Improving Fido’s Health With Kale, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes and Fish Oils!

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“For the first year of a dog’s life, balanced nutrition is vital,” says Dr. Stanley Coren, Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. “Without balanced nutrition, the nerve cells of a dog’s brain will not mature properly; and the brain will be smaller in volume and weight and not function as well. Poorly nourished dogs act less intelligently throughout the rest of their lives. A dog’s brain and behavior is shaped to some degree by events in the womb. When the puppy is ten days of age, we can easily count the number of neural connections (synapses) that a single cell has with other cells in the brain since there will be only a few hundred. By the time a puppy reaches 35 days of age, the number of connections for each neuron in the brain will have multiplied to around 12,000.”

Most dog lovers have no control over the nutrition of their dog’s parents. Nonetheless, the diet during the first year of a dog’s life is most important, so owners can still influence their pet’s development.

Puppy Keeva (who grew to be She Walks in Beauty RL1, RL2) eats a healthy meal on her first night in her new home. Photo courtesy of owner Kimberly Wilson.

Negative Effects of Inadequate Diets

Packaged dog foods may not include everything your dog needs for healthy brain growth. “Commercial pet foods don’t contain some things we wish they did: adequate quantities and qualities of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as the more intangible qualities unique to live, like fresh foods,” says veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn. “Secondly, they contain other things we wish they didn’t: slaughterhouse wastes, toxic products from spoiled foodstuffs, non-nutritive fillers, heavy metal contaminants, sugar, pesticides, drug residues, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and bacteria and fungi contaminants. All processed pet foods are missing something that seems to be the most important ‘nutrient’ of all. This key ingredient is practically ignored by nutritional scientists, but we can sense when it’s there. It is a quality found only in fresh grown, uncooked whole foods: life energy!”

Natural ingredients are also recommended by Andi Brown, the director of Halo and author of The Whole Pet Diet. “Whether your dog is young or old, adequate nutrition and mental stimulation will keep his brain functioning at its peak, and allow him to develop and keep a high level of fluid intelligence. Artificial ingredients are often highly antagonistic and can actually contribute to an animal’s mental and emotional imbalance,” says Brown. “Some additives can be so detrimental that they can actually have the same effect on an animal as hallucinogenic drugs have on people. According to Best Friends Animal Society, the most common reason animals are put down by veterinarians or turned into shelters is because of unruly behavior.” Brown suggests that adding minerals and vitamins, especially the complete complex of B vitamins, to your pooches diet, will aid in behavior problems.

Healthy Ingredients

There are a few major nutrients that good and healthy canine diets will include such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. All well-fed dogs need to eat a healthy diet each day to get the necessary balance of vitamins and minerals.

*Choose premium brands and possibly organic brands of dog food that are made with nutritious high quality ingredients that can be digested easily. for organic and healthier treats and supplemented dog foods that contain pumpkin, sweet potato, green beans, kale, carrots and other healthy vegetables and fruits. Healthy ingredients will give your pooch all the extra nutrients that he needs.

*Feed fish like salmon that contain healthy fish oils during puppyhood. This helps your pup to focus on training, and aids with increasing his attention span during training. Fish oils are also beneficial for cognitive development.

*Provide your dog with safe human foods such as lean meats, lightly steamed vegetables and plenty of fresh fruits like blueberries. Keep in mind that dogs should never be fed grapes. Healthy fruits and vegetables should never be the main bulk of your dogs ingredient list. Some table scraps are okay, as long as they are healthy and free of fats. Table scraps that are healthy and nutritious additions to a dogs diet can be great. They add plenty of variety and introduce him to different foods.

*Root vegetables also provide many important healing properties for dogs. They help by providing stabilizing energy that aids in helping your dog to focus.

*”Seafood is loaded with protein, minerals and enzymes when fresh and also has lots of collagen,” says Brown, Halo “Spirulina and chlorella are a more concentrated source of chlorophylls than any other food. Both of these algae help reduce inflammation and are also rich in essential fatty acids.”

