Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Charcoal biscuits for dogs

Penny had a black biscuit last week and over the next two days her poo was blue. I'm wondering if I was correct in thinking the biscuit was the cause of the strange faeces.

I've been surfing the Net to see what info there is about charcoal biscuits and here's some of what I found:
At Springer Rescue they discussed copophagy (eating faeces) and said: 

This is a condition where your dog eats his own poo! Not always easy to correct, but many people say give the dog more charcoal biscuits in his diet, also mix pineapple rings into his food, as often when the dog poos he still sees it as food due to not being properly digested and therefore the pineapple being very acidic, may well put him off!
Penny hasn't touched her own poo, but I thought she had a nibble at some faeces in the park a couple of times lately. I'm not sure, though.
Wisegeek, in a general overview of the role of charcoal in human and animal health, said
Veterinarians may recommend charcoal dog biscuits to help canine gassiness problems and/or cases of "doggie breath." Dogs should eat only the charcoal biscuits made for dogs and not the kind made for humans. Dogs should eat small rather than large quantities of charcoal biscuits, but veterinarian approval should first be obtained. Charcoal may interfere with a dog's absorption of other nutrients.

Old Mother Hubbard, a manufacturer of dog biscuits, says
Charcoal biscuits really serve three (3) distinct purposes, they help to freshen breath, ease in passing gas, and settle upset stomach

At Yahoo Answers, one reply says
I feed old mother hubbard charcoal biscuits along with evo red meat. I feed the charcoal many hours after he eats the evo so it does not strip away the nutrients from the food. I do this to stop smelly gas, and it works. If you feed dog food in the morning it is best to give the biscuit a couple hours before bed time.

Dogsey – The Site for Dog Lovers, has an interesting list of routine health checks for dogs, and one of the checks says
Observing your dog’s toilet habits may not be among the top 10 spectator sports, but it can provide valuable insight into the health of your dog. The number of bowel movements per day varies considerably from dog to dog. The important thing is that the evacuations are regular and of consistent appearance. Bear in mind that certain foods may change the colour of the faeces, e.g. charcoal biscuits will produce black faeces. Any chronic or acute diarrhoea or constipation requires veterinary attention, as does the presence of blood or mucus. If the urine appears dark, cloudy, or blood tinged, or the dog is urinating excessively or has difficulty in passing urine, again, consult your veterinarian.

It's this last article that has me wondering, because it says faeces would be black if charcoal was eaten. I bought the dog biscuits in an unmarked bag and assumed they had charcoal in them because they are black. But perhaps they are just black-coloured biscuits masquerading as charcoal. As I said in a previous post, I know that black food coloring can be made up of blue dye.

It's still a bit of a mystery but Penny seems to be in good health generally, so I'll have to wait and see...

Monday, 28 April 2008

Reliable information about canine health

I've just read about a site where I can get good information about issues that come up in regard to Penny's health. It's The Merck Veterinary Manual . For years I've used The Merck Manual to look up human medical information and found it good, so I'll assume the animal one will also be reliable. I found the reference on Noahs' Bark, though it was in one of the comments rather than in Noah's own post.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Feeling quite blue about my dog's toilet habits

After a smooth-sailing introduction to house-training, Penny had two years of no 'accidents'. However, in the last week she's had three bowel movements in the house. We put it down to diarrhoea and a disturbed feeding schedule - due to the family dealing with hospital visits and general stress. But we were worried about her health, so we've been eagerly awaiting a 'normal product' on one of our walks, so we could check it out and reassure ourselves that she was okay once more.

Imagine our concern, then, when her poo had a section that was blue-green! We conferred anxiously. Should we throw it in the bin or take it along to the vet? Is there some strange but deadly canine disease that causes blue poo? Privet berries are blue, aren't they? Oh, no - onto the internet to check. Uh oh...

Or - could she have eaten something blue on one of our walks recently? Let me think, does Penny ever lunge quickly under a bush and gobble a tidbit before we can stop her? Sure does...

We decided to wait and see - just for one more day.

Shock! Horror! The next day's exhibit was nearly all blue.

That's it - off to the vet immediately!

But wait... It seemed like a good idea two days ago to give her a nice black charcoal dog-biscuit to settle her stomach. Do I remember, from way back in my school days, a science lesson where we put a black texta in water and discovered that black dye is made up of blue and some other colour? Hey, let's get one of those black biscuits and put it in water...

Yep. The water turned blue.

