Tips for Holiday Travel with Pets

Tips for Holiday Travel with Pets

posted in: Nonfiction, On the Road, Our Work, Travel, Woof Trekking, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

With the holidays coming up, many of you will be traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. Pet lovers may be taking their precious pups and furry felines on the road with them, perhaps for the first time. If you are new to the ways of Woof Trekking (road tripping with your pets), this may cause some anxiety for both the humans and the pets. But have no fear, we are here to help.
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We have been traveling with our two dogs, Izzy and Nana, and one cat, Billy, for four years. We have gained a lot of knowledge to share with you. If you are new to our blog, you can take a look at our previous woof trekking posts here. We have also written a book about our experience with traveling with our cat and two dogs. You can get your copy on Amazon and Kobo.
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You may be surprised that we travel with our cat, however Billy is a pretty chill cat who does fairly well on the road. If you want to take your cat with you (or a skittish dog for that matter), taking them on short, little trips to see how they handle going in the car is a good idea. We actually have two cats, but Tyra doesn’t travel well and prefers to stay home and be kenneled.

We have previously talked about what to pack for both your dogs and your cats. Some important items include: food, bowls, and kitty litter box.

Safety is very important while traveling with your pets and we have some tips to keep everyone safe. First of all safety in the car is very important, both of our dogs wear car harnesses so they can be buckled in. Billy also wears a harness so he too can be buckled up while riding in a human’s lap. You can read more about car harnesses here.


Some dogs and cats travel really well on the road and have no problems. Nana is one of these dogs. She loves car rides and watching the world pass by. Izzy is the opposite, she loves getting into the car but as soon as it starts moving, she becomes anxious and starts to whine. When we travel, we give her Dramamine, per the recommendation of our vet, and it takes the edge off. (Always talk to your vet before giving your pet medication.) Billy on the other hand gets motion sick in the car. He also gets Dramamine to help him deal with this. You can read more about Anxiety and Motion Sickness here.
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The last point we would like to make is about hotel safety. Some hotels are better than others but all should be inspected before letting your pets loose. We have found some interesting objects hidden under the bed. Our biggest tip is to get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight to clear the floor of any dropped pills and other foreign objects.

Go forth and don’t be afraid to take your pets on the road with you. If you want to read more about our travels, get a copy of our book. Bringing your pets on your travels will make your adventures even more memorable!

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Our 200th Post!!! Woof Trekking Dispatch #15: Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, May 2013

Our 200th Post!!! Woof Trekking Dispatch #15: Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, May 2013

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 6 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

First, we’d like to mention that today’s post is our 200th! We love sharing our adventures and interests with you and can’t wait for the next hundred! Now, we are going to celebrate this anniversary with a post that is out of this world!

In our previous dispatches, we were visiting the East Coast and ended that trip in Savannah before returning home. Our next Woof Trek was to the West Coast, aka the best coast. We made a trip to Los Angeles and we drove up to Griffith Park.

griffith-observatory
Griffith Park is located at the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and is one of the largest urban parks, covering over 4000 acres. Earlier this year Griffith Park was in the news because a beautiful mountain lion named P22 made a koala his supper one March night. P22 first gained fame in 2013 after Steve Winter snapped an iconic photograph of the big cat with the Hollywood sign for National Geographic.

The land the Park sits on was originally owned by Welsh-born Colonel Griffith J. Griffith in the late 1800s, who made his money in the California Gold Rush. He originally used part of the land as an ostrich farm so he could sell the feathers, which were a popular addition to women’s hats. He also tried to sell the land to home builders but no one wanted the land, so he donated it to the City of Los Angeles in 1896.
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In 1903, after a heavy drinking session, Colonel Griffith shot his wife while they were on vacation. While she did not die, she did lose her right eye. He was sentenced to two years in jail. After he was released, he wanted to develop the land he donated to the city, but they rebuffed him and his money due to his criminal past. The rest of his life, he spent designing the park and investing in architectural designs for several building he envisioned on the land. Upon his death in 1919, he bequeathed his designs and money to the city. The city built the Greek Theater and the Griffith Observatory to his specifications.

