Friday, 3 February 2012

the value of keeping a doggy diary

Penny's been eating grass. She has always used grass to settle her stomach, or to settle her gut, and it usually comes out the other end, all neatly folded and looking like it has passed through her digestive system untouched.

I've posted about it previously.

But this time she's had us worried, so much so that we went to the vet. She's been rushing outside not long after her meals, tearing at the grass like a sheep, and it's been coming through inside her faeces, so that at first we didn't realise it was there. (Now you know that we truly love her - who else would be pulling poo to pieces to see what's in it?) And then she vomited up a heap of grass.

So, to the vet...

He checked her thoroughly, asked if she's been well otherwise. Yes, she has. He listened to her gut for long enough that I started to get worried, and said it was noisier than usual. And I learned a new word when I read his notes - ascultation.

I mentioned to the vet that the first time we saw her rush outside, she had just been out in the garden chewing a three-day-old lamb shank she'd previously buried, and he said some dogs react badly to lamb. He then made sure her worming is up to date and suggested we monitor her for another couple of weeks, at the same time increasing the amount of roughage she gets.

I didn't think much of it until I came home and looked at the diary we keep:
Tuesday 24th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - lamb, snacked on dug-up lamb shank;
Wednesday 25th January: breakfast - lamb and tripe canned food, dinner - not recorded;
Thursday 26th January: breakfast - lamb,dinner - Royal Canin Hypoallergenic dry food (rarely fed but we had some left over);
Friday 27th January: breakfast - beef, dinner - lamb;
Saturday 28th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - lamb;
Sunday 29th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - lamb kidneys;
Monday 30th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - canned lamb and tripe;
Tuesday 1st February: breakfast - lamb kidneys, dinner beef and canned lamb and tripe.

I said to a friend that we might not have twigged about how much lamb we were feeding if we didn't keep a diary, and she said, "What about plain old memory?"

Well, I must admit we feed such a variety usually that I wouldn't be able to recall exactly what Penny's had over the last week. By the way, there have been other ingredients to her meals, such as raw or cooked vegetables, Vets All Natural Complete Mix, Glyde, Melrose Omega-3 oil and healthy treats.

But lamb has accidentally dominated. And why?
Because it was on special in the supermarket and I love a bargain.
Because I happened to buy lamb as the canned food we sometimes feed (high quality ZiwiPeak, by the way).
Because I thought it would be good to mix in some organ meat and didn't stop to think that it was also lamb.

Once we became aware of this, we stopped the lamb, and she has only chewed on a little bit of grass once, that we know of. She's having more roughage than usual, as per the vet's suggestion (cold cooked potato and pumpkin, which she loves), and some rice and cooked chicken for the next couple of days.

Now the question is, should we let her have lamb in future?

My thought is that we overfed one food type, not that lamb per se is the problem. But we'll wait for a few weeks before reintroducing it.

However, I did come across this interesting snippet at K9Web in looking for information for this post:
Dogs are not allergic to a dog food per se, rather they react to one or more of the ingredients in the food. Some of the most common culprits are beef, pork, chicken, milk, whey, eggs, fish, corn, soy, wheat and preservatives. Many animals are now developing allergies to lamb as well. This was once thought to be very hypo-allergenic, but the more it is used, the more sensitivities are springing up.
It's been a lesson for us.

And I'm glad we keep a diary, even though our friends think we're weirdly obsessive.


Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh, I don't think it's the lamb itself but perhaps just too much of it (too much of a good thing! :-) I was always told that if you're going to let 1 meat dominate the raw diet, the best one is chicken as it is the blandest & gentlest on the stomach (and for dogs prone to gaining weight, it is a lowfat meat). Honey gets fed lamb or beef (basically red meat, depending on what's on "special" also) twice a week (Tue & Sat) - and chicken wings 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri). The remaining 2 days are Offal (Thur)& Oily Fish (sun). This way we maintain the variety in her diet, which I believe is the most important aspect of her raw diet. It's "achieving balance oevr time" - and just like us humans, the best way is to maintain the variety.

Btw, Honey also often goes through phases where she rushes out to eat grass and sometimes vomits it up. Sometimes I think it's just that she's caught a stomach bug (or eaten something she shouldn't out on walks) and is feeling a bit queasy and eating grass is the only way she knows of making herself feel better. But sometimes she overdoes it and the remedy becomes the problem, ie. she keeps eating grass to make herself sick, even when her stomach is empty! We've had to take her to the vet to give her an anti-emetic a couple of times...but generally, we just starve her for 24hrs to let her stomach rest and she's all fine again! (Start back on somethign bland like boiled rice & eggs!)

ps. your post about dogs following paths was very interesting! (Sorry - I was busy and didn't get to comment at the time I read it) - it explained to me why Honey often prefers to stay on the paved paths in the parks, even though I'm walking through the grass!)

parlance said...

Hsin-Yi, I think perhaps we have to be more organised about our feeding in future, although this is the first time in seven years that I've thought it might be our feeding that is at fault for a problem.

I'm coming over to your blog to ask you a couple of things further to what you said.

Eirian said...

Oh my! Our older dog has recently started eating more grass than usual and we were starting to worry, but perhaps it is something to do with his diet. As you said it's hard to keep track when you feed them a variety of foods, but the diary idea is brilliant, we will definitely have to start one of those! Hope Penny feels better soon :)

parlance said...

Eirian, do you read Honey's blog? Her comment is above yours. Hsin-Yi, her human, has a great blog and often talks about feeding issues. I've actually posted a query to her on her blog about what she said in her comment.

Lassiter Chase and Benjamin said...

Hi Penny! Hope you are feeling better! I don't know much about diets. Neither does Mommy! But anyway, she remembers a friend telling her that her puppy was having a lot of diarrhea . Mommy asked what kind of dog food they gave the puppy. And the puppy food was lamb. And now she read your post talking of lamb food --- guess Mommy has been living in the dark and didn't know lamb was so popular. Anyway, Mommy doesn't know if the lamb food was linked to the diarrhea or not -- but it's just an odd coincidence that you are talking about lamb food and so was her friend.

parlance said...

Lassiter Chase and Benjamin, I think one of the values of the internet and blogging is that we all talk to each other and find out things that are happening to other dogs, and so we can make informed judgements about how we treat our dogs. Mostly I hear that lamb is a good food, though. I guess we'll try it again soon and report back how it went.