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).