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Archive for the ‘dog food’ Category

The raw transition is complete! No upset tummies, no problems! They spent their first ten days getting chicken, and have now been introduced to turkey. Beef and lamb will be coming soon.

I can’t deny it is more work. Bags of kibble are so much easier. Portioning up the raw, packaging it, and making sure enough is thawed for feeding takes a bit more forethought than just coming home and scooping out portions from a bag of kibble. But I truly think it’s worth it.

During this transition we’ve also been working on the Labrador’s ear infection. I can happily report that the ear is currently a very nice shade of white/pink! All medication has stopped, and she seems to be doing fine. Now the real test will be to see if the infection returns.

Both dogs seem to greatly enjoy their new diet and lick their bowls clean. Weight ins have shown no loss or gain of weight since we began so it seems I’m feeding a good portion since we began this with them both at good weights. I will be curious to see if I notice any changes, though I do think both of their coats seem to be a bit softer, but that could just be that it’s turning cold here and they are currently curled up one on either side of me on the couch snoring!

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Yesterday we took the plunge. I bought my first two chubs of raw. I got home, took out my little spreadsheet, a bunch of ziplock baggies, my sharpie, a cutting board, scale and knife and took to dissecting it into meal sized portions.

The dogs were very curious, especially the Labrador. I have a feeling once we are at set amounts the packaging into meal sized portions will not take as long as it did this time, but since we are transitioning every three days to a new amount and the amounts are different per dog, it took a bit of time.

Finally I mixed the first portion with their vitamins and kibble and offered the bowls to the dogs. At first they started with the kibble, then tasted the raw. Since they both went back to lick their bowls twice I think it was a rousing success! For their second meal they started with the raw first, then ate their kibble. So first concern and obstacle easily overcome!

Portions for today and tomorrow are thawing in the fridge.

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I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading up on the question of what to feed your dog. My very first dog joined my life when I was in junior high and ate whatever my parents fed him, usually kibble bought at the grocery store, or sometimes that fake plastic feeling hamburger looking stuff, which I don’t believe had any passing relationship with real meat. Over the years what I’ve fed my dogs has changed. I went from what I could buy at the grocery store, to food that wasn’t carried in grocery stores, but could be found at places like Petsmart. And now I’m about to take the next leap to food that Petsmart doesn’t carry.

I’ve been reading about raw diets for several months. It’s something I’ve been considering for some time, but there is a bit of fear there. Fear of contamination. Fear of my dogs not getting all the nutrition they need. Fear I’ll screw something up. Sometimes I think I over analyze things. I know I have an issue with wanting to get things “right” even when I know logically there is no right way. Perhaps a better way to look at it is to find the right way for you and your dog. And sometimes this takes experimentation.

I’ve lost several dogs to cancer over the years. There are a lot of claims about kibble and cancer. There are a lot of claims about processed foods and health issues with humans. I can state that in the last two years I’ve made several changes to my diet and have definitely seen an improvement in my health by adding more fruits and vegetables, and eating far less processed food. Can this extrapolate to dogs? Clearly I’m hoping so!

Several months ago I took the Lab to the vet to have him check out her ears. She’d been shaking her head, and there was nasty, black, smelly build up in her left ear. The cleaner I’d bought at Petsmart wasn’t fixing the issue and the ear was red and clearly irritated. I left that appointment with Oti-Clens, and Zymox. Two weeks later that issue was better, but there was still that wet, squishy sound when you rubbed her ear, and she was still producing a lot of wax and some of the black smelly stuff. At this time I also switched her to a grain free food. The ear became less red, which was good, but clearly something was still going on. Back to the vet we went and this time left with a different ear treatment. (I’ll edit later with the type). Things progressed and we were getting less of the black mess, but her ear canal was staying moist, and cleanings had to be done daily, sometimes twice a day.

Two weeks ago I took her back. This time the vet got a different instrument and got a good look inside the ear to find a small mass of wax and dark black hair near the ear drum. The Vet wasn’t certain if they were her hairs growing there, or something that’d gotten stuck in there and wasn’t being flushed out. We’d managed the infection, and irritation with all the cleaning. Her ear wasn’t red, but as long as this remained in her ear the odds were the ear would keep producing wax to try to get it out. After all this messing with her ears, the Lab really doesn’t do well when someone messes with them, so he couldn’t get a good look to determine if it was a loose mass or her own hair. The decision was made to go back to the Oti-Clens and Zymox for five days, then bring her in and sedate her if the hairs weren’t flushed out to clean it.

Needless to say after all this time, it wasn’t flushed out. So on Monday she went in, and got sedated. The gunk was removed, and it wasn’t her own hair, but hair that had somehow found it’s way into the ear and managed to get hooked in such a way flushing wasn’t getting it out. The only issue is that once he removed this we learned her ear drum is ruptured. The vet doesn’t know when this happened. The infection could have caused this. So now we are on antibiotics and another ear drop to help the ear heal.

