A Traditional Culture
In Turkey, Black Sea region is known for its dark sea, fish, balmy weather, enriched farmlands, hazelnut, honey, Laz people’s jokes, and most importantly, the lush plateaus.
The sea, the land, along with the weather, have cultivated the ways of living, especially for people who live in the small villages surrounding by the highlands. In the villages, people grow fruits, nuts, keeping bees, making yogurt. When it’s summer time, they take their live stocks to stay on the plateaus so the animals can enjoy the fresh grass.
A Different Type of Relationship
In many parts of Turkey, especially small towns where people live more traditionally, keeping indoor pets is still a less appreciated concept. Dogs and cats roaming around freely are more like part of the community instead. People are reminded to offer them water and food, especially on hot summer days. As a result, most of the dogs and cats are friendly towards strangers. You can easily pat a napping cat or quickly befriend a playful puppy.
Among the highlands in Black Sea, Kackar mountains are known for their high elevation and breathtaking landscape. Most of the visitors spend at least one night camping. There are two main camp sites along the route from the village Yayalar to the 3937 meters tall peak (~13,000 ft). The first camp ground, Dilberduzu, is on the plateau side before an intensive climb, and the other one is next to the Deniz lake deep in the mountains. There are more people gathered at Dilberduzu, and many tents are set up already. With more resources, most of the free roaming dogs mainly live around Dilberduzu. Among the dogs, there are a few Kangal Shepherd Dogs.
The Gentle Guardian
Kangals are originated from Turkey as working and guardian dogs. You see them frequently around the Black Sea plateau regions as protectors of the livestocks. They are extremely strong dogs that can even fight bears, but they are very sweet to people, especially great with kids. The Kangals at the campground are used to travelers, and therefore are very easy going. They know the mountains well, and an intensive 8 hour summiting hike for people, to them, is like a stroll in their backyard. The Kangals thus often accompany trekkers to explore the mountains. Sometimes for food, sometimes just for fun.
Each culture and each region has its own special way of living, and its own dynamic with the dogs and the cats. They are all different, because we are all different. However, the affectionate bondings between human and animals, are all based on love and respect towards life and nature. No matter how a society changes, no matter how the world progresses, we should never lose that special love and respect.
Remember Billy, the 10 year-old Lab mixed who suffered from joint pain but unable to continue the conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications because of his liver and kidneys conditions? Even though a newer, potentially milder version of NSAIDs was offered, combining with pain medications, Billy’s owners opted for more natural alternatives. After consulting with a holistic veterinarian, Billy starts receiving once a week acupuncture sessions, therapeutic doses of turmeric supplements, along with the previously initiated joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin.
Turmeric is one of the most popular natural herbal remedies that has been studied extensively over the past decade. Curcuminoids are the active components that give turmeric powerful medicinal properties, and curcumin is the most potent among the different curcuminoids. On average, pure turmeric powder has approximately 3% curcumin by weight. Curcumin is well documented in the literatures to show high safety range and positive effects on treating aging-associated diseases, especially inflammatory conditions. In other words, curcumin is a great alternative for Billy. Since Billy is hard to give pills to, the vet suggests to mix organic curcumin extract powder into his dish. However, here comes the issue: Billy hates the taste of turmeric, and goes on a hunger strike when his food is mixed with the powder! (To be honest, I don’t blame Billy…. We all love some yummy Indian curry, but, have you ever tried any turmeric tea or turmeric juice blend from grocery stores? Let’s put it this way, they taste healthier than healthy, and I needed to hold my breath to finish them.) To entice Billy, and meanwhile to increase the bioavailability, (improve the absorption of turmeric) Billy’s owners were advised to either look into turmeric supplements that Billy likes, (for example, Vetcreations Turmeric Supplements) or cook the powder and make it into homemade "golden paste."
After two months of taking turmeric, consistent acupuncture, and occasional pain medications when Billy is particularly sore, he is doing so much better! He eats well, has great energy, and his guffy party-loving personality is back! Billy's humans can't be happier!
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3. Sathish Sundar Dhilip Kumar, Nicolette Nadene Houreld and Heidi Abrahamse. Review: Therapeutic Potential and Recent Advances of Curcumin in the Treatment of Aging-Associated Diseases. Molecules. 2018, 23, 835.
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As health care providers, one of the many challenges that we face on a daily basis, is to customize individualized care/treatment plans every 20-40 minute or less, and be able to explain/deliver them in a clear and an effective way. There are general concepts, but there are no one-fits-all formulas, and therefore no matter how well a specific type of food works on your friend’s diabetic cat, and your cat has the similar symptoms as that cat, it doesn’t mean that the same food will help your cat. As a result, please consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your pet, as well as before making any drastic changes on the way you care for your fur babies.
“But doctor, which food should I feed my dog/cat?” “What do you think about raw food?” “Is people food bad for Fluffy?” “Should I avoid chicken?” “Is grain-free really better?” “What should I feed my 9 week old puppy/kitten” “Should I switch food now that my dog/cat is a senior?” ….
We will answer all those most frequently asked questions, but let’s take a step back to the basics first. More common than not, you will be able to answer many questions by yourself once you have a general idea on why and what to look for.
Hope these guidelines help! We will discuss more specific concerns in the future. Let us know what confuses you the most too when choosing what to feed your beloved pets!
More for references:
Offers home cook recipes that are designed by board certified veterinary nutritionists.
Learn more about what the terms used on the pet food labels mean.
3. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
Approximate daily caloric needs for average indoor dogs and cats.
----Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA