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Yesterday, Daisy had a dental cleaning at our vet’s. She didn’t really have dog breath but her annual examination revealed that her teeth weren’t in the best condition. She didn’t need any extractions, but she had gingivitis in her rear teeth and, as it turns out, signs of receding gums.
Daisy is a senior girl and we absolutely can’t risk having another procedure where she requires anesthesia.
I have really tried to support her mouth health through 2-3 times per week brushing with dog toothpaste and the feeding of dental chews. She doesn’t tolerate raw bones well – which routinely either over-stimulate her bowels or cause constipation. (When she shared a kennel with her father once a week at daycare, it was great because she could chew on his cast-offs without these problems.)
Daisy is also rather picky and so she won’t chew on chew toys like the twisted rope chews (I think she believes it’s beneath her). If food/taste isn’t involved in the chew, she’s just not interested.
So, what’s next for our regime?
Well, the first thing is making brushing of her teeth a daily event. I’m motivated to do this because I know the consequences of not doing it and luckily, Daisy is used to it.
But I want to do more and preferably in as natural a way as possible.
I’m also going to try homeopathics. The two that come recommended are fragaria and calc renalis because these keep tartar soft and more able to be removed through chewing and brushing. The standard 30C concentrations are what we are going to start with by adding it to her water bowl. If you can’t source the individual remedies, many of the homeopathic mixtures on the market contain these active ingredients. In New Zealand, BioPet comes recommended.
I’ve also read that boiled oxtail is a good chew. So I’m off to find oxtail at the supermarket/butcher. I’m also hopeful of finding other chews that Daisy will tolerate – I’m going to source a deer antler chew shortly.
Remember, that dental health is essential. I’ve previously written about this subject in Dog breath is no laughing matter.
Please feel free to share what you do to keep your dog’s teeth in top condition either through this blog or the Canine Catering Facebook page. (Yes, I know about the raw diet – but Daisy hasn’t tolerated even a managed transition to raw feeding in the past. I’m not against feeding raw, I just know from my practice that not all dogs are suited to the raw diet for a range of reasons).
Last night on consumer television programme Fair Go, there was an item about the high cost of veterinary care in New Zealand.
The makers of the programme compared costs for common veterinary procedures in cats and dogs – thinks like dental cleanings and microchipping. And for those of us working in the companion animal field, it came as no surprise that there can be a huge variability in costs.
I remember when I was studying pet nutrition, our first assignment included a question about the cost of the first year of a dog’s care. We had to itemise all costs for everything from food to flea treatments to veterinary care. And like so many other living costs in New Zealand, our prices were higher. That’s what happens when you live on comparatively small islands in the middle of the Pacific! In fact, my tutor said that our costs were the highest of all others in the class from around the world.
However, the Fair Go programme basically advised viewers that the way to control their costs was to shop around. While I agree with this point – to a point, there’s a lot more that you can do to keep the costs of your veterinary care – and your dog’s overall care – reasonable.
And I’m also a big supporter of the adage – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. In every aspect of my dog’s care, I aim to purchase quality products and services. They may not be the cheapest – but I’m satisfied that they are the best.
In my opinion, you should:
- Adopt a preventive healthcare approach first
As soon as your dog comes into your life, vow that you will do the best you can for them. This means choosing high quality, nutritious foods (‘you are what you eat’) and giving your dog the right amount of exercise. Ensure your dog doesn’t become overweight and clean their teeth.
For teeth cleaning, there’s the old-fashioned approach which includes giving dogs raw meaty bones. There are also good dental chews on the market and toys like rope chews act as dental floss. There’s also some very good toothbrushes and toothpaste you can buy because not all dogs get enough cleaning from the items that they chew.
- Build a relationship with a vet
If you go all over town chasing the best price, no single veterinary practice will have a full picture of your dog’s health history. Shop around and then try to stick with the same vet. Be honest about your ability to pay and if the practice knows you, they will be in a better position to offer you a payment plan or a reduction in price. You probably won’t have that as an option if the veterinary practice has never seen you before!
If you are unhappy with any service that a veterinarian provides you (including cost) you should raise your concerns with the practice first to see what solutions are available. Then, if you’re still not happy, go out and find yourself another vet that you can work with.
- Complementary therapies for longevity and quality of life
Complementary therapies like my massage, acupressure and laser therapy practice have a role in keeping your dog healthy (and the vet bills down). I offer advice on rehabilitation and exercise programmes that can help reduce your dog’s dependence on pain medication, for example. I’m an advocate for therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture, both of which I use for my own, aging dog.
- Shop online
There are many outlets where you can find pet products at a more reasonable price than a traditional pet store or veterinary practice. These include sites like Trade Me, but also online pet pharmacy My Vet. I also source and sell products online through my company – Canine Catering and, because I’m a smaller operation with lower overheads, you will pay a lower price.
(In general, retail costs are higher because there are more costs for doing business. They have shop assistants to pay, rent, and bills for heating, maintenance and electricity. )
I hope these tips give you a broader perspective on the costs of caring for your dog. If we save money, we have more money to spend on our families which includes our pets!
