Thursday, October 9, 2014

Supplements galore, what I use and why

So over the years I've used a number of supplements for variety of reasons on both Uno and Indy. I do have a habit of experimenting on myself when it comes to things like vitamins and protein shakes, but I decided long time ago that with my dogs, I will not use it unless I see a need for it. 

Here's a good example what I use in conjunction with a raw diet right now between 2 dogs. 

1) Mush Medicinal Mushroom Blend

After discovering couple benign lipomas on Uno last year, I decided to do more research on natural anti-tumor alternatives. They are small enough at this point, where they don't affect his movement or function in any way. Medicinal Mushrooms have been around for centuries and have potent immune boosting properties, particularly anti-cancer and anti-tumor. There are several resources online including studies done on golden retrievers with hemangiosarcomas and using just mushroom therapy to significantly improve and extend their lifespan. I'm hoping that by using this supplement, it could potentially prevent the growth of cancer cells since mast cell tumors are common in weims. I will continue to monitor and aspirate his lumps early to make sure they are not malignant. One thing that I noticed since adding this supplement, his lipomas remained the same size and have not grown in the last 7 months. In addition, he's become a lot perkier and does a lot more zoomies around the house when I come home. We still regularly go on 10-12 mile hikes with no issues. 

2) Turmeric Powder
This is another supplement I started incorporating into Uno's diet after discovering the lumps. Recent studies indicate that this powerful plant contains strong anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-cancer properties.  Many people use it to treat arthritis in dogs and horses with results evident within a week of use! It can also be used topically on tumors by making a Golden Paste
As of now, I am doing a rotation between mushrooms and turmeric with a week break in between each supplement. I haven't noticed huge differences with this supplement, other than no new growth in tumors. One downside I noticed is that it does make dog's skin smell a bit like pee. 

3) Olewo Beets and Carrots

So, as I mentioned before, I'm not a strict MPR nazi feeder, I believe in variety and while my dogs' meals are 95% meat based, I do add some vegetation of additional vitamins or as a treat. I do believe that certain vegetables and berries when processed can provide benefits to dogs including antioxidants and vitamins not found in raw food. Second reason for feeding veggies is that I don't always have access to grass fed meats,, therefore, they will naturally be deficient in vitamins/minerals, omega 3's, etc. 
This is a cool little company out of Germany that produces high quality dehydrated beets and carrots. You might ask, why not just give my dog raw carrots or beets? There's nothing wrong with either of those, but unless they are processed in some way, dogs can't extract much nutrients out of them. 

I dont use this supplement daily, maybe 1-2 times a week, mostly as a tasty treat that's also filling and beneficial. Uno is prone to counter surfing and when I give this to him before bed, it keeps his satiated until morning and prevents hunger pukes. 
The beets are high in antioxidants and really help Indy's seasonal allergies, not to mention they smell delicious! I also like to use it as a low fat "filler"treat for Uno, it's helped a lot with his weight management. 

4) Prudence Absolute Immune Health 
This particular supplement is just a high potency pro/prebiotic that I keep on hand. I don't use it daily, usually only when the dogs are having stomach upsets for whatever reason. There's no harm in using it daily, I just find that if I use it in conjuction with raw, the food digests very quickly and Uno ends up with gurgly stomach and eating grass. 

5) Body Boost Colostrum

Colostrum is the first "milk" produced by all mammals when they give birth. "Colostrum contains a rich array of nutrients, including growth factors, lipidic and glucidic factors, oligosaccharides, antimicrobials, cytokines and nucleosides. This substance introduces the newborn to over 95 different compounds that balance and stabilize the immune system. It also brings in eight growth factors that promote normal cell growth, DNA synthesis, fat utilization and increased mental acuity.

There's been growing evidence about the benefits of colostrum for immuno compromised individuals as well as pets. Indy, the wiener dog has pretty severe seasonal allergies, for some odd reason, it only takes one walk or one flea bite to set off an itching frenzy that lasts through the night. Since adding colostrum along with Biologic Vet Skin/Coat  (see later), his allergies subsided by 90%. I will say that make sure to introduce it slowly since it can be little heavy on sensitive stomachs. First time I gave him a teaspoon, it gave him the runs, so I cut back to 1/2 teaspoon and now he's up to 3/4 with no issues. 

