04 May 2018

Product Review: Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength (DS) Plus MSM Soft Chews Joint Health Dog Supplement

As a fur mom of two senior Yorkies, it is no surprise that this breed comes with joint problems later on in their lives. Yorkies are part of the terrier family, and are extremely active. My oldest dog is 15 years old and still flings herself from the bar stool onto the couch. I nickname her my giddy gazelle. Both of my dogs have fluxating patellas which is pretty common in this breed and to prevent arthritis and swelling I have been supplementing them with glucosamine for the past few years and it's worked really well. Glucosamine is more commonly known as Cosequin® and its main use it to help promote mobility and joint function in dogs and cats. Arthritis refers to inflammation or swelling in a joint and what these supplements do is help provide the necessary nutrients for cartilage repair and function. 

These treats were a win in the Prisky Paws household. I gave my 10lb Yorkie one full chew and my 5lb Yorkie 1/2 of one chew as per the weigh recommendations on the back of the packaging. As an added bonus these chews are contain omega-3’s for a healthy skin and coat. The chew is soft and chewy, perfect for my two little girls who are missing most of their teeth!

Disclaimer: I received these goodies free of charge from Chewy.com in an exchange for my honest review, and here you have it! I've been feeding my dogs glucosamine for years and so I was super happy to try this product due to the added benefits in the treat of the omega 3's! 

19 April 2018

My Dog Almost Died

On Thursday, April 5, 2018 my beloved Bebe started limping. Bebe has been with me for three decades of my life, in my teenage years, the entire part of my twenties, and now in my thirties. She has been an immaculately healthy puppy, and still is at 15 years and 2 months of life. She surpasses the average age of Yorkshire Terrier Bebe is active, and playful, loving and sweet. Anyone who has met her has instantly loved her, and quite frankly how could you not? She is pure love.

After I came home from work on Thursday, I noticed that she was limping. I immediately thought that she flung herself off the couch, bed, or bar stool. Despite her age, I often call Bebe a gazelle because if she sees food on the counter, she turns into a trapeze artist and will jump incredible heights. For example, I once witnessed Bebe on my doggie camera jumping from the couch, onto a bar stool, and to the kitchen counter to eat a bag of Doritos. I immediately rushed home to get her from jumping off the counter and got home just in time to save her, the Doritos, however, gone.

I had some left over Tramadol and the morning of the next day, I gave her some and tried to take her for a walk. She wouldn't budge and wouldn't eat, so I shook it off as she was probably in pain from the fall. I had a work conference that day from 8am-8pm and I figured I would just check in on her via the doggie camera throughout the day. She didn't move from her bed every time that I checked, but again I just assumed she was resting it off and that maybe the Tramadol was making her sleepy. When I got home it was pretty clear she was in pain. I tried massaging the area but she whimpered and so I iced her on and off for about an hour. There wasn't much improvement, and in Bebe's eyes I, for the first time saw something different, there was a sadness about her I can't describe but it broke my heart and I decided that first thing in the morning I would take her to the vet.

I was so confused as to what was happening. My dogs were just at the vet one month prior getting a checkup, blood work and dental cleanings. Bebe and Jolie, due to their age and genetic predisposition to canine gingivitis need to have this done and are left with very little teeth now as each time several extractions are made. 
4/7/18 Alta Vista Veterinary Hospital

