Dr Smith Holistic Petcare

The benefits of compassion on performance (even toward yourself).

Check out this utube TED talk, by researcher Dr Kristen Neff on “compassion toward self” and the benefits. She goes on to explain the difference between “self esteem” that is based on being better than someone else, v.s. self compassion. Research on the tangible benefits of self compassion for happiness, psychological health and achievement is discussed.

Her explanation (and numerous studies) are in agreement with the first principle of learning theory: 1.  Behaviors that are followed by a positive outcome increase. And behaviors that are followed by an unpleasant outcome decrease. Makes sense if you think about. If, what you do works,  you’ll do it again. If what you do does not work, than you’ll stop and try something else.

Our brains have evolved to use behavior to effect the world around us and to adapt to changing circumstances. Being kind to yourself as you strive toward change, just works better.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IvtZBUSplr4“>Dr Neff on compassion toward yourself

Homemade allergy diet for dogs-science based and balanced.

I have been promising to post an allergy diet that you can make at home.

One comment about allergies to food. I have been seeing cases of digestive upset for over 15 years as a Alternative Vet. specialist and I have found that only 10% of dogs are allergic to food. More often, “less than ideal” diets that promotte GI upset are a much more common cause, including many of the dog foods advertized for food or GI problems. More on this later.

Here is the diet with instructions:

This is a balanced and complete diet that dog can eat life long. It is important to make the recipe according to measurements, each and every time. Research has shown that most homemade diets are not balanced diets, one reason is lack of measuring the ingredients. Dog are often fed the same or similar diets all their lives. They eat a controlled diet and most dogs don’t forage for extra nutrients. Plus most treats for dogs are high in sugars. Which means the balance of minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates must be correct in the diet you make for your dog.

So measure, measure, measure!

Hypoallergenic Diet for Canines
based on Small Animal Clinical Nutrition by Lon Lewis et., Hills
diet prepared by Dr Cynthia Smith DVM, MS, DACT

4 oz cooked lamb
1 cup cooked brown or white  rice (½ cup dry rice in 1 cup water)
1 tbsp Vegetable oil ( olive, sunflower, etc)
1200  mg calcium
1  Dog daily vitamin (based on weight of dog)
300 mg of fish oil (how many tsp depends on brand of fish oil).

Cooking instructions:
In a sauce pan, add enough water to have ½” water covering the bottom of the pan.  Add the meat and heat to a simmer and cook until there is no pink color when meat is cut apart. Takes longer time to cook compared to a fast fry or grill. Add enough water, while cooking, to keep moist consistency.
Once meat is finished, mix in the cooked rice and calcium powder or tablets (will dissolve).
After mixture has cooled to room temperature add the fish oil and vitamins and any prescribed herbs.
600 calories in finished recipe. This will feed a 20 lb dog for one day.

How many calories in each cup of food. Measure how many cups in the finished recipe. Next divide 600 cal/         cups of food  =          Calories per cup of food.
Always measure the finished recipe because the volume will be different each time you make it, depending on how much water is in the meat and added during cooking.

How to figure out how calories to feed your dog. (This is a quick formula that gives a working estimate.) Multiply the weight of your dog X factor from chart. The factor can be adjusted up or down based on activity level of dog and special calorie needs. See your veterinary nutritionist for situations of dogs who do physical work, undergo rapid weight loss, pregnancy, puppies, surgery or burns.

Factor #       Size of dog                  Fish oil in mgs

*(Notice that as the dog get bigger the factor get smaller)

40 -35           10-15 lbs                   300 -350 mg

35 – 30           20-45 lbs                  500 – 700 mg

 30 – 25          50-85 lbs                  800 – 1000 mg

   20                   90 + lbs                   1000 – 2000 mg

For example a 20 lbs dog  needs, the dogs wt 20  x 30 (factor for the dogs size)  =  600 calories/day. Here is a fill in the blanks formula dogs wt           x dogs factor             =                calories/day.

How many cups of homemade food do I feed my dog?

Fill in the blanks: Dog  needs                   calories of food/day. The food you made has ____calories in each cup.

Divide calories per day             /               calories in each cup of food =          cups of food each day.
Divide into two to three servings.

