July 31, 2015

Heidi Is On Medical Leave From Blogging and Traveling

As you can see, Heidi is as thin as the picture. As I mentioned before she was down 13 pounds from last September and 7 of those 13 pounds were lost since late March. A few posts back I wrote about taking her to the vet after we returned from our June trip to Utah. Her stools were too soft for too long, she was skin and bones ... although she had escaped any seasonal allergies for the first time that I can remember.

After a week of the vet recommended dose of Pepsin AC, then few a few days of pumpkin added to her kibble, I did not see any positive changes. The vet had ruled out parasites as the reason for her weight loss. He had no answers on why she had lost so much weight. She still had and has a huge appetite, normal basset hound energy but wasn't showing the normal amount of irritated skin this summer due to her allergies.

I had almost decided it was the food that I had changed to a couple of months ago, feeding it to her a month before our June 8 trip. She never had car sickness on that 3,000 mile trip. She seemed normal the week we were gone. She likes to rid in the car, always has. Still the vet and a few friends thought it might be stress from traveling based on her past history before I bought her through a rescue service.

I thought time would take care of itself plus a change in food would help her digestion problem. Since it was hot outside, I stayed inside and continued to look at our next trip possibilities. I was looking for places that were cooler than the Midwest temps and high humidity, and wasn't on fire. There were not many places west of the Mississippi River that fit that criteria.

Like always, things in life can change in an instant, even with the best plans sketched out. I had l just let the hounds out on a Sunday morning, the 19th, (correction ... it was the 12th) before I was heading up to REI in Indianapolis to pick up a Yakima Roof Top Storage Box. Both Winston and Sadie like to dump their tanks in the field but never Heidi. Since day one it's always been on the gravel driveway or a small corner in the front yard.

That requires me to operate a pooper scooper in quick fashion right after she is done. Only on this morning it was different. Bright red blood was showing up in her stool. Out of my 3 local vets in the area of this small town, only one was open for office visits on a Sunday. She happened to be Heidi's original vet from the time I bought her years ago until last October, when I went looking for other opinions on her skin issues.

For some reason this vet also did not want to see a stool sample to check for parasites. Both vets in the past few weeks had squeezed her stomach and intestinal areas and found no issues. Both said she did not have parasites. I thought it was strange they wouldn't check the stool but I'm not a vet.

By the time we arrived at the vet office and the vet had checked her out, it had been over 24 hours since Heidi had eaten anything so a blood sample was taken and sent off for analysis. I would get the results back the following week. I was pretty sure that blood work would answer all the questions we have had for the past few months.

That put our travel plans on hold. Yes, I was close to leaving for another trip. My house to-do list was complete and the urge to travel was too much ... so we were heading out.

Heidi's blood work results came back the following Thursday and everything was normal !!! How can that be after losing 28% of her weight when she wasn't overweight to begin with at 46 pounds? Why the digestive problems that had flared up in the past month of so? What about the UTI she had in May? But yes, the results of the blood work showed her red cell count was within the normal range, no liver or kidney issues as they seemed to be working normal. The tests did not show anything out of the ordinary. I still find that hard to believe.

The vet asked about her past activity, what food was she eating, basically a past history since last October, when I wanted to move away from steroid shots for her allergies. She suggested that stress might be an issue and yes, she may have been stressed out from traveling. You can tell by the photos I took of those trips, she never looked stressed out when traveling ... so I really didn't think that was the issue.

She suggested we go back to a no grain food, although from the photos I showed her on my iPhone, she could see the improvement in her skin after I had changed from a no grain food to a chicken and rice formula. She recommended something different on the no grain food.

She wanted me to make sure there was no chicken or chicken meal in the ingredients and also no potatoes. She did not recommend a brand. She also recommended keeping her at home for the next 30 days to see if she would start gaining weight with a different food high in protein and high in fat. During that time I could also watch for any other changes in Heidi. We set up a followup appointment for August 19.

I spent the rest of the day and night looking at different no grain dog food again. Something I had done in the past but I wanted the latest news of any changes. Only a day later did I find out that Merrick, a food we had used in January, had been bought by Nestle-Purina. It will be interesting to see if any of Merrick's dog food blends change due to the take over. As it were, Merrick was no longer an option ... no matter what.

I asked some friends for suggestions. There is a lot of no grain food but a large percentage of those foods have potato, or sweet potato as a carbohydrate source. I also found that even if Bison, lamb or fish  might be the first ingredient, further down the list you would find chicken meal in some of the different brands.

I also emailed Fromm Pet Food customer service asking about what they would recommend, since I was feeding their chicken and rice formula at the time. They replied with two interesting comments about what they have found in dog allergies. I'll not go into detail but essentially they found that chicken and grains were the first and second culprits of dog allergies.

A friend suggested a no grain food made right here in Indiana. It was rated not only 5-stars by Dog Food Advisor but was also listed as 1 of only 125 blends of dog food after a thorough analysis by an independent reviewer.

This food is Earthborn Holistic. After looking  at a list of no grain foods I had made at one of the local stores I buy dog food, I found that this food was about $10-$15 cheaper with it's competitors. The store owner thought the price difference was due to shipping, since we were only 75 miles from Earthborn's Plant.

I must say that just after a week, I could see a change in Heidi's skin. She had some places where she was chewing again before changing the food.  It only took two days to see a normal firm stool. The first serving I cut her old and new food 50/50 but noticed the next morning of a much different stool. That afternoon I fed her 100% of the new food on her 2nd day. From that day forward she has had nothing but normal stools.

Her hair continues to grow back in all the leg, stomach and neck areas that looked destroyed back in February and March. Her skin condition was so bad at the time the vet said in March there was no chance of hair coming back to those areas. He was surprised when he saw new hair growing in the June.

I did take some "before" photos of her at the time I changed her food. I will take weekly photos of those same areas to track the results and post them in future posts.

She must be feeling better on this new food Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast. She now is barking daily at the time she wants to eat, huge difference. Plus for the first time in many many months she has gone on the daily dog walks in the early evenings. Over the 7 months she never went on walks when I asked. Yes, the hay field has been baled for the summer, so we are back to walking early in the morning or early evening when the sun is setting behind the trees.

Sadie and Winston making sure it's cut right
Monday morning

Otherwise nothing that is blog notable is going on. We are beating the heat, drinking lots of water, reading, and doing a lot of what Winston and Sadie do during the day ... photo below.

Winston on the couch ... Sadie under the table

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