Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care and Treatment. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care | What I’ve Learned with Dexter

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Raising Your Pets, Dogs and Cats Naturally

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Practical Guide for Living and Treatment for CM and SM in Dogs

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care and Treatment. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Cavaliers

My best friend, Dexter The Dog, was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in 2012, just before his third birthday. His diagnosis was a big blow to my heart. Over the last 6 years, I’ve written a lot on Dexter’s diagnosis, his care and treatments.

I’ve been asked by my Cavalier community to make a bit of a list for easy reference. I hope you find this article on Chiari malformation and syringomyelia in dogs helpful. My request is that you share this information so that others dealing with this heartbreaking diagnosis can also learn that there are many helpful and natural treatments for dogs with Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

What is Chiari Malformation (CM)?

Chiari malformation (CM) is when the skull is too small to hold the brain. Because of the brain growth in such a small cavity, the cerebellum and medulla are pushed out and obstruct the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

What is Syringomyelia (SM)?

Because of the obstruction of normal cerebrospinal fluid, there is a buildup of pressure. This pressure can be compared to holding your finger over half of the opening of a lawn hose, preventing the water from flowing freely. That pressure then can cause fluid-filled cavities within the spinal cord known as syringomyelia (SM).

What are Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia Symptoms in Dogs?

Symptoms of CM and SM in cavaliers and other breeds vary. In fact, they vary a LOT! About a year prior to Dexter’s diagnosis, he started to do a few odd behaviors. First, he seemed to gaze out and get focused on dust particles floating in the sun. Second, he would get focused on his rear end and start fidgeting and biting at his bottom. I took him in to his veterinarian; they checked his anal glands. His diagnosis was that they were slightly full, and maybe he was just more sensitive to when they emptied. Third, he would get really weird after a random fly, gnat, or another flying insect would pass by him or happened to land on him. He would, spin around, growl, and become very “strange.” The fourth symptom, the one that put us over the top, was when he started to growl at his back end and almost get into a trance.

I talked to a Cavalier friend and vet, Dr. Lynette Cole at The Ohio State University. She advised me to record the next episode. I did, and three veterinarian neurologists suspected Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

Dexter’s CM/SM Video

This is how Dexter presented with his disease. However, other common symptoms of CM/SM can include one or more of the below.

  • Air scratching, particularly on walks or when excited.
  • Head scratching or rubbing.
  • Air snapping or licking.
  • Random yelps out in pain.
  • Sensitive to touch and being picked up.
  • Hind end weakness.
  • Head or body wobbles, bobbles, stumbling, eye flickers, or squinting.
  • Head pressing.
  • Seeking darkness or wanting to be left alone.
  • Inactivity or depression.
  • Restlessness.

Diagnosing Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia

The only way to truly diagnose this disease is an MRI. If a dog is presenting some of the common symptoms of CM/SM and is a breed prone to this disease (Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahua Brussels Griffons, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, and other small toy breeds), a vet may start treatment without an MRI confirmation.

For me, I’m a person who always wants to know all that I can and treat accordingly. If I’d just started to treat Dexter for CM/SM without really knowing, I would always be doubting myself and worried that I may be missing another disease. Because Dexter was so focused on his lower lumbar area, the neurologists also performed a spinal tap to ensure we had all the facts.

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care and Treatment. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
CM and SM in Dogs and Cavaliers

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia Treatment Options

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia Surgery

There is a surgical option aimed at restoring the normal flow of spinal fluid. This usually involves decompression, removing pieces of bone, and adding a shunt. The results are varied, with most dogs still feeling pain and needing medications.

Pharmaceuticals to Treat Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia

The disease is progressive and varies in severity from dog to dog. There is no cure, only various treatments to aid in comfort and lessen pain. Just like the wide variety of symptoms a dog may exhibit for CM/SM, treatment options are just as varied. Pharmaceuticals are likely going to play a role in treating your dog’s symptoms. Dr. Clare Rusbridge, has been the leading specialist in treating dogs with this disease. She offers a wealth of information on her website, along with a pharmaceutical treatment protocol.

When you find that your dog needs to be on regular pharmaceuticals, it is important to play a proactive role in evaluating his organ functions and supporting his organs. Read this article for more information.

Natural Treatment Options for Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia

Luckily, there are a lot of other ways to help support a dog with CM/SM, to help him stay strong and as pain-free as possible. Here are some common natural treatments that you may consider for your dog. I will link to specific articles on how I’m using the treatment with Dexter when available.

Acupuncture to Treat Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia

One of the first natural treatments Dexter received was acupuncture. We started our treatment once a week, then tapered off over the first year after his diagnosis. I spoke to Dexter’s acupuncturist, Dr. Mary Cardeccia and she explained the basic principles. Energy is continuity flowing through our bodies through specific pathways. When a pathway is disrupted or blocked, acupuncture helps restore the normal flow of energy. For dogs with CM/SM, their qi (energy) is stagnant along the spinal cord. Through the proper acupuncture points, this energy can be restored.

Dexter’s Acupuncture Treatment

Cold Laser Treatment

The other natural treatment I provided Dexter, was cold laser therapy. Cold laser therapy works by stimulating the cells, enabling them to heal themselves more efficiently. Cold laser treatments also help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, repair tissue damage, and increase blood circulation. This is still a treatment I use regularly for Dexter, and I also take Dexter to his vet for a treatment if he’s having a bad or painful day. It seems to help him feel better right after treatment.

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care and Treatment. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Laser Therapy for Dogs

Food Therapy

Shortly after Dexter’s diagnosis, I was introduced the healing powers of food by Dr. Judy Morgan. She taught me how to use food for healing through a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) perspective. There are foods and herbs such as sardines, shiitake mushrooms, celery, radishes, lemon, parsley, and marjoram that can help reduce fluid production. With less fluid production, Dexter has less spinal swelling and pain.

