I noticed that many of your dog treat recipes are designed to be made in the dehydrator. How come? Is it better than making things in the oven?
Thanks – Curious in Colorado
So, y’all have noticed, we are HUGE fans of our dehydrator at Casa de Kolchak.
The Mama makes most of our treats in our dehydrator – even the cookies that are traditionally made in the oven, she will usually pop into the dehydrator. This gives our cookies a great crispy crunch – and it means they are actually better for us.
What’s the deal with dehydration?
- Dehydrated foods last longer. Dehydration is a really easy way to preserve foods. The more moisture there is in food, the quicker they can spoil (unless they have been preserved). Think about how much faster a peach spoils than a box of crackers does. Since dehydrating removes all or most of the moisture from food, it allows it to last longer. Dried fruits and vegetables can last up to a year, if stored correctly. Meats will last up to three months (though we recommend storing them in the fridge if not being consumed within 30 days).
- Dehydrated foods can be more nutritious than cooked foods. Since dehydration uses gentle heat to dry the food, less of the nutrients are destroyed during the cooking process. Vitamin C is diminished, but most of the other vitamins remain and the mineral content stays the same. Most of the good phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables survive the dehydration process as well, and some, like lycopene and polyphenols are even more concentrated after dehydrating. Even if they can be baked in the oven, Mama makes most of our treats in the dehydrator to make sure they are as nutritious as possible. 99.9% of our recipes can be converted to be cooked in the dehydrator. If you find one you’d like to try, just drop us a bark and w can tell you how!
- Show me the money. It’s really economical to make dehydrated treats at home. Yes, there is an initial investment, as you’ll need to purchase some special equipment. You can buy low-cost options like drying racks for the oven or you can purchase small appliances to dehydrate at home. You can get started with a small counter top dehydrator for as low as $36.00, but people like me who use their dehydrator all the time will appreciate the added power and drying capacity of a higher end dehydrator. The real savings comes in making your treats. I try to watch the sales at my local stores and I’ll make treats using whatever is cheap. Beef on sale? The dogs get beef jerky. Chicken? Let’s make Chicken Chips! Plus, you can preserve fruit and vegetables while they are in season for use later in the year. We usually make a HUGE batch of our Lean and Green treats during the summer and then munch on them for months!
- Dehydrating is also SO EASY! Seriously! Prep the food, slice it thin and pop it in! (Some fruits and veggies like a lemon bath first to keep them from browning). Anyone can do it! ANYONE! Yes, even you. We recommend that anyone who wants to make low-cost, super easy and really healthy dog treats at home look into getting a dehydrator!
Those tiny humans have all the fun.
Can us dogs maybe get a holiday like this?
Of course an easier suggestion might be for your people to hide some eggs for you themselves.
After all, at it’s heart, an Easter Egg hunt is really just a nose work game.
Smelling for treats.
Here are our tips for creating an egg hunt for your dog:
- If your dog is a Power Chewer, skip the plastic eggs. Gentle mouthed dogs will just pop the egg open and eat the treats inside, but power chewers could crack the plastic egg. Instead, just hide treats.
- If you’re going to use Eggs, choose ones that have “air holes” in them or create your own holes. The holes allow the tasty scent of treats to escape. Your dogs can follow their nose to find them!
- If your dog is new to nosework games, fill them with strong-smelling, stinky treats. We used Salmon Paws fish treats which smell like tasty salmon. Make sure what ever you use drives your dog wild! Make sure you save one or two to give your dog just before the hunt.
- Let your dog watch you fill up the eggs with tastiness, so they know what’s in them.
- Block them from the room or the yard while you hide them and make sure you know where you hid them all! If your dog is not experienced with scent games, hide them at snout level in a small, open area, where they can be seen. (Felix is not very treat or scent oriented, so we just piled his eggs in a heap, right in the center of the room. For him, the whole game was getting the eggs open. BOL!)
Boba Fett is guarding an egg.
- Give your dog one of the treats and an egg with the treat in them. It took Kol about 4 seconds to snarf the loose treat, another 12 seconds to pop open the plastic egg and eat that treat, then he was off to find the other eggs he could smell.
- Supervise your dog as they find the treats. Make sure thy find them all or that you pick up any unfound eggs. You should always supervise your dog with plastic eggs, so that you can ensure they don’t try to chew them. Take any broken eggs away immediately.
Felix cracked open his first egg!
What do you think? Will you plan an egg hunt for your dogs? What kind of tasty treats will you hide?