6) DogZymes Ultimate

This is something that I dont use daily, but rotate with the norwegian kelp instead since they both have similar benefits of providing trace minerals and vitamins for the dog. 
I really like the company and their no- nonsense approach to supplements for pets. It's also very palatable because it contains parmesan cheese and smells yummy even to me! 
I use it for the same reason I use the beets/carrots, to help fill in some nutritional gaps in raw diet. 

7) Dogzymes Organic Norwegian Kelp

I'm a big fan of seaweed, not only for myself but for the doggies as well. It contains a great variety of minerals and vitamins from a single plant source ( Ascophyllum nosodum). I notice a difference in dogs coats when I dont use it as well as in grass eating habits. Uno still grazes time to time, but not as often as when I add the kelp. I prefer to give the dogs their vitamins from whole food sources and it's a great (and inexpensive) way to do it. 

8) BiologicVet Bio Skin & Coat

I stumbled across this supplement while trying to find a natural way to manage Indy's allergies. This particular supplement is made by a small company in Canada and is NASC certified (not a lot of animal supplements are). Basically, its a natural benadryl. It contains a variety of anti-inflammatory ingredients including biotin, zinc, vitamin c, quercetin, MSM, grape seed extract and more. 
I noticed a huge difference since using this supplement, no more red blotches on the stomach and hot spots. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper than spending money at the vets on steroids and antibiotics. 

9) Ultra Oil

Last but not least: Ultra oil. I actually rotate between various fish oils including salmon and pollock, but decided to give this a shot and I really like it!. The big difference with this particular blend is that it's a mix between fish and hempseed oil, so it provides a more balanced ratio of omega 3-6-9's.  I've noticed that the dogs' coats are better on this product than salmon oil I used previously. 

That's all for today, I need to take more up to date pictures of the beasties since Uno has dropped couple lbs and looks better each day :) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Picky eaters are made, not born (and what we're doing wrong as dog owners)

So one of the challenges that I experienced working in pet retail is dealing with customers who have picky eaters (usually small dogs). According to the owners, they have tried every gourmet dog food on the market and they have to go an extra mile for their dog to eat the meal such as putting shredded chicken on top and canned sardines.

Of course the first thing I ask them is what brands they have tried because their idea of premium food includes brands like Science Diet and Beneful. Since we get an abundance of free samples from our distributors, I offer several difference ones, along with raw food and freeze dried samples. I can't count how many times the customer has bought a 5 lb bag of one brand and after about a week, the dog decides it doesn't want it anymore, so they come back for more samples or try to return a half used bag. From what they tell me is that the dog is excited about new food for the first few days and slowly starts losing interest. Because they don't want the dog to starve, they start falling back on old habits of adding toppers like chicken to the kibble. Eventually the dog learns that the human can be manipulated and will push their limits to see what they can get away with.

Here's my take on picky eaters and why this is such an ongoing problem.

 Unless the dog is sick, they should eat everything that is offered to them. I have no tolerance for picky eaters because most are made, not born. Growing up, I've encountered a lot of stray dogs where I lived and I know that they'll eat anything, including roadkill and rotten food thats been out in the sun for a while. Hunger is a strong force that most companion animals don't have to deal with, especially in this country.

1) OVERFEEDING. In my experience the feeding recommendations on the bag are highly exaggerated. For example, when Uno was on kibble, most brands recommend that I'd feed him 3-3.5 cups a day for his weight. At that rate, he would be morbidly obese. He never got more than 2 cups a day total of his grain free kibble. If your dog is snubbing it's meal, cut back the food amount, for a larger dog, it could be as much as by 1 cup, for smaller dogs 1/4-1/2 cup per day, depending on dog's size and brand of food.
If the dog is slightly underfed during one meal, they should eat their next one with gusto.

2) TREATS. If you have a picky eater, cut out all the treats from the diet. People don't realize, but treats are very high in calories and giving 2-3 a day can fill a dog up and pack on extra weight. I recommend reading a book called Chow Hounds  by Ernest Ward, he gives some examples of popular treats on the market and how it's equivalent of us eating 3 packs of twinkies between meals. Then we wonder why the dogs won't eat their regular meals. Especially with small dogs, it takes nothing to fill them up. One milk bone and that can be an entire meal replacement for the day.

