Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Free hamper of Darling's raw food

We have 20 hampers of Darling's Real Dog Food to give away to dog clubs as free draw or competition prizes. Just drop me an email jonathan@darlingsrealdogfood.com if you want to apply. Also, while I am about it if you run a canine website of any description we have some excellent articles on raw feeding that we will be happy for you to post.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Save a Westie!

Isn't this photo FANTASTIC? It was sent to me by Robert Woods of Westie ReHoming in Wiltshire. They are his family's family, as it were, of West Highland Terriers photographed on their summer hols on the Isle of Mull. Westie ReHoming is, as the name suggests, involved in finding new homes for Westies. What I like about the organisation is that they are scrupulously careful about choosing new homes for the dogs in their care. The same cannot be said of all such organisations. Anyway, if you are a Westie lover then you could do worse than send a few bob to support its work. And if you are looking for a Westie to love - and you are serious about it - they may be able to help.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pets Allowed! Great new site.

Looking for somewhere to stay that will let you bring your dog or cat? Searching for an interesting pet-friendly place to visit? A new site, Pets Allowed, aims to provide users with a free list of suitable accommodation and visitor attractions. It has launched with a good selection (my test searches all came up with a reasonable selection) and I imagine that over time it will get even better as they build up their database. Anyway, Pets Allowed is definitely worth bookmarking.

An urgent call for action

Every year millions of British dogs and cats - possibly your own - are being put at risk. How? Let me explain. Canine Health Concern has just launched a much needed campaign to try and change the unnecessary and potentially fatal vaccination of dogs and cats. The core element of the campaign is an open letter to Professor Dean of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the government body responsible for vaccination guidelines and regulation. The nature of the problem is summed up at the beginning of this letter:
"Despite repeated requests over many years, the VMD – a government department - has failed to take action to ensure that veterinary vaccines are administered no more frequently than is necessary, or to warn and protect the public from spurious claims on the part of veterinary vaccine manufacturers and veterinary surgeons. Independent duration of immunity studies have been available since the 1970s to show that immunity to viral disease in dogs and cats persists for years or the life of the animal, and that annual vaccination is not required."
The thing that I found really shocking as I read the rest of the letter was the fact that equivalent bodies in other parts of the world have woken up to the risks and have stopped allowing pharmaceutical companies to promote regular boosters. Why not the British? Hard to say. For a nation of pet lovers we are not shining here and it is important that this issue is brought to the attention of parliament so that pressure can be put on the VMD to make these much needed changes to the regulations.

If you would like to know more about this issue visit the resource area of the Canine Health Concern website and click on books/publications and then look for press releases/letters. It is an eye opener and if you feel inclined (as I did) to take action I hope you will decide to write to your MP.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Proof that canned pet food is dangerous

The BBC reported that this poor stray cat walked into the Scottish SPCA's Wildlife Rescue Centre in Middlebank on Sunday with her head wedged in an empty pet food tin. After the can was carefully removed she was checked over. She has now been taken to the Edinburgh and Lothians Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Balerno, Edinburgh. Colin Seddon, Scottish SPCA Wildlife Rescue Centre manager, said: "Luckily no damage was done and the little cat was very pleased to be freed from the discomfort that comes with having your head stuck inside a tin can." Proof that canned pet food is dangerous. A reminder that litter is a terrible threat to animals. And a good excuse for me to say that Darling's is as good for cats as it is for dogs. Indeed, we already have some feline customers and we are planning to re-package and slightly re-formulate our recipes shortly with a view to launching Darling's Real Cat Food. In the meantime if you have a cat then please don't hesitate to contact us on 0844 656 1566.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gastric Torsion and how to deal with it…

I had never heard of Gastric Torsion until this week when a prospective customer asked us whether our food would be OK for a Great Dane who had had his spleen removed due to ‘bloat’ – which is another name for the same thing.

The first thing we did was ask our Chief Veterinary Surgeon, Tom Farrington, what he thought and he began his answer by referring us to a fantastic article on the subject by an American vet called Ron Hines. If you want to read the full article click here. Anyway, here is how Ron describes the actual problem:

“Gastric dilatation is a life-threatening condition that occurs in mature large dogs. I do not see many of these cases but when I do I have work diligently if I am to save the animal. Another term for the condition is gastric dilatation/volvulus or GDV. Volvulus is a twisting of an organ along its long axis. In this disease, the stomach flips over on itself and expands with trapped swallowed air and fermentation gases. Circulation to the stomach and spleen are cut off to the point where the dog may go into shock and die. A startling finding is that the incidence of bloat has increased by more than 1500% over the past 30 years.”