Chiari malformation and syringomyelia is a disease with inflammation. The other part of Dexter’s food therapy includes adding foods that reduce inflammation and avoiding foods that increase inflammation. Dexter is fed a species-appropriate diet of home-cooked or raw dog food. Processed, dry dog food is high in carbohydrates, which increases inflammation. Foods and supplements that I rotate into Dexter’s diet to help decrease inflammation can include blueberries, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage), leafy greens, green-lipped mussels, CoQ10, bone broth, CBD oil, probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Conscious Proprioception, Awareness

One of the things I’ve noticed about Dexter is that he “shuffles” his feet when walking. During one of his veterinary exams, Dexter’s vet flipped his foot over so the top of his toes were touching the ground. By flipping a dog’s foot over, the vet is testing his conscious proprioception. In other words, the dog’s awareness that his foot is upside down. Most dogs will immediately flip their feet back to the normal position, Dexter did not fix his foot. Instead, he left it flipped upside down. He was not getting the signal to his brain that his foot was in the wrong position.

Dr. Cardeccia explains, “Because with the SM there is pressure on his spinal cord (from the pockets cerebrospinal fluid that form within the spinal cord near the brain), it is interfering with the nerves of proprioception, which are on the outer portion of the spinal cord. Proprioception is the internal sense that tells you where your body parts are without your having to look at them, so he is not actually fully aware of where his feet are, and that is why he drags them.

Two treatments I’ve implemented for Dexter are the use of Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips for Dogs and regular footwork exercises. Using the ToeGrips has brought Dexter an awareness about his feet through proprioceptive stimulus and help Dexter to pick up his feet. A week after wearing his first pair of ToeGrips, Dr. Cardeccia flipped his foot over, and he immediately flipped his foot back to position!

Dexter’s proprioception footwork includes things like walking over objects, walking on a variety of textures, walking sideways and back. This is all to help him be more aware of his feet.

Dog Core Strength Exercises

Next on Dexter’s dog rehabilitation agenda is to build up his core strength and back end strength. Strengthening Dexter’s core muscles and overall strength will help him with his balance issues. When he does lose his balance or starts to stumble, he will hopefully have the strength to catch himself. We do a variety of exercises on a variety of equipment to target Dexter’s abdominal, back, hind legs, etc.

Clip of Dexter’s Exercises

Canine Water or Hydrotherapy

Dog water therapy is a great way to help strengthen a dog’s body, while having a low impact on his joints. Because one of Dexter’s rehabilitation goals is to bring awareness to his hind feet, Dexter does regular water treadmill therapy. This provides not only strength and core strength, but also helps improve his proprioception. During the warm months, I also take Dexter to outdoor ponds and streams to allow him to walk in the water to continue with his therapy.

Dexter’s First Water Therapy Session

Exercise, Walking and Dog Play Limitations

This is a heartbreaker for me. Dexter has always been a spunky, playful, and active dog. Unfortunately, his disease has other things in mind. Each dog will be different on what they can and cannot tolerate. In the beginning, or as the disease progresses, these activities may change.

I’ve learned with Dexter, it’s about short spurts then rest. I also do a lot of training games and exercises, which include his at-home rehab work, that he finds fun and entertaining. This can take the place of rough or physical activities.

Possible Comforts

  • Dog Harness. No Dog Collars, Please. One of the first things a newly diagnosed CM/SM dog parent should do is dump the dog collar and exchange it for a dog harness. Because the disease starts with a malformation of the skull, a dog collar can be quite painful. I’m never a fan of collars in the first place. Even finding a suitable dog harness can be a challenge. Each dog is different in where a pocket-filled cavity may be, so a harness that might work for one dog, may cause pain for another.
  • Dog Strollers. Dog strollers are a great option for dogs with a neurological disorder, such as Chiari malformation and syringomyelia. This allows the dog to be comfortable and safe, while still being able to join in on the adventure. I always have Dexter’s stroller in my car, and I always bring it on long adventures. When he’s in need, I just pop him inside. Sometimes he rests up and then walks after his rest.
  • Cooling Mats and/or Warming Blankets. I’m not sure why, but these dogs tend to run hot or cold. When Dexter was first diagnosed, and we were trying to find our groove, he always seemed cold. I made him a warming blanket, and he loved it! In a pinch, you can toss a fleece dog blanket in the dryer. It’s important to note that your dog should be able to remove himself if he feels too hot. Now, Dexter actually loves his cooling mat! He always gravitates to it, even in the winter. He doesn’t otherwise seem hot or uncomfortable in any way, but he will sleep more on it vs. a warm bed.
  • Snuggle jackets or tight-fitting jackets, such as the ThunderShirt. This seems to be a 50/50 in the community. Some dogs immediately calm down from a painful episode, and others are in too much pain to wear clothing. Take your dog’s cue.
  • Natural Calming Aids. I find this very helpful when Dexter seems to be having a rough day. I put in his favorite calming CD and will use a natural calming spray. I’m sure it has to do with the stress involved with the pain, and Dexter is not sure why he feels the way he does. 🙁
Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care and Treatment. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Dexter’s Cooling Mat

Support for Dogs with Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia

Unfortunately, you are not alone. I say unfortunately because I wish this stupid diseases didn’t exist. It can be so heart-wrenching knowing our beloved dogs can suffer from such great pain. Quality of life issues always are at the forefront of our minds. My personal favorite support system came from a Facebook Group for dogs with CM/SM. This group is amazing, to say the least. They are so helpful, supportive, and very knowledgeable. Next, Dexter’s amazing team of specialists, and he has many. Finally, my family. They are my rock, so I can be Dexter’s rock.

