tax accountant too.

3. Monotony Gets Boring

Don't get me wrong, I love our typical Friday night of dinner and a movie at home...but, you've got to mix it up a little. With all the work that went in to our renovation and for all those months we stayed with Blake's mom during the purchase of the house, when we finally got settled we wanted to do nothing but enjoy each other's company in our first home. Those are still my favorite nights but we need to go out once in a while and have some fun. It doesn't come all that naturally to us. We have to work at it, we make plans to keep dating. After a year of trying to come up with last minute dates that aren't the same old, same old, I decided to be proactive. For Blake's Christmas present I planned a year-full of unique dates, one for each month of 2015. You gotta keep it fresh and fun. 

4. Compromising Is A Necessity

Compromise is an important part of any relationship but once you get married the compromises are on a whole other level. It's always nice to compromise on the movie you're going to watch or where you will go for dinner, but when you have a spouse you will have to make bigger compromises. Maybe you can't stand your husband's best friend or you don't get along with your wife's brother, yet you are required to be civil. Perhaps you aren't fond of football but your spouse is a die-hard fan, you have to play along, tail gates and all. The point is that if you're married, from time to time you will have to do things you would rather not do. It's all about compromise. Blake doesn't share my love for Friends (the sitcom, not my besties) but he will tolerate a few episodes for me. My taste buds don't do well with curry but I attend and attempt to enjoy every family dinner at the Indian cuisine restaurant up the street. It's best to gracefully accept that you'll have to compromise from time to time and appreciate when your spouse does the same for you.

5. Tiffs & Spats Are Normal

I've sort of always known this one, now I'm just sure of it. I was never under the misconception that marriage was like a magic spell or potion that would alleviate any and all altercations from my relationship. Fights, arguments, disagreements, whatever you want to call them, should be a part of any healthy relationship. Nope, you didn't read that wrong. I don't trust any couple that doesn't bicker from time to time. There are probably some giant skeletons in those closets that are just waiting to surprise attack. Anyways, tiffs and spats are somewhat common in my household. I'm not talking about full blown fights with yelling and nasty name calling, those are not fun and should be few and far in between. Blake and I argue about the most ridiculous things sometimes and it somehow ends with laughter. Half the time one (or both) of us has a grin on our face. It's a half-serious quarrel that is soon forgotten. That's how it's always been with us and marriage hasn't changed that one bit. 

Of course this isn't a science, just the opinion of a recently married woman with a hunch she's in a damn good relationship. If nothing else, maybe these realizations can inspire some food for thought about your own marriage. What did you learn in your first year of marriage?

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2015 Goal Planner { Free Printable }

With the year coming to a close and another birthday just a day away, my mind is already gearing up for the new year. While I wrap up holiday shopping and plan the finishing touches of our anniversary trip, I'm also thinking about my goals for next year. That's right, I'm already concerning myself with plotting and planning for 2015. I'm not talking about new year's resolutions. No, I don't make those and if you want know why you can read this post.

Instead, I make yearly goals to strive for all year long. They are mostly work related because I've already reached my relationship goals (a la my awesome husband) but there is still plenty I want to accomplish as far as my career goes. Making a goal isn't enough for me. I'll admit that I get lazy and January turns into December and suddenly I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I'd hoped to. This year, to help me stay on track I've designed a simple single page goal planner for the year. For me, it isn't enough to identify what I want to achieve and keep it tucked neatly away in my mind. I need to write my goals down and then keep them handy as a daily reminder to get shit done.

If you're like me and need a little encouragement every now and then, this printable will come in handy. Click here for my free 2015 Goal Planner printable. Write down your top three goals for the new year, whatever they may be. Use the month boxes to narrow your goals down into do-able tasks to help you stay on track. Most importantly, when you're done filling it out don't just file it away never to be seen again until you clean out your desk. Instead, tack it to your bulletin board as a daily reminder. Hopefully this printable can serve as an easy tool to help keep you focused all year long. 

Do you know what your goals for 2015 are?