One of my pet peeves is people who humanize their dogs. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about taking good care of your pets and being a responsible owner. Uno is very well taken care of if I may say so myself. He gets the best food, regular vet care, exercise and attention. With that said, I do not consider him my baby. Anatomically and psychologically children and dogs are on the opposite ends of spectrum. Essentially dogs are wolves in sheeps clothing. They have been around us long enough to somewhat adapt to our lifestyles but their biological needs have remained unchanged. One of the major differences is the amount of physical activity along with mental stimulation wolves and other canids experience in the wild.
They spend considerable amount of time traveling, running, tracking prey, hunting and eating compared to domesticated dogs. We've taken a wild animal and put it into an artificial environment expecting them to evolve in a short period of time and completely disregarding their need for activity, both physical and mental.

One of the questions I get asked on daily basis " Do you have any indestructible toys or chews that last a long time". Why? because the dog is tearing up the house. Instead I ask them "How much exercise per day does the dog get? What about training?". In most cases, just a short walk and letting them out in the yard.

I always tell them the same thing, toys and treats are just a band-aid for a problem. Your dog is simply bored. They need to run, chase, explore, sniff, dig, wrestle. Dogs are not meant to live in tiny apartments and get walked twice a day for 15 mins. They are not meant to be carried around in a purse or pushed in a stroller while wearing a tutu and nail polish.

Let dogs be dogs. Engage them, play with them. There are so many things we can do as pet owners that strengthen the bond between us and our pets. Go hiking, swimming, biking together. Your dog will appreciate it so much more than being fussed over with food and treats. Tired dogs are happy dogs, and also hungry dogs. When I used to work as a pet-sitter, I noticed that those dogs that wouldn't normally touch the food, ate it vigorously after 45-60 mins of walking and playing off leash.

So there you go, if you have a picky pup, try these tips and see what happens.

* Disclaimer: Don't force your dog to eat a poor quality food found in grocery stores which can result in issues like intestinal problems (upset stomach can cause food avoidance), diabetes (don't skip meals with diabetic dogs) and kidney problems (dogs with kidney failure often refuse food due to nausea).

Find a high quality food, whether its dry, canned, dehydrated or raw and stick with it. Feel free to rotate between flavors and protein, nobody likes eating the same thing day after day. Variety is the spice of life. If you feed kibble, add some fresh food few times a week by cutting back on the kibble amount. Your dog should still eat the dry on its own, its not to encourage pickiness, but to add some fresh whole foods to the existing diet.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Uno's Diet Journey Part I

So, I think Uno has officially hit his senior years. It started with a graying muzzle few years ago, he's gotten calmer. One thing I've struggled with is keeping his weight in check. It seems like the last couple years his metabolism has dropped pretty drastically. He's had a full blood panel including a thyroid check and the vet everything looked normal (even though I know thyroid results may not always be accurate).

He eats less than the recommended amount for his weight, about 16-18 oz a day split into 2 meals, very few treats and an occasional bully stick. He gets walked about 1.5 hours a day and we go on 5-6 mile hikes on weekends (although I havent done so in couple months due to heat). Despite all this, he doesn't seem to lose the weight around midsection. Whats interesting is that looking from the top, he's got a nice hourglass shape, you can see the outline of his rib cage when he walks and there's no fat over the ribs when I palpate it.

Couple days ago, a rep left me couple bottles of a weight loss supplements for dogs. I generally avoid these things because I think they are gimmicky and same thing can be accomplished with food restriction and increased exercise. I was concerned about the ingredients which include garcinia cambogia and green tea. She assured me that they have done extensive testing on the supplement and its even NASC certified.

I decided to give it a try because he's never had issues with any supplements and it might help reduce the size of his lipomas since they are partially linked to dietary fat consumption.

This is the supplement

I took couple pics of the old man today, and we'll be trying the supplement for a month and then do a follow up post with results.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bumps, lumps and lipomas..

Since finding couple lumps on Uno (all benign ), I've been super vigilant about his health. The breed is super prone to lipomas, so genetics play a huge role. With that said, I believe that diet is a strong contributing factor when it comes to these lumps.
Uno has been on raw for about 5 years now, part of it was 50/50 with kibble due to space and budget restrictions. Since I've been working at the store, I have access to some grass fed ground meat sources that I take advantage of, so he's been on full raw since then.

Overall his health is good, he's always been a lazy bum and sleeps on the couch when I'm gone during the day. He doesn't have any joint issues or stiffness and I haven't noticed his endurance decline during the walks/hikes either. I believe that raw diet is one of the main reasons for this, he gets a lot of natural glucosamine/chondroitin from turkey necks, tracheas and duck/turkey feet and I supplement with fish oil daily.