Cognitive Function in Mature Canines

Dr. Milgram, together with Dr. Carl Cotman, a neurochemist from the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, Irvine and colleagues studied old dogs as examples of human aging. Both these researchers agreed that “Oxidative damage is a key feature in the aged brains of animals and people, and that the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrate greater damage.” Dr. Cotman also suggests that by employing antioxidant supplements like vitamins E and C, one may “improve cognitive decline” in people as well, since mature dogs develop similar pathological changes in their brains.

Carotenoids like beta carotene that are mixed together with certain minerals like selenium, fatty acids DHA and EPA, carnitine and alpha lipoic acid were also found to hinder formations of amyloids in older dogs. Dr. Milgram’s research team used a diet that was rich in nutrients for “cognitive enrichment,” and deduced that it slowed down and sometimes partially “reversed” cognitive decline in our dogs.

Good nutrition is important for the canine brain at any age. “Whether your dog is young or old, adequate nutrition and mental stimulation will keep his brain functioning at its peak, and allow him to develop and keep a high level of fluid intelligence,” says Dr. Coren. For more on this article visit: USDAA and Animal Wellness.


Thanks for visiting!

Woofs & Wags!



Animal Wellness, Volume 15, Issue 1.

This information is not a substitute for veterinary care. Discuss any potential dietary changes with your veterinarian.


Copyright © 2014 Claudia Bensimoun


What’s Stressing Your Dog Out? Helping Your Anxious Dog Starts With Determining What’s Upsetting Him In The First Place.


Helping Your Anxious Dog Starts With Determining What’s Upsetting Him In The First Place.

Claudia Bensimoun

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The first step is to recognize when your dog is stressed out. Obvious symptoms include fearfulness, aggression or destructiveness, but other signs may not be as clear. You need to be tuned in to your dog’s personality and behavior so you’ll notice if he starts acting differently. Restlessness, hiding, excessive sleeping and other uncharacteristic behaviors can sometimes go unnoticed, especially if you lead a busy life and/or are out a lot.

Any unexplained change in the way your dog acts, even if it’s subtle, is a red flag. Start by taking him to the vet for a physical checkup to ensure he isn’t ill or in pain. If he gets a clean bill of health, then something in his environment may be stressing him out.


Numerous things can make your dog feel anxious and fearful, and not all may be factors you would consider stressful yourself. So again, you need to be observant and pay attention to how your dog reacts at certain times or in particular situations. “Dogs have an increase in stress hormones when life is uncertain,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, adding that the following situations are among the most stressful for dogs:

• Going to the veterinarian • Being left alone at home • Loss of a canine companion • Separation from the family • Introduction of a new animal • Moving house • Children returning to school on Monday or after holidays

There are many additional causes of stress, and how your dog reacts to them can vary depending on his temperament. For example, the noise and upheaval of a home renovation project might not affect a laidback animal at all, while a more sensitive one might start displaying stress-related behaviors such as hiding, whining or pacing.

Once you have determined that your dog is experiencing stress, and what the causes are, it’s time to do something to help alleviate his fear and anxiety.


While some sources of stress can be eliminated or minimized, others cannot. Veterinary visits and bereavements are just two stressful situations that usually can’t be avoided. However, there are ways to help your dog react to these events in a healthier manner.

“If we want to support ‘good’ stress response in our dogs, I believe the best method is a holistic approach that considers all the factors – major and minor – that enable a ‘good’ versus a ‘bad’ response,” says dog behaviorist Karen Rosenfeld.

“To understand how we can best support ‘good’ stress response, we need to consider factors that contribute to stress reactivity. These include inherited and acquired traits, environmental influences (animate, inanimate), previously conditioned behavior, communication, diet, physical and mental health, psychology, emotional intelligence and physical capacity.”

By addressing as many of these factors as possible, you can help your dog learn to cope with stressful situations in a less fearful way.


Ensuring your dog stays in good overall health is one important way to help him deal with stress. A proper diet is key.

“If his food does not support good gastrointestinal, glandular and brain function, the ability to cope with stress is adversely affected,” says Karen. “Real food (not highly processed), combined with herbs and nutraceuticals, form the basis of a diet that supports good physical, physiological and mental health. Add some real meat and bone broth to your dog’s food, especially if you are feeding him a dry diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important.

