Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pudge Pics

Thank you all for the comments on my last post, as well as the emails. I will be taking your suggestions to my vet to see what she thinks, and then also discussing them with my trimmer after the vet visit. I'm hoping we can try some of the IR medications available and see how she does on those because I definitely agree that her issue is THAT, and her hooves are just a result. If I just focus on her hooves while her body is doing what it's doing, I'll just be spinning my wheels.

I spent some time with her yesterday and took a few pictures to share. She doesn't look quite as fat in the side pictures as she does when you look at her belly from front, but they show how she's not exactly fit.

Oink, oink...
Such a beautiful girl. <3 
Belly? What belly?!

And this one is slightly out of focus, but I love it because her ears are actually up! I was using the timer on my camera and I guess it liked the trees in the background better.


Our vet appointment is Wednesday evening, so I'll hopefully have some updates soon.

Friday, October 10, 2014

So Defeated

I'm so defeated that I'm having to force myself to write this post. I just don't feel like rehashing the same things over and over again, and having to say it all out loud, and having to decide what to do about it. I'd rather just stick my my head in a hole and disappear until everything is somehow magically better. Instead, I'm going to have to act like an adult, weigh my options, and try to come up with some kind of solution. In the meantime, I'm counting on my Blogger friends to coddle me, tell me everything will be fine, it's not a big deal, and make me feel like I'm not a complete failure, even if you think I am. Lie to me.

Over the past four weeks or so, I've noticed a few changes in my girl:

* I have noticed that she's a bit foot sore in the cross ties. They have a concrete floor, and when I walk her in, she's a bit gimpy making the turn. She's more tender on her right front than her left front, but she's slightly uncomfortable on them both.

* I have noticed that she's put on some weight. She's always been on the pudgy side of things, just because she's such an easy keeper, but she's definitely put on weight recently. If I had to guess, I'd say she's put on about 50 pounds.

* I have noticed that her hooves are starting to change shape. Her right front (seedy toe hoof) has become more upright, and her left front has become more forward. I even noticed a few days ago that the heels on her left front looked a bit 'crushed'. I had to get out my rasp and clean them up because I didn't like the way the heels looked.

Some other noteworthy tidbits include: we're having saddle issues again, it's time for fall grass, and when my trimmer was out yesterday, she had nothing to trim.

Now, keeping all those things in mind, and putting the pieces together, I'd say we're dealing with some metabolic issues induced by the wonderful fall grass.

She's put on weight, her hooves are sore, she's keeping more of her weight on her left front hoof to relieve her right front hoof, which is causing it to change shape, which is also causing body soreness and totally explains why she suddenly hates her saddle.

This has all happened over the past four weeks... prior to this, her weight looked good, we had a really nice looking hoof shape, my trimmer was using her nippers to cut off hoof growth, and while she couldn't walk down a gravel driveway, she was comfortable on surfaces I'd expect her to be ok with. Now we have none of that.

At least she's still beautiful.

If you'll recall, I had Lilly tested twice for IR. Once in the fall last year (early November) and then again this spring (early April). The fall test showed that her glucose and insulin levels were fine, but her ACTH baseline was 126. A normal reading would fall somewhere between 9-35... so she was off the chart high. My vet reassured me that numbers fluctuate wildly in the fall, and it would be a good idea to do the test again in the spring. So when we received the test results from the spring tests, I was relieved to see that her number was normal, at 17.

I guess I really don't understand what the numbers mean. I didn't question them much in the fall because my vet didn't seem concerned, and then when we had good numbers in the spring, I dismissed it. I imagine if we tested her again now, she'd show similar numbers to what we saw in November. But what does it mean if her ACTH levels are super high, but her insulin and glucose level is fine? Since we only seem to see these kind of symptoms in the fall (September - December), can she be medicated for IR just for those four months?

My vet is coming on Wednesday to do vaccines and float Lilly's teeth, so we'll have a very lengthy conversation about it. I know she's going to freak when she sees how fat my girl is.

Bottom line is her hooves are really suffering, and I can only do so much to help them if I'm fighting a losing battle with her body. I could probably manage this until January when things go back to "normal", but I need to STOP it. I know it'll improve as it did last year, but we'll spend all next year getting her back to where she needs to be just in time for it to fall apart again. The cycle will be never ending and I will completely lose my mind.

I think I'm already too far behind to stop anything. The changes are already there, and they're quite visible. So for now, I'm playing catch up, and I have to do something to make her more comfortable. My trimmer was very upset about what she saw in Lilly yesterday too, and we talked about a variety of solutions.

Option 1: Riding boots with pads - I still have my Renegades, but I'm not happy with the fit, and they can't be padded. Perhaps the riding I've been doing without boots (even though it's been in the sand arena and she seems comfortable there) has been too much and it's making her sore. Maybe simply riding her in padded boots would be enough to help her become less sore. Movement is the best medicine for bare hooves and fat bellies, but I don't want to be working her if she's not comfortable. I'm probably looking at $200 to buy her another pair of boots.

Option 2: Easyboot Glue-on - While they're not supposed to be left on for more than five days, it would provide her an option for protection during turnout, which she wouldn't get if I just purchased a pair of riding boots. Unless there's a secret boot out there I don't know about, boots just will NOT hold up in a turnout situation, especially since Lilly is turned out about 15 hours per day. I could glue on the boots, leave her in them for five days, and then take them off. I've been told I could get two or three applications out of them, so I could put them on again a few days later. They run about $25 each, plus the Sikaflex ($10), tips ($12), Adhere ($30), and fancy gun ($85). Spendy. Plus, if there is any kind of bacteria in her seedy toe (we don't think so, but who knows), it would seal all that up nice and tight.

Option 3: EasyShoes - The glue on ones are just ridiculously expensive. My trimmer told me she could show me how to apply them and it would save me some money, but it's still ridiculously expensive. If we only needed to shoe her for four months during the worst of it, I suppose I could budget somehow and spend the $1,000 it would cost me. If that's what she needed, I would do it in a heartbeat. There are, however, the EasyShoe NGs, which can be nailed on instead of glued on. My trimmer said they recommend both nails and glue, but I'd be willing to try just the nails. The shoes themselves are only $41 per pair, and nails only cost a couple cents. My trimmer doesn't do nails, though,so I'd have to find a farrier willing to come out and apply the shoes. Or, if I could find a farrier who is also a dealer, maybe he could get the shoes cheaper.

