Each of us have a unique story on how our furry babies arrived into our lives. But we all share the joy they give us and the hope to extend their years by our side. This is the story of Marigold and Elliot, two of our beloved pups living a healthier life with Real Food For Dogs.
Alan fell in love with French Bulldogs after petsitting for a friend 6 years ago: "I’d wanted a dog for 20 years but it never seemed to be the right time due to work and travel. But a year after petsitting a Frenchie we welcomed Marigold home and 2 years later we got Elliot. They have been nothing but joy and filled my life with so much laughter and love. I cherish every moment with them".
But it hasn't always been an easy road for Alan. As a dad he was constantly worried about food recalls, the pups sensitive stomach and their severe allergies. Through the years he struggled with finding the right food for them and battled with loose stools, frequent vomiting, weight gain, gagging, bumps on the skin and itching, which forced him to constantly change their food brands.
"I knew when I decided to get a dog I wanted to provide the pup with the best life ever. After seeing advertising for human grade fresh food I started researching. About a year ago I was at a pet store in Dallas and asked the owner if she knew of anyone local that provided fresh food for dogs and so we found Real Food For Dogs. We couldn’t be happier. Our pups just seem healthier. No more constant vomiting, their stools are normal and we have no more worries about recalls. Our vet comments on how healthy they are with minimal allergy issues and the perfect weight. Delivery is right on time and the pups absolutely love the food. I am very thankful for Real Food For Dogs"
Sadie is one of those sweet and playful pups that you fall in love with at first sight. I met Melisa, Jordan and Sadie during one of our events at the Dallas Farmers Market. They were very concerned about Sadie's allergies and I could tell why after I saw her red and flaky belly skin. Her quality of life was deteriorated and her family was mortified. I knew that Real Food for Dogs could help to bring back her gorgeous coat and heal her skin, and so it did. This is the story of Sadie's allergies that her family has shared with us. Enjoy!
"Sadie is a five year old Boston Terrier but she will be turning six this coming May. I first saw Sadie when she was a tiny puppy in late June 2012 and I fell in love with her instantly. She is super cuddly and loves curling up with anyone who is willing to sit down with her. She is also super playful and continuously has her toys scattered all over the house. I read something once that said "owning a Boston Terrier is like having a toddler around..but forever" and this couldn't be more true. Our little Sadie means the world to us!
Her allergies started getting really bad when we moved to Dallas, TX in May of 2013. First it began with her just being super itchy and then it quickly progressed to her losing lots of her hair. When we took her to the vet they told us she could be allergic to anything from the carpet in our apartment to something she's eating to something in her environment.
We were super frustrated and hated seeing her look so miserable and not being able to find a solution. We first switched her food to an "organic dog food" that we purchased in a pet store hoping it would help but unfortunately after doing tons of research myself, I discovered that there wasn't any type of regulation as to what companies were even putting in their dog food. So even though you may be buying "organic dog food" it could be full of the exact same junk all of the other dog foods had: gluten, sugar, and so many unknown fillers.
When we bought our house on the North East side of Dallas we began to frequent the Dallas Farmers Market Sunday mornings and that's where we first came across Real Food For Dogs and met Gisselle. From the moment we started talking with Gisselle about Sadie we could tell she truly cared about our dog like we did and she was more than willing to help us get her allergies under control. The first thing she did was set up an appointment with us so she could meet Sadie and evaluate the severity of her allergies. By meeting Sadie and looking at how her allergies were affecting her she was able to custom tailor her food to better suit her current needs.
Sadie absolutely loves her new food. She never leaves even the tiniest crumb in her bowl. Her hair has completely grown back now bringing back her brindle color that we love so much. Her coat is super soft and shiny and she just looks so much healthier overall.
We absolutely love Gisselle! She is always so sweet to work with and truly cares about all of her dogs! Sadie is such a happy and healthy little dog thanks to Gisselle and she is truly living her best little spoiled puppy life!"
The poor condition of your dog's skin and coat could be related to a nutritional deficiency of essential fatty acids which provide a natural way to alleviate or cure skin and other conditions while being key to developing and maintaining a healthy coat. Real Food for Dogs meals are an excellent and balanced source of Omega-3 and Omega-6. All of our recipes contain milled flaxseed, fish and safflower oil.
