Abby Updates (and health issues in general)

ABBY 110! (07 September 2012)

Here we are again.  We’ve come a long way since the days when Abby never fully relaxed, ate everything in sight including her poo, had regular diarrhoea, was sick in the car every journey, toileted in the house and was always bothered with her ears, and was seriously underweight.  A lot of that would have been to do with stress, and stress has an effect on digestive systems.  It seems to be the case that diet has an effect on stress levels as well.  It was also clear that her learning capacity was impaired, and that hasn’t changed much!  Although very motivated by food, there’s little sign of her remembering what she got it for!  It takes some dogs longer than others to settle in a new situation – it can take up to two years according to some experts.  When Abby came to us she had had two major surgical procedures:  one to remove mammary tumours and one to spay her.  She’d also had teeth removed.  Grey about the muzzle, she looked older than her estimated 6 or 7 years.  It was pretty hard going for her, and for us.  Regular clean-ups of runny poo on the kitchen floor, clean-ups of sick, muzzled when she was outside so she couldn’t eat anything, regular visits to the vets for vitamin injections and weigh-ins.    Well, all that’s behind us now.  Even the muzzle has come off on the beach, and the seaweed is safe!  She’s a fine traveller now and she’s clean in the house.  Best of all, she seems happy and reasonably healthy, and now weighs 29 kilos.  A major change in the way we feed her has definitely contributed to her improvement, and it’s apparent in her weight, her eyes (previously cloudy) and her coat which is now free of dandruff.  If you’ve been following this you’ll know that she is now on raw food with cooked vegetables, and completely grain free.  Given the extremely poor circumstances she was presumably living in while on a puppy farm, we think this is as good as it gets.  She even has little plays on the beach with Cairid, and has become very attached to him. 


Abby is in much better condition than she was just a few months ago, both physically and mentally.  After three months of raw food, in the beginning mostly minced raw green tripe but now including minced raw chicken, turkey, rabbit, lamb with the addition of an occasional egg, we are now introducing small amounts of cottage cheese, cooked offal such as hearts, and marrow bones.  These all caused extremely loose bowels in the past, but don’t do so now.  Even a hastily snatched piece of seaweed recently – a runny poo certainty in the past – had no ill effects.  She is now allowed on clear parts of the beach without a muzzle!  We are still giving fish oil capsules as well as cooked vegetables.  If we have rice left over from a meal we give her a small amount of that. Gradually we will introduce more variations to her diet.

Mentally Abby is now aware of her surroundings, more alert and more willing to engage in interaction with us.  We notice her doing a lot more sniffing out on walks than she used to – she used to just plod along behind us, only stopping if she found something edible.  Her coat is much better after a recent heavy moult.  The greasiness has gone.    Our main concern with her now is that her back legs remain quite stiff and this is something we are going to look at more carefully now that she’s stable.

We think that Abby’s turnaround is the result of two things:  one is her diet, and the other is that it has just taken this long – a year and a half – for her to feel confident and stress-free.  One thing probably has an effect on the other;  if she is stressed then this affects her digestion, and if her diet is not easily digested, this prolongs the stress.

She still looks a bit sad!  She is grey around her muzzle – much more so than Cairid who is supposed to be about the same age, and she is very much less active than Cairid.  But she shows affection now, and interest in her surroundings.  That’s a big step forward in our book.


It’s about 10 weeks since our last visit to the vet with Abby.  We had been taking her  for – at a guess – around 4 months for monthly B12 injections and weigh-ins.  At the last blood test her B12 was up considerably  the vet told us, but they wanted to continue it as it wasn’t quite at normal level.  She wasn’t gaining any weight to speak of, and on the last visit had lost a little weight.  She was 22.5 kilos, pretty underweight for a Shepherd, with sticking-out ribs.  We discontinued vet visits for a number of reasons:  her B12 was well up;  after months of visits she wasn’t gaining weight and we were no further forward in knowing why; and the final straw was when we were made to feel extremely uncomfortable by the receptionist following a discussion in which we stated that we did not believe in boosters (for Cairid).
Since then Abby has continued on a raw food diet with cooked vegetables and fish oil.  We no longer give bromelain.  She no longer has runny poos and is no longer sick in the car, though this may be because she’s used to it now.  We weighed her today, and she is 27.5 kilos – that’s TWENTY-SEVEN AND A HALF KILOS!!  Good old raw tripe!  She looks not too bad for an old girl!