Option 4: Casts - A similar idea to the glue-ons, except a bit more permanent, and a bit less expensive. I can't remember how much I paid for a set of casts back in the day, but I'm thinking around $50. They're also something I could learn to do myself to save some money, but I would still worry about trapping any kind of bacteria in her seedy toe, and I wasn't super thrilled with casts last time we did it with Lilly. They're definitely an option to keep in mind, though.

Option 5: The dreaded steel shoe - As my trimmer has told me, this doesn't have to be an all or nothing kind of situation. If the best, most cost effective way to manage this is to put her in shoes for four months during the fall months, then we put her in shoes for four months and when January rolls around, we pull them off.

Other non-hoof related options we talked about include muzzles, moving to a new barn with a dry lot (or at the least a really crappy pasture), and simply running away from home.

She recommended that we take the 0-25 approach and start with a new pair of boots that I can pad, see how she does with those, and then go from there, rather than taking the 0-100 approach and slapping a pair of steel shoes on her.

Before I make a decision, I'm going to wait until my appointment with the vet and see what kind of information she can provide. She's always been a 'put shoes on her' kind of person, so I'm not sure I want to talk about hooves with her, but I am interested in what she has to say about the nutrition aspect of it and possible medications we could try. She'll say muzzle, muzzle, muzzle, and perhaps that can be part of the new Fall Plan that we have to implement next year to head this thing off. I'm totally open to that, although I hate the thought of my horse wearing something on her face all day during turnout with other horses.

