It is spring, right? Although it may still feel like winter throughout much of the country, the calendar says that it is, in fact, spring, so that means here at the farm we are gearing up for another busy garden season. The seedlings are growing strong, the flowers are all peaking through the ground, and the buds on the trees are ready to burst open…if only the weather would cooperate.
Like every year at this time, when plotting out the garden, I always take into consideration what fruits and vegetables are suitable for providing healthy snack options for our canine kids. We spend a lot of our day training for the show ring and field, so having a variety of low-fat, low-sugar treats helps to not only to keep their waistlines trim, but also to hold their attention.
Since we are headed into berry season, here is the low-down on our two favorite berry treats we enjoy sharing with our canine friends:
We grow our blueberries in containers located in a sunny spot right outside the kennel. The easy access is perfect for that quick need to reward a good behavior, though I will be honest and say I have also caught one of the girls helping herself to a blueberry or two! But that is okay, as these “superfoods” are not just good for humans, but they also provide an array of healthy benefits for our pooches. In fact, you will find a number of health conscious dog food companies, such as Life’s Abundance, who include blueberries in their food and treat products. Why are they so healthy? Well, to start with, they provide a plethora of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, all of which help boost your pup’s immunity, strengthens his brain, and helps to fight off cancer.
Another staple in our garden is strawberries. Like blueberries, these sweet treats contain antioxidants, plenty of vitamin C and fiber, and even contain an enzyme that helps to whiten your pup’s teeth. Strawberries are also a great source of folate, potassium, and manganese, all of which support the immune system, help muscles to function normally, and fight cellular damage.
I am often asked about feeding raspberries to our dogs. Similar to blueberries and strawberries, raspberries can be a healthy snack option for your pup; however, we caution you to exercise moderation when rewarding your furry friend with this sweet treat. While raspberries are a great source of vitamin C, K, B-complex, antioxidants, and fiber, they also contain high amounts of naturally occurring xylitol, which is considered to be very toxic to dogs. As with all things, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So, be cautious of over-feeding your pup with any kind of treat, including any of these healthy berries.
Till next time, “Keep Calm and Hug your Labrador!”
As a professional dog breeder and trainer, I am regularly fielding through a numerous questions about how to keep pets healthy with the overwhelming increase of viruses and illnesses impacting the canine community. While the complexity of the issue is frightening, there are a few steps you can take at home in order to help keep your pet healthy during these challenging times:
Second to regular wellness exams, your pet’s diet is the most important step you can take to ensuring his health and well-being. Here at the farm, we feed all of our dogs Life’s Abundance All Life Stages Dog Food. We take a holistic approach to raising our Labrador Retrievers. One of the ways we do this is by ensuring that our dogs are getting the nutrition they need to live a happy and healthy life. This is why we have shied away from commercial pet food brands, preferring homegrown and reliable businesses that care about the product they are creating, and the beloved pets that are consuming it. Life’s Abundance All Life Stages Dog Food not only provides your dog with the essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for long term health, but also contains important pre and probiotics that aid in your dog’s overall GI health and digestion. These key ingredients, including several other needed vitamins, also support your dog’s overall immune system.
To learn more about the importance of canine diet and nutrition, check out our blog series on Dog Nutrition.
Even the very best brands in the canine dry kibble category fall short of providing all of the essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for canine well-being; therefore, at Ashling Place, we complement their diets with Life’s Abundance Wellness Supplement. What we like most about this supplement is that all of the nutrients are sourced from real foods such as chicken liver, cranberries, carrots, eggs, pineapples and several others.
Aching and stiff joints are just as much a part of life for aging dogs as it is for humans. To help provide support for overall joint and connective tissue health, we give our senior dogs Life’s Abundance Agility Formula. This supplement not only helps to maintain healthy joint cartilage and connective tissue, it also aids in the production of healthy synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. It also features Glucosamine, MSM, sea mussels and hyaluronic acid.
It is our strong belief that overall canine health begins and ends in the GI tract, which is why we supplement our dogs’ diets with Nusentia’s Miracle Enzyme and Miracle Probiotic. Oftentimes, illnesses can be traced back to the imbalance of “good” vs. “bad” bacteria in the intestines. Usually referred to as "good bacteria", probiotics helps to support a healthy immune system and digestive system. Adding the Enzymes to the mix helps during the digestion of their processed food and helps to support a healthy environment in the digestive tract so that the probiotics can do their thing. This duo is especially helpful with pets who may be suffering from mild food intolerances and allergies.
