Liver Cookies… A Guilty Pleasure

November 1, 2011 § 20 Comments

Whenever I feel a little peckish and need a light snack to tide me over until dinner, I will usually make a beeline for the pantry and help myself to the cookie jar. Lately, however, our cookie jar has been running empty. With everyone in our household being so busy these past few months (including Lil’ Miss Maple who has been charming her Gramsy), it slipped my mind to replenish the stock with bite-sized morsels of crunchy goodness. When I peeked into Maple’s treat jar, I discovered that it, too, contained only crumbs.

One of my longstanding To-Do list items is to whip up a batch of homemade liver cookies for Maple but, sadly, I have been procrastinating—the convenient excuse used to hold off on the baking is that I’m still in search of a good recipe. So, off we merrily went on a cookie-shopping expedition instead!

I have been eyeing the Love’Em brand of liver cookies for quite some time but always managed to resist the temptation as I knew Maple still had plenty of unfinished treats at home. But, as her treat inventory was running desperately low, this turned out to be her lucky day. Love’Em Liver Cookies come in three recipe choices: (1) Linseed, Soy & Rosemary; (2) Lamb & Mint; (3) Soy & Wholemeal. I thought Maple could benefit from the linseed/soy/rosemary concoction (S$10.59 Pet Lovers Centre @ VivoCity), which boasts an ability to promote a shiny coat and healthy skin. And so, onward home we went to give these cookies a try. 

What initially drew me to these liver cookies is the company’s claim that all the ingredients are 100% natural with no artifical fillers, flavourings or preservatives. Upon a closer examination, the liver cookies do look quite wholesome indeed—you can visually locate and manually pick out particles of linseed, soy and rosemary. I think this is a real bonus because once a food product gets overly processed it then becomes very difficult to identify the ingredients that have gone into it, thus making it all the more questionnable. 

The first opportunity Miss Maple had with her new treats was shortly after her shower and blow-dry. She was a very good pupster and did not put up a fight while being shampooed, primped, and preened. Her reward: a liver cookie. 

“Hey, Lil’ Miss Maple, how do you like the liver cookie?” Oops, it looks like Maple is a tad too busy to comment—besides, it wouldn’t be very polite of Maple to speak with her mouth full and her pink tongue unabashedly aiding the treat down her esophagus. 

I am really pleased with this delectable new find and Maple absolutely adores it, too. I know I should really watch my frequency in feeding Maple these liver cookies, but what’s the meaning of life to a dogster if she can’t indulge in a bit of guilty pleasure once in a while? 😉 Maple says, “Mmm, that was super yummy. I’ve finished my cookie and I’m ready for a second helping!”

For more information about Love’Em Liver Cookies, check out the Scribd document below.

Disclaimer: HAPPY.BARK.DAYS is an independent entity and was not paid to write this review by any of the commercial enterprises mentioned in the article.


Road-Testing The Chicken Drumstick

September 11, 2011 § 29 Comments

Our progress with introducing a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet into Maple’s meal plans has taken us a little longer than anticipated. What we do know for certain is that Maple truly enjoys her raw meats and bones. So far, we have road-tested raw beef marrow bones, lamb chops, and chicken drumsticks.

At the moment, Maple is still on a predominantly kibble-based diet but we hope to eventually make the transition to 50% kibbles and 50% BARF. I am also very happy (and relieved) to report that Maple’s raw intake of meats and bones has not affected the consistency of her poop—yes, initially Maple’s by-products did come out a little on the soft side but all is well now!

I often get so fascinated watching Maple enthusiastically devour slices or raw lamb and chicken meat; however, she is a very patient eater when it comes to chomping away at the bones. Maple’s first attempt at a raw chicken drumstick took her almost 45 minutes to complete (and this was despite my earlier effort to help remove the fleshy meat from the bone, leaving part of it intact). I suppose those tiny teeth of Maple’s can only work so fast!

Funny thing is, Maple refused to grip the raw chicken drumstick between her paws (I think that would have dramatically helped to speed up the process). Perhaps Maple is a little germaphobic like her Momsy 😉

Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: Maple gives two paws up for raw chicken drumsticks. And I think the expression on Maple’s face says it all!

UPDATE: Acana Pacifica

April 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

After one month (and an email reminder) later, we received a reply from Champion Petfoods with regards to our question about the Omega-3 content found in Acana Pacifica. If you may recall, Maple is fed 2/3 Acana Pacifica and 1/3 Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet. However, when we examined closely and compared the Omega-3 quantities in both kibbles brands, we were surprised that Acana Pacifica and Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet contained 1.3% (min) and 1.4% (min) Omega-3, respectively. How can that be when Acana Pacifica is a predominantly fish-based kibbles? To learn the answer, scroll to the bottom of Review: Orijen Puppy vs Acana Pacific!