Lipids are a natural constituent of plant and animal tissues and, in the right amount, are part of a healthy diet.
Lipids are considered the primary source of energy for several body tissues such as muscles, heart and liver. Lipids are also a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins and provide with essential fatty acids (EFAs).
EFAs are referred to the fatty acids that animals can’t produce in their body and thus must be supplied through the diet. The EFAs in dogs are omega-3 (Linolenic acid, EPA, DHA) and omega-6 (Linoleic acid).
These fatty acids, in the right ratio, are known to help prevent and improve the following conditions:
Deficiencies can lead to dandruff, thin and greasy hair, hair lost, itching skin, eczema, dry skin, scaly and flaky skin, atopic dermatitis, different allergies, slow wound healing, recurrent skin infection, inflammation, ear infections, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, heart problems, kidney disease, ligament issues, cancer, stroke and impaired vision.
What to look for in your dog's food...
A good quality dog food will contain at least 2.5% of Omega-6 and Omega-3, in a ratio of 7:1 (2.2% Omega-6 and 0.3% Omega-3) and the lower the ratio the better, especially if skin and/or coat problems are present.
Most pet foods contain far more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 due to their high amount of corn and soy. Too much of the omega-6 can actually cause inflammation.
Besides imbalances, fatty acids in foods are also subject to degradation. Some factors can result in rancidity which affect the bioavailability of the fatty acids and lead to deficiencies:
Sources of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6:
The optimal way to provide EFAs to your dog is through fresh sources of omega-3 and omega-6 in their food:
To learn more, read our sources:
Disclaimer: Articles are based upon the opinions and experience of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advise. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author. We encourage you to make your own pet health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
We met Mini, a senior Mini Dachshund, last year during our weekend events at Dallas Farmers Market. Her mom Nicole was very concerned because Mini was recently diagnosed with kidney disease and didn’t want to eat. We started Mini on a special diet, customized to aid on her condition. After a couple of months on Real Food For Dogs Mini’s blood results were unbelievable: BUN went from 53 to 39 and creatinine went from 2.1 to 1.2, back to normal levels! Like Mini's dad said: “She was shutting down, is amazing what feeding real food can do for your dog”. Read the full story that Mini’s family has shared with us!
“Mini is a soon to be 16yr old Mini Dachshund. We got her at 10 weeks old after a failed attempted rescue of another doxie. Her giant floppy ears and big deep brown eyes got me the moment I saw her. I was in love. Mini is such a lover, she loves people, and has a bounce when she barks... which is how she gets people to pet her. Mini has always had a puppy spirit, and not just until the past year did she begin to slow down.
Mini started to pee in her bed, which was my first indication of her kidney issues. And so when I brought her to the vet they took blood and said her kidney levels were triple from the normal level and that she needed to go on renal food, but there was no cure. Mini began to lose weight and I became a nervous nellie because I was not ready to give her up and that’s all I could think of with her issue and no cure. We had to make sure there was water all over the house and wee wee pads because she couldn’t hold it.
About eight months ago my hubby and I were visiting the Dallas farmers market and we walked up on Gisselle and her stand. We talked for a few minutes and I explained Mini’s issue - I was willing to try anything and because her food was really the only factor in her heath I wanted to try her fresh food vs. the canned from the vet.
Six months after having Mini on Real Food For Dogs I brought her back to the vet for a blood test. Her blood results were astonishing! They were back down to normal and the vet could not believe what he was reading, he was truly beside himself and I was ecstatic and relieved at the same time. During this time she also stopped having accidents and hadn’t had one since. Prior to the renal food she was on Blue Buffalo Basics.
Now, Mini actually eats the food on her own, which has always been a challenge for her. She loves it and I love the fact that she is healthier, I can’t ask for more than that. I’ve already recommended this food to over four people I can only hope that they’ve taken my recommendation for a healthy dog”.
The pictures of Mini and her family were taken in Dallas in March 2018. We had so much fun during the shoot, and so did Mini.
Kidney disease and failure can occur in dogs of any age, but senior dogs are most likely to develop kidney problems.
Just like human kidneys, your dog’s kidneys are very important because they filter waste substances out of the blood and maintain the normal balance of fluids and minerals within the body. When kidneys don't function properly, toxins build up in their blood and the dog will become ill.
