Monday, 16 November 2015

on the special diet again, sigh...

Penny had been well for the last couple of weeks, after her hospital visit for gastroenteritis, and I had even reintroduced some aspects of her normal diet.

But... last Friday she was to go to the vet to be sedated so he could look down her throat to check out her strange puffy breathing. He says he can hear 'congestion'.

So, no food after 10 pm. But in the morning she was desperate to go outside to eat grass. I took her on a street walk, but she was searching for grass. What could I do? She obviously felt ill, and there was no point in letting her be sedated if she was unwell. So out to the back yard to act like a sheep and mow the long grass.

My garden always has at least one patch of yummy grass, just in case!

She pooed out the strangest thing. (Apologies if you hate the next two photos, but I always look around on the Net when I'm worried about Penny, so I thought these photos might help someone else to understand their own dog.)

Wow! That sure didn't look good. And then she threw up white froth. (You can see some still hanging from her mouth.)

Off to the vet to explain that we didn't want the sedation and to ask for help. He gave her three injections:
anti-nausea (cerenia);
anti-inflammatory - just a little, I think- (dexadreson);
penicillin (benacillin) -in case there's an infection.

She's been good ever since, except for the worrying coughing/sneezing, which is on the back burner until she recovers from this set-back. But we're back to eating the Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal Low Fat diet. In looking for the link to add here, I notice the advice that this is a diet for management of a condition, not necessarily a long-term feeding product. (I must ask the vet about that.) It says to monitor your dog's weight. Penny has been losing weight over the last six weeks of illness, so I'll keep an eye on that.

But at least, as far as I know, it's a diet that gives her everything she needs in terms of nutrition. We're also finishing off the boiled rice and boiled chicken that I cooked up.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

hard work to restore indigenous vegetation

Two days ago Penny and I walked at a local reserve, along the Yarra River. We stopped to look at one spot where there was a great difference between two types of vegetation. On the left, native grasses. On the right, ubiquitous wandering trad.

I've heard from many people that dogs can have an allergic reaction to wandering trad, and it's possible Penny does, but I've never been sure. (She does have frequent skin issues.)

I don't usually mind seeing non-native plants around the place, because it seems to me it's inevitable that garden escapees will grow amongst our indigenous plants, but I must say I hate to see this plant, because it seems to have no natural enemies in Australia and smothers every other plant. Here's a photo of it that I wrote about in a previous post, on a day when I walked past literally kilometres of nothing but trad, with only trees able to resist its smothering embrace.

But how lovely to see the native grasses given a chance to succeed against it, with the help of the wonderful volunteers who put so much effort into maintaining Wilson Reserve.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Penny swims in the Yarra

I gritted my teeth and let Penny swim in the Yarra today. The last time she did so was the day before she ended up in hospital with what was eventually diagnosed as gastroenteritis.

It has rained a lot over the last few days and I think any bad stuff will have been swept out into Port Phillip Bay by now. Also, Penny really feels the heat and has swum in the Yarra for more than ten years. With the predicted hot, dry summer coming, I'd like to know she can swim. Otherwise we can only walk at dawn, and that's quite a struggle to do. (For me. I'm sure Penny is more resilient than I am.)

She didn't swim for long. After fetching the stick I threw, she was very pleased with herself and content to carry it back to the car.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

walking past a salsify-eating cockatoo

It's just great that Penny has recovered from her gastroenteritis and I can walk along without stressing about whether she's scouting for food. (She always is, but I'm hopeful she won't make herself sick.)

As we stepped onto a path today, I noticed a cockatoo in the distance. Penny didn't, because she was nose-down checking out for edibles. Or good smells.

We approached, and the bird flew up into a nearby tree, holding something in its beak, and then nibbled on the plant it was holding.

I wish my phone could take a better photo, but if you zoom it up a bit, I think you'll see that it wasn't a grass stem. It was something more substantial. Inquisitively, I looked around to see what the plant might be. And there was a clue...

And lots more clues, actually - clumps of stems bent down and snapped off, all along the edge of the path. Also, a clump that hadn't yet been attacked...

Salsify. How interesting. It's considered a weed in Australia, but recently I've discovered it is edible.

Once we moved further away, the cockatoo landed on the path again and, after considering the available plants, decided on a big grass seed head, which it took up onto the old tree to eat.