Review: Orijen Puppy vs Acana Pacific

March 15, 2011 § 20 Comments

When it comes to ‘premium’ dry dog food available in Singapore’s pet stores, Orijen and Acana are amongst those most frequently advertised and readily available. In this post, we’ll share with you Maple’s experience with both Orijen and Acana—the good, the bad, and the things to note.

Orijen Puppy (Small Breeds)

Pros: The kibbles are specially formulated for puppies, meaning that it is higher in protein and fat content but limited in carbohydrates. This is reflected on the packaging, which provides a ratio of the ingredients: 80% meat, 20% fruits and vegetables, and 0% grains. It is grain-free and does not contain fillers such as beet pulp. According to the company website, the ingredients (i.e. organic, free-run, free-range, and wild) are sourced regionally and delivered fresh (not frozen) for processing. The two lesser known items listed in Orijen Puppy are the micro-organic strains of friendly bacterial cultures called Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium (in dried fermented form), which are said to promote a healthy gastro-intestinal tract. There are no artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin; instead, mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E compound) are used.

Cons: The kibbles are very hard and Maple had a difficult time eating them. This prompted MM and I to rehydrate the kibbles. When Maple was purely on Orijen Puppy, she developed soft stool and was not able to clear her anal glands naturally. We then decided to mix her daily servings of kibbles comprising 2/3 Orijen Puppy and 1/3 Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet, after which Maple’s stool returned to a somewhat firmer, although not 100% ideal, consistency.

Notes: Grain-free dog food seems to be rising in popularity not only amongst pet owners whose dogs have grain allergies but also those whose dogs do not suffer from any allergies. The philosophy behind a grain-free diet is that dogs are carnivores by nature and will occasionally forage for edible plants, but seldom will eat grains. It is believed that dog food, therefore, should consist predominantly of meat followed by fruits and vegetables. Compared to conventional dog food, which uses inexpensive grains and starches to bulk up the kibbles, grain-free dog food has a higher percentage of meat content and, as a result, tends to be pricier.

The addition of probiotics (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium)  in dry dog food is a new phenomenon, but not all brands have yet introduced it in their products. It is said that dogs with friendly bacteria flourishing in their gastro-intestinal tracts are in a more advantageous position to: (1) digest food and absorb nutrients with ease, (2) ward off harmful pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. Coli, that may have entered the gut, and (3) grow healthy skin and coat, as well as improve breath. On the flip side, there are some side effects of probiotics (e.g. bloating, flatuence, and constipation) that may affect some dogs. It is important, therefore, that the source of the bacterial culture is safe and reliable, the dosage appropriate, and the shelf-life adequate for Fido’s consumption.


ACANA Pacific (Adult)

Pros: Since we are still currently feeding Maple Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet, which is meat-based, we opted for a fish-based dry dog food recipe like Acana Pacifica so as to round out her diet. As compared to Orijen Puppy, Maple’s stools are consistently solid and firm when we blend the same proportion of 2/3 Acana Pacifica and 1/3 Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet. She now seldom does those funny bum rotations on our tile floors. Like OrijenAcana also claims to use premium ingredients (i.e. organic, free-run, free-range, and wild) that are sourced regionally and delivered fresh (not frozen) for processing. Contrary to our presumption that these fish-based kibbles would cause Maple to have ‘fishy’ breath, the opposite is true—Maple’s breath has improved significantly (perhaps due to the addition of probiotics). There are no artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin; instead, mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E compound) are used.

Cons: These kibbles are as hard as rock, even more so than Orijen Puppy. Maple will refuse to eat Acana Pacifica straight out of the package. We need to use a mallet, first, to break the kibbles into bite-sized pieces before rehydrating them in water. The only downfall is that this process takes time but, if we look at it favourably, we feel re-assured knowing that each kibble is densely packed with quality ingredients. Interestingly enough, although Acana Pacifica is made of 60% “premium fish ingredients”, it boasts a level of Omega-3 (1.3% min.) that seems to pale in comparison to a predominantly meat-based kibble brand like Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet (1.4% min.). This discrepancy leaves us confused and I am tempted to write a letter to the pet-food manufacturer seeking clarification. [Note: Please scroll down to the bottom of this post to read the reply from Champion Petfoods.]

Notes: For those who may not know, Orijen and Acana are products of the same pet-food company, Champion Petfoods, which is based in Alberta (Canada). According to the company website, the differences between Orijen and Acana are as follows:

1. MEAT CONCENTRATION: ORIJEN is made with 75-80% meat, while ACANA has between 40 to 65%, depending on the formula.

2. PROTEIN: ORIJEN diets range between 38% and 42% protein, while ACANA features protein levels of 27-34%.

3. CARBOHYDRATE: ORIJEN diets range from 18-22% of carbohydrate, while ACANA diets are typically in the 28-30% carbohydrate range.

4. AMOUNT OF FRESH MEAT: ORIJEN is made with up to 40% of fresh meats, compared with ACANA which ranges from 9-15% of fresh meats.

