Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lilly heath and diet news

So those who've read my blog for a while know that I have a guinea pig named Lilly. You might also know that I had to take her to the vet back in May 2014 due to cataracts that she had suddenly developed. At that time, the vet did a blood glucose test (results are in the article from 2014 but the number was 137) and this was considered "normal" at that time. I've since read that the upper end of normal for guinea pigs is 125 and that they are not normally that high so this result is in question in my mind. In addition, I've questioned that result off and on since then due to her other symptoms that match certain types of diabetes so well such as excessive water drinking/polydipsia, and excessive urinating/polyuria, struggling to keep weight on, etc.
Recently however, she has had some "scary" events that have made me think diabetes is more likely than not (I cannot PROVE this yet because she has not been officially diagnosed and I am not yet a veterinarian, but I think it is likely) and have made me alter her diet.
About a month ago, I fed her some red bell pepper (she had not had it in quite a while and I figured she would like some since she has always loved it). About an hour later, she was sitting extremely still in her cage and breathing heavily and was clearly feeling bad. I watched her and made sure she was OK and once she got better (a few hours later), I just assumed it was a fluke. A few days later, I gave her a couple of grape tomatoes and she did the same thing. Now, after having tried a few things, I have discovered that this occurs any time I feed her a high-sugar fruit/veggie, but not when I give her lower sugar items like leafy greens. After some reading (I have access to veterinary journals through the university that I'm studying at), I feel that diabetes is likely her problem and am looking for a way to test her sugar levels at home to know for sure.
In the meantime, I've read up on diabetes in guinea pigs and have discovered that dietary changes are frequently successful (or at least partly successful) in managing this condition in guinea pigs and have implemented these changes in Lilly's diet. She no longer gets those higher sugar fruits/veggies and gets a limited amount of high quality (Oxbow) pellets along with grass hay. She can eat things like leafy greens and small amounts of some other veggies. Since these changes, she has not had any episodes like the scary ones I mentioned above and clearly feels much better! If and when I get test results for blood/urine glucose, I will post an update.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Scary Snakebite!

On the morning of September 9th, Owen was outside playing and came to the door wanting in after only having been out for maybe five minutes (which was odd). So I let him in. In about a minute or so (maybe less, but I don't know for sure), I noticed he had something on his muzzle/nose in a couple of spots so I tried to check it out to see what it was (he often gets into leaves and dirt so I figured he had just gotten something like that on him). He did NOT want me to mess with it (which was weird since I am usually able to do pretty "invasive" things such as brushing his teeth) and tried to nip at me. In addition, he didn't even want to eat his favorite treats. So I got someone to hold him down while I looked and quickly realized that it was blood on his face and that his face was starting to swell a bit (not bad at this point, and the other people in the house were unable to feel it at this point).
So after checking the yard for "critters" (which we didn't find), we decided to take him to our wonderful vet. It was at the vet that he started to feel somewhat worse and that the swelling in his face and lips got worse. After a quick examination, our vet said that he had obviously been bitten by a venomous snake and likely a copperhead. The reasons for this are that copperheads have somewhat less potent venom (his reaction was not too severe compared to what some snakebites cause) and they are more likely than cottonmouth/water moccasins where we live (which is dry). He said that most dogs do fine with just a steroid shot and about ten days of antibiotics to prevent secondary infection from the punctures. We were told to give him some diphenhydramine (Benadryl) in addition to the prescribed medications the next day and to watch him for signs of necrosis (unusual, but can occur) and other problems.
Owen felt pretty lousy for a few days but I'm happy to report that he has fully recovered and that the only remaining sign of the bite is a small bump where one of the fangs went.
There is not really any good way to prevent snakebites in dogs other than to make your yard less desirable to the snakes and to watch your dog carefully in other areas.
If your dog is bitten, take them to a vet ASAP.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Owen's Food

Owen had been on Blue Wilderness (different flavors occasionally but USUALLY the chicken one) for a while (I switched him off Taste of the Wild after he was no longer a puppy because his digestion was inconsistent while on it) and did well on it for the most part. However, over the past few months, he has not really wanted to eat it consistently and we've been having to add either water to the kibble or "toppers" to entice him to eat it (and even then, sometimes he wouldn't). Owen is not usually a super picky dog so I feel like some ingredient is simply not agreeing with him in the Blue Wilderness (on some days while on that food, he would not eat for so long that he threw up from not eating and there were times he would throw up food as well). So, about a month ago I requested samples from several companies for him to try. The companies I requested samples from were: Canidae, Wild Calling, and Zignature. After letting him try all those foods, these are the results...