We made the drive up the mountain and spotted the iconic architecture of the Observatory. The park surrounding the Observatory is dog friendly, so we hopped out and took turns going inside.
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Izzy and Nana enjoyed investigating the park surrounding the Observatory.
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A large monument stands in the park area in front of the Observatory, called the Astronomers Monument. There are six astronomers on the Monument: Hipparchus, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and John Herschel. Atop the Monument is an armillary sphere, which was added in 1991 to replace a copper covered concrete sphere which had degraded.
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We walked up the stairs on the outside of the building to look back at Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign.
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Here is a closer view of the famous sign.
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We turned around and looked out over the metropolis of Los Angeles.
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The Observatory was opened in 1935 and has this stylish art deco entrance.
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Above the entryway is this window protected by an awesome, decorative grill depicting different astronomy icons.
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Upon entry into the Observatory, you are greeted by this massive Foucault pendulum, which demonstrates the rotation of Earth. (In case you were wondering, admission to the Observatory building, grounds, telescopes, and parking is always FREE!!!)
foucault-pendulum

Here’s a GIF we made of the pendulum!

The main hall also has murals painted by Hugo Ballin which all have astronomical themes. One of the murals is on the ceiling of the dome and you can see the reflection of that mural in the pendulum.
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Here is a picture of the ceiling mural painted inside the dome.
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We enjoyed a brief tour of the exhibits from the Tesla Coil, to the Camera Obscura, and learning about the Sun. We didn’t have time to explore the lower level, which looks like lots of fun also!

We had a great time nerding out at the Griffith Observatory and especially enjoyed that it was completely FREE and dog friendly! We definitely recommend it if you are in Los Angeles and are interested in space!

Have you been to Griffith Observatory? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Living in the Southwest, Nature, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to go on a spontaneous Woof Trek. We hadn’t gone Woof Trekking for several months and everyone was ready to hit the road. We hopped in the car and traveled across the valley to Madera Canyon.
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Madera Canyon is about 30 miles south of Tucson and is located in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Canyon is part of the US Forest Service. When some people think of the desert southwest, they think that it is just a flat desert, however that is not the case. Madera Canyon is a perfect example of this.
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Tucson itself is surrounded by four different mountain ranges, with the Santa Rita’s being the one to the South. Madera Canyon is big birding location as it is a stopping point during migrations north and south. We missed the migration this year, but will be returning in the future to see some of the unique birds. We packed a picnic lunch and drove up to the highest paved area, called the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area and Trailheads.
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The elevation at this point was 5400 feet and it was slightly cooler than the valley but not by much. Izzy and Nana were itching to go explore the Canyon, but had to wait for us to eat lunch first.
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We brought a little battery operated fan because Izzy runs warm temperature-wise due to all her fur. We needed a bigger fan – like one of those on the sidelines at football games. But she stayed hydrated and that’s most important.
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After lunch, we set out on a couple of the trails. There are an abundance of trails in Madera Canyon, but we are amateur hikers so we didn’t go too far. Our first little hike was at Madera Canyon Picnic Area. We walked over to see the creek that runs down the canyon.
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Nana wasn’t a big fan of the running water, but Izzy was fearless.
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She hopped up onto a giant boulder and smiled.
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We drove up around the camping area and saw a couple of plants we don’t normally see in Tucson. We saw an agave with these crazy looking seed pods growing out of the center. It was unlike any agave we had ever seen.
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We also saw these pretty bottlebrush flowers.
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Our final stop was the Proctor area, near the entrance/exit to the Canyon. At this stop, we hiked around a paved loop that was about 2 miles long.
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When we were eating our lunch earlier in the day, we saw some blue colored berries on the ground and we didn’t know what kind of tree they were from. On this trail, we found a sign that said that the area has a lot of Alligator Juniper trees, thus solving the mystery of the berries. If you look at the bark, you can totally see why they named them Alligator Junipers.
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Another interesting feature of this trail were these boxes on posts. They are houses for bats! We knew that Arizona had a lot of bat residents but from informational boards on the trail, we learned that of the 45 bat varieties that live in the Unites States and Canada, 28 can be found in Arizona. Wow!
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As we walked further on, we found a wooden bridge that crossed the river.
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Sun’s out, tongue’s out.
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Overall, Madera Canyon was great fun! We will definitely be back!

