Monday, January 19, 2015

"I Need Meat, and Booze and Cheese" - Wait Ignore That, My Inner Glutton is Coming Out

I am struggling right now with maintaining balance in my diet and exercise. I am struggling with making healthy choices with both.

Normally I love working out, but lately I have to make myself do it, and drag my feet the whole time. I don't know if it is because it is fricking cold outside and the idea of changing into workout clothes, getting it up and getting sweaty all sounds miserable, I dunno. I have absolutely no desire to do yoga whatsoever and I am starting to feel the repercussions of that. My hamstrings are getting tight, my shoulders are tight and my psoas is bothering me. When I have done yoga recently, I get frustrated with myself that I have let myself get stiff and that I can't hold poses for as long as normal and quit mid-way through the practice. Pathetic I know....

Maybe it is winter doldrums, maybe I am dragging out the gluttonous indulgence of my lazy 2 weeks off for the holidays - hey, the gym was closed, all my classes were cancelled, yes I woke up at 10 or 11 everyday and stayed in my pjs til 3, and yes, I ate yummy foods and drinks I wouldn't normally, it was festive. So what! Don't judge! You know you did the same.
Mmm doesn't that look good??

But for some reason I can't shake it yet. I want to bundle up, watch movies and cuddle with my puppies and my man, all the while drinking champagne, eating chocolates, potato chips and meat.
Drool...this is SO not helping!

And lots of meat. Man, am I craving meat. I normally eat meat maybe once or twice a month, tops, and it is typically in a restaurant. If I do buy it, I always buy organic and local. If I can't find either, I won't buy it. But I am craving like Shepard's pie and beef stew, super meaty, gooeyness, WTH is the matter with me? Maybe I am preparing for hibernation....

And don't even talk to me about green juice! Don't even show me a green juice  - gag! I can't. I am SO not even interested in green juice right now. It sounds cold and green and icky. I keep looking at the beautiful, organic juicing veggies in my fridge getting sadder and sadder, more limp and wilty, yellow, smoodgy - yucko. Just looking at them dying in my fridge makes me gag. No part of me wants green juice. I know, I know, it is good for me, I should, I should, especially since I am rejecting it so much, but wah, I don't wanna ma!

Cravings mean something. They are your body's way of talking to you, telling you what it needs, but what happens when your cravings are for naughty things and laziness? Maybe it is because I live in fricking Antarctica and I need sunshine, yes I am taking my Vitamin D daily, but still, it is cold and poopy outside, and yummy, meaty food with wine and cheese and pjs and movies galore sound so much better than pretty much everything right now.

The reality is I know the reason I am craving these things is because I am feeding the cravings. If I just stopped and made my green juice (which I did at lunch today - yuck - and really it tasted OK and dare I say good....shhhhh), stopped eating meat and actually got my butt up and did yoga, all would be back to normal. 

I am not a morning workout person. But right now, I am able to find any excuse under the sun (well actually the lack thereof) to not workout when I get home from work. I am thinking if I move it to the morning I might actually do it. And I want to see if I actually can. I wake up slowly and ideally in silence. I like to make my tea, cozy up in my big bathrobe, open all the curtains admiring the view and morning sunlight and I like to read first thing in the morning. Most days of the week I am not so lucky to do this ritual in total, but I have always wanted to add yoga to this routine. Maybe it is because I am glutton for punishment, or maybe because I know deep down it will be really good for me and challenging; a hurdle I need to overcome. The thing is my brain and body whine and complain about the idea. One, I have to wake up even earlier and two, that I am "working out" in the morning. Yet, somehow I know in the back of my mind I can hear myself, my inner mom - "OK Mommm, pshh..." get up do your yoga, your meditation, your silence, make your green juice and then your tea. I know it is the right thing to do and that is probably why I am resisting it so much, because it will be the catalyst for the winter meat eating, boozing, indulgent, laziness hump I need to get over right now. 

Fiiinnnneeeahh......I'll somewhat listen to the inner mom in me that knows best, but I didn't say I wouldn't complain along the way.