The morning of Saturday, April 7, 2018 I rushed Bebe to the vet. I opted to go to a new vet as I had a not so delightful experience with Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic. Bebe was seen immediately and the vet came and assessed her. She ran a body scan with her fingers and touched her shoulder and her legs. She looked up at me and said the words that still haunt me today: "Oh my goodness, there's something here, right here, and it's not good." I stood up and rushed over, the vet took my hand and had me feel her and there was in fact a difference from one shoulder to the next. The vet than continues to say that it wasn't a fatty tissue but rather a mass or a tumor. Those words...mass and tumor. My heart dropped, I froze, I couldn't make a sound even though inside I felt like I was screaming with tears and anguish. I looked at her and just started to cry. I asked the vet "what do I do?" The vet quickly said that we needed to "make Bebe as comfortable as possible". That's another sentence by the way which haunts me. The vet offered to aspirate the cell to immediately check for cancer, and that she was going to put her on a pain medication to again "make her comfortable." I, without power to even stand, cried and accepted the diagnosis and allowed her to take Bebe to the back and aspirate her mass in her neck. A fine needle aspiration was performed on Bebe in the back, and as if I wasn't in enough despair, I heard her let out a howling yelp that sent me running through the vet room and into the lab in the back. I told them I wanted to be with my dog and that I couldn't wait in the room while listening to her scream and cry. I think they just allowed me to do that because I was completely covered in tears and shaking with fear. The aspiration came back inconclusive and the vet told me that it would need to be sent out to a lab for a culture and further processing and that the results would take three days. This test was several hundreds of dollars and I complied, because I had no choice in my mind and in my heart. My angel was sick and was suffering and it was up to me to help her. The vet Bebe a dose of pain medication, Gabapentin in a oral suspension form, which basically just means that it is in a liquid form vs. a pill form. 
It is faster acting that way. The vet took the bottom of Bebe's jaw, pulled on her hair, opened her mouth and shot the fluid down her throat. My Bebe turned her face is disgust and looked at me with eyes watery and her coughing. "That medication must taste bad," I thought, as she kept shaking her head violently and licking her lips to rid the taste. But than, slowly but surely, she calmed down, and became soft and limp. That medication knocked her out and I was hysterical with emotions. I held her in my arms, and she struggled to keep her eyes open. She bobbed her head up and down while resting and panting on my chest. I cried and I cried and I couldn't stop crying, the vet kneeled down next to me and began handing me pamphlets of oncologist specialists and treatment centers for cancer that included radiation and chemotherapy. I couldn't keep it together, and so I asked to have some time as I tried to process that my perfectly healthy dog had some sort of cancer in her body. I was angry, my angel was just at the vet last month and was FINE. I picked up my girl and left the vet and headed to my car. I stayed there for almost two hours crying and rocking her back and forth. I've never felt pain like that in my heart before. Bebe's head and back were so saturated with tears I could have wrung her hair and created a puddle underneath her. I called some of my closest friends and my parents and they were all devastated for me and for Bebe. My close friend Dana started a GoFundMe page for Bebe's medical expenses, which I am so grateful to her and those who donated, because without it I would have just placed myself in severe credit card debt. I would have and still would do anything for Bebe. The rest of my Saturday was gloomy and sad, I went to grab Bebe's organic baby food and organic chicken broth to be able to feed her as she wasn't eating her kibble with too much gusto. I spent every single second with her for the remainder of the day and Sunday as well. Every. Single. Second.

On Sunday, April 8, 2018, Bebe wasn't showing signs of improvement. In fact she was getting worse. She couldn't stand straight and would fall over when she tried, she fell over so hard at one point in the day that her head head the floor and bounced like a ping pong ball. She laid there, lifeless, looking at me confused and drowsy. "It's the damn medication," I thought! It was much too strong for her as she couldn't even stand. I didn't give her any more of the pain killers as it was much too strong, I could see Bebe trying to move but failing. I spoon fed her organic baby food and warmed up broth for her to sip. It was incredibly hard and emotional watching her try to eat, so slowly and with such effort. Later that afternoon, she tried to move and couldn't. I figured she needed to pee or poop and so I took her to do so. This part breaks my heart, and I will never be able to look at my pink scarf the same way again. I wrapped a long scarf around her belly and straddled over her using the ends. She looked like a puppet and I was holding the strings. I kept saying "Come on Bebe let's go for a walk, let's go outside, let's go pee pee!" It was twenty minutes of me helping her walk so she could relieve herself, I was trying my best to sound cheery because she loves her walks so much, but the tears continued to pour out of me, down my cheeks, my shirt, on her head and back, and on that pink scarf. Hours passed and it started to hit me that, she was dying and I couldn't help her.

I didn't sleep that night, in fact I didn't sleep, shower, or eat for most of the week, because I was afraid that if I took my eyes off of her for a minute, she would die. I could not let that happen, I needed to be there for her until the very end, it is after all the very least I could do for her, she's been there for me always. I laid in bed with Bebe on Sunday night, and Sunday night turned to early hours of Monday morning. I kept scratching the back of her ears (her favorite spot) and kept a hawks glance at her belly. In, out, in, out, in, out, I watched her belly move, she was still breathing, she was still alive...and then, at 1:55am, something happened. Bebe woke up and tried to get up, she couldn't and fell over onto the pillows. This happened several times, she was trying to tell me something but I had no idea what, and then it happened. She stood up and her leg completely folded over. It was just dangling from her body and I panicked. She must need to pee or eat or something, and so i grabbed her and took her to where I thought she wanted to go. First stop was her wee wee pad, she relieved herself on it and on myself. I repeated over and over again "that's a good girl, you're such a good girl" because she, despite not being able to walk still made the effort to go on the wee wee pad. What an angel. I held her up on my hip while I warmed some broth for her and grabbed her water. She was thirsty and hungry and the picture below depicts just how weak she was getting. After she finished lapping up her alkalized water and broth, I rushed to the emergency 24 hour vet at 4AM.