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Our Experience with Chiropractic and Acupressure Treatments for Dogs

Our Experience with Chiropractic and Acupressure Treatments for Dogs

posted in: At Home, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Earlier this year, we made the decision to change vets. The primary reason being Nana’s back. Our previous vet had taken x-rays and speculated a lot about why she was having stiffness and occasional limping. But offering only conventional services, the treatment offered was a bottle of the equivalent of Advil for Dogs. Nana didn’t tolerate this medicine very well (aka vomit) and made her very sleepy. This was not the way for a dog to live.

Chiropractic Treatment and Acupressure for Dogs
Nana was feeling blue.

So we searched high and low for a vet who could do something more for our sweet Nana. We decided to look for someone who offered alternative treatments since conventional methods didn’t seem to be working for her. In particular, we were interested in veterinary acupuncture.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s healthcare. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

After scouring the internet, we found our vet! He offered acupressure, using a laser instead of needles to target acupuncture points. He had discovered that most patients tolerated this better and the results were equivalent between the two.


The other treatment recommendation was chiropractic adjustments. He uses an electronic activator tool, much like activators used in human spinal adjustments, to “put motion” into the joints, thereby encouraging healing in the area. He does this all down her back, not just down by her hips where the problem was. See the video below for an example.

He also uses another attachment that massages all down her back on either side of her spine, like in the video below.

At first, we were skeptical because the adjustments and acupressure looked so simple. Our first few treatments were close together, once a week or so. After only two treatments there was a dramatic difference. It was like a miracle!

Chiropractic Treatment and Acupressure for Dogs
Nana the Happy Girl is Back!

Now she only goes every 2-3 months for maintenance. Along with his approach to Valley Fever and grain free food, we believe our vet saved Nana’s life! Our vet is a certified veterinary chiropractor and certified veterinary acupuncturist; these are important qualifications if you are looking into these services.

We also limit some of her physical activities, we try to limit her jumping up and down from the couch and we also carry her up and down the stairs. Seeing the dramatic improvement in our Nana has proved that it is really worth it to find a vet that meets your needs. It can life-changing and even life-saving.

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Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service + Another “Woof Trekking” Excerpt

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service + Another “Woof Trekking” Excerpt

posted in: On the Road, Travel, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Today marks 100 years since the National Park Service was established. On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service Organic Act was passed and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. As of right now, there are 59 National Parks, you can see the full list here.

National Parks Centennial Featured Image

The following is an adaptation from our book Woof Trekking: How to Road Trip with Your Pets.

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We love going on adventures to National Parks and exploring the amazing sights. They are spectacular locations to take in nature and most allow dogs in at least some areas of the parks. Some say that National Parks are not very dog friendly, however, we have always felt welcome, even if we didn’t get to explore the whole park. You can visit the National Park Service website before your trip to determine where your dog is allowed to visit. In all cases, dogs are required to be on a leash.

Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks

We have visited two National Parks in California, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. We visited both during one Woof Trek since their location is quite off the beaten track. We mostly drove around Sequoia National Park to see the towering sequoias. Dogs are not allowed on the trails but are allowed on leashes in the camping areas.

Sequoia National Park
General Sherman

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Yosemite National Park is much more dog friendly. The park has lots of paved trails and dogs are welcome on these paths. We enjoyed exploring both of these Parks in the cool mountain air.

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
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The Pika is arguably the cutest rodent in the world and is a resident of Yosemite.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is one of five National Parks in Utah. It is a bit of a drive off the interstate, but totally worth it. This National Park is unique because most of scenic views of the Park can only be visited by shuttle bus. Since we Woof Trek with our dogs, we didn’t go on the shuttle.

