Organic Pet Treats

New Years Eco LassieHappy New Year!

Eco Lassie wanted to share a few reminders with you about foods to avoid for your pets as we start another year.

And she’ll share her the recipe she made for her own Radar this year.

First off, those pesky foods to avoid.

Most people are aware that chocolate in any form is a huge no-no for their dogs, but the toxic list also includes:

avocado, coffee in any form, garlic, macadamia nuts, onions, raisins and grapes, and yeast dough. You should avoid fatty foods for any pet, and xylitol , an artificial sweetener used in some foods.

Another item to avoid is any form of alcoholic beverage. Your dog’s (or cat’s) metabolism just can’t handle alcohol.

But there is a treat you can make for your dog that will have him wagging his tail: his very own dog biscuits made from simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. It does call for oat flour, but you can make your own by putting uncooked oats in either a spice grinder or a food processor.

Sweet potatoes are a really great all-around food, like pumpkin, that dogs tolerate well. In this recipe, you could use either. And you can use beets instead of carrots. Experiment to see which your pet likes or base which to use on what you have on hand. Take a taste if you like!

scottie_Alternate

Eco Lassie made these today and used cookie cutters that look like a scottie dog, (even thought her Radar is an Italian Spinone) and left over dough into into circles and cones.

IMG_0291RadarHere’s Radar waiting for his Scottie dog biscuits to cool!

Here’s the simple recipe for these Oat Biscuits:

1 carrot, grated finely

1 medium sweet potato, steamed in micro and cooled (Eco Lassie used 5 mins at half power but microwaves are different, so you may need to experiment, or bake it instead until soft)

1/4 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

1/8 cup water

1 cup uncooked oats (old-fashioned or instant)

1 cup whole-wheat flour (you can sub all-purpose if you need to)

1 cup oat flour (see note above to grind more oats)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat over to 35o degrees and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients. What could be easier?

Mix and then mash it all together, using your hands to work all the ingredients together. Knead to combine thoroughly. Add a few drops more water if mixture is too dry; if too sticky, add flour by teaspoons until you reach a workable soft dough consistency.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until it’s 1/4″ thick. Go to town using cookie cutters into whatever shapes you like. You can use biscuit cutters for rounds or a simple pizza cutter to make strips or squares. Freehand shapes if you like.

cookie472d150b75a7df2dTransfer to the parchment sheets and bake for 25-30 mins. Check at 25 as ovens vary. They should be golden brown. Let cool completely before sharing with your pup.

These will last a week if stored in an airtight container. Hope you and your pet enjoy these special treats!

Do it for the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees

enviro girlIt’s dandelion season in many parts of the U.S.  If you don’t have a sea of yellow on your lawn yet, you probably will soon.  The temptation is to KILL THEM ALL with POISON POISON HERBICIDE POISON, but Enviro Girl begs you, please reconsider.

That monoculture of a green lawn is very unhealthy for many reasons.  Let’s start with bees.  The poor bees have been decimated in recent years.  One of the reasons is because of chemical poisons people use to kill pests and weeds.  Another reason is because bees require a diversified landscape.  More plants means more biodiversity which benefits insect populations as well as bird populations.  Just as people cannot live well on a diet of only one food, neither can any other creature.  Biodiversity in your backyard benefits many creatures and even helps reduce population imbalances.

To get a stronger sense of how a monoculture destroys biodiversity, click on this link:  Cornstalks Everywhere But Nothing Else, Not Even A Bee.  If you plant only one thing, very few things survive.  Consequently, other things thrive without their natural predators to keep populations in check.  Enviro Girl’s in-laws live within an Iowa cornfield and she can attest to the devastation of planting nothing but corn firsthand.  The mass amounts of black flies and Asian beetles is pretty overwhelming, but with no birds, bats or other insects to eat them, they continue to reproduce unchecked.

Soil and water health also depend upon humans NOT spraying herbicides across their lawns.  Dandelion killer also kills the beneficial fungi and organisms in soil that helps other things, like grass and flowers and earthworms, grow.  There’s no specifically targeted way to eliminate one plant with a broadfield application without somehow damaging other plant life and soil health.  Residual amounts of weedkiller end up washed away into water systems, creating a new set of problems.  According to the EPA, of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, and 23 have the potential to leach.

It stands to reason, then, if weedkiller is bad for the environment, it’s also bad for us people.  Again, let’s check out some EPA facts:

*Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.

*Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weedkiller 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels.  In other words, just because you apply it on the yard and tell kids to stay off your grass, that’s no guarantee you’re keeping children away from the poison.