I've been doing a lot of reading on lipomas/mast cell and cancer in general. Most holistic blogs/articles strongly encourage raw diet. The reasoning behind lipomas is lymphatic stagnation due to chemical overload.

It kind of sounds like a load of bull, but it makes sense as well. The initial lumps popped up literally overnight after a took Uno to the vet for his senior blood work. 2 things happened: he was given a sedative which left him drowsy for 2 days. He was also put on prozac for his anxiety issues (he's no longer on it). Within couple days, I find these lumps.

When I checked with the vet, she assured me that it was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with the meds. He was on them for about 3 weeks and since I haven't noticed much of an improvement with his fear issues, I stopped.

Since then, he's been on milk thistle for couple months, along with turmeric powder.

Right now we're doing this "cleanse" based on a recommendation from 3 little pitties.

 He's tolerated it with no issues and I will continue until I run out of the pills, then probably take a break for couple months.

Since starting the supplement, I have not noticed much of a decrease in his lumps, but they haven't grown either. Another supplement I've added is called CAS resources, its a medicinal mushroom blend along with coenzyme Q 10 and few other vitamins. It's generally used for dogs going through cancer treatment and contains strong immune boosting properties. Once we run out, I'll switch over to a similar supplement called Fungi Perfecti Mush, since it's basically the same thing, but better value.

I have noticed that since using this supplement, he's a lot perkier and more alert, in any regard, it can't hurt and I think it'll benefit him long term.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The ultimate treat search

So I'm always on the lookout for some great dog treats, I'm excited when I get a chance to test things out that I get from work, but I must admit that Uno put on 2-3 lbs since I started the job and I've scaled back on the treats and bully sticks and increased his exercise. 

Lately I've been researching various grain free options, I'm not opposed to feeding a grainy biscuit once in a while, but they are not my favorite due to high carb content and the dogs aren't super crazy about them. 
Since the grain- free has become the latest trend, there's an abundance of grain free treats on the market, unfortunately most are loaded with peas or potatoes which isn't always better than some grains. 

I usually use 2 types of treats, training and "goodbye" treats. Training treats are usually small, meat based and low calorie. Goodbye treats is a more baked biscuit type of treat thats larger in size and may contain few other ingredients but still be primarily made of meat. I call them that because when I leave the house, Uno gets depressed, so I tell him to go on his bed and when he does, I'll pet him and give him a treat before I head out the door. Its a little ritual we have. 

I find that most dehydrated meats like liver are pretty pricey. I actually found a good deal on amazon the other day, so I stocked up. (if anyone is interested)

So here are few of my new favorites:

1) Lakse Kronch
So, hands down these are the best training treats I have found. They are made with 2 ingredients, salmon and fish meal. Simple grain free, super smelly and little greasy, but the dogs go absolutely nuts for these. They are made in Denmark which is an added bonus. Downside, they are very hard to come by. I used to get them through a specialty store, but can no longer find it locally.I found it through Clean Run, its $12 for 28 oz bag which is a great value.

2) Wild Cravings
While I'm not crazy about the P&G Natura buyout, I will still buy these treats. I like these for few reasons. They can be either used as an everyday treat or be broken up into smaller pieces for training. They have an interesting texture, almost like those tea biscuits, light and airy. I also like the fact that they are made up of no  nonsense ingredients, yet still grain free and high protein. Great for dogs on raw diet. Right now I'm using the turkey and chicken formula which is 47% protein. 
Turkey, chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, potatoes, herring meal, chicken fat, natural flavors, egg, apples, carrots, tomatoes, cottage cheese, dried chicory root, and vitamins and minerals.

They also make a Herring and Red Meat Formulas which look equally as good. I've mainly been using these as goodbye treats, just 1-2 a day when I leave for work since Uno is on a diet. Retail for $9-10 for a 20 oz bag. 

3) Innova Prime Health Bars

Another treat I like from Natura, these ones have little more "filler", but a nice alternative to a traditional grain heavy treat. 

