Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Best Raw Dog Food Reviews: Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Raw Dog Food Review

Best Dog Food Reviews

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Raw Dog Food Review

Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Darwin’s Raw Dog Food

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. However, I will always offer my readers an unbiased and honest account of my experiences. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Nutter

From the beginning of my 20-year career in dog behavior, I have been asked, “What is the best dog food?” Over the years, my answer has remained the same: “It depends.” Truly, finding the best dog food for your dog depends on a lot of factors. Are you looking for the best dog food for skin allergies, homemade dog food recipes, raw dog food recipes, or a prepared holistic pet food?

When people ask me what the best dry dog food is, I basically cringe. I get it. I know some people are always going to feed a dry dog food, but I don’t think a dry pet food is the healthiest option for your dog and certainly not for your cat. Dry pet food is heavily processed at high heat, removing all the moisture and goodness from the food. Fresh food, whether from a balanced home-cooked diet, balanced home-prepared raw, raw pet food company, or home-cooked pet food company will always provide a fresher, healthier diet.

When people ask me for the best dog food, I assume they want to feed their dogs a species-appropriate, high-quality dog food. I personally look for several things when evaluating the quality of a dog food. In a good dog food, I’m looking for meat, meat, and more meat. I shoot for 70% or more meat in Dexter‘s diet. I look for meats free of antibiotics and hormones. The remaining portion of Dexter’s food can be healthy fruits and vegetables, and I’m not opposed to healthy grains or carbohydrates in small quantities. Ideally, I look for ingredients that are organic, human-grade, and sourced in a country with a good quality-control program.

Figuring out all the details when choosing a pet food brand can be time consuming, but Dexter is well worth the time. If you have visited Raising Your Pets Naturally in the past, you probably know that I home-cook for Dexter almost exclusively. However, I do occasionally recommend and use great dog food brands, especially when traveling. Darwin’s Pet Products is one of those brands.

Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Natural raw diet dog food

I’m a big fan of a raw-food dog diet. However, it’s not for every person, and it’s not for every dog. Dexter is one of these dogs. With Dexter’s neurological condition and weakened immune system, he does not tolerate a fresh raw diet very well; he tends to get the scoots. However, Darwin’s raw dog food can be gently cooked “rare” (i.e., cooking the meat, but not the ground bones). This is what I do when feeding Darwin’s to Dexter, and he does great, with no digestion issues.

Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Gently Cooked Dog Food

Does Dexter like Darwin’s Natural Pet Products? Seriously? You have to ask? Dexter is a huge fan. He gobbles up every last morsel and looks at me for seconds. The question should be whether or not I like a particular pet food brand. I have been a fan of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products for a few years, and even rotate their cat food into Nutter The Cat‘s diet.

Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Gobbled every last bit

Darwin’s raw dog food is 75% meat, 25% vegetables, and under 1% trace minerals and vitamins. No guesswork on how much meat your dog is getting. And it’s not low-quality meat that you might find in a rendering plant or low-quality pet food manufacturing facility. Darwin’s offers two dog food lines: Natural Selections and ZooLogics. Their Natural Selections line contains high-quality, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats from New Zealand, Australia, and the USA, with organic vegetables. Their ZooLogics line is a more economical line of raw dog food, made with conventionally-grown meats and vegetables from the same farms that supply your supermarket.

Currently, Darwin’s offers raw dog food made with chicken, duck, turkey, beef, or lamb. Darwin’s eliminates the middle-man by shipping directly to the customer. They even include a pre-paid return label so you can return the special insulated shipping container back to Darwin’s. If you live in the Seattle and Portland Metropolitan Areas, you receive free home delivery!

Darwin’s raw dog food is super simple to feed. Each 8-ounce frozen, vacuum-sealed bag has an EZ Peel tab in the corner, making it a breeze to open without a mess. They also provide a nice container with a lid to store any unused food. Frozen food can last at least six months when kept frozen. Once defrosted, keep the raw pet food in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products

The first step in our transition was to thaw two packages of the raw Natural Selections turkey. This was easy—I just placed a block in the handy container provided, and popped it into the refrigerator for the day. The next day, I gently cooked Dexter’s food and allowed it to cool. Because Dexter is used to a variety of foods, I was able to quickly transition him to test out Darwin’s gently cooked dog food. I started with a 50/50 mix of his current food and Darwin’s. By day two, Dexter was happily eating Darwin’s raw turkey, but gently cooked. He was a happy camper!

Darwin’s Raw Turkey Dog Food Ingredients: Free-Range Meat (76.90%): Turkey Necks (including bone), Turkey Thigh Meat, Turkey Livers, Turkey Hearts, and Turkey Gizzards. Organic Vegetables (22.34%): Romaine Lettuce, Yams, Zucchini, Carrots, Yellow Squash, Celery, and Parsley (vegetables may vary based on seasonality). Special Nutrient Mix (0.77%): Organic Flax Seed Oil, Sea Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12, Iodine, Vitamin D3. Free-Range Meat (76.90%): Turkey Necks (including bone), Turkey Thigh Meat, Turkey Livers, Turkey Hearts, and Turkey Gizzards. Organic Vegetables (22.34%): Romaine Lettuce, Yams, Zucchini, Carrots, Yellow Squash, Celery, and Parsley (vegetables may vary based on seasonality). Special Nutrient Mix (0.77%): Organic Flax Seed Oil, Sea Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12, Iodine, Vitamin D3.

