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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

As I type.  It’s not like he’s shooting up or anything, it’s all legal.  I had to take him back to the vet today for a follow up (Sorry – no pictures… was running late leaving work and so was then late for the appointment and left the camera behind in the chaos) and they gave him some happy pills.

They said that his wound is starting to heal the slightest bit (still looks uber nasty) but still isn’t making huge progress.  They extended his antibiotic regimen for another round and are making a switch from Rimadyl to a low-dose opiate.  I dumped his new feel-goods in his bowl a couple minutes ago, so we’ll see how it goes.

The Rimadyl was for his arthritis, which we started a couple weeks ago.  The vet wanted to see how he did on the opiate since there can be bad side effects from being on the Rimadyl long term.  Hopefully it will work as good as the Rimadyl did.

So, sorry for no pictures, but I wanted to update because I know a lot of you are following Jake’s progress.  I promise I’ll get back to blogging about Duchess eventually – it’s just this little event has taken over our household for now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pick out the perfect tunes for Jake’s first trip… I’m thinking “The End” by The Doors or “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd.

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I took Jake in for a check-up today to make sure that he’s healing okay from his pellet gun wound.  The hole has gotten larger, but they said that it’s due to dead tissue around the entry wound dying and coming off.  It looks like the infection is clearing up and they were able to look a little deeper to make sure that there wasn’t any deeper damage done.

I was mowing this afternoon and the neighbor walked over to ask how the dog was.  I told him that he was going back to the vet today.  The neighbor said that he spoke to his grandkids and they said that they hadn’t shot their guns in over a month.  Of course they haven’t!  I mean, 10 and 12 year olds are known for their maturity, honesty, and taking responsibility for their actions, right?

So, we have an old wounded dog that was shot by a pellet that mysteriously fell out of the sky… sent straight from heaven to punish Jake for his gluttony.  I knew it was coming.  It was only a matter of time.  The dog can eat a giant scoop full of food in .3 seconds.  Duchess better watch out… no telling what will fall from the sky to punish her for all the stuff she eats in the yard.

I have to take Jake back to the vet on Wednesday so they can check his healing progress again.  I had him in an e-collar (the cone of shame) yesterday and they said he doesn’t have to wear it anymore as long as he behaves and doesn’t mess with it too much.

Jake is quite happy to be able to play with toys again…

And the grody picture of the wound…

Poor guy – and Duchess has even taken over her favorite spot on the bed again and kicked him on to the floor.  To make up for it Jake got all the pizza crusts from tonight though, so I guess it’s all good.

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Not with a handgun, rifle, or shotgun… but by a pellet gun.  So I guess it could’ve been worse.

Friday I came home for lunch and we noticed Jake was licking his side.  The Vampire Wife took a look at him and thought it was a tick.  She did the usual squealing and pleading for help that she does when one of the dogs has a tick, but I was still eating so I regretfully declined.

Well it didn’t take long for her to realize that the situation was much, much worse than a tick.  This time when she yelled “COME HERE!” I knew something was up.  There was a hole in Jake’s side.

I immediately called the vet to make an appointment (is it bad that I have their number memorized?) and we were able to get in later that afternoon.  We loaded up and got to the vet’s office (which was PACKED) and anxiously awaited our turn.  Here’s a snap I took at the vet’s office.  Sorry it’s not very clear.

Our vet was gone, but his new associate was there and took a look at him.  They took him to the back where they shaved him up and examined him.  When she came back, she confirmed what we thought – a bb or pellet gun.  The hole is too precise in shape with no other trauma around it to be much anything else.

Our dogs live in the house, so it’s not like they’re outside much, but apparently it was long enough to get shot.  We live in a quiet neighborhood with very, very few children in it, but our next door neighbors have grandchildren that spend a lot of time over there and just happen to be outside shooting pellet guns ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Not to mention that those kids are like two tasmanian devils, high on meth, and running from the law.

Coincidence?  Highly doubt it.

I confronted my neighbor today about it and he denied that it happened (even though he showed me the big jar of pellets that they use), but said that he’d have a talk with his grandkids.  He said he may bring his boys over later.  I told him I’d love for them to come see my old dog with the infected hole in his side.  They never showed.  He probably thought it would be unwise to let me within arm’s reach.

Here’s a pic of the pellet hole (don’t look if you’re squeamish).  The Vampire Wife has it plugged up with antibiotic ointment so you can’t see into the depths…

I really, really hope they own up to it, come see Jake, apologize, offer to pay the vet bill, and promise to never fire a pellet gun in the direction of our house again.  If The Boy had done something like that, it would be full on Al-Qaeda style waterboarding going on at my house until I squeezed the information out of him, then I’d make him do exactly what I typed out above.