*This especially gave Enviro Girl pause as she knows of five young people recently diagnosed with leukemia:  A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia by almost seven times.

*Which doesn’t make this tidbit terribly surprising: The U.S. GAO has told Congress on several occasions that the public is misled on pesticide safety by statements characterizing pesticides as “safe” or “harmless.” EPA states that no pesticide is 100 percent safe.

*And if you’ve ever tried to read the label on a lawn care product, this probably doesn’t surprise you AT ALL:  pesticide products are made of an active ingredient and several inert, or other, ingredients. Inert ingredients are neither chemically, biologically nor toxicologically inert. Inerts are not disclosed to the public due to their status as “trade secrets”.  Active ingredients usually comprise only 5% of the actual product; the other ingredients make up the majority of a given pesticide product or formulation.

You can read more scary stuff here.  Enviro Girl’s pretty freaked out right now, aren’t you?

So what SHOULD you do?  Mow the dandelions, endure the two weeks of dandelion season, and do whatever you can to improve your turf (soil health, choice of plants, keep mower blade at least 3 inches off the ground) so other stuff crowds out dandelions trying to take root and thrive.  If you’ve got a small lawn and plenty of time, you can fork ’em out one by one.  But please, pretty pretty please with sugar on top, for the sake of your environment and ours, do not assault your dandelions with weedkillers!

The Cost of Pets on Your Budget

Being a real dog person,Eco Lassie is nuts about her Spinone, Radar, and couldn’t imagine life without his funny face.

But the reality of having a pet in your home goes far beyond the cute factor. There’s the commitment to caring for a member of your family for many years, when they’re young and frisky or older and have issues. There are also varying costs involved that potential pet owners should remember when deciding what pet will round out their family.

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Pet Facts

Christmas Eco LassieEco Lassie hasn’t talked about your pets for a while, so she thought she’d offer some facts you might not know regarding those fuzzy warm things you keep close to you.

Here are a few things to consider:

For instance, did you know that research has shown that pet owners are healthier than non-pet owners?

The NIH has been studying the effects of pet ownership and in particular, one study followed dog owners who’d suffered heart attacks. Regardless of the severity of their heart attack, those who owned dogs were significantly more likely to be living a year later.

a-lot-of-dogs

Another study of married couples owning dogs showed that those with pets of any kind had lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and recovered faster from stressful situations. Maybe having that little kitty to feed or dog to walk was the added impetus?

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And it’s also been well documented that dog owners tend to get more exercise than their sedentary neighbors who don’t won a pooch.Pretty-Dogs-in-Garden-dogs-13905929-120-75

And don’t discount the usefulness of dogs to help scientists find cures for cancer. Dogs have strong genetic similarities to humans, and also get naturally occurring cancers. Dogs respond to chemotherapy much as humans do, too. Since the canine genome has been sequenced, scientists can study which gene mutations are linked to specific cancers.

So don’t be surprised if down the road your friendly vet asks if you would be willing to have your dog’s genetic information analyzed. By participating in these efforts to develop treatment plans which are effective, those approaches can readily be moved into human trials.

Leading to why dogs are often called “man’s best friend.”

Pets in and out of your garden

 Eco Lassie has been following the garden exploits of the rest of you with great interest.  We’ve done a bang up garden this year, with sixteen raised beds, a first, that is giving us a huge bounty. That led to remembering the time we had keeping our pets out of ours in previous years.

 

There’s no question we love our pets and also no question that even the cutest of cats and dogs can trample, dig, crush, tear and leave their little presents in our nice rows of fresh veggies and flowers. What to do that doesn’t mean using the very kind of commercial repellent we’ve been trying to avoid?

Try soaking cotton balls in citrus (or mint or menthol) essential oils and place around the garden perimeter. Many pets are repelled by these scents. You may have to change the balls weekly or after a heavy rain until your pet figures out the garden is a no-go area.

Use rose prunings, if you have them, around the base of larger established plants. Paws, especially those sensitive cat pads, will not relish these thorny clippings and quickly find a new pathway.

The visual image of a barrier works wonders for cats and dogs. Try using floating row covers, which some of you may already by using to prevent insects and birds from feasting on those tasty shoots of budding plants and flowers. Planet Natural has the most reasonable I could find, and there are many other sites that sell the garden material on rolls. You can water and fertilize right through this light, breathable barrier without removing it.

Of course, there ARE some benefits to having our pets near our gardens. Cats will reduce the amount of mice, voles and moles if they are in your area; dogs scent and barking will keep deer and groundhogs at bay, or at the very least, in your neighbor’s yard!

Happy Gardening~