I have so much time, money, and energy invested in this, coupled with how well she has been doing all summer, that I just feel really defeated. I've felt this way before, but we had made so much more progress this year that it just hit me really hard. I have a great team of professionals around me to help, and I do have a lot of options, so things aren't hopeless or anything, but it just really sucks.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

~~~

In other news, I do have some good news on the Rylee front... all her digestive issues have disappeared. I found a great probiotic/digestive enzyme supplement that has worked wonders for her. She's still on the raw diet and is doing amazing.

She makes me smile.  I just love her.

Friday, September 26, 2014

We Go For A Ride!

It's been so long since I posted anything about Lilly... I've been so busy this summer... now that fall is here... blah blah blah. I just feel like skipping all of that and moving right along to the latest happenings.

There has been a lot going on in my life, but the biggest change is that I started a new job about a month ago. Well, I'm still doing the same job, but I'm no longer a contractor, which means I don't have to work weekends and holidays anymore. SUPER awesome for a number of reasons, including shows for next year. This year, it seemed most of my shows fell on the days I was working, so I won't have to worry about that anymore. I was also switched from evening shift to day shift, so I'm a day walker now. That means I can't go to the barn until the evenings, though, which is something I'm still getting used to.

One of the problems with visiting the barn in the evenings, is that when I get there, the horses are all being fed and turned out. They're still on the summer turnout schedule, so they're going outside around 5:30pm. I'm getting there around quarter after, and Lilly really isn't in the mood to be fussed with when her dinner is in her stall and her buddies are all going outside.

My attitude last night, however, was "too bad". We're going for a ride, mare. So I let her eat and then I saddled her up for a nice, easy ride on the trails behind the barn. For various reasons, I haven't ridden her since mid-March, and I've been dying to try her barefoot on the trails to see how she'd do. We've had a lot of rain, so I knew the ground would be nice and soft, and that would make it a little easier for her.

And we're off!

She was surprisingly well behaved. Not one whinny or tantrum when we lost sight of the barn and all her friends. I had prepared myself for a bit of a fight, but it never came. I was very happy with her. Her hooves did really well on the softer part of the trails, and also in the clearing with all the grass, but when she'd step on a tree root, or a pinecone, or some other random obstacle on her path, she was pretty tender footed. After gingerly walking over an area with stones, I decided we weren't quite ready for the big time yet, at least not out on the trails, so I'll need to get her boots out and get them going again.

I only took her about half way and then decided to head back to the barn. On our way back, she started doing her head shaking thing that she does when she's uncomfortable with her saddle. For you long time readers, you'll remember how she used to do this many years ago, but I haven't had an issue with it since buying this current saddle. I'm terribly frustrated right now, but I'm hoping it's more that she was uncomfortable on her feet and perhaps compensating somehow... or that she's just a bit overweight (she is) and the saddle wasn't fitting quite right. I adjusted it a couple times, but she wasn't happy with it. I took her back to the arena and rode her around bareback in there for a bit.

At one point, I was feeling brave stupid and decided to ask her to lope. She stepped right off and we had a nice little ride around the arena. She was super good. It makes me so happy that I can go 7 months without riding her, hop on, and enjoy a relaxing evening with her.

Smooches for my sweet girl.

One last thing... Renegades. For those of you with a pair of these monsters, are they ever the same after you adjust them? Can you actually get them to function once you 'break the seal' on the cables? I had to looosen mine up for the trail ride in March and they've never been the same since. The barn is planning another ride in November, but there's no way we can go without the boots. Any tips or tricks? I just can't seem to get my cables to stay tight anymore.

Hope you've all been well!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hoof Progress

First, a Rylee update. I tried getting ahold of my vet the day after I took Rylee in, but they were too busy for us, and didn't return my call until the following day. By that time, the panic had dissipated and things with Rylee were going well. The general consensus with everyone I spoke with was that the x-rays were showing bone in her tummy and not plastic, which made me feel a lot better. She's doing great now, and I'm hoping we don't have to do this again anytime soon. She does have a new plastic crate pan, but I don't think she's going to eat this one... unless it cracks. So I'll keep an eye on the condition of it, and replace it as necessary.

STOP EATING THINGS THAT AREN'T FOOD!

Ok, moving on to Lilly. She's been doing really good these days. They're on a summer turnout schedule, so she's inside during the hot parts of the day and she seems to be enjoying that quite a bit. I enjoy it as well because I don't have to walk out to the pasture to get her. Lazy? A little bit.

My trimmer was out again today and Lilly's hooves got another positive report. She has stopped growing bar like a mad woman, is growing hoof wall, and has obvious signs of sole thickening. My trimmer feels like we're at a point where we can start pushing things a bit... up until now, it has been kind of an uphill battle, but now we've reached a plateau. She says we're "coasting", which means I can start working Lilly again.

She hasn't told me not to ride, but Lilly was still having some tenderness and I since I stay so busy with Rylee anyway, I've just been letting her rest. She's no longer dragging her back feet, has no soreness in her back, and seems like a happy, healthy girl. My trimmer wants to see how Lilly's feet handle some of the different terrain at the barn without boots, so trail rides are in our future!

It was overcast and rainy today, but I'll take some good hoof pictures when I'm out there next and post them here to show her awesome progress.

I've also been trying to keep an eye on her weight, which seems to be going up ever so slightly. I took this (crappy iPhone) picture of her the other day when I was out. She's looking only slightly preggers.

Getting a little belly...
I'm really trying to avoid doing the whole muzzle thing, so maybe with a few trail rides to get her moving, she'll drop a few pounds.


*Also... Rylee is getting her own blog. I'll still talk about her here some, but I want to focus more on the raw diet stuff, so I figure she needs her own spot. I'm still getting it set up, and have copied her posts over there, but feel free to check it out if you want. Rambunctious Rylee

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bad Dog!

So, this is what happens when hubby and I try to go away for a night to enjoy the Fourth of July festivities in our state's capital.

Oms, noms, noms...
I asked my neighborhood dog trainer lady to watch Rylee for the night so hubby and I could go downtown. She's helped me a lot with Rylee's training, and came over every day to help when Rylee was too little to hold her potty the whole time I was at work. She was also in charge of the obedience class we took a few months ago, so Rylee is quite familiar with her.

She came over Friday night around 11pm to let Rylee out to play and potty a bit, and then feed her dinner. She said she had a little bit of diarrhea, but everything else was fine. When she came back over at 8am Saturday morning, though, she found Rylee had destroyed her crate liner and all the pieces were missing. So, that means she ate them.

She's spent the night alone one other time and was fine (and crates really well), so I don't know if she was just super pissed this time, or what. I actually think that perhaps she was digging at the corner (like she does sometimes) and the liner cracked, which gave her a place to start chewing. When she destroys her toys, she does that... once she finds a weak spot, it doesn't stand a chance.

