Dobie

Holistic Healthcare For Fur Babies

If you don’t know by now, I am basically obsessed with my dogs. I spare no expense for their health, well-being and happiness. [I also spare no expense for their fashion – stylish collars are a must!]

A little over a year ago, I started going to acupuncture. My best friend, who has battled Endometriosis for all of her adult life, has found so much improvement in health and pain relief through holistic healing. She is diligent about exercise, receiving acupuncture and cupping, eating right, and using essential oils to improve her overall health and body. [I keep encouraging her to write about her health journey – it’s truly extraordinary. once that happens, I will link her blog here :)].

I had no expectations for how my body would react to acupuncture. I really didn’t know anyone else who had ever received it, so the only review I had was a good one. Honestly, acupuncture changed my life. It got my body back on track and reset my system. I went from having migraines, excessive stress and panic attacks, to having none of the above. I still stress sometimes, but my body doesn’t even come close to the levels that it used to.

After having such a positive experience of my own, I decided to do some research on holistic healing for Miss Bella. Even though we were running three to four miles, five to six days out of the week [and still getting her out for exercise on the seventh day], she never seemed to be tired or relaxed. She would never truly settle down, and any time I’d get up from the couch or move from one end of the room to the other, she’d be my shadow. She was on constant high alert, growling or barking at any sound she heard. It got to a point where my fiancé and I couldn’t settle down or relax either. I figured that since acupuncture worked for me, perhaps it would work for her, too.

I was so fortunate to find Marilyn Koski [she works out of Marqueen Animal Hospital in Granite Bay]. She is the exact type of human you want doctoring your pet. She is empathetic, honest, and extremely knowledgeable. Something I have learned is extremely important since Bella came into my life. It’s the reason I drive to Sacramento to keep seeing her primary vet, Susan Barrett at Watt Avenue Pet Hospital. Both women are consistently and constantly educating themselves on new practices in animal healthcare. They don’t just regurgitate information that they learned back in veterinary school. They also sit down with their clients and share their knowledge; they try to explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it will benefit the animal.

Anyway, back to Marilyn. She is an absolute dream. When Bella and I met her, she sat on the floor and let Bella approach her and sniff her. She chatted with me while Bella mosied around the room and sniffed here and there. She asked about why we were there, why I was seeking acupuncture for Bella. She asked about diet, about the amount and type of exercise Bella gets. And then, once she’d gained Bella’s trust, she performed a series of physical tests on her. She tested the range of motion of Bella’s limbs, and poked and prodded in different places to test her reflexes. She moved a treat around to test other parts of the body for stiffness and ease of movement. She also massaged different muscles in Bella’s body to check for swelling, asymmetry, and other oddities. It wasn’t until all of that was completed that she gave me her overall diagnosis of Bella: healthy, happy, well-cared-for [pat self on back], and just generally a basic Doberman. They are an alert breed with a natural tendency to protect their home and the people in it. The things that my fiancé and I felt were high stress, were actually just normal behavioral attributes for a Dobie.

After the physical tests, Marilyn proceeded to perform some needle acupuncture on Bella to see how she would respond to it [she responded very well – she slept for 12 hours after we got home that night]. In addition to the needles, she also used a form of laser acupuncture which penetrates a little deeper into the system [it’s not harmful to animals or to humans]. She was also very knowledgeable in regards to supplements and medications that can be purchased through the internet. Animal products are generally not monitored by any sort of food and drug administration, so there are no restrictions for what goes into them. SCARY. There are some products, however, that are made by well-known companies, and, on top of that, are actually tested and monitored [huge eye-opener – I felt like such a bad dog mom after years of purchasing random crap for Bella online]. Marilyn recommended a great joint supplement made by Bayer called Synovi G4, which you can buy on Amazon here.

Two weeks ago, we made a return visit to Marilyn after an early September injury that Bella wasn’t healing from. Again, I was blown away by her kindness and knowledge and her ability to give me peace of mind. She explained everything she was doing, how Bella was responding, and what that indicated for her. She performed laser treatment, set up a follow up appointment, and I kid you not, Bella was cured. No more limp, no more swollen shoulder [which were her initial symptoms]. I can’t tell you how much my heart lifted knowing that her “old age” [she’s six] wasn’t the culprit. And it made me that much more sold on acupuncture and how it can really do wonders for the body.