He goes on to say that the cause is abnormal muscular contractions in the stomach and that: “Lack of normal motility and circulation in the stomach cause the body to become too acidic (metabolic acidosis).” He goes on to point out that dogs who eat from elevated dishes are more likely to become bloated and to explain that there does seem to be a genetic link.

There is then quite a bit of interesting information about a study carried out by Purdue University which, basically, points out that dogs who eat dried food seem to be up to four times more likely to suffer bloat. So, not feeding your dog dried food and not raising the bowl would both seem to help.

So, what did our vet, Tom, say?

Well he started by emphasising that dried food was dangerous and that:

“It is important to ensure the dog puts on weight as this is one of the factors that reduces the risk, but too much fat increases the risk of recurrence so it means feeding often till the dog gains weight. A raw food diet is clinically proven to improve the chances of preventing a recurrence. In my experience this can be any of the Darling’s formulations, but many Great Dane breeders prefer a tripe diet. This is basically where a portion of the diet is replaced with raw tripe (tripe is normally treated before sale) and owners can do this themselves or it can be supplied with the food from Darling’s. The weight of the dog should be monitored carefully.”

Note, we are always happy to help anyone with diet and health issues whether or not they end up becoming a customer. Anyway, I digress. Tom continued with an extremely interesting piece of advice:

“A more important factor in my opinion is to address why the dog is upset. Most dogs who get bloat do not do so around feeding time but rather late at night - ask almost any vet when he has had to do the surgery and it is usually 9pm to 2am ish., it is rarely ever a day time procedure.

I find many of these dogs are upset in some way.

Just to give one example was a Rottweiler on it's 3rd Gastric Torsion and it happened to end up with me. In a quick conversation with the owner I asked if any thing had triggered and they said no he had tried to chase the cat before it had started, but they had stopped him as usual. A little further questioning revealed that this had happened before each episode of bloat. Treatment with a (homeopathic) remedy for anger promptly caused the dog to belch for a very prolonged period nearly suffocating us all.

The owner reported that each time the symptoms occurred giving the remedy brought it to a prompt conclusion. At this point I suggested that they let the dog chase the cat next time it teased the dog (I had checked about the possibility of the dog over doing it with the cat and was assured the cat was far the fleeter). After one chase the cat stopped teasing the dog and there was never another episode of bloat, so the condition is not as simple as many indicated it is. Dogs who are happy do not seem to get it - unhappy is a very wide term including things from grief to vexation and anger.”

All of which is very interesting.

If your dogs have any serious medical issues I really can’t recommend Tom enough. He has been my personal vet for over a decade and has treated our pigs, horses, chickens and dogs with great success. Here are his contact details:

e-mail farrington.vet@gmail.com - anytime
web: http://sites.google.com/site/farringtonvet/home
Mobile 087 2494059 International ++353 87 2494059
Phone 023 8848811 International ++353 23 8848811
Fax 023 8848805 International ++353 23 8848805

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Super dog! What we like about Pet Plus

One of the questions we wrestled with when we were formulating the original Darling's recipes was what to do about supplements. In particular, Tom (Farrington) our Chief Veterinary Surgeon (jolly impressive title, isn't it?) suggested that we consider adding a powdered supplement called Pet Plus. In the end we decided not to bother because the ingredients we use actually meet all (and more) of a dog's nutritional requirements.

But, and that should be a big BUT, we really like what goes into Pet Plus and believe that there are plenty of instances where it makes sense to use it, such as when a dog is elderly, unwell, lacking in energy or where the effects of processed food need to be counterbalanced.

What makes us keen on Pet Plus? Here is how they describe the ingredients on their UK website:

The probiotics in Pet Plus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum, have been chosen as the two most important Lactobacillus species for dogs. Naturally found throughout the gastrointestinal tracts of healthy animals, these micro-organisms help to defend the body against invading pathogenic bacteria. Probiotic organisms produce lactic acid and keep the colon environment slightly acid to prevent the growth of harmful organisms; furthermore, lactobacilli are known to produce several antibiotic compounds to further inhibit the growth of pathogenic organisms. Due to the prevalence of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment which kills the beneficial organisms as well as harmful bacteria, healthy intestinal flora may be lacking. Supplemental replenishment of probiotics quickly returns the flora balances to normal. In addition, Lactobacillus organisms have been found to significantly contribute to the reduction of lactose intolerance symptoms. Yet another benefit of probiotics is their ability to regulate bowel movements and halt diarrhoea.

