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Category — Dogs

The Pawsible Weekly – Walking Wonders

The last week has been great fun when walking the dogs. Devisri*** has been telling me for a while now to get adventurous. That dogs don’t just need physical exercise, a walk should also be mental exercise.

But me being me, I’ve been putting it off for a while now, there is always some excuse, some reason for not doing it. The dogs will get dirty, they’ll pick up ticks and fleas, I’m tired, they don’t walk properly, they don’t listen,… the list goes on.

Then last week something twisted in my brain and I decided to just take off. I just did it with out thinking, I started out on my usual route with Max and then suddenly I just felt like doing something different. You should have seen Max’s face with I diverted. 😀

But once we set off Max had a ball, there was no more tugging and pulling on the leash. No more shooting off with no warning. We suddenly became a team on an exploration with uncharted waters to navigate.

We live in a layout outside the city. At this point in time the layout is great as it is huge and mostly empty. Spanning 15 odd streets on both sides of a main street with at the most a couple of houses in each street, the layout is a mesh of trails.

Lots of trees, wild grass, birds, and small animals makes this place a treasure trove of smells. I hadn’t realised this in all this time, and all I had to do to unlock this world was to get off the beaten path.

And once I did that last week, it was tremendous fun. The dogs were all suddenly looking at me to see where I would turn off, where I would go, where I would stop. And I was having so much fun watching them figure things out, letting them choose which way we would go, and what pace we would set.

There was no tugging anymore, at least not much of the unreasonable ones. We were walking together, sometimes the dog ahead and sometimes me. They weren’t dragging me anymore. They were smelling and marking along the way and smelling each other too when they returned to know where they had been.

Above all else I’ve been coming home refreshed, recharged and invigourated for having discovered something new everyday. It’s been a discovery and adventure both inside and out.

Boy, oh boy, it’s been awesome (even if that’s my much abused word) and it’s a new week full of more routes to explore this week!

***Devisri is a professional dog behaviourist and warden of my pack. You can connect with her at Urban Dawg.

March 2, 2015   No Comments

The Pawsible Weekly – 1st Edition

I’ve been meaning to start this series for a few months now but I’ve just not gotten down to it. I kept putting it off thinking a intro would be needed and introducing 6 dogs is a lot of writing. So I did what I do best sometimes – procrastinate.

But here I am now starting off just like that. Along the way I introduce you to my pack. Kind of like how I got to know them, they came into my life at different points in time not only in my life but in theirs too.

The idea of this post is to make a weekly update of all that’s dog here. A way for those who know my brat pack to follow them and a way for me to keep record. This is all about them, whats happening to them, what they are doing and everything else.

Now, just so you know them, here’s a quick introduction, in age order.

Buddha, my wise old one, the oldest in my pack, he’ll be 11 this year.

William, the majestic one. He’s a golden who thinks he’s a ;ion with a full mane. Going to be 10, he’s a cranky loveable one.

Max or MaxiTaxi as I love calling him comes next in the line up at 9 and loves to eat and sleep. Ah yes, he loves being petted too!

Cuckoo the Bird-Brain, thinking she is a bird and even after 6 years we haven’t managed to get her to believe otherwise.

Sentimeter or Senti can kill you with love and licks. He believes he was born to lick every price of exposed fresh throughly and completely. (Also 6)

And then there’s Elu my free spirit. She’s just turning 1 and is the life and heart of this pack.

Alright so that’s my six, I’ll eventually introduce each one in detail and tell you their stories.

Cuckoo was our first and then the rest have just come in one after the other. They fill my life with joy. Somedays they are a handful and tiring but I’ve never regretted saying yes to Che when he picked up that small patchy mutt from the dustbin and asked if we could keep her.

The current news is that they all did well while I was away and have been good doggies. That said there were a few glitches.

Max has been having an explosion of ear wax for a while now and while I was away Che discovered he had mites. A through cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and over a week of daily cleaning with ACV is showing results. The wax formation has drastically reduced and hopefully will be fully under control soon.

The other glitch was Elu, who started showing signs of pain a day before I was due to return from Calicut. She has a bump on her back and refused to allow anyone to touch it. Considering the insects she demolishes, we figured it was a nasty bite.