If you’re in the Sacramento area, I highly HIGHLY recommend both Marilyn and Susan. Marilyn is a specialty vet, so she does not perform regular veterinary tasks like vaccinations and surgeries. But she is absolutely amazing at what she does, and the fact that she can relate to both human and animal is extremely important [so many veterinarians seem to have a disconnect with other humans]. Susan Barrett is a great veterinarian if you’re looking for a regular, day-to-day doctor for your pet; and she is especially knowledgeable in breeds with ear crops, as she does also perform those surgeries [and extremely well, I might add]. Another reason why I love her: she knows all there is to know about Dobermans. She is also great at communicating with humans and does everything in her power to share her knowledge and education with her clients. Seriously, I cannot say enough about both women – they are two of the best.

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Health Insurance For Fido. It’s A Thing!

In January of this year, my fiancé and I celebrated our eleven month anniversary [and a much needed date night out]. As an early one year anniversary gift, he surprised me with the fact that he was ready to bring another dog into our home.

If you know me at all, you know the big soft spot in my heart for dogs. For nearly a year I had been joking with him about just showing up at home with a puppy one day, and becoming an old, retired married couple with hundreds of dogs. For a year he pretended [or maybe it was real haha] to be afraid of having any more dogs. Bella was more than enough, he said. So I was completely shocked and so excited when he announced that he was ready for one more. And as much as we were both looking forward to finding our perfect pup, we knew it wouldn’t be right to start the puppy process before our big Europe trip in September.

Fast forward to four weeks ago. Mitch and I were lying in bed on a Saturday morning, looking at puppies online. After seeing the movie, I Love You, Man, we both had our hearts set on a Puggle. For months we had been searching for a breeder on the west coast, but, me being the crazy dog lady that I am, I refused to go with a breeder that seemed to be breeding for money instead of passion. We finally found one in Iowa who had the cutest black coated male, and we were sold. We emailed the breeder, put down a deposit, and five days later I picked our little guy up from the airport [sidenote: we both did a ton of research on flying a puppy – I did not want to pay money for a dog that would arrive traumatized for life].

Enter: Otis. Spunky, vocal, and the bravest little dude the world has ever seen. Hence why I decided that we needed doggy insurance. Actually, it was about 6 months ago that I began researching the different pet insurance companies, after I took Bella in for a bit of holistic healthcare [look for a post about this to come].

You guys know I will pay any amount of money to keep my pets healthy and happy. But having a 6 year old Doberman who eats raw is costly enough without the added vet bills, not to mention a new puppy who needs regular vaccinations and really likes to live life on the edge. Working in the health insurance industry myself, I knew it would be more beneficial for me in the long run if I purchased insurance for my pups.

I am so thankful I did.

Five days before we left for Europe, I took Bella on a hike with my friend and her German Shepherd pup. They ran around like crazy, and later that afternoon I noticed Bella limping. Knowing I would be boarding her for two weeks, I took her to the emergency vet near my home to have her examined. Between the x-ray the vet took that day, the fee to actually see a vet at an emergency clinic, and the laser treatments and blood tests after Europe because she wasn’t healed.. Well, let’s just say the numbers added up quickly. Luckily, because I signed Bella up for insurance, I will get reimbursed for all of it!

One of the other benefits of pet insurance is that you can easily customize the plan you wish to sign your pet up for. There are different deductible options, and tons of riders [add-ons] available to cater to your pet’s specific needs. And, compared to the cost of x-rays, acupuncture, blood tests, vet visits, etc., the insurance is pretty freakin’ cheap.

I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. The only reason I even looked into it in the first place was because Bella is starting to enter her “older” dog years and I want to be able to cover as much of her healthcare expenses as I possibly can. And the only reason I added Otis to it was because he’s a daredevil and if either of them is going to get seriously injured it will be him [fingers crossed that doesn’t happen, though LOL].

