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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The State of the Pack

We have not forgotten about R so I thought that I'd give you an update on him. Because we cannot seem to avoid veterinary mysteries, his saga of damaged red blood cells ("acanthocytes") and weird lymphocytes in his blood has continued. On the same day as Shyla had her xrays, R had blood drawn. His blood cells were slightly better but still not normal. On the good news side of the ledger, we've managed to put a few pounds back on his athletic frame so he's looking more healthy now. He loves getting a full-sized lunch every day!
You might remember that the presence of acanthocytes in a dog's blood is usually an indicator of a serious disease. We searched with ultrasound for hemangiosarcoma tumors in all of the usual sites and didn't find any. We tested his kidney and liver function - both were fine. Since then, we've been watching him and waiting to see if his body healed on its own. Since it hasn't, we are looking for less common causes of the acanthocytes.

We believe that a bad bag of Natural Balance kibble started the whole saga. Since then, we've had extended periods of feeding him home cooked meals and then two different kinds of high quality kibble. His best blood test happened while we were homecooking for him.

Because we know that a long-term homecooked diet has to be carefully balanced, we consulted a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition for help with R's diet. She says that there is a step in a dog's metabolism that can be damaged by toxins or other processes, resulting in an inability to metabolize certain nutrients - and also resulting in damage to the dog's red blood cells. Thus, in a dog with this problem, the wrong diet will cause acanthocytes to appear. This vet has designed a homecooked diet for R that we're in the process of starting. It is quite simple - beef, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, oil, and a supplement.

The new diet doesn't sound fancy or super-special to me. So, I asked the veterinarian if there was a kibble that would work for R. Her reply was that no kibble had the right balance of nutrients and ingredients to solve this problem. So, we're giving the homecooked diet a try for at least a month, and then we'll have R's blood tested again to see if it improves.

I must say that R has seemed energetic and happy at every point in this saga except for the beginning when he was quite sick. He and I had a wonderful mountain bike ride together today, and then we sat for a moment on Hug Hill. I love his eyes and how they reflect the world that he's looking at, including me!
We are waiting for the results of Shyla's tests. The good news is that her limp seems to be getting much better. It's barely noticeable now. That has to be good news, doesn't it?
And, her energy level is through the roof. Indeed, for the first time since she joined our family, she's become a destructive chewer. Unfortunately, her favorite things to chew are my clothes. She's chewed the zippers out of 4 favorite jackets and fleece sweaters. It's time to puppy-proof the house, at least until Shyla is allowed to exercise again. We're hoping that's soon!

I love her anyway and completely forgive her for eating my clothes.
If you're looking for a good investment, I can give you the name of our vet hospital. With our business alone, they must be hugely profitable :)

Thanks to all of you for the supportive comments and emails. They make such a big difference when I am going through a crisis with one (or both) of our pups. I am very grateful.


  1. Those eyes can't belong to such an impish puppy, can they???

    Once again, thanks for the pack update -

    And for allowing me to hear Sam Elliot saying 'Beef, it's what's for dinner'

  2. Our hearts are there with you our friends! Sending so many healing bubbles to both Shyla and R.
    Now I see a little heart in Shyla's eye. Do you see it? Its full of love for all that you are helping her with.

  3. Her eyes are so beautiful with the brown, pale yellow and gold.
    I think homecooked can only make things better! Fingers crossed for R.
    That has to be great news that Shyla's limp is improving! Paws and fingers crossed!

  4. R's improvement is so good,one of my friends fed her dog all home made and cooked food, she used rice, eggs, veges, I think some type of oatmeal or bran instead of breadcrumbs, it turned out like a dog roll. Shyla continues to shine, Hug Hill is indeed a favourite spot. Fond greetings from Jean.

  5. All this sounds positive, which is great, and R has the sweetest face and eyes ever :)

  6. I'm glad you have kept your sense of humor. I have no doubt the vet hospital is thriving with your contributions! But by golly, when it comes to our dog's health, we don't hesitate to bring out the check book, do we?

