25 November 2020

Wholesome Canine Nutrition: A Canine Thanksgiving Dinner

 


Thanksgiving is a most treasured holiday. It's a time when we gather with our family members and friends to celebrate, eat delicious foods and enjoy each others company. Every family has their own, unique way of celebrating Thanksgiving, and most pet parents like to include their furry children in those celebrations. Many dog and cat owners enjoy sharing their home cooked foods with their pets, usually by way of sneaking a few bites off their plate underneath the table. 

It is, therefore, imperative to know which foods are safe and which are considered toxic to pets. Especially if your dog already enjoys the benefits of home-cooked food or even a raw food diet, then a few bites from your plate should be fine to share. However, if your furry companion is accustomed to a commercial kibble diet only, it is essential to know their level of stomach sensitivity to avoid an upset stomach. If you feel uncertain that the foods you'll be serving will be safe for your canine, you can always cook a special homemade meal for your furry child. Here's one of my favourite recipes:

Canine Thanksgiving Dinner


Ingredients 

2 Cups of ground or shredded turkey
1 Cup of sweet potato cubes
1 Cup of potato cubes
1/2 Cup of pumpkin puree 
1/2 Cup green beans
1/2 Cup peas
1/2 Cup chopped carrots
2 Tbsp Olive Oil





Instructions

- Heat olive oil in a pan and brown turkey meat. 
- Cut vegetables into chunks and boil them until they are soft. 
- Combine all ingredients and let meal cool until it's safe to eat.









It is vital to be aware of the foods that are considered unsafe and even toxic for pets to consume. Do not feed your fur baby anything that contains onions, garlic, grapes or raisins, artificial sweeteners to include Xylitol, coffee, yeast or bread dough, macadamia nuts, chocolate or alcohol...just to mention a few. For more in-depth information, please contact your veterinarian. 

It is also important to keep in mind that those family gatherings can be rather loud, depending on how big your family is. Therefore, it is a good idea to provide a safe and quiet place for your dog to retreat to. The holidays can be very hectic and busy time for all of us, and unfortunately, some of our furry companions do not tolerate loud noise and large crowds very well. So, be aware of your dog's needs and everyone should be able to enjoy this special time of the year. 

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!


                                                                   Piper

PS: Interested in more pet friendly recipes? You can find them in my book LIVING WITH CANINE EPILEPSY.  


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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18 November 2020

Sneak Peek of my Upcoming Historical Fiction Novel AT THE CASTLE OF DREAMS

 


As most of my readers know by now, I've been diligently working on my next historical fiction piece, AT THE CASTLE OF DREAMS for some time, and the fifth book of The Country Girl Empress series is nearly ready to hit a bookshelf near you. I can also well imagine that many of you wouldn't mind a sneak peek. Well, you won't have to wait any longer. Here it is....Enjoy!


                                                                          Piper

PS: Please keep in mind that this is just an excerpt of an unpublished manuscript, and although it has undergone several rounds of vigorous editing already, it's not the polished, final product. Thank you!  =)


Chapter One

The Secret of Mayerling


The city of Vienna was filled with rumors and speculations. The newspapers published special editions, bordered with a black edge. Foreign papers were being confiscated left and right. But a few hundred issues almost always escaped the police’s grip. They were passed on in secret. The articles were read over and over, and their contents spread like wildfire.

In public houses, cafes, and plenty of cabs, such papers could be “rented” in exchange for a pretty penny. They were brought out from their secret hiding places and read in the backroom of public houses or in a closed carriage with the curtains half-way drawn, and then returned to their respective owners. Their contents were not necessarily the truth, but the stories were definitely sensational.

The mysterious and sudden death of Crown Prince Rudolph naturally heated the people’s temperaments. Had he become the victim of a hunting accident, or did he indeed have a heart attack? At least that’s what the newspapers had reported shortly after the Crown Prince’s death. However, those special editions received their information from the K. and K. Court Press Bureau. But the question staring in everyone’s face was this: Could the source be trusted?