5. FRESH MEAT VARIETY: ORIJEN features a minimum of 5 fresh meats, compared to ACANA which contains 3 different fresh meat ingredients.


We hope this review exercise has been useful for new puppy and dog owners who are just as baffled by the whole experience as when MM and I first began shopping for kibbles. It can be rather perplexing when every pet-food brand on the shelves of your local pet store is vying for your attention with seductive graphics and impressive slogans. MM and I are certainly not experts on dry dog food—we are constantly learning along the way, just as we are learning about Maple’s dietary needs. What we hope to have hightlighted are some of the key considerations that you may wish to look out for the next time you go out food-shopping for Fido!

Disclaimer: All product reviews mentioned on Happy.Bark.Days are based upon our own personal experiences with our dog, Maple, and are strictly our honest opinions alone. As each dog will respond independently and in varying ways to the products reviewed on Happy.Bark.Days, we accept no responsibility legal or otherwise for the safety of any pets. Should there by any concerns, please seek the expert advice of a trained and certified professional.

* * * * *

UPDATE (April 16, 2011)

So, why does the Omega-3 content in the fish-based Acana Pacifica and the meat-based Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet differ? Read on to find out! Interestingly, Champion Petfoods has brought up a little known fact about the artificial boosting of Omega-3 quantities with grape seed or flax seed oils. You may wish to look out for this by checking your dog food labels the next time around.


Hello SJ

Thank you for your email. I apologize for the delay in responding.

The Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids found within our foods such as our ACANA® PACIFICA are from naturally occurring sources. That is we have not boosted our levels of these fatty acids through artificial means (such as grape seed or flax seed oil which we feel are inappropriate for dogs and cats). They are at the natural occurring levels that you would find within the fish ingredients themselves are not boosted by other means. The important components of Omega 3 fatty acids include DHA and EPA. Our ACANA PACIFICA formulation breaks down as follows 1.3% Omega 3 with .9% DHA and 0.3% EPA.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us again.

Warm regards,

Christopher Raine

Customer Care

Champion Petfoods LP


Review: Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet

March 14, 2011 § 3 Comments

Like most new dog owners, MM and I went through a period of trial and error when it came to finding an appropriate commercial kibble diet for Maple. When we adopted Maple, we inherited an unfinished 14lb (6.35kg) bag of Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet (adult formula) from her previous owner. Maple was doing well with Canine Caviar, but MM and I thought it might be beneficial to gradually transition her on to a formula more suited for puppies since she was not quite seven months old at the time.

As a start, we decided to go with Orijen Puppy and purchased a 2.5kg bag, which Maple completed after two months. Thereafter, we began searching yet again for another kibbles brand as Maple’s vet advised that we re-introduce her to adult-formulated dog food. After some humming and hawing, we settled with Acana Pacifica, which we have been feeding Maple (in combination with Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet) for the past three weeks. That, in short, is the brief chronological order of Maple’s dietary journey to date. Today, let’s begin with our review of Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet.

Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet (Adult)

Pros: Maple is able to produce very solid and firm stool—no bum-scooting! The kibbles are small in size, light in weight, and can be easily broken up by small teeth so there is no need to rehydrate in Maple’s case. Then again, because these kibbles have a relatively crumbly composite texture, it doesn’t fair quite as well in the visual assessment. There are no artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin; instead, mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E compound) are used.

Cons: Pearl millet, brown rice, and beet pulp are listed quite high on the ingredients label which, I suppose, contributed to Maple’s impressive poop. These ‘fillers’, however, seem to overshadow the meat content which consists minimally (21%) of dehydrated lamb, lamb, and white fish. Unfortunately, it is not made clear on the packaging where the ingredients are sourced from. We also noticed that Maple harboured unpleasant doggie breath while purely on Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet—her  little embarassment eventually subsided after we mixed Canine Caviar with Orijen and, now, Acana (more on this tomorrow).

Notes: The addition of beet pulp as an ingredient in dry dog food is a contentious matter. Proponents claim that beet pulp is a valuable source of fibre, while adversaries argue that beet pulp can cause a slew of health problems such as bloat, allergies, and ear infections. Although Maple has not reacted adversely to beet pulp (touch wood), we are mindful of the issue and will try feeding Maple a variety of fresh high-fibre alternatives like papaya and pumpkin.

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing our experiences with Orijen and Acana—hope you’ll stay around for that!

Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Lori of According to Gus for introducing us, and readers of Gus’ blog, to Scribd. It is such a useful feature to have. We’ll definitely find more ways of incorporating Scribd into future posts on Happy.Bark.Days!

Disclaimer: All product reviews mentioned on Happy.Bark.Days are based upon our own personal experiences with our dog, Maple, and are strictly our honest opinions alone. As each dog will respond independently and in varying ways to the products reviewed on Happy.Bark.Days, we accept no responsibility legal or otherwise for the safety of any pets. Should there by any concerns, please seek the expert advice of a trained and certified professional.

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