Canidae Grain-Free Pure Elements: Owen LOVED this food and would choose it over everything else offered. I like the simple ingredient list (only 10 ingredients plus vitamins and minerals).
Canidae All Life Stages: Owen liked this food pretty well and chose it over the Blue Wilderness.
Wild Calling Rocky Mountain Medley foods: I tried him on each variety but I didn't notice a difference in what he preferred. He liked these foods quite a lot but not as well as the Canidae.
Zignature Zssentials: I was hoping he would like this food but he did not like it at all and would leave it behind every time. The ingredients are good and some dogs may love it, but Owen did not.

I didn't immediately order a food (none of these foods are available locally for me) after letting him try the different types but about a week ago, I decided (after another morning/early afternoon of him refusing to eat his Blue Wilderness and getting sick from not eating) to order the Canidae Grain-Free Pure Elements. I'm so glad I did because now he eats his food happily (he never wagged his tail when eating his previous food but now he does) and it seems to agree with his system as well.

So, while all these foods that he has tried are good quality foods, not all foods will agree with all dogs and what works for you may not work for me. My cats have been on Blue Wilderness for several years now and are healthy and love their food so I still like the food brand (just not for Owen).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Puzzle Toys for Dogs!

As you all know, Owen is a very smart, very energetic dog so we have to keep him busy (see my "agility" post for more on keeping a dog busy with activities). About 6 months ago, on a rainy day, I got him his first puzzle toy/brain game. I brought it home and let him try it out and it didn't take him long to figure out how to get the treats! The first one I got him has drawers that he has to slide out to get the treats (blue and green "bone-shaped" one in the picture of the toys, below).

Since that time, I have gotten him/made him several other puzzles/brain games (all pictured below). These toys are GREAT if you have a dog that needs something to do (and what dog doesn't?) to keep him/her busy. They can be bought at most pet stores. They CAN be expensive, but they don't have to be! Most of Owen's were bought when they were on sale and were less than $5/each! You can also make a simple puzzle with a cupcake tin (or, for small dogs, an ice cube tray) and some tennis balls (pictured).
 
 I frequently feed Owen his meals in these toys instead of his bowl because these make him work for his food and also slow him down (he eats SUPER fast!). Other types of "puzzle" for dogs include the "Kong" type toys, feeder balls, etc. (Owen has several of these too but these are easier and are more suited for treats than full meals).
If you want to keep your dog busy and stimulated mentally, get a puzzle toy for him/her and watch him/her solve it!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy Birthday, Owen!

Today is Owen's birthday! Well, technically I don't know the exact day he was born because he is a rescue pup, but based on his age, I estimate his birthday was around the first of April and so I am celebrating his 1 year birthday today!
I made him a little "cake" or "pie" of sorts (frozen because I didn't have time to bake one). It has Nutro Banana treats in it (the crumb crust) as well as peanut butter and apple pieces (top apple was cut to look like the number "1"). It was formed and then frozen (think "ice cream cake").

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fun on Friday!

Owen is a really smart dog. Because he is smart, he can be a challenge to keep entertained at times! The good thing is that he loves learning new things. One thing I've been working on with him is agility. He is really good at it and loves doing it! He has learned how to do a bar jump, hoop jump, pause table, teeter-totter and is currently working on weave poles.

He started out (like any young dog) looking clumsy attempting just one piece of equipment at a time but can now sequence multiple pieces together. It is great bonding time too because he has to be really cued into me to make sure he gets the sequence right. I have had people ask if I plan to compete with him in the future. I don't know about that, but he certainly has fun with it anyway! 