Here's to you and your winter rut, if you are experiencing the same. Find something simple and just do it, even when you really, really don't want to. Good luck (and f-ing namaste when all I want to do is shove that namaste somewhere...)....good luck :).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Standard is Not the Only Way

I think we have figured out Oli's itchiness, our newest French bully addition to the family. Phew, finally!


The first day we got Oli. See his incredibly red muzzle, eyes and ears. They are worse in person. Completely raw. Poor guy :(
Coned Oli helping with my yoga.
He was so red and itchy and miserable when we got him over a month ago and we have tried everything we have found and thought wouldn't kill him or us. At it's worst he was wearing a cone, a Thunder Shirt, taking Benadryl 25 mg. every 4-6 hours and getting sprayed down hourly with Richards Organics natural anti-itch spray.

We decided to go against the traditional veterinarian approach, which we started with and took us nowhere. The vet didn't seem to know much more than us and the default approach was medications and antibiotics, which is SO not us, and so not for our doggies.

We researched and attempted our own approach and it is working. We deduced that Oli has a gluten allergy, mites and a very week immune system. So we are doing a handful of things to attack each.

Gluten Allergy in Dogs
The gluten allergy seemed intuitive. We know Addi our half boxer half golden retriever is gluten intolerant so it makes sense that we would have Oli eat the same grain free food. We have settled on the venison sweet potato blend by Natural Balance, which is a widely recommend brand for Frenchies. Also after reading online French bulldogs, and boxers, notoriously are gluten intolerant. We think Oli has probably eaten gluten his whole life so we know this will take some time to purge his system of his 2 years of eating gluten. But we are already seeing differences. Less itchiness and he is less puffy. Like me, when I removed gluten from my diet, my all over puffy, inflammation, melted away. His too, he looks leaner now. Up until a week or so ago we had Oli on a bean, potato and sweet potato diet. We learned from our old vet - an alternative vet, who has sadly since retired - that a diet of pinto beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes is a diet simple to digest that aides in determining potential skin issues by keeping the diet simple. The philosophy is similar to that of an Elimination diet for a human. Remove all potential food allergens, allow your digestive system the ability to relax and digest easy foods, so you can identify the allergy culprit.

Mites
Although Oli was tested for mites at the vet's and it came back negative, we were pretty convinced he had mites. His itchiness was to the point of self mutilation, which is a common symptom of mites. They itch so badly inside and out, that they will itch to the point of pain, blood and excessive wounds. We did extensive research online and realized that the traditional methods of dips and chemical baths were not for us. Some chemicals can cause permanent nerve damage and most only work 20% of the time. Why would we put him and us through that, when we don't even use chemical cleaners in the house.

We found an all natural "sworn by" Happy Dog Mite Avenge bath and liquid wash. The website has amazing reviews and we were sold on the all natural option. True to the reviews, it works! The first bath we noticed a huge difference, the second bath, he is back to normal. He barely itches at all, he is at the "normal" dog level of cleaning and scratching, where he actually stops itching; the obsessiveness is gone. The bath needs to sit for 15 minutes, which is challenging and comical to sit all 4 of us in the bathroom, covered in dog hair, water, suds and smelling of tea tree oil and citronella. The second step, the leave in wash, is grainy and has a unique wet mud smell that needs to stay on and air dry. You try to stop dogs from shaking and rubbing themselves after a bath, it is a joke and we spent a lot of time chasing them around and walking them on leashes in the house (it is in the low teens outside - we didn't want frozen dogs). Regardless, this stuff works and it is non-toxic and actually smells nice!! If you are struggling with mites and excessive itchiness, even if you don't think it's mites, get this stuff now. It works! Although challenging to apply in the waiting period, just know you will be messy and soaking wet and the amount of dog hair on your bathroom walls is enough to create a whole new dog, grab a glass of wine and your co-partner, lots of towels and dog treats and spend and hour in the bathroom. That is some memory making stuff :).