Infuriating.

At least Duchess is being really sweet.  She knows Jake doesn’t feel good so she’s let him have her favorite spot on the bed between the fireplace and the Wii (I don’t know why she loves it there when there’s all the rest of the bed to lay on but she does).  The only down side is she does about 20 circles before she resigns to being half on and half off the bed.

Last 4th of July weekend Jake had a major hotspot outbreak and his head swelled up to the size of a basketball.  I think from now on when the 4th rolls around, I’m going to pay my vet to have Jake go live with him for a weekend… just in case.

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Nothing big going on today, except for a change in the weather.  It’s the first day that the weather’s been nice in a long time, so we took advantage of it and went for a quick walk around the neighborhood.  We actually got down the street a ways when we realized we’d forgotten the camera so Duchess and I bolted back to the house.

It’s really the first time we’ve ran together with a leash (not supposed to jog with a Dane until they’re about 2 years old due to the growth plates not being finished yet), but it was just a short ways so it wasn’t a big deal.  It was pretty funny to watch her though.  The vampire wife said she looked like a rabbit/horse the way she was loping and bounding down the street.

Once we got the camera, we headed back out.

And no, Duchess did not poop out a newspaper the way it appears in this picture.

Then headed down the street.  Notice Jake is walking in the gutter.  That’s his designated spot to walk and he’s quite OCD about it.  I actually think the real reason behind it is that his footpads are extremely soft and sensitive so asphalt hurts him.  One time when he was a lot younger, his pads actually came completely off one morning when we were jogging.  I didn’t notice it until we got back to the house and bloody paw prints were all over the driveway as we headed to the door.  Talk about feeling THIS small.  I felt so bad for him.  So, now we just let him walk in the gutter just in case the theory is correct.

The old man leading the way.  He’s also OCD about having to be out in front of the other dogs.  That has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that he has a big ego.

Stopping for a quick break in the sunset.  Hard to believe he’s getting this old… he’s mostly white now.  I was watching him walk while I was behind him on the last bit of the walk and he has hardly any motion in his back hips anymore.  He basically swings them around to move the rear legs up in his stride.  It’s one of those heartbreaking moments in dog ownership that can really put a lump in your throat.

And rounding the corner heading home.  I can’t believe I went back for the camera and absolutely nothing interesting happened on the walk.  We did run into one guy with a tiny little dog, but he quickly jumped to the other side of the street and wanted nothing to do with us, so no photo ops there.

As we got back to the house, our good friend and neighbor Tilman pulled into his driveway and he came out to visit.  He’s one of the coolest guys we’ve ever met.  He stated, “Just look at that menagerie!”  He’s pretty sure that we’re insane for having this many dogs.  He’s always good to love on them though – even if they do “slime” him as he calls it.

Sorry for the blurry pic – it was getting dark and the camera couldn’t quite keep up with the motion anymore. Not to mention Duchess likes to spaz out when she sees him which sort of multiplies the whole “blurry” issue.

Then back across the street to the house. Notice the good dog sitting perfectly still, paying attention, and not being held on the leash while the other goobers aren’t?

Sorry if that wasn’t the most entertaining of posts.  However, I guess that’s a good thing to point out – that owning a pack of dogs isn’t always entertaining.  Sometimes it’s just doing the boring old basics, like exercising them regularly.  Walking as a pack is a natural thing for dogs (even if you just have one dog, they still see you as being part of their pack) and does so much for them, not just physically but mentally as well.

So if you live around here and own a dog… break out that leash if you haven’t used it in a while and enjoy this week of warmer weather!

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If you talk to 100 Great Dane owners, you’ll get 100 differing opinions on what and how you should feed your Great Dane.  The opinions differ greatly, and some people are very, very adamant that the way they do it is the only way to go about it… and they’re willing to call you all sorts of things on the interwebz if you disagree with them.  It’s funny – it’s almost like arguing with another set of parents about not spanking versus whoopin ’em for even looking at you wrong.  That’s the level of intensity that this debate escalates to. I’ve seen perfectly sweet people go into fits of rage if you disagree with what they think is correct.

Why?  Well, I think most of that is due to the fact that the leading killer of Great Danes is bloat.  Couple that with the fact that we’re not sure exactly what triggers bloat, and you’ve got a maelstrom of opinions being fired off by people that think what they do for their baby is the absolute best.  But here’s the thing – what THEY do for THEIR baby might not (and probably won’t be) what’s best for YOURS.

I’ve read and read and read on the subject of Great Danes and diet.  I’ve probably put more hours of reading into this subject than most people spend researching vehicles when they buy a car.  There are probably a lot of people that have or have had Great Danes and they just threw out whatever kibble was the cheapest, never giving it a moment’s thought, and their dogs grew to be healthy and have long lives.  However, I’m just not willing to take that risk.

So what exactly should you feed a Great Dane?  It’s not an easy answer.  You could go the BARF diet route, which is Bones And Raw Food.  The thought behind this is that you feed the dog what they would eat in the wild.  It’s an intriguing approach, but the cost, food prep time, and making sure your dog receives all the balanced nutrients is a BIG undertaking and I don’t know enough about it to feel like I could give my dogs the proper nutrition.

The other approach is a grain-free kibble.  This is VERY popular among Great Dane owners.  The rationale is a lot like the raw diet, but if offers the convenience of it being already prepared and the assurance that the proper nutrients are in there.  Most dog foods are full of corn as a filler, which is a cheap way for companies to give you 50 lbs. of dog food at a lower cost to them.  But you have to think – when is the last time you saw a dog leaping through a corn field chomping down on ears of corn?  Never?  Yeah me neither.  So you have to wonder why it’s in most of our dog foods.  Also, it’s believed that this grain filler is a contributing factor to bloat.

Then of course there’s the grain-laden kibble approach.  This is what the majority of pet owners do, and for the most part it works out fine for their dogs.  There may be times when a vet will put a dog on a special diet because of kidney stones, sensitive stomachs, etc. but as a whole, we pretty much buy whatever brand we think has the cutest dog on the package, or what we think is the healthiest from the shelves at Wal-Mart and go on about our business.

I really can’t blame anyone for this.  For instance, I went into our tiny Petsmart this weekend to look at the food options and if I didn’t know anything about dogs or how to feed one, I’d be overwhelmed.  Just take a look…

Are you kidding me?  That’s 4… count them, 4 aisles of dog food!  And not to mention, I didn’t see a single bag there from one of the 10 – 15 brands that are highly recommended on Great Dane forums.  Also, this isn’t a big store either – I’m sure the selection is even bigger in larger markets.  I tried to picture what it would be like to have never owned a dog before, buy one on a whim, then head into Petsmart to pick up some food.  I would think it would be incredibly overwhelming.

Almost every single bag says “Veterinarian Recommended!” on it, and all of them proclaim to be the best, most wonderful, super healthiest thing you’ve ever given to your dog and he/she is going to love you even more if you choose their food.  That’s where you have to put all of that aside and get to the boring, drab details of it.  The nutritional analysis and the ingredient list.  That’s all that matters.  Period.

Luckily, you don’t have to get out your kids’ Chemistry Set and start performing analysis tests in your basement (but if you do, call me because that could be fun).  We’ll talk more about feeding, what to look for, resources for information, and what we’re currently feeding as we revisit this topic from time to time.

Not the most entertaining of things to read about, but with all the love and joy that our pets bring us, we feel it’s important to invest that same sort of time and commitment into making sure they’re as healthy as we can possibly help them be.  They’re already with us far too short of a time, so we need to make sure the limited number of days we have them are the absolute best that they can be.

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Puppy Food?

I know you readers hate it when I get serious (the hate mails, the letters to Congressmen, the old ladies standing on their curb shaking their fists at me) but feeding a Great Dane is a serious undertaking so I’ll be visiting this topic from time to time.  I especially find it important because thanks to the great marketing engine of corporate America, we’re to believe that you can go pick up a bag of puppy food at the grocery store, slap it down in front of any puppy, and he’ll grow up to be a show dog.

I know this will come to a shock, but that’s not always true.  In fact in some cases like a Great Dane, it can be debilitating.  There are several bone diseases that are prevalent in giant breeds.  Of course the genetics of your puppy play a factor in this, but diet has a very large role.

Puppy foods are very high in protein for growth (around 30% if I’m not mistaken) and have supplements in them such as calcium.  Feeding a high-proten, calcium supplemented diet to your giant breed dog can cause them to grow TOO fast.

Now wait a minute – isn’t that what we want?  Don’t we want our puppies to grow up to be big, giant, strong, healthy dogs?  Well… yes we do.  However, we want them to do so in their own time.  A puppy food can accelerate their growth rate too fast and the result is a long laundry list of horrible bone diseases.

