A Winter Secret

Although originally formulated for use in the great Canadian outdoors, this "secret" formula has served many an urban dog. Musher's Secret once used for mushing or sled dog racing, is now used as an "invisible boot"to combat winter conditions of ice, snow and worst of all salt. Its a dense non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-staining wax based cream containing vitamin E that forms an invisible but breathable barrier between the pad and outdoor surfaces. What's not well that known is that Musher's Secret is effective year round-it helps in dealing with hot concrete pavement in the summertime. Continous use is actually a better preventative against the winter salt as it moisturizes and conditions the pads preventing the occurence of cracks-which allows the salt to penetrate and cause discomfort. If you haven't already, its best to start conditioning the pads now so that they are in good health before the challenges of winter weather arrive.



Previously Unseen Phenomena

The first time Eti ever refused a meal was a previously unseen phenomena that immediately caused me to break out in a cold sweat. I knew that something was wrong.

We had just come back from our morning walk and he had had a surprisingly severe bout of diahrrea. I ran through my head everything that he had eaten over the last 48 hours and couldn't come up with anything that he had eaten in any sort of quantity that could have caused this and figured it may have been somthing random he had picked up

We went through the normal routine, he waited on his bed while I prepared his meal. I called him, he went into a down position in front of his food as he always does and I said "Good Boy". Normally this would have created a blur as he dashed to eat, this time he stayed in the down position and turned his head to look at me with a worried look. Activate cold sweat.

He spent the rest of the day very quietly. We went out again late afternoon, it seemd like he needed to make a bowel movement but was unable to. I boiled up some chicken and rice which he ate but shortly thereafter puked up. I called the vet and made an appointment for the next morning.

I am reminded of this incident on reading a recent post on Dolittler about Hugo coincidentally also a french Bulldog who similarly exhibited this previously unobserved phenomenon of refusing food. The post is informative of the cause for this problem -gastroenteritis-a broad term for infection or inflammation of the stomach and intestines. In both Hugo and Eti's case resulting from some kind of blockage.

The post is also insightful about the difficulties of diagnosing exactly the cause for a blockage and more importantly what would be the right course of action concluding that-'Their bodies are as deeply mysterious as the methods we use to measure them are limited. There’s only so much we can do before our methods enter the realm of the doing-harm thing.

In Eti's case, the problem 'rectified' itself. A couple of hours before our 11am appointment at the vet, he passed what looked suspiciously like 2 inches of a Bullystick and ate some chicken and rice after with gusto and without ill effect. Our appointment was duly cancelled and Bullysticks were banned forever from that moment on.



Marrow Bones

I usually have a few marrow bones in the freezer that I get from Wholefoods but I have certain criteria before Eti gets to enjoy one. The first one is activity. When the weather is inclement or my schedule conflicts with taking long walks in the park a marrow bone is a lifesaver. It is a couple of hours of intense concentration and activity, further enhanced by the fact that I only let him eat it on his daybed which requires him to step on and off it like a pro from an eighties step class (bone aerobics?).

The second is it cleans the teeth and works the jaw and related muscles so it provides some necessary health benefits that his pre made ground food doesn't offer. He also gets some whole raw meaty bone like chicken breasts and backs which are actually better for teeth cleaning.

There is a little meat on the marrow bone, not sufficient to really take into account in terms of calculating his daily intake but the marrow, which is fat and blood, is extremely rich so I remove the bone after a couple of hours -which usually allows him to get about half of the marrow. I wrap the bone in cling film and its put back into the freezer until next time. I'm careful to remember that he's eaten something rich and will perhaps make sure the next meal is not the same-like say lamb or pork, as it does affect his digestion-he gets loose stools.

In fact it upset his digestion enough once to create a reaction called Conditioned Taste Aversion where he refused to eat one thereafter, much to my disbelief. This was resolved by not giving him any for a while and then reintroducing one with a little cream cheese smeared in the hollow. In fact I do this sometimes if the bone is straight out of the freezer and he can't quite smell it.

There are some concerns also about the gnawing wearing the enamel of the teeth. Limiting the time moderates this. I may give the bone one more reincarnation stuffed with banana and peanut butter and then frozen after which its disposed of. Leaving it exposed increases its brittleness as does cooking it which is potentially hazardous.

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Fish Oil

Fish oil is usually highly reccomended as a supplement for Omega 3. Its superior to Flax seed oil because Flax seed oil contains a different form of omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil does. It contains ALA (alpha linoleic acid), which has to be converted in the body to EPA (eicosapentanenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)in order to be utilized. At best, only around 15-20% of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA, which means you would have to use 5 to 6 times as much flax seed oil to get an equivalent amount of omega-3 fatty acids as is found in fish oil.

Selecting the right product is also important. I use Spectrum Fish Oil for the following reasons. Firstly its from wild caught fish-not from farmed fish which have lower amounts of omega 3. Secondly its from small fish-which have a much lower incidence of contamination by Mercury. Thirdly its in capsule form which is preferable to being poured from a bottle or even from a pump as Omega 3 is highly perishable on contact with the atmosphere. Each capsule contains 1000mg which is the daily dosage per 20lb weight.

I don't supplement with this every day, maybe two or three times a week as I prefer to provide Omega 3 from other dietary sources like canned fish and Omega 3 eggs. Another reason I do this is because there have been studies indicating Vitamin E depletion when supplementing with high doses of Fish Oil.


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