We'll never know exactly what happened, other than she ate a whole bunch of plastic.

So hubby and I wake up to frantic phone calls from the neighborhood dog trainer lady telling us what happened. So, of course, no long, hot shower at the hotel's expense, and no breakfast at the restaurant downstairs... we threw our stuff in our bags and hurried home.

Rylee seemed fine when we got home. She was SUPER happy to see me, although I gave her the stink eye and could tell she knew I wasn't pleased. I called the dog lady and we chatted a bit more, and I decided to call my vet to see what I should do. They told me a whole lot of nothing, as expected, so I decided I'd just watch her and see how things progressed. She was eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping, and I knew it would take a while for that stuff to start moving. It also didn't help that I didn't know when exactly she ate her liner. Was it midnight, or 7am? Also, did she swallow giant pieces, or did she chew her plastic liner like a lady? No idea.

All was well until about 2pm today. I'd been following her around like a hawk, watching her poop, and I finally saw plastic pieces... and a lot of blood. So I called the emergency vet and they told me I should probably bring her in for x-rays. So I tossed her in the truck and off we went.

Here are the x-rays of her tummy:

Right side belly
I circled in red the little pieces that the vet is concerned about. Those could be plastic pieces that aren't moving along as the others are. She said the plastic may or may not show up on the x-ray, depending on how thick they are, but since Rylee eats raw, those pieces could also simply be bones from her breakfast. She had a chicken thigh, and they look sort of bone-shaped to me, but it could also be a corner piece from the crate or something. There's also a lot of gas in there...

So tomorrow I call my regular vet and have more x-rays done to see if they still see anything in her tummy. Between now and then, no bones to eat so we know for sure if what we're seeing is bone or plastic. The plastic should not still be in her tummy after 48 hours, so if we still see something tomorrow, she'll need surgery to remove those pieces that are left. Hopefully it's just bone and the rest of the plastic is ripping its way through her intestines and colon, and will be out throughout the day tomorrow.

She also got some sub-q fluids for the diarrhea and metronidazole to help soothe her irritated digestive system. Oh, and on the plus side, I got a "free" hip displaysia analysis from the emergency vet... her hips look good! Yay...

Top view
And here I thought she was safe in her crate... I ordered a new crate liner Saturday morning, but I'm worried about putting it back in there. As it is, she can't have towels, blankets, beds, or anything soft because she shreds it, and now I can't even feel safe with just the plastic liner. ARGH!!

Hope, hope, hope the stuff in her tummy is just bone and not plastic. :(

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Another Birthday!

Rylee turns a year old today! She has grown so much!

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Birthday Wish

AJ celebrates another birthday today. That makes 28 of them. He has spent the last 24 with me and my family, and we are blessed to have him in our lives.

The early years... 1992, I think.
Enjoying his retirement when he still lived in NC with me.
Happy birthday, my old friend! May we celebrate many more!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Impromptu Trip!

I recently took an unexpected trip up to Michigan to spend some time with my family. I haven't been home during the summer for a couple years, and I always enjoy it. I had to share my time there with about a million mosquitoes, but we all made the best of it.

Rylee went with me and had a great time on my parent's 10 acre property. She was so good on the 13 hour trip up, I couldn't believe it. She complained like crazy for the first couple hours, and then she finally gave up and went to sleep.

Sleepy puppy!
She did great in my parent's house, listened when we were outside, played nice with the neighbor dog, and she really made me proud! She seemed to enjoy being a farm dog and definitely made the most of her time in Michigan. I'm pretty sure she can't wait to go back!

Riding in the Gator!
Of course I spent some time with AJ, who is doing fantastic, especially since he's a cranky old man. Every year, the vet pulls a few teeth, but his weight still looks great, and he really only ages in his face. He's such a sweet boy... I sure do miss him!

Mandatory selfie...
I didn't get to ride this time, but he didn't seem to mind. My dad and I did some work on his hooves, I spent some time grooming him and making him look extra handsome, and he got a lot of kisses on his sweet nose.

Still so handsome!
All in all, a great time and I'm glad I was able to go, and I'm glad I took Rylee. I think it was from being in a strange new place with strange new people, (or the 26 hours we spent in the truck together) but she and I bonded on our trip. Love her, and love my boy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Busy, Busy...

Busy, busy! That's what I've been for the past couple weeks. Seems like things in the yard all come alive at once and it's a mad rush to get everything pruned, mowed, moved, planted, purchased, and mulched before the neighbors start complaining to the HOA. I'm happy to say, however, that I am DONE with yard work. Now I just have to maintain (and water), but I enjoy being outside, so it all works out.

Somewhere between my last post and this one, Lilly had a visit from her trimmer. She got praise for how great her tootsies are looking, how her weight is holding steady, and how much better she's moving these days. Gone are the bull-nosed, squared off hind toes from her past, which definitely lets us know she's using her body properly. We still have a seedy toe hole, but there's no active infection in there, so it's more of a maintenance thing at this point. I'm going to let off the creams and ointments and move on to the apple cider vinegar instead. I'll probably continue to shove cotton up into the little pocket, just because it keeps the crud out, but for now we just have to wait for it to grow out.

Waiting for the trimmer lady.
I spoke with my trimmer some more about the new EasyCare shoes and nearly passed out when she told me it would cost about $250 for a set of front shoes. The shoes themselves run about $40, and while I know there are other material costs like glue, holy cow! She said it's very time consuming and that's where the bulk of the expense is. She compared them to the cost of a set of therapeutic shoes, since they're "kind of like therapeutic shoes", but now I'm not so sure I can justify using them on Lilly. She said we can discuss my options when I get to the point where Lilly needs some kind of hoof protection.

In other news, I've been keeping track of Rylee's raw food diet expenses. I've been writing down everything I buy, how much of it I have, and what I paid for it. May's statistics are in, and I'm quite impressed! I spent just over $90 for approximately 50 pounds of meat, which made enough food for 33 days. When all the different equations have been worked out (thanks to Excel!), the results look like this:

Cost Per Bag = $1.18
Cost Per Day = $2.35
Total Cost for May = $72.54

Less than $75 to feed a 75 pound dog, fresh quality food that I prepare right there in my kitchen. I'm so glad I ventured into this whole raw food thing, that my dog is playing along, and that she isn't sending me to the poor house in the process.

She does get 1 Vitamin E capsule, 1 fish oil capsule, 4 antihistamines, and 1/4 teaspoon of probiotics each day, so there are some other costs included in there as well. Not to mention the recreational bones and fancy schmancy single ingredient treats I buy her, but she'd probably get those things anyway.

I've never had so much meat in my house at one time!
She mostly gets chicken and turkey parts (backs, thighs, necks, gizzards, liver, ground turkey), but I've been able to find some good deals on beef here and there too. I've done quite a few roasts, some ribs (although I just use the meat and she gets the bones for recreational chewing), and I bought her some higher quality ground beef, which she seems to be doing okay with. I'm still looking to branch out into some other areas, like fish, beef hearts, and venison, but I haven't been able to get my hands on any of that stuff yet.

