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Itchies and Scratchies – DIY Skin Soothers

Best Dog Food AustraliaWe all know and love the scratchy-bliss face. That moment when we happen upon the perfect unreachable spot – between the ears, just above the shoulder, or right at the top of the tail – the instant rise of those furry eyebrows above a blissfully wistful distant stare of neck-stretching, leg-kicking, scratchy-spot perfection – the undeniable pinnacle of good itchies.

But oh, when it comes to the bad itchies – the bitey, chewy, flakey, rashy, inflamed or, at worst, infected itchies – life takes a decidedly far-from-blissful turn. The world of skin irritants our pups navigate is a wide and varied one that ebbs and flows with changes of season, diet and environment. Insect bites, chemical ingredients in grooming or pest-prevention products, dietary incompatibilities, pollens and seeding grasses are just a few of myriad causes that can tip things toward the less blissful end of the itchy scales.

So how can we tip those scales back in our favour and sooth our furry friend’s skin back to optimal health? Luckily there are some beautifully simple preventative steps and wonderfully easy-to-use natural soothers than can ease the burden of the undesirable itch.

Grooming products

Just as we bipeds take care in choosing our own shampoos, soaps, moisturisers and ointments to be as gentle and biologically compatible as possible, that same level of choice and care should be applied to choosing grooming products for our four-legged companions. Your dog’s skin is naturally more alkaline than human skin (approx pH 7, compared to our pH 5.5). This means that using shampoos and soaps designed for human skin on your pet can disrupt their natural balance of oils and alkalinity leading to dry or flaky skin, excess shedding, and the potential onset of eczema or dermatitis. Always choose grooming products designed especially for pets, and avoid any that contain harmful chemicals like parabens, sulphates, dyes or synthetic fragrances. The wonderful natural range of grooming products from Ivory Coat are my personal favourites.

Diet

Always remember that the health of your dog’s skin can be a strong indication of their overall health. So, just as with humans, a bad diet can lead to an overall decline in health and compromised immunity which can lay the skin open to sensitivities, reactions and infection. Always feed a quality diet rich in good oils, grain free if possible, and free from fillers like corn or beet meal and the classic ‘meat by-product’. The key is really to know exactly what your dog is eating – get acquainted with the ingredients lists on the food your feeding, or go raw and real – and make informed choices. Whatever you choose to feed, there are some wonderful natural, bioavailable and nutrient-rich supplements that, when added to daily meals, can do wonders for strengthening immunity, skin and overall health. Augustine Approved’s Super Boost and Meals for Mutts Green Tripe Powder are perfect examples.

Coconut Oil

You’ve probably already read about the complete and utter awesomeness of virgin cold-pressed coconut oil as it applies to humans – its anti-microbial properties, its perfect balance of healthy fatty acids, the benefit of those medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) in promoting healthy metabolism and cognitive function, and its many topical applications as a soothing/healing/moisturising skin balm and hair treatment. Well, it’s every bit as wonderful (and safe) for dogs! I give a heaped teaspoon to my dog daily to help promote the production of good skin and coat oils, along with many other bonus health benefits. She adores it, and loves to lick it straight off the spoon. Topically, it’s also a soothing, safe and lickable balm to smooth into dry noses, scratchy paws, chafing between toes, rashy or flakey skin – and with its added anti-microbial properties can help prevent fungal and bacterial skin infections when applied regularly. Always remember to choose virgin cold-pressed coconut oil for supplementing and applying it you or your pet. The processed varieties of coconut oil have unfortunately lost much if not all of their beneficial properties during manufacturing. You’ll find Augustine Approved’s Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil (also a key ingredient in their Super Heal) right here at Organic Bone.

Manuka Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar

Both known for their astounding anti-microbial and healing properties I consider this dynamic duo to be the most important two ingredients in my healthy-skin toolkit for my bull terrier, Lulu. I use medicinal grade UMF 5+ Manuka Honey and organic unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar both supplementally and topically to help keep Lulu’s allergenic and dermatitis-prone skin healthy and free from bad itchies. I add 1/2 teaspoon of UMF 5+ Manuka Honey to her daily diet, along with 1 teaspoon of ACV to maintain good pH levels and a healthy systemic microbial balance, allowing for optimal immunity and skin health. As if that wasn’t enough, topically these two truly come into their own. I always keep a little bottle of Lulu’s magic skin spray (as we call it in our house) mixed up and at hand ready to treat any signs of skin irritation, dermatitis or pyoderma (skin infection). To make the DIY spray I mix 1:1 cold filtered water and ACV with 1 level teaspoon of UMF 5+ Manuka Honey in a 100ml spray bottle and shake well until the honey is dissolved. Vinegar being a natural preservative, it keeps well without refrigeration for 2-3 months. Whether it’s a simple grass rash, insect bite, a sneaky patch of atopic dermatitis or hotspots, this simple DIY spray always saves the day. A quick spray over the affected area, then smoothed over with some soothing virgin coconut oil when dry is enough to keep almost all nasty itchies at bay. AND it just so happens that it’s great for treating rashes, eczema and psoriasis on us two-legged animals as well!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lix North – Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, founder of www.lulubully.com

Lix grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand, surrounded by animals. 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered her to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as her bull terrier puppy Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care. The results speak for themselves through the healthy, energetic, cheeky, now 13 year old, Lulu Bully.

