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Monday, January 28, 2013

Dog food: The endless discussion

Not wanting to delay a new post, here it is!

Today I wanted to talk a bit about dog food.

Originally we hadn't thought much about dog food until we visited a dutch breeder, who was a raw food fan. So we (or well, better said Joost) started investigating what was the fuss about.

I guess it is hard to make a post on this subject and be neutral about the "battle" of kibble vs raw food.. But I would like to share with you our process of choosing what we feed Tjido and why :)

First I guess we didn't really like the idea of food full of artificial stuff, I mean I try to avoid those in my daily meals as well. So that's how we decided we should try more natural stuff, and it seemed logical.

We didn't go for raw meat directly, since I thought it was a bit exagerated. Our local pet-shop owner recommended the brand Greenheart-Premiums, which is kibble but made of high quality ingredients. It is baked in an oven and was originally made by a man who had sled pulling huskies and felt that all the commercial food was crappy.

Joost got more excited with the raw food and its good reviews around dog owners: shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth and smaller stool. So after a debate we decided to go half/half. The reason why is because I was scared that if we only give him raw food (which Tjido finds DELICIOUS) he will not eat kibble anymore. And this would be annoying if he has to stay somewhere or we go on vacation. (Today I don't think this is an issue, he is totally food driven, so he'll eat whatever is on his plate) 

Funnily enough, while writing this post Joost randomly found an article in Nature about how dogs, through domestication, were able to digest starch, and therefore do not have to be fed "like wolves". (For those interested: The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a strach-rich diet, Axelsson A. et al., 2013, Nature 11837) And of course the other fact, that raw food just "recently" came to the market, while kibble and other types of food (by this I mean,  before kibble people gave the leftovers to the dog) have been around for a really long time. 

In the end I would say that if you are interested in what you feed your dog, check out different websites and people's experiences. But of course we also benefit of the fact that Icelandic Sheepdogs are a small-medium size dog. Our neighbors have a Bernese Mountain Dog and they can't afford the expensive raw food, this is of course something to take in account. Therefore remember to be realistic about your situation and dont' get pushed by other people/breeders/vets opinion (they tend to be quite pushy at times).

Let me know what you think about this subject!

Tip: if you go for the fresh meat, remember to buy a special tupperwear where you always put the meat to defrost in the fridge a night before. And wash the dog's dish as well :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Home Alone: Part 2

Hello hello!

I know I would write the next post about dog food, but I have encountered more people on the Facebook page of icelandic sheepdogs who are having issues leaving their dogs alone. Regarding barking specially. This is why I decided to continue this theme and show our progress (questions regarding anything are welcome, this is in the end a trail-error-amatuer owner approach).

So on the last post we were building up slowly. But after 30min-1 hour we started stretching it more. He only had 2 pee accidents but finally Tjido just slept after he ate his Kong, and judging from the video footage, he played with his toys a bit as well. We have been able to leave him for even 4-6 hours at night without a problem! (Finally being able to go out together on dinners and stuff!!!)

We take him out of course when we get back, but he tends to be very sleepy and just does his business and wants to go back inside.

Then one day we had to leave in the day time for a lunch date. Oh-oh... we did our usual ritual:
- Take him out for a decent walk
- Prepare a Kong
- Get our stuff ready
- Give Kong and leave without a fuss.

But he followed us to the door... and barked at us and whined. So I went for a stronger goodie: dry intestines/stomach (which he loves and it stinks enormously). But Tjido chewed it quickly still keeping an eye on us. So when we left he started barking! Joost considered going back inside, but I told him we had to let it go, we were filming everything so we would know if we went too far.

That day we left for 3 hours and came back. He just woke up :) on the footage it showed us he had barked for about 3 minutes before settling down and eating all his goodies, but this time on the door mat instead of his bed.

Since then he has been great when we leave, no matter at what time, although the kong keeps being essential. I guess it is a way of making a truce: "for your effort you get this amazing treat" and maybe it works as a good cue as well. He now knows we'll come back.

I hope we get more tips on the new "teenage puppies" classes, on how we can improve our method. Also the barking at other dogs outside has come back full-on and it it ANNOYING to no end.. He doesn't snap at dogs or anything but just barks his lungs out. When the other dog is close enough its all "ohhhh you're my best friend everrrr". I will keep you posted!

Picture taken at our local animal shop :) Tjido 5 months

Finally a tip for the day: Home made treat dispenser- milk carton!
Tjido loved it and was busy for quite a while haha! I have some footage of this, so I will make a video soon ;) but I herby post the original idea:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Doggy Sickness...

Hello everyone!

It has taken me a while to update, but I just came back from vacations (actually I'm typing this in the airport waiting for my flight home). Before I left I have meant to post something on dogs being sick.

Half way through december Tjido became ill: quite a heavy diarreah, and it was so bad he couldn't even get off his coushion. I was worried about him but thought that he might just need some rest, until Joost went out the door for some groceries, and our normal barking/excited puppy just whimpered and tried to get up failing miserably.

That was too much for me, so I called the vet and there we went! Our vet initially blamed typical puppy  habits of eating everything from the floor, but when he heard we gave him raw meat once a day his suspicion went more to his diet. In the end he gave him a shot and send him out with some easy-to-digest canned food and antibiotics. To make the story short, he was up and wagging his tail at the end of the day and we gave him plenty of water and his disgusting looking canned food.

But when we left the vet, his secretary asked if we had considered a health insurance for our dog... Since the whole "package" we got wasn't that cheap, to put it in soft words. We had originally looked at some, but thought it would cost us much more in the long run than an isolated accident. Some gave international insurance, other didn't. Some added the real expensive stuff (dental care). Some only covered 50% of costs and others you had to go premium for a full coverage. We haven't decided on anything yet.

So I guess my first question on this post is: Do you have a health insurance for your dog? And why did you (or not) decide to take it?

Tjido became a healthy dog again, but I don't know if I did the right thing by taking him to the vet, Later when taking to other dog owners they gave us more homey recipes to aid a sick dog (feeding him rice and boiled chicken for example). Joost also found out that after antibiotics, his stomach flora had been damaged so we had to give him a diet of 'less' clean meat so his bacteria can go to normal levels again.


There goes my second question of this post:  What do you do when your dog is sick? How far do you let it go before calling a vet?

Tjido is again a happy healthy dog!
I hope you all had a great vacation season and enjoyed quality time with your family :)

Next posts will be on the following subjects: (yeah, 2013 resolutions: more posts!)
- Dog food: Raw food, dry food, costs and what to choose?
- New Puppy Classes: Teenager Dogs
- Home Alone: Continuation of our adventure, now day time alone.