If you are unsure where to start in your selection or transition, Darwin’s offers a free menu consultation. Darwin’s Intelligent Design™ Veterinary line is a great option for dogs who need a special formulation for a medical issue. These are specialized formulas designed to provide extra support to dogs facing certain health issues. Unlike your typical “veterinary diet,” these meals are actually made with high-quality, real food! Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw dog food is a total hit with both Dexter and me. If you are looking to find a high-quality raw diet for your dog, I urge you to check out Darwin’s Natural Pet Products. Tell them Dexter sent you.


Do you feed a fresh diet to your pets? Tell me in the comments.

Best dog food brands for optimal health. Darwin's Natural Pet Products raw dog food diet review. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities. We enjoyed a great dog-friendly cruise on the Annapolis Harbor thanks to Cruises on the Bay by Watermark. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities: Dog-Friendly Cruises on Annapolis Harbor

Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities

Dog-Friendly Cruises on Annapolis Harbor |  Cruises on the Bay℠  by Watermark®

Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities. We enjoyed a great dog-friendly cruise on the Annapolis Harbor thanks to Cruises on the Bay by Watermark. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Dog-Friendly Annapolis Boat Cruise

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Extended Stay America. However, I will always offer my readers an unbiased and honest account of my experiences. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Nutter

During our dog-friendly vacation in Maryland, I knew I wanted to take Dexter on a boat ride. Dexter LOVES taking boat rides. I think there is something about the gentle rocking of the boat, the breeze in his ears and the scent of the open water that just mesmerizes Dexter.

While searching online for a dog-friendly boat cruise, I found Cruises on the Bay℠ by Watermark®. I messaged them about bringing Dexter aboard their boat, and they were very helpful and friendly in our conversations. With over 45 years of experience, this was the Annapolis dog-friendly cruise I wanted to take Dexter aboard.

Watermark’s cruises are pet-friendly as long as dogs are friendly and leashed, and the dogs cruise free of charge! The boat also had restrooms and a full bar and cruise mementos. I have to admit, I wanted to purchase a souvenir, but totally forgot.

Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities. We enjoyed a great dog-friendly cruise on the Annapolis Harbor thanks to Cruises on the Bay by Watermark. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Dog-Friendly Annapolis Activities

While purchasing our ticket, the nice gentleman was telling me all about his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Everyone was very happy to see Dexter and Levi board the cruise ship. Our 40-minute narrated cruise left from the City Dock at 7 pm.

We sat on the upper deck to get the most out of our dog-friendly boat cruise. It was a sunny and warm evening, but the breeze cut down the heat and Dexter and I positioned ourselves in the shade. We learned so much of the area’s history listening to the narration while sightseeing the waterways of the Annapolis Harbor. Seeing the U.S. Navy Academy was a treat, too.

Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities. We enjoyed a great dog-friendly cruise on the Annapolis Harbor thanks to Cruises on the Bay by Watermark. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Levi sleeping

Both Dexter and his travel buddy, Levi, enjoyed smelling the fresh air and looking around. Eventually, both dogs were lulled to sleep. Whether you are looking for dog-friendly things to do in Annapolis or want to leave Fido at home, Watermark has the perfect cruise for you! Plan a group trip, field trip, or private charter with their team of specialists. Tell them Dexter sent you.


Is your dog adventurous? Tell me in the comments.

Dog-Friendly Annapolis, Maryland Activities. We enjoyed a great dog-friendly cruise on the Annapolis Harbor thanks to Cruises on the Bay by Watermark. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Pet-Friendly Hotels in Washington DC Area, Vienna Virginia | Dog-Friendly Hotel Extended Stay Tyson’s Corner Reviews #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Pet Friendly Hotels in Washington DC Area, Vienna Virginia | Dog-Friendly Hotel Review: Extended Stay Tyson’s Corner

Dog-Friendly Hotels in The Washington DC Area

Pet-Friendly Extended Stay Tyson’s Corner Review

Pet-Friendly Hotels in Washington DC Area, Vienna Virginia | Dog-Friendly Hotel Extended Stay Tyson’s Corner Reviews #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Pet-Friendly Hotel Reviews

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and also has affiliate links. However, I will always try to offer my readers great product selections. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Nutter

Dexter and I had another dog-friendly weekend trip recently. This time, our dog-friendly trip took us to the DC area. The weekend was going to be fast and furious, because our weekend trip was really about a dog behavior workshop I was presenting on fearful dogs. The folks at Your Dog’s Friend asked me to present a dog training workshop on Saturday afternoon, so that left me with Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday evening to tour the area with Dexter and our other friends Levi and Chris.

When I’m searching for a dog-friendly hotel, I look for five things I want in my dog-friendly accommodation.