Learn more about Best Dog Food Australia

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Is Grain-Free for Me?

Homemade Dog Food Australia Some call it the ‘latest craze’ in pet food. To the big commercial dog food companies, now seemingly all scrambling to jump aboard the grain-free pet nutrition craze, perhaps that’s all it is – a ‘craze’ to be cashed in on before the fickle minds of pet owners latch on to the next new thing.

Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m no fickle minded pet owner. I can tell you that I was feeding a quality homemade grain-free diet to my dogs long before anything gluten, grain or filler free was available on retail shelves. I didn’t read about it online (back then ‘online’ wasn’t really the thing is today), or in a magazine, or on TV, and it certainly wasn’t recommended by my vet. I began feeding grain-free because it felt right – in my head and in my gut. Nearly 14 years later I still rate it as the singular best decision I’ve ever made for my dogs’ health.

Domesticated dogs still share 99% of their DNA with wolves and, biologically speaking, are what’s known as scavenging carnivores (not omnivores). A fact easily confirmed by simply taking a look in my own omnivorous mouth, with that solid offering of flat molars for pounding plant matter, and comparing with that of my dog, packing those magnificent pointy, shiny nashers right to the hilt. With their obvious lack of flat molars, not to mention a lack of opposable thumbs with which to competently build or operate grinding or milling tools, it’s safe to say that grains have never had a look-in on the dog’s biological shopping list.This fundamental biological truth endures regardless of the psychological and behavioural evolution of domesticated dogs.

Maybe you’ve already thought about the equation of grain based diets for dogs from a biologically appropriate perspective, or perhaps you’ve been inspired to try grain-free options as a means of helping a pet with sensitivities. For me the decision to go grain-free was a combination of the two, along with a healthy dose of scepticism when it came to the nutritional advice of ‘experts’ whose training was more often that not either funded or unduly influenced by major commercial dog food manufacturers.

The bond we have with our pets is unique, and when that bond is strong it’s not hard to see and to intuit the difference between whether your dog is merely surviving on their current diet or thriving on it. When you have a dog with extreme food sensitivities, as I do, it’s impossible to ignore the symptoms. Similarly, the difference in a dog’s quality of life upon a shift to a grain-free, quality diet can be just as blatantly obvious and, for me personally, fundamentally inspiring. Even for those without extreme sensitivities, it’s important to realise that many of the things we thought were just normal pet foibles – stinky breath/skin/coat, itching, shedding flakey skin, hyperactivity or lethargy, gas and upset tummies – are more often than not either caused or exacerbated by a poor quality, processed grain and filler rich diet that your dog’s system is simply not built to handle.

It’s important to think about each and every thing you feed your pet, just as you would a child. Read ingredients lists and along with looking for ingredients you want to avoid, also remember that they’re listed in hierarchical order – the higher the percentage of the total content the higher it is on the list. Beware of ‘grain-free’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ options from the bigger commercial pet food brands, as many fail to understand that these are actually valuable nutritional concepts, and not just ‘buzz words’ that will sell more product. If they’ve removed the grain, the chances are it’s been replaced it another variety of filler (like soybean hulls, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls, feather meal – I know… feather what?! Eww!), or bulked up the carb content (ie. potato or vegetable husks/byproducts) to minimise the production costs associated with quality meat ingredients.

If you’re here on at organicbone.com.au then you’re likely already weary of the ingredients lists served up by the big commercial dog food brands (incl. ‘prescription’ diets) and consciously thinking about what your furry friend truly needs to get the best out of life, live long and prosper. Some pet owners find joy and fulfilment in creating quality homemade meals and treats themselves, but for those who find there just aren’t enough hours in the day for a DIY doggy diet it doesn’t mean you have to compromise. There are some wonderful solutions for ethical, quality, biologically appropriate, grain-free and affordable diet options, right here at Organic Bone, that can provide you the peace mind that comes from knowing you’re honouring your pet’s biological requirements and enabling them to truly thrive. The best way to know whether a grain-free diet is right for your pet is to try it, commit to it for at least 6months to give your pets body time to eliminate any toxins from their old diet, and experience the difference for yourself.

References and further reading:

articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/13/dr-mercola-becker-on-pet-food-industry.aspx

healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/10/31/veterinary-practice.aspx

healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/02/28/commercial-pet-food-fillers.aspx

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lix North – Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, founder of lulubully.com

Lix grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand, surrounded by animals. 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and gaining a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered her to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. So, as her bull terrier puppy Lulu’s sensitivities became apparent the most obvious solution seemed simply to apply the very same level of research and holistic care. The results speak for themselves through the healthy, energetic, cheeky, now 13 year old, Lulu Bully.

Learn more about Homemade Dog Food Australia