Monday, January 5, 2015

Problems Feeding Your Dog? Check Their Teeth

I always feed Rack, my McNab SuperDog, dry food.

The wet food is too much of a hassle.  Cans, smell, storage, expense.  We just never considered it for Rack or Lettie before him.

At this point we are feeding him Orijen or Acana.  Once they open their plant in Kentucky later on this year we will reconsider and look for another food that is not made in a place that has such lax laws.

These foods currently are made in Canada and the laws up there are much more strict than they are here.  In fact, they're using almost human grade ingredients.  I can't recommend eating it but you could in an emergency.

I simply don't trust the lack of oversight in a Republican Tea-party infested place like Kentucky to produce a dog food that hasn't had food ingredients slip in that were of Chinese origin.  Too many dog food recalls lately, and too many stories of dogs dying of chronic renal failure like Lettie did.  It was why we stopped feeding our pets anything from Purina in the first place. 

If you want to find out what it is like trying to keep your dog alive when her kidneys slowly fail, I invite you to look at this blog for the tag "chronic renal failure".  That would give you some insight why I am so particular as to what my Rack eats.

But there is a drawback with feeding dry dog food.  Some of those pieces of Kibble are extremely hard.  Rack being a very fearful "Beta" dog, he would soldier on but hate eating the stuff.   We didn't understand why until I started putting things together.

Feedings got slower.  He would ignore his food.  He'd eat other foods but ignore what was one of the better foods on the market. He got hungry and began to beg for food whenever I would eat.

Eventually I started to wonder what was going on.  One of the feedings took a solid half hour and I had had enough of sitting on the floor and putting one piece of Kibble of food inside his jowls and cajoling him to eat it.

Sometimes I would pour some yogurt over top of the food and that helped somewhat.

We took Rack to the vet.  The vet first started suggesting different medications and food additives.  I was dubious but listened.  Then the vet suggested homemade foods either in addition to or instead of what the commercially prepared foods that he had been getting.

I finally spoke up that they hadn't looked at his teeth.  They were getting full of tartar, more than I would think is normal in a 2 year old dog.

More medications, preparations, and feeds were suggested.  The whole while he was getting tossed treats.  He would never eat treats without some hesitation.

The treats they always gave before were hard.  This time the treats were soft.  He tore through them like they were long lost friends.

I again insisted that the vet look at his teeth.  The verdict was that I was right, there was a lot of tartar.

A different vet came in, more suggestions, and finally she looked at the teeth too.

He was missing a "Pre-molar" tooth.  No idea how, perhaps it just wasn't there, maybe it fell out, you tell me.

I took control of the discussion at this point.  Because there was no tooth where one should be, he was trying to chew a hard piece of food against a gum.  Might there be pain that was slowing him down?

The suggestion from the vet was softer food.

My solution was simple.  Boiling water.   I now have a hard and fast recipe for soft dog food.  I also still feed the dry food.

One Cup Dry Dog Food poured into his bowl.  Add to it Ounce of Boiling Water.  Stir the food and water together.  The food would eventually absorb the water over the next five minutes.  Allow it to sit until it soaks up most of the water.

The next feeding when I tried this recipe, it was instant success.   Rack immediately ate the food.

No pushing food into his mouth.
No pleading.
No priming the pump at all.

He began eating the food with a relish I haven't seen in a long time.  In fact to say he tore through it would be a fair description.

He has slowed down, after all it is the same food he normally gets.  Dogs do get bored of the same old thing every day.

But the bottom line is that since they can't easily tell you what is wrong you have to watch closely when something is off.   The special diet that people suggest may just be as simple as pouring two tablespoons of water over top of the food and letting it make a gravy to soak in.

The proof is in the gravy, after all.  He will lick the shine off the bowl now to get at the last drop of the gravy.

We're getting better at it.  He is now getting more confident with his feedings.  After all, how would you like it if you had a big 6' 4" guy looming over you begging you to eat your food!

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