Ema the Pumpkin Spice Princess

It’s Pumpkin Season For Pets!

We might all get tired of Pumpkin Spice everything, but the common pumpkin is healthy and beneficial for cats and dogs in lots of different ways.

I have a few go to things in my arsenal that I suggest for dogs who have sensitive stomachs, food intolerances, leaky gut or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Tops on that list? Plain old pumpkin, a food that has an almost magical range of benefits for dogs with stomach issues.

Pumpkin is rich in fibre, and low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, and it’s a good source of Vitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. A 2010 study in the “International Journal of Pharmacology” shows that pumpkin contains powerful antioxidants – compounds that protect cells from free radicals, and help the body to fight immune disease. This same study shows that Pumpkin acts as an anti inflammatory, soothing the stomach lining and reducing inflammation in the gut.

Pumpkin fibre has an equally beneficial effect for both diarrhea, and constipation. For dogs with loose stool or diarrhea, the fibre in pumpkin helps to bind stool, while it also absorbs water from the gut. Pumpkin’s anti inflammatory properties soothe the stomach and the intestinal lining. The same fibre helps constipated dogs, by bulking up and softening stool, and improving intestinal motility. For cats, pumpkin can help to prevent and eliminate hairballs, and (just like with dogs) it eases both constipation and diarrhea.

Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are very much in the news at the moment, especially after the Dr. Oz show did a segment touting the effectiveness of pumpkin seed and pumpkin seed oil at combatting everything from prostate problems to skin issues. This isn’t just hyperbole, either – a clinical study at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) showed Pumpkin seed oil is beneficial in treating overactive bladders, urinary tract infections and bladder inflammation – common conditions in many dogs, especially elderly dogs and spayed bitches.

If Fido is a bit on the fluffy side, you might be feeding him a specialized weight control kibble. The ‘weight control’ in most kibbles come from simply adding more fibre to the kibble recipe used in non diet foods. This fibre source can be anything from beet pulp to cellulose from pine trees (yes, really). Skip the garbage fillers, and add bulk and flavor to your chubby dog’s diet with the simple addition of a few tablespoons full of pumpkin.

You can purchase canned Pumpkin puree at pet food specialty stores, or in the grocery store. If buying canned pumpkin at the grocery store, make sure to choose plain Pumpkin, and not sweetened and spiced pumpkin pie filling. You’d be surprised how much canned “pumpkin” contains large portions of much cheaper squash varieties. Libby’s Brand canned pumpkin is certified 100% genuine pumpkin, but in fall, when fresh Pumpkins are everywhere, it’s super easy to make your own homemade Pumpkin puree, and it easily freezes into individual portions.

To give your dog the benefit of pumpkin seed oil, take the seeds you retained while cleaning your pumpkin and lightly roast them (directions below) and then feed either whole, or give them a quick puree in your magic bullet or food processor.

Easy Pumpkin Puree Method (from the Farmer’s Almanac)

  • Cut a pumpkin in half and then into fourths.
  • Use a large spoon or scoop to remove the seeds, and set aside (Seeds are edible and nutritious too. Save for roasting.)
  • Place the pumpkin skin-side down in a roasting pan. Add a little water to cover the bottom of the pan and cover.
  • Place in a 300°F oven. The pumpkin will take about 1 hour to bake, unless you are working with a small one.
  • Test the center of the pumpkin for softness with a knife. When the pumpkin is done, it will slice easily.
  • Remove pumpkin from the oven when it’s ready and uncover.
  • Allow to cool slightly to the touch.
  • Cut the fleshly part away from the hard outside shell. Chop the fleshy part into 2” to 3” inch chunks.
  • If the pumpkin will be used solely for pies or breads, process the pumpkin cubes in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Store pumpkin in the freezer for future use. Freeze in storage containers or pressure-can in pint-canning jars.

Lightly Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Rinse pumpkin seeds in colander under cool running water to remove pulp
  • Lightly oil baking sheet or roasting pan with 1 TBSP olive or coconut oil
  • Spread seeds in an even layer on pan, tossing to coat in oil
  • Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, until seeds are just golden
  • Cool and store in airtight jars or plastic containers
  • Feed whole seeds by adding to food, or to pets as a snack
Dogs love frozen ice cream treats!

Frozen Kefir Pops – Healthy Summertime Treat for Dogs!

healthy Frozen Kefir treats for dogs

Frozen Kefir pops for dogs make a great summertime treat! These treats aren’t just a tasty way to keep dogs cooled off – they’re also loaded with beneficial ingredients that are good for your dogs.

Kefir repopulates beneficial gut flora. It naturally aids digestion, and helps strengthen digestive health in dogs with food allergies. Kefir can also help alleviate stool eating. An added benefit is Kefir has been studied for its ability to increase milk production in animals (all my nursing girls get a daily bowl of Kefir with Manuka Honey). For dogs with an overgrowth of candida yeast (foot licking, ear shaking, and yeasty facial folds), Kefir can help to fight a yeast overgrowth.

Parsley, Mint and Dill are tummy soothing herbs with loads of added benefits for dogs. Dill, like garlic (but without the dangerous side effects), has been studied for its ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth. Parsley is loaded with vitamins, and the flavonoids in parsley function as antioxidants and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In studies, extracts from parsley help to increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood.  Spearmint or Peppermint has been used for thousands of years to soothe stomachs and freshen breath. In addition, it has been studied for its effectiveness in relieving seasonal allergy symptoms, and as an anti-inflammatory.

Cinnamon fights bacterial infections, freshens breath, and can help alleviate type 2 diabetes.

Manuka Honey is rich in natural antibiotic capability, as well as helping to soothe digestion, repair inflamed tissue, and it adds a subtle sweetness to the tart tang of Kefir.

Fresh summertime fruits give added flavor to frozen treats, along with extra vitamins and fiber.


Large tub plain kefir
1 TBSP Manuka or other honey
1/4 TSP Cinnamon
1 small bunch each fresh parsley & mint
1 Mashed Bananas
1/2 cup hulled chopped Strawberries
1/2 cup washed blueberries
1/2 cup chopped mango


Mix kefir with honey, herbs and cinnamon

Mix Kefir, honey, cinnamon, herbs and fruit of choice. Beat well on high, by hand or with hand mixer.

Freeze for at least four hours, in your choice of:

Popsicle containers (try using a beef stick or cookie as a substitute popsicle stick), small individual yogurt containers, or silicon molds. I used silicon bone molds, for individual treats.

Pour kefir mixture into molds and freeze

Serve outdoors, for a healthy, cooling treat for dogs!

Dogs love frozen ice cream treats!

weight-pull french bulldog video

Weight Pull and French Bulldogs – Fun or Cruelty?

Note: I’m having a hard time embedding this video on my post. You can view it here: https://www.facebook.com/PITSTAFS/videos/799382846812222/?fref=nf

This short video clip is stirring up lots of controversy among my French Bulldog friends on Facebook. Comments range from “those owners are so cruel!”, to “they’re going to kill that little dog making him do that!!”.

Personally, as soon as I saw it, my first thought was “go little guy, go!”. You can tell he’s having loads of fun – his little bum is wiggling as he pulls. His parents are clearly not forcing or coercing him to do this – they’re encouraging him and calling to him. Also, hello? Have you ever tried to force a French Bulldog to do anything he really doesn’t want to? Good luck with that.
I think the ‘controversy’ arises because more and more fanciers see Frenchies as somehow not ‘real’ dogs. We’ve always heard the well meaning but illogical advice not to ‘let’ Frenchies jump on or off of the couch, which has now extended to owners (and a handful of breeders) insisting that agility and obedience are also ‘cruel’ and not suitable for Frenchies.
Should dogs with injuries or degenerative disc disease be doing weight pull or agility? Of course not – but then again, just because humans with injuries shouldn’t run marathons or play tennis, doesn’t mean that no one else should, either.
A healthy French Bulldog in the prime of his life can enjoy sports like weight pull or agility, just as much as any other breed of dog. Any exercise that means owners and their dogs spend more time together is a wonderful thing.