  1. Safety
  2. Location
  3. Refrigerator
  4. Cleanliness
  5. Friendliness

When I was looking for a pet-friendly hotel in the DC/Baltimore area, I found Extended Stay America – Washington D.C. – Tysons Corner. The hotel is located at 8201 Old Courthouse Rd., Vienna, VA, which was about 15 minutes from where I was going to be presenting my workshop on fearful dogs. After reading some reviews, the hotel sounded like it would be a clean, friendly, and safe hotel to call home for the weekend.

Video walkthrough

Dexter and I have stayed at other Extended Stay America locations in the past, and have been very happy. What I really like about Extended Stays is that the hotel rooms are designed for longer stays, so are spacious and feature a substantial kitchen area with a full refrigerator/freezer, microwave, stove top, and dining and cooking utensils! This is a pretty big deal for me, since I bring Dexter’s home-cooked dog food, and sometimes even cook for him on the spot.

Dog-Friendly Extended Stay America, Vienna, VA
Large Dog-Friendly Rooms

The Extended Stay America – Washington D.C. – Tysons Corner also has an on-site guest laundry, free Wi-Fi, grab-and-go breakfast, flat-screen TVs, iron and ironing board, generous work space, and updated bathrooms. Speaking of updating, this location is in the middle of some renovations and they had just laid the hallway carpet, so there was a “new carpet” smell in the halls. This, however, did not affect my room and there was not an odor in my room.

Dog-Friendly Extended Stay America, Vienna, VA
Grab-and-go breakfast

Since Dexter and I were traveling with friends, we booked the studio suite with 2 queen beds. The studio suite was perfect for our weekend, with plenty of foot space, chairs, hanging space and drawers to more than accommodate our weekend. The hotel beds were comfortable and even included a mattress protector. I always look at my mattress to check for bed bugs or dirt. The mattress was sparkling white and crisp—just what I want to see. The inside of our room was clean and fresh, including the bathroom and kitchen.

The outside of our Extended Stay America had lots of grass for potty breaks and plenty of sidewalks around the property to choose from. There was also a small partially-enclosed courtyard for potty breaks. The hotel felt very safe and I had zero concerns walking Dexter around any part of the hotel, which was very comforting. Hotel safety is so important since I tend to travel alone and Dexter needs frequent potty breaks at various hours of the day and night.

Dog-Friendly Extended Stay America, Vienna, VA
Clean and safe

Our stay at Extended Stay America was a great experience. The hotel was nice, quiet, safe, and a great location. Our room was comfortable in every way, including the beds and bedding. The big TV had good reception, and so did the Wi-Fi. The towels were clean and the bathroom was stocked with shampoo and soap. The hotel met my five criteria of being safe and clean, in a good location, with refrigerator and friendly staff,. I would certainly stay at the Extended Stay America in Vienna, Virginia again. For more information on finding a dog-friendly Extended Stay America on your next vacation, visit their website.


Do you travel with your dog? Tell me in the comments.

Pet-Friendly Hotels in Washington DC Area, Vienna Virginia | Dog-Friendly Hotel Extended Stay Tyson’s Corner Reviews #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Common essential oils for dogs. Essential oils for dog allergies and itchy skin, ears and more. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Essential Oils for Pets’ Medical Conditions

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Essential Oils for Dogs, Cats, and Pets

Using Essential Oils for a Pet’s Medical Condition

Common essential oils for dogs. Essential oils for dog allergies and itchy skin, ears and more. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Essential oils for dogs

Today is Part Two of a series with Isla Fishburn, Ph.D.: How Essential Oils can help with medical conditions. It is important to read Part One, the Basics of Essential Oils and Pets before jumping in below. Even more importantly, please speak with your holistic veterinarian FIRST before using an essential oil for a medical condition. Just because essential oils are natural, does not mean they can be used without precautions. Some oils should not be used with some medical conditions or medications. I cannot stress enough the importance of working with your holistic veterinarian.

Essential Oils for Pets’ Medical Conditions by Isla Fishburn, Ph.D. Part 2

“There are many essential oils that may improve and support your pet’s wellness but there are too many to list them all here. However, below you can find a few of the more commonly used essential oils to provide health benefits for your pet, but note there are many more, which may better suit your pet than those listed here. It is worth noting that given the many bioactive constituents present in just one essential oil (e.g. yarrow has over 50 different chemical compounds) it is widely agreed that an essential oil provides health benefits of which we know nothing about. Sometimes your pet will want an essential oil for reasons we do not know.

