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Dog Health – Alangus Mini Aussies: A Dog Blog
Oct 142014
 

Until Swagger was my keeper to use as a stud dog with my girls, I hadn’t had experience with an intact male and the minor issues that arise.  Swagger is a superb pet while being a major part of my breeding program so I strive to keep him healthy and happy in order to pass along his best traits to the next generation of pups at Alangus Mini & Toy Aussies.

The only true issue that I have encountered is keeping Swagger at an optimum weight.   With the assistance of Dr. Laurelee Rubsch of MVP Vet in Louisville, KY, I have found the perfect combination of food and supplements to keep him feeling his best.   Because there are other dogs in the general population that might encounter similar stumbling blocks (both male and female, breeding and non-breeding), Dr. Rubsch’s holistic approach is worth sharing.

Although my dogs are house dogs and live a basically calm life, there are times that they inadvertently  reach their stress limit, just as we do.  Because of Swagger’s situation with intact girls cycling, he would sometimes be off his food whether it was a time for them to be bred or not.  Once he stopped eating, it seemed a bellyache would start a cycle for him and he blamed the food for his belly ache and then to “save” himself, he didn’t want to eat again, a downhill spiral.

Once I pinpointed that Swagger does much better on kibble that does not contain chicken or chicken fat, that was the first step to his feeling like the little man he was meant to be.  Once I ruled out foods with chicken, it was even more difficult to find foods that did not have chicken fat because it is a staple in the majority of dog foods.  I won’t say that he has an “allergy” to that protein source, but I will say that his stomach flora seems to be much more stable on other proteins.  My veterinarian tells me, as does Internet research that this is very common, more common than I had realized.

My next step was reading about irritable bowel syndrome, which can be a disease, but often is a symptom as in Swagger’s case from the cycle I mentioned earlier.  That led me to adding Tripett Canned Green Tripe  to his daily menu. Tripe is the stomach contents from cud chewing animals and is a natural probiotic. It is not a whole food in itself, but 1/3 can each day gets Swagger off to a good start just like a good breakfast sets us up to perform at our best.  I only feed my girls once each day, but Swagger gets his tripe in the morning as an “extra”.  The girls love it too and I also give them some occasionally, although not on a regular basis.  The canned tripe is available online from www.chewy.com or at some pet supply stores.

Dr. Rubsch advised adding additional probiotics (Probiotic Miracle) to the menu as well as Standard Process Canine Enteric Support powder *1/8 teaspoon of each daily.  On my own, I also added Seacure for Pets because it is touted as another all natural supplement with awesome reviews (and I will add my own).  These 3 supplements along with the tripe have Swagger in the best condition he has ever been in and full of spunk and vinegar as is the saying around here. Note..these products are available on Amazon.

This regimen may seem extra, but I have seen the difference in the health of my boy. It is probable that once Swagger’s digestive system was stabilized, that the supplements could be discontinued but since they are only food source supplements and not drugs, I see no reason to make changes when it is working and working well!  If you find your dog under undue stress for any reason causing a stomach upset or loss of appetite, or they just need a boost to look their fittest, you might consider adding some “yummies” to their diet, but only after your veterinarian has checked them for underlying health problems that need additional treatment.

 

 

 

 

Dec 192013
 

full moonI’m an old country girl, so the axiom “the watched pot never boils” is stuck in my head this morning when looking down at my new litter of six toy and miniature Australian Shepherd puppies (aka Miniature American Shepherds) born December 19, 2013.

I bred my black tri, Fancy, to my blue merle male, Swagger, back in October and the excitement has been building for the puppies to be born.  Even though I breed my girls once a year, having a litter of puppies has not become old hat for me.  I get nervous because I love my dogs and would never intend to jeopardize the health of my female for a litter of puppies.  When I’m nervous, I chatter, so I chatted online with friends the last three days as the time I had calculated for the whelping came.  Luckily, I have three really good friends that share my excitement and in some cases, remind me to breathe and relax a bit!!!

Fancy has a very predictable cycle and has had three litters of puppies in mid December from 2011-2013 within three days on the calendar of each other.  After taking her temperature early yesterday morning and it being 98.2, I knew birthing was eminent within 24 hours. However, when she started the normal shaking and quaking about 10 am and then no signs of puppies, I started to stress “a little” and gave my goto whelping vet a call.  She wasn’t concerned and said call her back if no puppies in 24 hours.  Okay.  Well, about 4 pm, Fancy’s water broke, or in dog terms, one water broke which usually indicates a puppy is in the birth canal and you should be seeing a nose or back end within 10 minutes.  Nothing.  She laid down and decided to take a nap while I paced and texted my friends.

So, what did I do, at 4:30 pm I called my vet again and she assured me that things were fine.  Just take a nap and relax.  My husband was making peanut butter balls for some of his friends for Christmas, so I ate a couple, thinking sugar was the perfect medicine.  Six pm passed and 7 was on the clock and no puppy.  Hmmm, the 10 minutes was long gone and I begin to wonder if a little ground hog baby that might have been in that sac of water was laying crossways in the birth canal holding up the train.  Yes, I called the vet again, after hours, and pleaded with her to meet me at the office just to be sure things were okay.  Dr. Ross at PeWee Valley Vet is awesome and I could see her smile on the other end of the line and she told me to meet her there in 15 minutes.