Bebe, unable to stand, but very thirsty and hungry.
The next four hours in the emergency room were exhausting. Several vets came in to examine Bebe. They first said they needed diagnostics which included a round of blood tests and three different imaging x-rays. The bloodwork showed that WBC was high and RBC was low, calcium was high (could be due to long chronic inflammation infection/valley fever, tick fever, hyperparathyroid etc), globulin was high as well (indicates chronic inflammation/infection - usually see this with severe dental disease, skin disease, valley fever, tick fever, cancer etc.) The X-Rays looked pretty unremarkable besides narrowed trachea (collapsing trachea). The vet said we needed to rule out valley fever and so another blood test was done and sent out to a lab. In the interim, Bebe was placed on Clavamox and Metronidazole which are antibiotics. At this point the vet basically told me that it was a waiting game and that I could do further tests but they recommended that I wait a few days and monitor her every move. I kept a journal and took pictures and videos of everything. I wrote down when she ate, drank, and relieved herself. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty sad days for us. Bebe was completely lethargic and didn't walk at all. She just laid on her side for hours upon hours, only getting up with my assistance to fulfill her basic needs. On Wednesday, April 11, 2018 finally all the test results came back. She tested negative for valley fever and the test for cancer came back negative as well. However, the lab that tested for cancer cells also ran some other cells and confirmed that there was a sepsis bacteria. This was bad. Very bad. A bacterial infection of the blood is called sepsis in Dogs. Bacteremia and septicemia occur when the persistent presence of bacterial organisms in a dog's bloodstream becomes systemic, meaning that it has spread throughout the body and is also referred to as blood poisoning, and septic fever. So later on on Wednesday I, along with my notes, copies of x-rays, test results, food and behavior journal headed back to the vet. The vet called in the strongest antibiotic available for dogs, it's called Orbax. Bebe was to finish out her other two by the end of the week and start the new medication on Friday, April 13th. The vet also noted that Bebe was chronically dehydrated and instructed me to give her prescription food. It's 78% water and she loves it. I mixed in supplements with this food and slowly but surely nursed Bebe back to health. I vividly remember this Friday, because it was the first time in over a week that she wagged her tail, and when she did, I knew in my heart that I still had some time with her.

Bebe was starting to walk again and was strong enough to go for a car ride and spend Saturday and Sunday in the sun and at brunch with me. I made sure to view how she walked and the effort she took to stand and sit. I wanted her to have a nice weekend as the testing and new medications would continue on Monday. I had scheduled another appointment on Monday afternoon with a different vet to begin cold laser therapy sessions on her leg. I am a fan of cold laser therapy and have seen great improvement with it on Bebe. I first started this six years ago and even wrote a post on it which you can find here - it's pretty interesting stuff and it works so I was happy to learn of a place that offered it here in Arizona.

Bebe's name was on display upon check-in! How sweet!
On Monday afternoon I took Bebe to an Integrative Veterinarian - a holistic vet. My coworker had seen this woman on the news here in Arizona and immediately thought of me, there was a story like mine, of an injured pet that the vets couldn't pinpoint how or what caused the infection but Dr. Julie was able to help. I booked the next appointment the same day that I learned about her, and it was the best decision by far. Dr. Julie spent an entire hour feeling Bebe's muscles, legs, back, and checking for sensory points/reflexes. She looked over the 38 pages of work Bebe had previously had done. Yes, 38 pages of x-rays, blood panels, vet reports, list of medications, etc. Dr. Julie had her own educated assumption on what happened to Bebe and honestly it made the most sense. Bebe. while under anesthesia for her dental cleaning, must have been handled in a rough manner which caused the strain to her leg and neck. It was also the same leg that was hooked up to the IV and her collapsed trachea could have been because of the catheter. Honestly, I did have to agree with her because it was too much of a coincidence that a perfectly healthy dog suddenly became paralyzed after dental cleaning surgery. Dr. Julie said I was doing everything correctly for her recovery and she was even impressed on the homeopathic approach I added in on my own through my own research, more on that later! Dr. Julie found Bebe's leg to have suffered severe atrophy and in order to rebuild her muscles, she is swimming 3x a week for 5 minutes each time, doing the doggie paddle which is known as canine hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy, which involves moving and exercising in water, has been known to help with recovery for surgery, injury and to improve the overall health of animals(and humans too). What is of great importance is the fact that movement in water provides a safe way to regain or improve movement through low impact exercise. 
Dr. Julie Mayer using cold laser therapy on Bebe
Today is Monday, April 23, 2018 and I am happy to report that Bebe is walking and ALIVE. She is still on antibiotics and will continue on for another week, placing her to a full three weeks on antibiotics on April 30th. Once she is finished with the antibiotics she will be returning back to the vet to get another full blood panel done, and I will be doing monthly blood panels until the vet clears her as healthy. 