Stomach support:

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale). This oil not only provides anti-inflammatory support (see pain list) but can also aid in digestive issues and calm the stomach, especially where there may be nausea. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita). Peppermint can provide several health benefits. One of these is to provide support for the stomach, where there is discomfort and needs a soothing effect. If your pet is suffering from nerve pain DO NOT apply peppermint topically as peppermint excites neurons and can intensify nerve pain. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Fennel can support the stomach where there are muscular cramps, pains and provides a soothing effect to the smooth stomach muscles. It also stimulated digestion.  This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Black pepper (Piper nigrum). As well as being a great oil for soothing muscular aches and pains, black pepper can also provide digestive support for the stomach. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
Common essential oils for dogs. Essential oils for dog allergies and itchy skin, ears and more. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Benefits of Essential Oils and Dogs

Inflammation/Pain:

  • Black pepper (Piper nigrum). This oil can provide as a muscle rub and soothes aching muscles. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats. Your dog may wish to have black pepper applied topically on an area that is strained, bruised or aching.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita). Peppermint can be used to stimulate nerve endings that are causing numbness. It can also provide anti-inflammatory effects and soothe burns. If your pet is suffering from nerve pain DO NOT apply peppermint topically as peppermint excites neurons and can intensify nerve pain. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe your pet if s/he has aches or discomfort. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). As well as having properties that can support your pet’s emotional imbalances, Yarrow provides relief and support on burns and wounds. It also provides pain relief at much deeper levels of the body (e.g. tissue damage). This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). German Chamomile is similar to Yarrow in its support for relieving pain. It is also very good for soothing the skin or where there are other dermal irritations. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.

Skin: 

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). As well as having properties that can support your pet’s emotional imbalances, Yarrow provides relief and support for skin issues and irritations. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). German Chamomile is similar to Yarrow in its support for the skin. It is also very good for soothing the skin or where there are other dermal irritations, including dermatitis or inflamed skin. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita). Peppermint can cool and soothe skin that is hot, itchy and irritated. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats. If not needed, peppermint can irritate the skin.
Common essential oils for dogs. Essential oils for dog allergies and itchy skin, ears and more. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Natural Dog Care

Anti-Bacterial:

  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Thyme is a very strong immunostimulant, meaning it supports the immune system. It is also very good as an anti-bacterial. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Lemon (Citrus limon). This essential oil serves several health benefits. Not only can it support a dog emotionally but it is also an immunostimulant and strong antibacterial. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats. This oil is photo-reactive, meaning it reacts in sunlight. Only apply topically if you are guided by a professional to do so.
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia). Not only is this essential oil good for skin conditions but it is also an effective anti-bacterial. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats. This oil is photo-reactive, meaning it reacts in sunlight. Only apply topically if you are guided by a professional to do so.

There are some other essential oils that can have great anti-bacterial effects. However, they are very potent and if used incorrectly may seriously hurt your pet. For this reason, they are not listed here.

Cancer: 

  • Seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus). Seaweed has many uses on the physical level pertaining to disease and infection. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Carrot seed (Daucus carota). This oil has huge healing potential where an animal is very unwell. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Lemon (Citrus limon). Among its many healing properties along the physical level, Lemon essential oil can be effective in limiting the growth of cancer. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii). Amongst its ability to support an animal suffering from emotional imbalances, Frankincense can provide pain relief specific to the pain that is being caused by tumors. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale). It is suggested that ginger can support a dog who has cancer, but this may be to provide support of feeling of nausea that the illness or medication may be causing. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use); inhalation only for cats.

 

Isla Fishburn PhD

There are some other essential oils that can have great effects on killing cancer cells. However, they are very potent and if used incorrectly may seriously hurt your pet. For this reason, they are not listed here .”

 

I find it amazing how essential oils can benefit pets in so many ways. If your pet is having ongoing medical issues, I urge you to speak with your holistic veterinarian (a lot do phone consultations) about essential oils. Essential oils may be another module that you can add to your tool box to improve your pet’s health naturally.

Isla Fishburn Ph.D. is a canine wellness practitioner who owns Kachina Canine Communication in Northumberland, United Kingdom. As a canine wellness practitioner, Isla focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of a dog and how to support your dog in returning him/her back to balance. Isla works with both captive wolves and domestic dogs and teaches canine wellness and balanced behavior courses, consults for a raw food company in the UK and uses a range of holistic therapies to support a dog’s wellness. Isla has a BSc in Zoology and a Masters and PhD in Conservation Biology. She is also a caninepharmacognosy practitioner, offering a range of essential oils to canines to balance their vibrational states and return the animal back to normal functioning.


Have you used essential oils with your pet? Tell me in the comments.

Common essential oils for dogs. Essential oils for dog allergies and itchy skin, ears and more. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Dog-Friendly Duluth, Minnesota: Dog-Friendly Duluth Lakewalk

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Dog-Friendly Vacations in Minnesota

Dog-Friendly Duluth, Minnesota: Duluth Lakewalk

Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Dog-Friendly Duluth, MN

For those of you who have been following my dog blog, you know I HATE winter, snow, and the cold. But I love Dexter The Dog, and he loves dog adventures, no matter what the weather. My brother moved to Cotton, Minnesota, just outside of Duluth, last year. Dexter and I have not been too far west, and my step-dad wanted to try a little ice-fishing, so off we went.

Driving from Ohio to Minnesota the first weekend in March was a bit sketchy. We traveled in some scary wind and snow. Not a ton of snow, but enough snow and wind to create white-out conditions during our drive. But my step-dad is a trooper when it comes to road trips, so we did just fine. Slow and steady.

