Category: Pet Health

Leaky Gut Part 3 – Diet and Lifestyle Approaches

-Diet is an integral part of any leaky gut protocol!
-Eliminate processed foods, grains, starches and sugars.
-Eat a species appropriate diet (raw being the best choice). Beyond being species appropriate, raw food diets are full of enzymes and are easily digested. They don’t contain processed ingredients, help improve overall health and aid to heal the gut. The next best choice would be freeze-dried or dehydrated foods.

-Try to avoid pesticide-based flea products
-Reduce routine vaccinations by opting for titre testing instead
-Find natural alternatives to anti-inflammatory drugs
-Identify and reduce your pet’s stress
-Avoid antibiotics when possible, but if antibiotic use is a must, rebuild the gut flora with probiotics

Leaky Gut Symptoms – Part 2

As a result of Leaky gut syndrome (for more information on WHAT leaky gut is, read Part 1 on our blog), CJ Puotinen explains, “the liver and kidneys, the body’s main filters, become overwhelmed, and toxins spill over into the bloodstream, which carries bacteria, toxins, and partially digested food particles to muscles and connective tissue throughout the body”…..this makes for a serious state of ill health and disease in the body. From this perspective, and with this knowledge, it is easy to see how so many varying and vast amounts of ailments and conditions can be the result.

Leaky Gut Syndrome has been referred to as the “great mimicker” appearing in the form of MANY chronic diseases/illnesses. In addition to gas, bloating and diarrhea; skin diseases, allergies, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic cystitis (kidney/urinary), arthritis, liver, gall bladder and pancreas diseases, diabetes, behavior problems, including aggression, obsessive compulsive disorder and self mutilation. Over the years we have seen many dogs that chronically harm themselves self by obsessively biting, scratching, and licking themselves. It is my feeling that knowledge about Leaky Gut and what is going on in the body as a result, sheds some light on this previous mystery (of course emotional factors can be a cause too).

Many times, with a change of diet, we have seen many of the above symptoms disappear, and then appear again. Julie Ann Lee says, “a recurring ear infection may clear up then the dog suffers from disorders like hot spots, full blown allergies or hypothyroidism.” The reason for this is that the root of the illness needs to be healed before the body can be completely healed.

The bacteria in the intestinal tract need to be rebalanced/re-populated and inflammation needs to be reduced. The environment needs to be cleaned up. The root cause needs to be repaired. Leakage, damage, and inflammation all need to be eliminated so that the body can heal and rebalance.

Julie Ann Lee says, “your dog’s gut is responsible for more than 70% of their immune system and is directly responsible for digesting all of that amazing food that you are feeding. With an unhealthy gut no amount of raw food or nutrients will support her health and longevity, let alone heal something like an allergy.”

Though leaky gut can be difficult to pinpoint due to its many possible symptoms, it is possible to help! Stay tuned for more on supplements and foods to support and address Leaky Gut Syndrome in part 3 in our next newsletter.

Lee, Julie Anne. Leaky Gut Syndrome. Dogs Naturally Magazine. P 14-17.
Puotinen, CJ. Canine Allergies and Your Dogs Health. Whole Dog Journal. May 2007.

The Safety of Irradiation In Pet Food and Treats

At Tail Blazers we do not approve or carry any food or treats that have been irradiated, also called “ionizing radiation.” To irradiate something means to expose food to a high dose of energy ionizing radiation using Gamma rays, X-rays or electron beam radiation in the attempt to prevent food poisoning by reducing the level of parasites and harmful bacteria; to prevent spoilage by destroying bacteria, moulds and yeast, and to increase shelf life by slowing the ripening of fresh fruits and vegetables. (1) Another goal or irradiation is to kill bugs in product.

The governments of both Canada and the US claim that irradiation is very safe and that it does not change the physical characteristics of food or cause harm. There is A LOT of information out there, and concern, to the contrary, very scary and alarming info!