Homemade pet food will keep in frig. for 3-4 days.  Freeze larger batches of food into 3- 4 day  portions.
Add warm water right before serving to increase volume, smell and flavor.
Analysis: 600 calories in total recipe
Water                  65 %
Protein                12 %
Fat                         8 %
Carbohydrates    15  %

Larger Batches:

1200 calorie batch:
8 oz of meat, 2 cups rice, 2 tbsp oil, 2400 mg calcium, and 2 x the vitamins         and fish oil         .
2400 calorie batch:
16 oz of meat, 4 cups rice, 4 tbsp oil, 4800 mg calcium, and 4 x the vitamins         and fish oil         .


Tips:  Dog vitamins I recommend – Vetriscience, Pet Naturals of Vermont, Pet Tabs. Beware of counterfit vitamins, check out any internet source.

Buy the fish oil from a veterinarian. The prescription brands are so much more concentrated in omega 3 that you save money in the long run. Also the contaminants from fish (mercury and chemicals) are removed through cold distillation.

Buy Calcium carbonate powder for dog food from ,Iherb.com. use coupon code MIT990 for $10 off first order. This is a good online  company that sell reliable, tested natural products. Check out the “links ” on their site for excellent info.

Genetically Modified Foods by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)

A health subject has to contain overwhelming and convincing scientific evidence for a national society of doctors to agree and take action. The only action a group of Doctors can take is;  publish a position paper, in an attempt to get the word out to other doctors. Which means; one, that a group of specialist doctors agree to certain facts. Second, the doctors wish to inform other doctors about the facts. Thirdly, the health concerns are so important that the whole group will put their opinion on the line. Because putting your voice behind a subject like health dangers of GMO foods can result in lawsuit from the big companies who sell the seeds. Here is their paper.

Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper:: The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM).

Why do I as a Veterinarian care? Well, before these foods were allowed into the human food supply, they were feed to animals for about 10 years.  The rate of food allergies, GI diseases, and cancer have almost doubled.  The science that implicates GMO foods, as part of the problem, is convincing. However, the FDA is not allowed to act on the information because “the problems only happen in animals, not people”. Read the link  for the details.

My personal experience, I started to have asthma-like attacks to restaurant foods that contained “modified food starch”, which is made from corn. Corn was the first GMO food to be used in our country to prevent the attack of the corn borer worm. The genes added either, a bacterium that kills the Gut of the worm, or a pesticide molecule into the corn’s proteins. Either way, the new corn resists attack by the corn borer worm, but the pollen released by the corn, kills Monarch butterfly caterpillars too. I have become allergic to some part of this new corn. Corn products are in everything foods, thickeners in soup, gravies, stuffing, salad dressing and most breads, crackers and snack s even makeup.  A year later, I reacted to Corn syrup. Corn syrup is a hidden many foods to get consumers to eat just a little more.  It goes by many names,  dextrose, fructose, maltodextrose, fructodextrose, glycerines and on and on.

update on Chicago Canine Influenza outbreak

Read the link below to find out more about the strain of flu in Chicago dogs. There are two flu viruses in dogs in the midwest; one is H3N8 for which there is a vaccine and second virus is H3N2. Whether the vaccine is protective is unknown with speculation that it may reduce the severity of disease from H3N2, based on findings on human & bird responses to flu viruses.

Midwest Canine Influenza outbreak caused by new strain of virus.

Canine Influenza link to excellent info

I just finished reading many sources of information on Dog Flu. I find that the article, in the  link, is one of the best to explain all the details.

Canine Influenza | UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.,

My take on the subject: I will vaccinate my dog but I am not in a panic to do so. Because the virus will cause mild fever and illness in 80-90 % of dogs. The young, old and already ill dogs are at risk of becoming more seriously ill. There has been one confirmed case in WI as of today.

Vaccinating WI dogs now, before the outbreak in So WI, will slow and eventually stop or prevent a serious outbreak. So vaccinate your dog.  Avoid groups of dogs until 2 weeks after the 2nd dose of vaccine.  Such as; dog parks, doggie daycare, training centers, pet stores, shows, even your neighborhood walk, where every dog pees and sniffs, and dog sport events.

If you have a puppy in classes (which are essential for good behavioral health) avoid adult dogs, or where adults frequent, and wash your hands frequently.  Bring your own bowls for water and food for the puppy, do not share. Interview the facility staff to find out if they are disinfecting everything, everyday:

1. With solutions that kill viruses on contact (2-3% bleach or full strength Lysol)

2. Floors, walls, gates, toys,  and other surfaces every day.

3. Do they keep puppy areas separate, include the entrance and potty areas from access by adult dogs. If not carry your puppy into the puppy area.