My brother lives in a small cabin in Cotton, Minnesota on Lake Elora. This was the perfect place to call home for an extended weekend. My brother and step-dad, Ed, were able to go out on the lake for daily ice-fishing. Unfortunately, they were not too successful in their catches, but they did have a great time!

Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Standing on Lake Superior

Throughout the weekend, we had a few dog-friendly day-trips to Duluth. Today, I want to share with you our day on the Duluth Lakewalk. This was one of our favorite days in Duluth. The Lakewalk, sometimes referred to as the Boardwalk, offers a scenic path around Lake Superior for walking, running, rollerblading, or biking. Duluth Lakewalk has a dual path to accommodate everyone. One path is paved and one is a nice boardwalk, which I found very helpful. Since Dexter cannot walk for long periods, I have to pop him in his dog stroller for rest times.

Admittedly, we did not walk the entire three-mile walk, which runs from Bayfront Park to London Road, on the northeast side of town. After all, it was cold! It was a great walk and watching the waves crush developing ice around the shorelines was breathtaking. I had to hold Dexter back because he wanted to dip his toes in Lake Superior. Sorry, Dexter—not on this trip!

Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
No swimming today

Even though there was snow and slush around, I could tell the grounds were well-maintained, with a variety of fun sculptures and landmarks for photo opportunities. Dexter and I love our photo ops. Okay, him, not so much. The Lakewalk takes you through a variety of Duluth attractions, including the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge, Lake Superior Marine Museum, and Canal Park. The walk also provided easy access to restaurants, cafes, pubs, and restrooms, but it did not have a commercial feel—it was very pleasant and relaxing. There were also plenty of park benches and even poop stations. This made the Lakewalk a great dog-friendly park.

Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Fun dog photo-opportunities

The Duluth Lakewalk is such a great opportunity to access both Lake Superior and historical attractions, it’s a must-do. I am happy to say that the family will be back in July, and I can’t wait to take Dexter back to the Duluth Lakewalk!

Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Dog-Friendly Duluth Lakewalk


Where is your favorite pet vacation spot? Tell me in the comments.

Dog-friendly vacations in Duluth, Minnesota. Traveling with dogs in Duluth can be a blast if you know where to go. Check out these dog-friendly Duluth attractions. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Have you ever wondered what it means when your cat licks you? Today learn 5 reasons a cat may lick you and what it means. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Why Does My Cat Lick Me? | What Does it Mean When a Cat Licks You/

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What Does it Mean When Your Cat Licks You?

Cat Licking Explained

Have you ever wondered what it means when your cat licks you? Today learn 5 reasons a cat may lick you and what it means. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Why Do Cats Lick

Have you ever wondered why cats lick you? What does it mean when a cat licks you? Have you ever asked yourself, “why does my cat lick my face?” These are some really good cat behavior questions. But, like with any cat behavior, they why really depends on each individual situation and cat.

Five Reasons a Cat Licks You

  1. Love, Baby: Cats often lick people they love. This is one of the ways a cat shows affection. This sign of cat affection probably stems from when a mother cat grooms her young kittens. Grooming and licking behaviors tend to help the cat being groomed relax. It also is a way to scent swap from one “cat” to another, which helps with keeping a peaceful relationship.
  2. Grooming Behavior: Since cats enjoy grooming each other out of love and affection, grooming becomes the norm. Think about how often your cat grooms himself—I’m guessing it’s 10x more than you.
  3. You’re Dirty and Taste Great: As I mentioned above, when a cat licks himself, he may be cleaning himself. Maybe you didn’t clean your face after eating your turkey sandwich and your cat starts to lick your face. Yum—chicken!
  4. Cat Stress: When a cat is over-grooming or over-licking a person, they may be stressed. You can think of this like a compulsive behavior or displacement gesture, which is self-soothing for the cat licker.
  5. You’re His: When a cat licks you, he is placing his scent on you. Cat licking can be another way for cat to claim you as his human. And this isn’t a bad thing, unless you see it as a sign of stress.

If your cat seems to be licking you out of stress or conflict, please seek the help of a cat professional. In most cases, though, you don’t need to worry why your cat is licking you, just enjoy the ride.


Is your cat a licker? Tell me in the comments.

Have you ever wondered what it means when your cat licks you? Today learn 5 reasons a cat may lick you and what it means. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Best Natural Tick Treatment for Dogs using Essential Oils. Natural Tick Spray DIY #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Best Natural Tick Treatment and Spray for Dogs | Essential Oils for Ticks on Dogs DIY

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Essential Oils for Ticks on Dogs

DIY Natural Tick Spray

Best Natural Tick Treatment for Dogs using Essential Oils. Natural Tick Spray DIY #raisingyourpetsnaturally
DIY Tick Spray for Dogs

Over the last 4+ years, I have been using various natural flea and tick sprays for Dexter. It never seemed to matter which one I tried, they all seemed to work well, and WE (I used them too) were tick-and flea-free for those years, until last November when Dexter and I were vacationing in Vermont. I found a tick inside Dexter’s ear flap. We tested for Lyme disease, and he was cleared.