Alfalfa is considered highly nourishing and is a rich source of many trace minerals in addition to providing magnesium, iron, B vitamins, chromium, vitamin C and b-carotene. It is also a prebiotic, supporting the all important gut flora. Chlorophyll has been shown to have a cleansing action on the body, detoxifying and preventing odours.

Barley and wheat grass are important cereal grasses. When harvested during their early growth, they not only function as prebiotics to maintain the health of the probiotics, but also they supply vitamins and minerals at levels comparable to the green leafy vegetables.

Flax seed and safflower petals are rich natural sources of the essential fatty acids, which play a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy skin and coat.

The following digestive enzymes are also present in Pet Plus to aid the digestion of the food.

Protease digests proteins to produce amino acids and since dogs do not synthesise essential amino acids, it is of utmost importance that the diet be digestible. Amino acids are important building blocks, being used by the dog’s body to build muscles, metabolic enzymes, neuro-transmitters and many other biochemicals. Amino acids supply nitrogen for the synthesis of all other nitrogenous compounds, as well as a back-up supply of energy.

Amylase, glucoamylase and cellulase digest starches and cellulose, respectively, to produce free glucose and break down the plant cell walls to release their nutrients. Dogs require glucose to supply energy for all life functions. This is provided by the pulverised raw vegetables which form an essential part of our dogs’ daily diet. Although fibre digestion is not considered essential for canine health, the break-down of some fibre has been shown to be beneficial, supplying a source of supplemental energy.

Lipase digests dietary fats, releasing free fatty acids and glycerol. Dietary fat is a concentrated source of energy supplying four times as much energy as either protein or glucose. Fats are important to canine health. Fats act as a carrier for fat soluble vitamins (e.g. A, D and K), build cell membranes, form prostaglandins, leukotrienes and hormones. Proper assimilation of fats is also important for a healthy skin and coat.

The following two ingredients help the body to repel parasites.

Brewer’s yeast in the dog formulation is a rich source of the B-complex vitamins and is high in the minerals magnesium and phosphorous. Combinations of brewer’s yeast and garlic have also been found to be effective in reducing flea infestations on dogs. In addition, brewer’s yeast has a pleasant taste that supports compliance.

Garlic is naturally high in iodine, sulphur, phosphorous, iron, potassium and selenium, as well as the vitamins B1 and B3. This herb/vegetable is well known for its beneficial effects on both the immune and cardiovascular systems. Garlic has been shown to kill worms and repel fleas.
Pet Plus is only available in the UK through a vet called Susanna Mcintyre who also specialises, by the way, in canine dentistry.

Catherine O’Driscoll Complementary Healthcare

Dogs clearly experience the same range of emotions as humans. They may not be as well hidden (if a dog is, for example, jealous he or she tends to express it more directly) but they are, in essence, identical. More than this it seems pretty clear to me that our own dogs pick up on our emotional state in the same way that another human might. But with one major difference. Companion dogs don’t have the same range of options that humans have. They are trapped. Where am I going with this? Well, if you agree with me then you may be interested in the work being done by Catherine O’Driscoll.

Catherine may be better known to you as the founder of the not-for-profit organisation Canine Health Concern which is particularly keen to get the message over that vaccines could be causing your dog considerably more harm than good.

However, she also practices as a canine complementary healthcare professional and she has lots to say about the way in which canine emotions and thus canine behaviour is strongly linked to our own emotions and behaviour. Put another way, your dog may be mirroring or reacting to you in a much more sophisticated and complicated way than you imagine.

He or she may also be suffering in ways you don’t realise.

Catherine believes that one solution to this whole problem is Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. On her website she describes this as:

‘A fast-track tool for personal growth, bringing peace and harmony into our lives in direct proportion to the amount we use it. From personal experience of using EFT, I know that when we use EFT on ourselves, we are taking care of ourselves and the animals in our care. After all, we can’t give our dogs anything that we ourselves do not have.’

Sounds a bit airy-fairy? Well, it isn’t. This is a practical technique ‘similar to acupuncture, but instead of using needles, you stimulate energy points on your body by tapping them with your fingertips. The process is easy to memorise and you can do it anywhere.’

