We are always trying to learn new things about pet treats and what our customers are looking for.  We had quite a few conversations with folks at the recent "Strut Your Mutt" that had dogs that were older with fewer teeth. They advised that they found the traditional biscuit type treat too hard for them to enjoy.  Quite a few of the owners thought that they would try a Ruffikin to see if their pet was able to enjoy one of these treats. We broke a Ruffikin into small pieces and had these much loved dogs give them a try. Much to our delight we found that the softer muffin was easier for them to handle w
Ruffikins was at the Best Friends "Strut Your Mutt" today on the Hudson Piers. This was a huge event with many vendors and organizations and folks involved with helping rescue animals, including Rock & Rawhide, which we mentioned in some of our earlier posts. 

The great surprise at the Rock & Rawhide tent was seeing Kate Perry, dog trainer extraordinaire (www.kateperrydogtraining.com). Her goal is "creating the best possible relationship between you and your dog." A few years ago, Charlie, or should we say "we", used her services and to this day we still put into practice what she taught us.  Kate has a new book that is coming out this Tuesday and we urge you to look for it. So what can we say except that once again Rock & Rawhide rocked for us in having Kate be part of its organization and giving us the opportunity to meet up again. To those that helped to support Rock & Rawhide, THANK YOU!

Ruffikins would also like to thank Jeannie of Shepherds Hope Rescue (http://www.shepherdshoperescue.org/) for helping us today at our tent and for getting the word out about Ruffikins.  Check out her organization as well and see all the good deeds that they do for these German Shepherds.
Please come to the Best Friends Organization "Strut Your Mutt" on Sept. 29th on the Hudson Piers.  
Ruffikins will be there in the Canine Cafe!
The previous post gave you all the ingredients that are in Ruffikins.  As stated, 
we have done a lot of research, and in the recent article by Elizabeth Pask and Laura Scott in the magazine "Modern Dog," we were thrilled to see the Ruffikins Muffins recipe was validated again by yet another source. 

Of the 10 foods listed, 4 are ingredients in Ruffikins: pumpkin, eggs, apples, and oatmeal. The article is interesting, and includes other foods such as salmon, which Charlie loves, (be sure that it is cooked salmon, not sushi), green beans (not a favorite; but hey you can't win them all), and sweet potatoes (we like pumpkin better.)

Rather than go into the details of each of the ingredients, read the article or our previous entry.  It might give you some ideas of how to incorporate other foods, in addition to Ruffikins, into your pet's daily food intake.  It does advise that any additions to your dog's diet should not comprise more than 25 percent of the weekly caloric requirement. Also remember, just like people, dogs have likes and dislikes! 
It has been suggested, like the Macaw muffins (see previous post) that we should research a gluten free muffin and a vegan variety that would have a substitute for eggs which, of course, is not acceptable for the vegan dog (is there such a thing?)   We might try these suggestions, but they would not be available until we have all the necessary approvals, legally and just as importantly, approval by our tasters, Charlie  and friends.



P.S.  We discovered that Macaws do not like cinnamon. We really are not "dogs of a feather, after all.

                      What is in a Ruffikin Muffin?

The question always comes up as to what is in a Ruffikin Muffin.  You may have read in one of our “Ruffikins Adventures” articles on our website, www.ruffikinsmuffins.com , that we have researched  and continue to research what would be good for our dog, Charlie.

Most recently I came across an article by Elizabeth Pask and Laura Schott in the magazine “Modern Dog,” titled “10 “people” Foods for Dogs.” It was great to see once again that 4 of the 10 foods listed are in Ruffikins.  The remaining six listed in the article could be used to make other flavors of Ruffikins, but for now we will stick with the original Ruffikin flavor that most dogs find delicious, Pumpkin with a bit of apple!

The article advised the following respecting four of the ingredients that are found in Ruffikins:

Apples are wonderful crunchy treats for your dog.  Apples with the skin on are full of plant chemicals (phytonutirents) that are thought to be protective against some types of cancer in humans. They are a source of vitamin A, C and fiber.  Apple seeds, however, contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core.  Though the effects of a few apple seeds will likely not harm your dog, the deleterious effects can accumulate over time if allowed to eat apple seeds regularly,”  

(Ruffikins DO NOT contain the core of apples!)

Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber.  This can be beneficial for some older dogs that may have trouble maintaining bowel regularity.  Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat.  It can be fed in conjunction with probiotics to enhance their function.  Keep in mind oatmeal should always be fed cooked and plain with no sugar or flavoring.  As always, check with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they are on any medications.  Upsetting the vitamin and mineral balances in your dog’s diet can have negative effects on your dog’s health and some medications interact badly with some nutrients.  The aim of most dog owners is to give their dogs the best diet possible. Good nutrition coupled with a health care program may result in extending your dog’s life by as much as 15 percent.”

Eggs are a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin and selenium.  For some dogs that are prone to digestive upset, eggs can  give them a little protein boost.  Adding eggs to your dog’s food is a healthy treat.  Make sure to use cooked whole egg, as raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency.  I you do a lot of training with your dog, consider taking cooked eggs to your next class as training treats.”

(Ruffikins suggests that you break up a muffin and use that as your special treat for your dog while you are training)

Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A).  Dogs need fiber in their diet.  The current trend is towards highly digestible diets that lower stool volume and this is not necessarily a good thing. Keeping the GI tract moving helps keep the cells lining the gut healthy.”

(Pumpkin is a major ingredient in Ruffikins)

What are the remaining ingredients in Ruffikins? They are Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, canola oil and whole wheat flour.

Cinnamon- You will note that Ruffikins contain Ceylon cinnamon.  There is a great controversy regarding cinnamon and whether or not you should use Cassia cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon.  We use Ceylon as the Cassia variety has a compound in it called coumarin.  We would point out, as many articles will advise, that you would need to ingest a great quantity of the Cassia variety to have it be harmful.  Never the less, we decided to use the more expensive Ceylon cinnamon as it is alleged to have more benefits for humans as well as dogs.

Quoting from an on line article title “An Essential Spice for Dogs and Humans to Share,” by Julia Szabo, she advises the following:

“Recent studies have shown that just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day helps to regulate blood sugar and raise insulin resistance; it actually boosts the body’s ability to use insulin to improve blood glucose levels.  This is vital for any one at risk for diabetes- and that includes senior and overweight dogs.  So in addition to feeding a low glycemic index dog food, top off his kibble bowl with cinnamon!  Other studies reveal that cinnamon is antifungal; it works to combat Candida albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infections.  These infections are often resistant to medication, but not to cinnamon.  (Dogs who suffer from allergies are often prone to yeast infections)….”

Further reading indicated that many of the benefits that are mentioned in Julia Szabo’s article are not there if you use the Cassia variety of cinnamon.  This is another reason why we choose to go the Ceylon cinnamon route.

Canola Oil, another ingredient used in Ruffikins, was chosen as we were advised early on since we were cooking with the oil, that there was no real nutritional basis for using olive oil or vegetable oil in Ruffikins.  Canola oil also has a cleaner taste, allowing the other flavors in Ruffikins to come through.  Canola oil is also lower in saturates compared to other oils and as such we thought it was the better choice.   We would also advise that in a batch of 40 Ruffikins we only use about 1 teaspoon of oil.

Ginger has many benefits in a person’s diet or for that matter a dogs.   Quoting from www.petcarenaturally.com they advise the following:

Why recommend administration of ginger to my pet?

The most famous medical use of ginger is as an anti-emetic (prevention of nausea and vomiting). Indeed, in Chinese medicine, ginger is consumed as a stomachic, to help support digestion and normalize gastric function. Several placebo controlled randomized studies have shown ginger to be safe and effective in the relief of nausea associated with pregnancy. Alcohol extracts were shown effective in preventing vomiting in dogs receiving cisplatin chemotherapy.

One challenging small animal disorder that ginger probably has significant potential to relieve or prevent is gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat) in dogs. Despite its efficacy in preventing vomiting, ginger has been shown to stimulate stomach motility and accelerate stomach emptying time in multiple studies.