I chalked it up to being in a very high-tick location. But I also thought about the idea that when a dog’s immune system is low, they are more prone to ticks and other parasites. Then it happened again in April—I found a tick sucking on Dexter’s neck. Once again, I waited the 2-3 weeks after the bite to test for Lyme disease, and he is disease-free.

In my heart and head, I don’t think the tick problem really has anything to do with the prevalence of ticks in the area, or Dexter’s daily activities, because those are the same. I feel it has a lot to do with Dexter’s immune system. I’m tackling the ticks naturally in a variety of ways. First, I’m boosting Dexter’s immune system with healthy foods and herbs. I also made an essential oil Immune Booster For Dogs Blend and shampoo. I’ve added 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to his food two times a day, and feed Dexter one clove of garlic every 4 days.

Next, I made my own natural tick spray using essential oils that I feel are high-quality and safe. I spray the natural tick spray on four hair scrunchies and place them on Dexter’s feet prior to going outside. I also spray Dexter with this DIY natural tick spray and rub throughout his body, including his tail. When we return inside, I comb Dexter to ensure we do not have any hitchhikers. So far, our new regimen has been successful—knock on wood!

Best Natural Tick Treatment for Dogs using Essential Oils. Natural Tick Spray DIY #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Natural Tick Spray DIY

Natural Tick Spray for Dogs

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients into an 8 oz or larger amber or cobalt glass jar with a sprayer.
  2. Done! Easy-peasy.

Using an amber or cobalt bottle helps ensure the essential oils are properly stored. Light, heat, moisture, and oxygen all affect the oils’ properties and expiration date, so by properly storing your dog’s natural tick spray, you will be able to maintain potency.

6/29/17 Update: I have been spraying Dexter once a day and eliminated the garlic and still tick-free!


Do you hate ticks? Tell me in the comments.

Best Natural Tick Treatment for Dogs using Essential Oils. Natural Tick Spray DIY #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Indoor Cats | Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Raw Cat Food Review

Best Cat Food For Indoor Cats

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Raw Cat Food Review

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Darwin’s Raw Cat Food Review

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, I will always try to offer my readers great product selections. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Nutter

I spend a lot of time researching the best natural pet products, including looking for the best pet food for my dog and cat. There is no single answer to the age-old question, “What is the best cat food?” However, there are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands.

First and foremost, cats are obligate carnivores. Obligate carnivores are animals that must eat meat in order to thrive. The main source of their nutrients should come from meat—they can eat a small portion of healthy fruits and vegetables, but meat should be the main ingredient. I think if you are reading this post on the best food for a cat, you are hoping to feed your feline a species-appropriate diet so that he may thrive, not just survive.

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Real Meat!

If you have visited Raising Your Pets Naturally previously, you probably already know that I believe in a fresh and antibiotic- and hormone-free diet for my pets. Nutter The Cat eats a variety of healthy and natural cat foods, including a home-cooked cat food, high-quality canned cat food, and a freeze-dried raw cat food. I also believe in regularly rotating my pet’s meals to ensure they receive a variety of foods and nutrients. As long as their food fits into my personal quality control, I feel comfortable feeding new brands and flavors.

I’ve been a Darwin’s Pet Products fan for a few years now. The reasons are pretty clear once you dive into the company and their product lines. So, let’s get to it!

When I’m feeding my pets, I look for quality ingredients first. In the case of looking for a raw cat food, I want meat, meat, and more meat! Okay, the same goes when I’m feeding Dexter The Dog. Darwin’s raw cat food is a 98% meat, 2% trace minerals, vitamins, and marine oils. No guesswork on how much meat your cat is getting. And it’s not low-quality meat that you might find in a rendering plant or low-quality pet food manufacturing facility; it’s high-quality, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats from the United States. All of the ingredients used are USDA-certified, human-grade ingredients from the United States and Australia.

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
This IS the meat used at Darwin’s Pet Products

Currently, Darwin’s offers a raw chicken, duck, or turkey cat food. Darwin’s ships directly to the customer, eliminating the middleman. They even include a pre-paid return label so you can return the special insulated shipping container back to Darwin’s. If you live in the Seattle and Portland Metropolitan Areas, you receive free home delivery!

Darwin’s raw cat food is super simple to feed. Each 8-ounce frozen, vacuum-sealed bag has an EZ Peel tab in the corner, making it a breeze to open without a mess. They also provide a nice container with a lid to store any unused food. Frozen food can last at least six months when kept frozen. Once defrosted, keep the raw pet food in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Natural Raw Cat Food

The first step in our transition was to thaw a package of the raw duck cat food. This was easy—I just placed a block in the handy container provided, and popped it into the refrigerator for the day. The next morning, it was thawed and ready to go. Because Nutter is used to a variety of foods, I was able to quickly transition him to test out Darwin’s raw cat food. I started with a 50/50 mix of his current food and Darwin’s. He’s usually pretty easy to adjust, and this was once again the case. I do recommend feeding all foods at room or body temperature to help in digestion.

By day three, Nutter was happily eating his Darwin’s raw cat food 100% and licking the bowl clean. Obviously, cleaning your pet’s food dish after each meal is recommended to ensure cleanliness.