Then the next day she broke out into bumps. It looked like a swarm of mosquitoes had descended on her and had a meal. A visit to the Vet brought up two options – a toxic bite or a bacterial infection. It seemed to have gotten bad too fast for a bacterial infection, so the conclusion is a nasty bite. For now the little one is on antibiotics and seeking coconut oil & medicated baths.

And after a few days for not being herself, she is back to being herself – My silly wacky puppy. Destroying every leaf and miscellaneous other things in sight. 😀

That’s it for this week. I’ll be back next Monday with another update. 🙂

February 23, 2015   No Comments

It’s Not Tick Fever, It’s Auto-Immune

It’s been over a month since I first talked about Cuckoo getting tick fever. Che was traveling at that time and it was a extremely stressful week. I had read up on tick fever like a student before exams, cleaned house like a maniac and watched the dogs like a stalker.

After ten days of doxycycline as medication Cuckoo was due for another round of blood tests. Che had returned by then so it was possible to take Cuckoo across to Cessna while he handled the howlers. After another maddening trip to Cessna where Cuckoo peed in the car, slipped her collar and harness at the sight of the needle and generally went out of her way to give the Docs a hard time, we got the blood work results.

Her platelet count had gone up but not as much as the Doctor would have liked. Recovery was taking too long he said and things needed to be speeded up. They gave her one shot of prednisolone and put her on a 10 day course of it along with the doxycycline.

While discussing the treatment plan I asked the Doc about how we would confirm at the end of treatment that Cuckoo was not a carrier of the Ehrlichia canis organism any more. With six dogs that’s a concern because if she is a carrier all the other five will always be at risk. The Doc said that to do that we would extend her treatment plan to 6-8 weeks and also run the 4Dx Snap test on her blood to confirm that she isn’t a carrier any more.

4Dx Snap test… There was a test for tick fever? I promptly asked the Doc how much the test costs and why we hadn’t tested her until now. The test he said was Rs.1000 and was not needed now as he was 100% sure it was tick fever.

Armed with this information I left the clinic and updated Che with all that had happened. He asked the same question, why hadn’t we tested Cuckoo until now. The only difference was he wasn’t satisfied with the Doc’s answer, he insisted on the test being done. However the same blood sample could not be used as this test required blood serum and hence a fresh blood sample was needed.

Since we had already left the clinic there was no point in going back to take another sample, especially considering how much Cuckoo was freaking out. Two days later we got another Vet to come home and take a sample that we could personally take to Cessna for testing. This Vet saw Cuckoo for the first time that day and he had a diagonally opposite diagnosis that startled me.

He checked out Cuckoo, asked a few questions and declared that she didn’t have tick fever. And I was like ‘what?!’ He explained that considering her activity levels, physical signs and appetite were good, the possibility of tick fever was minimal. The spots I was seeing on her neck and stomach was most likely to be auto-immune disease.

Auto-immune disease was not that simple though and didn’t have a straight forward cure. Our best treatment option was steroids for about ten days in a tapered dosage he said. After that we could do a repeat test for platelet count, but the main thing was that we had to just watch and wait and hope it sorted out. There was no perfect cure.

He changed the daily dosage amount prescribed and wrote out the same prednisolone prescription. Dr. Morton didn’t think a snap test was required but we insisted he take a blood sample. After he left Che and I sat down to wait out the one hour it would take the blood to completely clot before we could transport it.

The test itself is simple and quick, not unlike a pregnancy test. And just like with pregnancy tests we were pacing to see the results of this one. The result was negative. Cuckoo did not have tick fever. We had given her doxycycline for ten days for no reason. Even Dr. Ramesh now told Che it was auto-immune and that that was why he had prescribed prednisolone two days ago.

At that point of time with all this news I wasn’t sure which was better and whether we had gone from the frying pan into the fire. What we did do though was watch Cuckoo like a hawk for the next ten days and gave her her medications like clockwork. The medication was a pain though as I not only had to make halves and quarters but also 1/8ths. 😀

It’s been a couple of weeks now and between steroids and homeopathy, Cuckoo has gotten better. The spots have gone away and have stopped showing up. After all that panic and palpitation, I may be breathing easier now but through it all Cuckoo has been herself, completely cuckoo!

