The Change, Part 4

Well, the last change I wrote about here didn’t last very long. About the third or fourth day in, Ducky upchucked her whole dinner. And I didn’t like the way the stuff looked when I rehydrated it going by the directions, so I gave up. Luckily I bought the box from Chewy so I had no trouble getting a full refund on the product. I just brought it to the vet and put it in his bucket for our county animal shelter (the one from which we adopted Ducky 6-1/2 years ago).

So, what to do? I swore on a whole stack of bibles (well, not literally speaking) that I would NEVER go back to the Hills’ Prescription Diet food. (That was even before the initial recall for the Vitamin D excesses. And they’ve expanded the recall twice already!) And I had promised hubby that I wouldn’t buy any more of the The Farmer’s Dog food than I already had (there was still one more order due to arrive a few days after I made the promise). So, I had to come up with another plan. I thought of trying other commercial, dehydrated brands but never could find one that appealed to me, especially after the fiasco with the Only Natural Pet stuff mentioned in Part 3 of our “saga”.  So, I decided I’d buy some doggy vitamins from Pet Naturals of Vermont (via Chewy of course) and make the food myself. And I just don’t have the stomach for a raw diet – either homemade or commercially dehydrated.

And then the unthinkable happened. Shadow started her decline. She went from loving every meal from The Farmer’s Dog and actually taking her medications that were hidden in the food to not wanting any food, not even treats. So, I fed Ducky her meals and pleaded with Shadow to at least eat something. When Shadow left us to reunite with Callie, I still had about 12 of the 14 packs of food I’d gotten in my last order. So, I used them – reproportioning them for Ducky’s needs – and then used Ducky’s remaining packs.

As of last Monday, I’m feeding Ducky an all-homecooked diet of ground turkey, carrots, spinach, and chickpeas. And I’ve been researching the grain-free vs. not-grain-free issue that the USDA warned about a few months ago. (Many thanks to Jen at My Brown Newfies for her article about that! It was the best one I’ve read; and totally un-biased!). I also bought a few books about homecooked dog food. I’ll tell you about those another time, but two of them were suggested by Maggie at the Oh My Dog! Blog. So far, Ducky’s enjoying her home-cooked meals. And I’m enjoying making them for her.  I’ll keep you posted.

The Change, Part 3

Well, here we are again at the start of a new food transition process. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here.

When I first decided to switch Shadow and Ducky to The Farmer’s Dog, I knew it was expensive. More than we could really afford for both dogs. I just had to hope it would make a big-enough difference for them to justify the expense. And, in some important ways it did make a difference, especially for Shadow.

With the recent recalls by HillsPet of the dogs’ former food – for potential excessive Vitamin D levels – I am extremely happy I made the change to The Farmer’s Dog when I did. But now it’s time for another change to a more affordable option. And, actually, I have two options but for now I’m trying one at a time.

First, let me tell you that I am not transitioning the girls from The Farmer’s Dog for any reason other than cost. They both love the food, it’s easy to prepare and feed, it smells a helluva lot better than the Hills crap, and it doesn’t turn Shadow into a fart machine. In fact, since fully transitioning both girls in early December, Shadow’s digestive system has been able to handle emotional stress much better and she is not nearly as lactose intolerant as she had been on the Hills crap. The only thing I was getting concerned about was the fact that both girls seemed to always be hungry, even though I finally got their daily calorie amounts to an appropriate level for them. And Shadow even seemed to be losing weight. She looks now like she may have put some weight back on though so maybe she’s back on track.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I’ve been looking for more viable, affordable options. I want to stay with 100% human-grade food, but I wasn’t having much luck. Then, on Thursday night while I was surfing Chewy’s website, I found it.

The order arrived on Saturday afternoon, so I started the transition process on Sunday morning. For these first few days I’m going to just use it as a “food topper”, but I’ll mix it in and use some warm water to hydrate the veggies and fruit a teensy bit (and soften the carrots and other veggies in the TFD food). I noticed almost immediately that even though Ducky tends to “inhale” her food, she hasn’t had any of it get stuck on its way down her esophagus (like the kibble used to do, causing much anxiety and obsessive behavior). That’s a BIG plus in my eyes!

If this transition goes well – and I fully expect it to – I might switch to buying it direct from Only Natural Pet; but I don’t have to decide that right now. For now I’m focused on getting my girls on a healthy yet affordable food plan. Keep your fingers crossed. 🤞

The Change, Part 2

This post is a bit overdue, but life kinda got in the way every time I thought of writing it. Anyway, you can find The Change, Part 1 here.

We’re at the beginning of Week 8 of Shadow’s and Ducky’s transition to their new food from The Farmer’s Dog.

Ducky took to the change really well, though I must admit to an error in judgement as to her activity level, hence the number of calories she would need. (Same goes for Shadow but I’ll get to that *later* in the post.) With the help of the wonderful support staff at TFD, I got that resolved by adjusting the calorie count of her food packs.

Shadow has taken quite well to the change, too, considering her age, sensitive stomach, and occasional odd behaviors. And the misjudgment of her activity level/caloric needs. As with Ducky, I had TFD increase Shadow’s daily calories with the third delivery of the food.

While waiting for the new order I made some “emergency” batches of food that contained the same basic ingredients: ground turkey, chickpeas, carrots, and spinach, and added a couple of spoonfuls to each meal. I immediately started seeing the result of the additional calories. Both dogs started gaining back the weight they had lost during those first few weeks.

Shadow’s not a picky eater any more. She really likes this new food! With the old stuff, she’d sniff at it and walk away from her bowl almost every morning. I had to alternate between the canned food and the kibble, and pray she would at least eat some of what was in her bowl. By lunchtime she would be hungry but still picky. At dinnertime, she finally ate a full meal. But it wasn’t because she liked the food. Now she eats a full breakfast and a full dinner. And her GI tract is finally used to the new food…it’s apparent from her daily “output”. She – and Ducky – may still need a second adjustment to the number of daily calories, but I’ll decide that over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, because I don’t want to have to deal with internet regulations as to affiliate links, I can’t offer you any deals on trial offers. However, if you want to get 50% off a trial order, please visit the Wag n Woof Pets blog. One of Jan’s featured posts is her review of the food and contains the link I used.

Oh! And let me add that I did not mean to neglect my friend, Maggie Marton. As I mentioned in Part 1, Maggie’s review – along with Jan’s – sparked my interest in The Farmer’s Dog. So, if you want to use the link in Maggie’s blog, it’s at http://ohmydogblog.com/the-best-fresh-dog-food-delivery toward the end of the post.

The Change, Part 1

This post is a follow-up to my teaser post from just before Thanksgiving, which you can find here.

Just a quick note about the reason for the change. After four months of continual disappointment in the quality of the food I’ve been giving the girls for nearly four years – a lot of “fours/fors” in there; hmmm – I decided I had to change. Not just for the dogs’ sakes, but for my own sake as well. I was finding myself dreading the process of preparing their meals on a daily basis. Plus, I was getting more BS every time I contacted the manufacturer to ask what they were doing to improve the quality.

So, what food have I chosen for my dogs? Well, after great reviews from my friends Jan – the Momz of the Wag-n-Woof Pets crew – and Maggie Marton – the author and owner of the Oh My Dog! Blog – I decided to give The Farmer’s Dog a try. I also asked our vet to check out the website and give me his opinion. When he gave his approval, I placed our trial order through the link in Jan’s review post.

The dogs are now on Day 7 of the transition. They both seem to be handling the transition quite well.

Ducky has been on a half new/half old mix since Saturday. I’ve seen some birdseed in her stools from the start; but that’s normal for her. The crazy little stinker likes birdseed, especially when it smells like squirrel breath. 🙃

Shadow started her half-n-half mix this morning. She’s only had one soft stool since before starting the transition; and that soft one was from the stress of hubby having a temper tantrum on Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, her “output” has been steadily improving.

Barring any unexpected backslides, I’m hoping to have both Ducky and Shadow fully transitioned to The Farmer’s Dog (turkey recipe) on Wednesday of next week. Then I can call Chewy and get a refund on the unused cans and kibble of the “old” food. Honestly? I wish I could make that call this week; but on the vet’s recommendation, I’ll play it safe.

Watchful Weekend

Well, we’ve had another (mostly) peaceful week. Hubby seems to have completely forgotten the two weeks of pure hell. That’s more than just “good”. He’s had a few minor “tantrums”, but at least they weren’t directed at the dogs or me.

Shadow’s UTI appears to be cleared up. I gave her the last antibiotic dose yesterday afternoon. She’s eating better again. And she’s playing more. Still, after all that’s been going on around here this past month, the vet agreed with me that we should do a follow-up urinalysis next week.

Ducky’s still a bit reactive when hubby comes out of the bedroom in the morning but is generally settling down faster. And she’s still being sweet toward Shadow for the most part.

As I’ve said before, being a caregiver for/to a dementia patient is not for wimps. Especially when you’re also “Mom” to pets who depend on you for everything, from meals and vet care to playtime and lovies, not to mention keeping things as calm and peaceful as possible. That’s a ton of responsibility to heap on one person day in and day out. It can wreak havoc with one’s internal balance.