It involves telepathic communication. Only a fool would scoff at this. Many years ago I had some dealings with Yuri Geller and at one point he bent all my tea spoons by stroking them gently once or twice and it stopped me from ever doubting that people can have powers that science does not yet understand. There is ample evidence that human telepathy works so why shouldn’t it work with animals?

Incidentally, one side benefit of learning about EFT is that it may lead to you becoming happier and more fulfilled.

The other day Pippa Ducat (the really lovely animal behaviourist from Kent that we rather adore at Darling’s) was pointing out to me how all the training techniques she advocates for dealing with dogs work with people. Well, I gather the same is true of EFT.

Catherine has a great video on her site and lots and lots of additional information. If you are genuinely interested in dogs and their welfare then I can’t recommend strongly enough discovering more. The site is: http://odriscollhealthcare.weebly.com

The dog we're helping to feed...

You remember (of course you do) how the winner of our Prize Draw was the canine rescue charity SOS? Well, this is Paddy, the dog we are helping to feed. Isn't he gorgeous? If you are looking for a really worthwile canine charity to support please remember SOS Animals UK.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Barking Mayhem 2010

If you live within easy distance of Stevenage in Hertfordshire then can I recommend putting 3rd May in your diary? That’s the date of the second ‘Barking Mayhem’ dog show. The organisers clearly have a penchant for German Shepherds because there is to be a rally just for them…but it isn’t all about Shepherds. Last year – the first year the organisers have planned the show – attendance was a stunning 1,500 and this year they are hoping for more. Whoops. I should have mentioned that the show is in aid of charity and is organised with the help of the Barking Mad Dog Training School. Anyway, it all looks great fun. Vicky and I are hoping to be there if we can, incidentally, but even if we can’t we are planning to donate a bumper Darling’s hamper as a prize.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dicky Bags...the No.1 answer to No.2s

Why my oldest son, Nat, set up his dog walking, babysitting and errand business, which he rather cleverly called WalkSitRun his younger brother, Jack, secretly referred to the enterprise as WalkSh!tScoop. It is certainly true that Nat developed, albeit briefly, an obsessive interest with different scooping and storage methods and when you visited him he was inclined to wave the latest device under your nose and ask: 'What do you think of this?'

Anyway, I am sure that Nat would heartily approve of Dicky Bags, the trendy new scooper accessory, that bills itself as 'the No.1 answer for dogs' No.2s'. Basically the Dicky Bags kit consists of a) the bag itself...a zip-up container in a range of colours that you can clip to the dog's lead or your belt b) biodegradable pick up bags c) a freshner thingy (they don't actually call it this) that fits in the zip up container.

So, what you do is scoop and bag as per usual and - instead of then having to spend your whole walk holding the offending plastic bag in your hand - you pop it in the neat little container and - um - Bob is your uncle (which in my case actually happens to be true, Hello, Uncle Bob).

Anyway, if you live in an area where scooping is de rigueur then the Dicky Bag has to be the way to go.

PS They are very good value for money!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

‘Save Our Strays’ deserves our support…

I am in slight disgrace with my business partner, Vicky, for not mentioning the winner of our Discover Dogs free draw sooner. It was Tania at Save Our Strays (SOS) Animals UK and, not surprisingly, she has decided to donate the prize – a whole year of Darling’s Real Dog Food – to feeding one of the rescue dogs in her care.

SOS is a small, specialised rescue charity that really deserves our support because they do work that no one else is really interested in. In a nutshell, half the stray dogs (and cats) in rescue centres on the Costa Del Sol are left there by ex-pat Brits who have decided to chuck in the good life and return to Blighty leaving their pets behind them. SOS works to re-house these poor animals.

Of course, the problem with strays in Spain goes much deeper. The country has one of the largest stray populations of dogs & cats in Europe. Furthermore, horrific cases of animal cruelty have been extensively documented, specifically directed towards the working dogs. It is not rare for the Podencos (Pharaoh Hounds) and Galgos (Greyhounds) to be hung when they have finished their working life, or to have their legs broken and be left to die. Neutering is not common, either, and few dogs are vaccinated. Basically, it is a pretty rough life.

Anyway, SOS Animals UK works with Spanish rescue centres providing volunteers, cash, medical supplies, bedding and – crucially – bringing dogs back to the UK where they can be re-homed.

Fantastic and important work that deserves to be supported.