I urge you to reach out to your veterinarians, specialists, and join the Facebook group if you think your dog may have Chiari malformation and syringomyelia. And, please share this article, so that others know of all the possible noninvasive treatments we can provide our beloved dogs with CM/SM and the support system in place.


Does your dog have Chiari Malformation? How are you helping him? Tell me in the comments.

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in Dogs. A Guide for Their Care and Treatment. #raisingyourpetsnaturally #cm #sm #cavaliers #ckcs #chiarimalformation #syringomyelia
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Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain | Natural Senior Dog Care

Old Dogs and Special Needs Dogs

Natural Dog Care for Joints and Arthritis

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Natural Senior Dog Care

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by GingerLead 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

Please note, I am not a veterinarian. Please speak in detail with your holistic veterinarian about your dog’s care and support. They will always be your best resource.

If you have old dogs, dogs with arthritis, dogs with mobility issues, or even young healthy dogs, you should be proactive in their joint and mobility care. Often people wait until their dog is in pain, has arthritis, or even has trouble getting up from the ground before they take action. We all do it—I even fell in this category myself with Dexter.

If you’ve been following Dexter’s story, you may recall that he was diagnosed with Chiari-like Malformation (CM) and syringomyelia in 2012. CM is basically when the skull is too small to hold the brain, causing pressure on the cerebellum and medulla, and obstructing normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid. You can compare this to holding your finger over half of the opening of a hose; that pressure then causes fluid-filled cavities within the spinal cord, SM.

We’ve had our ups and downs with his disease. I’m happy to report he’s been doing well and he’s just as spunky and fun-loving as a young pup. However, just over a year ago, Dexter was getting a bit more “wobbly and bobbly” and losing his balance. It’s then that he started seeing his rehab vet, Dr. Mary L. Cardeccia, for regular physical rehabilitation to work on building his core strength and proprioception. You can read about our canine rehab in this article.

Strength Training for All Ages of Dogs

I regret that I was not more proactive in keeping Dexter strong and mobile, prior to his wobbles and weakness. Dexter and I always had regular daily exercise through walks and play, but I never actively focused on his strength and core. Strong core muscles help dogs with their movement, keep their balance, and help them get up and down. For Dexter, it’s also very important in strengthening his spine and allowing him the strength to “catch” himself and recover from a wobble.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Core strength exercises for dogs

Daily Exercise and Movement for Dogs

Have you ever heard the phrase, “use it or lose it”? This is so true when it comes to exercising with our dogs and keeping them moving. According to an article published on the John Hopkins website, “While rest is important, especially during flare-ups, lack of physical activity is associated with increased muscle weakness, joint stiffness, reduced range of motion, fatigue and general deconditioning.” As with every exercise program, it is important to know your dog’s limits and yours, start slowly, and build over time.

Canine Water Therapy / Hydrotherapy for Dogs

There are two traditional forms of dog water therapy: pool therapy and water treadmill therapy. Water therapy has a low impact on a dog’s joints. This is a great solution for dogs with a variety of joint problems and mobility issues. Water therapy also provides resistance, making this a great workout for your dog. Dexter goes to monthly underwater treadmill therapy not only to build his strength, but also to help with his proprioception. During the summer months, I also walk Dexter in shallow streams and ponds between our sessions.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Water Treadmill Therapy for Dogs

Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs

Cold laser therapy uses light beams that stimulate the cells in the body and can reduce inflammation, increase blood circulation, relieve pain, and repair tissue damage. Cold laser therapy uses a laser that does not produce heat. Depending on your dog’s condition, your holistic veterinarian may recommend cold laser therapy. Dexter’s neurological condition relates to inflammation along his spine, so Dexter receives treatment on his spine about once a month. If he’s having a rough day with pain, we schedule an impromptu laser treatment, which usually gets him back on track and feeling better.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Laser Therapy for Dogs

Acupuncture for Mobility

Acupuncture is another natural option for assisting with a dog’s mobility and a lot of other canine ailments, even behavioral issues. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that disease is caused by a disruption of the flow of QI, or energy. Acupuncture is applied in target points to stimulate the flow of QI, allowing the body to become balanced. For dogs with mobility concerns, the practitioner is generally focused on stimulating circulation and reducing inflammation.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Acupuncture for Dogs

Dog Chiropractic Adjustments for Mobility and Range of Motion

First, I want to stress that if you are thinking of taking your dog in for chiropractic care, you see a veterinarian, not a human chiropractor—they are NOT the same. Canine chiropractic care helps realign your dog’s joints and spine, helps with range of motion and flexibility, and can relieve pain.

Veterinarian chiropractors may solely use their hands during a dog’s adjustment, a chiropractic adjustment tool, called the Activator®, or a combination of both. Dexter has had both procedures, and responds better during and after with a hands-on approach instead of the tool. Some veterinarians will actually provide adjustment in the pool, for even a gentler approach.

Proper Weight and A Species-Appropriate Diet and Supplementation

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that excess weight on your dog’s joints and spine will increase pain and inflammation, and decrease mobility. It also leads to strain on your dog’s heart muscles and other vital organs. If there was ever a time to feel your dog’s waistline, it’s now. All dogs should have a slight tuck at the waist.

Feeding your dog a species-appropriate diet is incredibly beneficial in reducing inflammation. Dogs are carnivores, not carbidores. A processed dry dog food is extremely heavy in carbohydrates and has almost no moisture. This combination leads to inflammation, not to mention a lack of fresh vitamins, minerals and enzymes. To help reduce inflammation avoid refined carbohydrates such as sugar, sorghum, flour (wheat, oat, pea, bean, rice, corn), white rice, and potato starch to name a few. Some other foods that increase inflammation include sugar, too many omega-6 fatty acids, and corn. On the other side, there are foods and supplements that help reduce inflammation such as leafy greens, blueberries, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage), bone broth, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, beets, pineapple, glucosamine chondroitin, green-lipped mussels, and CoQ10.

