Thursday, July 12, 2012

Many, many pees - UTI quelled for now

A week ago we visited the vet because Maggie had an obvious urinary problem. We got great care, antibiotics, and a special diet. It was a setback because I'd begun some basic training and now could not give her treats because of the diet. The diet which is designed to dissolve crystals in the urinary tract that develop in response to infection. The crystal grit irritates the bladder and causes frequent urination.

Today, hurrah, her urine is bacteria and crystal free! So she came home with at least 3 weeks worth of the Hill's Urinary Tract Health kibble. Only problem is that the first ingredient is corn, something I'm pretty sure is absent from dogs' evolutionary diet. So here is the quandary: to continue with convenient, dry kibble guaranteed to meet standards for pet health - especially since this is a puppy, pursue an "evolutionary" diet that is not nearly so convenient, or do some of both?

Sorry, what follows is a rant

Do you see parallels with the current human diet problems? It seems the further we stray from straightforward, unprocessed food the worse our health becomes. Most of us never gave this stuff a second thought up until a few years ago. About the same time our human diet went astray last century our companion animals became "pets" rather than animals that had to work for a living - dogs guarding our livestock or cats keeping rodents out of our grain. Now a walk down the supermarket pet food aisle is similar to the cereal and personal care aisles - hundreds of products, each with a boatload of obscure ingredients that the manufacturers would have you believe are essential to health.

Stay tuned; more on diet once I've digested enough to make a decision.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Marrow bones deserve more press!

Am deep into research about doggy diets. Not as a result of Maggie's UTI (urinary tract infection) but because we've had dogs and a couple of cats that could have been more comfortable in their old age. They all ate middle of the road supermarket pet food. Now though, there is so much information about pet diet and there are producers that do lots of well-grounded research. But I digress.

This is about marrow bones. Wonderful, wonderful marrow bones. The picture on the left is from Mikes Organic Food Delivery. I got mine from the supermarket. I can tell you that they provide hours of attention and chewing time, something even a Kong can't do. That is very important for a pup and her human companions. Saves the furniture, shoes, and sanity. Keeps you from doing full-time diversions / corrections and keeps her teeth and gums healthy.

In reading the 50 page (!) Whole Dog Journal's eBook, Home-Prepared Diets for Dogs, I learned that these big, hard, beef bones won't be a good choice for a medium to large adult dog. She would be tempted to chew too hard and damage or knock out teeth. Will keep reading to see about alternatives. Meantime, we are both in heaven.

Oh, food safety, if you store them as you would any perishable meat product (freezer is good) they are fine to give uncooked. In fact, best uncooked so as not to get brittle. You can be sure even a 10 week old pup will clean the thing to bare, hollow bone in an amazingly short time and remain fascinated with it for days.

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Pees - a real setback

What could be worse than a puppy peeing every 20 minutes? No peeing at all. That was the situation yesterday. Maggie would squat every time you looked at her, sometimes as many as 3 times a minute, but could only squeeze out a few drops at a time. She was obviously feeling bad and droopy. Fortunately, it was July 5th and our vets could take her early.

Amy Hall, DVM
She had a UTI (urinary tract infection) and many crystals in her urine. The good news was that the infection could be treated with an antibiotic and the crystals are treatable with a special diet for a short period of time (couple of weeks?). What is up in the air is whether she is in the small number of dogs who will continue to have the problem.

Dr. Amy Hall,  Georgetown Animal Clinic, did a great job of 'splaining and we walked out with the prescription and the special food - no muss, no fuss. She was very apologetic that the food is so expensive. We even got a promise that the Clinic would buy back any unused cans. 

On reflection, Maggie may have come to us with a UTI. The things I'd read about house training all said 3-4 weeks of crate training would do it. Right. As I said before, no way I'm getting up and taking her out every 3 hours at night. I have enough trouble sleeping. Besides, she was peeing 3-4 times an hour during the day. I thought that was too much but she was so young and she'd had surgery. I hope this is the extent of the "future problems" our vet mentioned might result from such an early spay.

On a lighter note, Maggie is back today - full bore and 200 mph. Amazing what a difference 24 hours on an antibiotic and $2.50 a day special dog food will make.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What is she?

Maggie - 9 weeks(?)
That is the most-asked question I get. I answer that she's a pound pup. She was adopted from St. Frances Animal Center, a nonprofit for abandoned and mistreated pets in our county. She was listed as a lab-hound mix. We just thought she was cute.

Her markings and short ears suggest German Shepherd Dog (GSD).  People we encounter at our local PetSmart say that too. The white nose, toes,  and chest blaze suggest beagle, another similarly marked dog, is in the mix according to Michelle at Pets Inn Paradise. Our vet, Bob (& Amy) Hall at Georgetown Animal Clinic, didn't commit; "puppy" was his pronouncement.

We haven't done the doggie DNA test. Don't want to be tempted to expect something we might not get. Not ruling it out but what we have is a really good-natured pup that has our hearts and doesn't bark much at all. Plenty good enough for now. She is curious and attentive, seems happy to watch almost anything.

That said, I have looked at weights for shepherds and beagles, fox, and coon hounds. All are pretty tall (22"-26" at the shoulder) except the beagle (13"-15"). The tall breeds weigh 50-85 lbs; beagles weigh 20-25 lbs. The hounds have fairly long, wide ears and short, flat coats. The GSD has 3 coat varieties, plush, double, and long-haired. Maggie's coat is short and flat now but she is growing guard hairs around and down her legs. Her ears are not very long and don't stand up. Shepherd's ears often don't begin to stand up until 12 weeks, sometimes never.

So, what is she? Your guess is as good as anyone's. Pound pup will do. We've only ever had mixed breed rescues among our many dogs. They have been good and loyal friends with few health problems.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Puppy Condo - successful evolution

Bad picture of Kong crate
We thought we were prepared, at least for awhile, when we brought The Pup home, with a safe place for her to be when unsupervised - at night, when running errands, etc.

The first try was an exercise pen 24" high and big enough for the crate, food and water dishes, and walking around. Two mornings later Wally found her creeping around on the floor outside the pen. Maybe she climbed up on her crate and jumped out, we guessed. After all, this pup was only 11" at the shoulder and a baby. So next night the crate was placed in the middle of the pen. Next morning we got to see her balancing on the top wires, seconds from jumping out. A smooth 6" baffle around the top didn't help the next night.

Homemade door adapter
Maggie got her puppy condo the next day. A two-door 43"x 29"x 30" wire Kong crate with an attached "apartment." It's a slick design; the doors slide up in channels and rest on top, out of the way, and there is a safety stop to keep them from coming down accidentally. The removable bottom tray allows quick cleanup.

To create the condo we used bungee cords to fit a portable crate against the Kong crate on the narrow side with the door up. A homemade plywood "adapter" covers a gap on the sides of the portable. The top of the adapter neatly fits under the flange of the door bottom. The setup works really well. The other door (nice and wide) allows access for the pup; the portable crate and adapter can be removed in seconds. It was a little pricey but we have peace of mind at last - a fair bargain! A final bonus is the Kong crate will be Maggie's grown-up home.

We also replaced the food bowls we thought would last a month with heavy crockery. She still knocks her bowl over when it's empty but at 2 pounds she can't run around with it and bang it around - yet.  We gave away the ridiculous little soft sided playpen too. I had visions of a sweet little creature in there sleeping most of the day. What was I thinking???

The mystery pup has more than doubled in weight from about 5 to 12 pounds and her coloring has changed a little. Next post, are there clues for the future?