Canine Special Nutritional Needs

About Us

    Our story started in 2004, when we drove 3-1/2 hours east to rural Milwaukee, Wisconsin to meet and pick-up our soon-to-be adopted basset named Sam. After spending several hours in the foster home, we noticed that Sam (white and tan) was bonded to another basset they were fostering, named Daisy (tri-color). We were not prepared to bring two bassets back home but that is exactly what we did. How can you separate bassets that clearly were a bonded pair??

We took them everywhere with us and in 2005, we took our annual cross-country trip from Minnesota to the North Carolina Coast with bassets in tow. We enjoyed stopping at each Interstate rest area and meeting others traveling, via Sam and Daisy. We rented our regular ocean front cottage on a small island named TopSail Island. Both Sam and Daisy seemed to love the open sandy beach and would dig holes to lie in, to escape some of the wind. Upon the trip back across the state lines, we noticed that Daisy was not herself. We could not put our finger on it but just did not seem like herself. We made an appointment at the vet clinic within 3 days of returning home and they discovered that she was diabetic. What a surprise!

This truly started our journey into being owned by a diabetic basset hound. I remember to this day that when we walked outside of the vet clinic with this new diagnosis for Daisy, we were only given information on where to give her insulin shot and how much. My husband and I practiced in the exam room for about 15 minutes and then off we went back home. I do think we were in a little shock and felt overwhelmed with no one in our family being diabetic either past or present. We struggled for the first several weeks with keeping her on a schedule and learning how to keep from hurting her during the shots.

We stopped giving her commercial treats in 2006 since we could not find anything on the market with limited fresh ingredients. From that point on, I baked all their treats fresh every week and with a variety of fresh ingredients.

We continued our life for another 2-1/2 years with Daisy and Sam, until Sam developed arthritis in his spine. We all four struggled to live life to the fullest but Sam became unable to move (including walking and even dragging himself around). Towards the end of our time with him, we had built a wagon to get him down the hall and outside so he could stand and do his business. He just could not bring himself to doing his business in the house. Sam crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2007 at the age of 14 years. What a hard time Daisy, Pieter and I had during those first months.

     About six months after Sam left us, we started fostering for a local basset hound rescue. Lola was our last foster before relocating to San Antonio, Texas in 2008 for Pieter on a new IT project. We adopted Lola the last week in Minnesota and off we drove South with Daisy, Lola, our youngest son (who had just returned to the United States from Iraq as a U.S. Marines), Pieter, myself, our SUV and two 26 foot U-Haul trucks hauling our collection of personal belongings.

They are right about everything being BIG in Texas. We found a SMALL house to rent while on this project and it was a measly 2,800 square feet. What a lot of house to clean with 2 hounds and 3 people! I figured if we had all this space and I had to clean it already, why not add more hound bodies. Made sense to me (my husband on the other hand did not see the woman's logic but went along with it). So I inquired if the local basset rescue needed volunteers. Since we lived less than 6 miles from the kill-shelter, they agreed having someone so close to pick-up hounds that were scheduled to die within a day, would be strategic.

Winston was our last foster basset and I got to him within 7 hours of being scheduled. He had every worm imaginable. Severe heartworm infection, tape worms and whip worms to name a few. It was apparent that he had been living on the streets for months. I would have to call him my wild child as he was into everything and not housetrained. He even pulled a whole chicken off the kitchen counter and ate most of it before I walked back into the room. SIDE NOTE: Being that I was fully aware of how bassets counter surfed by this time in my hound life, I had already pushed food, etc. to the back of the counters. Nothing was ever near the edge of the counter edge but he was great at reaching food no matter its location.  

I was always trying to locate food and treats that had good ingredients but then there were many items in the list, that I could not even pronounce, let alone know what it was used for. We also noticed that her blood glucose levels would rise and we had to adjust her insulin.

The defining moment for us was when we had a dinner engagement with friends and we were running late. We did not have time to prepare their dinner so we had been given some commercial food in the pantry (from a neighbor that thought it might help in an emergency with foster hounds) and decided to feed them that and give her shot (this was before home testing). What a mistake that was! We got home and could tell that Daisy was not right. Her levels were extremely high. We decided that we would never do that again.

Soon after this, we decided that the traditional veterinarian medicine (insulin only) was not working for her situation and dug into researching what other canine parents were doing to stabilize their situations. I read many parents who stopped feeding commercial kibble and turned to home-cooked meals. At first, I thought how can I understand what she should eat since the vets and the dog food companies say we would do our dogs harm if we did try it. It took me about another three months to work through these false statements and gather a plan.

I met with a Holistic DVM and he did not have most of the information I was hoping for but he said that oatmeal, meat and vegetables were good for a diabetic dog. I started making oatmeal with ground beef and mostly green vegetables mixed in. SPECIAL NOTE: Now I realize that it needed to be far more and better than this but in the moment of time, it was better than what was on the commercial market and not working for us.

We had them on a variety of homemade meals with adjustments almost monthly between less rice (more Quinoa or buckwheat), a variety of meats (duck, lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, wild caught cod fish, wild caught salmon, sardines and organ meats) and we started growing an organic home garden.

On February 11th, 2008, I purchased an existing dog bakery named The Gourmet Dog Bakery from a woman in Florida. She packed all the inventory, recipes, marketing, etc. and shipped to me in Texas. I had never owned a business (mortar or online) but wanted the experience to make all the decisions that come with owning your own business. The frosting on the cake was that it was a dog bakery where I could be creative, work with people owned by dogs and work from home. I realized within months, that I wanted to create diabetic-friendly treats instead of cookies with yogurt frosting in cute shapes. I think those are adorable but not for our Daisy or any other diabetic or pancreatic dog. Many a day I worked in the kitchen, batch after batch to get my first products created. From those days came Healthy Hearts (made with organic green peas which are a low-glycemic veggie) and Bark Boxes (made with organic green beans which are also a low-glycemic veggie). If you ever wonder who names our treats, it is our son Adam. To this day, he names all our treats when created.

By the end of 2008, I realized that we needed a more suitable name to reflect best on our business mission of working with diabetic treat needs. We officially changed to the Diabetic Dog Bakery.

Daisy Crossed the Rainbow Bridge in December of 2009. Lola Crossed the Bridge in April of 2010, which was a very rough period for both their Crossings.

   In 2011, we relocated to North Carolina and there we adopted Bessie in 2012 and Gracie in 2013. Winston is still going strong and our protector of all. We have since relocated back to Minnesota in 2014 to a small community outside the Twin Cities area. We enjoy a half acre for hounds running and plenty of organic gardening. Last fall, my Mother moved in with her little Yorkie/Shih Tzu and our house has days of constant activity with no two alike.

Of course, you should hear them when one asks for a treat. What a barber shop quartet they have! In 2015, we recalculated our diabetic-friendly recipes from an organic oat base. Due to the recent research being done with various foods affecting glucose levels, it is showing that soy, almond, hazelnut, coconut, fava bean and Golden flaxseed bases are better ingredients and are at the top of the list for low carbohydrate load flours.

We have also discovered that not all vegetables are created equal when carbs are involved.

In 2016, we have made half of our products vegan. They have always been vegetarian with the exception of the Gobblers, which are made with lean turkey.

Keep in mind that our treats can be frozen for up to three months and defrosted before giving as a treat.

We look forward to continuing our education in 2016 and plan to start blogging on a regular basis about beneficial ingredients for diabetic and pancreatic dogs. In addition, a topic is launching this year on beneficial herbs for diabetic and pancreatic dogs.

Stop by regularly and see how our story of life is progressing. We are excited for the future of the Diabetic Dog Bakery and Our Family.

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