Soon enough, people heard and read many different versions. Was the Crown Prince poisoned? Mr. Loschek, Rudolph’s valet, who had been one of the first people to discover the bodies, testified that there was more than likely cyanide in the water on the bedside table. So, what really happened at Mayerling? Did the Crown Prince shoot himself, or had he been knocked over the head with a champagne bottle? Those and similar theories were voiced by the people who had seen Rudi’s dead body with his head wrapped in gauze. Was it a love story gone horribly wrong, or did a killer commando of a foreign power assassinate the Crown Prince of the most powerful Empire in the world? What did the imperial court know, and what were they hiding?

Slowly but surely, the news leaked that a second body had been discovered at Mayerling, and rumor had it that it was the corpse of young Freiin Mary Vetsera. She was barely 17 years old and lived in the third Viennese city district. During the night, the poor girl’s body had been secretly removed and expediently buried at the cemetery of Heiligenkreuz. Her mother had gone half-mad over the loss, had been issued an imperial gag order and forced to leave the country.

What was so mysterious about those two dead bodies? How did the young woman get to Mayerling, and how did Mary Vetsera die? Had she become an unwilling witness to Rudi’s murder, and that’s why she had to perish as well? The conundrum weighed heavily on the grieving Empire during one unusually cold February day. Black flags of mourning were on display all throughout Vienna.



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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11 November 2020

November is #EpilepsyAwarenessMonth: A Day in the Lives of Two Epi-Warriors

I'd like to take this opportunity to share a little insight into living with canine epilepsy - a subject matter near and dear to my heart. As many of you probably know, the two dogs pictured above were my Epi-warriors, Lana and Darren. They both developed Idiopathic Epilepsy (Epilepsy with unknown cause) within two days of each other when Darren was two and Lana was four years of age. I did my best to provide them with everything they needed and the quality of life they deserved. But, in the end, Darren suffered a massive stroke, and Lana lost her battle with bladder cancer; they passed away within four days of each other. At which point, I decided to write a book about their journey called LIVING WITH CANINE EPILEPSY, to let everyone know that dogs with canine epilepsy can lead a happy and meaningful life. Prayers for all the Epi-Warriors out there...may they stay seizure free for a long time!

Epilepsy is a condition that globally affects over 65 million people. However, did you know that dogs can be afflicted with this ailment as well? Up to six percent of the canine population suffers from a form of epilepsy. In fact, epilepsy is the most diagnosed canine neurological disease. This is only a rough estimate since many cases of canine epilepsy remain undiscovered by the respective canine parents as dogs often experience their fits when they are inactive, late at night or during the early morning hours. So, throw on a purple shirt and let's raise epilepsy awareness for all sufferers, human and canine alike!

What is Canine Epilepsy?

Epilepsy manifests in terrifying ways, causing a dog to experience sudden, uncontrolled convulsions. First recognized in ancient times, Hippocrates referred to epilepsy as the “sacred” disease. However, nothing about it seems sacred! Watching a beloved companion suffer a seizure can be an extremely traumatic event. Learning to live with an animal with complex health issues is never easy. In general, we distinguish between two types of epilepsy - genetic and idiopathic. 

Genetic epilepsy is passed down from one generation to the next, and certain dog breeds are more prone to this form of epilepsy than others. 

Idiopathic Epilepsy is caused by unknown factors, and it is often difficult to predict what will trigger the next seizure or when.

Living with a dog that has epilepsy can be a daunting prospect, but with some help from a veterinarian and much planning, epileptic dogs can live a relatively normal, happy and meaningful life.