I've got my baggie packing system down to a science and rather than being something I dread, I find it quite satisfying to chop up fresh meat, pack it away, and put it in the freezer.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fun With Water

We've been having some gorgeous weather lately! The last couple days have been in the 90's, which sounds hot, but it's been really breezy too, so it's perfect as far as I'm concerned. Lilly got her first official bath of the season yesterday and she seemed to really enjoy it.

Her mane was disgusting... she has never had a long mane, but since I'm not really showing, I haven't gotten around to chopping it off this spring. Once I washed it, conditioned it, and sprayed in some Vetrolin, it looked quite pretty. I still prefer a short mane, but she can keep this one for a little while longer.

I also clipped her legs, which is something I always do in the spring. I had already done her front legs, but her back legs needed it desperately. It's partially because of the hair, but mostly because she's susceptible to icky fungus-y stuff that loves to grow on the front and back of her cannon bones. So I shave her down pretty close to the skin, scrub her good with anti-fungus soap, and then spritz her with apple cider vinegar. Having the hair shorter usually keeps the fungus from growing.

After her bath, I took her outside to get some condition photos for May. I think her weight is looking good, and I am still hoping she won't have to wear a muzzle...

She was really excited about the photo shoot.
So cute!
Rylee has also been enjoying the nice weather. She loves playing in water, and somehow she's decided that any time I get out the hose, it's time to play. I make her wait until I'm done watering the plants, but then it's game on. I have to switch the nozzle to "jet" and then spray it all over the yard. She chases it, bites at it, jumps at it, and gets herself soaking wet until I can't take it anymore.
"I will bite you!"
There's a small creek that runs behind my property, and I've avoided taking her there because I'm afraid she'll enjoy it a little too much and try to sneak down there whenever possible. I decided to take her down there on Thursday to see how she'd like it, and she loved it. She had a grand time chasing frogs, getting filthy, and playing in the water.

Cooling off in the creek.
I'm having so much fun with her. She's growing up fast, and not much of a puppy anymore (although she's only 10 months old). She's listening really well and still doing great on her raw diet. I have reintroduced beef, but I bought a chuck roast instead of using the ground up stuff. So far, so good. She's been on probiotics, which ran out two days ago, so we'll see if those were helping things at all now that she's not getting them. They'd be really easy to add back in if they help her, so I'm keeping a close eye on things.

Happy dog is happy. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Just A Day Late

Lilly was supposed to have her vet appointment yesterday, but my vet never showed up. I tried calling her, but got voicemail, and since it was SO unlike her, as the day wore on and I heard nothing, I started to worry. Thankfully there was just a mix up and she wrote down our appointment wrong.

I stayed with Lilly at the barn for an hour, but after the first 30 minutes, she wanted to know what the heck we were waiting on. To kill some time, I decided it might be fun to work her in the round pen. She was full of herself, quite snorty, and even a bit spooky, so I just turned her loose. She jumped around like a goon, squealing and having a grand time.

Crazy eyes!
Pretty girl!
My vet came out this morning (which is when she thought our actual appointment was) and gave Lilly the rest of her vaccines. She also floated her teeth and said that Lilly has developed quite a bit of a wave. She said that's typical for horses that get their teeth floated without the speculum. The floater just can't see well enough in the back to take care of the molars properly. She recommended that I have Lilly done again in the fall, and then maybe we can go back to just once each year.

"Someone help..."
(Can you tell she tries really hard to keep her stall clean? LOL The stall cleaner guy loves her, and the barn owner teases me about what she's doing to his stall walls.)

Lilly had a bad reaction to her Rabies vaccine the spring before last, so I asked my BO to keep a close eye on her tonight and tomorrow. I haven't heard anything yet, so hopefully she's fine this year and the last time was just a fluke.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Where's The Beef?

Rylee's raw diet is still going really well. I've been introducing her to some vegetables so I can add a bit of variety (and nutrients) to her diet. So far we've tried broccoli, cucumbers, kale, and carrots. I also gave her a strawberry the other day, but she wasn't impressed. I have to freeze all the veggies, thaw them, put them in the food processor, and grind them up into teeny tiny pieces so she can digest as much of them as possible.

Some of the raw feeders I've spoken to don't do veggies at all. Some of them do all kinds of veggies, and fruit too. Just like anything else, there are varying opinions on the subject. In the wild, dogs aren't strictly carnivores because they eat the animal's stomach and its contents. Those contents are mostly vegetative, and already mostly digested by the animal that ate them. So they do technically eat vegetables, although not by normal means, and I'm sure find nutrition from it. So I figure, what the heck. It's fun to introduce her to new things and she enjoys getting treats throughout the day.

We did run into an issue with the ground beef, though, so I've stopped feeding it to her. Her nose has been a bit dry since we went to raw, but because of the moisture content of the raw food, she's been drinking less water. I figured that's why her nose was drier, but then things steadily went downhill. Her nose started to get runny, and then got raw on the sides, and I also noticed the saggy part of her German Shepherd lips were also red and irritated. I started putting on some vitamin e, but it just made her lick her nose even more than usual, so I had to stop. After giving it some thought, I realized it really started getting bad when I began feeding her the beef. So to test my theory, I stopped giving her the bags with beef, switched her to the turkey bags instead, and her nose has been slowly clearing up. Her poo was also a little runny with the beef too, and she rolled around in the grass a lot after she ate. She's firmed up and stopped rolling around, so there's something not quite right with the beef.

Am I crazy to think it could be an issue because the cows were probably corn fed? Would she be ok on grass fed beef? Or maybe there's some kind of chemical in Walmart beef that she was having an issue with? I'm not too sad to see the beef crossed off my list just because of cost, but that makes two proteins I can't use... beef and rabbit. (she still won't eat the bunny... darn dog)

I took her to the barn with me the other day, but it didn't go very well. The horses were afraid of her and she was afraid of them. The horses got all "snorty" and ran around like loons, and she barked like crazy at them. The situation wasn't exactly under control, so maybe if I had another person to assist, she'd be better with Lilly. I plan on taking her with me to shows, so she better get used to it!

"What are those things?"
Lilly has an appointment with the vet on Monday to get some more vaccines and have her teeth floated. No doubt that'll be a fun day. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

EasyShoes!

When my trimmer was out last week, she mentioned that she was going to a clinic next month to learn all about EasyCare's new EasyShoe line. Ever since I first heard about them, I have been REALLY excited. I've been following their blog and reading everything I can get my hands on, and now that they're actually here, I'm even more excited. Knowing that my trimmer will know all about them and can help me pick out a pair and learn how to put them on makes me even more excited than I was before!

I hope I'm not disappointed...