The deep concerns and questions that I, and many, have with this process are many, including is it safe for pets and people consume? Many studies point to no. There are no studies of the long-term effects of irradiation on the human body or on pet bodies. Irradiation is being tested on laboratory animals in high dose and they have found that lab animals that ate irradiated foods have been documented as having serious health problems including premature death, mutation, reproductive problems, tumours and suppressed immune function (3).

Only certain foods have been approved and are “permitted” to be irradiated in Canada, and those are: onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings.

There are others being evaluated for irradiation approval and those are fresh and frozen ground beef, fresh and frozen poultry, fresh and frozen shrimp, prawns and mangos.

Any imported irradiated food must also be approved for irradiation in Canada and must comply with all relevant regulations, including labelling requirements. Canadian government regulations require all foods processed by irradiation be labeled with an international symbol for irradiation with the words “treated by irradiation”, “treated with radiation” or “irradiated”. This is from the Canadian Produce Marketing Association website (

In Canada, pre-packaged foods which contain more than 10 per cent irradiated ingredients are required to bear this symbol, but those with less than 10 per cent irradiated ingredients don’t need to be labeled. Yikes!

Irradiation in Pet Food


In the United States the list of approved irradiated foods is longer than the Canadian list and includes:

Beef and pork, crustaceans (e.g., lobster, shrimp, and crab), fresh fruits and vegetables, lettuce and spinach, molluscan shellfish (e.g., oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops), poultry, seeds for sprouting (e.g., for alfalfa sprouts), shell Eggs, spices and seasonings

In the United States, irradiated foods must be labeled — except for “multi-ingredient” (read: packaged) foods. So if you’re purchasing spice mixes or other packaged foods which contain more than one ingredient, there’s no easy way to tell if it has been irradiated or not. Luckily, in both Canada and the United States irradiated food does not meet organic standards, so when you eat organic, you know you’re eating non-irradiated!

This is the American irradiation symbol- it looks very “green” and “eco-friendly” to me. Very misleading!

Irradiation in Pet Food and Treats

Irradiation does not kill all bacteria. It kills the majority of the bacteria that causes food borne illness but does not eradicate other waste that can contaminate meat due to unsanitary conditions in slaughterhouses and processing plants. It does not destroy the virus that causes mad cow disease (2). Many argue and wonder, myself included, that instead of jumping to irradiation as a “solution” that we should be cleaning up the way we do things- e.g. slaughterhouses. According to the Centre for Food Safety “Irradiation is an after-the-fact “solution” that does nothing to address the unsanitary conditions of factory farms, and actually creates a disincentive for producers and handlers to take preventative steps in production in handling (4)”.

Does irradiation kill or destroy the nutrients in food? There is concern about the nutritional content of the food being altered and compromised as “the gamma rays break up the molecular structure of the food (7).” Free radicals are produced and react with the food to form new chemical substances called “unique radiolytic products (such as formaldehyde and benzene- a known carcinogen) (7).” Irradiation destroys antioxidants that are necessary to fight free radicals. Radiation is a carcinogen.

According to John Hanselman “during irradiation, cell membranes and DNA strands with in microbes are broken. Chromosomes mutate when broken shards recombine (3).” This then becomes an entirely different product than what was originally intended to be consumed. All without our knowing or the knowing of the effects of this long term.

Along with killing bacteria, I found out that irradiation does nutrition, too. Vitamins A, B1, C, and E are highly sensitive to irradiation (3). I read an article called “Food Safety Concern” on the Centre for Food Safety website that says that irradiation can destroy between 2-95% of the vitamins and nutrients found in a variety of (foods including amino acids and fatty acids). For example, irradiation can destroy up to 80% of the vitamin A in eggs, up to 95% of the vitamin A and lutein in green beans, up to 50% of the vitamin A and lutein in broccoli, and 40% of the beta-carotene in orange juice. Irradiation also doubles the amount of trans fats in beef. Despite 50 years of research, food scientists still do not fully understand how these changes take place.  Much of the ongoing research, in fact, is focused on devising new ways to hide these changes, rather than addressing the cause of the changes themselves (4).