Dog Mobility Aids

If your dog struggles getting up, using stairs, or walking, I would suggest looking at the GingerLead. The GingerLead works by gently lifting a dog’s back legs, enabling him to be in an ideal position. The GingerLead offers a very safe and secure way to help a dog get up, navigate stairs, or go for a walk. You can read my full review in this article.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
GingerLead Dog Support Sling

Don’t wait for your dog’s mobility to decrease. Take action today to improve his movement and longevity.

GingerLead is the No Bunching, Padded Dog Support Sling with Leash and Handle – Quality you can feel – Trusted by veterinarians for improving quality of life for your best friend since 2008 – Proudly made in Colorado, U.S.A. – Adjustable for Height – Easy to Use – Stay on Straps


How are you helping your dog’s mobility? Tell me in the comments.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Moving and Combating Dog Arthritis and Joint Pain. Natural care for your senior or special needs dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally #seniordogs #olddogs #dogarthritis
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CBD Oil (Phytocannabioind Rich-PCR)For Dogs with Neurological Pain. Dexter's canine rehabilitation veterinarian, prescribed Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil twice a day. Learn why and how it may help your dog's pain. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

CBD Oil For Dogs with Neurological Pain | Phytocannabioind Rich (PCR) Oil for Dogs

CBD Oil For Dogs with Neurological Pain | Phytocannabioind Rich (PCR) Oil for Dogs

What You Need to Know about Pet CBD Oil

CBD Oil (Phytocannabioind Rich-PCR)For Dogs with Neurological Pain. Dexter's canine rehabilitation veterinarian, prescribed Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil twice a day. Learn why and how it may help your dog's pain. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
CBD Oil for Neurological Conditions in Dogs

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Treatibles 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

I’m guessing by now you have heard some buzz about CBD oil for dogs. On any social media outlet, a question about a dog’s anxiety or pain is sure to result in a suggestion to try CBD oil. But before diving in, it’s always a good idea to know a few facts.

Marijuana vs Hemp

Both marijuana and hemp come from the same plant genus, Cannabaceae, but they are two different plants. Hemp-derived phytocannabinoids do not contain the hallucinogenic compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so they do not cause the ‘high’ associated with marijuana. To be classified as hemp, it must contain less than 0.3% of THC. Some varieties of hemp products are nearly free of THC.

Understanding Phytocannabinoids—a Little Science

Chemical compounds known as cannabinoids are found in all animals (except insects). In plant form, it is known as phytocannabinoids. Studies of phytocannabinoids show they are very effective in promoting both physical and mental health. Benefits range from helping with anxiety, reducing inflammation, combating nausea, helping in digestion, and the list goes on.

The reason phytocannabinoids can be used to treat many ailments is that all animals have an endocannabinoid system that maintains the body’s physiological, immunological and neurological systems. When there is a deficiency in endocannabinoid production, our body will utilize the addition of phytocannabinoids and will start a restoring process to bring our bodies back to balance.

CBD Oil (Phytocannabioind Rich-PCR)For Dogs with Neurological Pain. Dexter's canine rehabilitation veterinarian, prescribed Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil twice a day. Learn why and how it may help your dog's pain. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
PCR Oil for Pets

Safety Considerations of Hemp-Derived Phytocannabinoids

One of the great things about Hemp-based phytocannabinoids is the safety of the product. There are no psychoactive effects, and the phytocannabinoid-rich oil is non-toxic. It is next to impossible for a pet to overdose, and it is also safe to administer with other pet medications or pet supplements. However, as always, please speak with your holistic veterinarian prior to administration.

Are Hemp-Derived Phytocannabinoids safe?

In a word, yes. Hemp-based phytocannabinoids are non-psychoactive and non-toxic. It is virtually impossible for a pet to overdose. In addition, phytocannabinoids are safe for your pets to take along with any prescribed or over-the-counter medication. Always talk to your veterinarian before adding any supplement to your pet’s regimen.

The Importance of Testing

As with a lot of popular products, quality control and evaluation are important. Various brands offer testing results to the consumer. And yes, some brands don’t test at all. For me, if a company doesn’t offer this information on their website, I would certainly inquire before making a purchase.

A few points to consider when choosing a PCR oil for your pet include: sourcing of ingredients, third-party testing of raw materials, finished product, milligrams of phytocannabinoid, free of bio-contaminants and heavy metals.

My Personal Experience with Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil for Dogs

Just over 9 months ago, I had a first-hand experience with Treatibles Phytocannabinoid-Rich Oil. I worked with one of my dog training clients on using the Treatibles PCR Oil with her anxious dog, Sora. At the same time, I had my own bottle for Dexter for help with breakthrough pain from his neurological disorder. You can read about both our positive experiences in this article.

As Dexter’s disease progresses, I’m always trying to stay one step ahead of the train and help Dexter stay as pain-free and spunky as his heart desires. Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed he’s becoming a bit more wobbly and bobbly. I spoke with Dexter’s canine rehabilitation veterinarian, Dr. Mary L. Cardeccia on what I could do to help, and she prescribed Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil twice a day.