Special thanks to Devisri who helped chauffeur Cuckoo to Cessna and manage her there (with a bitch like Cuckoo that is a lot!). 🙂

October 6, 2014   1 Comment

How to Manage Tick Fever If You Have a Pack of Dogs

In my last post about Tick Fever I said I learned tons more on tick fever management from the Vet and friends who also have packs. But before I get to the management, I’d like to talk about why management is important.

Tick Fever is spread by ticks when they bite on prey. The bacterial organism is passed into the host through it’s saliva. However not all ticks carry the organism – Ehrlichia canis.

A tick ingests the organism when it feeds on an infected host. Once the tick is a carrier it will infect and transmit the disease to all dogs it feeds on after. And it doesn’t end here, the bacterium is also passed on to offspring when the carrier tick lays eggs.

This is not a small matter when you realise that ticks can lay up to 3,000 eggs at one time. That’s an army carrying tick fever!

Management of tick fever isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. Being diligent, careful and vigilant constantly, will take you a long way in keeping your pack safe. Here’s some of the things I was told to do and I did.

No Hunger:
The sick dog should eat as much as he/she wants as it needs all the nourishment it can get to fight and heal, however make sure to spread the meals.
Cuckoo seemed to be in very early stages of Ehrlichiosis as her appetite hadn’t dropped at all. She ate her scheduled meal and then asked for more. With her medication and healing cycle she needed as much energy as she could generate so I fed her as much as she wanted. But I spread the meals out so she didn’t eat too much at any point in time and throw up. She ate three meals and showed a preference for chicken rather than beef but she was eating her beef quantities too. The chicken I guess was easier for her to digest.
Along with this I was giving her a mug of chicken soup a couple of times through the day too. The soup would give her energy and also hydrate her.

Stay Paranoid:
Keeping all the dogs tick free should be on top of your priority list. Keeping the infected dog tick free above all else.
I checked and cleaned Cuckoo almost thrice a day those days. I watched her like a hawk on walks, making sure to avoid bushes and grass where ticks are most likely to be, and I checked her during or immediately after every morning walk. A tick that bites her and lays eggs would unleash an army of infected ticks in my house.

Short, Clean Walks:
If your dog is up to walking, walk your dog but keep the walk short so as to not tire him/she.
For a while all the dogs were on short walks and on as short a leash as I could manage. I tried and kept them away from bushes as much as possible. Both of these were meant to reduce the chances of bringing in ticks. After all walks were complete I also settled down for a session of checking and grooming all dogs before feed time.
Cuckoo loves her walks so I couldn’t deny her but a short walk made sure that she didn’t get too tired or fatigued.

Cleaning OCD:
Keep your house like a maniac and do it again every day!
I was on a cleaning mania those two weeks. Every piece of bedding got brushed down everyday, every corner got swept and mopped. I usually vacuum once a week but then I increased it’s frequency and did it every alternate day. I sprayed all corners and edges in the house with neem oil and the mop water had large quantities of salt and vinegar everyday. The salt and vinegar work well as dehydrating agents and should kill ticks that fall off as ticks need to stay hydrated to stay alive. Between the neem oil and salt I hoped to avoid any laying of eggs.
The garden was sprayed down with neem oil too. Not only did I spray the trees and plants but also the grass!

Check temperatures everyday!
Normal temperature for dogs is 102F and depending on time of day and activity it could go up to 103 but anything above that is not normal and is the first indicator of tick fever.
I checked the temperatures of all dogs everyday. It is preferred to check first thing in the morning as resting temperature is the best indicator but with William and Max it was difficult in the morning as they were restless for their walks. So everyone else got checked in the morning and they got theirs checked about noon when lethargy set in. 🙂

Don’t miss giving medication on time and make sure you are using some external treatment to deter ticks.
Cuckoo was on doxycycline and I made sure to give her her dose everyday without fail.
Apart from this all dogs had Protektor (tick and flea drops) Spot-on treatment put on as a first line of defense. I was hoping it would work as a deterrent for ticks. But I would still check like crazy, everyday and sometimes multiple times a day. It was almost like every petting session was a tick search session.
Usually Che and I are very particular about the dogs baths and renewal of their tick and flea medication. This time with all the shifting I had slipped up and the baths and treatment renewals got delayed. We did get it all done but just before Cuckoo was diagnosed and that was already too late!