I think agility is something that most/all dogs can enjoy in some form. If my beagle/terrier mix can do it, so can your dog! Whether you do it to compete or just for fun, agility is a great experience for any dog owner. You can make a lot of the needed equipment for little money or you can buy pre-made equipment. If you are interested in trying agility, there are many videos avilable to get you started and many areas have classes if you are serious.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dog Food Review

Hi all. This is the first post on this blog about dog foods. As some may know, a new member was added to the family in June. His name is Owen and he is a beagle/wire-haired terrier mix. He is doing great on his current food and I thought I'd make a post about some of the foods he gets and has gotten in the past.
First off, when I got him, he was being fed Purina Puppy Chow (NOT what I wanted to feed him, needless to say). The ingredients for that food are as follows:

Purina Puppy Chow Complete
Ingredients: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, egg and chicken flavor, brewers rice, barley, animal digest, mono and dicalcium phosphate, fish oil, calcium carbonate, dried yeast, salt, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, Yellow 6, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, manganese sulfate, DL-Methionine, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, Blue 2, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
What's Good: fish oil, barley.
What's Bad: Corn, corn gluten, by-products, nondescript animal fat, soy, brewers rice, animal digest, added colors, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, garlic oil (garlic can be toxic but likely not this small amount). 
Rating: 1/5 stars

So, I started switching him to Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula. He has been on this formula ever since and has done fantastic on it. His waste is much less and his coat looks fantastic. He eats about 1.5 cups a day (he is close to 25lbs). The ingredients are as follows:

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Bison and Roasted Venison:
Ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, pea protein, peas, potatoes, canola oil, tomato pomace, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef, flaxseed, potato fiber, natural flavor, ocean fish meal, salmon oil (a source of DHA), salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, yucca schidigera extract, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
What's Good: buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, peas, potatoes, canola oil, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef, flaxseed, ocean fish meal, salmon oil, prebiotics, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, probiotics, chelated minerals.
What's Bad: nothing 
Rating: 5/5 stars

But I got a few free samples of the Southwest Canyon and Pine Forest formulas of Taste of the Wild (ingredients are listed at the bottom of this post if you are interested), so I offered them and he liked the Southwest Canyon better than his puppy formula of this food. However, after about a week of Southwest Canyon, it was obvious that he could NOT stay on it because it gave him bad gas. I think it was the peas and garbanzo beans (higher in this formula where in the other, there are sweet potatoes as the main carb). It's unfortunate, because he really liked it. I figure the Pine Forest would be the same because it also has peas and other legumes (lentils, etc.) as the carb source. Once he gets to be a year old, I will try him on some of their other formulas.

When it comes to canned food, he gets Blue Buffalo. Usually he gets the Small Breed (Homestyle) Chicken or Lamb foods (they have brown rice, but I'm OK with it and he does well on them) but he also gets Wilderness Trail Toppers Wild Cuts and has also gotten the Turkey Day Feast variety. Overall, Owen has done well on his foods and I am very happy with the results.

Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Canine Formula with Wild Boar:
Ingredients: Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil, egg product, wild boar, ocean fish meal, brewers yeast, tomato pomace, flaxseed, natural flavor, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
What's Good: beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil, egg product, wild boar, ocean fish meal, prebiotics, flaxseed, probiotics, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, chelated minerals.
What's Bad: not much but the meat content may be SLIGHTLY lower in this formula (and if you have a dog that can't tolerate larger amounts of peas/garbanzo beans then don't feed)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Taste of the Wild Pine Forest Canine Formula with Venison and Legumes:
Ingredients: Venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, lentils, pea protein, pea flour, egg product, canola oil, tapioca, tomato pomace, natural flavor, ocean fish meal, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
What's Good: venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, lentils, egg product, canola oil, tapioca, ocean fish meal, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, prebiotics, probiotics.
What's Bad: nothing (unless your dog cannot tolerate higher amounts of peas/garbanzo beans/lentils)
Rating: 5/5 stars