Now what does all this have to do with raw diets? A lot of what I’ve been reading states that a raw diet can help with ear issues. I have seen for myself that switching to a higher quality food made a difference, though clearly I cannot quantify how much of a difference since we were treating the ear at the same time I made the switch. But it’s enough that I’m ready to make the switch instead of circling around the issue reading. Sometimes you have to jump in with both feet and give it a try.

I’ve started to order the supplements I’ll be using with the raw diet. I’ve priced the raw diet I’ve decided to go with. I am not brave enough to create it on my own balancing the nutrients, so I’m going with a commercially prepared one that grinds the bones up in the meat for you. I’ve created a spreadsheet of amounts to feed to slowly introduce the raw over a 10 day period. The freezer is on order for storage. I expect the transition to begin next week, and will be documenting any changes I see. I know this will be an experiment in trial and error to find the perfect balance to maintain their weight. We already weigh the dogs every week, and of course do rib checks. I’m sure between the slow transition we plan to make and just making the transition completely it will take time before we figure out the correct amount to feed them. I’ll be back to post how it goes and what changes I see!

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According to my husband I am one of “those” moms.  He says I have “mommy” senses which are similar to Spidey Sense that lets me know when our dogs are getting into trouble.  I am also one of those moms that likes to know as much as I can about everything I’m doing to and with my dogs.  What this means is that I’m learning to ask more questions.  And it seems for everything we do there are always more questions to be asked.  Questions like what should I feed my dog?  Why?  When?  How much?  What vaccinations should my dog have?  Why?  How often?

Start asking questions.  Did you know that materials used to teach nutrition in many vet schools are provided by some of the big name dog food companies like Purina and Hills?  I didn’t.  I never thought about it.  Now, does this mean the information is automatically incorrect?  No.  But it does make me want to take a deeper look, especially when that information then promotes their own line of dog food.  I’ve also heard about other perks being provided to vet schools, vet students and then clinics from these big companies if they then promote, carry and prescribe the company’s products.  Again, does this make the information contained inaccurate?  No.  But questions are important.  And there are people on both sides of the spectrum from the dog food you can get at the grocery store is just fine — to you should only feed raw, natural food to your dog!  My answer is to read.  To learn.  To study.  To get as much information as I can and to make the best decision I can for me, my dog and our lifestyle.

Vaccinations were the subject of my conversation last night.  About two weeks ago someone who I respect greatly in the dog world mentioned she didn’t have her dog vaccinated for something vets (I’ve had a few over the years) had been vaccinating my dogs for on a yearly basis.  Sometimes it takes something like this to spark you asking questions.  For me I’d gone along with the idea that my vet knew best all these years.  After all, they are the ones that went to school to learn how to be a vet!  Wouldn’t they be the most knowledgeable?  In a perfect world — yes.

Yeah, I don’t live there either.

So I started reading.  I started asking questions.  I decided I wanted to understand to the best of my ability with the time I had before my next yearly check up with my dogs (which was oh, three days!) what exactly I was vaccinating for, why and the risks associated both with vaccinating and with not vaccinating.  Let me just say, staring to dive into this made my head want to explode.  Just like with dog food there are people all over the spectrum on this very hot topic.  It’s s hot topic for humans as well right now.  Over vaccination.  Do vaccinations cause illness?  Are they bad?  Are they good?  BOOM!

I read.  And I printed.  And I highlighted.  I dreamed about needles.  And then I went to my vet.  I warned the staff I wanted to have a conversation with my vet when I made the appointment.  I actually asked if I could just schedule an appointment for the conversation, but they said to bring the pup along either way.  I made sure my appointment was the last one on his calendar so that while I might upset his wife making him miss dinner, I wouldn’t cause the person with the sick pup waiting to see him any distress.  And then I got nervous.  With my research I read of vets unwilling to change their vaccination protocols.  Of vets being unwilling to even discuss it.  Of vets using scare tactics to frighten a pet owner.  I have a hard time challenging authority sometimes, but when it’s for something I care about well this little mouse can roar.  I didn’t have to roar.  I talked.  He listened.  He talked.  I listened.

I’m not going to tell you what vaccination protocol we settled on.  I will tell you this conversation with my vet was worth every minute of the hour and fifteen minutes of my time.  We came to a mutually acceptable decision on what was best at this time for my dog.  I feel I understand (and will keep reading!!) the risks I am taking with my decisions (to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, because there are risks either way!), and that I am doing the best thing I can for my dog with the knowledge I have.  That’s all we can do for those we love.

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