Because I always want to know the why and how, I asked her to explain what we hope the PCR oil will do for Dexter. She offered this explanation, “As for the hemp extract, phytocannabinoids and terpenes (normal components of the hemp plant; CBD is one of the phytocannabinoids (cannabidiol). Many people use “CBD oil” interchangeably with hemp oil or extract, but in reality, there are so many great components of the whole plant that it is even better to use the leaf/stem extract instead of just isolating CBD). Phytocannabinoids and terpenes have anti-inflammatory properties, pain relieving properties, and a quieting/soothing effect on the central nervous system (can control seizures), so I am hoping that using it with Dex would help on all three of those levels.” Dr. Cardeccia continued by saying, “I think that you may start seeing improvement after a few doses, as the anti-inflammatory effects should not take long, but the CNS (Central Nervous System) effects may take a couple of weeks to get to full effect.”

CBD Oil (Phytocannabioind Rich-PCR)For Dogs with Neurological Pain. Dexter's canine rehabilitation veterinarian, prescribed Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil twice a day. Learn why and how it may help your dog's pain. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Natural Remedies for Neurological Disorders

Choosing a Phytocannabioind-Rich (PCR) Oil for Dexter

Of, course, I immediately thought of Treatibles, but I also didn’t want to overlook any other great brands that might fit our needs. As I started to do my research, I ran into some roadblocks when it came to the testing and/or results of the PCR Oils for dogs. Some companies did not offer any testing, while results for other products showed some THC, although under the 0.3% limit. The other test result that I found were in the residual solvent analysis. Even though under 400 PPM would pass, all the companies that I found still had some residue, with the exception of Treatibles. I do understand that the other brands are still deemed safe and there may be a brand I overlooked, but for me, it was just too hard to ignore.

I contacted Treatibles for more information on their testing and products, and learned that Treatibles’ third-party lab tests at every stage, from the raw materials to the finished product. Every batch is tested to determine the exact milligrams of phytocannabinoids in every product. They also test to ensure each product is free of heavy metals and bio-contaminants (none detected in tests), and they provide the testing results for each product on their website. The hemp used for their products is grown in the USA and is virtually free of THC (none detected in tests). Test results can vary from crop to crop, so check the test results prior to purchasing.

All Treatibles products contain phytocannabinoid-rich oil extracted from the whole hemp plant, which, as Dr. Cardeccia explained, creates a synergy effect by utilizing therapeutic phytocannabinoids and terpenes, providing a full spectrum of benefits for pets.

Treatibles actually reformulated their product to use MCT Coconut Oil as the base. Coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, contains antioxidants, and is rich in lauric acid, making this a great addition!

I am very happy with my decision to use Treatibles Phytocannabinoid-Rich Oil with MCT Coconut Oil for Dexter. I am hoping to be able to see some improvement of Dexter’s mobility in the next few weeks. The good news is that we won’t be doing any harm in trying, and by adding daily PCR oil, I am reducing Dexter’s inflammation, which is always a good thing.

Don’t let your dog suffer needlessly. Visit Treatibles today~!

Treatibles Compassion Certified hard chews, dropper bottle oils and gel caps are infused with phytocannabinoid rich oil (PCR) derived from medicinal grade hemp grown in the USA. Treatibles help to promote healthy joints and digestion, instill calm and balance, and assist pets with anxiety, discomfort, seizures, end of life comfort, and more.


Have you or your pet tried PCR Oil (CBD)? Tell me in the comments.

CBD Oil (Phytocannabioind Rich-PCR)For Dogs with Neurological Pain. Dexter's canine rehabilitation veterinarian, prescribed Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR) Oil twice a day. Learn why and how it may help your dog's pain. #raisingyourpetsnaturally #cbd #cbdoil #cbdoilfordogs #potforpets #hempfordogs
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Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally

Canine and Feline Anxiety | How Treatible’s CBD Oil Can Help Pet Anxiety and Pain Management

CBD Oil for Dogs and Cats

Treatibles CBD Oil Review

Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Treatibls CBD Oil Review

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

Pet anxiety has been part of my life for many, many years. I began my dog training career working in an animal shelter, and it just broke my heart to see all the dogs and cats suffering and stressed with their new situation. Little did I know at that time, helping dog and cat parents with their anxious pets would be the foundation of my career in the pet industry.

I’ve spent the last 20 years learning new ways to help my clients and their fearful dogs and cats. Whether I’m learning new behavior and training protocols, discovering how food can affect behavior, or researching new pet products for anxiety, easing a pet’s anxiety is always in the front of my mind.

CBD For Dogs, Cats and Pets

CBD for dogs, cats, and other pets has been receiving some good press. Various ongoing scientific and clinical studies are being conducted on the use of CBD for various medical and behavioral issues. Dr. Robert J Silver, a holistic veterinarian, wrote the book Cannabis For Pets, which discusses the many potential clinical applications for this herbal drug therapy.

Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Treatibles CBD Oil for Pets

I have been listening with open ears over the years, as other pet experts discuss CBD for pets, particularly how it can help scared dogs and cats. Over the last year, one brand came onto my radar, Treatibles. As luck would have it, they were at a pet blogging conference I attended last month, so I was able to speak with them in-depth about their CBD products for pets.

After our conversation, we decided I would review and try their CBD oil drops for pets. At the moment, I do not have a dog with anxiety, but I did have a client that was willing to try Treatible’s CBD oil drops with her dog, Sora.

I’ve been working with my client and Sora for two years. They are doing great! However, Sora is a fearful dog who has been working hard at overcoming his dog anxiety. He also gets worked up and rowdy quickly around various stimuli. I felt he would be a perfect candidate for Treatible’s CBD oil.

Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Sora

Unlike some anxiety medications or natural calming aids, the effects are pretty immediate, typically five minutes to an hour after the first dose. Treatibles are safe and non-toxic, and can be administered as needed, depending on the pet’s behavior. If a pet guardian does not see a difference within the hour, another dose can be given. During the first few times of providing CBD oil to your pet, observe him carefully to find the optimal dose. You cannot overdose on Treatible’s CBD oil.

