Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Know When Your Dog Requires Dental Surgery

The weather was hot here, and Joey started going back to his old habit of eating just one bowl of food a day.  Doubtless he and his appetite were overtaken by the heat of the summer.

His morning runs were inconsistent: If the weather hit 100 degrees at 5 a.m., as it did a few mornings, Dad just wasn't taking Joey running. The dog hit his 11th birthday - and the boy just couldn't handle it. As Dad says, Joey started out his old self but by the end, they were more walking than running.

One day Dad noticed Joey had bad breath.  It's hard to miss a dog's bad breath but sometimes dog owners just get complacent.

Bad dog breath was definitely a sign that it was time for a teeth cleaning.  Within one day, we had Joey at the veterinarians for his pre-cleaning blood work.  When the old boy sat on the scale, I was sure there was a mistake. 70 lbs. it read. This is too low.   Joey stepped off the scale, and got back on again - with the same reading.  70 lbs. This dog is too thin!  I was under doctor's orders to increase his food intake.

The next week was Joey's dental cleaning. While he was under anesthesia, the veterinarian noticed that he had a severely cracked tooth that needed to be extracted. Suddenly we saw Joey's weight loss through a different lens. We saw his not eating through a different lens. His tooth hurt and he just didn't want to eat more than a minimal amount every day.

So how can you tell if your dog requires dental surgery?

  • Watch his weight. If he's losing weight rapidly, there may be a health problem. Don't rule anything out: Get him to the doctor's to do a physical.
  • Check his breath.  Bad breath is not just unpleasant but may signal a health issue.  Get your dog to the doctor's for an exam and a cleaning.

It's been around 3 days since Joey's dental surgery and tooth extraction, a long after-effect of his being hit by the car 15 months ago: Joey is back to running, he is back to opening his mouth again!  And he is back to eating.  A lot!  A little incentive (like chicken gravy) never hurts, but he deserves it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

These Are a Few of My Dog's Favorite Foods

You know the routine; you are all alone in your kitchen. You walk on over to the refrigerator or open a container of food.  And - suddenly your dog is there! And he's bearing down on your heals, with his tail wagging. "Where did he come from?" you say to yourself. Or better yet, "Where did you come from?" you ask the dog directly.

I'd read in novels that horses could smell water that was hundreds of miles away. Sure, I thought to myself. Smell water?  But here in my own home is the canine equivalent. Take out a simple baked potato from the oven while the dog is in his bed on the living room - and hello Joey.

Over the years, we've come to pride ourselves on a pretty varied list of foods from which our chocolate Labrador Retriever derives gustatory delight.  These are a few of Joey's favorite foods:

  • oranges
  • grapefruit sections and
  • cherries (not sure if they agree with him and besides they're kind of expensive)
  • blueberries  (really good if you want to be the pitcher and doggie plays the catcher)
  • beets  (Do you hear me? Beets!)
  • potatoes, baked and grilled
  • potato chips
  • can't forget popcorn
  • challah - yes challah. It's in his DNA.
  • grilled salmon
  • nuts - cashews in particular but any will do
  • chicken of course (cooked any way)

  • treats!

How exactly did the Labrador Retriever, out of his Canadian and English ancestry and breeding, develop a taste for corn?  Or citrus?  

Now there are legal limits to how much of these foods we will allow him to eat.  We don't want him to be a beggar, and we want to maintain his slim weight.

And there are also foods that are illegal for him. Prohibido under any circumstances. And these foods are:

  • Anything that contains chocolate is in this category. (This is harmful to dogs).

  • Or onions.

  • Or garlic. (No thanks, onions and garlic dog farts!)

  • Or salsa. (goes right through him)

  • Or carrots.  (dog diarrhea, no thanks)

  • bones and ribs - the kind that are nicely packaged just for dogs, or the kind that your nice neighbors and friends save for your dog from their rib steak dinner. Joey loves 'em! When you are handing him that bone, you feel you are handing him happiness on a stick.  He covets it and protects it, like a child. But two days  later - we have a problem!!  And who's the one walking him tonight???

What are YOUR dog's favorite foods?