4. Exclude dogs with a fever from classes.

Other tips to think about:

Be kind to service dogs and do not touch them. The fact is that many infected dogs,  have no symptoms except a fever. If you’re like me, and enjoy petting every dog you encounter, you can easily spread the virus from one infected dog to another. This is the reason the Federal law prohibits touching service dogs.

Avoid the daily neighborhood walk and exercise your dogs at home, away from where dogs enter your yard, until you have vaccine immunity established.

When you have to go into public areas, prevent your dog from sniffing or licking objects, floors, including outside areas and other dogs. The virus can live for 12 to 24 hours in environment. Have treats on hand, distract your dog with a treat to the end of the nose and give the treat when your dog stops going for the sniff.

For your pets safety at home: If you do touch dogs, or visit friends with dogs that are in the outside world (or they touch you), wash your hands, arms and change clothes including shoes, immediately when you enter your house, before touching things and especially your dog.

I have  jackets, jeans or wind pants that I wear for outdoor dog activities. When I get home, I walk directly to the laundry room, strip off my outer layer of clothes, and wash them. I remove my outside shoes and dip them in a half filled bucket of water with a dash of bleach, enough liquid to cover the shoes to the top edge. My outside dog shoes are bleach hardy. Next, I wash my hands & arms up to my elbows plus sometimes my face, with foamy soap. The more bubbles the more the soap will kill viruses.

The vaccine takes 2 shots to produce protective immunity – 14 days after the 2nd shot. Vaccine immunity in dogs will reduce the severity of illness. If your dog gets the flu, once recovered most dogs will have  excellent immunity  for 1 year. Expect the information to change next year.

BTW – Tamiflu is not recommended for dogs. Has more risks than benefit. If you suspect that your dog has the flu, supportive care is the best treatment. Take your dog to your vet as soon as you recognize the symptoms. Tell the receptionist that you suspect flu, so the staff can advise you how to keep your dog separated from other dogs arriving at the clinic.

Add neurons, subtract anxiety

Wonderful news from science on the treatment of anxiety in both animals and humans. Fluoxetine, (a medicine for the treatment of anxiety) has been shown to stimulate the growth of new nerve cells. Specifically, cells in the memory storage and sorting area of the brain. As new cells grew, individuals were able to calm down more quickly. They were able to tell the difference between old (anxiety) memories and new (positive) memories. Several studies were done where positive memories were created in  people and animals. The circumstances that trigger an anxiety memory were copied, but with a slight change (like room color or smell) . Plus, and most important was that the events in the new circumstance ended with something  positive for the individual. (This type behavior therapy is called desensitization/counter-conditioning).  Individuals who grew more new cells, more quickly reduced their anxiety or fear.

How did new cells result in less anxiety? There is increase of new cells available to remember new events. Then, new, but similar events are paired with a positive outcome.  Sequences of events are stored in the brain as “memory patterns” The individual remembers, both the old and new memory patterns. With practice or repetition of patterns with the positive outcomes, the individual will learn the difference between old, fearful, v.s. new, more positive, memory patterns. The new memory patterns compete with the old pattern and the best outcome wins.  The result is less and less fear. This works, as long as the outcomes of similar events remain positive.The new cells, that were stimulated to grow by an anti-depressants, more quickly create new memory patterns. The final observation was that the new, positive, memory patterns are then stored long term in the brain and remain after the medication is stopped.

Then the rule “use it or lose it”, comes into play. Anxiety can return if old memory patterns are practiced more than the new memory patterns.  This leads to a regression or return to fearful behaviors and emotions. A little regression is normal, whenever life is stressful, but long term stress or just lack of practicing the skills, that once work, lead to more serious regression.

This is the first evidence that shows a rapid change in fear/anxiety is directly proportion to new cell growth and that medications increase growth of new cells.

In summary: Anxiety emotional states change more quickly when two things happen together.

1. Beneficial change in the environment, so that situations that creates fear/anxiety are changed and have positive outcome. (or at least block/prevent a negative outcome).

2. Anti-depressant Fluoxetine  at therapeutic dose.

This study explains, what has been observed, in behavior medicine for a long time. First, that medications alone are not enough to change anxiety. Second, the combination of  medication and behavior modification (or therapy) are the quickest treatment for anxiety. Finally, that the improvement is permanent.