If you’d like to know more about ticks, the Tick article on Wikipedia is a great. You can also read the How Ticks Work article on How Stuff Works. For home remedies to keep ticks away here is a list I put together some time back – Home Remedies for Ticks on Dogs

Over all it had been two weeks with shit loads of stuff to do every day but after a couple of days it became routine and I started to even have fun doing it all. 😀

However things changed drastically after Cuckoo’s second blood test. We weren’t fighting tick fever any more but rather auto-immune disease. But that’s a post for another day…

September 29, 2014   No Comments

All You Need to Know About Tick Fever (The Gory Details)

Photo Credit: Alpha.prim / Wikipedia

I hate ticks. Period. I used to hate them earlier because they seemed to prefer me to the dogs but since the Cuckoo episode, I hate them even more, even on the dogs. I have always been paranoid about them and have kept an ultra clean house to keep them out. [You can read my earlier list of home remedies for ticks to gauge my paranoia. 😀 ] But in the last two months with all the shifting and settling in, I slipped up and the dogs picked up a few of the critters, next thing I know, Cuckoo is diagnosed with tick fever.

I don’t know much about tick fever. Wait, let me correct that. I didn’t know much about tick fever until now and I still don’t know so much. However here’s what I’ve learned from a little bit of reading.

Tick fever is medically called Ehrlichiosis, and is also known as canine rickettsiosis, canine hemorrhagic fever, canine typhus, tracker dog disease, dog AIDS and tropical canine pancytopenia. Yep, that’s a lot of names!

Tick fever as the name suggests is a tick borne disease; it is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks when they bite (or through blood transfusion) and the organism that usually causes it is Ehrlichia canis. There are various types of tick fever and even several species of Ehrlichia, but the one that is most common and has the most severe clinical signs is Ehrlichia canis, carried by the brown dog tick or Rhipicephalus sanguineous. These are the little critters we see around here in Bangalore and most parts of India.

Tick fever is not limited to dogs, it is also seen in humans, cats and other animals that ticks prey on. It doesn’t pass from dogs to human, only through ticks.

Ehrlichiosis has three stages with varying severity. The first stage is the Acute Stage which occurs one to three weeks after infection and lasts up to a month. The symptoms usually seen at this time are fever and lowered peripheral blood cell or platelet count due to the bone marrow being suppressed. These are the symptoms seen in Cuckoo along with the blood spots or petechiae. Sometimes a lack of appetite, drop in activity levels, bleeding, vasculitis, discharge from the eyes and nose, and/or edema of the legs and scrotum is also seen, but that depends from dog to dog.

The Subclinical phase is the second stage and has no outward signs. This stage can last for the remainder of the dogs life and the dog then remains infected and becomes a carrier of the organism. That said, apparently some dogs can manage to eliminate the disease during this stage.

The third stage of Ehrlichiosis is the Chronic stage and the most serious stage of the infection. In this stage the dog has very low blood cell (red, white and platelets) counts or pancytopenia, bleeding, bacterial infection, ophthalmic and neurological disorders, etc. which could lead to kidney disease. Some of the visible symptoms are weight loss, pale gums, lameness, bleeding, breathlessness, coughing, excessive thirst, excessive peeing, etc. Chronic ehrlichiosis can be fatal.

With tick fever the outcome for dogs in the Acute stage is good, however once dogs reach the chronic stage there is no telling which way it will go as the suppression of the bone marrow and low level of blood cells leads to the dog not responding well to treatment.

The usual treatment for Ehrlichiosis is a six to eight week course of the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline. Every week a repeat blood test is done to check on the response to treatment but the dog may take up to a month to respond. In severe case steroids, subcutaneous or intravenous fluids and even blood transfusions may be given.

When it comes to tick fever prevention is definitely better than cure. Keeping the dog and it’s environment tick free is the best way to avoid this pain in the ass infection.