To me, the possibility of nutritional deficiencies being created due to our food being tampered with is more scary and frightening than some bacteria, mould, yeast etc on/in my food. Irradiation can also change the flavour texture and odour of the food.

There is an example of the harmful effects on cats due to consuming an irradiated pet food. Before 2009, Australia required all imported foods to be irradiated coming into the country that include fresh meats or that have been cooked at low temperatures. Irradiated food from Champion Pet Food in Alberta, Canada was sent to Australia as per Australia’s food entry requirements. This caused 90 cats to get very ill and 30 died. No animals that were fed the exact same non-irradiated food in the US and Canada got sick (8). Champion Pet food conducted extensive testing and found that Vitamin A was depleted in the irradiated food up to 77%. This can cause neurological symptoms in cats. They then tested the food at varying levels of irradiation and found that more vitamins were depleted as the levels of irradiation increases. They were also concerned with the formation and release of free radicals. Scary stuff!! In 2009, Australia banned cat food irradiation.

Irradiation in Pet Food

I have also read that almost all of the chicken jerky treats imported from China are irradiated. There have been HUGE issues with chicken jerky treats from China causing many many pet deaths and very serious illnesses.

In addition to the questions about the safety of consuming irradiated foods, there is another public safely issue to take into consideration. The nuclear plants are very dangerous places and accidents and contamination/polluting of the environment do happen and will continue to happen. To me, this is WAY more harmful and frightening than some bacteria in my fruit and veggies! Irradiation kills 95% of the bacteria in food, but not all bacteria are harmful to your health! In a day and age where we are focused on conserving energy this process requires a lot of energy and so much toxicity! Author, Michelle Hancock says irradiation gives the nuclear industry a convenient method of toxic waste disposal (3).” Yikes, again, so scary!

A passion of mine (in addition to nutrition and nature/the environment) is gut health. Irradiation wipes out the good bacteria as well as the harmful ones that we need for great health/great immunity. These good bacteria curb the growth of dangerous bacteria and according to Nate Curtis (3) produce an odour that indicated food spoilage. Nature is so amazing- of course it has an amazing process to take care of itself/ourselves. With irradiation, this process is eradicated. I find it so scary and absurd that “the nuclear industry” needs to be called in to keep us “safe” when nature has a built in process to do this. In many places I read that there is a chance that bacteria can survive the irradiation process and can mutate and become radiation- resistant. Again, I marvel at the intelligence of nature!

As previously mentioned the human industry has laws in place to indicate to the consumer when a product has been irradiated. A very scary fact is that there are no laws that require pet food to be labeled as irradiated (9)!! This is why we ask manufacturers and will not approve, nor carry products in the stores that have been irradiated.

According to John Hanselman, other methods besides irradiation can be used to control bugs such as temperature treatments and stricter cleanliness standards. GSE, or Grapefruit seed extract is a natural product that some of the stores carry) and can be purchased in health food stores that can kill these “undesirables” in food with out harmful and toxic affects on the body and to the environment. Vegetables and fruit can be washed with a few drops of GSE and the same goes for meat. GSE can be used with meat as well.

Many might be surprised to know, that the worlds largest irradiating centre is right here in Canada! The company that owns it is a New Jersey company located in Whitby, Ontario.

I could go on and on and on, this is just scratching the surface on this issue, but I will leave my findings and concerns here for now. It is my feeling, as well as the feeling of others, that we are not getting the whole truth from those that are proponents of irradiation and that nature can take care of herself (with the assistance and support of the wonderful human beings that support her) if given the chance.