Here is a link to the study:

Add neurons, subtract anxiety.

Training dogs to walk on a loose leash (with a clicker)

I like the detailed explanations that have been added to this video.


There are many ways to train a dog to ‘walk on a loose leash”. Here is another method that is alittle different.She slows it down enough to understand the technique.. Whenever training a dog, or any animal, the details of how the technique is done moment to moment are very important until you get the hang of it.


A word about ‘bloopers” and attention span.  Training the dog to do incorrect, unintended behaviors I call “Bloopers”.  It is easy to accidently train in extra steps in any method. For example a common one …  you say “sit” dog does nothing. Next you repeat sit, sit, siittt, SIT!… then the dog sits”. You have just poluted the verbal command of sit with, a sentence with a loud vocal punch.

This happens when the trainer attention lags alittle and we fall into bad habits. For the dog and the trainer, keep time of the repetitions short. The dog can maintain focused attention on learning for 3-7 minutes. For us however, when adding a new complex skill, are attention maybe 1 to 2 minutes. So stop for 2 minutes, pet your dog and breath. Then go back to training.

Dogs study us to figure out the thing we do immediately before they execute a behavior that results in the click/treat. If you scratch your nose a few times, that becomes part of the cue.  Hand or body movements are more meaningful to the dog so they remember what we do more than any verbal command. Keep your body still except any discrete handsignals. When training a word as the cue, speak a single word, then a short pause, then the handsignal (that the dog already knows). It still takes alot of repetition over 30 to 90 days for the dog to really learn a word and be able respond  in any situation. Just like humans, toddlers take months to really learn and understand all the useage of a word.

So ….  don’t yell, unless there is allot of background noise. Your dog is not deaf, he actually can hear 5 times better than you. Or you may accidently train the dog to only respond to Yelled commands.


If you want to know more about how dogs learn  look at my post on the ABCs of learning.



Look up your community for toxic chemical on EPA website.

We  are all concerned about chemicals in our food, water and air.

Here is a handy tool to know about.

TRI for Communities | Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program | US EPA.

How to train your dog to come. “Recall training”.

Almost no one can get their dog to come! Bold statement I know, but I witness this daily. In our minds, we remember the times the dog did come to us, forgetting all the many times that “come” went unanswered.  Dogs eventually come to their family because, first they like us & second, we feed them so eventually they will come. This is not the same as a dog who comes immediately on cue .

Come or recall is a more complex behavior than most of us realize.  What we humans really what from the dog is:  “stop whatever you are doing (sniffing other dogs, chasing, playing, barking…) and come immediately.” BE QUICK ABOUT IT! “Recall, every time” is one of the hardest skill for a dog to learn.  For the dog to learn this  skill takes a series of steps with progressively more difficult situations in which the dog stop what he/she is doing, redirects to you and comes. Accepting what is really going on is the first step toward changing it. The article below reveals several steps in training  a reliable recall. 

Why is training recall so difficult for dog owners? | Dog Star Daily.

A few basics  about training a reliable response.

1. Practice, practice,  practice.

Reliability is all about practice. Just like sports, flying airplanes, surgery, military operations, excellent musical performance or any high skill endeavor. We humans tend to hold our dogs to a higher, almost magical, standard of performance. We expect our Dogs to stop whatever they are doing and come when we call, without specific training and allot practice,  How many of your employees, kids, or spouses  immediately come when called!

2. Reward after the desired behavior-Use what the  dog wants. This is the Consequence for dogs actions/behaviors.

3. Timing – dogs focus on what happened right before, 1/2 sec, the treat arrives. The closer the treat is to the behavior the more effective the training.

4. The order of things is the magic formula for learning – the ABC’s

a. Antecedent-something that happens before the behavior. We often use a cue: like a hand gesture, or a word “come”, whistle sequences or sound of meal prep in the kitchen. Even lightening is an antecedent to thunder for dogs afraid of storms. But the lightening does not cause the thunder, the storm clouds cause both, but light travels faster than sound so it precedes the noise.

b. Behavior -the dog does something.

C. Consequence– what happens immediately after the behavior. If  this something positive the dog will repeat the behavior. If something negative the dog will not repeat the behavior.

The error for many is believing that the the Antecedent or A . causes the B. Behavior to happen again. It is the C=consequence that will motivate the dog to do the same Behavior in the future. The Antecedent alerts the dog to the possibility that treats maybe available to be earned. I often use a pre-antecedent to set my dog in the mindset of training by saying “are you ready”, he then knows that a cue for a behavior is coming. He becomes alert, focuses on me waiting for signal word.


A Positive Consequence is more effective if:

*It immediately rewards the behavior – < 1 second after the behavior (unless a bridge is used-clicker training is using a bridge).

*Is it better than other available options. That is why trainers us favorite food or fun.

*Predictable- a little like a paycheck. If you work but don’t get your paycheck you would not want to continue to work for that employer. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t work harder for the same paycheck if you enjoy your job. Enjoying your work is another reward for a job well done. For dogs after allot of practice they seem to enjoy the task itself.

 Make it worth it for the dog. Mostly we use food, toys or play.  However as puppies, almost all dogs come to their substitute families. This recall is preprogramed into the young canine brain; stay with the family group, check in often. Don’t mistake this natural tendency for your dog understanding “come”. Instead, use the tendency in early puppyhood to teach English, repeat “come” whenever the pup naturally runs toward you. Make returning to you, a great experience for the dog. Even when you have been chasing the dog for 30 minutes, gave up and turned to go home. Which is when the dog will come to you. You’re irritated and can’t imagine giving the dog a reward for running you around. Fight the urge to punish and reward the arrival of your dog at your side.

Why does the dog get a reward for 30 minutes of run-away time. First, dogs love the chase game, so he/she would have thought  you were playing. Second and more important– dogs will repeat behaviors in the future, that get them something good. The more accurately this one fundamental  is practiced the stronger your dog will listen to you.

Let me repeat myself. Dogs will repeat a behavior in the future because last time it resulted in something good. Behavior followed by a good consequence.


Break it down. Rex comes to Tom. Tom gives him a dog treat. Rex follows Tom around, coming close enough to be touched and gets a treat each time.

Has Rex learned to come to Tom? No, he is playing the odds that the treats will keep coming, so he stays close by.

Next day, Rex comes to Tom, Tom does not give Rex a treat, Rex waits for his treat and eventually wanders off. Rex tries “come” few more times but, when no treat arrives he ignores Tom for more interesting things. Rex does not come to Tom when called. He comes when he wants to come because he likes Tom.


How do I get my dog to come when I don’t  have treats. Practice in many different situations.

 After Rex comes 90% of the time when called for 7 days in a row, then it is time to move to fewer treats for more work. ( 1 treat for 2 comes, then 3 comes and so on). Or treat after 2 behaviors.   Rex comes, Tom says sit, Rex sits, Tom steps back, Rex “comes a second time”, Tom gives Rex a treat. Now Rex has done a come-sit-wait-come, for 1 treat. Repeat this sequence, rapidly stepping back will entice the dog to follow because this is a mini-version of the chase. So keep the pace fast, as the dog does well, make 2 step backs or mix up how many sit-comes Rex must do to get a treat. But gradually make these changes.

When the dog stops paying attention you have pushed for more difficult to learn behaviors too fast or he is at the end of his attention span. Give him a break and repeat after a 10-15 minutes. Ideal time for each mini training session is 2-5 minutes.


The Drugs in Our Beef: Important to read for everyone

The Drugs in Our Beef: Bigger Cows, More Worries – Corporate Intelligence – WSJ.

Also http://www.rodalenews.com/beef-facts

I was alarmed when in the middle of the night my  dog became agitated, was circling non-stop, anxious, very high temperature (105), very fast heart and respiration rates. No amount of cooling inside an air conditioned house stopped the climb of body temperature. So, I found myself outside at 3AM,  in 55 degrees, running cold water from the garden hose over the dog until his body temperature stopped rising. He was still unable to calm down so sedation with necessary to get him through the remainder of the night. The next day I found the reports of human poisonings from beef contaminated with Ractopamine, an “asthma-like medication” allowed into animal feed to promote growth. I also found out it is now feed to 80% of cattle, swine and chicken raised in the USA and banned in the majority of other developed countries int he world.

Leo was fed just 3 oz of a new supply of cooked hamburger on top of his dog food. Dogs are much more sensitive to this drug- feed additive than humans. Read the attached article to find out more.

Leo dog has recovered after 2 days of rest and fluids.


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