That’s a lot of gyaan on tick fever but reading wasn’t all I did. I went to the Vet and other experts who have more than three dogs or a pack at home and learned tons more on tick fever management. The tons more is in the next piece of this write up – How to Manage Tick Fever If You Have a Pack of Dogs 😛

If you’d like to read more about tick fever, here are some links you might find helpful –
Canine Ehrlichiosis explained on Wikipedia
Protea Animal Clinic’s write-up on Tick Bite fever by Dr W J Grobler BVSc
Animal Health Hospital P.C.’s take on Tick Fever
Health24’s article on Tick bite fever in Humans

August 25, 2014   No Comments

It Isn’t the Usual Cuckoo Rash, It’s Tick Fever!

***This post got written last week but Che was traveling and I didn’t want to worry him so it was on hold for a bit. 🙂

I’m a little freaked out and stressed right now. Can’t think straight and I’m just going through the motions. I’m writing in the hope that it will help me sort my thoughts and calm me down.

It all started a couple of days ago with Elu peeing her pants… Elu’s our lastest entry into the pack and is just 4 months old – both of these put her in a place where she is figuring her way around the dogs and the pack structure. So, it was inevitable that she would stick her face into one of the dogs while they were eating and get put in her place. Elu of course did it all in style and squealed her head off enough to make everyone run for cover (except Max who was the teacher in this situation).

After all the teaching, peeing and squealing had stopped I stepped in to clean her up and noticed that some of her drying wounds had small boils. Photos were instantly taken and Dr.Ramesh(the Vet) was consulted. He asked me to apply Kiskin and watch for a couple of days. If it didn’t subside it could be mites he said. That, left me worried about contagion in the brat pack.

Elu's dry wounds show boils

Later that night I saw spots on Cuckoo’s underbelly. I had seen spots a day earlier around her neck but at that time I thought it was some rash she had got as usual and had applied Kiskin. Spots on the underbelly though, was odd, a closer look and I found more spots all over her. It was looking like she was getting measles or chicken-pox. I promptly did what the paranoid me does best; took photos and Whatsapp’d them right away to the Vet.

Spots on Cuckoo's Neck

Spots on Cuckoo's belly

Spots on Cuckoo's chest

Morning brought a reply from him asking me to bring her in for a closer check. Taking a dog to the Vet isn’t all that simple in my household. One challenge is splitting Cuckoo from Senti and Buddha who cannot do without her (when I did take her later, they apparently howled and whined for an hour). The even bigger one is that Che and I don’t own a car; yeah yeah I know 6 dogs and no car you say, but we have friends and they are amazing. Some juggling in my head and I started calling friends, and at the first call I hit pay-dirt. (I can’t be thankful enough to Anithra and Chaitanya for always being there for us.)

Anyway all logistics worked out, we headed out with Cuckoo and Elu (figured I’d get her checked-up too) in the evening. I could write an entire other post about Cuckoo going loony in the car but for now it’ll suffice to say that until now she has only traveled in hatchbacks and sedans, so an SUV blew her mind. She was all about the space and all over the place. And trust me, you don’t want to be in an enclosed space with Cuckoo when she is loony; after her, you’ll never be the same again.

Again, I was so thankful for Anithra who took care of Elu so I could deal with the basket-case, Cuckoo. She was upset as a banshee to be in the clinic and even snapped at Dr.Ramesh, something she has never done before. With the muzzle on, Dr.Ramesh summoned up the courage to get close to her face and see the spots on her neck. He didn’t like what he saw I think, coz he turned to me and shot off questions – how long have the spots been there?, have you found ticks on her recently?, is she eating fine?, any dullness?. I answered the questions as best as I could – a day or two, yes a few over the last week or so, eating same as always and asking for more, nope no dullness at all.

What followed next left Cuckoo even more upset. She had a thermometer stuck up her ass and she didn’t like it much. Well, neither did I when it read 104.2F (normal is 102 and below). Dr.Ramesh decided to instantly check her platelet count, which is possible now that Cessna Lifeline has their own lab. Ten minutes later the Doc was holding the results and giving me the look. The report didn’t look good.