I packed up Fancy into a crate just in case, loaded my warming box for puppies, just in case, and took off.  After an ultrasound on that cool equipment that Dr. Ross has, she told me not to worry, relax, the water I saw was a bag without a puppy that bitches often have.  She said nature has a way of opening the birth canal for the real puppies with that bogus bag of water sometimes.  She also told me to expect puppies within the hour.

8 pm, 9 pm, 10 pm…..no puppies.  Fancy was panting and doing the weird stuff that girls do when they are trying to birth a baby, but no babies.   By then, I was like….come on Fancy, push those pups outta there.  Oh, and I gave her ice cream which I always do when she is whelping because it gives her some sugar for energy, some calcium to help her contractions and helps cool her down from all the panting.

Just before midnight, I woke Paul up from his slumber (haha) and told him to get downstairs because I was seeing a puppy bubble.  Wooohoooo!!!  A bubble with a puppy inside!!!!   And, headed out into the real world!!!

From that point on, Fancy delivered quite naturally and without any kind of issues, five little mini or toy Aussie puppies.  Three of them (all boys) were merles and one black tri girl and one black tri boy.  I remembered the 2012 surprise puppy, so I started to straighten up the gear but I didn’t totally put things away.  I gave my good girl a smooch to tell her thanks for her hard work and walked over to my couch which has its back to the whelping pen to send a couple of emails to tell my friends that all was well.

Five minutes at the max, I walked back over to the bed and saw blood on the pad.  Ah oh, I thought Fancy had done a number on somebody’s belly button since she is a licker and can get pretty wild with her cleaning duties.  I picked up a little black tri and saw it’s button was a little red so I pressed a Quik Stop pad on it.  It was kind of wet and I thought, oh Fancy, you lick too much so I rubbed the puppy a bit with a cloth and stuck her on a nipple to get some milk.  Remember, it is 3 am.

Then, I looked down and what??????  I’m counting six puppies and before there were only five!!!  Fancy, you tricked me again and gave us a surprise puppy.  How did you get that little girl birthed and cleaned up in the time it took me to type a short paragraph email?

So…the night ended about 3 am on December 19 with six gorgeous little puppy dogs.  Swagger is a daddy!!!  Izzy is a grandmother!!!  And, I’m happy to have another sweet litter on the ground on this Full Moon in December 2013.

Oct 172013
 

Vet SymbolAs always, I have strong opinions about choosing a veterinarian just as I am prejudiced when I choose a doctor for my own health.  Luckily, I came to know the half dozen vet clinics in my area with all their strengths and weaknesses during the six years that I owned a pet sitting business.  I had the advantage of recommendations from my clients and had contact with most of the offices as I made rounds to meet the staff or called for meds or advice when I had a sick dog or cat under my care.

When asked by folks, “who do you use as a vet?”, my answer is “it depends on what I need”.  I go to one for teeth cleaning and general health because I just like and trust her, one when I want an alternative to prescription meds because she is trained in Chinese alternative medicine, one for my puppy tail docking because she knows the breed standard and is consistent, another for reproductive issues because that is her expertise and a mobile vet that comes to my house for my puppy wellness checks before they leave my care.  I just realized they are all women…too strange!

However, these guidelines are important to me:

1–Does the vet talk to me?  Do they have time to answer my questions?  It is easy to tell if it is an “in and out” kind of office where number of clients is more important that good relationships.

2–Does the doctor practice good medicine?  Do I trust them?  Do they offer reasons why they are choosing the treatment options?  Do they give me alternatives?

3–Is the vet on call for me off hours or do they only have an answering machine?  In my case, I need a vet that is on call for C-sections in the middle of the night on a weekend for a reasonable price or has advice for a difficult whelp where my bitch is at risk when I call to ask. (Been there)

4–Do they require what I consider unnecessary tests before basic treatment is tried, seemingly to raise my bill?  One of my favorite vets offers me advice on home remedies and holistic methods, often before giving a prescription or in addition to meds.

5–Is the office clean?  No vet’s office is spotless, but clean enough is important.  Sick dogs come and go and I don’t like to take in my healthy dog for shots and risk them coming out diseased.

6–Is the office staff efficient?  It bugs me if the clerks are gossiping or eating lunch at their desk while ignoring folks that are waiting in line.  Even worse is them snickering about clients behind their backs.

7–Is the vet coming to my house helpful?  When I have puppies, it is much easier to pay an extra $25 to have the mobile vet come to me for shots and wellness checks.  Typically, if my older dogs are also due immunizations, we may do that at the same time.

8–Does the vet like my breed and my dog specifically?  And, does my dog like the vet?  Our dogs do not forget a bad experience and luckily, the vets I use both like Mini Aussies and also like my pooches.  The dogs can tell because they are not freaked out when we walk in the door.  Nervous yes, freaked out..no.