Immune System Boosting for Dogs
Lastly we are boosting both dogs immune systems. We have learned quickly you cannot give one dog something and not the other. Man do they get jealous. Addi has not been happy that Oli get "special" food of potatoes and beans and Oli is sick of his potatoes and beans, so they both begrudgingly eat their food while begging for the other's. As soon as we turn our backs they switch! Crazy dogs. Oliver's immune system is weak because of his breed, but we also think he may have been weaned too early and has never had owners that took those things into consideration. Similar to humans the same immune boosters work for dogs - L-lysine, garlic, probiotics, Vitamin C, B-complex - and we have been giving them these daily. One vitamin of each wrapped in American cheese, which they love - we call them cheesy treats. We figured American cheese, although nothing we would ever eat or buy is probably cleaner than most of the pill pouch treats - given treats often have gluten, chicken and grains, and it is super easy to wrap around the pills. The silly dogs now beg for their daily cheesy treats, they come running when they hear the cheese drawer open in the fridge.

If You Don't Know About DE Yet, Then You Should
Lastly we are giving them and coating them both with diatomaceous earth. Don't gasp in horror. We are not poisoning our dogs, if you have been following along we clearly love and care for our dogs with every fiber of our beings. Food grade diatomaceous earth is AMAZING! 

It is the cure all for almost everything and yet people only use the toxic kind in their gardens to kill garden pests and in their pools. More people need to know and should be using food grade DE everyday, which is different than the commercial grade. The food grade is good for dogs and humans alike. We have started taking a tablespoon of DE ourselves everyday and a tablespoon for Addi and a teaspoon for Oli. I cannot say enough good things about DE. I highly recommend you do some research to learn for yourself. The only reason it is not widely known or used is because it has SO many uses that it doesn't fit within the FDA regulations of labeling. A food item cannot be a cleaning agent, and a pest control, and a cosmetic all in one. The FDA doesn't know what to do with an item like this, and so they just don't. I urge you to learn more and listen to your intuition and not follow "regulations" for regulations sake.  

Food grade diatomaceous earth, which is 89% silica, a natural element, is good for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, it helps with osteoporosis and joint pain, helps rid the body of parasites (ie mites and worms in dogs, and people), aides in weight loss, detox, cosmetic use, fades age spots, stimulates metabolism for higher energy levels, helps repair and maintain vital lung tissue and protects them from pollution, helps to prevent many unwanted side effects of menopause, can help prevent kidney stones and heal infections of the urinary tract. It is a natural diuretic which can increase excretion of urine by 30 percent, thus flushing the water-excreting system and restoring normal function to these vital organs, will reduce inflammation of the intestinal tract. It can cause disinfection in the case of stomach and intestinal mucus and ulcers. Silica can prevent or clear up diarrhea and its opposite, constipation, can help diabetes by promoting synthesis of elastase inhibitor by the pancreas and the list keeps going and going and going and going....read more here. You too will be convinced to add DE to your daily life. It is all natural and tastes a little like overly chalky almond milk when mixed with just water. I have been adding it to my smoothies and for the dogs we mix it in a little bit of organic, plain yogurt, to give them an extra dose of probiotics daily.


Through this whole process we have had a lot of sleepless nights. We have to cleaning the whole house daily. We have done loads and loads of laundry. We learned a lot about dogs and mites, and boosting immune systems for dogs and humans. But most importantly we learned, similar to our health and needs, to trust our intuition. The veterinarian approach is not different than the medical approach to covering up an ailment - take a pill and an antibiotic - without looking at what is causing the ailment. Just because it is standard practice does not mean it is right for you or your furbabies. If you think there has to be a better way, there probably is. Do your research. We are so glad we stuck to our guns, to our alternative approach, applying the same mindset we would to our own health and are so relieved that we were able to help our little guy.

 


Back to their playful selves, running around and having fun all hours of the day. video

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Info Fiend Find - Diet Science in 2014, by Scott Adams

I am always finding, reading and searching out articles, books, blogs, etc. about food, nutrition, wellness, exercise and the newest scientific findings about all the above. It is kind of a hobby for me and I am fiend for information.

Try as I might to cultivate a blog post about my findings sometimes time escapes me and the initial enthusiasm for the reading wanes. I figured it best to share these articles rather than just keep bookmarking them in hopes of being inspired again when the timing is "right".

So I will start posting interesting original readings I come across. Knowledge is power or at least knowledge is interesting. If you are anything like me, you like information too. I will try my best to filter through the articles and only post those that I feel are worthy.