So, this weekend I’m watching both dogs for reactions to people food that hubby sneaks to them. And watching hubby for signs of oncoming temper tantrums. And watching myself for signs of stress and that overwhelmed feeling.

New Year, New Hopes

Happy New Year, Friends! I know, I’m two weeks late. That’s because our celebration got put on hold on New Year’s night.

Ducky has been on leash restriction in the back yard since January 2nd. She hurt herself during a zoomies attack on New Year’s Day.

Okay, so for the hopes…..

Ducky has been really, really “good” these past two weeks. She has had her moments; but generally speaking, she has dealt with the physical inactivity quite well. (Thanks to nose work games, some limited slow walks on the treadmill, and twice-daily pain meds.) It makes me hopeful that helping her to calm down – or stay calm – will continue to get easier. Today is her first day of freedom; and after 20 minutes of fun in the yard and another 10 here in the house, this is the result….Heehee.

Then there’s Shadow. I’m still having to spoon-feed her at times in order to get her to eat. And so many questions in my head. Up until the middle of last week, her knee was still bothering her. She had a hard time standing in the kitchen or bathroom. She didn’t trust the throw rugs to not skid underneath her.

Now the knee is healed, she’s enjoying her time outside, and she’s even inviting Ducky to play. Last week the vet watched a short video I made of Shadow attempting to eat her meals. I asked him if maybe her depth perception issues might be causing her “pecking” motions at her plate/bowl.

After watching the video, he felt around her neck and shoulders and said that her muscles were somewhat tense. That discomfort was more likely the cause. And, it made the proverbial lightbulb turn on over my head. That discomfort in her neck – especially – and shoulders was probably why she had been walking away from her bowl but gladly eating off the spoon that I was holding up to her normal chin level. It wasn’t that she was playing me for the special attention. It was that it hurt too much to lower her head close enough to her bowl long enough to eat.

The arctic air wave of the week plus around the holidays just made it tougher on all of us – my and hubby’s joints were bothering us more than normal too – but the last few days of sunshine and slightly warmer temps gave us all some relief.

This morning Shadow went right to the plate of food and ate it without pause. Well, she did pause when I turned it around for her but only for a moment.

My hopes for Shadow? No more pulled CCL’s; no more severe arctic air waves to worsen her joint and muscle aches; and, fewer age-related health issues. And many more happy, playful days here with us.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 🎉🐶🐶💗

My (Crazy) Golden Life

We’re still here. A little tattered after a busy summer and fall, but here.

Ducky is still her crazy, sometimes hyper, drama-queen, lovable self. Trying to work with her in between hubby’s various doctor appointments and my own school work wore. me. out. I’m not as young as I used to be. 🙄

Then, there’s poor Shadow. Oh, don’t worry…she’s still healthy and happy.

But her digestive issues have been concerning me the last several weeks. To start with, the company that makes her food went to an “improved formula”. (Improved my butt!) And that so-called improved formula has been giving her some “silent-but-deadly” gas, especially at night. So she was refusing to eat her full meals. Add to that her refusal to stand on floor mats while she eats, despite her arthritis, and the Denamarin for her liver function. And her depth-perception vision issues. I discussed all this with our vet on Tuesday morning while we were there for an unrelated matter. He suggested waiting until after she eats breakfast to give her the Denamarin. It works best on an empty stomach, but still works on a somewhat full one as well.

So, I tried waiting and it made no difference. And I tried using a different food bowl. And I tried spoon-feeding her. Nothing made any difference.

Until yesterday. I was feeling totally at a loss, totally frustrated. Shadow’s IBS makes it inadvisable to change her food, even gradually, so that’s out. I ordered some probiotic chews. Hopefully they will help with the flatulence.

Meanwhile, I was on FB Messenger with my friend, Jan. You know her as “the Momz” over on Wag-n-Woof Pets. I needed a different perspective on my problem. Jan mentioned that she uses a plate, rather than a bowl, for beagle Cricket’s food. It was close to time for Shadow’s lunch, so I pulled one of our dinner plates out of the cabinet and used it instead of her bowl to feed her.

Voilá! One problem seemingly fixed. Now to dismiss the notion that she should only eat twice (or thrice) a day. So, since I’d already split her breakfast into two meals, why not her dinner as well? No noticeable flatulence last night. We’ll see how it goes tonight.

That’s what my life has been like these last few months. Crazy, sometimes exhausting, puzzling, but much better and preferable than the alternative. The girls, the hubby, and I will get through it.

