Scooter’s Diet, And An Update

ScooterThis week’s Spin Cycle is about pets.  If you’ve been reading here any time at all, you know I have an 11-year-old dachshund mix named Scooter.  He’s been a frequent subject here, but most recently because when we changed our diet, we changed his, too.  I wrote about it last year, and thought I’d rerun it again, with a brief update.

About a year ago, I wrote about Scooter – our little beagle/dachshund mix – and the autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands that he developed after years of eating commercial dog food (Kibble and Bits Beefy Bits, to be exact).  The ingredients are horrible:

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

You have no idea the guilt I feel because I let my sweet little dog eat that garbage for so many years.

When Scooter began having his problems, they were accompanied by terrible inflammation and infections.  I was pretty sure that much of this could be mitigated by diet, but when I spoke to the vet about it, he said I should keep him on commercial dog food, because if I fed him anything else he would run the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  In fact, his only solution to the problem was to put Scooter on steroids for the inflammation and give him antibiotics for the infections.  So we did, and the minute his course of steroids ended the inflammation returned, and eventually the infection did as well.  This happened three time before the vet decided that he was just going to have to be on steroids permanently – he could even end up on low levels of the antibiotic for the rest of his life, as well.

In the meantime, Scooter was miserable.  The inflammation was somewhat better, but he was still constantly licking his backside and dragging it across the carpet.  Because of the steroids, he was constantly, ravenously hungry and even though I wasn’t feeding him any more than usual, he was still gaining weight – at his heaviest, he was 24 pounds.  That may not seem like a lot, but for a dog that’s only supposed to weigh 16 or 17 pounds, that’s a lot of weight gain, especially in a very short period of time.  He also lost all of his spunk; he’s always been a happy, active dog – even at 10 years old, he’s more than happy to play fetch, or zoom around the house if he can get you to chase him, or run around the yard or take a walk.  But no longer; all he wanted to do was eat and lay on the sofa.  It was breaking my heart.

Now, as soon as he became ill and the vet told us to keep him on commercial food (and tried to sell us a brand that cost almost as much per week as we spent on groceries for the three of us), I began  to make Scooter’s food myself.  After doing a little research on what was in most home-prepared pet foods, he went on a mixture of cooked beef, rice and vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and green beans.  He loved it at first – he’d always preferred “people food” over kibble – but when those initial courses of steroids were over, he began to lose his appetite and often refused it, which worried me a great deal – Scooter NEVER left food in his bowl.  By the time the vet said he needed to be on steroids permanently, I decided it was time to get drastic – so I put him on a raw food diet.

When I told the vet this, he said that was unsafe; it was simply not a “balanced diet” for a dog.  But the more I thought about it, the sillier that statement seemed and when I began researching raw food diets for dogs, it became even sillier.  So Scooter began eating raw meat – mostly beef and pork, with some chicken thrown in every now and then and liver or other organ meats about once a week.  (We do give him bones from time to time, but even before he became ill bones messed with his digestive system – when we give him one, we have to confine him to areas of the house that are tiled because there will be a mess.)

Scooter loved the raw food diet – he ate it enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long until we began to see some improvements.  He continued to gain weight, because that’s just the nature of the Prednisone beast, but he regained some of his spunk and began acting more like the dog we all love so much.  And after much deliberation, we decided that when it was time to get the steroid prescription refilled, we’d wait a bit and see what happened.

What happened was astounding…or maybe not.  The inflammation not only didn’t return, it became better.  Not entirely better – it may never go fully into remission – but remarkably better.  The lingering infection, which the vet said might not ever entirely go away, even with long term antibiotic use, cleared up almost immediately.  He immediately began to lose weight and is now back down to 17 pounds.  More importantly, he is his old self again – active and happy and feeling pretty good for a 10-year-old dog with what amounts to nagging case of hemorrhoids.

Update:  Scooter is still on a raw food diet, and is still happy and thriving.  I’ve begun adding small amounts of pulverized egg shells and sea salt to his food once a week, since he no longer gets any edible bone.

However, recently he became quite ill as the result of a rawhide chew stick.  I’d had people tell me that dogs shouldn’t have them, but I’d been giving them to Scooter occasionally for years without anything bad happening to him.  I wish I’d listened, because it was truly awful; we thought we were going to lose the little guy.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can give him to satisfy his need to chew?  Bone is out of the question, since it gives him diarrhea.

Scooter’s Raw Food Diet

I was going to put off this post until next week and instead do a huge political rant, but this isn’t a political blog, as Beloved has repeatedly pointed out.  So let’s just suffice to say that yes, I’ve read the entire thing, I understand the context perfectly well, thank you very much, and it’s still insulting as shit.  There must be something very comforting in the idea that if you’re not responsible for your successes, you must not be responsible for your failures, and that someone will come along and bail you out – but everyone will get a trophy anyway.  Just remember that when someone comes along and takes away everything you thought was yours because “you didn’t build that,” you gave them permission to do so.

I’m sure the Chinese – who are funding the massive, crushing debt we’re passing on to future generations and expecting someone else to take care of (basically anyone with more money than us) – will appreciate it.**

Moving forward.

About a year ago, I wrote about Scooter – our little beagle/dachshund mix – and the autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands that he developed after years of eating commercial dog food (Kibble and Bits Beefy Bits, to be exact).  The ingredients are horrible:

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

You have no idea the guilt I feel because I let my sweet little dog eat that garbage for so many years.

When Scooter began having his problems, they were accompanied by terrible inflammation and infections.  I was pretty sure that much of this could be mitigated by diet, but when I spoke to the vet about it, he said I should keep him on commercial dog food, because if I fed him anything else he would run the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  In fact, his only solution to the problem was to put Scooter on steroids for the inflammation and give him antibiotics for the infections.  So we did, and the minute his course of steroids ended the inflammation returned, and eventually the infection did as well.  This happened three time before the vet decided that he was just going to have to be on steroids permanently – he could even end up on low levels of the antibiotic for the rest of his life, as well.

In the meantime, Scooter was miserable.  The inflammation was somewhat better, but he was still constantly licking his backside and dragging it across the carpet.  Because of the steroids, he was constantly, ravenously hungry and even though I wasn’t feeding him any more than usual, he was still gaining weight – at his heaviest, he was 24 pounds.  That may not seem like a lot, but for a dog that’s only supposed to weigh 16 or 17 pounds, that’s a lot of weight gain, especially in a very short period of time.  He also lost all of his spunk; he’s always been a happy, active dog – even at 10 years old, he’s more than happy to play fetch, or zoom around the house if he can get you to chase him, or run around the yard or take a walk.  But no longer; all he wanted to do was eat and lay on the sofa.  It was breaking my heart.

Now, as soon as he became ill and the vet told us to keep him on commercial food (and tried to sell us a brand that cost almost as much per week as we spent on groceries for the three of us), I began  to make Scooter’s food myself.  After doing a little research on what was in most home-prepared pet foods, he went on a mixture of cooked beef, rice and vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and green beans.  He loved it at first – he’d always preferred “people food” over kibble – but when those initial courses of steroids were over, he began to lose his appetite and often refused it, which worried me a great deal – Scooter NEVER left food in his bowl.  By the time the vet said he needed to be on steroids permanently, I decided it was time to get drastic – so I put him on a raw food diet.

When I told the vet this, he said that was unsafe; it was simply not a “balanced diet” for a dog.  But the more I thought about it, the sillier that statement seemed and when I began researching raw food diets for dogs, it became even sillier.  So Scooter began eating raw meat – mostly beef and pork, with some chicken thrown in every now and then and liver or other organ meats about once a week.  (We do give him bones from time to time, but even before he became ill bones messed with his digestive system – when we give him one, we have to confine him to areas of the house that are tiled because there will be a mess.)

Scooter loved the raw food diet – he ate it enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long until we began to see some improvements.  He continued to gain weight, because that’s just the nature of the Prednisone beast, but he regained some of his spunk and began acting more like the dog we all love so much.  And after much deliberation, we decided that when it was time to get the steroid prescription refilled, we’d wait a bit and see what happened.

What happened was astounding…or maybe not.  The inflammation not only didn’t return, it became better.  Not entirely better – it may never go fully into remission – but remarkably better.  The lingering infection, which the vet said might not ever entirely go away, even with long term antibiotic use, cleared up almost immediately.  He immediately began to lose weight and is now back down to 17 pounds.  More importantly, he is his old self again – active and happy and feeling pretty good for a 10-year-old dog with what amounts to nagging case of hemorrhoids.

Now, we’re not going to fire the vet – we’ll continue to take Scooter for his immunizations and we’ll take him in case of another serious illness or accident.  But if you think I’m going to listen to another blessed thing that man says about diet for my dog…well, you’re as crazy as you’d be if you think I’d listen to my doctor about my diet.

**I have a lot more to say about the subject, and will be glad to take the discussion respectfully into the comments section if you want.  However, I may not be able to get back to you immediately; we have a busy day in front of us – it’s Jolly’s birthday and we’re spending much of the afternoon/evening with her, and I will be busy at work this morning so I can do that.  But before you begin making any assumptions about why I feel the way I do, let me say right now that I am NOT a Republican and can’t stand Mitt Romney.  And I don’t particularly care that Ayn Rand collected Social Security; I’m not an Objectivist either.

A Pain In The Butt

Yesterday, I re-ran a post from April 2010 where I wrote about taking my dog, Scooter (who is a dachshund/beagle mix), to the vet.  I made a humorous story out of it, which was fine since there were many humorous elements to it.  But the reason for the visit wasn’t humorous, and it isn’t today – mostly because what was wrong with Scooter is still wrong with him.  In fact, he will suffer from it for the rest of his life.

Scooter has an autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands.  This basically means that his own immune system is attacking his body.  Because of this, he has had several infections and been on several rounds of corticosteroids.  Prednisone, to be exact.  And while it breaks my heart to see my sweet little dog suffering, either from the disease or the medication we must give him to treat the disease (long term corticosteroid use is no joke), I have to face the fact that I am responsible for his illness.

You see, I feed my family, which includes the dog.  And until about 6 months ago, Scooter ate dry dog food – Kibbles ‘N’ Bits Beefy Bits to be exact.

I can’t say he enjoyed it.  We never had to portion it – I’d pour about a cup in his bowl in the morning and it would be gone by the next morning, but it took him a full 24 hours to eat that small amount.  He ate it very grudgingly and only when he was very hungry.   In the meantime, he’d follow anyone and everyone every time they walked into the kitchen, hoping for a handout of “people food.”  (Yes, he often got it.)

The fact that he did not particularly care for his dog food never really struck me as odd – I mean, if you lived in my house and got a taste of the food that came out of my kitchen, would you want to eat dry dog kibble?  However, once we eliminated processed food from our diet, it occurred to me to think about the processed food I was feeding my four-legged baby.  So, I read the ingredients and was immediately appalled.

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

How on earth anyone could possibly pass that off as nutritious for any living thing, even a dog, is beyond me.

Unlike cats, dogs are not obligate carnivores; their digestive tracts can handle a certain amount of vegetable matter.  However, if people are not adapted to refined grains, soy, corn syrup, preservatives such as BHA and artificial food colorings (and we’re NOT), how could a dog be?  Especially when you consider that commercial dog food didn’t even exist until the late 1860s.  Our pets have not had 11,000 years to “adapt” to a diet heavy in grains.  And just what the heck is “animal digest??”  It sounds disgusting, and this is coming from a woman who is planning on cooking a cow’s tongue this weekend.

At any rate, there is growing evidence that autoimmune disorders and diseases are linked to the consumption of grains, particularly wheat, and I see no reason why this would be less true for a dog than a human being.  Couple large amounts of corn and wheat with equally large amounts amounts of soy (which I can assure you are GMO), preservatives, inferior sources of protein, chemicals and artificial colors and you literally have a recipe for a sick pet.

The minute we read the ingredients of the food we were feeding Scooter, we took him off of it and I began preparing his food myself.  At first, it was a mixture of cooked ground beef, white rice (which is simply pure starch) and vegetables, with offal of some sort mixed in occasionally.   This seemed to help a great deal for awhile, but he recently had a bad flare-up which has him back on antibiotics and Prednisone, so I’ve removed the rice from his diet and am feeding him mostly raw ground beef (CAFO beef, but it has got to be better for him than corn syrup and “wheat middlings”), eggs, whatever meat we are having for dinner, and raw liver or other offal when I’m preparing it for my human family.

I guess the point of this post is that while you’re thinking about what you feed your family, please don’t forget about those who can’t speak up for themselves.  And I’ll keep you updated on how Scooter does on his new diet.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

Trippingly On the Tongue…

The subject of this week’s Spin Cycle is “words” and Jen fully admits she is trying to trip me up with this one.

Fat chance.

As parents, Beloved and I like to think we have done/are doing a reasonably good job of teaching our children the importance of language.  We must be, because they all have above-average vocabularies and none of them have any problem expressing themselves, especially verbally.

Most of the time I’m grateful, as well as proud, of that…although I have to admit there are times I’d like to jab my own eardrums out with an icepick.  (Is a little peace and quiet around here too much to ask?!?!)

We’ve never made much of a fuss about the kids using curse words, at least once they reach about 14, simply because the words lose their shock value if we don’t freak out unduly.  Oh, I’ll tell them to tone it down if they’re getting carried away, and I also like to remind them, from time to time, that excessive cursing is the refuge of the ignorant and illiterate – those who cannot not find a more appropriate way to express themselves.

That being said, I’ve been known to utter a few choice words myself from time to time and when I’m really, really angry I start channeling Lenny Bruce – my, shall we say, creative use of language could peel the bark off of a tree.  Or stop a teenager dead in their tracks.

Sometimes, the choice words just slip out all on their own.  Usually in the most inappropriate place possible.

As I mentioned recently, poor Scooter has been having a little difficulty doing his doggy business out in the back yard.  So yesterday I took an hour off from work and we paid the vet a visit.  Now, Scooter is kind of what you’d call “high strung” and he does not like being handled, especially by strangers.  Then there’s the small fact that he doesn’t like his vet at all (yes, we’re looking for another).

This visit started reasonably well – at least, Scooter didn’t try to bite off any of the vet’s fingers.  He let himself be picked up and placed on the examination table, and let himself be poked and prodded.  The vet said he seemed all right, but he wanted to do a rectal exam.  I gave my consent, and they took him from the room.

NOT a good sign.  About 30 seconds later, I heard my poor dog begin to yelp, and squeal and then, finally, shriek.  This went on for 3 hours about 15 seconds before it stopped and the poor, harried-looking assistant brought him back in and pointed to his leash, indicating silently yet eloquently that I was to restrain my little monster.  The vet then came in to tell me that he never got to do the exam – all that noise was just from touching Scooter’s backside.  He then proceeded to tell me that I’d have to bring my baby back in and drop him off so they could sedate him and perform the exam.  (Note:  Scooter has similar reactions to having his nails trimmed without prior medication, so we don’t know if it was because he was sore back there, or if it was simply due to his temperament.)

Was I crazy about the idea?  No, but I want to make sure my dog is healthy, so I agreed and the vet ushered me back out into the waiting area with what I thought was just a tad too much enthusiasm.

So.  I have a small dog who is excitable under the best of circumstances and has just spent 20 minutes in a place he doesn’t like, being poked and prodded by a person he doesn’t like, only to have this person he doesn’t like try to, well, go in via the out door.  Frankly, I’d probably be a little skittish myself – poor Scooter was bouncing off the walls.

I’m also ashamed to admit that Scooter doesn’t have a lot of interaction with other dogs during the normal course of daily life, so when he does find himself in an environment with more than, say, one other dog (he ignores cats, oddly enough) the whole “excitable” thing kicks up a notch or two to “frantic.”  When we were shoved escorted back to the waiting area , it was populated by a small lhasa apso, a springer spaniel puppy and a full-grown, standard boxer that, if it stood on its hind legs, would have been taller than me by six inches.

It was a recipe for disaster.

Scooter immediately tried to eat the head of the puppy, and when that didn’t work he decided an attempt to disembowel the boxer was in order (the lhasa apso was snatched off of the ground by his owner, who promptly went to cower in the corner).  I reeled Scooter’s leash in and latched it, while trying to simultaneously keep him behind me and keep an eye on the boxer, who looked like he was wondering how many bites it would take to consume a 17-pound dachshund/beagle mix.

While all of that was going on, the receptionist was shoving 12 different consent forms in my face so they could sedate my demon hound from Hell Scooter on his return visit, all while explaining (poorly) to me what all they were going to do to him and trying to get me to look at a list of charges so I’d know exactly how much I the whole fiasco was going to cost.

Then my phone rang, and because of my contract of indentured servitude I take business calls on my cell phone I cannot ignore it.  So I am answering my phone and trying to sign the 12 different consent forms and letting the receptionist know yes – I want the heartworm AND flea and tick medication and trying to keep an eye on a very large dog and trying not to step on my own dog while I shield him from the very large dog with my chubby little body when snap!

The catch on Scooter’s leash popped loose and he shot across the floor as if he’d been launched from a cannon, straight at the boxer.

Stumbling and barely keeping my balance, I dropped my phone, threw the pen and papers at the receptionist, grabbed Scooter’s leash and yanked, snapping him back just as the boxer was preparing to receive a small snack of wiener dog, hold the mustard.

And yelled “MOTHER F*CKER!!!!

At the top of my lungs.

Believe it or not, they’re still willing to see him on Friday.  But I may never know who called.