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Real Food For Cats

Darwin’s Raw Duck Cat Food Ingredients: Free-Range Meat and Organs (98%): Duck Wings (including Bone), Duck Necks (including Bone), Duck Gizzards, Duck Hearts, Duck Livers, and Duck Thigh Meat. Trace Minerals and vitamins (2%): Tomato Pomace, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Magnesium Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Inulin, Sea Salt, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12, Iodine (EDDI), Folic Acid, and Vitamin D3. Marine Oils (Under 1%): Fish Oil 18/12 EPA/DHA (Derived from sea-harvested wild Sardines)

If you are unsure where to start in your selection or transition, Darwin’s offers a free menu consultation. Another great option for cats who need a special formulation for a medical issue, is their Intelligent Design™ Veterinary line. These are specialized formulas designed to provide extra support to cats facing certain health issues. Unlike your typical “veterinary diet,” these meals are actually made with high-quality, real food! Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw cat food is a total hit with both Nutter and me. If you are looking to find a high-quality diet for your cat, I urge you to check out Darwin’s Natural Pet Products. Tell them Nutter sent you.


Do you feed your pets a raw pet food? Tell me in the comments.

Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Cats. There are a few key components that you can use to evaluate when you are looking for the best cat food brands. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Dog Hear Murmur and Heart Disease in Dogs What You Need To Know. Is your dog prone to congestive heart failure? Learn the facts and how to be proactive in his care. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Heart Disease in Dogs: What You Need To Know | MVD in Dogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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Heart Disease in Dogs: What You Need To Know

MVD in Dogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Dog Hear Murmur and Heart Disease in Dogs What You Need To Know. Is your dog prone to congestive heart failure? Learn the facts and how to be proactive in his care. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
MVD in Dogs

If you are a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel guardian, you should know about heart disease in dogs, particularity degenerative mitral valve disease (MVD). I thought it would be a good idea to interview two of Dexter’s veterinarians: Dexter’s cardiologist, WA Brown, DVM, DACVIM; and his holistic veterinarian, Judy Morgan, DVM, CVA, CVCP, CVFT.

When I’m trying to understand something, I try to get to the root of things. I asked Dr. Brown to explain what MVD in dogs really is and what it does. Dr. Brown explained that “degenerative mitral valve disease is a gradual degeneration of the valve tissue. Cardiac valves are made out of connective tissue. Over the course of several years, the tissue deteriorates and the valve begins to leak. This process most often affects the mitral valve, but it can also involve the tricuspid valve.”

He continues to say, “Certain breeds are considered to be at increased risk for developing degenerative valve disease. Based on this observation, it is clear that genetics plays a role in disease development. While any breed can develop valve disease, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are at greatest risk for developing degenerative mitral valve disease. Other breeds that are commonly affected: Chihuahuas, miniature poodles, all types of terriers, dachshunds, whippets, Shih Tzus. Virtually all breeds of small dogs are commonly seen.”

Dr. Brown says, “The prime determinants of degenerative valve disease seem to be age (increasing risk with increasing age) and genetics (certain breeds have higher risk). At-risk breeds should be closely examined (cardiac auscultation) annually, to determine if they have a murmur. The presence of a murmur is often the first sign that a dog has degenerative valve disease.”

Because Cavaliers have a high risk of developing heart disease, I have always been proactive with caring and monitoring Dexter’s heart. Starting at Dexter’s first birthday, he has had yearly cardiac auscultations from a veterinary cardiologist. Around age five, it was determined that Dexter had some premature heart beats. We decided to do an echocardiogram to evaluate his heart size, heart function, and blood flow. We also did a 24-hour Holter monitor that measured and recorded Dexter’s heart’s activity (ECG). I wanted to know all I could about what was going on with Dexter’s heart, so I could make the best choices for his care and support.

Dog Hear Murmur and Heart Disease in Dogs What You Need To Know. Is your dog prone to congestive heart failure? Learn the facts and how to be proactive in his care. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Holter Heart Monitor

Everything turned out okay, without any sign of a heart murmur. As Dr. Brown said, “The presence of a murmur is often the first sign that a dog has degenerative valve disease.” At this time, he did not have a murmur. Our take-home was to reevaluate the following year, unless one of Dexter’s vets heard anything unusual during our quarterly visits.

Since Dexter had the very beginnings of MVD, it was time to talk to his holistic veterinarian, Dr. Judy Morgan, about what kinds of foods and supplements I should be adding to Dexter’s routine to be as heart-healthy as I possibly could.

Dr. Morgan explains, “From a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) perspective, the Heart dominates the Blood and vessels, houses the Minds, controls sweat, and opens into the tongue (voice). The heart governs the circulation of blood through the vessels by having healthy Heart Qi, or energy. The blood supplies nutrients to cells throughout the body. A patient with Deficient Heart Qi and Blood will have weak, thready pulses, and pale color tongue and gums.”