Arming our pets with the proper nutrition, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, is an important step in helping them prevent and fight off illness. If you have any questions about these products, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time. Also, if you are interested in completing a complimentary wellness survey on your pet, please contact us by clicking here.
Most of us have a first aid kit in our homes stocked for situations where we may need quick access to bandaids, antiseptic, thermometer, or cold-compress as not every injury requires a visit to the emergency room or doctor’s office. However, do you have a first aid kit specifically for your furry friends? Making sure you have a pet-specific first aid kit is an additional safety measure to ensure you are able to tend to your companion during an emergency situation.
When stocking your kit, you should consider including these items:
Bandages (large & small)
Bandage Scissors & Tape
First Aid Pamphlet for Pets
Mineral Oil or Activated Charcoal
Scissors (with blunt ends)
Sterile Saline Solution
Thermometer (rectal – made for animals)
Antibiotic Ointment (without benzocaine or
Thermal Foil Emergency Blanket
While you can easily stock your own kit with items found at your local pharmacy and purchased through your veterinarian, you can also find pre-assembled kits at most neighborhood pet stores, as well as online. Be sure to go through your kit annually to ensure it is fully stocked with the necessary items and also check to make sure that you discard and replace any items that are past their expiration dates.
On a final note, exciting things are happening here at the farm! Be sure to stay tuned in the next few weeks to keep up to date on the status of Riley and future puppies!
Like humans, our canine companions are equally at risk for inheriting a wide range of diseases and genetic disorders and the Labrador Retriever is no exception. While we cannot control everything in nature, it is the goal of every responsible breeder to take steps to eliminate these diseases. The first step in this process includes completing regular health screenings and genetic testing to ensure that they are not passing on diseases to future generations.
The following list describes the genetic diseases noted to be the most inheritable amongst the Labrador Retriever breed:
Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is when the hip joints fail to develop normally, which results in a gradual deterioration and can, in severe cases, lead to the loss of function in the hip joints. It is an inherited disorder commonly seen in larger breeds, including the Labrador Retriever. While it is a genetic disorder, it can be influenced by environmental factors including obesity, exercise, and nutrition. Radiographs are used to screen for this disorder and a grade of Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Mild, Moderate, and Severe are assigned by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
Elbow Dysplasia: An inherited disease of the elbow which may not be recognized for a long period of time. Symptoms of Elbow Dysplasia include lameness, changes in the gait, and decreased range of motion in the elbow. While genetic, environmental factors including weight gain and level of exercise can influence its progression. Radiographs are used to screen for this disorder and are noted as either Normal or assigned a grade of I, II, III when diagnosed as abnormal Elbow Dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): PRA is a genetic disorder that causes cells in the retina to degenerate and eventually die over time. In most cases, this will cause the dog to go blind as there is no treatment or cure for affected dogs. Signs typically can be recognized in early adolescence. There is a genetic test that is available for the Labrador Retriever, which should be completed before breeding, to ensure the disorder is not passed on to future generations. It is recommended that an annual CERF eye exam be conducted to ensure that any breeding Labradors remain clear of this disease, along with other retinal diseases.
CNM (Centronuclear Myopathy): CNM is a serious form of muscular myopathy that affects the Labrador Retriever. First signs of the disease are seen in puppies 2-5 months of age. Symptoms include: loss of muscle tone and control, exercise intolerance, and awkward gait. There is a genetic test available for the Labrador Retriever, which should be completed before breeding to ensure the disease is not passed on to future generations. There is no cure or treatment for this genetic disorder.
EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse): EIC is an inherited disease that causes exercise intolerance and possible collapse in an otherwise healthy Labrador. Affected Labradors are generally normal at rest and can typically tolerate mild to moderate amounts of exercise; however, may become uncoordinated and even collapse with longer periods of strenuous exercise. Symptoms of the disease may show as early as 5 months of age or as late as 5 years of age. There is a genetic test available for the Labrador Retriever, which should be completed before breeding to ensure the disease is not passed on to future generations. There is no cure or treatment for this genetic disorder.
