Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

An Owner's Review: Acupuncture and Chiropractic For Your Pet

Recently, I've been wondering about acupuncture and chiropractic care.  Lollie suffers from severe allergies, and Cody is almost six years old, and his age is showing.  I've had chiropractic care myself, and I thoroughly enjoy it, but acupuncture is a whole new idea to me.  And to be honest, I'd only ever given either a passing thought when it came to my dogs.  I liked the idea, but I really wasn't sure it would be worth it.  I certainly didn't want to spend money on something that didn't work, and I didn't want to put my dogs through the potential stress or pain if something went poorly.

Then one day, one of my clients was telling me how they had started acupuncture and chiropractic care for their dogs.  Really, their dogs' issues were fairly similar to mine, and I was seeing a noticeable improvement in their dogs.  The younger one, without allergy issues, was playing better with the other dogs, and he seemed happier overall.  The one with allergy issues had fewer hot spots, and seemed more content.  So, I asked for their vet's number, and I gave her a call.

Yesterday, the doctor came out to my house, so the dogs were relaxed and comfortable to begin with, and that was nice.  We started with Cody.

Cody has always been a healthy dog.  On his annual visit to the vet, I'm reminded how healthy he is.  Yet, something seemed off.  I couldn't really put my finger on it, but he just wasn't his usual peppy self.  He had a little more trouble waking up in the morning, and he just didn't seem as happy.  Try telling that to your vet!  I can see it now, "Well, he's eating fine and moving fine, but he just doesn't seem as happy."  That's hard to diagnose.  Yet, as we went through the chiropractic adjustments, I could see changes in him taking place.  There were points she hit that obviously hurt him, but when she was done, he seemed relaxed and peaceful.  When she was done with his adjustments, he hopped off the table, did a nice shake, and pranced around a little.  I was already impressed.  Next came the acupuncture.

I'll be honest here.  The acupuncture was more of a bonus thing.  I think what he really needed was the adjustment, but I wanted to whole kit and caboodle.  I watched as the doctor put needles in different spots, and Cody seemed utterly confused.  He flinched in a few spots, but all in all didn't seem to bothered.  When we were done putting the needles in, though, he immediately tried to turn around and bite some.  He was not happy having these weird things sticking in his skin!  I had to tell him to down and to stay, and then I had to feed him watermelon as a treat for staying so calm.  Eventually, though, I watched him relax, and he eventually fell asleep.  When we were done, we removed the needles, and I watched for a reaction.  Oh how happy he seemed!  He was practically giddy.  Well, needless to say, I was pleased, and I couldn't wait to see how things went for Lollie.

Lollie is my nervous Nellie.  She's scared of most people and new surroundings.  On top of that, she has horrible allergies.  Her face is almost constantly red and inflamed, she's fairly regularly develops mild infections, and she's even been known to break out in full-blown hives.  On top of that, even though her diet is the same as Cody's, her stools are softer, lighter in color, and smell worse.  Managing her allergies means a strict diet of no wheat, no corn, no soy, no dairy, no chicken, no beef, and regular bathing when pollen counts are high.  We wash her bedding once a week to help with the buildup of dirt and allergens, and yet she still seems to have issues. 

We did an adjustment on her first.  This nervous gal of mine was, at first, terrified.  I held her head and tried to soothe her, but it was obvious how nervous she was.  It didn't take long, though, for her to start to relax.  After one large adjustment in her tail, she started to rest her head in my hands and fall asleep.  It went extremely well, and, while I was nervous as to how the acupuncture would go, I was gaining confidence. 

Lollie was a super-start during the acupuncture.  She barely flinched as the needles were put in, and she became so very relaxed.  At one point, as she fell asleep standing up and actually fell off the table.  (Don't worry.  It was no higher than a low coffee table.)  I thought, surely she's done for now.  She's going to panic.  I was wrong, though.  She merely looked at me and at the doctor, walked over to her chair, climbed in and fell straight to sleep.  She even started to snore!!  That was impressive enough, but what really struck me was how I was able to watch her face change color.  Her face had been fairly red all morning. It was actually low on the allergy scale, but it certainly wasn't perfect.  I watched as her face lightened to a near perfect white.  She seemed so happy and peaceful, and when we removed the needles she was practically a dead weight.  She just wanted to sleep.

As pleased as what I was, I was still concerned.  How would things be as the day wore on.  What about the next few days?  Well, I can only speak for the past 24 hours, but so far so good.  Lollie's allergies are definitely lessened.  She's seemed happier and more playful too.  On top of that, this morning her stool was completely normal...almost exactly like Cody's.  And what about Cody?  Well, Cody is back to his old, youthful self.  That inexplicable unhappiness must have just been pain, because he's doing great today.  He's playing with the other dogs, he's jumping around.  I can't believe how well he's doing.  On top of that, he woke up with ease this morning.  I didn't have to drag him out of bed.  In fact, he seemed almost happy to wake up (I wish I could say the same).  I'm still watching to see what happens over the next few days, but so far I'm happy.