Another interesting potential application of ginger is in the treatment of canine heartworm disease. In a 1987 study, microfilarial loads were reduced between 83 and 98 percent by 12 subcutaneous injections of an alcohol extract. Side effects of treatment were minimal to absent.

Other milder effects of ginger are also utilized in practice. Some holistic practitioners incorporate it into the therapy for pets with heart disease due to the cardiotonic and anti- clotting effects which have been suggested in a limited number of laboratory animal studies. Products for the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs have been recently released utilizing ginger extracts as their main component. Clinical trials in dogs have not been reported in the literature. Effects of ginger in human osteoarthritis are mild to moderate and not clinically significant when compared with drugs such as ibuprofen.

No studies on the effects of ginger in cats have been conducted.”

Whole Wheat Flour is the final ingredient that we utilize in making Ruffikins. Whole wheat flour is less refined and has more health benefits than white flour.  It also has a higher nutritional value and contains more fiber.  We urge you to investigate on your own the benefits using whole wheat flour instead of white flour in your recipes.  Early on we tried a gluten free whole wheat flour at the suggestion of friends but our canine tasting committee much preferred the standard variety.  We are committed however, should your dog need a gluten free variety, to make them as a special order

As you can see we keep reading as many articles that we can  relating to the ingredients used in Ruffikins.  We hope that this gives you the confidence to know that we think that these treats are nutritional and are a great way to give your dog variety.  Perhaps after reading this you might be tempted to ask your pet to share one with you…. that is if he will let you put a paw on it!

Ruffikins Muffins will be at the annual 2012 New York City "Strut Your Mutt" on Saturday, September 29th.  Look for us in the Canine Cafe.  
Come out and support this event which is sponsored by Best Friends Animal Society. 
Ruffikins has been in existence (legally) for a short time (3 months).  From a boatride in Amsterdam where three friends floated down the canals discussing, “Why do you want to do this?” to “your naming it what?” it has been quite a journey.  The “how” it got started is detailed in my website, www.ruffikinsmuffins, so we won’t go into that again.   What is not discussed is what it actually takes to start a dog treat business.  Easier said then done! Thank goodness I did not know a thing when I started other than a passion for my pooch, and the fact that I like to cook. 

Let’s start with do not believe the how easy it is do to stories that you read on the internet.  Obviously, it is not insurmountable, otherwise Ruffikins would not exist. It does however take patience, perseverance and a bit of creativity.  Should you think you want to start a business be prepared for all things you cannot do if you are not registered and licensed to sell your product.  It is too long and involved to go into the details of having your product tested and how you need to package and label it…… write to me if you have questions in that regard for the state of New York.  So  really what is the most important thing you need to do? Have a passion for the product, love to learn and reach out to people that can help you and guide you to build your business. 

One might ask what is the "so what" at this stage of the buisness? The "so what" is that it can be a lot of fun.  The Farmers Market in Tuxedo, New York has been great.  Filled with lots of folks that are dedicated to their products and enjoy their interaction with the customers.   Good thing Ruffikins are truly the treat that your dog could share with you, as several people, before they read the signage or before I could stop them actually popped my sample Ruffikins into their mouths.  Not to worry, nothing harmful in them for humans.  My step-daughter  during a recent visit actually ate them for breakfast, dipping them into maple syrup to add sweetness,  (remember, they have no sugar).  

Reaching out to other venue’s and events is also terrific.  Ruffikins is going to provide muffins for two charity events through a great group called rock & rawhide www.rock&rawhide.org . On August 25th the first ever adoption day for the Union Township Animal Shelter will be held and the first 15 people that adopt will be provided with goodie bags that will include a sample of Ruffikins Muffins. On Sept 8th there will be a run and the first 30 people that sign up will receive samples of Ruffikins as well. 

If you have had a chance to try Ruffikins, let me have your thoughts.  A recent suggestion by a friend is that I should add walnuts so that her Macaws could eat them.  So as a flight of fancy, Ruffikins might try a sample batch and see if we might be dogs of a feather! We will keep you posted.