Written by Tamara Low
Co-founder of Tail Blazers


Sources include:
1. (Wendy Priesnitz)
2. (Nate Curtis)
3. (Michelle Hancock)
5. things-you- need- to know/
6. (John C. Hanselman)
7. (Excerpted from the Food & Water report “Meat Monopolies: Dirty Meat and the False Promises of Irradiation” by Susan Meeker-Lowry and Jennifer Ferrara)

Government Websites:


10 Steps to Whole Health for Your Pet

At Tail Blazers we recognize that although diet is one of the most important choices you can make for your pets, we also know that there are many other factors that contribute to a healthy and happy pet. Here are 10 of them!
1. Healthy Diet – Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make for your pets is what to feed them. It’s important to choose a diet free of species inappropriate ingredients like wheat, corn and soy. Their diet should also be free of chemicals; artificial preservatives, flavours, and colours; by-products, BHA and BHT, and more.

There are so many healthy options available now in the form of dry, canned, dehydrated, cooked, and raw foods (listed from most processed to least) the choices can be overwhelming. Variety is so important so why not mix and match your options?

Visit our website and use the ingredient dictionary to find out what’s in your pet’s food and treats.

Nature's Variety Food
2. Vitamin Supplementation – When accompanied with a healthy diet, a daily multi-vitamin can be beneficial to prevent disease and increase life span just like it does for people. Many foods lose nutrients through cooking, making them harder to digest and harder for the body to utilize remaining nutrients.

There are also supplements that can help with specific health concerns like arthritis and joint degeneration, skin problems, allergies, and more. These supplements can increase your pet’s comfort level and lead to a higher quality of life.

Sea Meal contains 60 trace minerals, 12 vitamins, 22 amino acids, digestive enzymes, and flaxseed meal


3. Active Lifestyle – Daily activity is a must for pets of all sizes and breeds. Large breed dogs require about 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day, smaller breeds requiring 20-30 minutes a day.

Visiting dog parks, competitive dog sports, or a game of fetch are great ways to become active with your dog. Using interactive toys and providing climbing surfaces for cats can help indoor cats get their much-needed exercise.

Daily physical activity reduces unwanted behaviour, manages weight, reduces stress and anxiety, and combats disease.

Dog Exercising

4. Plenty of Mental Stimulation – Many working breeds such as border collies and terriers are now regularly seen inside the home as pets. When working breeds are unable to do the jobs they are bred to do, they can sometimes become stressed and destructive.

There are many problem solving and treat dispensing toys on the market now for both cats and dogs. These toys can keep your pet busy for hours, giving them some form of mental stimulation.

Ideally, if you have a working breed like a border collie, enroll them in a herding class. Tracking is a great sport for scent hounds like bloodhounds. There are a large variety of training classes that you can enroll your dog into to keep them learning!

Busy Buddy Treat Dispensers

5. Annual Check-Ups – Regular Vet visits help with early detection of tooth and gum disease. Your Vet will also do a thorough check for lumps and bumps, monitor your pet’s weight, and check your pet’s heart health.
6. Reduced Vaccinations– Up until recently, yearly vaccinations were recommended for dogs and cats. Now most Veterinarians recommend vaccine boosters every three years.

To prevent over-vaccination, many vets are now performing annual titers instead of regular vaccines. Titers measure levels of immune deficiencies with a simple blood test and should replace yearly boosters.

If your pet does require a booster, ask if they can be separated into single shots with only the antigens required instead of combo shots (cover numerous diseases with one injection) that may be unnecessary and hard on the body.

7. Dental Health – Over 80% of our pets are suffering with some form of gum disease. Gum disease can lead to more serious problems such as heart disease and tooth mobility. Gum disease can be prevented with daily brushing, healthy diet, and safely chewing on harder, chewable items such as raw bones. Pets should always enjoy chewing under your direct supervision.