Choose a fish oil sourced from wild-caught fatty fish, or use organic hemp oil.

“Coconut oil in combination with turmeric is another valuable addition. Include a good source of vitamin C and look after your dog’s gastrointestinal flora by adding some plain organic kefir, yogurt or fermented vegetables to his daily diet. Raw unpasteurized honey is also a good source of prebiotics and probiotics, while fresh pureed papaya is an excellent source of digestive enzymes.

“You can also consider adding some dog-safe foods that are high in tryptophan, such as pumpkin seeds, bananas, eggs, turkey, and kelp.”


A variety of homeopathic remedies and herbal tonics can help calm overly stressed dogs. “They are best used as secondary support in combination with a proper diet and behavioral mentoring,” says Karen. Work with an integrative or holistic veterinarian when choosing an herbal or homeopathic remedy for your dog, since his individual situation and needs have to be taken into account.

“Organic chamomile and ginger are two readily available herbs that can be added to food in tea or powder from,” adds Karen. Flower essences, in particular Bach Rescue Remedy, are another simple and effective way to help your dog de-stress.


Regular physical activity is one of a dog’s most basic needs. “Exercise minimizes stress,” says Dr. Dodman. “Dogs should run, swim, or participate in aerobic exercise like flyball or agility. Exercise has both calming and mood-stabilizing effects.”

Dr. Dodman also suggests creating an enriched environment for your dog. Helping to keep him busy, engaged and mentally stimulated can calm negative stress reactions. Consider adding the following to your canine companion’s environment.

• Interactive toys • Dog TV • Windows with a view so he can watch birds feeding or squirrels playing • Food puzzle toys

If you have a dog with a nervous or fearful temperament, either because of his breed or because he was abused, neglected or improperly socialized, positive training and behavior modification might need to be added to his de-stressing regimen. It’s also vital to assess your own stress levels since dogs are very intuitive and will respond to how you’re feeling in any given situation.

By taking the time to pinpoint and understand your dog’s stress triggers, and using a well-rounded approach to improving his response to these triggers, you can help him deal much better with life’s ups and downs. For more on this article visit Animal Wellness.


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Woofs & Wags!


Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun

Can Dogs Learn from Eavesdropping? Dogs Can Eavesdrop From People’s Reactions in Third Party Interactions.

Dogs Can Eavesdrop From People’s Reactions in Third Party Interactions




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Image Credit: Claudia Bensimoun


Have you wondered how our reactions towards other people may affect the way our dogs react to the very same people? Can our body language affect the way our dogs behave?

Past research has demonstrated that the socio-cognitive abilities of dogs (in particular, dogs that are able to read human communicative gestures and cue) may be the result of the domestication process. This research has shown that dogs are able to read into human emotions and can read into whether an approaching human is friendly or not. It has also been demonstrated that dogs tend to prefer people that give them social rewards such as petting and positive verbalizations. Dogs have been known to differentiate between a smiling face and a neutral face, as well as between expressions of happiness and disgust, and they also use this information to find food. Dogs are also able to recognize sadness and will approach a crying person. With that said, researchers expected that dogs were good candidates for a new study.

Research by Drs. Freidin, Putrino, D’Orazio, and Dr. Bentosela at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, demonstrated that dogs’ nonrandom choices of which person (called a “donor”) to approach for food relied on the simultaneous presence of multiple clues, such as the place where donors stood and several other features such as the behavior of someone requesting food (called the “beggar”), which included gestural and verbal reactions, and eating behaviors.

In the first experiment, 1a, the researchers assessed whether the dogs could develop a preference between the donors who behaved similarly and beggars asking for food. The donors would either react positively or negatively by using hand and body movements, as well as by verbal means. If the dogs developed a preference, this would mean that the dogs were capable of discrimination between the beggar’s positive and negative emotional reactions, and that the dogs were associating those specific reactions with the corresponding donor. It also meant that these dogs were using the information so that they would know which donor to go to (depending on whether the donor was friendly or not to the beggar). In the second and third experiments, 1b and 1c, the researchers tested whether dogs were conditioned to the place, instead of to the donors. In experiment 1b, the donors switched places in between demonstrations and before the dog could choose. In experiment 1c, the phantom control group, the beggar had to present the same verbal and gestural cues similar to those shown in experiment 1a, without donors and without the social interactive component.