Sora started taking his CBD oil two times a day. After day two, I asked how Sora was doing now that he was using Treatible’s CBD oil. His owner was thrilled with the results! She told me he was far calmer around his high-arousal triggers and a lot easier to redirect if he did get a bit focused. She also told me he was disengaging in caring about the triggers quicker.

She also said that his low-arousal triggers were almost nonexistent. He was even lying around during some mild stimuli, instead of being focused on what was going on and trying to decide if he should be concerned.

I asked her if he was lethargic or had less energy than usual, and she told me no. He seemed more relaxed and able to sleep when the time was appropriate, but was ready to play and engage with her easily.

Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
CBD Oil for pain management

You may have noticed the title of this blog post also mentioned pain management. As some of you may already know, my dog Dexter suffers from Chiari-like malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM). His disease causes some days to be more painful than others. I’m a member of a few CM/SM groups where pain management is often discussed. In our discussions CBD oil often comes up as a recommendation for some dogs. It’s never 100% successful with each dog, but some find it useful in managing syringomyelia pain.

I’m happy to report that I have not had the chance to test this on Dexter, as he’s been pain-free for quite a while! But I do have it on the ready for the next time he has a painful day.

People may wonder why I choose to review the Treatible brand. Two words: manufacturing and testing. Treatibles are non-GMO, and the hemp used is grown in Colorado. Each batch goes through three levels of testing, and is third-party tested to boot. They test for heavy metals and contaminants in the cannabinoid materials, and cannabinoid levels in the raw material and in the final product. Test results can be found on their website.

Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Cats Too!

What’s next in my review? A read-through of the ingredient panel for my viewers. This part is always an important factor when choosing a pet product. What, exactly, are ALL the ingredients?

Treatibles CBD Oil Ingredients: Hemp seed oil, grape seed oil, Phytocannabinoid-rich oil

I’m definitely adding Treatible’s CBD oil to my toolbox of tricks. From my research and the results so far, I think this is a great product for pets with anxiety, particularly if they are active because of the anxiety. For example, separation anxiety, dogs afraid of storms, fear of fireworks, travel anxiety, etc. I’m also hopeful that it will help Dexter the next time he has a painful episode.

I truly want to thank the team at Treatibles for bringing such a great product to market, and for their integrity with their product’s manufacturing and ingredients. If you have a pet with anxiety or pain, I urge you to click and read more about Treatible’s CBD oil for pets.

2/26/18 UPDATE: My client now has all three of her dogs on Treatibles and continues to see success! Dexter is now taking Treatibles 2 x day per his vet.  You can read about it here.


Do you have an anxious pet? Tell me in the comments.

Learn how CBD Oil can help dogs and cats with anxiety, particularly from fireworks, thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Click to ease their fear. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Dog Rehabilitation Exercises for Dog Neurological Conditions: Natural Treatments for Chiari malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM). I reached out to one of Dexter's holistic veterinarians, Dr. Mary L. Cardeccia. Dr. Cardeccia focuses on animal rehabilitation and natural healing methods including acupuncture, food therapy, chiropractic, Reiki, and herbology. We both agreed that there were more natural rehabilitation exercises and work I could be doing with Dexter to improve his conscious proprioception and to hopefully help decrease his head bobbing and wobbles (back end weakness).

Dog Rehabilitation Exercises for Dog Neurological Conditions: Natural Treatments for Chiari malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM) 

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Canine Rehabilitation Centers and Treatment Success

An Interview with Dr. Mary L. Cardeccia founder of Animal Rehabilitation Facility (located in Dexter, Michigan)

Special needs dogs and canine rehabilitation treatment. Natural treatments for canine neurological disorders such as Chiari malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM). #raisingyourpetsnaturally
K9 Rehabilitation for Dogs

For my followers already familiar with my blog, you know that Dexter The Dog is battling some serious medical conditions. For my new fans, a little fill-in may be necessary. My seven-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dexter, was diagnosed with Chiari malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM) just before his third birthday. CM is basically when the skull is too small to hold the brain, causing pressure on the cerebellum and medulla, and obstructing normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid. You can compare this to holding your finger over half of the opening of a hose; that pressure then causes fluid-filled cavities within the spinal cord, SM. This is a very painful, progressive and incurable disease in both dogs and humans.

I provide Dexter a variety of natural solutions including food therapy, herbs, supplements, monitoring his exercise, and unfortunately, some pharmaceuticals. This past year I’ve noticed Dexter “shuffling” his back feet instead of picking them up. Dexter is not picking his back feet up properly due to his lack of conscious proprioception. This is a lack of awareness he is getting from his back feet to his brain, likely due to his neurological condition. About five months back, Dexter started wearing Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips for Dogs to help (read how). He has had improvement and his toes are not nearly as worn as before the ToeGrips.

But now, he’s starting to do a little head bopping and wobbling. I felt it was time to look into what else I could do to help improve the quality of Dexter’s life. I reached out to one of Dexter’s holistic veterinarians, Dr. Mary L. Cardeccia. Dr. Cardeccia focuses on animal rehabilitation and natural healing methods including acupuncture, food therapy, chiropractic, Reiki, and herbology. We both agreed that there were more natural rehabilitation exercises and work I could be doing with Dexter to improve his conscious proprioception and to hopefully help decrease his head bobbing and wobbles (back end weakness).

