Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Allergies - Our Next Food Trial

Well, so far we've had only so-so results using the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Fish and Sweet Potato food (mix of kibble and wet). He still has a pretty red belly, and his skin there is scaly and rough almost like eczema.

Since my goal is to get him to a place where his skin is healthy and rash free, I think we are going to switch up his food to try something different. I initially chose the Natural Balance not because I love the food but because it was limited ingredient, a novel protein, and also not so expensive or hard to find that adopters wouldn't want to feed it.

Well, at this point I'm throwing the "not so expensive or hard to find" out the window and just going with a high quality, dehydrated food with raw sardine mixed in. When I worked in a natural pet food store I had many customers who swore by a raw diet for dogs with allergies. My personal dogs eat a raw diet with a bit of Honest Kitchen mixed in and I really like the Honest Kitchen line of foods and supplements. I chose the new base mix called Honest Kitchen Kindly that is grain and potato free, and very low carb. Since yeast likes to dine on sugars, a low carb diet is always good for a dog who suffers from chronic yeast infections.

Then mixed into the rehydrated veggie/vitamin mix I am using raw, ground sardine from Primal since sardine is such a great source of omega 3's.

Right now we are just starting a slow transition onto the new food. He has not been a picky eater and seems to like it so we'll see if we start to notice some changes for the better with his skin.

If this does work and I can get him healthy then we will start some trials of other proteins to try to find some other options for him since it is always best to rotate foods for your dog.

Wish him luck!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Snoozin', Snugglin' and Belly Rubs

Rigby loves to hang out with the other dogs and I think the only thing he likes better than snuggling with a human is snuggling with other dogs. My two girls Chima and Salinas really enjoy his company so he joins in and they make a big spotted pile of snoozing dogs much of the time. And both Rigby and Salinas snore so they make the cutest little snuffly snores when they nap together.

Rigby also is a great lover of belly rubs and will look at you with his sad, sad face when you stop, as if to say "why would you be so cruel as to end this belly rub?"

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rigby and his Pals

Unlike most dogs we get into rescue, we have an almost complete history of Rigby's life before he ended up at the shelter. Until a few months ago he spent all his time with his brother Harley before being returned alone - most likely because of his allergy issues.

Rigby (L) with his brother Harley

Some dog's prefer to not share the limelight with other dogs but then others, like Rigby, feel most comfortable when they have a buddy to hang out with. It has been interesting to see how he is really drawn to Sal and Chima and even when they weren't that sure of him would politely sit as close to them as they would allow. Now that they know him well he is just one of the gang and gets to snooze in a dogpile, wrestle with Chima when she's feeling playful, or just follow the girls around, joining in their "adventures" while playing outside.

The girls are now comfortable enough that they enjoy napping with Rigby and he and Sal snore away together which is very cute.

When he's been out with just me he is noticeably more on edge and insecure. If I take one of the other dogs along - say for a trip to the vet or the pet store - he is completely calm. So wherever this boy ends up, he should probably have a pal.

When he first arrived he wanted to hang out with the girls so badly but they usually made him stay at least a foot or so away.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rigby Heads to the Vet

As I think I've mentioned before in the blog, Rigby has allergies and I've had him on a lot of supplements and a simple diet with one protein (fish) and one carbohydrate (sweet potatoes.) He was doing great and had less inflammation but his feet and ears were still bugging him. I was thinking we might need a trip to the vet and then Rigby sealed the deal - he leaped up and stole a piece of chicken treat out of my hand that was for another dog. Within about an hour I noticed the rash had started to raise up again and was an angry red color.

I made an appointment at the vet that I use for my dogs with more challenging cases. What I love about the office is they think outside the box, have a holistic approach, and don't jump to a diagnose without really listening to the owner and looking a dog over.

In the waiting area

So off we went. I brought along Rigby's freeze-dried salmon treats to reinforce his bravery at the vet. As expected, even though he wasn't entirely sure about this whole vet thing, Rigby did great and by the time we left the whole staff had to come out to say goodbye and gush over the amazing Rigby.

Time to weigh in: 20.4 pounds; he probably could stand to lose another 1/2 to 1 pound

After talking with Dr. Aja, our vet that day, she decided to use both Western and Eastern medicine to move forward. A quick round of steroids to calm down his reaction to that chicken that he just can't seem to beat - and then an antibiotic to clear up the secondary skin infection he has from all the scratching and licking of his rash. We'll also be using the Dermagic Skin Rescue shampoo bar for regular baths and some yeast he has on his feet and groin. She prescribed what is called a "cooling diet" meaning he needs to avoid things like chicken, lamb, and grains. She likes everything I had been doing with him - food choices, salve, fish oil, etc.  but said that sometimes there is so much secondary skin stuff going on that you have to get that under control and then maintain the health with the careful diet and supplements.