Beef, Peas, Lamb Meal, Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, a Source of Vitamin E), Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Sprouts, Apples, Carrots, Cottage Cheese, Flaxseed, Vitamins and Minerals. 
These treats are 36% protein and are great for dogs who prefer crunchy treats. I dont use them for training because they are too hard to break up. Retail around $11-12 for 26 oz

4) Real Meat Treats

I don't use these often because they are kind of pricy, but Uno absolutely flips for them and I've actually tasted one myself, and they are not half bad. I came across these at TJ Maxx out of all places (they have a pretty great pet selection if you've never been). They were only $2.99 a bag so I got one to test out. I think they normally retail for $6-7 for a 4 oz pouch. They come in several protein sources like chicken, lamb, beef and venison and are 25% protein 
Venison, chicory, lecithin, sea salt, mixed tocopherols, garlic

5) Plato EOS

So I found these ones through work, they are simple, grain free/potato free treats that are semi hard and a mix between crunchy and crumbly. I use these as goodbye treats and they are great for dogs with sensitive stomachs since it has 2 formulas with sweet potatoes or pumpkin in it. 

Turkey, pumpkin, salt, zinc propionate, mixed tocopherols (preservative), citric acid, 

rosemary extract, vitamin E supplement, Vitamin C.
They come in a 12 oz bag and retail for $11-12. Protein- 30%

6) Pure Buffalo Lung Steaks
Last but not least, we have some stinky animal parts(honestly, they dont smell worse than liver treats). So I found these through work and they are definitely a huge hit with a dog. Few cool things about these treats. First, they are cheap! you can get them for $3.80 through Value Pet Supplies for an 8 oz bag. It doesn't seem like a big bag, but these are air dried, so the bag is actually pretty big and there are probably 10-12 large chunks in there. Best part, you can break them up into smaller pieces, so these are perfect for training. It contains only one ingredient, buffalo lung, which are perfect for dogs with allergies or those on raw diet who want to stick with meat based treats. They also come from grass-fed, free range buffalo which nice and are not greasy. The only reservation I have is that they are made in India. I personally don't have an issue with it, but I understand that others may. 

That is all folks, test these out, let me know how your pups like them, until next time!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Raw.. why make it more complicated than it is?

So one of my biggest gripes of working in a pet boutique is convincing people that raw is the way to go. Sometimes the only way if their dog (or cat) has chronic health issues. The biggest obstacle I face is convincing people that it's not difficult to feed raw once you get into a routine. We only sell pre-made raw such as primal, bravo, steve's, blue ridge beef, etc. Most of the raw comes in evenly formed nuggets or patties, all you have to do is thaw and serve. It's not like you have to spend hours chopping up or grinding cuts of meat or be elbow deep in smelly tripe or liver. Yet, people still sigh and groan and tell me that it's too hard and they don't have time for it. If my dog was suffering from diabetes, allergies, hot spots, whatever, I would go out of my way to make sure that he has the best quality of life and not having to rely on drugs to keep his symptoms under control. I had someone call me yesterday asking what I recommended for Colitis, I told her either raw or dehydrated like honest kitchen supplement with enzymes/probiotics and slippery elm. She said that she didn't want to deal with it and wanted to find a kibble because it was more convenient.

When did convenience become a way of life for us? I think this society has become so mechanical and fast paced, and we expect to have everything handed to us on a golden plate. It's probably more convenient to feed your child fortified cereal every day, but is it the best for them? common sense dictates not.

The longer I feed Uno raw, the more I become convinced that it's an ideal diet for a canine. The feedback that I've gotten from customers that switch their pets to a raw diet has been nothing but positive. Whatever little negative feedback we've gotten has been from people not transitioning properly or having their vet tell them that it's bad (putting them back on steroids and prescription garbage that caused issues to begin with).

The best way I try to break it down to people is to think in terms of cooking meals for themselves vs eating processed out of a box or bag concoction. When I make breakfast in the morning for myself, my dog get's his fresh food. I also tell them about the happy dance, the cleaner teeth, and much less elimination. A lot of times, that alone is convincing enough. Nobody likes picking up big mushy piles of kibble crap.

It's going to be an uphill battle, but the more people I can convince to feed raw, the better I feel about what I do for a living. It's satisfying knowing that you've made a difference in the health and life of a pet.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Novelty of Change

Few things have been on my mind lately in regard to various aspects of dog ownership including nutrition, spay/neuter and training. Many of these have been prompted by reading a book by Ted Kerasote called Pukka's Promise. If you're not familiar with a book, it's about a man on a quest to find a new dog with the best genetic variation and background and incorporate newest research in regard to nutrition, vaccines, spay/neuter protocols, etc in order to keep his dog Pukka at his healthiest and extend his life. 