There are 4 different styles, and they run about $41 per pair. Glue will have to be added to that cost, as well as some labor cost by my trimmer most likely, but I think it's still reasonable. It's been so long since Lilly has had shoes that I forget how much I used to pay for a set of fronts, but I'm sure it's comparable, and the benefits will be worth every penny. Supposedly they'll last through one trim cycle (3-6 weeks) but can't be reused unless you nail them on, and that's only with one of the four shoe types.

Choices!
Lilly has been making progress, but she's not in a position to be shown without boots... at least not at most arenas we go to. And I don't always know what the arena is going to look like even at the grounds we show at frequently. Is it going to be dragged ahead of time? Sometimes the arenas are nice, but the grounds are rocky or rough and we can't really find a nice place to warm up. Some of the shows I'd like to attend just plain won't allow boots (ahem, APHA), so those shows are out completely for us. I can do trail rides in boots, of course, but the one we went on recently killed my Renegades, and I'm always worried about how the boots are holding up.

The EasyShoe would give us the security of having shoes without having to go back to metal shoes. They glue on, so we wouldn't even have to put nail holes in her hooves. I could use them throughout the show season and then go back to bare once the show season was over.

Has anyone else been following the news about EasyShoes? Know anyone that has tried them? Love the idea? Hate the idea? I'm trying a pair as soon as my trimmer is back from the clinic!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raw By The Numbers

Rylee's raw diet is going really well. We've been at it for just over three weeks now, and we've made some progress in the variety department. I started her off on chicken thighs only, then added in a few other chicken "things", while still keeping it all the same critter. She's eating chicken liver for her organ meat, chicken gizzards for muscle meat variety, chicken breasts for muscle meat, and the thighs are our staple at this point. They're fairly cheap, have quite a bit of meat on them, and include the bone, so she's getting her raw meaty bones from those, and I also got some chicken necks, so she was getting some of those thrown in too.

Once I knew we were good with chicken, I ventured out to try and find some inexpensive ground beef. That's just not possible. Since I haven't been at this for very long (and don't really have my "supply places" yet), if I can find stuff for under $1.50 per pound, I'm happy. I've been able to keep all the chicken stuff at right around $1.30 per pound, but the cheapest I've been able to find ground beef is $2.99 per pound. I've been to Harris Teeter, Kroger, Food Lion, and Walmart so far. I plan on checking out Costco or someplace like that too and see what kind of bulk prices I can find.

I found some variety at Walmart for decent prices, so I stocked up on a few things there. Here's my cart from this past Monday:

I think my dog eats better than I do!
I got the usual items, and picked up some ground beef ($2.99 per pound) and also some ground turkey. They had one package that was marked $2.14 per pound, so I got that one. Once the Easter turkeys go on sale, I'll pick up a couple of those, but I wanted to make sure she wasn't allergic before I stocked up on something she can't have.

I spend HOURS cutting up chicken and other assorted gross things. I weigh out how much of each she's supposed to have (raw meaty bone, muscle meat, and organ meat), and toss it all in a baggie. Most of them go in the freezer with labels of what kind of protein is in each bag. I think I finally have enough meals for 2 weeks, so I look forward to not having a kitchen coated in chicken juice for a while. In the meantime, I can look around for deals on meat.

Here's what a typical meal looks like for my high maintenance pup:

Chicken thigh, neck, breast, gizzard, and liver... with some ground beef thrown in.
If you're curious, even with the expensive ground beef added in, I'm averaging $1.49 per pound of food. She eats 1.5 pounds per day, so it costs me right around $2.23 per day to feed her the raw diet. The Fromm kibble she was on before was costing me around $1.80 per day, so raw is a bit more expensive so far, but I'm sure once I get used to feeding it, and I know what to look for and where, I'll be able to reduce that figure a bit. If I could stay at or below $2 per day, I would be really happy.

I was also trying to figure out how much a grain free kibble would cost, just to compare which might be the better way to go. The Orijen I was looking at would cost around $2.60 per day (yikes!) and the Taste of the Wild would cost me around $1.44 per day. Fromm makes a grain free kibble too, and that would run me around $2.05 per day. Those figures are based on a 4 cup per day feeding, which is the recommended amount for her age and projected weight.

The biggest expense so far has been my time. It's a lot easier to open up the bag of kibble, scoop some out, and toss the bowl on the floor. On the other hand, though, I'm not cleaning poo off the walls and carpet and spending over $1,000 at my vet to try and figure out what's wrong with my dog. She's happy, healthy, and enjoying her raw food diet, so I plan on sticking with it for a good long while.

**Disclaimer** I have terrible math skills, so I feel like the math is correct, but don't hold me to any prices or figures. Numbers hate me. **

In other news, Lilly had her hooves trimmed today and my trimmer was very happy with how things look. I told her about the ACTH test results, which made her even more happy, and then we talked about raw diets for about an hour. We reminisced about how Lilly used to be my high maintenance child, and now that torch has been passed to Rylee.

I don't want to jinx it, but things are going well... FINALLY. Oh god, I hope I didn't just jinx it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Birthday Gift

Today is Lilly's 14th birthday... where has the time gone?!

It's hard to believe it's been 14 years already. A lot has happened since I first brought her home, and through it all, she's been the one constant... the one thing I could always count on. She was always whatever I needed her to be... a mane to cry in, a goofy girl good for a laugh, and an escape from the realities of life. It's an unconditional love, and she's truly my best friend. I love her so much, and I'm looking forward to so many more years with her!

Legs!
Sweet, sweet girl.
I also received word from my vet that Lilly's test results showed she was within the normal limits for everything, including her ACTH. I know it's Lilly's birthday, but that feels like a gift for both of us!

Glucose = 76
Insulin = 6.78 (10-40)
ACTH = 17.6 (9-35)

Remember, when we had the test done back on October 31, her ACTH number was 126. It was after that when my vet told me the numbers fluctuate wildly in the fall, and it would be a good idea to do the test again in the spring. Now I wonder why we bothered to do the test in the fall at all... other than so I could spend an extra $117 for fun.

BUT, that's not important now. I'm super, super happy and while I know I'm still going to have to watch her weight and keep an eye on her hooves, at least she's not pre-Cushings and won't need medication.... a muzzle perhaps, but not meds. A good day!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mmmm... Raw Chicken!

Rylee's raw food diet has been going spectacularly well. She's been on raw for a week now, and has had solid poo for over 4 days! I haven't seen solid poo in over a month, and it's the best thing ever. I've never seen her get so excited at feeding time either... apparently, raw chicken is GOOD!

This past Friday I met a friend of mine at a local pet store to get some raw meaty bones, some treats that might work for Rylee, and also a rabbit she murdered butchered for us. (I kid, I kid... thank you so much for the bunny!) I put a few pieces of him in with her food Saturday morning, but Rylee wasn't interested in the meat at all. She pulled them out of her bowl, continued to eat her chicken, and then went back to sniffing them once it was all she had left. I tried some different tactics to get her to at least try it, but ended up freezing the meat instead. My friend mentioned sometimes the meat smells a bit too fresh, and after being frozen they take to it better. So maybe I can try again shortly... I'm hoping that after she's had some meats other than chicken, she might be less picky.