Cardiac Exams: Congenital Heart disease is thought to be a genetically inherited in canines and signs are can be present at birth and develop over time. It is recommended that all breeding Labradors undergo an annual cardiac exam using either auscultation (listening with a stethoscope) or an echocardiogram (visual exam of the heart and valves).
When searching for our Labrador puppy, ask the breeder what genetic tests and health screenings have been completed on both parents of the litter. The breeder should happily provide you with proof of these examinations and be willing to show you the OFA certificates. Furthermore, you can find detailed information about the health screenings completed on the parents, their siblings, and their offspring by visiting www.ofa.org. Be leery of any breeder that is unwilling or unable to provide you with proof of these examinations and genetic tests.
As we were sitting in our veterinary office waiting to see our doctor this week, I got to thinking about how important it is for pet parents to be consistent with scheduling regular wellness exams for our furry friends. In addition to diet and nutrition, wellness visits are of the most important steps towards taking preventive measures in ensuring our pets’ overall well-being.
What Happens During the Wellness Exam?
A regular wellness exam for pets is very similar to our own annual checkups that we have with our personal physician. During the exam, the veterinarian will check your pet’s weight, heart, lungs, pulse, joints, lymph nodes, eyes, ears, etc. for any irregularities. Furthermore, you will have discussions about appropriate diet and the nutritional needs for your pet’s current life stage, as well as recommendations for appropriate exercise routines to help with weight management. This is also an appropriate time to test for heart worms and other parasitic problems, as well as discuss the appropriate preventative steps to protect your pet from these harmful organisms.
The importance of the wellness visit extends well beyond the physical exam. Because our pets are unable to communicate about how they are feeling, oftentimes we miss the early warning signs of a disease, allowing the ailment to progress much further before we become aware of it. However, a veterinarian may be able to detect these early signs during a regularly scheduled wellness exam, and provide suggestions for treatment to help manage or even correct the problem before it causes more harm.
In addition to the physical exam, this is a perfect opportunity to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. For dogs this includes the core vaccinations like rabies and the DA2PP, which protects agains the Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza virus. Furthermore, there may be some non-core vaccinations that your veterinarian recommends based upon where you live and whether or not you board, visit dog parks, or participate in dog show events. Some of these non-core vaccinations include the Lepto Vaccine, the Bordetella Vaccine, and the Lyme Disease Vaccine. Ask your vet about whether these are appropriate vaccinations for your canine friend.
How Often Should My Pet Have a Wellness Exam?
There is not one answer to this question as it all depends on the age, breed, and health condition of your pet. For example, in the early puppyhood stages, you should make monthly visits to your veterinarian to ensure your puppy is fully vaccinated before introducing them to training and socialization classes. Eventually, your visits will occur annually until they reach their senior years, at which case you may want to consider semi-annual visits. We recommend establishing a wellness exam visitation schedule with your veterinarian in order to establish the appropriate healthcare plan to ensure a long and healthy life.
One final note…remember that your veterinarian is your partner in protecting your pets’ well-being. We are very fortunate, here at Ashling Place Labradors, to have an incredibly talented and experienced team to work with at Morris Veterinary Clinic. The doctors and staff there have been essential to helping us keep our canine family healthy and happy over the years. We recommend doing research and asking for recommendations as you look for a veterinarian that you can trust with the health and wellness of your pets.
There is no question that we all want to believe that the food we are feeding our furry friends provides them with all the essential nutrients necessary for a long, healthy life. With so many options out there, how do we really know what is the most nutritious food for your pet? While there is no one food that can claim to be the “best” food out there, there are some things that we can do to ensure that we are informed about the food we do choose to feed our companion pets.
All of our dogs have unique dietary needs and to ensure that these needs are being met, you will want to ensure that the food you are serving them includes all of the following: a diverse selection of high-quality proteins; healthy species-specific animal fat; a guaranteed amount of the antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E; a guaranteed amount of omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3’s should be scientifically balanced with omega-6 fatty acids to ensure optimal benefit); prebiotics; a guaranteed amount of probiotics; an array of vegetables; and fruits. Additionally, to minimize health risks, the food should not contain any wheat or wheat gluten or corn or corn gluten-based.
