Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christmas Cards For Charity

I have just put a couple of Christmas cards up for sale on Zazzle with pics of Dizzy and Lily taken in the snow last year. We are going to use them for our cards this year but they have a neutral greeting of ''Happy Christmas'' so that anyone can buy them and we will donate all profits from the sale of these cards to Essex Greyhound Rescue. Find them here at my Zazzle Store

create & buy custom products at Zazzle

You can find these in the normal Zazzle panel in the sidebar.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dilemmas of Dog Food

What to feed our hounds has been a bit of an issue with us. When we first got the hounds, they did have bad skin and a lot of gas and we knew we wanted them to have a good quality food for life to keep them as healthy as possible. We knew we wanted a dried dog food especially as greyhounds do have bad teeth that get covered in plaque quite quickly compared with other breeds.

We started them off on James Well Beloved and that worked well for a while, especially as they had a large breed version with big chunks they couldn't inhale and choke on (which Lily had done previously) and containing organic ingredients.

Our girl developed alopecia and lichenoid tissue with ulceration in her vulva...extremely painful for her and gets worse obviously when she is weeing through that tissue. So, on the advice of the vets we changed their food to Nutro Choice and went for an Adult sensitive.
It was very costly getting it from the vets and our local pet food store only stocked it occasionally. Then there was a scare. Some of the US imports of this food contained a silicon like ingredient, that had also been used on furniture (sofas) and had caused burning in humans. In pets it was causing fatalities and so there was a voluntary recall from the manufacturers. The problem with dried food is that many manufacturers are really only compiling the food and not making it as such, and it consists of raw ingredients that are mainly imported from China, where the laws concerning what is fit for consumption by animals is not as rigorous. They had been using a particular type of vegetable protein, and mixing in a poisonous ingredient to Nutro had to recall stock and also had to reassure the public and use different suppliers. Well, when we went into pet food shops in the UK, no-one had heard of this recall or had actually returned the food. Only our vet knew about it and had restocked but no-one could say whether the UK had imported the same stock etc. So we lost confidence and what with the expense of it, and the irregularity of the stocking in our local big shop we dropped it. I cannot really say that it made an awful lot of difference to the condition of Lily's vulva either.

We went back to the old faithful James Well Beloved, but this time, we had a problem. Their manufacturers had changed, or they had been taken over and their formula was different. Even I could tell that it smelt bad. It smelt like horse manure and boiled cabbage and the hounds normally greedy and ravenous and who would eat anything, started leaving the food. They tried hard to eat it, picked it up, sucked it a bit and then spat it out on the floor.

We changed to a new food that was widely available, Purina. But then my confidence was affected by some bad reports online with regard to illness and deaths caused by the food. There were too many things to read or report here, but just Google Purina and problems and there is a list with claims of deaths. This was supposedly connected to afloxatins forming on mouldy grain. It worried me a bit, because sometimes I can tell that dog food has been stored in a damp place anyway, and to me, many brands do smell mouldy and I wouldn't eat it. The problem with pet foods, is that they are for cheapness sake made from waste food that is unfit for human consumption. You can read one of the reports on the composition of dog foods here and the brands that use certain types of food.

Then we heard about a new dog food called Burgess Greyhound and Lurcher and I could find few bad reports on them, and they were not listed. We did try to order this through a small local pet food shop, and as usual, they messed up our order by not putting it in at all the first week and then the following week, we were just about to dig in and feed the dogs when we noticed the pellets were really small, and smelt like lawn clippings. It was rabbit food of course!

So now, we decided to change to Burgess dog foods. Especially a s I could not find any particularly bad reports on their dog food lines, and they have a variety called Greyhound and Lurcher.
It isn't organic, and I suppose it is going to have some of the problems with any manufactured dog food, i.e. it will have been made cheaply. They did however give us a free pack to try and they are contributing to rescue services for greys and lurchers from their sales profits for the life of the product. We will see how it goes.