It's just wrong when your dog will eat rabbit turds, but not rabbits. Just sayin'...

So the raw adventure continues. The next protein I'm going to try is beef, and hopefully she'll do okay with that as well. I'm doubting she's allergic to proteins, but you never know, so I'm adding new things in very slowly, and one at a time.

I ended up getting her dehydrated (or freeze-dried?) chicken liver pieces for treats. I figured I had better stick with the same critter, and get her something with just one ingredient. There are a lot of treats out there that say 'grain free' or 'gluten free', but the ingredients still made me worry. Since when isn't rice or barley or oats considered a grain? The gluten free stuff still had starches and 'flour', so I opted to go with the liver instead.

We're very happy to be a diarrhea free household and I'd like to keep it that way!

Here's my sweet girl modeling her new Ruffwear Approach pack. Once she gets a little older (around 18 months) I'll start putting stuff in it, and hopefully we'll go hiking. For now she just carries it around empty so she can get used to it and learn NOT chew on the side compartments.

But I like to chew on EVERYTHING.  :)
Lilly had a visit from the vet Monday and all went well. I always like to split up her vaccines, so she's coming out again at the end of the month to finish those and also float Lilly's teeth. We took blood for the insulin/ACTH test again, so I'm anxious about what those results will show. The vet did say she was happy with Lilly's weight and she thought she looked really good. Once we get the test results back, I'll have to come up with a game plan for the summer months. No point in speculating until I know if there's an issue.

Good times, good times. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trying A Raw Diet

After much research, both online and through the valued opinions of friends, I decided to switch Rylee over to a raw diet. Since she didn't do well on the chicken and rice anyway, and the boiled chicken isn't enough for her nutritionally, I decided to try raw. It's something I had been researching quite a bit before all this happened, but I wasn't quite ready to try it (and hadn't decided if I was going to try it at all). With everything going on, I figure now's the time... if I eliminate everything but a protein source, she should get back on track, hopefully sometime soon, and it'll be easier to find out what she's allergic to.

I'm starting her on chicken thighs, sans skin, to see how she does, and will probably add in some rabbit for variety. Rabbit is too lean, I guess, to be fed by itself for long periods of time, but they're both "easy" meats for their system. So Wednesday morning was her first raw meal.

"Hmmm... what is this stuff?"
I cut it up a little bit for her, although most people just toss them the whole thing. Since it was her first meal, I wanted to make it as easy for her as possible. She wasn't sure what to do with it at first... she just kind of licked it for a while, and then took a bite of the chicken. After that point it was game on, and she's been very excited about her meals since then.

Guarding her chicken bone.
Contrary to popular belief, chicken bones ARE okay for dogs, as long as they're not cooked. That's the case with most bones, but people usually feel leftover bones to their dogs that have been cooked, and those are the ones you have to be careful with as they can splinter.

She had a rough day yesterday as far as her diarrhea goes... she went in her crate, on my back porch, and a couple other times in the yard. She went often, but not very much at once. There should be much less waste with a raw diet, and I'm hoping (praying!) that she stabilizes soon and this will work out. I'm planning to feed her raw only for at least 3 weeks, unless something happens between now and then. After that, I may decide to keep her on a raw diet, or I may try a grain free kibble. There are also dehydrated natural diets (like The Honest Kitchen and Sojos) that might be worth trying. I'm still deciding and gathering data...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spoke Too Soon

So, apparently I spoke too soon. Last night there was a terrible surprise waiting for me when I got home from work. We were back to the super liquidy diarrhea, and it was everywhere. I was worried about the chicken or rice making her face swell again, or causing her to vomit, but didn't really expect to find what I found last night. I had to toss her in the tub and spent a good hour cleaning up the bedroom.

Was it from the shock to her system, or maybe the chicken or rice? I'm guessing the rice, but I really have no idea. I decided to feed her nothing but chicken today, so she got 2 cups of the boiled chicken from yesterday. I'm hoping the crate is clean when I get home and I see some improvement in her stool.

She was banished to the bathroom last night, in her crate of course, and she's there now as well. She'll probably spend the night there tonight too... it's a lot easier to clean that stuff off tile than it is to clean it off carpet.

The good news is, she feels totally ok. She was full of energy today and we played outside in the gorgeous weather. She was really good on her walk and enjoyed dragging sticks out of the woods and depositing them all over the yard. That's one good thing about all this... at least she's feeling ok. It would be awful to see her feeling yucky.

My stick!
So maybe she has an intolerance to grains? The rice yesterday, the oat bran or brown rice in the canned food from Sunday, the oatmeal or barley or brown rice in the Fromm... rice rice rice. Itchy face, upset tummy, frustrated mommy...

Depending on what I find tonight when I get home, I'm thinking about either trying raw (which I'll probably do anyway for a little while to see if she handles it ok) or trying a grain free kibble of some kind. Perhaps Orijen's large breed puppy, or a Taste of the Wild flavor. It would be nice if it was as "simple" as finding a grain free kibble she does well on... that would be a lot easier than feeding raw or cooking homemade food.

In other news, Lilly is on the schedule for vaccines, a coggins test, and another ACTH test Monday morning. You all remember Lilly, right? Poor girl has been a bit neglected this month...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chicken and Rice - Check!

For Rylee's breakfast this morning, I made up some chicken and rice. I boiled the chicken and double cooked a batch of rice in the chicken water, and boy did the house smell yummy. Hubby came downstairs wanting to know what I was cooking for lunch. I told him he could have some if he wanted, but he opted not to try it.

Mmmm... looks and smells tasty!
I gave her some chicken earlier in the morning so I could watch her and see if she had any kind of reaction, but she seemed just fine. I added in a bunch of rice with the leftover chicken and gave her half of it around 11am and the other half around noon. I was hoping I wouldn't see it come back up.

Without knowing exactly how much to give her, I gave her a cup of chicken and two cups of rice. Someone told me to give her the same amount of chicken and rice as she gets in kibble, so I went with the 3 cups. She'll get 3 more cups tonight for dinner, assuming all is well when I get home.

Waiting patiently for her breakfast.
I plan on keeping her on the chicken and rice for a few days. It'll give her digestive system a chance to calm down and flush out anything that might be upsetting her. I'm not sure what the plan will be after that, though. The SD is done for sure... I'm not feeding her anymore of that, and at this point, I'm kind of over my vet, so unless things really go downhill or something else comes up, I'm not planning on taking her back in. If her system does ok on the chicken and rice, I'll consider her "healed" and any diarrhea after that will be food related in my book.

The tricky thing is, it won't be easy to add new things until I find out what she's allergic to... or do I just buy random things and feed them to her until I find something that makes her face swell again? I don't think I can just keep feeding her chicken and rice long term while I try new foods, and I can't just add back in "kibble" because there are a ton of ingredients in that stuff.