Thank goodness. And, by the way, she seems to have settled her stomach. Perhaps it was the acres of grass she ate three days ago. It certainly went right through her and came out as a nice intestine-shaped sausage of folded leaves.

Who'd have thought, three years ago, that I'd take such an interest in dog-poo?

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Blogging about our dogs

Penny's blog has had a quiet month since one of her humans crashed his car into a brick wall. (Ouch!). Now that he is home again and the pack is complete, Penny can relax and expect her usual routine - lots of attention, many walks, and an interesting variety of foods. And she might be expecting her blog to rev up and steam ahead. (Wow. A lovely mixed metaphor there.)

In preparation for writing, I thought I should scoot around the Net and start revisiting the blogs I like. One that I've mentioned before is Itchmo. I've found it always interesting and informative. However, I've just read on Dr Patty Khuly's blog, that Itchmo is no longer operational. Dr Khuly, who blogs as Dolittler, says that she's heard the Huh’s (the couple who ran Itchmo) have found that they need to focus at the moment on real life and day jobs. I'll miss Itchmo but I'll console myself by hoping they will return one of these days, and I'll enjoy the other great blogs that celebrate the joy dogs bring to our households.

Dolittler, who is a practising vet, says that she has found blogging not only therapeutic but also a means of revitalising her veterinary work. Her site has expanded lately and has heaps of features.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

dogs get a surprise when humans disappear into trains

Penny walked with two of her humans to the railway station today. She watched quite happily as one got on board and the train rattled away (our public transport system rattles in a twentieth-century way rather than glides in a twenty-first century manner).

Then it was surprise time. Where was the missing pack member? Obviously she had walked through the train to the other platform. Penny wasn't going anywhere till she solved this mystery. And she's very strong despite her size. So we went under the subway tunnel to check out the platform on the other side of the rails. No-one there! What an enigma! We looked up and down the platform, in the waiting room, then checked out gardens in neighbouring streets.

It was a slow trip back to the house...

Fortuantely, when Penny walked back to the station in the evening the missing human emerged correctly on the other platform and walked back to the house with us.

I think we'll have to accompany people to the station more frequently so that Penny can gain confidence that trains do eventually disgorge the humans they swallow.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Therapy dogs - amateur ones

Penny had to endure a bath today, as she was going to the hospital to visit her human who's been missing from home for three weeks, since his car accident.
We were both taken aback when she didn't seem to recognise him at first. After being told that she was going to see him, she dashed into the little garden and rushed here and there, looking...looking...looking. But she kept passing him by as if she didn't notice him - a bit disconcerting for him, I must say!
We're not sure what the behaviour signified. We thought perhaps the fact that he's got medication in his system made him smell different. He was probably standing differently, too, because of the brace on his leg (broken knee).
All was well once he had a couple of treats in his hand - suddenly she recognised him!
It was lovely to see them sitting together, when Penny, just for once, was allowed to sit up on the seat with him.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Fun at a Dogs' Day Out

Penny was exhausted after her day at the Animal Aid Dogs' Day Out on 6th April at Lilydale Showgrounds.

She loves lure coursing so much that she usually tries to tear down the fencing as she waits.

We did keep a good grip on her but she embarrassed us by knocking down the gate and rushing in to join the dog who was having a turn before her.

It was great to know that any money we paid goes to saving the lives of homeless or abandoned pets, so we were happy to let Penny have as many runs as she could manage.

In between all her racing around she had a chance to take part in a demonstration of our usual dog training sessions, so that people could see whether they would like to bring their dogs along to a class. A highlight was watching the teachers performing tricks and routines with their own dogs.

When the public was invited in to try out some tricks, Penny took part, but not with her usual trainer - she worked with another member of her human family. It was great to see that she could follow instructions and learn new things with this new trainer.

Then it was back outside to have fun on the agility equipment.

It wasn't a particularly hot day, but all that exercise meant that a nice dip in a pool was much appreciated.

Once she was cool, it was time to round off a great day with a few more attempts to catch that pesky plastic bag that tantalised her by racing around the lure coursing area.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

dogs as a comfort in difficult times

Penny has been lacking one member of her human family since Saturday the 29th March - he had a traffic accident, which has caused the other humans plenty of stress and worry. (Fortunately, he's beginning to recover.)
During this week Penny's been on the job letting everyone know that life goes on - doggy family members need hugs, food and exercise. If they don't get enough exercise, they don't complain, they just set to and organise their own entertainment...