And so it begins...my so-called Info Fiend Find thread. 

I can thank my Dad for this interesting, informative and mildly snarky blog post, in all Scott Adams, aka Dilbert, glory.

Originally posted at dilbert.com, by Scott Adams
I can accurately predict whether you will meet your weight loss goals by the way you talk about it.

I mean that literally. I think I could devise a controlled experiment in which I pick weight-loss winners and losers in advance based on nothing but a transcript of folks talking about their fitness goals.

I'll give you some examples. What follows is a list of things you will hear from people that have no legitimate chance of losing weight and keeping it off. Yes, your thing is probably on this list and it pisses you off to see it. But stay with me and I'll change your life by the end of this post.

Here's what people say when they are preparing to fail at a weight-loss strategy.

"I need to exercise more."

"I'm counting calories."

"I have a cheat day coming."

"I'm watching my portions."

"I'm doing a cleanse."

"I'm trying the (whatever) diet plan."

Ten years ago I would have said everything on the list is a common-sense way to lose weight. But science has since shown otherwise. I'll go through them one at a time.

"I need to exercise more."

You probably DO need to exercise more, for lots of health-related reasons, but exercise is a terrible way to lose weight. Science tells us that exercise is maybe 20% of the solution and diet is 80%, roughly speaking. So when I hear someone talking about trying to lose sixty pounds by joining a gym, I know that person isn't up-to-date on the science and doesn't have a plan that can work. The only way to lose tons of weight through exercise alone is by pushing yourself to the pain point, and science tells us that in that case your subconscious mind will find a way to be "too busy" to keep exercising.

During the first week of January my gym fills with overweight people who think they can exercise their way to slimness. After a month they will see no improvement and quit. The gym probably makes its entire profit from the folks that mistakenly believe exercise is a great diet plan.

"I'm counting calories."

If you are counting calories you probably don't know about the recent science on hunger control. One of the best ways to decrease hunger naturally is by eating calorie-laden fatty stuff such as peanuts. Science says that peanut-eaters lose weight even though they eat fatty peanuts because it suppresses their appetite. Meanwhile, calorie-counters might eat carbs with low calories without knowing they are stimulating appetite by their food choices.

"I have a cheat day coming."

Science tells us that unpredictable rewards create addiction. If you find yourself talking about your upcoming cheat day a week in advance, and craving it, you probably just set yourself up to become addicted to that cheat day - and therefore bad food in general - by your diet plan. If you reward yourself for "cheating" your diet, what do you think happens to your brain wiring? Yup, you crave the bad food that is the reward. Worst...diet...strategy...ever.

"I'm watching my portions."

Portion control has the same problem as calorie-counting. If you eat the right food, portion control takes care of itself. When was the last time you ate too much broccoli? If portion control even enters your mind, it means you don't understand the science about food cravings and the science about the glycemic index. Successful dieters manage their food choices and eat as much of anything as they want. The secret is in changing the "wanting" part, not the portion size. Eating a smaller portion of cake is rewarding the part of your brain that wants cake.

"I'm doing a cleanse."

I timed myself and it took exactly five seconds to find a Mayo Clinic link that says science does not support cleanses. If your diet plan can be debunked in five seconds, you probably aren't a seeker of knowledge. So even if a cleanse turns out to be accidentally a good idea, a knowledge-free long-term diet strategy has a low chance of success.

"I'm trying the (whatever) diet plan."


When I took my dog to puppy training class the instructor told us the importance of training the dog in different locations. If you only train your dog to sit when he is in your kitchen, he only learns to do the trick in that one room. You walk into the living room and the dog doesn't understand why you are doing the "sitting in the kitchen" trick in the wrong place. It will just stare at you.

My point is that if you learn to lose weight on a diet plan . . . all you learned is how to lose weight on a diet plan. After you lose your ten pounds you stop the plan and return to your normal diet. You don't know how to lose weight on your normal diet. Now you're the dog in the living room looking puzzled when someone says, "sit."

Okay, so those are all the things that don't work. So what does work?