...no one had a seizure. We all got up around 6:00 am...well, Lana and Darren stuck their wet noses in my face to wake me up. Breakfast and the first dosage of daily meds by 7:00 am. Walk/jog, either outdoors when the weather permitted or on the treadmill by 10:00 am. Outings, errands, and playtime throughout the day. Dinner and the second dosage of daily medication by 7:00 pm. This schedule had to eventually be adjusted once Darren had to switched from Phenobarbital to Keppra, due to his hypertensive liver; a medication he had to take three times a day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

...one of my furry children or one after the other would have their first seizure of the day in the early morning hours, anywhere between midnight and 5:00 am. I wiped away excess slobber off the dog's face and administered a pill pocket with Valium in an attempt to prevent a vicious cycle of recurring seizures. Then it was time to give the dog a quick sponge bath to remove the remnants of urine and/or stool after the dog lost control of bladder and/or bowel due to the seizure. I cleaned/replaced the doggie bedding and adjacent carpeting as necessary, fed the patient a snack, provided a fresh bowl of water and the opportunity to relieve him/herself. I would put the dogs back to bed if it was still nighttime. I would sit on the floor next to the dog bed until they fell asleep again, and prayed that there wouldn't be any more epileptic episodes. Eventually, I crawled back into bed and attempted to go back to sleep. If we were lucky, no one had another seizure. If we were not so fortunate, then the above scenario repeated itself many times throughout the following day or two, and we would eventually end up spending the day at the vet clinic. 

How to Help Your Pup Through a Seizure

Whether your canine companion has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder or just experienced his/her first epileptic episode, it can be challenging to keep your wits about you during such a heartbreaking event. 

I took care of my two epi-warriors, Lana and Darren, for over four years, and today I'd like to share my basic practices for protecting your furry friend from coming to harm and minimizing the effects of a seizure with you.

Protecting your dog from injury during a seizure is essential. Many dogs will give off physical as well as behavioral indicators before convulsions begin (pre-ictal phase). If you notice signs of agitation or distress such as heavy panting, whining, or incessant pacing, lead your dog to a safe location, if possible, before the seizure begins. Spaces away from staircases, furniture, and cables are best. If at all possible, clear the area of items that could potentially injure your pup or may be knocked over such as breakables, decorations, candles, hard or sharp-edged furniture. If your dog is laying on the sofa or bed, lower your friend to the floor to prevent a fall, if it is safe to do so. Make hardwood and tile floors more comfortable with towels and blankets. Please, do not attempt to move your dog if the seizure has already begun! Instead, improvise by padding the area and blocking off potential hazards with towels, cushions, and blankets as your dog may be thrashing about, banging its head on a hard surface.

During a seizure, your canine’s brain is flooded with abnormal electrical impulses. Any additional stimuli in the form of bright light, loud noises or excessive touching can actually prolong its duration. While it is our instinctual need comfort our furry friends during a time of distress, please rest assured, that your pup is not in pain and is more than likely unaware of what's happening. Many times, dogs will bite the inside of their mouths during an epileptic episode, but it is physically nearly impossible to swallow or choke on their own tongue. So please, keep your hands out of your dog's mouth! Your furry friend has no control over their body during a seizure, and you would only end up getting inadvertently bitten. 





You can make the surrounding area more peaceful by:

- Removing other pets and people
- Turning down/off the TV or radio
- Dimming the lights/closing the curtains
- Not touching the dog
- Remain calm

While every second of a fit can seem like an eternity, in reality, they usually only last a few minutes. Most vets recommend timing the duration of the seizure(s) to determine if it is an emergency. It might also be useful to film the seizure, as it may provide helpful information to your veterinarian.

Although most seizures are not life-threatening, they do indicate an underlying medical problem. If your pup experiences a seizure for the first time or has possibly been exposed to a toxic substance, seek veterinary attention immediately. For animals with a diagnosed seizure disorder, the rule of thumb is: It's an emergency when an epileptic episode last longer than five minutes or the dog has more than three seizures within 24 hours.

For epi-warriors with recurring seizures, it can be helpful to keep a detailed log of any seizure activity you may observe to help your veterinarian diagnose the problem, identify potential seizure triggers, and determine future treatment options. It's a good idea to include information such as the length of each seizure, observed seizure activity like convulsions, “air-biting”, staring off into space, etc., whether or not bladder/bowel control was lost, and observed behavior before, after, and in-between seizures.