Things that I used during Bebe's recovery in addition to her medication are stated below, these are items that I use on myself, it's a holistic, superfood approach which I'd like to share with you because maybe your pup can benefit from it as well. All opinions are my own and these should be cleared with your vet first.

  • Alkalized water - there are a ton of benefits to upping your water game. I've recently been into drinking water with a specific PH level and got into this practice because Arizona tap water is notoriously bad. I gave Bebe this water exclusively as it helps neutralize acid in the bloodstream, which leads to increased oxygen levels and improved energy and metabolism. It contains anti-aging, anti-disease and antioxidant properties, cleanses the colon, rejuvenates the skin, lubricates muscles and joints(super important for this particular case) and has ultra hydrating capabilities, which was important since she wasn't easily eating or drinking water when she was paralyzed. 
  • Arnica pellets - I swear by this stuff and am NEVER without it. These pellets have helped me over the years with swelling and bruising like no other remedy I've tried. The human dose is 15-20 pellets per day to reduce swelling and bruising and I administered 3 pellets to Bebe in her food for one week. It drastically improved her swelling and aches.
  • Bentonite Clay - this one may be weird to some of you, but I am a firm believer in this stuff, and created a paste and placed it on Bebe's sore and weak muscles while I let it dry in the sun. The best hours of sun are from 10am-2pm. For two days at noon, I made this little paste on Bebe's leg. This clay extracts impurities from the skin. This is marketed mainly for beauty, but if you do research on it, it actually pulls more from your skin than just blackheads. "Healing clay has an uncanny ability to recognize and pull out toxic substances from the body, irrespective of anything between the "contaminants" and the surface of the body" When Bebe had her needle cell aspiration her shoulder became red and irritated and inflamed, this along with the arnica pellets reversed that almost immediately. 
  • Probiotics - just like humans, taking an antibiotic for too long will kill and destroy your good bacteria too. It is important to supplement with probiotics to support their immune system and replenish good bacteria. These tasty tiny chews were a hit with Bebe, and she sees it more as a treat than actual supplement. Win, win!

I wanted to take this blog post as a way to share my experience with my dog, what happened, what I did, how I handled things. I hope that this never happens to anyone, but if it does and this blog post even helps one person than it was worth it. 

To all my friends who called me, texted me, and made sure I was eating, sleeping, and showering, thank you forever and ever. It is deeply imprinted in my heart who reached out, and who didn't. Bebe and I are forever grateful to the love, care, concern and donations we received. We have a California beach vacation planned this coming weekend that I booked in January. I was afraid she was going to die before I took her on this trip, but today I am looking forward to recreating this photo with her, taken on her first time at the beach in 2004...
Bebe's First Trip to the Beach, Lavallette, NJ 2004
Update: September 6, 2018
Bebe is alive and well, and if you were wondering if I was able to recreate that photo in California on the beach 14 years later, well the answer is yes, pix below!

28 February 2018

How much sleep does your dog need?

Hello fur fam!

If you’re a dog parent, you know they love to sleep. But why do they sleep so much, and are they really dreaming when you see their paws twitch in their sleep?

Keep reading to discover the answers to these questions and more.

How much do dogs sleep?

On average, dogs spend 12 to 14 hours per day sleeping. Your dog’s particular sleep needs may vary around that range, depending on his age, size, breed, activity level, and overall health:
  • Larger breeds tend to sleep more than smaller breeds.
  • Working dogs with activity-filled days sleep less, while those who lead sedentary lives will sleep more.
  • Puppies can spend up to 20 hours sleeping a day. Growing and learning how to be a dog takes a lot of energy!
As dogs age into their senior years, they spend more time sleeping since they tire more easily.

Wild dogs and wolves may sleep even more than domesticated dogs. They have to hunt for their food, which expends more energy. When food is scarce, they need to conserve their energy. An expedient way to do that is by sleeping.