Healthy Dog Teeth

8. Regular Grooming – Professional grooming prevents painful matting; reduces skin irritations, shedding, and hairballs; reduces allergic reactions in people and the likelihood of parasites and fungi. Groomers often find injuries and lumps that were previously undetected. Grooming is an essential, and often overlooked, part of your dog and cat’s whole health plan.
9. Chemical-Free Living Environment – Scented candles, harsh chemical cleaning solutions, cigarette smoke, etc, can all be harmful to the immune system. Using earth and pet friendly products will be better for both you and your pet!
10. Stress-Free Living Environment – A home with tension between human inhabitants or inhabitants of the furry variety can lead to stress in your pet. There can often be tension between animals in a multiple pet household that we don’t even know about.Stree free kittyWith cats you may notice a new habit of urinating or defecating outside of the litter box. With dogs you may notice excessive licking or other nervous behaviours. In homes with active children, ensure your pet has a place to go that only he is allowed to frequent like a crate set up in a low traffic area of the home.Whole health for your pet is not dependant only on one or two of these components, but on all of them! Ensure you do the best you can to give your pet the opportunity to reach their full potential and live a long, healthy life!

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for regular veterinary care. Adoptable animals are posted as a courtesy; Tail Blazers is not affiliated with any specific shelter or rescue.

Allergy Help for Your Dog

Guest Post from Dorcas Giesbrecht with Holistic Mutt services.

Dog with AllergyUsually by the time I see a dog all kinds of mainstream methods have been tried. The dog’s skin is usually red and itchy, and there is hair loss. The dog frequently chews at their feet and they paw their face. Chronic ear infections or diarrhea can also be reasons for a visit. Anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics may have been given many times to treat the symptoms, but the problem keeps coming back and getting worse. This is a typical allergically reactive dog.

From a holistic point of view, the dog’s living terrain, which is the body itself has been under siege and because of this the immune system spirals out of balance and produces symptoms that make the dog miserable. Owners assume that their dog will be stuck with allergies for life, because this tends to be the outcome when allergy cases are not approached from a holistic perspective. My experience has been different and I feel there is a lot we can do, but I think differently about allergies. I focus on a disturbed immune response being the cause.
In allergic reactivity, the immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances as threats and responds to them in a way that causes damages to tissues such as the skin. From the holistic perspective, to return a dog to wellness the approach to healing must be to support the disturbed immune system, to track back to the sources of stress that caused the disturbance, and to minimize or remove them altogether.

I offer a multifaceted approach and follow a plan that is individualized for your dog. It is important that you understand how your pet’s immune system is producing the problem. In order to re-balance the immune system it is important to identify what kind of emotional, environmental or other types of stressors your dog may be dealing with and what can be done to reduce or remove them. Relentless discomfort can also place additional stress on your pet and this must be addressed with non-invasive remedies that do not suppress the immune system but encourage it to improve.
Nutrition is the keystone for maintaining wellness and it is very important to put your dog on an unprocessed diet since food is the best way to support the body. There are many wonderful new foods available that can help support your dog’s overall health. It is the single most important thing we can do for their wellness. I take further steps to help figure out which foods, if any, your pet may be sensitive to. I use bioenergetic assessment to identify which foods may be triggering an inflammatory response. Bioenergetic assessment is non-invasive and helps detect changes in the energy field and provides us with clues to help identify the underlying stressors.

It is important to support digestive function with probiotics because a well-functioning GI tract has a profound effect on a healthy immune system. These supplements help to balance the GI tract in the short run and support its efforts to re-balance itself in the long run.Dog with Allergies
Overall the goal is to support your dog’s body become more self-sufficient for the long term, rather than prop it up in the short run. When harmony exists between the innerbody and the outer environment the body enjoys an ideal state of wellness.

Dorcas Giesbrecht MASc is a 15 year member of the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants. She has her Masters of Applied Science in Holistic Nutrition. In 2007 she trained as a Registered Holistic Allergist with The Institute of Natural Health Technologies. In the spring of 2009 she completed training in Auricular Therapy with Dr. M. Adams N.D. to help both pets and their people in her holistic practice. Dorcas has also taken classes in Healing Touch for Animals and Animal Communication. In 2012 she studied Acupressure for Animals with Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute. In the late summer of 2013 she will also be offering Chinese Tui Na Massage as she expands her practice. Call her to ask how these healing modalities can help your pet with improved health.

The Artemis Centre
1922-12th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB