Yesterday when Loki came to work for a haircut, his groomer and I decided to try something a little different. I asked her if she would give him a schnauzer beard and brows. You can’t really see his brows in this picture, but I think the beginnings of his beard look great! He looks so distinguished, serious, grumpy, and like a Scotsman - it’s awesome.
I still can’t get over just how different he looks depending on how long or short his hair is at a particular time. It’s like I have a different dog dependent on the time of year!
We went to the dog park this morning and Loki got muddy, wet, and covered in grass seeds. In the tub he went and this is the end of his post-bath zoomie.
As far as an update on drinking, he’s not drinking more water but he is eating a decent amount of watermelon. He did drink a bit when we got in from the dog park as well as after a long walk to another park later in the morning. What I think I’m going to work on now (and I can’t believe I haven’t done this yet) is feeding him meals in his crate. If he doesn’t eat it, I take it away and let him out. Hopefully he’ll pick up on it quickly if he gets hungry enough. He needs to learn that it’s ok to eat in there and hopefully drink as well.
Loki’s vet and I had a supportive email exchange the next morning that I ugly-cried over (think Claire Danes…) and just was so thankful that she was open to trying other options before changing his food entirely. We figure it all boils down to the fact that Loki needs to get more fluids in order to dilute his urine.
He’s in a larger crate with access to fresh water whenever he’s at home. However, he doesn’t drink it. I think it has to do with his separation anxiety, oddly enough. He will sleep calmly and not bark the entire day he’s in his crate which would make it seem like he’s comfortable. However, if I give him a Kong full of peanut butter (sweet puppy ambrosia) when he’s in his crate, he will only lick it until I’ve left the apartment. As soon as that door closes, he loses all interest. When I come home and let him out, he immediately starts in on the Kong again like it’s brand new.
So, the question is such: How to get him hydrated when he doesn’t want anything to do with, well, anything.
There are a number of things we’ve come up with to try. The first thing I’m trying is getting him to eat foods that are high in moisture content. His raw breakfast and dinner has a max moisture content of 67% so it’s as if I’m feeding him canned food anyway. I bought a variety of moisture-rich fruits and vegetables to see if he liked any of them. I know he likes cucumber already so we’re trying cantaloupe, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, and watermelon. So far he enjoys the fruits with a ‘meh’ attitude, but this just might be because they’re new and a texture he’s not used to. I thought that if I gave him crackers high in salt it might entice him to drink, but that increases the risk of other stones/crystals forming in his urine. I also have made frozen cubes of chicken broth to either give him as a snack or to put in his water dish. When I set up a camera to monitor him while I was gone, he didn’t touch the brothy water. There are also mixtures I can make that consist of water, karo syrup, and chicken broth (Doggy Gatorade) as well as something called “Hot dog soup” which is as gross as it sounds.
The next thing we’re going to try is a cranberry extract called Crananidin. The theory behind these tablets is that they prevent certain bacteria from sticking to the inner lining of the bladder wall, allowing for them to be flushed out in the urine. Loki’s on antibiotics to knock out the current UTI and hopefully this will work to prevent any serious infections in the future.
I’m also going to see if I can maybe get a neighbor or neighbor’s kid to walk Loki midday and maybe earn a little summer money doing so for when I’m at work the whole day. Hopefully going outside, relieving himself, and walking in the heat will keep his system moving along and his thirst up.
I’m still reading and researching, but any other ideas that I’m not coming up with?
Well, it’s come to this. I’m switching Loki’s food.
Over the past 6 months I’ve been occasionally checking Loki’s urine. He stays in his crate all day while I’m at work and while there’s water available for him in there, I’ve been afraid he doesn’t drink it. Because of this, his urine is highly concentrated which is a great environment for growing bacteria in. He also has a high pH and struvite crystals. So every time he’s put on a round (or two) of antibiotics to knock out the UTI and is fine…until the next time we check his urine. This is the third time (I think) he has had crystals and the only option his vet gave me was to switch his diet because it’s the last option we haven’t tried.