Cuckoo's Blood Test Results

All attributes of the CBC test were good but Cuckoo’s platelet count was low, way low. Dr.Ramesh looked at me and said ‘Tick Fever’. And then he saw me lost and muddled and fuddled and duddled and everything else, so he asked me to wait and got out his prescription pad. The spots have definition he said, unlike a rash, and that made him want to check further. The fever and platelet count confirmed his fears, it was tick fever but it was early stages it looked like.

Cuckoo got the needle and her first dose of medication (a shot of prednisolone), while I stood there listening and trying to grasp all that was expected of me in the next four weeks. As long as she ate well and stayed active all is well he said, just don’t miss the medications. Come back in 7 days for another round of blood work and we’ll take it from there.

But it didn’t end there, I also needed to check temperatures of all the dogs everyday first thing in the morning for the next couple of weeks. Sticking a thermometer in (my WHD’s) Senti and Buddha’s ass is all rosy, but try doing that to William and Max, my fully grown adult Golden Retriever and Labrador. Oh boy, oh boy, was I feeling like a lost puppy!

While all this was explained to me, Cuckoo of course vocally made sure her displeasure was heard and felt. When we finally left I’m sure Dr.Ramesh and others at the clinic heaved a collective sign of relief. The silence at Cuckoo’s departure must have been deafening. 😀

It’s maybe why they gave me two bags of cookies instead on one when I was leaving. 😛

Cessna's 9th Anniversary Gift

Two people I haven’t mentioned yet but who helped me immensely were Mom and Granny. They were visiting with the intention of getting some rest and spending time with me but all this stuff happened and Mom was such a rock with I shook like a leaf. I don’t know how I would have left behind Senti, Buddha, William and Max at home if it hadn’t been for them. Mom, as always, You Rock!

I’m learning a lot about Tick Fever and, big dogs and thermometers :P, but more on this in another post.

If you are wondering about Elu, the boils were just a bacterial infection that isn’t contagious and she’ll be fine soon after a round of antibiotics and baths. She was prescribed tablets, supplements and coconut oil. 😀

August 19, 2014   4 Comments

D for Delta, D for Determination

Last night as I lay in bed I thought about words that started with ‘D’. It was like a word building exercise and a lot of words came to mind. Define, Demur, Deter, Decline, Delete, Doll, … and it went on. Some words had potential but most just wouldn’t work.

I woke up with ‘determination’ spinning in my head but I wondered as I walked the dogs, what would I write about it. Yes, this year I should be determined to reach my goals et all but really, that’s not fun to write about. Or read about for that matter. 😀 So, I let the post be as I got to doing all I hadn’t finished yesterday.

I have a tick and flea problem. No I don’t mean on the dogs, it’s on me. Ticks and fleas seem to like me more than the dogs. Yep it’s eew, but that’s how I know the dogs have ticks or fleas, I find them on me. It’s why I’m crazy particular about the dogs and house being tick and flea free, I’m getting to almost be an expert on them. 😛

With summer setting in and April showers making their presence felt, ticks and fleas explode. Not that they aren’t there at other times, just that around this time they seem to start to show up with a vengeance. I think it’s the rain and it’s temperature change that does it, that perfect mix of heat and cool that they so seem to like.

Keeping ticks and fleas off the dogs and out of the house is like a life mission for me. I have a routine to my cleaning, mopping, changing sheets and more. And my summer cleaning has been due for a while. Over the last few years I’ve managed to keep the dogs and house relatively tick and flea free. Forget an infestation, just the thought of one sends chills down my spine. Seeing ticks climb walls is like a horror story to me.

So I clean and clean like a Monica. Over the last couple of years I’ve tried, tested and found natural remedies for keeping the little critters at bay. Natural methods give me peace of mind when using them around the dogs. Here’s the routine I follow – I sweep the house to remove the first layer of hair and dirt, then I strip all sheets and start my rounds of washing, all beds get vacuumed and kept aside, then I vacuum all edges and skirtings around the house. This is followed by another round of sweeping before the mopping begins. When all is mopped, fresh sheets are laid out and finally all edges and skirtings are sprayed down.

Of course I do do one or more of the above regularly and on different days but this is my tick/flea regime and all of it happens on the same day for that. The vacuum bag gets cleaned and dusted thoroughly as soon as I finish, and it gets cleaned outside the house at a distance, so even if I did catch a few bugs I don’t release them back inside the house. The mop water has extra salt and vinegar with the soap to deter the critters. And the spray is a mix of vinegar and neem oil to keep the bugs from getting into snugly holes and corners.

It’s a long process, tiring and time consuming. And today it was sheer determination that saw me through it. I felt a few twinges in my tummy in the morning but the thought of the lone tick I found a couple of days back galvanized me, and I just kept going. It’s a relief and joy that I feel now that it’s done. It’s a big to-do off my list.

But determination didn’t only play a part in that. Considering that the routine took me about 5 hours to finish and how pooped I was after it was done, it took a lot of determination to finish this post. I didn’t want to miss a day in my challenge.

So, how can D not be for Determination? 😉

Aside: If you’d like to know more about home remedies for Ticks and Fleas, do read my posts on them. I put them together the last time they freaked me out. 🙂

Home Remedies for Fleas

Home Remedies for Ticks

April 17, 2014   2 Comments

How to Make Your Dog a Chew Ring Toy From Old Pajamas

Cuckoo: Can I keep both?

Today is not such a good day for me both physically and mentally. Mentally I’m just tired and physically I’m in a lot of pain. Got a heat boil on my butt thanks to the heat this week and almost every movement causes pain, especially sitting 😀

But that’s not what my post is about. A couple of days back I came across Donna Hill’s video on making toys with cloth and wanting to distract myself today, I figured I’d make some doggie toys. I love getting the dogs toys, it’s such fun to see them play and get excited. But good strong toys for the dogs are fairly expensive and so here’s where DIY comes in.

Here’s Donna’s video on Making FREE tug and chew toys for puppies and dogs of all sizes.

Now Donna talks about using old sheets and that I didn’t have but I did have a couple of my old pajamas that I loved so much, I wore them until they got holes in them. So here’s how to make a chew ring toy with old pajamas.

The pajamas I had were of banyan material.

Cut the elastic bit off first. Then cut along the joint to separate the two legs. You could also do this by opening the stitching but I took the easy route. 🙂

Cut each leg along the sides or seams to get four strips of cloth.

Cut off the fork area to roughly even out the strips.

Knot two strips together, pulling the knot as tight as you can. This will make sure it doesn’t unravel easily when the dog is playing with it.

Keep tying knots with the strips to make a rope. Alternate the sides when tying to get a cleaner finish and even cloth consumption. (I did this with the second and I think it looks better.)

When you have about four inches of cloth left, add another strip to one of the 4 inch pieces and knot it as before to secure it. Kind of how you do it when braiding and adding hair or lace.

Add the last strip on the other side and tie a knot again as before. Make sure that the old and new strips are knotted together at least twice. i.e. they should both be there in two knots. This will create a little bulge in the center with cloth sticking out that will add texture to the toy.

Continue knotting until you have four inches of cloth left.

Pass one strip through between the first and second knot to make a ring. Tie the strips off with a double knot to close the ring.

And voilà! there’s your chew ring toy.

Cuckoo immediately approved of it by running away with it 😀

You could dip the ring in chicken broth, squeeze out and freeze before giving it to your dog to create hours of chewing. Remember though that you should always supervise play as some dogs can chew through anything (like my Senti) and sometimes they swallow the pieces too. Stuff getting blocked in their intestines isn’t something you ever want to experience.

What I really like about the toy is that it is machine washable. 🙂

I made two of the toys since I had two pajamas. Here’s the SpongeBob SquarePants Chew Ring Toy. Sorry you can’t see much of Bob, but this pajama was one of my favs. 😀

If you have material for two rings you could also loop one into the other before closing the ring to get an interlocked ring toy that you can play tug with too. I needed two rings for two dogs, but I’ll be trying to make that an interlocked one soon.

Have you made any toys for your dogs? What do you recommend I try next?

August 31, 2013   2 Comments

Baking For my Dogs – How to Make Carrot, Oats and Coconut Dog Biscuits

Over the last year I’ve been experimenting with baking and trying my hand out at the oven. Some recipes that turned out well I’ve shared like pizzas, sponge cake, … but some I’m still figuring out. Need to get that Rum Rich Plum Cake recipe down to pat.

Anyway, a downside to all that wonderfully smelling baking was the dogs giving me doleful looks and I feeling all guilty for withholding that piece of cake. So I figured I’d make them something that they can eat. Yep, I thought it was that simple.

Online research found me some quick and easy recipes but it also brought up questions like – is flour(maida) good for dogs?, what could I substitute for flour?, how could I make healthy treats?,… This took me more time to figure out. After a fair bit of reading and talking to various people, here’s what I found out.

Plain Flour(maida) is bad for dogs and best not given. It can be substituted with whole wheat flour, however some dogs are allergic to gluten (and it seems the number are rising) so you need to try it out and see how your dogs fair.

Another option is coconut flour. Until recently I had heard only good things about coconut products for dogs (google coconut flour for dogs), however recently I heard of one Vet who said it’s not good for dogs. My vet though says it’s good. So well, you figure.

From what I read though coconut products seem to be working wonders in most dogs. My Cuckoo loves coconut, (you should see her excitement when she hears us breaking them) and she’s not had an issue with it yet. Of course I give it moderate amounts. That said, getting coconut flour wasn’t easy and I’d been hunting for it until Vidya tipped me off about Heather’s Coconut Flour recipe. That one was easy to make at home but I didn’t get much flour out of it.

The last option as of now that I’ve found is oats. Oats come in various forms like rolled oats, quick oats and instant oats. According to the book ‘On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen‘ by Harold McGee the main difference between the types of oats is their texture, thickness and cooking times. They can usually be substituted for each other as all oats have the same nutritional value.

Each type of flour also has it’s own unique properties, oat flour contains an essential fatty acid GLA (gamma linolenic acid) that’s important in the body’s production of favourable eicosanoids (PGE1 – prostaglandins). Oats is also proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease. Coconut flour on the other hand is a good source of protein, iron, fiber and it is ‘low-carb’. Coconut also contains the fatty acid Lauric acid, which boosts the response of the immune system in the body.

Something to keep in mind for all substitutions is that each flour has different properties and so the quantities you need will vary and cooking times will change. You’ll have to try and test your way to the right proportions. Also some flours don’t work all by themselves, like oats used alone will not hold together and rise well so it’s best to use it in combination with other flours.

If you’d like to read more about flours and dogs, Susan Leisure’s article ‘What Type of Flour Is Good for Dogs?‘ is a good start point.

After all that research and figuring out, I went hunting for recipes that had coconut flour and oats. I decided to start out with The Fonte’s Paleo Dog Biscuits Recipe with Carrots & Coconut,  but I found a few others too that I liked and pinned for later.

I made some changes to the original and added oats, here’s my take on it.

How to Make Carrot, Oats and Coconut Dog Biscuits

Ingredients –
(makes around 200 gms)

225 grams crudely chopped carrots
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coarsely ground oats
1/4 cup fresh coconut
2 eggs
Coconut oil

Method –

1. Preheat oven to 175 C.

2. Grind the coconut and carrot to a smooth paste.

3. In a bowl mix the paste, oats and coconut flour well.

4. Add eggs to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.

5. Pour the mix into a piping bag. (I improvised with a washed milk packet)

6. Prepare a tray with greased butter paper. (Best to use coconut oil for this if you have it, else use sesame or olive oil)

7. Pipe little blobs onto the tray keeping enough distance between the biscuits. The size of the biscuit is up to you. I wanted them small as that way I can use more of them while training without giving the dogs too much of it.

8. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops get golden brown.

9. Remove and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

10. Remove the lil cookies from the paper and store in an air tight jar.

Note: I did try to make them crunchy by drying them out as much as possible but they just got soft again. I think it might have to do with the egg but I’m not sure. Do you know?

My dogs loved the cookies and they are working like a charm while training. They’re depleting fast too, which might not be a bad thing considering that I don’t know how long biscuits with eggs last outside of a fridge.

Update: The biscuits/cookies lasted about a week in an air-tight jar before I started to see fungal growth. Storing them in the fridge is one thing I can do to make them last longer. Anything else you’d suggest?

Have you baked for your dogs? What’s your take on coconut flour and oats? Any favourite recipes I should try?

August 19, 2013   No Comments