Overall, I liked the book. For me personally, it was a reassurance about a lot of things I already incorporate when it comes to pet ownership. There were few things that I didn't agree on was letting the dog roam unsupervised. The author felt that because he lived in a remote area and the dog was wearing a GPS collar, Pukka would be safe. Keeping him indoors would be depriving him of all life's pleasures. I'm glad he has such a sunny perception on the world, but the reality is far from idyllic. The dog could get poisoned, shot, become victim of a trap or another wild animal, or get hit by a car. He can still have his dog off leash when he goes out hunting/hiking, but I think it's very irresponsible to let the dog roam unattended. 

I did feel that in certain areas he was being a bit excessive, such as only buying natural toys and sending each one to the lab to have it tested for toxins/heavy metals. I suppose if my dog has a favorite toy that he was always chewing on, I would try to find out the exact methods and ingredients used in manufacturing it. Uno is not a mouthy dog and he does have several stuffed animals I call his "babies" that he sleeps with. It is possible that some of them contain trace levels of chemicals? possibly, but I'm not going to get worked up over it. I'm sure that the clothes I wear and bedding I sleep on contain the same chemicals. I can't afford to go organic in every area of my life, it's just not permissible. 

One chapter I found really fascinating was the research done on the spay/neuter. It's definitely one of those grey areas that require much consideration. The are pros and cons to this debate, although I felt that he hit the nail on the head. Just like with nutrition, we rarely question the motives of vets when it comes to our pets well being. We are programmed to think that having one approach is the only way to do it right, which isn't always the case. Here in U.S, a lot of emphasis is placed on aggressive spay/neuter campaign. It's almost never questioned whether it has any long term health affects on the animals because in most cases are are no obvious side-effects to these procedures. Vets fail to make a connection between the rise of disorders like cancer, allergies, joint problems and sterilization. He brought up an interesting observation in regard to dogs in Europe and the fact that most pets are not altered over there.When he interviewed the owners, it appears that the reason their euthanasia rates are so low along with the stray population is because people are far more responsible as a whole. They know that the female dogs go into heat twice a year, so they keep their dogs inside. I will say that I was born and raised in Eastern Europe until the age of 12 when I moved to U.S. This sense of community responsibility is not evenly distributed throughout Europe. A lot of countries still struggle with inequality, poverty and corrupt governments. When people are preoccupied with meeting basics needs such as proving food for their children or being able to afford proper medical care, they are not going to be as concerned about their animals. Countries with better economy and healthcare system such as Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands just to name a few have the resources and time to do so. 

I remember few years back I went to Netherlands (aka Holland) for couple weeks. Few things that I observed that absolutely floored me.
1) I did not see any stray dogs on the streets in that 2 week period, zero. 
2) There were a lot of dogs, but they all had owners. Since most people get around by biking, many dogs would run next to the owners bike, unleashed. When the bike stopped at the light, they stopped. They paid no attention to other dogs or animals and just stayed alongside their owners. 
3) I went to a local park and while there was no fenced in area for dogs, there was a large grassy knoll where all dogs played together, no bickering, no fights, no fences. 
4) It was really cool to see rotties, dobermans and weimaraners with full tails and ears. 

The average work day for a Dutch person is a mere 30.6 hours a week! It appeared to me that less stress and more free time led to happier and well-adjusted humans and dogs. Obviously, it's not as realistic to have same expectations due to difference in cost of living/salaries, etc. With that said, I think we can all incorporate some of the stress-reduction techniques to our lives, regardless where we live. 

I think U.S has a long way to go in regard to animal welfare laws and reducing euthanasia rates. One of the biggest challenges is the sheer number of people living in this country and discrepancy between various laws and regulations that vary state to state and city to city. It's very hard to have a united goal in mind with so much diversity in beliefs and values. To some people, dogs are family, to others they are nothing short of a lawn ornament. Until people get on the same page, things are unlikely to change. People here seem lack the sense of civic pride and responsibility that other countries embrace. I hate to say it, but I feel that it has a lot to do with too much cultural diversity. People tend to be set in their way based on how they were raised. If dogs are neglected and abused and it's considered a norm in certain countries, that same mentality will be passed on to future generation. Regardless, culture does not equal cruelty. I think to justify abuse based on these factors is just an excuse for being a shitty human being. 

Not to make this blog too lengthy, I will save the part two for another time. Until then.