Waiting on the table while the vet checks the slide for yeast, fungus, bacteria, etc.

Anyone adopting Rigby needs to really look at themselves honestly and decide if they are a person who does a lot of extra feeding and treating off their own plates. For Rigby's long term health he needs a human committed to making sure he eats the right things (and doesn't get access to the wrong things). Because round after round of steroids will be so hard on his liver and that is what he'll need if his humans aren't careful about what he eats. It's not that it's tough to do - but some people really equate love with food and that kind of person won't be a good fit for Mr. Rigs.

Showing off his beautiful "sit-stay" while I get his medication and pay the bill

So that's what we are doing. Wish him luck. Rigby says "the chicken theft was totally worth it, though."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rigby the Wrestler

This week Rigby seems to really be relaxing and showing more of his personality. I was super happy to see him feel comfortable enough with Chima that he was initiating play time. They did quite a bit of wrestling and it was really nice, well mannered play. Sal even played with him for a few seconds which doesn't usually happen. Good boy Rigby!

After the wrestling matches, Rigby and the girls crashed in a sun patch to recover.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gardening With The Dogs

We had the most amazing Spring weekend so I spend some time in the yard, tidying things up. Of course the dogs had to supervise and check everything out. Chima even helped by digging a couple of holes. Unfortunately they weren't where I needed them to be.

Rigby is wondering what all this stuff is

And Salinas is trying to work out how she can turn it into a fun toy

Rigby perched on the bench so he could watch what the girls were up to

Tiny Tilly was seeing if I had anything tasty in the bucket

Frodo was cold and didn't understand how this was supposed to be more fun than curling up under a blanket in the house

Rigby always likes to be close by and checking out what his people are doing
Chima checks out a newly planted area, wondering about its digging potential.

Unlike the rest of the country, we've had a really mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest so I can't really complain but the dogs and I are sure ready for blue skies and sunshine!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Out On The Town With Rigby

It's always a good idea when a new foster dog joins one's family to get them out and see how they do in different environments. Also, I want them to know that the car can lead to happy, fun places too, not just the vet and long transports.

Alert, but fairly relaxed in the drive-thru

So Rigby and I headed out for an adventure, just the two of us. We started out at the drive-thru at Starbucks. This was both to check out how he did at drive-thrus (not all dogs' favorite spots) but also as positive reinforcement to me for being such a thoughtful foster parent. ;)

Our destination was the Mud Bay in town - a natural pet food store. Because there's steady traffic through there but rarely more than one dog at a time in the store, it is a perfect place to practice public appearances.

Watching things from the back of the store

At first Rigby was too nervous to take treats from me so we went to the back corner of the food section were it was quiet and I just pet him and sat on the floor with him. After a bit of this he relaxed and got curious and started wandering away from me to inspect things. Perfect!

Inspecting the toys

There were all kinds of great things to check out - toys, bulk bins of biscuits, buckets full of bully sticks and roasted bones...

A couple of our favorite employees were working today and they took time to introduce themselves to Rigby. He was a little nervous but before long, his nub was a wagging blur and he was jumping up on them to give kisses. Rigby is a friendly boy and really loves people.

As a happy ending we picked out some allergy friendly cod skin sticks as a treat for the drive home.

He came, he saw, he conquered --- and he left with cod skins.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rigby's New Coat

Over the weekend a very nice person donated some new coats and sweaters for NR foster dogs. Since Rigby has that super short fur and is a former California boy, he's been a bit shivery so I thought one of the fleece coats would be just perfect for him. Doesn't he look handsome?
Rigby wasn't quite sure he could walk when the coat was on

Salinas had to check out his new threads

He was getting tired of sitting still for photos

And his nose licking told me he had had enough of the camera - time to go play!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Frodo is Weird

Rigby is getting to know all the dogs in the house and he has decided that resident dog Frodo is a bit strange. Frodo tends to get grumpy out of no where and the other dogs have no idea what they did to set him off. But he is the best at alerting everyone to exciting things to see out the window so they forgive him for his curmudgeonly temperament.

I caught this cute video of Rigby watching Frodo in the act of one of his vigorous couch "backscratch" routines that I thought I would share.