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Newsletter - March 2009

The News At Home

It may not be politically correct to say that Cavaliers are sucky dogs. Some people might call them “sensitive” instead, but let’s face it; any dog that shrieks because one hair was pulled, or becomes spooked by a leaf blowing toward their rear end isn’t what I’d call particularly brave. We have owned three of these little dogs, I’ve shared many giggles about the antics of Cavaliers, but Tori surprised us the other night. Although she’s been hesitant to venture anywhere without the assurance of having Morley or I beside her, she flew like the wind toward the back of the yard. She barked, ran as if she had been trained for a marathon, and treed a raccoon! If this is a common event for any of you to witness, it’s because you don’t live with Tori. Despite grand efforts to socialize her from the start, she’s been afraid of her own shadow. In fact, squirrels don’t bother to run away when she enters the yard, so we sometimes wondered if animals can sense when there’s real danger and when there’s Tori.

Suffice it say that things have changed. At the grand old age of 2 ½, Tori has turned into an adult dog who must think that she’s powerful, brave, and not to messed with. Our little girl has grown up.

Mail Grab Bag of The Month

Without fail, every day brings many emails to my in-box. Much of the time, these are from people I don’t know, and repeat questions about issues that may be popular for any given reason. Perhaps something is being discussed on a chat group, or there’s a “bug” going around. Whatever the reason, some of them are interesting and may have been something you’ve wondered about too. Here are a few of the questions that arrived this past month along with my replies.

Q: My 28 pound dog is healthy but always has goop in his eyes. The veterinarian says it’s nothing but it bothers me. Would changing the diet make any difference?

A: This doesn’t sound like food allergy but it may be an intolerance to something in the diet or the environment. You don’t say that the dog’s eyes are red, or itchy but I would still try cleaning the environment first. For example, vacuum and dust often, use baking soda and water or vinegar and water as cleaners rather than using chemical cleansers, be sure to change the furnace filter monthly, etc. If these measures don’t help, I’d try adding 500 mg of primrose oil to the daily diet. It’s been a big help to many dogs with eye "much". Give this 3-6 weeks to show an effect.

Q: I found this recipe on the Internet. Does it seem ok for a healthy dog? 1 pound ground beef, turkey or fish 1 cup cottage cheese 1 egg 1 pound mixed vegetables 1 pound potato 1 TBS kelp 1 multi vitamin and mineral

A: Not at all. Other than the cottage cheese (which is unbalanced in the calcium to phosphorus ratio), this recipe doesn’t provide a source of calcium. Whether you choose to feed ground beef (by the way, the fat content matters and the recipe doesn’t specify 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% or 25% fat), turkey or fish or all three, changes the vitamin and mineral profile of the diet.

The amount of kelp needs to be determined by the amount of iodine the kelp provides. It can vary greatly between sources and manufacturers, so unless a recipe details the particulars, you should see it as a red flag.

Yet another problem is that there is not mention of the brand for the multi vitamin and mineral. There can be major differences between brands. Some provide enough vitamin D as to be at a toxic level for a dog, and that’s just one difference amongst many others. Please see my newsletters and blog to find more information as well as sample diets that are balanced.

Q: I have a 19 year old dog with no teeth. Are there any treats that I can make for her?

A: Congratulations on having a truly senior canine citizen! Chewing might be difficult (although I know of a few toothless dogs that can still gum a baby carry pretty well), so soft treats are probably what you’re thinking about. These don’t have to be the small bites we commonly think of as treats. For example, a small dish of meat-based broth is often appreciated. A little yogurt, baby food (including fruit compotes) or applesauce can work well.

To bake a softer cookie, and assuming your dog tolerates eggs, try this: 1 raw egg white Dash of cinnamon Combine egg white with cinnamon. Use an egg beater or electric mixer to beat the spiced egg white until stiff peaks form. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon tiny amounts of egg white mixture onto a non-stick cookie sheet or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake cookies for approx. 5 minutes or until lightly brown. These are meringue cookies that will melt in the mouth rather than having to be chewed.

Q: I’ve fed my dog a home-made diet since she was a puppy. She won’t eat kibble even if I add some of my food to it but I can’t afford to feed her the way I used to. Do you have any tips about saving some money but still feeding her a home-made diet?

A: Affordability is relative, and making this less expensive for you will depend on what was in her original diet, and the foods that may or may not be available to you. The one thing I can tell you is that most home-prepared diets include more protein derived from meat sources than NRC states as a recommended allowance. There is nothing wrong with this (most diets I formulate include 2-3 x the NRC recommended allowance) but the fact is that the body uses the amino acids required and simply discards the rest. So, you may be able to use less meat, but again, it depends on how much you were feeding to begin with.

Consider feeding eggs (excellent source of high quality protein at a very reasonable price), make your own yogurt (see previous newsletters for recipe, or search the internet), buy in bulk, use frozen vegetables or those that are on the last day counter, use rice or oats as a carbohydrate source if you're not against grains, add fat in order to add calories, but this applies only if your dog can tolerate more dietary fat without having any health issues. Consider feeding some of the vegetable parts you would otherwise discard. For example, radish greens, pulverized core of cabbage, or cauliflower, broccoli stalks, etc.


“The footprints of my dogs may be in the snow and on the carpet, but surely they reside in my heart.’ -- Author Unknown



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