I only compared two different pet insurance companies when I looked, and I ended up going with Trupanion [I felt like they had a good variety for a bit cheaper cost]. There are tons of options out there, though, and some employers offer discount programs that include pet insurance [worth checking into!].

Unfortunately I won’t be much help in referring anybody to any companies, as I’m super new to pet insurance myself, and I don’t personally know any other pet owners that have it. But if you have questions on plans and what they cover, I can help you with that, and I’m happy to! Please feel free to ask.

Doberman Diet: Raw vs. Kibble

I’ll admit, when my boyfriend first told me he wanted to put our dogs on a raw food diet, I balked. As humans, the words “raw meat” directly translate to salmonella, food poising, illness – something along the lines of unpleasant. Our bodies aren’t equipped to handle a cold cut of meat. Dogs, however, have not evolved as exponentially as humans have. Their diets, for the most part, have remained the same.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of domesticated dogs as far back as the Paleolithic Era (roughly 20,000 years ago). We can absolutely know for sure that dog kibble did not exist in those days. In fact, the first dog food created specifically for dogs was released in the mid-1800s. So, for 19,800 years, dogs lived on the same diet of meat and table scraps. 200 years just isn’t enough time to allow a whole species to evolve to the point of needing a different diet. After coming to this realization, I thought that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

And, of course, the dogs loved it. What dog WOULDN’T? Raw steak every morning and every night? They were in heaven.

We tend to think of dogs as garbage disposals. They rarely refuse human food. We do have to be careful what we feed them, though. Of late, more and more dogs are showing signs of gluten and corn allergies. A lot of cheaper brand dog foods contain lots of grain and corn products, which, if your dog is allergic, will most likely induce skin allergies and lots of itching and scratching. Dobermans have thin hair and generally have sensitive skin, which means cheap dog foods are a no-no. Since having mine, I’ve done a lot of research through trial-and-error as far as dog foods go. I have also found that foods that are chicken-based cause allergies and dandruff as well. Think about the life of a chicken – they are scavengers, they’ll eat ANYTHING. People that raise chickens to kill and sell, though, probably feed them mostly grains. Grains = allergies. Chicken = allergies. The best meat to give your dog if you’re considering a raw diet is steak.

Yes, steak is expensive – the raw diet is expensive! Take heed.

The great thing about dogs, though, is that they are not picky about the type of steak you feed them. Obviously, you don’t want to give them rotten meat, but the cheapest cut you can find will do. As a suggestion, WinCo was the best place I found for inexpensive steaks. They usually have a cut at $2.30 a pound, or somewhere in that ballpark. The other thing you need to think about if you’re considering the raw diet for your dogs is the fat aspect. Meats are chalk full of protein, but if you don’t exercise your dog, this may not be the best diet. Protein-based foods are best for growing or active dogs, who will be either storing the protein for bulk, or burning it off in exercise. Raw meat also doesn’t contain 100% of your dogs dietary necessities, so you will need to consider how you’re going to supply your pet with a well-rounded diet. There are wet foods that contain mostly liver, which is great for dogs on a raw diet. For my Dobies, they got a cup or two a day of Taste of the Wild Puppy formula (a mid-range priced dog food that contains no grains or corn).

In the end, I ended up taking my girls off the raw diet. It became extremely time-consuming (cutting up the food, keeping it refrigerated, going to the store every other day for fresh meat – you get the idea), and, of course, it cost me a pretty penny. If you have the time and expense to do this for your dogs, though, I highly recommend it.

*If you don’t want to do the raw diet, but you are concerned about your dog having food allergies, I recommend Taste of the Wild Salmon or Orijen Salmon. Both foods contain no grains or corn and the salmon is great for dogs – it also doesn’t hurt that it makes their coats soft and beautiful. My dogs have had both and they have produced the same results. They are on the more expensive side, as far as dog foods go, so if you’re on a budget, visit your local feed store and ask them what they recommend for a similar formula but a lower price. If you live near a Western Feed, I would try there first. The employees are knowledgeable and won’t try and sell you something you don’t need.