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We did take a driving tour of a portion of the Park through the amazingly colorful canyons. One of the coolest parts of the drive in Zion National Park is when you go through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel has cutouts where you take a quick peek out into the canyons as you drive through. Dogs are only allowed on one trail at Zion, called the Pa’rus trail.

Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

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Izzy enjoying the South Rim of the Grand Canyon after a cloudburst.

We have visited the Grand Canyon, both the South and North Rims, with our dogs. They loved exploring the trails as much as we did. Lots of people from all over the world visit the Grand Canyon; we were surprised by how many different languages we could hear. Then again, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

If you make the journey to the Grand Canyon, you may also want to visit Horseshoe Bend while you are there. Horseshoe Bend is a large curve in the Colorado River that is about 5 miles from the Glen Canyon Dam and about 140 miles from the South Rim. It is a breathtaking view and we highly recommend it.

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Nana the Brave enjoying the view of Horseshoe Bend.

There are no Park Rangers or facilities (restrooms, water, etc.) at Horseshoe Bend. Dogs are welcome on the trail on a leash. It is a bit of a hike, up and down a hill, which takes about 45 minutes round-trip. Once you get to the Bend, you can look straight down into the canyon. The view is excellent, but there is no guardrail or any sort of protection from falling. This location is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of stomach; skip it if you are afraid of heights.

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Valley Fever and Dogs: Facing the Desert-Dwelling Fungus Among Us

Valley Fever and Dogs: Facing the Desert-Dwelling Fungus Among Us

posted in: At Home, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Earlier this week, we talked about the dogs’ Homemade Dog Food. Now, we want to take you way back to that fateful day in 2012 when we saw Nana in the window.

When we went in to inquire about the dog that had captured our hearts, we discovered she had Valley Fever. They assured us that this was not a difficult condition to treat.

You Can't Tell Nana has Valley Fever by Looking at Her
You can’t tell Nana has Valley Fever by looking at her.

But we already knew that since our first dog, Mya, a retired racing greyhound had the same condition. Furthermore, at least two other dogs in our neighborhood also have Valley Fever.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Valley Fever is a fungal infection caused by coccidioides (kok-sid-e-OY-deze) organisms.” Valley Fever is fairly common in Arizona with 65% of all US cases occurring in our state, as reported by the CDC.

Spring at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
Spring at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. Prime turf for the fungus that causes Valley Fever.

There is currently a vaccine in development at our alma mater, the University of Arizona, that could help prevent dogs from ever contracting Valley Fever in the first place.

The prognosis for Valley Fever in dogs can vary. Some may only need to take medication for a year, while others may be on it for life. Nana falls into the latter category.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s healthcare. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

The treatment for Valley Fever is the antifungal medication Fluconazole. Nana has been on this medication for all four years of her life with us. It currently costs about $45 at our local compounding pharmacy. We gladly pay it because we love her so much!

However, fluconazole can cause some complications with the liver. Consequently, she takes the following additional supplements.


S Adenosyl 225 (SAMe) for MEDIUM / LARGE DOGS 225 mg


Grifron Maitake D-Fraction Professional Liquid, 2 Ounce


Nature’s Way Reishi Capsules, 100-Count

Our vet practices both conventional and holistic medicine, consequently he is 100% onboard with the use of mushrooms as supplements. He also gives Nana chiropractic and acupressure treatments every couple months for her lower back. We will blog about our experience with that later this month.

Nana’s blood work showed a vast improvement and total demeanor since we started her on the mushrooms, a healthier diet, and chiropractic treatments. We are so grateful to have our girl back, especially since we thought we might lose her last year. She is such a blessing and so is our veterinarian! If you are unsatisfied with your current veterinarian, don’t be afraid to change – it might just save your pet’s life!

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Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food: Chicken, Veggies and Sweet Potato

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food: Chicken, Veggies and Sweet Potato

posted in: At Home, Food, Woof Trekking | 3 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Last Friday, we told you about the food that the dogs eat on Woof Treks. Namely: Taste of the Wild and Wellness Chicken Stew. They also eat canned green beans when we are on the road.

