Monday, February 11, 2013

February After Hours

One of the things that I've been dealing with lately (besides writer's block) is pet issues.

We've always been a pet-centric family and even used to run a ferret shelter. We treat our pets like family and want them to be happy and comfortable.

Every German Shepherd we've had (Abby is our third) has had skin issues. We've spent hundreds in vet bills, tried different foods, tried different supplements, and nothing seemed to help. No matter what we tried, a couple of times a year, the Shepard will get itchy, their skin will get red and inflamed, and their hair will fall out. Steroids help, but they aren't a good long-term solution. The steroids even made Missy wet the bed, which was horrible for her morale (she knew peeing indoors was bad).

Abby's skin condition has been the worst. Though her skin condition does get worse at certain times of the year, just like the other Shepherds we've had, she's always itchy, and lately she's developed big oozing sores on her belly.

At the end of our rope, we started cycling through foods again, and finally found something that seems to help: Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance LID diet in venison and sweet potato. She's stopped itching and the sores on her belly have healed. Now we just have to wait for spring and see if it has cured the "general itchy German Shepherd" syndrome, too.

At about the same time that Abby's skin condition was worsening, my pup, Roscoe, became a reluctant eater. Since the Natural Balance diet is designed for "all life stages," we switched him to it, too, but his reluctant eating worsened until he wasn't eating at all.

Not seeing the forest for the trees--probably because we were already overstressed about Abby's problems--we took him to the vet for a battery of tests and x-rays. A few hundred dollars later, we still had no concrete answer to the problem. They did find that he had a "clump" in his intestines, but the clump was moving through as expected, so it didn't seem to be a blockage.

Then it dawned on me: maybe he doesn't like the new food. Maybe the clump had made him feel full back when he was eating puppy food, and by the time the clump had moved on and he had an appetite again, we had already switched him to a food he didn't like!

So now I've switched him to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food (the one with the cute wolf pup on the bag), and it seems to be working. He's licking his bowl clean.

The moral of the story comes straight from Dr. House M.D.: "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras."

If I had looked for the simple answer (we switched his food to something he didn't like the taste of), I could have saved myself almost a grand in vet bills!

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