Penny and I headed home for our own breakfast, and I'm pleased to say that Penny is now eating her normal range of food, instead of being limited to a 'gastro' diet.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Australian terriers and mutts

It's a wonderful feeling to realise that for the last week Penny has been improving steadily after her scary bout of gastroenteritis. We've gone for some kind of walk each day lately, even if only a stroll and a sniff at a local sports ground.

As we wandered around recently, a passer-by stopped and asked if Penny was an Australian terrier. As far as we know, her ancestry is shih tzu, maltese terrier, and possible poodle.

However... here's the Australian terrier we met that day in the park...

And here's a site with another photo of an Australian terrier...

They sure do look a lot like Penny in some ways.

But she's not an Australian terrier, I feel sure. It's just that the fur is similar.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

baking treats from canned dog food

Well, so far it's been all good on Penny's (boring) new diet. I'm not sure she thinks it's boring, but I  do, so I'm thinking of ways to make the Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal Low Fat Diet seem interesting.

As I mentioned previously, I've been putting it into a Nina Ottosson dog toy. That's fine, and it slows Penny down so much that she takes more than three minutes to get the food out of the toy. (Only half the recommended serve, because I'm boiling up a half serve of chicken and rice each time.)

Now I've come up with the idea of buying the same food in a can, and stuffing some into a Kong. I think Penny would vote this a good idea.

Also, I've baked some of the can into crunchy treats, which makes it easier to reward good behaviour and practise tricks.

The instructions on this site explain how to cut the top and bottom off a can and use the cut-off lid to push the food out slowly, in order to slice it evenly and thinly.

It's rather mushy food, so without the idea of pushing it out gently, I don't know how I'd have been able to make slices.

Here are the slices ready for baking.

I did them for about thirty minutes at 180°C. And after enduring the smell that humans would consider pretty awful, put them outside the house to cool down.

Today she sampled them, and seemed to love them. (On the other hand, she loves beef, kangaroo, chicken, rice, red peppers, banana, duck poo, possum poo, stinky buried bones, compost, and anything else you can suggest, so maybe it's not altogether surprising she liked my baked treats.)

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Penny tries a special diet

It's been a long, long two weeks...

Penny first became ill on the day before the Very Important Football Grand Final, the long-awaited day when our team contested the last Aussie Rules match of the year. (And won!)

That was Thursday 2 November. It seems such a long time ago...

Then there were days of watching her, after she came back from the Animal Emergency Hospital, checking she wasn't vomiting and that her bowels were once again in action. It seemed as if she had settled, and Gastroenteritis was diagnosed.

But she continued to be unwell, and it's been a tiring couple of weeks, observing her and hoping for the best. She must have been getting well and truly tired of a diet of boiled chicken and rice. The problem for me was knowing whether I was giving her sufficient nutrition, because dogs aren't meant to be on this diet for so long.

When we reintroduced some of her usual foods, she began to vomit again, and the diarrhoea started up again.

A fecal test and a blood test have produced good results - not pancreatitis, as we thought it might be. No little baddies in her gut or her blood.

So, our own vet has concluded that it was Gastroenteritis, as the Animal Emergency vets thought.

Now we're trying a bland diet - Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal Low Fat diet. I don't like the idea of feeding the same thing every day, but after many a cold wait in the dark yard before dawn while Penny circles and vomits, I'm more than happy to stick to this for a while.

Penny looked rather sad in this photo, with a frothy mouth. I hated to see her feeling so bad.

But she's much better now. So far so good..

Two days and she seems well...

BTW, Penny thinks it's delicious, so much so that I'm feeding it in a variety of toys to get her to slow down the eating. She's still getting half of her diet as boiled chicken and rice, but I think we'll gradually take that out and trust the nutritionists at Royal Canin have done their job in formulating the food.

Here she is, enjoying the meal that I think looks so boring. (BTW, the clip is infinitely boring to watch, but Human Number Two is not at home at the moment and might enjoy seeing that Penny's health has improved so much.)

I must pop up to the vet tomorrow and see if there are canned varieties available, because I'd like to try roasting some slices for treats, and also using the soft food to stuff a Kong for her. I learned the trick of baking slices of canned food back in 2011 when we were trying to stick to a non-allergenic diet.