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...