Tag Archives: dog health

Poor Annie

Annie’s had a rough go lately.

It started about 4 weeks ago, she suddenly was reluctant to go up and down the stairs.  A couple of nights she refused altogether and one night she chose to make her way upstairs in the dark well after we had all gone to sleep.  We found her curled up outside our bedroom door the next morning and it broke my heart.

She wasn’t showing signs of joint pain so my best guess was that her nails were too long and the stairs felt slippery, and/or her vision was getting worse. It had been a while since her last nail trim because she had been so nervous at her last vet visit I decided to cancel her nail trim.  We both braved another vet visit, got her vision checked (she probably does see shadows in her peripheral vision) and her nails trimmed and that seemed to help even though she was still anxious and would attempt the stairs 4 or 5 times before finally charging all the way up.

About a week later, she woke me up with her usual nudge and bark.  When I turned on the light she looked like she had a ping-pong ball tucked into her jowl.  Shit.  I have always worried about her teeth and it appeared she had an abscess, so off to the vet we went.  Again, she was incredibly stressed and I had to coax her along as we navigated several stops and starts before I could get her in the exam room.

Sure enough, she needed to have two teeth surgically removed.  Her surgery day was the third trip to the vet in 3 weeks and she was not happy about it.  She completely put on the brakes and would NOT go through the door leading to the procedure rooms.   She’s 115 lbs. and when she decides she’s not going somewhere she means it! I had to lift her back-end and straddle her as we made our way into the hospital area.  I don’t usually go back there but the tech that came out to assist us was a male and I just said flat-out, “this is going to make it worse”. Everyone there knows her well and he quickly retreated so that Annie wouldn’t see him as I got her where she needed to be and her regular tech ran forward to greet us and take over for me. She just knew that something big was about to happen.

After her surgery, which took longer that expected–each tooth had 4 roots rather than 3, she refused to go to the recovery room which is further back in the hospital.  She would only go forward, towards the exit door. There is an office right there so they set up a bed and that’s where she recovered, getting lots of one on one attention from all of the doctors when they were in between patients.  Thank goodness she has doctors that are willing to make special accommodations!

Once I got her back home, she slowly started to show improvement.  It took a couple of days for her recover from the anesthesia, and she was on painkillers for few more days but her overall mood was so much better.

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Annie’s home!

In the middle of all of this, I’ve been helping my mom move into her new condo and have moved several furniture pieces that don’t fit in her place into my house.  One piece is a steamer trunk that we placed in the front hall by the stairs until we figured out where to put it.  A few days ago I pushed it further away from the stairs and that night Annie went upstairs with no hesitation. OMG, I should have known!  Annie doesn’t like narrow spaces or new doorways.  I had just created a narrow space where there wasn’t one and that was the reason she suddenly wouldn’t go upstairs.  Ugh, I feel terrible.

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The trunk that caused Annie to rethink going upstairs.

Over the past several days, she’s had trouble keeping her food down.  She has a two week post surgery follow-up scheduled and I really don’t want traumatize her again by dragging her in for another appointment in addition to that.  She has no other symptoms of distress.  Her mood is better than ever, her energy level is back to normal, she is drinking water and her stool is fine.  I stopped her painkillers, started feeding her 4 times a day with small meals of Prescription Digestive Care food (still softened as directed for her post oral surgery care), added probiotics because she was also on high powered antibiotics.  I consulted with her dr. and she agreed with my treatment and also suggested an antacid to add to her food. If anything changes or gets worse she wants to see us immediately. This regimen seems to be helping, each day her food goes down a little easier so I am hopeful that she will be completely better in a few more days.

Poor Annie, she’s fragile but she’s such a trooper and once again she has shown me that she’s not going to let this get her down.  She just would like it if we never went back to the vet again!

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Annie is feeling much better, eager for a treat!

 

 

 

Dog food alarm bells!

Last weekend I was minding my own business, scrolling through my facebook feed when an article caught my attention: 12 facts you need to know about dog food, or something like that.  Of course I clicked on it and even though it was obviously written by a dog food company I am always willing to learn as much as possible about what I should feed my dogs. (Should I be concerned that the internet knows I have dogs?)

Many of the facts listed were things I already knew but there were a couple of warnings that stood out.  There is a wide range of food available and there is also a wide range of ingredients used.  I’ve seen the 4 d’s highlighted before (dead, dying, diseased and decaying) which prompted me years ago to do extensive research to find the most healthy food for my dogs.  I’ve been using the same food for years and it has worked well for us, but every couple of years there seems to be a new brand that is getting lots of hype and I will compare foods again to see if it’s time to make a change.

I recently did this just before we brought Winn home.  She had been eating a different brand with her breeder so I was trying to decide if I should keep her on that, transition to our brand’s large breed puppy formula, or switch everybody over to this brand.  Maybe it was better than what we’ve been using.