They started this diet in January when we started going to our new vet. He sent us home with instructions to help Nana lose weight by replacing about 1/2 of her food with green beans (in addition to going grain-free).

Since January, Nana has dropped 10 pounds going from 38 to 28 and our vet is exceedingly pleased. Nana scored about a 7 on the Body Condition Score in January and now she is at an ideal 5. She is much more spry and active than she was when she was overweight. Izzy is such a high energy dog that she has always been scored around a 5.

 Izzy is Overwhelmed with Nana's Energy Post Weight Loss
This photo is from March. Nana is about 33 pounds and very frisky. Izzy is overwhelmed with her sister’s newfound energy.

Nana was never starving during this time because of all the vegetables. Around April, encouraged by the positive effects of her new diet and at the casual suggestion of our vet, we switched over to a completely homemade meal for breakfast and dinner.

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How to Make Healthy Homemade Dog Food

They eat the following recipe of homemade dog food twice a day, which is relatively low calorie compared to other dog food options.

They still receive some commercial dog food throughout the day including Taste of the Wild kibbles, as well as occasional dog cookies, both commercial and homemade such as our Homemade Banana Peanut Butter Dog Cookies. They also get frozen raw beef shank marrow bones to chew on a couple times a week for about 10-20 minutes. We will blog more about that later this month.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food

The first ingredient is chicken. Chicken Legs are usually the cheapest at about 67 cents/pound on sale. However, we mix it up and sometimes do a whole chicken or bone-in chicken breasts. They love it all! We shred the chicken and take away the bone, skin, and fat.

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Next, we get out our scale, set to grams, and and clear the tare with the food bowl on the scale.

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Then we add veggies. We steam vegetables every night to go with human dinner, so it was not much of an adjustment to cook a little extra more for the dogs. We cook broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, zucchini, and green beans.

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We cut it up into smallish pieces, a lot like the aforementioned Chicken Stew. Izzy gets 80 grams of veggies because she LOVES them. Also Izzy is a bit bigger than Nana. She is at her ideal body condition score and still weighs 35 pounds. Nana gets 55 grams of veggies.

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We cut the chicken and veggies with kitchen shears like these from Kitchen Aid.

We add about 60 grams of chicken for Izzy and 50 grams for Nana.

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The last ingredient is sweet potato. 40 grams for Izzy and 30 grams for Nana. We usually feed them the orange sweet potatoes, but accidentally got white flesh sweet potatoes at the store last week.

We have tried to corner our vet into giving a precise amount of protein, veggies, and sweet potato for our girls, but he says whatever we are doing is good because they are very healthy.

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They always finish their meals at the same time and they are maintaining their ideal body weights. Consequently, we have stuck to this meal plan. It is important to remember that they also get a fair amount of nutrient dense kibbles throughout the day.

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Izzy is excited to eat her breakfast!

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Good to the last lick!

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Another possible variation on this recipe: Put an Egg on it. If you watch food shows, you know how popular this has become in recent years for human food. Dogs can try it, too!

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food

Ingredients

  • Chicken, unseasoned
  • Mixed Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrot, zucchini, green beans), unseasoned
  • Sweet Potato, unseasoned

Instructions

  1. Bake the chicken at 400 degrees for at least an hour, flipping half way through. Alternatively bake until thermometer reads 165F, although we like to bake until 185F because it is easier to shred. Take away all bone, skin, and excess fat.
  2. Steam Vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and carrot all take about 20 minutes starting from a room temperature pot. Green beans take about 8 minutes. Zucchini slices takes about 6 minutes. We cook these all in the same pot, adding the beans at the 12 minute mark, and the zucchini at the 14 minute mark.
  3. Steam Sweet Potato. These take about 18-20 minutes.
  4. The exact amount of chicken, veggies, and sweet potato will depend upon your dog and how many other treats they get throughout the day. Work with your veterinarian to create the ideal meal plan for your dog.
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