There’s a great (and short) article to read here about the various diseases that feeding a puppy food can contribute to here. I wouldn’t have known anything about regulating Duchess’ protein or calcium intake if I hadn’t researched this before we got her (remember, we pretty much rescued her from white trash ghetto-land where she was most likely being raised on a diet of pork skins and Pabst Blue Ribbon).

Oh, and don’t be fooled by “Large Breed” puppy foods either… the protein is still too high in those.  We’re looking for a protein percentage of 21% or so to promote a slow and steady growth.  So I know what you’re thinking right now.  It’s probably along the lines of “I don’t care.  I seriously don’t care.  I can’t believe I’ve even read this dribble this far.”  Am I right?

The rest of you that do care are probably freaking out because you’re either a) realizing that you have a dog that you probably shouldn’t have fed puppy food to, or b) wondering just what it is that you’re supposed to feed to a giant breed dog.  I mean, really… what are we supposed to do – strap on our loincloths, fashion primitive weapons out of things laying around the house, and go all caveman on some poor unsuspecting cattle just so our big doggies can get back to nature?

I guess you could go that route.  If you had your own cattle.  And lived really, really, really far away from other people.  And was certifiably batpoop crazy… but for the rest of us, there’s a simpler option.  But we’ll have to get to that another time because I have a big puppy that’s dying to eat and then crawl in my lap to go to sleep.

P.S. – please keep in mind that these opinions of mine included in this blog are my opinions about feeding GIANT BREED dogs.  So don’t go all crazy and throw your bag of puppy food out in the street, set it on fire, and put your dog on an intestinal cleansing product because you fed it to your Lhasa Apso.  It’s all cool.  Your little Swiffer dog will be just fine.  So just put the bag down and step away from the torch.

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The Cone of Shame was quite a horrific accessory for Duchess.  You know the nervous drooling thing I’ve written about before?  Well, just imagine that but now only with a nice, nifty, big bowl around the head to catch it all.  Just wonderful.

Not only that, but apparently the Cone of Shame impedes all movement in a Great Dane.  Duchess could be standing in the kitchen, put the Cone of Shame on her, leave the room for 30 minutes, and she’d be standing in the exact same spot she was in when you got back.  Only of course now she had a nice healthy bit of drool collected in the cone, for strategic drool purposes I suppose.

The point of the Cone of Shame is to keep overzealous dogs such as Duchess from licking and chewing on bandages, stitches, etc.  That’s all well and good… but only if it can keep the dog from reaching them.

Duchess has a very, very long neck and quite a substantial muzzle to match.  Somehow she figured out that she could press the Cone of Shame against something like the wall of her crate, push it back down her neck, which would leave her big ol’ shnoz free to do all the self-mutilation she liked.

So that’s what she did.  Only, of course she didn’t do it until the vet’s office closed.  Going to the vet during regular business hours is sooooo passe, plus she doesn’t get all the attention and babying if we could just immediately hop right in the truck and fix the ailment in a matter of minutes.

So, again we had another night of watching her like a hawk, and again not much sleep (I was not the happiest person to be around during this time period).  Next morning – same routine.  Up, truck, vet, re-wrap.  However, we fixed her little red wagon this time.  At this point and time we decided to unleash the beast – the MEGA Cone of Shame!

With this thing on, if you held her head in just the right position you could receive interstellar communications.  I’m pretty sure we broke some sort of international law there, but really the only thing floating around the airwaves these days is gossip about Miley Cyrus or Lady GaGa so I didn’t see much harm in it.

You can see the size difference between the Cone of Shame and MEGA Cone of Shame in this handy dandy side-by-side comparison.

Armed with the MEGA Cone of Shame, we were able to get through the remaining days of recovery with minimal difficulty.  Except there’s that part about where she finally decided to get mobile while wearing the stupid thing.  She wiped out various decorations, lamps, and other knick-knacks with the interstellar information gathering device.

I didn’t mind it though – anything to keep from more emergency phone calls to the vet.  It’s been a couple of months now and she’s recovered nicely.  She still has a really big scar on the belly, but that’s to be expected.  It will dissipate over time.

Her wrists, you can barely tell that she even had surgery there.

So, if you’re reading this Doc (and staff at the clinic), then thanks for putting up with all the trouble we’ve gone through with this ordeal.  From now on before any surgery, we should sit down and make sure there are no holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, alignments of planets, etc. going on the week or two after they go under the knife because nothing – nothing is ever run-of-the-mill in this household.

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