I’ve been taking Dexter to Dr. Cardeccia weekly for the past 6 weeks and working daily at home with some of his canine rehabilitation exercises. I will go into more detail in future blogs, but today I wanted to do a little Q & A with Dr. Cardeccia on exactly what we are doing and why. Hopefully, this article will reach other pet parents who may find themselves in a similar situation and help them know that there is hope and that as pet parents we have a lot of natural options to help improve our pet’s lives. We must always be our pet’s advocate and keep looking and searching for solutions.

Interview with Dr. Cardeccia

I’m the kind of person who wants to know more than just what to do, I try to find out the why and how. I feel this allows me to get a better understanding of what is going on and to continue to make the best choices about Dexter’s care accordingly.

I asked Dr. Cardeccia how and why Dexter’s neurological condition makes him drag his back feet vs picking them up properly.

“Because with the SM there is pressure on his spinal cord (from the pockets cerebrospinal fluid that form within the spinal cord near the brain) it is interfering with the nerves of proprioception, which are on the outer portion of the spinal cord. Proprioception is the internal sense that tells you where your body parts are without your having to look at them, so he is not actually fully aware of where his feet are, and that is why he drags them.”

What is the purpose of doing his footwork? What is it doing?

“The footwork is to help retrain the nerves of proprioception so that he will be more aware of his feet. Some of it can also help to strengthen his core muscles, which will further improve his balance. This is why we want him to go slowly when he is doing these types of exercises. Even if the pressure on his spinal cord is now resolved, if it was there for long enough, the nerves will still be compromised and we need to remind them of what their job is.”

Do we have an end in sight for Dexter’s rehab exercises, or will we need to practice these exercises for life?

“I think a little bit of both. It is our hope that by doing the rehabilitation exercises with him, we will improve his current level of function and get him up to a new plateau; however, given that he has a chronic underlying condition, doing some of the proprioception and core strengthening exercises with him on an ongoing basis will likely help to maintain him at a higher level of function long term.”

During Dexter’s first evaluation, Dr. Cardeccia found a pulled groin muscle. I asked her to explain a little about her thoughts on why he pulled his muscle.

“Dexter strained his iliopsoas muscle, which is made up of the psoas and iliacus muscles.   Between them, they run from the upper lumbar region (just behind his rib cage) along the underside of his vertebrae and pelvis, and attach at the top of his inner thigh. This is a major core muscle, flexing the hip and spine, and is easy to strain when you are having balance issues and having to accommodate for them. He also may have splayed out on the floor at some point if he slipped, which is a common way to ‘pull’ this muscle. In Dexter’s case, I think that he strained the iliopsoas (groin) muscle opposite his weaker leg since he was taking over more of the weight bearing and steering with his ‘good’ side.”

One of the main focuses with Dexter’s canine rehabilitation exercises is to build his core strength. Dr. Cardeccia explains why this is so important.

“Since Dexter is having some issues with balance and not being fully aware of where his hind feet are, including core strengthening in his program will help to improve his balance and ability to adapt, even if for some reason we were not able to get him to actually be any more aware of where his hind feet are.   This core strength will help him not to lose his balance as often, and allows him to accommodate for the occasional loss of balance more easily.”

Dexter has a variety of core strength exercises that he can do on a twice daily basis. I asked her if there is a difference between the exercises. For example, is the larger ball vs. smaller ball vs. working on an air mattresses.

“Some of the core exercises are focusing on different muscle groups, or using them in different ways. For example, standing on or walking across the air mattress focuses more on his abdominal and back muscles in general, while putting his front feet up on a balance ball focuses more on the muscles of his lower abdomen/back and hind legs.   Using a taller ball or less stable ball increases the difficulty of the exercise. By having him do a variety of different exercises we are hoping to maximize the effect of his program in improving his balance and mobility.”

Canine Rehab Video Clip

Dr. Cardeccia wanted to start Dexter on the canine water treadmill. Her animal rehabilitation facility also offers pool therapy, so I asked her why she chose the treadmill vs. the pool for Dexter.

“While hydrotherapy in either a pool or underwater treadmill can be of benefit in a strengthening program, with Dex I am focused on getting him more aware of where those hind feet are as well. Exaggerating his gait while walking through the water serves double duty; it strengthens his legs and core, as well as helping to improve his proprioception.   In addition, I chose the UWTM as our goal is to improve his daily function, and a swimming gait pattern is different that a walking gait pattern. Therefore, using the UWTM is more logical if we are retraining gait in a neurological patient.”

When Dexter feels good, he is a very playful and frisky dog. However, it was during his play that I would see more of his head bobs and hind end weakness. I thought it was imperative to ask Dr. Cardeccia what activities he should avoid and why.

“For now, we want to limit his activities if he is struggling with the coordination to successfully accomplish them. For example, if he is scrambling to find his footing when playing ball, he may injure himself as he rushes to get it if he loses control of his feet and splays out on the floor, or takes a tumble. It is not that he is necessarily going to make his SM symptoms worse, as much as that he is likely to injure something else because he is not in control of his body.”

I’m very lucky with Dexter and his confidence. He is always eager to try new things and tackles new things with gusto. As a dog trainer, I am continually working with puppies and working on confidence boosting games including walking on new textures, wobbly surfaces, and novel equipment.

I asked her if Dexter’s canine rehabilitation exercises would be suitable for puppies.

“In general, yes, using exercises to improve balance and proprioception can be very good for puppies, no matter what their future “job” will be. Helping puppies to be more body aware can prevent injuries in sporting of working dogs as adults, and the balance and proprioception exercises are low impact so could be safe for puppies who are still growing.   Of course, you would want to consult with your veterinarian before starting any rigorous exercise program for your dog.”