There are lots of jokes that circulate at this time of year about a dog’s resolutions for the new year (e.g., kitty-box crunchies are not junk food, etc.). But what about your resolutions for your role as a Doggy Mom or Doggy Dad?
Here are my suggestions for new year resolutions:
1. Resolve to feed your dog the highest quality dog food you can afford. Not sure what to feed or even if you are feeding the right amount? That’s where a nutritional assessment comes in. People like me are trained in reading the labels of your existing dog food and with some information about your dog’s condition and lifestyle, we can tell you a lot about whether you are feeding the right amount and make un-biased suggestions about your core dog food.
In my case, I’m not affiliated with any veterinary practice or brand of dog food (many professionals take their nutrition training from a programme offered by dog food manufacturer – ask about this when selecting a provider for nutritional advice!)
2. Exercise more – for your dog and yourself! Exercise is important mental and physical stimulation for both you and your dog. Discover new walks, link up with walking partners and doggy buddies for more variety, and manage your exercise according to the temperatures of the day (your dog doesn’t have the heat regulation system that you do in the summer; and their paw pads can be irritated by road salt and ice during the winter).
3. Groom your dog – regularly. If you don’t know what to do, then take your dog to a professional groomer and get advice on maintenance that you can do at home. It breaks my heart to hear about veterinary nurses and groomers that have to work on severely matted dogs because their owner has neglected their grooming responsibilities.
4. Make time for your dog. I signed off last month’s newsletter to my Canine Catering customers saying “remember that the best thing you give your dog this holiday season is your time.” It goes for the rest of the year, too. Your dog is a social animal and needs your love and attention throughout the year.
5. Keep a watchful eye on your dog’s health, ensuring they are not overweight (or underweight) and that they receive regular veterinary care. (For a dog to be accepted into my dog massage and rehabilitation practice, the owner must certify for me that their dog is under regular veterinary care.)
6. Have fun together – play time is essential. Dog walks are not the only stimulation for your dog. Choose an activity that suits both you your dog. It could be agility or obedience training, rally-o, fetch, cross-country skiing, hiking/tramping, or the use of interactive dog toys.
I wish you and your dog a wonderful 2012. Contact me through this blog or my website for information on any topic I cover in this blog.
With every massage/laser treatment your dog receives, I will initial your card. After five treatments, you are able to select a bag of treats from my Canine Catering range to the value of $10. It’s that simple.
I aim to keep my prices reasonable, and offer a fully mobile service to your door in Greater Christchurch. This card is just another way of showing you that I appreciate your support and the trust you show in me to work with your dog.
Fish oils contain Omega-3 essential fatty acids. In this group, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaneoic acid (DHA) are key active fatty acids.
Dogs, like people, can benefit from taking supplements of fish oil because the EPA and DHA help with anti-inflammation for conditions like arthritis and eczema. So, as soon as your dog starts to show the signs of age, fish oils should be considered. You can start the supplementation earlier if your dog has had orthopaedic surgeries or conditions such as hip dysplasia because the odds are that they will develop some sort of arthritic condition in old age.
A number of studies have also shown the the Omega-3 oils may prevent the growth and development of some tumours, and possibly help to prevent the condition called cancer cachexia. This condition is metabolic in nature and the dog experiences weight loss, combined with fatigue and a lack of appetite. Immune function is often impaired as well.
Fish oils also support the immune system and aid in healthy skin and coat condition. For dogs that suffer from constipation (I’ve met one dog who had to have his anal glands removed and as a consequence was regularly constipated), fish oils can help to keep the faeces soft and easier to pass.
Some fish oil supplements will be sourced from farmed fish, others from sustainable ocean-based fisheries. My preference is for the oil to come from the ocean-based fisheries because there is a greater chance that the fish ate and survived on a natural diet. However, it is very important that your fish oil supplement be tested for mercury content. Any reputable brand will do this and it will say so on the label. If the supplement isn’t tested, don’t buy it.
It is best to discuss dosage of fish oils with your veterinarian and this will also ensure that their supplement regime is on their health record. Many vets will ask you to stop fish oil supplementation two weeks before and after surgery so that the fish oils do not interfere with other anti-inflammatory medications.
|Recommendation:Healthpost is a mail order company based in Golden Bay that has been in business since 1988. This family business is the best source of consistently good supplements (including fish oils) at reasonable prices that I have found. With few exceptions, I have been unable to match their prices in chemists or supermarkets (even when products are on sale).
You can shop from the comfort of your home computer and your order is shipped within 24 hours on a business day. Healthpost will then send you an email to confirm that your order has been shipped. I’ve ordered from them many times and the longest I’ve had to wait for my order is 3 days!
This company stands behind the products that it sells, offering a large range of products and selling many New Zealand made products. Best of all, it also has its Doing Well programme to give money back to community groups. When you place an order with Healthpost, you select a charity to receive $1 of the firm’s money (it does not add to the total value of the order). Charities supported include the Royal New Zealand SPCA, in the latest quarter ending July/August 2011, the RNZSPCA earned a total of $3,148 from Healthpost orders!
I believe in selling direct to consumers (hence, my Canine Catering business also sells direct) because it eliminates retailer markups, saves space by helping to minimise the growth of ‘big retail’ in New Zealand, and passes these savings on to the customer.