Seventy two domestic dogs were recruited. The average age of these dogs was 4.73 years. Forty one of these dogs were male and 31 were female. There were 17 Poodles, 5 German Shepherds, 5 Labrador Retrievers, 3 Golden Retrievers, 2 Cocker Spaniels, 1 Beagle, 1 Border Collie, 1 Boxer, 1 Breton, 1 Dalmatian, 1 Fox Terrier, 1 French Bulldog, 1 Great Dane, 1 Pitt Bull Terrier, 1 Samoyed, 1 Shih Tzu, 1 Weimaraner, 1 Yorkshire, and 27 mixed breeds. Of all the dogs, 36 had previous experience in other communicative tasks.


All the subjects were randomly assigned to one of the three groups:

The first group used gestural and verbal cues.
The second group used only gestural cues.
The third group used only verbal cues.


All the dogs were tested in a familiar environment, either in their home or at a dog care facility that they sometimes attended. During the 5 -10 minutes that it took the researchers to set up the experiment with the camera and tape, the dogs were allowed to interact with the assistant that would later act as the dog’s handler. The other three assistants did not interact with the dog. Next, the other two assistants who were the donors took their positions by standing and facing each other at a distance of two meters. The fourth assistant would then act as the beggar. All the donors were female, and the beggar was the same male participant in all the sessions. A square-shaped, 75cm-per-side box was marked on the floor around each donor and referred to as the “choice area.” The dog was made to stay two meters from the intermediate point between both donors, hence forming a triangle. The researchers attached a camera to a tripod behind the dog to take photos. During this experiment, the dog’s owner was not present.


The donor held a plate containing bits of sausage and corn flakes. The sausages had a strong aroma and were used to catch the dogs’ attention to the scene. The corn flakes in this experiment was eaten by the donors, and also used to feed the beggar during demonstrations.


In each session, the dog started off in the starting position, and the two donors would approach him/her and allow for the dog to smell the plates with sausage and corn flakes, without allowing the dog to eat it. The donors would then walk back to their respective positions and begin eating the corn flakes. They would always direct their gaze at their plates and ignore the dog. During this time, the beggar would be standing a meter behind the intermediate point between the donor’s position, which would be opposite the dog’s starting position. The beggar became active 10 seconds after the donors were at their respective places.

The beggar would then approach each donor three times and would not approach the same donor more than twice in a row. The beggar would then return to his starting position. Only after he made the sixth interaction would he leave the room.

The beggar would always take the food, but reacted differently to every donor. With the “positive” donor, the beggar ate the corn flakes saying “So tasty.” When he interacted with the “negative” donor, the beggar would put the corn flakes back onto his plate saying “So ugly.” He would then turn his back on that donor. In another experiment, the beggar approached a donor and held out his hand without saying anything. The beggar would then receive a corn flake from the donors, and he would either accept the corn flake or reject it depending on the donor.

When the beggar took the corn flake from the positive donor, he ate it while facing the donor. Yet when he refused the corn flake from the negative donor, he would put it back on his plate and face the other way. In the last experiment, the beggar never spoke to any of the donors. In another experiment, the beggar repeated the same things, but without any hand gestures and without accepting any corn flakes. However, he said “Me Das?” to both donors, after which he said “So Ugly” and “So Good” to both the positive and negative donors. This time, he never turned his back on the negative donor. The dog was released after all of the six interactions were completed.


After being released, the dog had 10 seconds to choose between the donors, who did not interact with the dog. The researchers observed that, after approaching donors, the non-rewarded dogs departed from the main scene and began exploring a larger area. Some even lost interest.