Well, I suppose the alternative is to feed a dog only food cooked by their owners but this for us isn't good because home cooked food tends to be soft, and our dogs are not safe with bones. They do have home cooked food as supplements, like roast meat, vegetables, some fruit and of course fish to help their coats.But we do want a dry dog food as it is better for their teeth. Also I do not cook, and cannot cook for myself. I don't mean I am bad....but it is impossible and dangerous for me to try to lift pans or go near hot things with my arm disabilities. It would not be practical to feed two dogs twice a day and for Steve to cook for them each time.

Anyway, this is the general recommendation by one organisation if you must use dried products:

API recommends that if you must use dry commercial pet foods, change brands and flavors every three to four months. Change gradually, mixing the old and new so that your dog has a chance to get used to the new food. Also, try to feed canned food, too, because it contains more meat protein than dry dog food. You should also try to supplement commercial pet foods with organic meats and steamed vegetables. Dr. Jeff Feinman, Certified Veterinary Homeopath, recommends that pet owners feed the freshest food available to their pets, offer a variety, and serve it in moderation. Feinman says that his advice certainly "sounds like how we should eat."

The pet food companies are living in a lawless land where pets become pet food. Cusick writes, "We are not being truthfully informed as to what is going into a food and are unable to read a pet food label to know what is in the food."


I have put a post up on the Greyhound forum on Ravelry, asking for advice about food and teeth just to see what people actually do. No-one has replied yet though or commented.

Most of us are told to brush the dogs teeth at least once a day, but I wonder in reality if everyone does this. We have been keeping up with this now for about a month and the dogs teeth are still forming really hard plaque that goes over the gum line and causes bleeding, I have never known a dog for developing such teeth, our border collie had an occasional brush but never had teeth this bad in about 17 yrs of his life. Greyhounds are known obviously for their dental problems, which are a breed trait.

Not my dogs teeth......but an example of little black dots
which are not decay but actually exposed dentine
from the tooth being worn down

I panicked recently thinking that Lily was getting black bad teeth at the front. Each one is like a little stump with black dots on it. Actually, it isn't decay, it is where the teeth are worn and the middle part, the dentine, has become exposed and discolours when in contact with the air.

This all looked very familiar and sure enough, I visited the dentist recently and was told that my front teeth were a bit worn and the dentine is exposed and getting discoloured. The discolouration goes right down through the tooth and so eventually, it needs the whole top being sawn off (painful!) and then a filling put on top that is white....I am not ready to face that yet being a total dental phobic. This was my first visit in about 10 yrs.

Dog Dental products

We use a dual ended toothbrush. it has a long handle and a small head, with an even smaller head the other end. We have one for each dog, and really this makes it a lot easier with the needle noses who have long jaws.

We also use Logic toothpaste prescribed by the vet. You can buy it elsewhere though.
We did switch to a cheaper brand bought from a pet shop, and really it was useless and sticky and the dogs didn't like the taste (smelt like butterscotch and not meat). The Logic toothpaste is enzymatic which means that even if you can just get it into the mouth, and cannot reach certain teeth if your pet is being difficult (especially cats) then the enzymes in the product are supposed to break down plaque
. We do see a difference if we stop using it for a few days.

When we were on holiday, we noticed that Lily who was really a pup when we got her and always had really white teeth, to our horror was also developing scaly teeth and bad breath. So in addition to the normal regime, we gave Plaque Off a go. It is supposedly a natural product (contains seaweed products) and is supposed to break down tartar as well as cure bad breath.
You sprinkle it on to their foods and they do love it because it smells a bit fishy and sea weedy.
As for fresh breath it did not seem to make it fragrant, it sort of neutralised the bad smells and replaced it with a faint whiff of the sea....is that worse? Maybe not. As for breaking down the tartar, it did appear to be helping in Lily's case but did not see a huge difference with Dizzy after about 3-4 weeks. However, I have heard that you need to use it for much longer to get a good result.