ABBY UPDATE (15 April 2012)

Some good news about Abby!    We weighed her today and she’s gained 2 kilos since her last weigh-in 5 weeks ago!   This must be down to raw tripe which we started feeding her about 3 weeks ago.  We’ve recently stopped feeding rice, so her diet is now grain-free.  We’ll see if this has any effect.

More on Abby (01 April 2012)

Over the past couple of weeks we've introduced raw green tripe to Abby's Diet. She now gets a much smaller amount of boiled rice (and we may phase this out altogether) with cooked veg (mashed up), cooked chicken, or raw minced turkey, fish or rabbit, a raw egg every other day, live organic yoghurt or cottage cheese, fish oil and bromalain digestive enzyme. Every meal has raw tripe added.

So far she has been GREAT! (and loving her food, but then she would eat absolutely anything!!).

We're so worn out worrying about the dogs' diets we generally survive on bread and cheese ourselves!!!!

No, really, it is absolutely no sweat to prepare, especially the raw stuff. Her coat is shinier and her eyes brighter, but................HAS SHE PUT ON WEIGHT?

Watch this space.........................she is due at the vet's in a couple of days for both a weigh in session and another B12 injection. Fingers crossed.

The story of Jess :  (Wednesday 14 March 2012)

We received this story from a friend.....

Jess is a 5 year old dally. She picked us when she was 12 weeks old and came to live with us. Being a typical dally, she is a loving dog who loves nothing more than snuggling in to you. She adores swimming, which is a bit unusual for the breed I've heard, but you can't keep her out of water.
 She is also an accomplished thief! She is very clever at distracting you enough to steal whatever food is on the go! Nothing apart from mushrooms is safe! We rescued Isa who is a liver spotted dally when she was 9 months, and the 2 are devoted to each other.

Sadly when Jess was 3 she began having seizures. They appeared from nowhere and have continued for the last 2 years. After bloods and X-rays and scans the vet decided that she has idiopathic epilepsy. We started on phenobarbital medication twice a day. This resulted in a massive change in Jess. She became very sleepy, eating anything she could get her paws on. This has resulted in weight gain. The most upsetting change was in her personality - she became very irritable and was easily annoyed. After a year the seizures became more frequent and longer. The medication had been increased and we commenced on another drug, which meant Jess was on 7 tablets a day. Jess was so drugged she was no longer the same dog. She had no energy, she was blown up and her features changed, our happy crazy Jess had gone. The seizures continued and Jess had a poor quality of life. We were at a loss as to what to do, we didn't want her suffering but didn't want to lose our precious dog.

We decided to take her off some of the medication. If she had a better quality of life and she had a few seizures a week we could deal with that if she could. She has slowly returned to her old self and when she is not having seizures she is a delight. We are undecided about stopping her other medication as she has at least 3 seizures a week, would she have more? The family are well used to seizures now. My daughter deals with them like a pro! Needless to say we don't know how long we will be blessed to have our mad dog, but we are thankful for our time with her.

Any comments or help would be greatly appreciated, thanks


Abby Update............  (Friday 9 March 2012)

Following this week’s blood test, we now know that Abby’s liver is fine.  The vet didn’t test for diabetes so we don’t know about that yet.  The vet would like us to try feeding Purina HA because the proteins molecules in it are so small that Abby’s digestive system wouldn’t put up a fight against them, and allow their absorption.  We checked out the ingredients.  The protein used is tofu.  The listed percentages of protein and fat add up to 40%.  We don’t know what the other 60% is.  Does anyone have any experience of this food?

Meanwhile, we think she must have eaten something unscheduled yesterday.  Sickness and a good doze of the skits …. Had to hose down the garden afterwards.  Poor wee soul.  (Me, that is!) .........................................


Update (Saturday 25 February 2012)

Abby's due at the vet's next week, to get weighed and assess her progress. It doesn't look to us that she has put on any weight, but you never know. On advice from the vet we have reduced her walks from around 2 hours a day to two shorter walks. Honestly, she doesn't care! She settles at home with a kong when we take Cairid out.
She did a really strange thing this morning. Half way through her breakfast she ran to Cairid's dish, and for a moment the two heads were in the one dish....... this is astounding given Cairid's 'guarding resources from other dogs' behaviour previously! The dogs were fine, but we had to be resuscitated...............

Thanks all those of you who have completed the survey already. This is really going to help give us an indication of what kind of food is good. Of course, one size doesn't fit all, so there isn't going to be a definitive answer.

On the food front, so far we've discovered that the AAFCO (Association of American Food Control Officials), lists minimum nutrient requirements for dogs. The list includes protein and fat, but not carbohydrates. We haven't yet located a UK equivalent that isn't linked to pet food companies. Anyone got any information on this?

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