I just bought a brand new bag of the Fromm on Friday, and since she was doing ok on it before the Tuesday from hell, aside from being a little itchy after eating it, should I feed her the Fromm again and just deal with the itchy face for a while? Maybe I could give her an extra Benadryl? She's still a growing puppy, so I'm worried about what she's eating because I want her to get the right nutrition. It seems like commercial large breed puppy food is the best thing for a growing puppy. That being said, perhaps instead of adding back in the Fromm, maybe I should try a grain free kibble and see if she does better on that?

Luckily I have a few days to ponder...

I appreciate all the comments and suggestions. You've helped a ton!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Rylee Update

So, the Rylee saga continues...

I finally started seeing improvement in Rylee's stool this past Thursday. I was nearing my wit's end and was considering fasting her for 24 hours and then starting her on boiled chicken and rice. Then, like magic, Thursday morning when I took her outside, I saw a little shape to her stool. It was still super squishy, but I was very excited to see something other than a giant mess. The other 2 times she went on Thursday I saw a tiny bit of improvement each time, along with Friday morning and afternoon, so Friday night I decided to start adding back in a little bit of her usual food (Fromm large breed puppy). She's been getting 3 cups of Science Diet in the morning, mixed with water and a couple spoons of the wet SD i/d, and 3 cups in the evening, mixed with water and a couple spoons of wet SD i/d, along with her probiotic. I decided to replace 1/4 cup of SD with the Fromm at each feeding.

I can't remember exactly which day was the first, but there have been a few mornings since we started this SD diet where she hasn't had much interest in her breakfast. She inhales dinner like a Hoover vacuum, but breakfast is a different story. I would make light of it by saying things like, "I wouldn't want to eat that crap either, Rylee..." She'd pick at it and eventually finish it so I didn't think much about it. Yesterday, though, she had no interest in breakfast. She lays on her place while I mix it all up, and then I put the food in front of her and say, "ok" and usually she peels out trying to get to her bowl super fast. Yesterday, she just stared at me with those eyes and eventually got up, but didn't go anywhere near her food. Throughout the morning she walked wide circles around her bowl like it had some kind of contagious disease. A few hours later, she decided to eat it, and then last night she scarfed it down like it was the best thing ever. The probiotic goes in the dinner bowl, so I can't even blame it on that...

This morning, Rylee threw up in her crate three times before our usual wake-up time. The first time was rather messy, with stomach contents, but the other two looked like mostly saliva. She's done that once before and then was fine for the rest of the day, so I just cleaned it up and got back into bed. Her stool was normal when I took her outside (well, normal for her right now) and when we came back in I fixed her breakfast. Same as yesterday... zero interest. So I just moved her bowl out of the way and went about doing a few things around the house. Then I got to thinking... I wonder if it's the food she's not interested in, or if it's some kind of "I'm just not hungry in the morning for some reason" thing. So I started trying to think of something I could feed her that wouldn't mess up the little bit of progress we've made in the poo department, but that would let me know if she had an actual appetite. She'd eat cookies on her death bed, so those don't count. I remembered I had a little bit of this leftover:


I used to mix a couple spoons of this (and other assorted Natural Balance wet food flavors) with her Fromm back in the day when things were good. I like adding a little bit of wet food and water to her kibble to make a "gravy". It always looks more yummy that way. There was about a third of the can left, so I put some in a bowl and gave it to her. She gobbled it up. Ok, so something about her current breakfast is yucky.

Shortly after feeding her the Natural Balance lamb, hubby and I went to grab some lunch and get some groceries. We were gone for about 2 hours or so, and when we got back, he went upstairs to get her out of the crate. When he brought her downstairs, I went over to say hi to her and noticed that the saggy part of her lip on the left side was really swollen. I asked him what happened to her face and he said he had no idea, so I showed him how swollen it was. We thought maybe she caught her lip while she was scratching her face or something, but after I took her outside to go potty, I noticed it was actually her entire mouth that was swollen.



Not so good iPhone pictures, so you can't really tell, but her lips on both sides of her face, along with her snout, were swollen. Hubby got some Benadryl from the pantry and we gave her a couple of them to help with the swelling. She seemed fine, and was breathing ok, so we started brainstorming...

She must be allergic to something in that Natural Balance food! After she ate it, she went right upstairs to her crate, so it had to be the food.

While I was getting ready for work, I started thinking and the pieces started coming together...

Ever since we've had her, the first thing she always does when she gets done eating is run over to the area rug, throw herself on the floor, and start rubbing her head all over the carpet. At first we thought, "silly dog... look what she does when she's done eating! Wonder why she does that?" She did that with the crap food the breeder was feeding, she did that with the Blue Buffalo large breed puppy I fed her for a while, she did it with the Fromm food, and she's done it with the SD as well. With swollen puppy lips, I have to conclude that she was doing it because she was having a reaction to something in the food and it was making her face itchy after she ate.

Also, back when things were good, she got 2 Benadryl capsules with breakfast and 2 with dinner because she was really itchy, so we started her on that. For breakfast she also got a 1000mg fish oil pill and a 400iu vitamin E pill. Her itchiness had all but stopped and she was doing great, but I stopped all those things when she got sick. So perhaps the Benadryl she got with her food was enough to counteract the food allergy, at least to some extent? She still had an itchy face, but didn't have the swelling? Or maybe she swelled, but not enough to notice?

The tricky part is going to be figuring out what exactly she's allergic to... I've used different kinds of canned food and different kinds of dry food, but that wet lamb really seemed to send her over the edge, especially considering she only had about 1/3 of the can. Maybe since lamb is the only protein in the food, and not chicken or any other protein, it's a grain she's allergic to? Maybe she's allergic to lamb and grain? Seems like some kind of grain would be in all the foods she's eaten since she's never been on a grain free diet, although if it was corn, seems like the SD would have given her a really bad reaction since that's about all that food is. I might just need to take her into the vet and have them do an allergy test. That would probably be the easiest course of action and be less frustrating that trying an elimination kind of diet, especially considering how easily she seems to get diarrhea.

Hubby is on Rylee duty tonight while I'm at work and he's keeping an eye on her. We gave her the rest of her breakfast after giving her the Benadryl around 2pm, and she picked at it until it was gone, but he just texted me to say she threw it all back up. So I told him not to feed her any dinner tonight, and tomorrow I'll cook her some boiled chicken and rice and we'll go from there.

And here I was just starting to think that I solved her mystery illness... a friend of mine told me that it was possible that she picked up some kind of bacteria from the ground that made her really sick. Rylee does love digging and shaking pieces of grass that she digs up, so it's possible that she ingested some dirt Tuesday, or even before, and got sick. The emergency vet said they did notice some stuff in her tummy that could have been dirt, and my regular vet commented after one of her stool sample testings that her stool was a little gritty. So I was content with saying she picked up something from the ground and it just had to run its course.

But maybe it's been a food allergy all along? Or maybe I got hit with two things at once... a bacteria AND a food allergy that has gotten worse?