Tag Archives: Newfoundland Dog

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?

 

#howigotmyname

There’s a challenge floating around social media to tell your naming story.  Since each girl joined us in the midst of family changes, I’d like to share their stories.

NewfGirlsWeb-85Maisie: My daughter had just gone off to college, and we had our two senior dogs Bailey (10 1/2- year-old Newfoundland) and Charlie (13-year-old Newfoundland Labrador mix). Charlie had been diagnosed with a large abdominal tumor and we knew he had limited time but Bailey was still in very good health.  I thought Bailey would be a great big sister to a new puppy, however the week before we picked up our new puppy Bailey took a turn and suddenly passed away.  We brought home this little bundle and poor Charlie wasn’t feeling well.  He passed away 1 week later.  Suddenly we went from 2 senior dogs to 1 young puppy.  We were starting over again and I kept thinking back to when Bailey was a puppy and my kids were little.  My daughter is an avid reader and we both shared our love of books and read together a lot, especially at bedtime.  One of our favorites was Daisy Head Maisie and it seemed like a perfect name for our little brown girl.

NewfGirlsWeb-14Annie: My son had just gone off to college and I was feeling the quietness of the empty nest.  I looked into Newfoundland Rescue and found Annie, who was still in foster care one year after her rescue. Annie was one of 44 Newfoundlands surrendered from a puppy mill in December of 2014.  The paperwork and records were spotty and all that we received for Annie was her 2014 Rabies certificate.  Her name was listed as Paris but Annie was handwritten across it.  I don’t know why she had two names or even how it was known that this was her name but she has always responded to Annie not Paris.  Assuming this is correct, I found a listing for Paris on a Newfoundland registry with a birthdate of June 7 2006 so that is when we celebrate her birthday.  We call her Annie Bear, Sweet Annie and Annie McFanny.

NewfGirlsWeb-31Winn:  On January 2nd of this year my very healthy Dad was diagnosed with a large tumor on his liver.  I was with him in February for his radiation therapy that was supposed to give him 2-3 years.  I hoped at that time that there would be a puppy available for me once they were born, and that I would bring her with me when I returned for his 3 month follow-up appt.  I rushed back to his side on March 24th.  The litter had been born and I shared my news with him and any new pictures as I got them from her breeder.  As my family and I sat around him in the hospital, we shared lots of stories and memories and by far our favorite place was our lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.  Dad loved his boat and my spot was always on the left side of the bow.  Whenever he felt like going for a spin, I eagerly joined him and we would tour around the lake.  I told him I would be naming her Winn and that made him smile.  Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to meet her but to honor him and those happy memories I decided her registered name should be Bearfoot in the Bow.

I know this post ends on a bit of a sad note, but Winn exudes so much joy and her antics bring me laughter when I need it most. It’s impossible to be sad when she is around.

I would love to hear from all of you with your naming stories, human or 4 legged!

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!

Back to the vet we go…

Last week we celebrated Annie’s 11th birthday, which is a big marker but was a bit tempered because right after dinner she started coughing.

I’ve written about her “old man noises” before.  She starts out with 2 or 3 gasps and then expels this horrific, loud noise. I was pretty sure it was her way of coughing because I’ve never heard her cough in a different way.  She has done this sporadically since we’ve had her, maybe once every 3 or 4 months but on her birthday she started and couldn’t seem to stop. After 5 or 6 episodes, she was tired and my nerves were rattled.

I couldn’t help but think that she had made it to her birthday and now she was taking a turn for the worse.  My heart was aching during her celebration but I know this day will be coming at some point, I’m just not ready yet.

She had a few more episodes and on Friday I took her to the vet.  After a thorough examination we sat there talking about what it could be and we both had the sense that it might be some sort of lung disease. Her lungs and heart sounded good when her doctor listened to her chest but we agreed that an x-ray was needed to try to find the answer. It couldn’t be done that day, her doctor wanted to have more people available to help her since Annie is so big so it had to wait until Monday.

Over the weekend, Annie did seem to be coughing less frequently and by Monday it had subsided but I was still bracing myself for bad news.  Poor Annie was trembling as soon as we sat down and when the tech came to take her back she did not want to leave me.  I walked her back as far as I could go and that seemed to help.

As I sat there waiting, I had rushes of so many different memories.  The first time we took her here was very traumatic.  She has changed so much and seems so happy with her life.  Whenever I get up from the couch or a chair, she is at my feet and I have to stretch over her.  We love our walks and she trots out to the car when I say “car ride”.  She loves food but she has curtailed her scavenger ways and hasn’t found anything to get into in quite a while, thank goodness.  She is still very nervous around strangers, especially men, and isn’t yet comfortable with my son but hopefully by the end of the summer they will reach an understanding.  It has been such a joy to have her with us and I am so honored that she has chosen to trust me to take care of her and keep her safe.

After what seemed like hours but was really only about 30 minutes I was able to join Annie in one of the exam rooms.  Her x-ray was done, we needed to wait while her doctor looked at all of the pictures.  Her doctor came through the door with a big smile which instantly put me at ease.  Everything looked great! No masses, no white spots and no foreign objects.  There was one tiny spot in her stomach and she went over it with an ultrasound and concluded it was a particle of a stick, stone or leaf that hadn’t digested, all probable since Annie frequently chews sticks when she is lounging in the grass. She looked at her lungs, heart, liver, spleen and trachea and all looked to be just fine.  The only concern was evidence of arthritis in her spine, something we both assumed but now was confirmed.  Her conclusion was “old man lung” which isn’t something that is treated. When lungs get old they get a little more sensitive. Heat and allergies could have triggered her coughing and it has been hot and she takes medication for allergies.

Since we’ve been home, she hasn’t coughed again.  Her energy level, appetite and breathing have all been normal.  She’s sleeping by my feet, moaning every now and then as she stretches and seems to be completely content.  Once again, she rang my alarm bell and ended up being just fine. She’s an aging dog, and with that comes a variety of health concerns but for now I am relieved.IMG_1508