Note: This is a guest post from Shannon, the creator of Alopaw Hawaiian Dog Treats. She contacted me a while ago and offered to send samples to Emmett and Lucas. I was inspired by Shannon’s story about why she founded her company and her cruelty-free products, so I invited her to post about it here! I encourage you to check out her healthy products – the boys just devoured them!
Also, leave a comment on this post finishing this sentence “I keep my pet healthy by…” and you’ll be entered to win a $30 gift certificate for Holistic Select products! (1 entry per person; comments on this post only count as an entry; comments close at 5 pm EST on Friday; winner will be selected through random.org and announced on Monday)
It all started with my little gal Kona. My brother and I adopted her the day after Thanksgiving 2009. She’s a small, black Labrador whose previous owner could no longer care for her. The minute she came into our home we were in love. Quiet, sweet, gentle and beautiful. She was under weight with her little hips and ribs clearly visible, but our family is great at fattening anything up.
As days went by she seemed unlike any other puppy. She didn’t chew on anything, she didn’t make a sound and soon she started not having any energy at all. She wandered around the house rubbing her body along the wall as she went. There was no life in her eyes, she wouldn’t eat, she wasn’t interested in fetching anymore and her mouth hung open. After one extremely bad night spent in the emergency vet and several more trips to her regular veterinarian it was determined that Kona had been born with a congenital condition called a liver shunt.
When a puppy is in the womb, the mother filters everything they receive so their livers are non-operational. Shortly after birth, the shunt, or tube through which the nutrients and blood pass, should close on its own. However, in some breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Irish Wolfhounds and Labrador Retrievers, a congenital defect could exist that prohibits this closure from taking place in some puppies. Food that is ingested by a puppy with a liver shunt goes from the stomach straight into the blood stream without having the toxins filtered out by the liver. The kidneys are also bombarded and because of this become enlarged. Smaller dogs generally have an external shunt, which can be viewed easily and clamped off. Larger dogs, like Kona, have a shunt, or multiple shunts, hidden within the liver. The procedure to correct these involves working with a CAT scan and inserting a coil through the jugular vein. The surgeon then works the coil down through the stomach and into the liver. This new method is far less traumatic to the dog’s system yet still comes with great risk. A second operation is sometimes needed to adjust the coil or insert a smaller one to block off the flow. The procedure must be done within the first year of life. Any longer than that and the medical interventions begin to fail and the liver deteriorates.
For now Kona is on a pretty strict low protein diet, which includes prescription food five times a day. Kona also requires antibiotics and a laxative three times a day to help keep the toxins from creating neurological problems. She goes to UC Davis once a month for a check up and tests, including ultrasounds, to check on her growth and the condition of her liver and kidneys. Because of the shunt, her liver is smaller than it should be while her kidneys are enlarged. This also means that a low phosphate level is needed to keep her kidneys from having to work anymore than they already have to.
On top of the emotional and financial questions an illness like this brings up, what the heck am I supposed to feed a dog that can’t eat meat?! In the bacon and sausage brigade that is your local pet treat aisle, every part of every animal can be smooshed into a pet-palatable shape. Sure, dogs love bacon and peanut butter, even I do, but there has got to be a better way to go about it. Dogs are omnivores, but like their owners can also be vegetarian and vegans, some by choice and others by necessity. The best thing about vegan treats is that everyone can enjoy them, no matter what their dietary need or philosophy requires.
Alopaw treats are cruelty free. Come on, that’s gotta make your heart a little warmer. They are also filled with tons of my favorite things including juicy tropical fruits and farm fresh vegetables, potatoes, rice, all natural creamy peanut butter. This is stuff your mom would be proud of you for eating. I also wanted to provide a product that would be beneficial to my friends’ dogs that suffered from allergies and had a hard time finding healthy treats that catered to their needs. Even if you may not have thought about it before, your dog’s constant chewing of its hind end or feet may be a food-related allergy. Twenty percent of itchy and scratchy dogs have food allergies. The top culprits are beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. Guess what’s not in Alopaw?
Besides gluten not being a natural part of a dog’s diet and something that may cause allergic reactions, may people suffer from celiac disease and cannot come in contact with products that contain it either. Alopaw treats are not only gluten and meat free for the animal’s benefit but for the benefit of their owners as well. Owners should be comfortable serving their pet’s something that they would be comfortable eating themselves. Kona and I personally taste test each batch of our products. Don’t get creeped out. They’re good! Plus they are made from high quality human-grade ingredients. Take a little nibble. I wont tell anyone.