Why are all of these ingredients important for your dog’s nutrition?
Diverse Selection of High-Quality Proteins: All proteins are not created equal, therefore all dog foods should contain at least three different protein sources to ensure a wide array of amino acids, which are the body’s “building blocks.”
Healthy Species-Specific Animal Fat: While vegetable oil may sound healthier to us humans, dogs need nutrients only found in animal fats. Make sure the listed animal fat source is species-specific like "chicken fat", and not generic like "animal fat”.
Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C and E): Antioxidants are essential to promoting and maintaining good health. Vitamins A, C and E are some of the most effective antioxidants and evidence supports the food we feed our dogs should include a guaranteed amount to ensure the adequate antioxidant intake necessary for wellness.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s are some of the most extensively researched, naturally occurring, nutritional ingredients in the world. Dog foods should feature a guaranteed amount Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are scientifically balanced with Omega-6 fatty acids for optimal benefit. A perfect balance will support healthy skin, shiny coats and help maintain overall health.
Prebiotics: Non-digestible ingredients that promote the growth of "healthy" and "friendly" bacteria in the digestive system. Similar to vitamins and minerals, prebiotics occur naturally in foods.
Probiotics: Often referred to as "friendly bacteria" or "healthy microorganisms", probiotics support a healthy immune system and digestive system. For this reason your dog's food should feature guaranteed amounts of probiotics.
Vegetables: Dog food should contain a variety of vegetables such as carrots, beets, celery, parsley, spinach, watercress and broccoli because they each have a unique, health promoting properties. The skin and flesh of each contain vital nutrients, including phytonutrients, essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Fruits: Fruits such as blueberries and pomegranate should be part of your dog's food. Similar to vegetables, the skin and flesh of each contain a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
What your dog food should NOT contain is grains like corn, wheat or gluten. These are used as inexpensive and inferior sources of protein and are highly susceptible to toxic mold contamination, leading to significant health risks.
What I hope you take away from this is the importance of reading the nutritional labels on the food you give to your fur-kid. A nutritional food will not have any unidentifiable meat ingredients or generic animal fats, and will contain significant amounts of meat-based protein. It will be free of artificial colors, fillers, and controversial preservatives. Furthermore, it will provide a guaranteed amount of essential nutrients that help to promote a healthy immune system, a healthy digestive system, and a healthy skin and coat.
Since your dog eats the same food every day, the brand you choose to feed is the most important decision you can make as a pet parent. The food you feed is your pet’s primary source of nutrition, so ensuring that you choose a superior dog food can help to promote a solid nutritional foundation, which can help to foster a long and healthy life.
Here at Ashling Place, we strive to live a healthy life by eating healthy and keeping physically active. This philosophy does not just apply to the humans in our household, but also our dogs. We care deeply about the health of our furry friends and in addition to giving them plenty of time for chasing tennis balls and swimming in the lake, we also strive to ensure that they are receiving the most nutrition out of the food they eat.
As Labrador breeders, we had to make a critical choice in foods when considering the specific dietary needs of our breed. Labs are very sensitive to various food allergies, so it’s very important that we save our clients and their pets from suffering the heartbreak of a sub-par diet that may plague their new family member with a multitude of health issues including allergies and GI issues.
There are a number of brands available and it can be overwhelming when trying to find the best food for your favorite companion. With companies merging and all the pet food recalls, how do you know what is best? We understand your challenge, and after researching a number of brands, looking at all the options, we feel we have finally found the right food that we can trust and feel confident in feeding to our dogs.
With veterinarian Dr. Jane Bicks as the pet product formulator, Life’s Abundance was founded almost 20 years ago. Life’s Abundance Grain Free All Life Stage Dog Food is not only grain-free, but it also contains important pre and probiotics that aid in your dog’s overall GI health and digestion. These key ingredients, including several other needed vitamins, also support your dog’s overall immune system. This food is one of only two I know of that have never had a recall, nor stooped to using the latest cheap ingredients as so many other premium kibbles have in the past couple of years.
We believe so strongly in LIfe's Abundance that I am now a Field Representative for them. If you care about ensuring your pet-kids are getting all the important nutrients they need, or if you are interested in taking a Wellness Assessment for your furry companion, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.