Category Archives: Medical

Fair pricing for vet practices

Keeping your canine healthy is a major part to ensuring their happiness and giving you piece of mind.  Finding a good vet is like finding a great doctor; hard to do.  Unfortunately, we don’t get the same level of health insurance for pets like we do for people so price of care often times plays into where we go.

I think there’s a balance between cost of care and level + relationship of care.  Costs can vary widely.  I know when I first moved out to Washington (state, not DC) that I floundered in my attempts to find a good vet.

What's the cost of vet care in your area?

What’s the cost of vet care in your area?

There is a new site called Fairvets that helps you locate or at least know the average cost of care before heading off to a vet.  It’s a great site but it also needs more people to input vet prices.  The site is reliant on individuals giving the costs of their vet care; the more people who participate the more information they’ll have to share.  Currently, in the metro-Detroit area they only show 6 vets.

This will be a great site to bookmark and keep an eye on.  Don’t forget to provide your own vet information to help their site grow!


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No Ice Cubes for Dogs?!

I’ve seen the a post going around Facebook quite a bit over the past couple of days.  Interestingly, this rumor has been making the rounds to dog lovers everywhere since 2007.

The post talks about how an owner, showing her dog gave him ice to cool down.  After just a few minutes the dog began to bloat and almost died.  According to the blog post, the vet told the owner she was VERY lucky as giving ice cubes can cause a dog’s internal organs and stomach muscles to spasm leading to GDV, a very serious condition that can lead to death.

Since we live in a ‘culture of fear’ and ‘take it as it is’ (if it’s on the internet it MUST be true), I had to check it out for myself as it didn’t just seem right.

Dog Killer?

Dog Killer?

According to Snopes, this information is absolutly false.  Turns out it’s not the cold (and subsequent stomach muscle spasms) that could cause the GDV but rather consuming large amounts of water too quickly.  If your dog is hot or has been running hard, before you let them gulp down large amounts of water (introducing air internally) you’ll want to walk them for a good 10 – 15 minutes to not only help stretch and cool-down the muscles but it gives the dog a chance to cool it’s temperature down as well.

Always good to double check your facts!  Will it kill your dog if you were to stop giving them ice cubes?  Absolutely not.  No reason not to err on the side of caution if you’re still unsure, but it’s best tot be informed and not spread information in the ‘name of fear’.  We all want the best for our four legged family members!

Click the links below to read both the original blog post that’s been going around as well as the fact check.  If you’re not into Snopes I’ve provided a few other links as well!

Original Blog Post

Snopes Debunking

She Who Knows

Vet Debunks Online Rumor

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I’ve some recipes in the works and some recipes to try out in my “test kitchen” this weekend so stay tuned for those results coming up soon!


I get asked quite a bit about what I feed my dog, what supplements I give and how I care for him in general since he’s in such great condition.  I have to give a nod to Blizzard’s breeder as she was careful and selective in doing her breeding ; making sure not to cross/line breed, doing all health clearance but most importantly breeding for temperament.  Regardless of whether you have a pure breed, American Shelter Dog, or a special stray that came into your home, feeding and supplements are important for continued good health.  You don’t want to go nuts with supplements; there are a TON on the market and many of them are pure “snake oil”.  Now, I’m not the “end all be all” so please be sure to talk with your vet, breeder or canine nutritionist to make sure your dog is getting exactly what they should be.  While I have experience with small dogs, the majority of what I’m posting here pertains to large dogs.  What supplements and nutrition they need with vary by size, age and breed.

I will discuss dog food itself in another post.  Let me just say thought that your dog food is your base and no amount of supplements can make up for a bad base…. but like I said, I’ll discuss food in another post.  Let’s focus on supplements!

Supplements in Detail

First, I give Blizzard three supplements in his nightly feeding.  Since I water his food down and let is sit (a really good idea for big dogs to avoid bloat) the supplements have a chance to dissolve in the food and guarantee he’ll eat every last bit in there (and no…Jiff and Pepper are NOT supplements…just counter clutter).

Blizzard gets a Digestive Enhancer, Phyto-Flex, and Vitamin C.  All of these are intended to go with his feeding and should be dissolved with the food + water before serving.

Digestive Enhancer

  If you feed a commercially made dog food like most, then you probably want to look into this.  A “digestive enhancer” is a pro/pre-biotic to help your dog break down the processed food he’s eating to gain better nutritional value from his food.  Giving your dog (and even cats) this type of supplement helps them get nutrients that are vital for growth and health.

Now, you might be saying, “But Erica, if I don’t feed commercially made dog food, what would I feed?”  Good question and my answer would be a raw diet.  Again, I’ll discuss this in another post.  Just keep in mind that food bought in a store isn’t your only option!