Happy Howlidays to ALL our friends and family. ❤️🎄❄️☃️

I Love Our Vet!

Yes, I know I’ve said before that I love our vet, but I’m saying it again. I Love Our Vet! 

Not just because he has always taken good care of our pets; but also because he has always been honest and forthright on all fronts.

Not just because he let me do my externship (for my vet assistant course) at his hospital; but also because he has always been there for us (just a call or text away) from the time Ducky started presenting IBD symptoms, throughout Callie’s lymphoma journey, and every day since.

You might recall in my last post, Happy 13th Birthday, Shadow, I mentioned that thanks to her little sister Shadow had taken a tumble a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the hemp oil gel caps and elixir drops and daily walks on the treadmill, the tumble didn’t seem to bother her then.

Still, over the last 10 days, she seemed to be struggling more to stand up and stay up. And she hasn’t been eating as well or as much, plus her reflux seems to bother her more often again. So, I brought Shadow back to Dr. Steve for his professional opinion on Tuesday morning. I mentioned that with her increased struggling of late I was worried that maybe she was in more pain than she let on. He put my mind at ease. “No injury. Just her arthritis flaring a little.”

I sent Doc a video of Shadow walking on the treadmill yesterday morning; and when he called in the afternoon with the lab results he commented on the video. “She looks great. She walks like an older dog with some arthritis. Her range of motion isn’t what it used to be, but it’s pretty good for an old lady.” As for the blood work and urinalysis, everything is close to or at normal levels, which means the Denamarin is working. We talked about some other minor concerns; but all’s well. The Gabapentin, hemp oil, and treadmill – and outdoor playtime – is keeping her arthritis manageable. So, we’re sticking with what works.

Now it’s time to get back to working on my final exam. It’s due back to my program manager on the 30th, so I probably won’t publish another post before Halloween.

Happy Thankful Thursday!!!

Cautiously Optimistic

Since Shadow’s visit to the emergency vet back on Labor Day weekend, she has been a very picky eater again.

Even though in the past she has gotten used to the nasty taste left in her mouth by Metronidazole, this time has been different. Getting her to eat her food was a frustrating, sometimes unsuccessful experience for the week she was taking it and the week since she’s been off it.

BUT…. 

This morning – with a little coaxing – she ate her breakfast. And about three hours later she ate her lunch with less coaxing than this morning.

(I don’t really worry too much if she doesn’t finish her breakfast – or if I have to coax her a bit – because I know the Denamarin she’s on for her liver makes her tummy feel “weird” for a few hours after she takes it.)

So, with her having eaten her meals today without much coaxing, I’m thinking (hopeful) that maybe the nasty taste of the Metronidazole is finally gone.


And by the way, the Treatibles 10-mg. CBD oil gel caps I’ve been giving her with breakfast are definitely helping manage her arthritis discomfort/pain. It also seems to have reduced some of the weakness in her back legs. She hasn’t stumbled on the steps in over a week! (Until just two minutes ago. I jinxed her. 😢)

It’s Amazing…

What a diet free of table scraps can do for a dog – specifically my dogs!

For the past several weeks, both Shadow and Ducky have not had any table scraps sneaked to them by the dog-daddy – mostly because I’ve been watching him like a hawk and not giving him any opportunity to do so – and their digestive systems are reaping the benefits.

Yes, Ducky had a cluster of minor IBS episodes a few weeks ago; but those were due to her anxieties. And to issues I’d rather not talk/write about publicly.  Besides, our regular vet’s new associate took a look at things and prescribed CatLax to help with the physiological side. And it has been like a miracle drug for her. #ThanksDr.Simpson!

Anyway, just before our last order of food was due to ship from #Chewy, one of the customer service reps sent me an email to say that they had removed the food from the order because they were no longer offering it. I was frantic. Shadow has always had trouble transitioning to new food. What to do??!

I decided to take a chance on a similar recipe – same brand, just different recipe – and use what I had left of the other to transition her to the new.

I’m happy to report that we are down to our last can and a quarter of the old food; AND no adverse reactions. Even without the Metoclopromide and Metronidazole, Shadow has been transitioning without any problem at all.  Ducky is back on her prescription food – at least for now and maybe permanently – so no transition issues with her either.

Table scraps in moderation – like everything else – probably would not have upset the apple cart. BUT my definition of “moderation” and the hubby’s definition of it are eons apart. So,  I’ve had to become the food police for my dogs’ sakes. And it is amazing how much difference it makes in their appetite, their attitude, and their overall health.