The afternoon session of the Jean Dodds seminar was devoted to nutrition and hypothyroidism. I'll just do nutrition in this post.
Commercial kibbles have a 90-day shelf life. They're dated like milk is, so when you're choosing a bag, pick the one with the longest expiry date. Choose brands that don't have preservatives, and read the ingredients! Ethoxyquin, an antioxidant, used to be a common ingredient in kibble until it was recognized to cause significant health problems. For some reason, it's now making a comeback--it's even showing up in prescription kibbles sold only by vets, so watch out for it. If your dog has gastrointestinal problems, avoid commercial foods containing gluten, soy, and corn. If your dog has seizures, avoid rosemary extract.
The protein content of dog food should be about 30-35%, and the fat content should be < 14%. The quality of the protein is more important than the amount. If you dog has pancreatitis, its food should be < 9% fat. Beef often causes allergic reactions or triggers food sensitivities. Avoid lamb if it hasn't been grass fed, otherwise it may contain too much copper. For more on food allergies, see www.foodallergytest.com
Home-cooked and home-prepared diets are better than kibble. Adding raw food to kibble is also better than just kibble. If you're making your own dog food, it should be 70% meat/organs/bone and 30% veggies. The best veggies are leafy greens or yellow vegetables: parsley, kale, spinach, carrots, squash, and yams. Feeding these types of vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. Vegetables should be chopped or cooked--dogs don't process cellulose very well. Dr. Dodds didn't feel that rotating protein sources improved nutrition very much, but she did say that it would reduce food sensitivities. Don't feed cooked bones because they can splinter.
Dogs with liver or gastrointestinal issues may not be able to tolerate raw diets. The short, acidic digestive system of dogs is why they can eat raw meat and the bacteria it may contain without getting sick. Food passes through them quickly enough that the bacteria can't reproduce and make them sick. GI issues can slow digestion, and blossoming bacteria tends to travel from the gut to the liver. Dogs with GI or liver issues should be fed cooked or commercial diets.
Dogs on raw diets will have different lab results (e.g., blood tests) than those on commercial diets. Some data on this have been published in veterinarian nutrition literature. Raw-fed dogs will tend to have higher blood urea and nitrogen, higher blood counts (e.g., red blood cells, white blood cells), and higher creatinine. Individual dogs should have blood drawn and analyzed when they're healthy--then, when they're sick, you have their normal baseline to compare lab results to. Typical lab results for different breeds of dogs are available from Hemopet.
To be continued...~*~
Bella's eyes are still looking good. She hasn't had any discharge since the first two applications of cream (which is basically the same as Polysporin). I brought her into doggy daycare today because she didn't get to go on Wednesday. She has a new playmate there today--Brady the four-month-old golden retriever. He's going to be a big golden--he's already as tall as Bella and probably weighs more than she does. His nickname is "Tank." :-)
Jane held a rally practice last night. Bella did pretty well--she was attentive and enthusiastic without being scattered. She's even starting to go over jumps at a distance, which is a good sign for agility. We practiced several honours in different positions (the judge can ask for a sit or a down, with the handler either beside or in front of the dog). Bella was kind of distracted by something at the far end of the field--I couldn't see anything, but Zoey kept staring down there, too, so something was going on--but she held her sits and downs with only one or two lapses. The only thing she did consistently wrong was to curve away from me during backwards heeling. She hasn't really done that very often before. I don't know why she was doing it last night, but sometimes she has "aberrations" like that that just go away on their own.
When I got home after practice, I discovered that our entry for Bowmanville had arrived in the mail. There are five
dogs in the Rally Excellent classes in two of the four trials (Cinders is one of them). There was only one in all the trials at Pefferlaw, so I was kind of surprised to see that. I'm already starting to get nervous. :-/
LittlestJim's school had a BBQ fundraiser the other night. It backs on the schoolyard/park at the end of our street, and it was a nice evening, so Bella came with us. One of the fathers came up to talk to me--he has a Toller from Kare who may be Kare's Mazie
. For a relatively uncommon breed, there sure are a lot of Tollers in our neighbourhood: Chelsea lives across the street, Jessie lives a block or two away, Cedar and Lyza are just a little farther than that, and now we have Mazie. Peterborough, little city that it is, is proving to be a hotbed for Tollers.