 This supplement is used to promote healthy bone and joint growth.  This is particularly important for larger breed dogs as they grow.  Phyto-Flex helps protect again arthritis, dysplasia, and strengthens soft tissue growth.

This is made from a large variety of various materials including kelp, Omega 3 from Flax Seed Oil and New Zealand Green Shell Mussel along with many other ingredients.

Let me warn you though.  While this is great for your dog, this stuff STINKS!  I don’t know if it’s my over sensitive pregnancy nose or if this stuff is truly as foul as I think it i,s but it smells like concentrated dead ocean.  After Blizzard eats it I can still smell it on his breath and have to get him a nice little after dinner peppermint treat to balance it out.

Vitamin C

  Finally the last supplement is Vitamin C.  Now there’s actually some controversy around exactly how helpful feeding Vitamin C to your dog is, but Vitamin C is harmless to give.  Therefore you’re really not losing if indeed it turns out this has no true supplemental value in dogs.

Vitamin C is said to help reduce arthritis and dysplasia in dogs.  Again, this is a supplement to help with hip and joint growth and maintenance.

You can purchase a dog specific Vitamin C but Vitamin C is Vitamin C regardless of label (just check ingredients).  I purchase mine from Trader Joe’s.  You want a water soluble solution so it can dissolve in food for easier digestion.

One thing to be aware of with Vitamin C is that it does not help boost your dogs immune system.  All too often we want to put human standards on dogs and it just doesn’t cut it.


Supplements like those mentioned above are actually, over the long term, extremely cheap to feed your dog (again depending on size).  The initial cost might hurt your pocketbook but these supplements are literally pennies on the dollar to feed daily.  I paid roughly $70 dollars to get started but this is going to last me a really long time; probably six months to a year.

Final Word

Supplements are a good idea.  However, which supplements and how much should be discussed with a breeder, your vet or canine  nutritionist.  Remember, the type of supplement and how much you give will depend on what you currently feed, breed, size, activity level and exercise.  A dog who is doing agility will need something different from a small lap dog.  If you show and travel a lot your dog might be stressed and need something completely different.

It’s a fine balancing act but it sure is worth it in the end to have a happy, healthy dog!

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Filed under Breeders, Medical, Nutrition

Vaccination Debate

Pets need medical care just like their human counterparts.  While we know they need care, there has been a lot of debate lately about exactly what vaccinations they need and how often they need them.  I lie somewhere in the middle of the debate.  I want my pets to get vaccinated as I’ve seen first-hand from my days of working with veterinarians what things like Parvo can do.  Rabies is a must if you’re going to show and I feel that Bordatella is a smart move if your dog is going to be around others.  Things like Lepto and Lymes vaccinations are good if you’re out and about; hiking or camping.  They may not be for all dogs so you need to think about your own situation.  However, what I don’t believe in is how often vets are insisting you vaccinate.

I took Blizzard in for a checkup and to get him his last DhPP.  The breeder had given him two vaccinations already and he just needed his third.  I also needed more heartworm medication since the breeder already started him on it after doing his series of wormings.

Apparently veterinarians don’t trust breeders (surprise, surprise).  She gave him his third DhPP and then told me I’d need to come back in 3-4 weeks for his final.  I stared at her for a moment, my brain trying to remember how many DhPPs they needed when I realized a fourth was one too many.  I asked her about the need for a fourth.  The vet, who up to this point was condescending and spoke to me as if I was a six year old who knew nothing about dogs or their care, told me that because the breeder gave the first two, he wasn’t considered protected until I gave him 2 from a licensed vet.  When I informed her that I found that silly and didn’t want to over vaccinate him with a fourth she jumped down my throat about how I wasn’t properly protecting my dog.  At that point I just wanted to leave.

Remember, I also needed heartworm.  She refused to give it to him without doing yet another worming!  Again, she didn’t trust the breeder’s wormings, even though the dog was already on heartworm medication.  I acquiesced and let her just so I could get what I needed and get out of there.  I left angry and found a new vet the next day.

Yes, we need to protect our pets.  I do believe one should vaccinate but I don’t think we need to over vaccinate.  Rabies can be given once every three years (past the initial one year vaccination) and after the initial year DhPP that can also be given once every three years.  Titer testing is also a fantastic option to see if your dog even needs any more DhPP vaccines.  For me, it’s not about the cost.  I have no problem paying; I just want to make sure that what I’m doing for my dog isn’t harming him in my eagerness to protect him.

We want to protect our furry friends but we also need to think before we vaccinate.  Do they really need it?  By wanting to help, we may be hurting our four legged family members.


Filed under Medical