Do dogs experience the same sleep cycles as humans?

Like humans and other mammals, dogs progress through different stages of sleep. Also like us, dogs experience REM sleep.

The main difference between dog sleep and human sleep is how much time they spend in the different stages, as well as a dog’s tendency to sleep in bursts throughout the day. Dogs tend to experience sleep-wake cycles of 16 minutes asleep, 5 minutes awake – quite the contrast with our typical sleep-wake cycle of 7 to 9 hours asleep, 15 to 17 hours awake.

When dogs fall asleep, they enter deep sleep. Their breathing and heart rate slow while their blood pressure drops. About 10 minutes in, they enter REM sleep and dream like humans. You can often identify this stage because their eyes roll under their eyelids, and they may start twitching in their sleep as they dream of chasing after squirrels.

Since dogs are always on the alert to protect their pack from intruders, they’re able to wake more easily. It’s common for them to wake up before completing a full sleep-wake cycle, from deep to REM sleep. As a result, scientists estimate they need to sleep more often overall in order to get their sufficient amount of REM.

What does a day in the life of a dog look like?

The typical dog spends half of his day asleep, and nearly a third of his day just lying around. The rest of his day is reserved for playing, using the restroom, and begging for treats.

Dogs are flexible sleepers. They have no problem adjusting their sleep schedule to their owner’s needs. If you work a 9 to 5 job, your dog may adapt to spend more of the daytime sleeping, so he can be awake and available to play with you when you get home at night. Working dogs like police or service dogs have more energy, and can stay awake for longer stretches of time performing their important duties.

Dogs don’t sleep as deeply as we do. That’s why they can wake up immediately if necessary and bound out of bed to raise the alarm for an intruder or gobble up the kibble as you pour it.

When is my dog sleeping too much?

If you note drastic changes in the amount of time your dog spends sleeping, or he seems excessively lethargic, it could be indicative of a larger problem. Lethargy is a common symptom of diabetes, parvovirus, Lyme disease, depression, and hypothyroidism in dogs.

If a major upset occurs in the life of your dog, such as the death of a loved one or a big move, he may sleep more or less than usual. This is a normal reaction, as dogs find comfort in routine and a major change affects their emotional wellbeing, but keep an eye out if their sleep doesn’t return to normal within a reasonable amount of time.

Some dogs with shorter noses are also at risk for sleep apnea, which can make your dog more tired during the day due to experiencing less restful sleep.

What are the common dog sleep positions?

Does your dog have a favorite sleeping position? Dogs tend to sleep in one of three positions, and they have a reason why for each.
  • On their side with four legs stretched out: This is a comfortable position for your dog when he’s feeling very relaxed. It also exposes some of his belly to the air which can help him cool down.
  • On their back with all four paws in the air: When a dog is in this position, he’s at his most vulnerable. It’s the toughest for him to get up from and it exposes his neck and belly. If you catch him in this position, you know that he feels safe and secure. It’s also a good way for him to cool down since his belly is exposed.
  • Curled in a ball: This is the least comfortable position for a dog to sleep in, as it requires them to use their muscles to stay curled up. However, it is the easiest for them to spring up upon waking, making it a defensive position. Dogs who have been abused or are unsure of their environment often sleep in this position. However, sometimes dogs sleep curled up simply to keep warm.

Your dog may sleep in any of these positions with their back to you, or another human or animal member of the pack. In dog packs, dogs sleep to each other for comfort and safety, so consider this a high honor. Your dog views you as part of the pack!

How can I help my dog get better sleep?

Follow these tips to give your pup more restful shuteye.
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise and playtime during the day to stimulate his mind and tire him out by bedtime.
  • Feed your dog well. Some pet foods contain fewer nutrients than others, which can lower your dog’s energy during the day.
  • Don’t miss your vet check-ups. These regular appointments are a good way to identify any health conditions early on.
  • Give your dog a comfortable place to sleep.
If you choose to share your bed with your dog, like nearly half of dog owners do, make sure you get a mattress that’s big enough for everyone to fit, and offers excellent motion isolation so you’re not woken up by them moving around. Memory foam and latex mattresses are good options for pet owners.

If you prefer your dog sleeps in a kennel or dog bed, make it cozy like a den would be in the wild. Give them a blanket or even a dirty old t-shirt that smells like you to provide comfort. There are various dog beds available to suit your dog’s favorite sleep positions – big ones made for stretching out vs. small nesting beds for those who like to curl up.