9–Is the vet smart about nutrition?  This is another one that is important to me.  Since Science Diet is a sponsor of most veterinary schools, their products are on the shelves for sale.  I also like to see higher quality grain free foods for sale and the doctor knowledgeable about grain allergies and sometimes particular protein intolerance in dogs.  Just a side note, Swagger is doing excellent having eliminated dog food with chicken from his diet.  My general purpose vet noted that on his chart recently and we talked about it at length.  It is not uncommon but sometimes difficult to detect.

10–Does the vet have good techs?  After all, the techs do a lot of the routine work like nurses in our hospitals, so they need to also have expertise at both their jobs and also be good at handling the dog patients.

Pricing is important in our dog’s health care picture, but must be balanced with the quality of the care they receive.  Many issues are preventable by good nutrition and weight management, but when our pets are ill or need routine preventative care, we are responsible for finding a good doctor to treat them.

 

 

Sep 022013
 
Three Aussies

Morning Nylabone Ritual in Motorhome

We just returned from 21 days on the road in our motor home with three of our dogs, Izzy, Rosie and Swagger.   It was both an educational journey along the canals of the northeast and a fitness journey along the bike trails. If you’d like to read where we went and see a few pictures, the blog is posted at PACK EM UP.

Our three smallest travel well and don’t take much space.  We did start out the trip with Swagger not feeling so well.  He has struggled off and on lately with stomach issues and I am doing trial and error to determine the trigger that is playing havoc with his digestion.  I am slowly adding and deleting from his menu to determine the culprit of what seems to be Irritable Bowel Syndrome, either brought on by stress or what he eats or both.  When I had his last bloodwork done, his liver enzymes were a bit elevated and the vet recommended putting him on Denosyl, a supplement which helps the liver to do its work properly.  By the way, we ruled out all the parasitic causes of diarrhea first.

My old standby for dogs with diarrhea is boiled chicken and rice for a few days but in Swagger’s case, that seemed to make him worse so I changed to  lean hamburger (rinsed and drained) and rice.  When I made that change and he improved overnight, a light bulb went off and I started to consider that he might not be tolerating chicken or chicken dog food well.  Surprisingly, many dogs are “allergic” to chicken.  Over the course of a few days, when I would add in a tad bit of chicken or a rich dog treat, he would start to have symptoms again.  As always, I carry a variety of food with me when traveling, so along with the burger/rice mixture, I also gave him some canned lamb dog  food (Solid Gold) which he tolerated well.  I slowly moved on to Solid Gold Bison kibble and he was as good as new.  A couple of weeks into a red meat only diet, he is feeling spunky and eating like a little Trojan, something he hasn’t done for awhile.

I am continuing the Denosyl as recommended by the vet because as a supplement, it is a plus for dogs with or recovering from IBS.  I also read on Dog Aware  that probiotics are best given in the evening to help stomach flora replenish themselves overnight and prevent empty stomach nausea.  I had always given them in the am, so I also made that change.  For several years, I have used Dogzymes Digestive Enzymes from Nature’s Farmacy with my dogs and also with pet sit client dogs that had stress diarrhea when their owners were traveling.

It is certainly too early to make a definitive diagnosis of intolerance of chicken or chicken products and may just be circumstantial, but for now, I’m playing it safe and letting him put on some needed weight with alternative protein sources.  I’ll keep you posted on the long term outcome.

WDJ Recommended Foods

 Alangus Aussies, Dog Food, Dog Health, Helpful hints for dogs  Comments Off on WDJ Recommended Foods
May 042013
 

I subscribe to Whole Dog Journal newsletter and even though it is a small publication, I always look forward to reading the articles.  Once a year, the publishers analyze and list their recommended food brands in alphabetical order based on a variety of criteria, much like those used at dogfoodanalysis.com.  We often talk about dog food on this Blog so I thought I would share ten of the recommended brands (not a complete list) for you to consider.  Since I rotate foods at the end of each bag, I have used some, but not all of these brands so this is not a personal recommendation but for your consideration.  Of course, within each brand, there are a variety of protein sources ie red meat, chicken, fish etc.

  1. Blue Buffalo
  2. Canidae
  3. Champion (Arcana and Orijen)
  4. Drs Foster & Smith (for home delivery)
  5. Fromm
  6. Merrick
  7. Natural Balance
  8. Nature’s Variety
  9. Precise
  10. Solid Gold

I’m often asked the quantity that I feed and I typically feed my dogs approximately 1 level cup per day.  However, caloric content is quite different among foods and if I see one of my dogs moving beyond what I consider their optimum weight, I reduce their portions.  My dogs that are not going into the show ring are kept leaner for their better health and less stress on their joints during activity.

Note:  My blog platform has changed somewhat and this is a test to determine if those subscribed to previous posts are still receiving their email updates.  If not, you can subscribe by adding your email at the top of the menu section on right right side of your screen.  You will only receive an email when I do a new post and I welcome your comments.