Beats me. I'm not a doctor. But I can tell you my story to compare to other folks' accounts and maybe you can see a pattern. What I noticed in myself is that until I reached a critical base of knowledge about diet science I couldn't lose weight no matter how much so-called willpower I brought to it. As a reference point, I have a lot of this thing called willpower. Generally speaking, I simply have to want something badly enough and I'll chew through a concrete wall to get it. But willpower didn't help me lose weight, and it took me decades to learn why. In my defense, science was confused about diet choices until recently too, so the knowledge I needed didn't exist. Now it does.

I've lost 26 pounds from my high adult weight, gradually, over years. None of the improvement is from any sort of "diet." I simple acquired knowledge about nutrition and food science, a bit at a time, year-by-year, until some sort of critical mass was hit. Now I literally eat as much as I want, whenever I want, of whatever I want, and I have the body of a 19-year old swimmer who was tragically born with an old guy's head.

The secret to eating whatever I want is that I systematically reduced my cravings for the wrong food. Now I only want things that happen to be great for my body. And I also experimented for years to find ways to prepare healthy food that doesn't taste like your grandpa's socks. I'm already looking forward to my protein smoothie that is full of berries, almond butter, yogurt, protein powder, chia seeds, almond milk and ice. I get the same pleasure from the smoothie that I once got from ice cream. Sacrifice? Zero. Portion control? Zero. I often have two smoothies in a row just for the pleasure.

As an aside, my efforts in learning to control my food cravings are part of a larger decade-long personal experiment in which I am seeing how much I can reprogram my basic human preferences using science and my knowledge of hypnosis. Preview: So far, almost all of my most basic preferences in life seem reprogrammable. That will be another blog post someday.

If you want links to any of the science I mentioned, I have most of that in my latest book.

You shouldn't listen to cartoonists when it comes to health decisions. All I'm trying to add to the discussion is the idea that knowledge of food science can replace your need for willpower, and that wasn't possible until recently because the knowledge didn't exist. So consider a diet that involves consuming knowledge first. You'll know you have enough knowledge the first time you consciously eliminate a food craving you've had all your life.*

Good luck!

--------------------

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com  
Author of this book

Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

  *That's a hypnosis trick I just did for you. It's a trigger for the future.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Dogs Food Allergy Symptoms are Actually Very Similar to Ours - Looking for the Signs

We recently got a French bulldog named Oli as a Christmas present to ourselves. I have long loved the breed and wanted one to call my own. However, I wasn't willing to get a frenchie puppy. As cute as they are, I struggle with the concept of purebred dogs and getting dogs because they are trendy, and thus exceedingly overpriced. But, try as I might I fell in love with @cooper_the_frenchie on IG and the love affair has continued. I even got my Man on board to the cuteness of frenchies. He began to love Cooper too, asking to see the latest video. We have been causally looking for another dog to be a companion for Addi, our boxer, golden retriever mix, and knew when we found the right match we would leap. What mattered most to us was Addi and her friend got along perfectly, regardless of the breed.

I was so excited when we found Oli in Uncle Henry's, this super cool swap, trade, buying guide in Maine, NH and VT. It is so cool there is even a show - Downeast Dickering, which is so Maine and so Uncle Henry's, it's comical. We found our other dog Addi in Uncle Henry's too, apparently we use it for dog shopping.

Oli was in a small apartment in a city with 2 other dogs and 2 kids, with no yard to run and play in. The owner said he was too much for them. He is very high energy, as is Addi, so we knew that wouldn't be a problem for us, but is for most. We got the impression that the people did have the patience or time that Oli needs and the other 2 dogs in the house didn't like him either. Addi and Oli fell in love instantly. They have such similar personalities. They are the sweetest, most loving dogs that love to play day and night. They cycle throughout the day of play crash, play crash, play, eat, poop, crash. They are the best of friends. We couldn't love Oli anymore. He is a total cuddlebug who loves to kiss and play. It is a match made in heaven.

When we were looking into Oli we asked the previous owner if he had any health issues, as notoriously frenchies have a slew of health concerns. She said no, clean bill of health. Great!....well, as we are learning not so true....

When we went to meet him for the first time I noticed his incredibly red muzzle, eyes and ears, but didn't think of much of it. His face was so darn cute I didn't notice enough beyond his cuteness to be concerned.