I’m not a nutritionist, medical professional or breeder.  I simply have my own experience to draw from, other people’s opinions to consider, and research and articles available to refer.

As I read through this list of facts, one of the warnings was about meat with the word meal, and that it was bad. I quickly opened another window and brought up the ingredient list of our dog food and holy s**t the first ingredient is chicken meal!  Oh no, I looked further down the list and also saw whitefish meal.  I have tried so hard to do right by my dogs and now I’ve somehow been duped into giving them crap food for over 15 years!

As my heart was racing, I opened another window and pulled up the ingredient list of the food her breeder was using.  It’s a brand I’ve heard other Newfoundland owners recommend and I knew it was considered to be a high quality food. The first ingredient was duck, then chicken meal.  I took a breath, and concluded that I needed to dig a little deeper to figure out what was good and what was bad.

I found a website that has product reviews on almost every food on the market.  They evaluate the ingredient list item by item, give explanations of these items and make recommendations based on their findings. With my head spinning from information overload, I was relieved to see our food was on the best dry dog food list (4 1/2 stars, should I switch to 5 stars?) but most importantly, I was finally able to understand why the ingredients chosen were important and what the deal is with meat meal.

Not all meals are alike and this is an easy to understand explanation:

Meat meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew — except that this stew is intentionally over-cooked.

With rendering, you start with a meat stew, cook away the water and bake the residue.  And you end up with a highly concentrated protein powder — or meat meal.

Of course, not all meat meals are created equal. Some are of very high quality while others are positively awful.

It all boils down to the stew’s contents — the raw materials. And one critically important principle…

No meal product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it.

Better meals are typically made from the meat of clearly identified sources. Low-grade meals come from anonymous materials like slaughterhouse waste and spoiled supermarket meats — even diseased or dying cattle — or dead zoo animals.

In other words, you want to see meal that is animal specific such as chicken, lamb, beef, venison, ect.  Avoid dog foods that include the words “by-products” next to the meal or fail to name the source of the meal. Examples include: meat meal, chicken by products meal, animal meal or meat and bone meal.

If you are curious and want to read about your food of choice or are looking for a recommendation here’s a link to this website: Dog food advisor. 

In addition to testing and evaluating foods they also have other helpful articles available such as these about large breed puppy food and how to find superior brands.

Here’s my own list of helpful hints:

  1. Choose foods that are protein rich and avoid foods that use corn and corn germ meal, especially at the top of the ingredient list. Corn is an inexpensive ingredient that is low in nutritional value.
  2. Wash your dog’s bowls after each meal and provide lots of fresh water.
  3. Be aware of human foods that your dogs can and can’t eat and keep the phone numbers of poison control and the nearest emergency vet handy.
  4. Trust your instincts.  You know your dogs better than anyone and you also know when they have an upset stomach.
  5. Spoil your dogs, in a healthy way!

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    Can you tell who thinks meal time is exciting?

 

This is not a race!

I have always loved exuberant eaters. Babies, kids, adults, dogs. Bailey loved food so much that she would race through her meal hoping for seconds.  Charley became a fast eater because he didn’t want Bailey to get his food.  Even though it was entertaining, it’s not good for them so I was very relieved when Maisie did not do this.  In fact she is the opposite, she’s the first dog I’ve ever had that will walk away from her bowl when she’s finished even if that means there is still food left!

Now we find ourselves back in a familiar situation.  Annie loves her food but she doesn’t have all of her teeth so that slows her down to a healthy rate.  She generally finishes before Maisie, but will stand patiently by her side and wait to see if she can claim any leftovers. I would put Winn in the fast eater category.  Recently she seems to be speeding up so that she finishes first. I’ve caught her shoving her head into Annie’s bowl, obviously this not good for so many reasons.  (Maisie now eats in her crate because she didn’t like the pressure of having the other two watching her after they were done.)

I’ve always been terrified that one of my dogs will get bloat.  It’s a deadly condition that primarily happens in big dogs and eating too fast is thought to be one of the causes. You can read more about it here.  It’s such a concern that my vet was telling me about a technique that can be done to tack her stomach so it won’t twist if she does bloat.  I need to do more research about this and it would be done while she has her spay surgery but we won’t be doing that until she is over a year old so I’ve got time to decide.

Eating slowly is better for dogs. A slow eater is at less risk for bloat and obesity.  One of the ways to slow down a fast eater is with a puzzle bowl.  I first noticed them a couple of years ago and wished I had gotten one for Bailey. Since I want her to have healthy habits, I got one for Winn.   This bowl style challenges them and allows them to eat like they would in nature by using foraging techniques. IMG_2203

So far I would call it a success.  This morning Annie finished eating and let herself out and Winn was still eating.  It doesn’t seem to frustrate her.  She uses her nose and tongue  and spins around to change angles.  I just hope she doesn’t get too dizzy while she eats!