Say, Mom & Dad started using coconut oil, in place of butter, cooking oil and even hair care. It smells divine! She even let me lick the spatula when she put some in a tiny jar to use as lip balm. Mom was reading up on all the benefits of coconut oil…as good as, if not better than say fish oils. She is considering giving us coconut oil as a supplement for the dry winter coat itchies. What is your take on this?
– Cuckoo for Coconut
Great question Cuckoo… and excellent timing! We’ve been doing a lot of reading about coconut oil recently. A couple years ago, Felix was getting coconut oil everyday. The Mama changed us to fish oil because we really, really liked the flavour of it, but now, we’re looking to coconut oil again.
If you’ve been hanging around for a while, you might know that the Mama is having an allergic crisis.
She keeps blowing up like a blowfish and she’s got this really cool polka dot skin going on. I think she looks great but she keeps avoiding leaving the house and muttering something about “scaring the villagers”. She’s working to get it under control and that has meant looking at all the products we use in our house and every single thing she eats.
She’s got her eyes on our fish oil.
She’s treating the stuff like Public Enemy #1. She’s got a vicious shell fish allergy and the organic fish oil we use is made at a plant that also produces krill oil. Though it’s a small chance that the product has been cross-contaminated, she has quit taking it – and she’s taking us off it too, at least for now.
We’re going coco-nutty at Casa de Kolchak.
The Mama has always been a fan of using coconut products. We love to use coconut flour & coconut oil in our baking. The Mama frequently oils her hair with coconut oil and she even uses it as a moisturizer on Felix’s fluffy coat. This yummy oil is actually really good for you as a supplement too! We used to get it everyday, but we switched to fish oil a while back, mostly to appease the Daddy. He thinks fish oil is nature’s miracle cure for pretty much everything. He’s like the Daddy in My Big Fat Greek Wedding – “Put some windex on it.” Now that Mama the Blowfish is here, we’re switching back to coconut oil PDQ.
Cool facts about coconut oil.
- Coconut oil has more than 90% saturated fat. Now normally, we would say saturated fats are not a good thing, but in the case of coconut – they are actually their most impressive feature. A whole lot of the saturated fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Most of the benefits of coconut come from MCTs.
- MCTs contain about 40% lauric acid. Lauric acid is good stuff! The lauric acid is believed to have antimicrobial properties, helping to keep yucky bacteria at bay. It’s also believed to have “a more favorable effect on total:HDL cholesterol than any other fatty acid, either saturated or unsaturated.” (HDL Cholesterol is the good kind.)
- MCTs are easy to digest. If you have a rescue pup suffering from malnutrition or who has trouble with malabsorption, MCTs is a good choice because it doesn’t require energy for absorption, utilization or storage. It can also help some patients with IBD, colitis or dysbiotic problems.
- On the flip side, MCTs are also good for weight loss. Some studies have shown that they help to burn excess calories and gently boost the metabolism.
- MCTs can also help to balance the thyroid. This can help overweight dogs lose weight and tired or lazy pups feel energetic.
- Help for healthy skin. Coconut oil is known for it’s moisturizing properties, making it good for dry skin and other skin conditions, like eczema, atopic dermatitis, flea allergy rashes, and allergic dermatitis. It’s great for dry doggy noses and dry paw pads.
- Natural antibiotic properties. Coconut oils has been shown to have antifungal, antibiotic & antiviral properties. In fact, the Coconut Research Center suggests that it can kill many common viruses. It’s believed to kill bacteria causing ulcers & UTIs. It’s also good for yeast overgrowth and fungal infections like ringworm.
- Good for the bones, good for the teeth. Coconut oil helps the body to absorb mineral, like calcium, helping to make your bones and teeth strong. Some also believe that it can help keep your teeth clean.
- Medium Chain Triglycerides are not generally recommended for those with liver issues with hypertension/high blood pressure.
- Since it can help to regulate blood sugar, dogs with diabetes should consult with their veterinarian to monitor blood sugar when starting to use coconut oil.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your bark!
- Yawning ( a sign of stress)
- Whining (I made the sweetest most pathetic beagle sounds.)
- Take frequent short trips. Run to the corner store or to the park a block away. Make sure your pup gets lots of attention and positive reinforcement** (see later note on treats). Over time, increase the time spent in the car.
- Buckle up Bonehead. Dogs who are firmly secured in one spot with an appropriate car safe harness are less likely to be bothered by the motion of the vehicle.
- Crack a window. Opening the window allows a bi of fresh air in and it stabilizes the pressure within the vehicle. Allow your dog a window seat will also help to combat nausea.