The night we took him home all I could tell was how stinky he was. He came with this little bed, which reeked. Any room we put it in instantly became consumed in the same musty, wet, stinky smell. We threw it away after the first night, allowing him one night of acclimating comfort, but buying him a newvsimilar shape and size bed. I was dying to give him a bath the night we got him, but figured that was too much at a new home. Along with the stinkiness of Oli and his bed came excessive scratching and itching. The next day I gave him a bath. He smelled so clean and fresh, it seemed like a layer of stinky gunk washed down the drain. What I thought would be the answer because he was now happy and clean, gave way to noticing that the itchiness stuck. And actually got worse.

We have had him for a little over 3 weeks now, multiple baths later, daily doses of Benadryl, 1 mg for each pound, and soothing itch spray, he scratches to the point of bleeding. It breaks our hearts. He is so clearly uncomfortable. I took him to the vet for a general check up and to ask about his red, raw skin and constant scratching. She mentioned that frenchies notoriously have issues and the best first steps are limited, grain-free, allergen-free diet and controlling the fleas. If after those two things have been ruled out, the list of possible other allergies and issues can be endless, time consuming and patience-pushing. But whatever, we are so in love with this little guy we are determined to figure it out.

We have done extensive research online, talked to friends with breeds of dogs that are notoriously allergy and skin problem-prone. And I am pretty convinced out sweet boy has a wicked gluten/grain allergy (like his Mama :) ) and may be allergic to fleas.

So instantly my brain goes to the time when I was miserable and yet to have diagnosed my gluten allergy. While not excessively itchy or breaking out in a rash, I thought I was allergic to everything, toileting was a daily struggle and the inflammation was vicious. Knowing what I know now about my gluten allergy, I am applying the same logic to Oli's issues.

Luckily we already had Addi on a gluten/grain free Natural Balance food. Oli seemed to like it instantly, phew. We went through a similar trial and error with Addi and food because she had excessive flatulence, runny poops and subsequent constipation and constant ooey gooey eye boogers and regular ear infections as a puppy. We tried many different foods eventually landing on the limited ingredient Natural Balance food because it was the cleanest and the one she liked the most. Addi has always been a finicky eater and she makes it abundantly clear when she doesn't like the way a food tastes.

To help Oli we have been giving him daily Bendaryl, although not my preferred course of treatment, the vet recommended it and said it isn't harmful - especially when steroids is the next course of pharmaceutical treatments for excessive allergies. It'll do for now, especially since it is helping. I am giving him a daily probiotic to help with his gut and immune system. We also bought him a ThunderShirt, which calms him all over. We have noticed when he gets excited he is more itchy. And we thought anxiety might be playing a role here. We are also Richards Organics Incredible Skin soothing spray and pet calming tincture. While Oli runs around after application, it seems to soothe the excessive itchiness and he is starting to like that. We are giving him and Addi daily doses of omega-3 rich salmon oil and organic, plain Greek yogurt for the lactobacillus and acidophilus doses, hoping to build the good bacteria in Oli's gut. We are giving him weekly medicated baths with Zymox and applying the Zymox leave in conditioner - both of which are tremendously helpful, except of the 15 minutes after the bath that includes crazily running around the house in attempt to dry off. Addi does the same after a bath, it's too funny. We did a double duty application for fleas - as per recommendation from the vet, to "get it all in one swoop"- on Oli and Addi, of Frontline and Comfortis.

All in all, the pieces started to come together and we thought we were figuring it out. His redness has diminished tremendously. The raw spots on his hips and armpits started to look less inflamed and red, and he wasn't as attentive to those places. His muzzle was still pink, but he wasn't scratching it raw to the point of drawing blood every minute we turned out backs. Phew, we were figuring out and our little guy was getting better and happier by the day.

It has been tough. Sleepless nights. Constant monitoring. Racking our brains to figure out all the possibilities. All the while our little man is so obviously miserable, but still is the sweetest little love bug. We are daily amazed by his wonderful, loving, joyful personality.

And then a few days ago we bought a new bag of food, wow do two dogs eat a lot of food. We bought the vegan formula Natural Balance food, which we knew Addi liked. All of sudden Oli's mild itchiness turned back into the excessive, obsessive scratching, rubbing on every surface, unable to do much else than itch. Each day it was getting worse and worse. We were baffled how could he be getting worse, we thought we had figured it out, we thought he was on the mend?? He is back to the first few days we had him, scratching so hard he whimpers and bleeds. Every part of his belly, armpits, muzzle, ears and hips are raw and red. Nothing seems to be helping, not even the soothing spray, calming tincture or ThunderShirt. He shakes with itchiness. Then the other night, he broke out in a rash all over his body. The whites of his eyes became red and weepy, he looked like he was crying. All the while he has had runny poops, excessive flatulence and he is emanating his metallic smell all over, probably because of the amount of blood he keeps oozing from the itching, we thought. And now Addi too is farting constantly, she has eye boogers, she seems itchier and is emanating the same smell.

WTF!? What has happened?

I have been doing so much research to help our little babies. I knew it wasn't mites, as Oli was tested at the vet's. Nothing seems to be working or helping, and our puppies are clearly so uncomfortable and Oli is the worst yet. I just couldn't believe we were doing so well a week ago and now we are back to square one. So frustrating and concerning. On a whim I looked at the ingredient listing on the new bag of food, low and behold the first 3 ingredients are grain!! How could we be so stupid!? How did we not read the label more closely??

What is so amazing that in hindsight we have been switching between the salmon and sweet potato grain free formula and the vegan  formula for about a year with Addi, just to mix it up, and Addi seems to like the vegan formula better, BUT occasionally Addi would get more itchy, which we chalked up to being overdue on her flea medication, extra goobery eyes and she too would get that occasional metallic stink. We deduced that if it was an anal gland issue, which research online would lead us to believe, the smell would be regular and centralized on the rear end. Only now that we are literally analyzing every irritant possible, are we identifying that that metallic stink is because of her grain allergy and the few times we would switch to the vegan formula did she get the smell. And right now they both have that funky smell and they are both eating the non gluten/grain free food. Damn it!

We feel wretched and stupid for setting ourselves and Oli back 2 weeks in his recovery. And to not have seen the signs in Addi for the past year when we switched to the vegan-grain-filled formula. How can we be so blind?

But it makes me remember that you only know when you know. I remember  going through this similar cycle of food allergies and when I was still so inflamed and aggravated, any tiny thing could trigger a catastrophic reaction. It took me 6 months to feel OK again and an entire year to feel "normal," which I hadn't felt probably in over 10 years. And sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

Although dogs are different than us in a lot of ways, they are similar in many too. The correlations you can identify in yourself that apply to a dog's allergic reaction is astounding, especially when you tune in, observe and apply the same logic and treatment you would for your own well-being.

We immediately stopped feeding the dogs the vegan formula and went to a grain-free, ingredient list triple checked formula of Natural Balance. We like the brand and think it is one of the cleanest commercial dog foods out there. Addi and Oli seem to like the new formula, but it will be a number of days before we see if Oli will benefit. Unfortunately, we have to let the inflammation and irritation that the vegan grain-filled formula caused to passe  before we see if this formula will work. Let our error be your learning lesson, just because most of a brand is grain free, make sure you read ALL ingredient labels before you switch flavors. Who knew that a mostly grain-free brand would put grain in a few flavors? Be wary.

We are beside ourselves with how bad Oli is the last few days. But we are hoping with this new formula and the same things we were doing in addition will put him in the right direction of healing again. And if not we will have to do more research and try other things. We are 90% certain that we are dealing with a grain/gluten and flea allergy, which are manageable and lucky for Oli he is now in a home with a lot of experience with food allergies. However, if this doesn't work the next step in my mind is making their food. We all know how important and better homemade and unprocessed is for us, so we shall see, if that is what our sweet boy needs too, then I will do it. We are hoping to get past this horrible, extra inflamed, extra aggravated gut and immune system time the little man is dealing with. We want to see him stop worrying about is discomfort and start playing and being the excited lovable puppy that he is.

Trust your gut when comes to your own health and well-being, as well as your fur babies. Apply the same tactics you would to solving your own aliments, you would be amazed how helpful and necessary it is to the little guys too.