What I would like everyone to remember during this Epilepsy Awareness Month...it is not the end of the world if your dog has epilepsy. Yes, it is challenging to live with canine epilepsy, and there's no cure for this condition. However, it can be managed. There may be bumps in the road along your journey together, but you can get through it. Just take a deep breath and deal with it one day at a time.

To learn more about living with canine epilepsy, click here.



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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04 November 2020

Month in Review - October 2020

 
Wow, it's already November, and we are, slowly but surely planning our family Thanksgiving. Amazing how quickly yet another month has passed, and it's now time to recap. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for October 2020, chosen by you, the readers:

1. The Silent Killer All Dog Owners Should Know About: Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia


This cutie is 'Zoey'. Our troubles with her began a couple of days before Halloween 2016. Zoey was extremely lethargic and had no appetite. All she wanted to do is stay in her bed and sleep. This was very unusual behaviour from the dog who usually couldn't wait to eat breakfast and dinner...



It is that time of the year again! Halloween is finally here, and it can be such a festive and fun time for all. However, let’s face it, for our furry companions it can also be quite the nightmare. But it does not have to be this way! Here are a few easy to follow safety tips..



Would you like to be able to draw on your passion whenever you sit down to write? I'm sure you're familiar with the scenario: An excellent idea for an article, blog post, or book pops into your head. You believe the subject matter is fresh and exciting. You've got your main points outlined in your head, and you're ready to write - or so you think...


You're a writer, and without a  doubt, you keep a copy of every story you've written. I'm sure you have plenty of files filled with fantastic story ideas, outlines, and descriptions. More than likely you also maintain a collection of great punch lines and unique character names scribbled on sticky notes, along with folders overflowing with printed versions of stories in numerous stages of editing...

5. #WritersLife: Time Management for Writers


This week I struggled with my blog post. Not necessarily with the topic (although, there was a bit of that also), but mainly just finding the time to write. As a devoted dog mom of three high-energy pups, I am in the habit of pouring my heart and soul into each of my furry children every day.  Not to mention all my other responsibilities associated with my daytime occupation, volunteer work and of course life in general. I realized long ago that it is not healthy for me if I continually focus all of my time and energy completely on others and their needs. Fact is, when we give of ourselves every day, but hardly ever re-energize, we eventually find ourselves completely drained. At this point, we just go through the motions...


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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28 October 2020

Howl-A-Ween Safety Tips for Pets

 



It is that time of the year again! Halloween is finally here, and it can be such a festive and fun time for all. However, let’s face it, for our furry companions it can also be quite the nightmare. But it does not have to be this way! Here are a few easy to follow safety tips:


...but it is not made for pets! All forms of chocolate, but especially dark chocolate, can be dangerous, and even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Foods that contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of this substance can lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures.


You should also keep Halloween decorations such as pumpkins and corn stalks out of their reach. Although they are considered nontoxic, such plants can induce quite the gastrointestinal upset, should they be ingested in large quantities. An intestinal blockage is no laughing matter! Speaking of pumpkins…you really shouldn’t keep lit pumpkins around pets! If they get too close to an open flame, they may run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over, causing a  house fire. If you must have some sort of flickering light, consider a flameless candle or miniature flashlights.


If your furry children are not perfectly reliable, you should probably keep them away from the door. Not only will your door be continually opened, closed and opened again, but strangers will be dressed in bizarre costumes, yelling loudly for their sweets. This can be a very scary situation for some of our furry friends. If you feel that your pet may be a bit on the nervous side, it might be a good idea to put your dog or cat in a room away from the front door. This will also prevent them from darting out the door as soon as it opens. 


If your dog or cat should escape despite your best efforts, proper identification will increase their chances of returning home safely. Up-to-date information is essential, even if your pet has not been micro-chipped.


...unless you know for a fact that your dog or cat is comfortable getting dressed up. If you do decide that your furry child needs a costume, please ensure it is not a nuisance or unsafe, and that it does not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe. It is also a good idea to try on the costumes before the big night. If your furry friend seems distressed, allergic, or behaves in an out-of-character manner, perhaps you should consider a festive bandana instead.

Wishing everyone and their furry companions a Happy Howl-A-Ween!


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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