Over the last six weeks, I’ve seen a huge improvement in Dexter’s energy and spunk. This proves to me that these exercises and treatments are working. We also had proof in the pudding when Dr. Cardeccia measured his muscle mass. Previously, his one back thigh was smaller and weaker than the other. Now, at his follow-up, they both are larger, and more importantly, his weaker leg has caught up with the other! That is amazing news! I am just so tickled with Dexter’s improvement—this little boy means the world to me. I can’t thank Dr. Cardeccia and her team at Animal Rehabilitation Facility (located in Dexter, Michigan) enough for helping my little boy improve his quality of life. <3


Have you taken any of your pets through rehab? Tell me in the comments.

Special needs dogs and canine rehabilitation treatment. Natural treatments for canine neurological disorders such as Chiari malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM). #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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What's For Dinner, Dexter? The Back Story Learning how to home cook a healthy and balanced meal for your dog.

What’s For Dinner, Dexter? Home Cooking For Dogs | Learn About Dexter The Dog’s Backstory

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What’s For Dinner, Dexter? The Backstory

Learning how to home cook a healthy and balanced meal for your dog.

What's For Dinner, Dexter? Learn about Dexter The Dog's backstory. Learning how to home cook a healthy and balanced meal for your dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Today I was remembering how What’s For Dinner, Dexter? all began. Since I became an adult with dogs, I’ve wanted to home cook for them. I knew it would be the healthiest option, but I was so afraid I would do something wrong, and not provide them with the nutrients they needed, or not balance their diet properly. A very valid concern, as you shouldn’t home cook for your pets until you learn how. But learning how isn’t impossible!

As a puppy, Dexter always had “toppers” on his premium dog food (sorry, that’s a terrible word because all processed, dry food is pretty crappy). I added things like cooked turkey, beef, chicken, and salmon. Yum. Perfect for high-value dog training treats too!

September 2012, my life changed. Dexter was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia. Chiari Malformation is a skull malformation. Syringomyelia is a neurological disease that progresses and varies in severity caused by this skull malformation. There is no cure, only various treatments to aid in comfort and less painful episodes. Symptoms vary and include head scratching, face rubbing, general pain, weakness in limbs, lip licking, seeking cool places, excessive body rubbing, nerve damage, stiffness in limbs, and the body forming into a C shape. This condition is widespread in toy breed dogs like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Griffon Bruxellois, Chihuahuas and other breeds with a “doll-like” head shape. 

Videotaped for the neurologist before diagnosis.

That first year was really tough.  I had to figure out what medications would help Dexter, what he could and couldn’t do, and how best to treat him, and help him lead a happy, and pain-free life. It was very painful to see my playful (he was 2) pup, full of life, being in pain, and having “bad days” needing extra pain pills. Luckily, I had Deb, and a great support group for dogs with SM that helped me through the learning curve, stress, and pain.

Cooking for health
Dexter waiting for his MRI

We managed our first year, but Dexter certainly wasn’t thriving. Then I met her. The woman who would totally change my life and give me my spunky Dexter back! Dr. Judy Morgan was (and is) a member of a great group of Cavalier folks on Facebook. She selflessly provides the group with helpful tips on holistic pet health and answers questions members have. A truly giving woman. I had a sneaking suspicion she would be able to help me figure out the best care for Dexter, so I set up a phone consultation with her. Sure enough, she modified his medications and added supplements. Within a few weeks, he was doing much better. However, he still was having “bad days” about 3 times a week, give or take.

Then Dr. Morgan started her dog food webinars on how to home cook for your dog. But the dog food webinars were more than learning how to make a healthy, balanced diet for your dog. Dr. Morgan explained how the right foods can help treat disease, and the wrong foods can contribute to disease and discomfort. In July 2013, I made Dexter’s first slow cooker dog food! I was super excited and started to post Dexter’s home cooked dog food recipes to Dexter’s Facebook page. You can read one here.

Healthy home cooking for dogs
Real Food For Dogs

 

Over the next few months, Dexter started to feel better! I didn’t realize what was going on, until my family and I were talking about how good he was doing, and how I hadn’t been giving him as many “extra” pain pills. And he was starting to get back to his silly self, being more playful, athletic, and goofy. Wow. I continued to post recipes on his Facebook page, and on his dog blog. It wasn’t long before our friends were asking us to make a dog cookbook, and the idea was planted. Within a few weeks, I started writing what would become What’s For Dinner, Dexter? Luckily I photographed all of Dexter’s meals along the way and kept a database of his recipes. In a couple of weeks, Dr. Morgan agreed to join me to co-author the dog food cookbook.

Dr. Morgan added a much-needed layer to the dog cookbook, not to mention the kick-butt title! She was able to go into great depth and detail about home cooking for dogs, food therapy, and treating disease with food. She truly is a food guru! The cookbook is now an in-depth manual for how to cook for your dog safely, and how to use the principals of Chinese Medicine Theory in your dog’s recipes. It’s pretty amazing stuff! Over the next year, she became quite an influence on me and has been a great mentor ever since. Without her and her expertise, What’s For Dinner, Dexter? would not be as fabulous as it is today. The book and the process of writing a cookbook was a truly amazing experience.

What’s For Dinner, Dexter? has been quite a success. One of my favorite parts is seeing readers posting their photos of the recipes they create, and their modifications to meet their dog’s needs. After all, it is a cookbook, and geared toward teaching the reader how to customize the recipes to meet their dog’s personal needs.

Thank you, to everyone in my life who has helped me with Dexter, and supported our journey. xo
Tonya and Dexter The Dog

Cooking for pets
Dexter Is Doing Great

Do you cook for your dogs?  Tell me in the comments.

What's For Dinner, Dexter? Learn about Dexter The Dog's backstory. Learning how to home cook a healthy and balanced meal for your dog. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Home Cooking For Dogs Book Healthy Dog Treat Recipes