Dogs may show early signs of kidney disease, but signs of serious illness only appear after 75% of the kidney function has been lost. Kidney damage is usually irreversible, that is why an early detection is very important. Detection can be done with a simple blood test and urinalysis. The right treatment can limit its progression.
Kidney failure in elderly dogs is usually the result of worn out organs. The less stress on your dog’s kidneys, the longer they will last.
What damages the kidneys? Factors that can make dogs more prone to kidney disease include: age; low quality diets, especially dry kibbles, high in phosphorus and/or with increased levels of protein; toxins; ingesting chemicals like disinfectants, antifreeze and lead paint; human medications like aspirin; cancer; injuries; and infections.
What are the signs of kidney disease? A large number of symptoms can occur depending on the original source of the condition. Change in water consumption, change in volume of urine produced, depression, decreased appetite, chemical odor of breath, vomiting, weight loss, blood in urine, mouth ulcers, pale gums.
What to look for in a blood test? Creatinine level (normal <1.4 mg/dL), blood urea level BUN (normal <35 mg/dL fasting). Other signs of some level of kidney dysfunction in a blood test are: decreased blood pH, decreased blood cells, decreased levels of calcium and potassium, increased levels of phosphorus, increased blood pressure.
How to prevent kidney disease? Not every cause of canine kidney failure is known or can be prevented but there are a number of things that you can do to extend the health and longevity of your dog’s kidney function:
Nutritional management: If your dog is diagnosed with some level of kidney dysfunction, modifying the dog’s diet can help to manage the disease. The nutritional management of renal failure will vary depending on the stage of the disease and might include reduced amounts of phosphorus, salt and protein in the diet. Also, dogs with kidney disease benefit from diets rich in omega 3 (from fish oil), antioxidants like vitamin E, C and carotenoids, and higher levels of vitamin D and B’s, Potassium and soluble fiber.
Why low phosphorus? When kidneys are not working properly they cannot excrete phosphorus at the same rate is ingested and thus it accumulates, causing the release of certain hormones in the body that induce loss of calcium in the bones. When this happen, phosphorus and calcium accumulates in renal tissue and make greater damage. It seems to be beneficial for dogs to reduce Phosphorus in food to <0.4%, as a percentage of dry matter.
Why low sodium? When kidneys are not working properly they cannot excrete sodium at the same rate is ingested and thus it accumulates, causing damage in the kidneys tissues and hypertension. It seems to be beneficial for dogs to reduce Sodium in food by 25 -50%, that is 0.05 gm. per 1000 kcal or 0.05%, as a percentage of dry matter.
Important: For accurate diagnosis and treatment options consult your veterinarian. This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.
We met gorgeous Lemon in the summer of 2017. She had hot spots, hair loss and dry flaky skin. We started Lemon on Real Food For Dogs and a few months later her improvement was remarkable. Thank you Marcel and Liz for sharing your fur baby story and trusting us with her nutrition.
"Lemon is a one-year old Boston Terrier. She is full of energy and loves to play. Her favorite activity is playing fetch at the dog park. Although she is very energetic, she is also very smart and loves to learn new tricks! She can sit, shake, stay, beg, lay down, and roll over.
We got Lemon was she was 6 weeks old and fell in love with her immediately. She has brought so much joy to our lives and we can’t imagine our life without her. We got her a month before we got married, so she is very much a part of our family.
We love her because she is always excited to see us when we get home, she loves to snuggle, and she is always up for a road trip. She loves showing off her travels and adventures on her Instagram @lemonthebostonterrier.
Lemon’s allergies started right around the time she was 6 months old. We lived in TN at the time, and if we would take her outside for a 2-minute potty break or an hour at the dog park, she would break out on her belly, ears, face, and back with red bumps. She would scratch and itch non-stop, creating scabs.
It was heart breaking to see our beautiful puppy with these bumps and scabs. She seemed to get no relief. That’s when we started to research allergies specific to her breed and we came across a lot of people talking about the food they fed their dogs.
Food allergies in dogs
Any breed of dog at any age can develop allergies. Itchy skin, excessive licking, scratching, vomit and diarrhea are common symptoms of allergies. Only 10% of the time allergies are food related and the most common allergens are ingredients usually found in commercial dog food. Balanced homemade diets are a good alternative to dog food allergies when using natural and fresh ingredients. Real and unprocessed food helps to boost your dog's immune system and a strong immune system aids on fighting all type of allergies!