Lollie has another appointment in two weeks, and Cody has another appointment in a month.  If this continues to go as well as what yesterday did, I will happily keep them on the routine.  I'm so pleased with everything.  If you're debating doing the same for your dog, I highly recommend it.  If you need a recommendation on who to use, give me a call. 

Lollie's too relaxed to stay awake.
Please hold my head up.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Hungry Puppy

Here we have another Ask A Dog Trainer question.  This one is about food!

Rosie is my 5 month old German Shepherd and I am feeding her puppy kibbles, grain free. I feed her twice a day now but did feed her 3 times a day when she was younger. I noticed when I fed her the amount suggested on the bag she doesn't eat it all and will have left overs over night. When do I switch her to adult dog food? How much do I feed her? How often should I feed, and is it best before or after her walk? 
Deciding how much to feed your dog and when can be confusing for new dog owners.  It's all complicated by the fact that each dog is different with different needs, and when you're dealing with puppies, you're dealing with growing dogs whose needs can vary from week to week.  There are, however, some general guidelines you can follow.
1) Never follow the recommended feeding amount on the dog food bag.  Dog food manufacturers want you to buy more food.  The more food your dog eats, the more you'll have to buy.  The problem is that most dogs don't need as much food as what's recommended, and you'll either end up with an overweight dog or a lot of left over food.  Each dog has different needs and these needs can vary based on age, size, and activity level.  For instance, both my dogs, Cody and Lollie, each weigh about 60 pounds.  Lollie is a 3 1/2 year old boxer / bulldog mix who spends the majority of her day sleeping.  Fifteen minutes of play in the morning, or a long walk, will wipe her out.  She eats about 1 cup twice a day.  Cody, on the other hand, is a 6 year old Labradoodle who is much more active.  On any given morning he will run anywhere from 3 to 13 miles with me, and his food intake adjusts accordingly.  On calmer days, he'll receive 1-1 1/2 cups twice a day, but on the more active days he can eat up to 4 cups twice a day.  Both dogs receive treats fairly generously, but I'm always watching for weight gains or losses and will adjust their food accordingly.
2) The battle over when to switch to adult food has been long fought and there are many different opinions.  Many different breeders will say that once a puppy is on solid food, she can eat whatever the mother is eating, whereas some say to wait until the puppy is officially an adult (about 2 years).  The biggest concern with puppy food and adult food is the amount of protein and fat.  Puppy food generally has more of each to assist your puppy with rapid growth and high energy.  Generally, I recommend waiting until your dog is about a year old before switching to adult food, but I've known dogs who have had to switch earlier or later based on certain needs.  If you think your dog has some abnormal nutritional needs (growing too fast, not putting on weight, not growing fast enough, tired more than usual, etc), consult your vet about it.  The biggest thing here is knowing your dog's individual needs and meeting them.
3) As far as how often you should feed her, I recommend twice a day; once in the morning and once and night.  Alternatively, you could feed 3-4 smaller meals throughout the day, but this is often unrealistic for working parents.  I do NOT recommend feeding one large meal or free feeding.  There are a lot of obedience reasons tied into this, but from a health stand point, I prefer to know how much my dogs are eating and when they're eating.  This way, if they become sick, I can tell the vet what their diet has been recently.
4)  Whether you should feed before your walk or after your walk really depends on your walk.  If your walk is a 20-30 minute leisurely stroll, I recommend feeding about 20 minutes before your walk.  This will allow your dog to digest some of her food and then evacuate her bowels on her walk, as opposed to trying to set up a separate time to do so.  If by "walk," however, you mean "moderately paced run for 30+ minutes (which a young puppy should not be doing anyway)," feed your dog at least 30 min-1 hour after your run.  The idea here is that you do not want your dog to have too much food on the belly as her temperature rises (like it does with strenuous exercise).  If there's too much food on the belly, your dog runs the risk of becoming ill or even developing bloat.  Instead, if you allow your dog a little time to cool off before eating, things will be much safer.  Note, this also applies to giving your dog large amounts of water or water that is too cold.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into feeding your dog.  As with most things, there is not one set of rules, as each dog is different in a variety of ways.  By taking the time to learn about your dog's specific needs, you'll be able to determine the best way to feed.
 Remember, if you have a question for the dog trainer, feel free to ask on our Facebook page.