- Travel on an empty stomach. Feed Fido a light snack or nothing at all. You can always feed him his full meal as soon as you arrive at your destination.
- Ginger Cookies – Nature has a way of curing what ails us. Ginger is a great natural anti-nausea remedy. You can make special Ginger cookies Our gingerbread recipe works great as a treat for carsick dogs
- Ginger Pills – You can also buy ginger capsules at your local health food store. 1 – 100 mg capsule 30 minutes before you travel should help settle Fido’s stomach.
- Rescue Remedy for Pets – If you suspect your dog’s carsickness is anxiety related, a dose of this Bach Flower Remedy helps to calm your pet and make the ride more enjoyable.
- Vitamin B6 – Many who experience car sickness are also deficient in B vitamins. Try having a snack of tuna or calf’s liver the night before or the morning of your car ride.
Last night my Mom left a Tuna Fish sandwich on the kitchen table and went into another room. When she didn’t come back, I made the only logical assumption and decided that she must have made the sandwich for me. It seemed odd, since I’m normally not allowed “people food”, but why else would she leave a sandwich out? Hot diggity dog! I snarfed it down in one bite. It was all fishy and mayonnaise-y and delicious. When my Mom caught me I was in a lot of trouble, since apparently, it was not my sandwich. That’s not even the worst part. Today my tummy is really rumbly. I puked up my breakfast kibble and I’m going out to potty every half hour because I have dier, dhia, diah, loose stools. What can I do to get my tummy back on track?
Signed – Poopin’ in Pittsburgh
Dear Poopin’,First let me say, if you need to run outside during this little chat of ours, you just run and go. I’ll wait. I’d rather talk to myself for a minute or two than have you puking all over my blog like Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
So you’ve got a rumbly tummy, eh? It happens to the best of pups. With Thanksgiving and some rich meals coming up this week, we expect diarrhea to be a common problem in a whole lot of households. Get out the carpet cleaners everyone! To help avoid this trouble at your house, check out our tips to help your dog celebrate Thanksgiving in style.
Too late? Here is what your humans can do to help if you have diarrhea right now.
If your dog is used to eating only kibbles day in & day out, then it is completely normal that their digestive system will freak out if they eat something new or different – especially if that food happens to be a rich, mayonnaise-y, egg-y sandwich. Vomiting and diarrhea is no fun for your dog or for you either, but luckily, you should be able to take care of the problem fairly easily.
- Switch to a bland diet. A nice bland diet will help settle your dog’s stomach, plus if they are anything like Kol, it will tempt their appetite even if you aren’t feeling very well. Many people recommend boiled chicken and white rice, but since Felix is grain intolerant, we prefer another variation: boiled chicken and white potatoes. Switch to this bland diet for 48 hours, then slowly reintroduce kibbles. If you are feeding raw, I would consider lightly cooking the chicken to make it easier for your dog’s stomach to digest. You can switch back to raw after 48 hours. (Keep in mind this is not suitable for every day feeding. Only use this bland diet for a day or two. If stomach upset continues beyond that time, see your vet.)
- Pumpkin to the rescue. Pumpkin is a unique fiber source that is good for both diarrhea and constipation. Major bonus? It’s TASTY! We love pumpkin. To help with diarrhea, we use
- 1/2 tablespoon for toy breeds
- 1 tablespoon for small dogs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons for medium dogs
- 2 tablespoons for large breeds
(Trying to treat constipation? Double that amount if your dog is constipated.)
- Cut the treats. Right now you need to let your dog’s body rest. You wouldn’t eat a bag of Doritos if you were sick and this is no time for your pet to be eating junk food either.
- Offer lots of fluids. Your dog is loosing more water than usual, so you will want to help them rehydrate. Offer low-fat, low-sodium chicken stock as a yummy way to entice them to drink. If they are quit dehydrated, you can mix in some plain children’s Pedialyte to help them replace electrolytes.
- Try some Herbal Happiness. Slippery Elm is an herb that turns into a gel when it is added to water. This herb helps to soothe a distressed stomach and it acts as a “protectant” in your digestive system helping to soothe inflammation. Mix one tablespoon of slippery elm powder into 12 oz. of boiling water, stirring until smooth. Mix equal parts slippery elm gel and canned pumpkin (dosing above) and serve. (WARNING: Extended use of Slippery Elm may interfere with absorption of nutrients, minerals and other medications. Always give medications 2 hours before or after Slippery Elm. Consult a qualified veterinary herbalist for use as an extended treatment.)
- Above all, relax and get well! When your dog is under the weather, it’s best to let the veg out on the coach and relax. Save that invigorating hike for another day!