    Hope this bothersome thing with R clears up. Will you use the same diet (or modified for growing puppy) for Shyla?

    Still thinking of you and the gang.

  7. Tonight I realized that I get centered on Shlya and sometimes forget how impressive looking R is.

    That first picture says it all. Powerful, sleek, confident.
    What a beuatiful boy he is.

    Hang in there KB.

    Bert and My Vickie

  8. Homecooking for dogs is a most wonderful thing to do for them. But after a while, it feels like it is ALL you do.

    Do you cook in big batches and freeze it in serving size dishes? Thats a plus!

    I had a mini-schnauzer with skin problems and took her off kibble and home cooked for her. Within a week to two, her skin was normal and perfect.

    Shyla and R both sound like they are doing well. They both look just great! May it always be so.

    Jo and the petz

  9. I'm glad to hear that R is improving a bit and has put on some weight. I love his eyes, he is a such black beauty! I hope this diet works for him and his count is better in a month. I had to laugh at Shyla and her pent up puppiness. Fred was also a clothes puppy, especially zippers. He wrecked more hoodies and jackets, anything with a zipper. Amazing what we can forgive with our babies. Shyla just looks so innocent and happy and I am sure it will be good news to come!

  10. Puppy mischief? Noooooo! lol When Kuster went on crate rest, I thought we would all lose our minds! The second time the vet prescribed it, I threatened to send Kuster to live with him, and I half meant it. It's a good thing they're so stinking cute!

    I'm glad R seems to be feeling a lot better! I do have a very soft spot for your black tornado. :)

  11. Good news on R's energy levels and weight gain and the same on Shyla's limp improving. Let's hope all the positive signs continue. All the bad stuff going on with kibble makes me want to consider home cooking, but with four, I don't think I could keep up with it and do it the right way.

    Sending all good thoughts your way.

  12. We sure do think about you every day. Yikes, we ate Natural Balance grain free for a long time
    Benny & Lily

  13. Yes that does have to be good news. With my recent "brush with death", at least that's what the ER vet and my own vet said, I am healing all on my own and no one knows why. But MOM says it's OK as long as I keep improving. She will just accept the good news of getting better even if no one knows why I was so bad off. I love seeing the reflection in R's eyes. Prayers have not stopped, they continue to be lifted up and and sent your way.

  14. Ann....from...Outer Banks of NC....said....I am always ready for good news and it sounds good to me...and thank you for bringing joy to our hearts and just looking at Shyla's and R's glowing faces tell us they are happy and content. I remember when my daughters two dogs(BOXERS) chewed anything to everything when they were younger....even their beds...but they out grew all that... Dogs are such fun loving pets...can't help but love them always in all ways....HUGS

  15. We're choosing to look on the bright side with this latest news, for both R and Shyla. We'll be keeping our paws crossed, too.

    Wonder if Shyla shares Jed's part-goat DNA? When he was a youngster, he would eat anything metal [or wood or stone] that he could get in his mouth. He pretty much outgrew that when he started his OCD chewing on himself instead. Sort of a bad to worse transition, in his case. But once you remove the tempation of zippers and she gets back to her regular daily outings, we bet she'll snap out of the destructive chewing - at least on metal zippers.

  16. Shyla and R, my Christmas wish for you and your family is that ALL of you are well and happy!

    Waggin at ya,

  17. We are so happy to hear that your limp is better, Shyla and R - you are going to love home cooking! Angel Maggie sure did love her beef and sweet potatoes!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  18. Interesting and a bit distressing on the R front. I feed Dex Natural Balance. But it sounds like one bad lot and then things don't get better.

    R sure does look like he is feeling great, though. Thanks for the update.