She continues to say, “The Shen is best translated as the Spirit or Mind. The Heart plays a role in mental activities, memory, and sleep. Deficiency in Heart Blood can disrupt normal mental function, resulting in abnormal behaviors such as restlessness or anxiety. Rapid heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, and pale tongue may be present. The tongue is the opening associated with the heart. Heart controls the color and appearance of the tongue at the tip of the tongue. A pale tongue indicates Deficient Heart Blood and a dark red tongue tip reveals Heat accumulation in the Heart.

Heart Qi Deficiency is seen in MVD, usually in older animals as a result of the gradual decline of the Heart Qi. It can also be due to a genetic predilection, as a result of an underlying Jing Deficiency. Symptoms include heart rhythm abnormalities, difficult respiration, generalized weakness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, and fainting. Tongue will be pale to purple, and pulse will be weak. The body tends to become cold and there is excess accumulation of fluids (fluid can be in the lungs or abdomen – ascites).”

Feeding a dog a high-quality home-cooked or raw dog food is ideal for a dog with heart disease. A mantra I hear from Dr. Morgan all the time is “like feeds like.” For this instance, feeding a dog a quality diet that includes heart muscle is recommended.

In Dr. Morgan’s book, From Needles To Natural, she also suggests adding hawthorn berry, as it widens the coronary arteries and boosts blood circulation and can help regulate abnormal rhythms. She also recommends supplements such as CoQ10, L-arginine, L-carnitine, taurine, chromium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Dog Hear Murmur and Heart Disease in Dogs What You Need To Know. Is your dog prone to congestive heart failure? Learn the facts and how to be proactive in his care. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
TCMV Theory

Because I knew Cavaliers are prone to heart disease, Dexter was already getting a lot of these supplements and foods. Dr. Morgan and I did tweak his maintenance dose to more of a therapeutic dose with his diagnosis.

I continued to see Dr. Brown for Dexter’s yearly cardiac auscultation. This year (age 7.5), his premature heartbeats officially turned into a grade 1 heart murmur. I have to admit, even though I knew we were heading this way, my heart still sank at the news.

Dr. Brown explained to me how murmurs are graded. “Murmurs are graded on a scale from 1 to 6. The number simply denotes the loudness (or intensity of the murmur). It does not describe the disease severity. Grade 1-2 murmurs are soft. Grade 3-4 murmurs are moderately loud. Grade 5-6 murmurs are very loud and are associated with a vibration on the chest (a palpable thrill). While it is true that louder murmurs are a bigger concern, it would be wrong to assume that the loudness of the murmur equates with the severity of the disease.”

While I was trying to comprehend that Dexter officially had a heart murmur, I also wanted to know what I need to look for and be aware of throughout his life. I didn’t want to miss a sign that he was in distress or declining.

Dr. Brown explains, “Unfortunately, all of the clinical signs associated with heart disease come at the end of the disease process. Most dogs remain asymptomatic as the disease is developing. Coughing, labored breathing, weakness, collapse, and exercise intolerance are associated with congestive heart failure. Again, congestive heart failure occurs after a patient has already developed severe, advanced disease. Pet owners should be aware that “the absence of clinical signs” does not guarantee that their pet does not have a serious cardiac condition. As with many diseases, early treatment is recommended for the best outcome and long-term survival.”

At this time, Dr. Brown wants to see Dexter again in a year to assess his heart. If any of Dexter’s vets see a change in his heart, we will do it sooner. I will continue to feed Dexter a high-quality, home-cooked diet, provide him with heart-healthy supplements and foods, continue to ensure he receives adequate exercise, and keep him at his ideal weight.

If you have a dog prone to heart disease, such as a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Chihuahua, miniature poodle, terrier, dachshund, whippet, or Shih Tzu, you should look into a yearly visit with a veterinary cardiologist. Or if your dog exhibits coughing, labored breathing, weakness, collapse, or exercise intolerance, please have a conversation with your veterinarian about heart disease. Remember, our pets are counting on us to be their advocates.


Do you have a dog breed prone to heart disease? Tell me in the comments.

Dog Hear Murmur and Heart Disease in Dogs What You Need To Know. Is your dog prone to congestive heart failure? Learn the facts and how to be proactive in his care. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Learn how to home cook for your dogs.

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Dog anxiety and how to naturally help a scared dog. Learn some common dog anxiety symptoms and how to help a dog scared of thunder in my interview with Dr. Judy Morgan #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Dog Anxiety, Scared Dog and Why Dogs are Scared of Thunder | Natural Ways to Help a Dog in a Panic Attack

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Dog Anxiety Treatment, Scared Dog and Dog Afraid of Thunder Storms

Dog Anxiety Symptoms and How To Help a Fearful Dog

Dog anxiety and how to naturally help a scared dog. Learn some common dog anxiety symptoms and how to help a dog scared of thunder in my radio interview with Dr. Judy Morgan.

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Learn more on Pet Anxiety


Do you have a fearful dog? Tell me in the comments.

Dog anxiety and how to naturally help a scared dog. Learn some common dog anxiety symptoms and how to help a dog scared of thunder in my interview with Dr. Judy Morgan #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Best dog food for pets
Learn how to home cook for your dogs.

Healthy Dog Treat Recipes
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