We’re going to try the Royal Canin Calm diet. It’s formulated to “help maintain the dog’s emotional balance” (aka anxiety with Loki) and also has an S/O index that helps prevent urinary crystal and stone formation. Here are the ingredients:
Brewer’s rice, chicken meal, corn, chicken fat, wheat gluten, wheat, dried chicory root, natural flavors, salt, vegetable oil, fish oil, calcium sulfate, potassium, chloride, sodium silico aluminate, fructooligosaccharides, sodium tripolyphosphate, DL-methionine, taurine, choline chloride, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), inositol, niacin supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), D-calcium pantothenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement], dried hydrolyzed casein, marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.), trace minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), L-tryptophan, rosemary extract, preserved with natural mixed tocopherols and citric acid.
Reading over these ingredients really makes me want to cry. I don’t like that the protein source isn’t first (OK, it’s second) and Loki’s gastrointestinal system and I haven’t really had much success with chicken. I don’t understand most of what these ingredients are or what they do. I want an unbiased source - not a sales rep from the company - to explain this to me. I don’t want to be sold to and I don’t want to just go to this food because we can’t come up with a better idea.
We’ve tried kibbles and I’m not a fan of our personal negatives. His stool is going to be smellier, there will be more of it at potty time, and there will be more frequent potty times. His stool will be softer which doesn’t help his anal glands and I’m not sure if his skin and coat will be as great as they currently are. He also gets bored of the same kibble day after day; even putting it into busy toys doesn’t peak his interest after a while. So he won’t consistently eat which also causes issues (if he’s eating one meal a day, every other day, etc.).
The positives of this diet: he won’t get crystals or stones.
The diet he is currently on is Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Venison. Here are the ingredients:
Venison, Lamb Heart, Lamb Liver, Ground Lamb Bone, Apples, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Pumpkinseeds, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Dried Kelp, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Salmon Oil, Olive Oil, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Inulin, Rosemary, Sage, Clove
I know grains are very low on the list of things dogs react to and that’s fine. I don’t mind grain. I do, however, expect the main ingredients to be protein sources. And when it comes to things like “chicken” vs. “chicken meal”, I get that “chicken” is high percentage of moisture and low percentage of protein whereas “chicken meal” is a high percentage of protein and a low percentage of moisture. I understand that. But he has done so well on this food as far as his gastrointestinal issues go. Yes, this weekend he had diarrhea but that was because he got into some cat food someone left out for a stray. And yes he vomited in the car on the way home tonight, but that was because I was driving like an erratic NASCAR racer. His skin and coat are great, his stool is small, firm, non-smelly, and he doesn’t poop multiple times an outing. He is excited to eat his breakfast and dinner and never misses one.
The negatives of this diet: he has crystals.
So I’m torn. I’m upset. I want to keep him as healthy as possible as holistically as possible. I feel so hurt and embarrassed when the diet Loki is on (and others like it) is called a “fad diet”. I feel belittled, like a child that doesn’t know what she’s doing, and dismissed. I think that’s what hurts the most is being dismissed. I’m trying, I really am. I don’t take Loki’s health and care lightly. I just would want some unbiased and fresh help on how to possibly merge the two - traditional and holistic. For someone to go, “OK, this may not be something I’m familiar with, but let’s sit down with a fresh outlook and see if we can research a solution together that may be the best of both worlds”.
This is where we are. Any suggestions/support for us?
This weekend I took a trip to New Orleans and so Loki spent the weekend with his grandparents. While I was in NOLA, I saw a dog owned by some street people doing tricks for money. The dog would lay on its back in the middle of the street while its owner put up little pieces of wood to make it look like the dog was laying in a coffin. They completed the look with flowers on the dog’s chest. If I’m ever down-and-out, at least there’s always NOLA, right Loki?
Cover Your Eyes - Final
Loki picked this trick up in record time. We didn’t practice it every day in a row, but the videos taken were the only times we practiced the trick. The hand sign I give him is a finger to my nose and I pop into the video to demonstrate that. I anticipate that this trick is going to be a cute one to play with!