Sunday, January 18, 2015

Standard is Not the Only Way

I think we have figured out Oli's itchiness, our newest French bully addition to the family. Phew, finally!

The first day we got Oli. See his incredibly red muzzle, eyes and ears. They are worse in person. Completely raw. Poor guy :(
Coned Oli helping with my yoga.
He was so red and itchy and miserable when we got him over a month ago and we have tried everything we have found and thought wouldn't kill him or us. At it's worst he was wearing a cone, a Thunder Shirt, taking Benadryl 25 mg. every 4-6 hours and getting sprayed down hourly with Richards Organics natural anti-itch spray.

We decided to go against the traditional veterinarian approach, which we started with and took us nowhere. The vet didn't seem to know much more than us and the default approach was medications and antibiotics, which is SO not us, and so not for our doggies.

We researched and attempted our own approach and it is working. We deduced that Oli has a gluten allergy, mites and a very week immune system. So we are doing a handful of things to attack each.

Gluten Allergy in Dogs
The gluten allergy seemed intuitive. We know Addi our half boxer half golden retriever is gluten intolerant so it makes sense that we would have Oli eat the same grain free food. We have settled on the venison sweet potato blend by Natural Balance, which is a widely recommend brand for Frenchies. Also after reading online French bulldogs, and boxers, notoriously are gluten intolerant. We think Oli has probably eaten gluten his whole life so we know this will take some time to purge his system of his 2 years of eating gluten. But we are already seeing differences. Less itchiness and he is less puffy. Like me, when I removed gluten from my diet, my all over puffy, inflammation, melted away. His too, he looks leaner now. Up until a week or so ago we had Oli on a bean, potato and sweet potato diet. We learned from our old vet - an alternative vet, who has sadly since retired - that a diet of pinto beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes is a diet simple to digest that aides in determining potential skin issues by keeping the diet simple. The philosophy is similar to that of an Elimination diet for a human. Remove all potential food allergens, allow your digestive system the ability to relax and digest easy foods, so you can identify the allergy culprit.

Although Oli was tested for mites at the vet's and it came back negative, we were pretty convinced he had mites. His itchiness was to the point of self mutilation, which is a common symptom of mites. They itch so badly inside and out, that they will itch to the point of pain, blood and excessive wounds. We did extensive research online and realized that the traditional methods of dips and chemical baths were not for us. Some chemicals can cause permanent nerve damage and most only work 20% of the time. Why would we put him and us through that, when we don't even use chemical cleaners in the house.

We found an all natural "sworn by" Happy Dog Mite Avenge bath and liquid wash. The website has amazing reviews and we were sold on the all natural option. True to the reviews, it works! The first bath we noticed a huge difference, the second bath, he is back to normal. He barely itches at all, he is at the "normal" dog level of cleaning and scratching, where he actually stops itching; the obsessiveness is gone. The bath needs to sit for 15 minutes, which is challenging and comical to sit all 4 of us in the bathroom, covered in dog hair, water, suds and smelling of tea tree oil and citronella. The second step, the leave in wash, is grainy and has a unique wet mud smell that needs to stay on and air dry. You try to stop dogs from shaking and rubbing themselves after a bath, it is a joke and we spent a lot of time chasing them around and walking them on leashes in the house (it is in the low teens outside - we didn't want frozen dogs). Regardless, this stuff works and it is non-toxic and actually smells nice!! If you are struggling with mites and excessive itchiness, even if you don't think it's mites, get this stuff now. It works! Although challenging to apply in the waiting period, just know you will be messy and soaking wet and the amount of dog hair on your bathroom walls is enough to create a whole new dog, grab a glass of wine and your co-partner, lots of towels and dog treats and spend and hour in the bathroom. That is some memory making stuff :).

Immune System Boosting for Dogs
Lastly we are boosting both dogs immune systems. We have learned quickly you cannot give one dog something and not the other. Man do they get jealous. Addi has not been happy that Oli get "special" food of potatoes and beans and Oli is sick of his potatoes and beans, so they both begrudgingly eat their food while begging for the other's. As soon as we turn our backs they switch! Crazy dogs. Oliver's immune system is weak because of his breed, but we also think he may have been weaned too early and has never had owners that took those things into consideration. Similar to humans the same immune boosters work for dogs - L-lysine, garlic, probiotics, Vitamin C, B-complex - and we have been giving them these daily. One vitamin of each wrapped in American cheese, which they love - we call them cheesy treats. We figured American cheese, although nothing we would ever eat or buy is probably cleaner than most of the pill pouch treats - given treats often have gluten, chicken and grains, and it is super easy to wrap around the pills. The silly dogs now beg for their daily cheesy treats, they come running when they hear the cheese drawer open in the fridge.

If You Don't Know About DE Yet, Then You Should
Lastly we are giving them and coating them both with diatomaceous earth. Don't gasp in horror. We are not poisoning our dogs, if you have been following along we clearly love and care for our dogs with every fiber of our beings. Food grade diatomaceous earth is AMAZING! 

It is the cure all for almost everything and yet people only use the toxic kind in their gardens to kill garden pests and in their pools. More people need to know and should be using food grade DE everyday, which is different than the commercial grade. The food grade is good for dogs and humans alike. We have started taking a tablespoon of DE ourselves everyday and a tablespoon for Addi and a teaspoon for Oli. I cannot say enough good things about DE. I highly recommend you do some research to learn for yourself. The only reason it is not widely known or used is because it has SO many uses that it doesn't fit within the FDA regulations of labeling. A food item cannot be a cleaning agent, and a pest control, and a cosmetic all in one. The FDA doesn't know what to do with an item like this, and so they just don't. I urge you to learn more and listen to your intuition and not follow "regulations" for regulations sake.  

Food grade diatomaceous earth, which is 89% silica, a natural element, is good for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, it helps with osteoporosis and joint pain, helps rid the body of parasites (ie mites and worms in dogs, and people), aides in weight loss, detox, cosmetic use, fades age spots, stimulates metabolism for higher energy levels, helps repair and maintain vital lung tissue and protects them from pollution, helps to prevent many unwanted side effects of menopause, can help prevent kidney stones and heal infections of the urinary tract. It is a natural diuretic which can increase excretion of urine by 30 percent, thus flushing the water-excreting system and restoring normal function to these vital organs, will reduce inflammation of the intestinal tract. It can cause disinfection in the case of stomach and intestinal mucus and ulcers. Silica can prevent or clear up diarrhea and its opposite, constipation, can help diabetes by promoting synthesis of elastase inhibitor by the pancreas and the list keeps going and going and going and more here. You too will be convinced to add DE to your daily life. It is all natural and tastes a little like overly chalky almond milk when mixed with just water. I have been adding it to my smoothies and for the dogs we mix it in a little bit of organic, plain yogurt, to give them an extra dose of probiotics daily.

Through this whole process we have had a lot of sleepless nights. We have to cleaning the whole house daily. We have done loads and loads of laundry. We learned a lot about dogs and mites, and boosting immune systems for dogs and humans. But most importantly we learned, similar to our health and needs, to trust our intuition. The veterinarian approach is not different than the medical approach to covering up an ailment - take a pill and an antibiotic - without looking at what is causing the ailment. Just because it is standard practice does not mean it is right for you or your furbabies. If you think there has to be a better way, there probably is. Do your research. We are so glad we stuck to our guns, to our alternative approach, applying the same mindset we would to our own health and are so relieved that we were able to help our little guy.


Back to their playful selves, running around and having fun all hours of the day.

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