Of course, I might also be prejudiced – one of the French Bulldogs I bred has his weight pull title (along with seventeen other titles, as well). Since he’s still going strong at fourteen, I think it’s safe to say it hasn’t done him any harm.

Either way, watch the video yourself, and let me know what you think in the comments – is weight pull a fun sport for a healthy French Bulldog, or a form of cruelty to animals?

Roxy and her French Bulldog puppy

Roxy and Gunner’s Puppies

Roxy and Gunner’s puppies are such interesting example of the genetics of e/e fawn inheritance, that they merit not just an article, but what seems to be becoming a three part article.

That’s to come, but in the meantime, here are some adorable puppy photos. Can you tell which ones are genetically cream, and which ones are fawn? And can you spot the elusive double recessive fawn pied puppy?

The Mitford Sisters with their French Bulldog

The Mitford Sisters – Britain’s Most Stylishly Controversial Frenchie Fanciers

What do French Bulldogs, fascism and Downton Abbey have in common? The answer is the Mitford Sisters – women who were among Britain’s most stylish and controversial fanciers of French Bulldogs (and all other things ‘au courant’).

The six sisters, Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity and Jessica (usually called Decca) were famous for being stylish, rich, eccentric and exceptionally witty. As young people, the sisters were best known for being among London’s “Bright Young Things” – a pejorative nickname given to a group of rich, hedonistic young aristocrats in Britain during the 1920’s who led a ‘bohemian’ lifestyle that included drugs, heavy drinking, excessively elaborate parties and promiscuous sex. Spending a great deal of time in Paris, they were exposed to the stylish “Bouldogues Francais” being paraded by the continent’s own stylish set.

Sisters Unity and Diana become reviled and notorious during the 1930s for for their close personal friendships with Adolf Hitler, and their championing of fascism. In 1938, Unity was attacked by a crowd in London for wearing a swastika on her shirt. Her devotion to Hitler and to Fascism was not simply an affectation – when Britain declared war on Germany, Unity attempted suicide.

Nancy, the eldest Mitford sister, became an acclaimed novelist and biographer – amazing in itself, considering her father did not approve of ‘formal’ schooling for girls, and Nancy’s formal education consistently entirely of a few months at a primary day school, and a year’s boarding at an upper lady’s college that was essentially a ‘debutante training center’.

Nancy appears to have owned several  French Bulldogs over the years, including a brindle pied bitch, Lottie, a brindle dog, Dominic, and another pied bitch named Millie.

From the Biography “Nancy Mitford”, by Selina Hastings:

“She had acquired a couple of French Bulldogs, Lottie and Millie, on whom she doted: they were allowed to sleep, wheezing, under the eiderdown on her bed. It became a common sight to the neighbours, Nancy in  a pair of slacks walking briskly along the tow-path with the pair of stout little dogs trotting along after her”.

Nancy made French Bulldogs a central plot in her 1940 novel, “Pigeon Pie”, in which an aristocratic and slightly ditzy heroine has her French Bulldog dog-napped, before going on to crack a German spy ring.

The popular BBC television show “Upstairs Downstairs” was said to have borrowed heavily from stories about the lives of the Mitford sisters, but their most famous influence has undoubtedly been on Sir Julian Fellowes, who credits them as being the inspiration for “Downton Abbey” (there are decided shades of sarcastic, prickly, intelligent Nancy Mitford in Mary Crawford, who was infamous for being as equally unkind as Lady Mary is to Edith  to her own younger sisters).

The death this week at age 94 of Deborah Mitford, the last surviving sister, is truly the end of an era.