The studies demonstrated that dogs were capable of developing a preference for people based on eavesdropping, in this case, watching the interactions between people. Dogs had the ability to develop a preference between participants based on the reaction that an interacting person, the beggar, had shown towards them. The researchers found that dogs seemed to need many cues so that they would be able to develop a preference towards the positive donor. This was demonstrated when the beggar used many verbal and gestural cues, and ate during the positive demonstrations. These preferences disappeared when there were fewer cues used. These studies concluded that dogs relied on multiple cues and the absence of these cues impaired dogs discrimination.

Dogs needed both the gestural and verbal cues in order to reliably choose the positive donor. The study also suggests that if only gestural and verbal cues had been used without any food, there would not have been any effect on the dogs’ behavior, thus taking into account that a dogs’ degree of sociability and level of motivation for food were important motivators. The researchers concluded that dogs have the capacity to recognize subtle human expressions, which may indicate other people’s disposition to share valuable resources such as food, in this case by using multiple cues.

This study indicates that dogs may be able to learn by watching other dogs and people, assuming that the dogs see food being used as a reward. For more, visit: USDAA

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Woofs & Wags!


Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun

Rooibos Tea For Dogs!


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It’s rich in vitamin C, and boasts two flavonoids called quercetin and luteolin, which have cancer-fighting properties. “Quercetin is (also) nature’s natural antihistamine,” adds dog behaviorist and wellness advisor Karen Rosenfeld.

Rooibos has been shown to help with allergies and hot spots, digestive issues and stress in people and dogs. Some holistic veterinarians are recommending rooibos as a safe alternative to allopathic cortisone.

“Rooibos tea is my number one choice of herbal tea for daily use as part of a healthy diet for dogs,” says Karen. “All the dogs in my own pack have organic rooibos tea added to their meal once a day. This rich red tea is an anti-inflammatory with the power to help fight allergies and cancer, and boost the immune system.” She adds that rooibos may also help with skin and bone health, supports the heart and renal systems, and eases psychological stress.




Rooibos is finding its way into a growing number of health products for dogs, including treats, shampoos and anti-itch oils. You can also buy rooibos as loose leaves or powder and make your own tea at home.

“Simply brew the tea, allow it to cool, store it in a glass jar in your refrigerator, and add it to your dog’s meals,” says Karen. “The liquid tea can also be used topically in the form of a soothing rinse or soak to help ease skin discomfort like itching, scratching and hot spots, or as a soak for irritated paws. The tea powder can be combined with a little aloe vera juice to make a soothing compress.” Karen adds that you can also add rooibos to your dog’s diet by making your own treats.

Rooibos is definitely worth checking out, and chances are, your local health food store will have it.

Summary of potential Rooibos benefits:

• It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.

• Relieves stress – it’s naturally relaxing.

• It’s anti-spasmodic and can help soothe an upset stomach.

• Rooibos tea is rich in minerals such as calcium, manganese and fluoride for good bone health.

• This tea has anti-mutagenic properties and may fight cancer.

• Rooibos boosts blood circulation and helps prevent hemorrhaging.

• It’s great for skin and helps with the treatment of hot spots, itching and dry skin.


For more on this article visit: Animal Wellness

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Woofs & Wags!


Copyright © 2015 Claudia Bensimoun

Happy Birthday Rover! Celebrating Fido’s Birthday!



Please visit my author’s page, pick a free, easy-to-read, child friendly eBook, skim through and leave some awesome reviews. The eBooks have only been out for a week or so and I’m in desperate need of some positive reviews. No matter how brief, all reviews help tremendously. Keep in mind that these eBooks have been written for the busy dog parent and are meant as quick reads.

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Woofs & Wags!


Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 10.27.40 AMFor more on the article, visit: Animal Wellness

Copyright @ 2016 Claudia Bensimoun


The Best of Everything!

The Best of Everything!


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Keeping it Real With Our Dogs!

We live in a fast paced world today, one in which we expect results to happen in very little time. Unfortunately with dogs, there are no fast results when it comes to dog training. It takes time and trust to develop a great relationship with our furry best friends.

A comfortable and caring home for very dog, cat or pet should be your goal.  Dogs and cats are all unique.

Wishing you and your loved ones a HAPPY and FUN Winter Holiday with the very best for 2016!

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Woofs & Wags!

Claudia Bensimoun

© Copyright 2015 by Claudia Bensimoun