Shadow’s Golden Years

These last several weeks I’ve been watching Shadow closely. At times she seemed in great shape – playing with Ducky, chasing her favorite ball, almost running up the three steps to the main part of the house – and other times she stumbles or misjudges her footing on the steps. Those tough times have really been breaking my heart these last few weeks.

Ten days ago she stopped eating her food. And this is food she has loved from day one. She was taking her pills – wrapped in pieces of pill pocket – and treats. She especially loves the treats I bought from Jan at Wag-n-Woof Pets. And on Wednesday of the week before last, when she was so hesitant to go down the steps to the back door, I immediately called the vet and made an appointment. Meanwhile, with hubby’s help, I got her outside and walking around. She did well.

On Friday morning, we went to see the vet. After a hands-on body exam, the vet said that my poor girl had somehow pulled the groin muscle in her right rear leg. And sure enough even I could feel how tight it was. It will take 10-14 days to heal. And her appetite should follow suit. We decided to treat her with muscle relaxants. On Day Five I was only starting to see slight improvement. She slept most of the day. And she balked at going down the steps to the back door.

Saturday last week was hubby’s birthday and we had the pet sitter take care of the dogs so we could go up to Charlotte (NC) to spend the day with his son and his family. I felt a little guilty leaving Shadow; but I knew Susan loves my girls and would take good care of both of them, so I didn’t worry too much. On Sunday afternoon, I pulled out the Carelift lifting harness I had bought for Shadow a couple of years ago. (I got the idea from our friends, Joy and her Emma at My GBGV Life when their Katie was a senior and needed assistance on her walks.)

This past Wednesday was Shadow’s biannual senior exam. The muscle relaxant was already doing its job on the groin muscle; but it was also suppressing Shadow’s appetite and making her seem almost lethargic at times. Getting her up on her feet and outside for bathroom breaks – even with hubby’s help – was difficult at best. Anyway, her labs came back pretty close to normal. Once she’s been off the muscle relaxant and the week’s worth of NSAIDs to help strengthen her joints for two weeks, we’ll do the labs again to make sure everything is back on track.

It’s now Day Nine of the muscle relaxants and Day Three of the Meloxicam for her joints, and I’m finally seeing promising improvements in Shadow’s overall mobility. Her appetite is still mostly suppressed, but after a few days of not even wanting treats, she’s back to taking them from me again. It’s not great, but it’s a start that makes this dog mom feel better.

Knowing my sweet girl’s age is catching up with her breaks my heart. She’s had some tough times in the three and a half years since her older sister – and best friend – got her angel wings; but Callie has stayed with her in spirit and helped me get her through it all. This past week in particular I was beginning to wonder if Callie was trying to tell me Shadow’s time to join her was coming soon. I know it will eventually; but I don’t think Shadow’s ready quite yet. Her eyes are still bright, and she’s back to fighting for her independence. I know she misses Callie, but Ducky’s been keeping her company and mostly been a sweet little sister. Especially this past week.

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.

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. ❤️🎄❄️☃️

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. 😢)

Senior Eye Exam Scheduled

Some days Shadow will eat her full meal first time around the bowl. Sometimes she’ll sniff at it and walk away.  And other times she goes through this weird ritual of eating some food, walking away, wandering around the kitchen like she’s lost, going back to the bowl and just picking at the food. And sometimes she walks around the kitchen oddly. It’s like an exaggerated alternating movement of her front paws.

(I wish I could take a video of this ritual to show the vet. BUT Shadow will walk away from the food bowl altogether if she knows or even senses that she’s being watched. That in itself is an odd behavior that started after Callie passed away.)

The wandering around the kitchen thing makes me wonder if maybe she has a hard time seeing well at times. Last week I decided to switch back to her old, stainless steel bowl from the large, black, plastic bowl. It helped a little bit but not enough to make a noticeable difference.

Being concerned that Shadow wasn’t eating enough to stay healthy, I would (more than) occasionally put some of her canned food on a spoon and hold it up for her at a level where I  believed she could see it better. And, usually, she ate it. When she didn’t want it, then I knew she just didn’t want to eat, period. And I would pick up the bowl and put it aside before feeding Ducky. I know. Spoon-feeding isn’t a good idea. But sometimes it was the only way to get her to eat her whole meal. She is so picky about her food to begin with that I can’t give her the same food two days in a row. Or even every other day. I was running out of food to try with her that I can afford and/or trust. And I have to be very careful about how much variety I give her at any one mealtime.

On Saturday morning, the new elevated food bowl I ordered from Chewy arrived. Supposedly, elevated food bowls help dogs with arthritis because they don’t have to bend as much to get to the food.  But I was thinking more along the lines that maybe it would also help her see the food better. 

Well, my own emotions have gotten off their roller coaster over the last few days, so Shadow isn’t being finicky about what she eats. Her ritual, however, continues and it’s baffling me…

While it’s not quite as exaggerated as it had been, it’s still evident. Some of it may be the aging process. After all, she celebrated her half-year birthday on Saturday  when she turned 11-1/2. She will eat some of her food out of the elevated bowl but then wander around the kitchen. The other day I emptied her food out of her bowl and onto a regular plate. As soon as I placed the plate on the floor, she started eating again. But she would back away and then move around the plate as though she was having trouble seeing after a moment or two. 

The last few days I’ve been putting her food first in the elevated bowl. When she starts to back away or wander, I transfer it to the plate. And when she backs away again, I turn the plate around. And she ends up eating her full meals, minus maybe 3 or 4 pieces of kibble. Maybe her peripheral vision is beginning to suffer from old age. Next week I’m taking her to the vet to find out what’s going on. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to get a video of her ritual to show the vet during her appointment.