    Mango Momma

  19. Oops about the clothes chewing.....!

    Tommy is also one of these dogs that gets things wrong with him that nobody else ever has. He has been off-colour these past few days with a high fever combined with excellent blood test results! Whenever there is a difficult period, our wonderful vet advises reducing kibble dramatically and upping home-cooked food. So, he's been getting cod steaks (he loves fish more than anything else!) with rice, hamburger, or regular steak or chicken with pasta and carrots, sometimes pork tenderloin with the same.

    The interesting thing is that we often forget that industrial kibble is relatively new, and premium kibble even newer. When I was growing up, there was Pedigree and that was about it. Now, there are so many high-end foods. But for millenia, dogs were fed on the same things we eat and seem to have done well on that diet too. I personally believe that getting a dog all the nutrition it needs from home-cooked food is no harder than doing the same for ourselves!

    Crossing all paws (and hooves) for R and Shyla!

  20. We are thrilled to hear that Shyla's limp is getting better. I know tho, that you still need answers. And believe me, we haven't stopped praying for ALL of you.

    I bet R is loving his new home cooked food. We're hoping that the blood tests will bring you all some good news.

    I'm sorry that you are dealing with so much ~ way too much! Hopefully all the Blogville prayers will be answered shortly.


  21. We currently have two 1 year olds, and one 6 month old puppy in the we can sympathize!

    Glad to hear they both seem to be feeling better!

  22. You need to tell both Shyla and R that you've had just about enough of these silly sicknesses. They need to get their acts together and stop worrying you and everyone else to pieces.

    Hopefully everything will come around soon. I believe any veterinary business is likely a good investment. Even the old country vets are getting expensive these days.

    mamma heartbeat

  23. I hope R and Shyla continue to improve and you get grreat reports on their tests!

  24. Keeping all our paws crossed for Shyla and R.

    Shyla and my Shelby are about the same age and Shelby is going through that chewing stage too. I catch her trying to "mouth" our new leather sofa but at least I catch her before she really starts. She does listen to the word "no" pretty good. But I think she thinks that's her name now.

  25. I do think that has to be good news for Shyla! And I hope that the home cooked diet is just the ticket for R.

    ah, matter how much you do sometimes, it doesn't seem like enough. They're ingenious!

  26. I am happy to see R looking great - eyes shining, coat gleaming. Maybe Shyla just sprained her leg? Do you have her on the "raw" diet, too?

  27. Thank you for the update. I am so glad that the home cooked diet seems relatively straight forward and should be easy to maintain. It's really disheartening when a dog food you trust ruins your dog's health.

    That's sort of a little funny that Shyla specifically chose the zippers in those items! I could give you a laundry list of items I've had destroyed by other dogs - but in the end, they are just things and not nearly as important as the dog. You seem to realize that which is great!

    Keep us posted and hang in there. I know it must be a little overwhelming at times with both dogs having health issues. The least we all can do is listen to you and provide you with some (hopefully) comforting words. :)

  28. Hi KB, Just lost a comment I as writing-grrr. Anyway, I think a good home cooked meal is just what your R needs and will surprise you at how well he does. As for Shyla, still praying she has nothing serious wrong. I laughed when I read about the zippers because I am starting to wonder what Hunter will do with all our Christmas decorations and tree-guess we'll have to crate him when we leave.
    Have a warm and wonderful afternoon my friend.

  29. My little Willow dog likes to steal my underwear and socks. Bad girl, Willow!

    Continuing to wish good health to both your dogs!

  30. We were eager to read the update and are glad to hear that both R and Shyla seem to be improving. We will watch for further news, and meanwhile are keeping paws crossed and sending prayers your way.

  31. Yup, cancer doesn't get better on its own. Her limp all but disappearing is good news indeed. And oh, those eyes! All four of them, attached to two different dogs. They are magic!

    Thinking of you,
    Jeanne & Rex (woof)

  32. Great news that he is better. Tyra is still tired and also hurting some since our hunting trial in Norway on Monday. SHe lays now for the third day. She eats but dont want to go out for her business. Think she is hurting in her shoulders or back up to the neck.


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