Dogs show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain substances -or allergens- as dangerous. A variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear. Any dog can develop allergies at any time during its life, but allergic reactions seem to be especially common in Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, and flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston terriers.
The general symptoms of allergy are:
• Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
• Increased scratching
• Itchy, runny eyes
• Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
• Itchy ears and ear infections
• Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
• Paw chewing/swollen paws
• Constant licking
Food allergies account for about 10% of all the allergies seen in dogs. It is the third most common cause after fleabite allergies and atopy (inhalant allergies). However, food causes 20% of itching and scratching symptoms in dogs.
There is a distinction between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies are true allergies and show the characteristic symptoms of itching and skin problems. Food intolerances can result in diarrhea or vomiting.
The most common offenders in dogs are processed beef, chicken, lamb, fish and eggs, food fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, and dairy products.
I would like to share with you this amazing interview done by Voyage Dallas Magazine with the story behind Real Food For Dogs. I'm very grateful for the support we have received from so many institutions, our community and our extraordinary customers. Shop local!
According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. In my professional opinion, humans are the main cause of dogs being overweight.
I see a lot of dogs every week and I can spot from a distance dogs that are overweight or underweight. Being overweight is the most common of the two. Sometimes owners are not truly aware of their dog's condition or the risks that it can carry.
A common myth is that obesity in dogs can be treated by simply reducing the quantity of the food consumed. Cutting down their current food may lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients (proteins, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids).
If your dog needs a weight loss plan consult an expert. But most of all, learn how to prevent it!
What is obesity?
Obesity is a nutritional disease which is defined by an excess of body fat. At a quantitative level, obesity is described as being 15% overweight as compared to optimal weight.
Some dog breeds are more prone to suffer from obesity depending on their fat/lean mass ratio. Also females are more affected by obesity (60% of the cases), because they have greater fat/lean ratio than males.
For example, boxers have more lean mass than labradors. Thus, even if they weigh the same they should be fed differently because higher fat mass lowers the maintenance energy requirement.
Other risk factors of obesity are age (>5 years old), neutering (neutered dogs are 2x more likely to be obese), and endocrine diseases.
However, just like with humans, the main risk factors for obesity are sedentary lifestyle and the type of food we feed. Dogs that are over nourished or lack the ability to exercise are the most at risk for becoming obese.
Uncontrolled food intake (ad libitum), energy dense and highly palatable foods, foods that are high in fat and sugar, commercial treats, snacks and table scraps contributes to obesity.
Risks of overweight
Obesity, even if your dog is only moderately obese, can result in serious adverse health effects such as reduced lifespan (up to 2.5 years).
Multiple areas of the body are affected by excess body fat, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing capacity. Obesity triggers reproductive and heart problems, reduces the immune system capacity, and lead to severe illness such as diabetes and cancer.
But... how to know when your dog is overweight?
You can have an idea of how much your dog should weigh based on their breed. However, body weight can vary depending on stature and muscular build. Each dog should be treated as an individual.
The most practical used method to diagnose obesity is the body condition score. You can assess your dog following the image at the end of this article. The ideal body score is 3. You can make a visual evaluation of your dog's body features and a palpitation.
Ribs, spine, shoulders and hip bones should be easily palpable with minimal pressure and under a thin layer of fat. The waist should be observed behind the ribs. Also, your dog should have an abdominal tuck.
Prevention and treatment of obesity
1) Feed a healthy diet, low in fat (under 15%) and low in sugar.
2) Prefer vegetable and fish fat sources, which contains essential fatty acids.
3) Choose high quality animal protein sources, like fresh chicken, beef and fish.
4) Choose a diet with the right content of fiber and moisture to promote satiety.
5) Exercise: walking, running, swimming.
6) Don't feed commercial treats and table scraps.
About the author
Giselle Baba was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and adopted Dallas as her home since 2013. She is a certified Companion Animal Nutritionist from Southern Illinois University and the founder and president of Real Food For Dogs. She holds a MBA from the University of Barcelona, a Master in Marketing, a Master in Management, and a Bachelors in Advertising. She also has over 15 years of experience in business and marketing with Fortune 100 global companies.