“What is that smell?” I said as my wife, Renee, and I sat down to supper.
“Meatloaf!” she said, “You watched me take it out of the oven.”
“No,” I sniffed the air like a dog winding a bird, “It smells more Mediterranean.”
“Oh,” she busily looked for a glass.
“Oregano,” I sniffed the air as she walked past me, “I smell oregano.”
“I am wearing oregano oil on my cheeks. I think I am getting a sinus infection.”
Suffice it to say that my wife read that oregano has mild anti-biotic like qualities. The key word is mild. She ended up with antibiotics from the doctor a few weeks later. There is a whole industry around supplements that make you healthy, reverse aging, and augment virility. Most, no doubt, are hokum. There are some, however, that do work. Dasuquin is a joint supplement that I purchase. I sometimes use a similar product, Annamaet Endure. Both relieve arthritis in old dogs, and they are basically Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Methylsulfonylmethane and chondroitin Sulfate. It really helps my older dogs move better, and Rob Downey, who led a nutritional seminar at Lion Country Supply (and is the founder of Annamaet) explained that studies have shown that if utilized for the entire adult life of a dog, chondroitin can add two additional productive years to a working dog’s career. That is a lot of rabbits for me or a lot of birds for others.
Does your veterinarian yell at you for the tartar that your dogs have on their teeth? When my vet asks me, “Are you brushing your dog’s teeth?” I give her the same look as I give my dentist when he asks if I am flossing. I do not brush the teeth of my dogs. I will tell you what I do with great success. I feed the hard-running dogs a pig ear per day. Let’s face it, all my young dogs are logging many miles per week on rabbit tracks. They can handle the extra calories. I have a prescription from my vet for a prescription dog food that helps keep teeth clean too. It is a very large kibble, and I use it as treats for the hounds. In conjunction with the pig ears, I get good results. I won’t say I never give my dogs a bone, as they do work well, but the choking hazard keeps me close by if I do, and it is always a large bone that will not splinter, and cannot be swallowed. For the most part, I avoid bones.
Speaking of hard running dogs, I saw a guy giving Gatorade to his hounds one day. This sounds great, as professional athletes use it all the time. This is not a good idea for dogs. Gatorade works for people because we sweat and the beverage replaces electrolytes. Dogs don’t sweat, and therefore do not need electrolytes, unless they are sick. Dogs lose electrolytes when they go to the bathroom—they do not use sweating as a means to cool down, and therefore they do not need electrolytes while working. Increased performance is better derived by understanding how a dog, which is basically a wolf in terms of genetics, functions. It is important to know that electrolytes can be harmful to a dog in sufficient doses. There is a better choice for post exercise replenishment.
Dog’s burn glycogen when exercising strenuously and glycogen is stored in the muscles. If you are training your dog hard it will deplete these stores of glycogen. I am not talking about a couple hours of chasing bunnies, but all day exercise; the kind of exertion a dog might be doing while being campaigned in the field trial season or while being exercised heavily in the hunting season. If you can get that glycogen restored to your dog within two hours of exercise you will see improved energy the next day. I use Glycocharge, from Annamaet. It gives you the dose for your dog on the label (weight based), and it is a powder that can be dissolved in liquid at the time that you water your dogs at the end of exercise. I have used it for several hunting seasons. When I am in New England running hare for an entire week, Glycocharge makes all the difference.
Canine performance, of course, starts with dog food. I know people that get cheap food, and use twice as much to keep weight on the dogs. I feed Purina ProPlan Performance to the working dogs. You may be partial to another brand of feed, but this one works well for me. Protein and fat are essential for a working dog, and the Performance mix is 30% protein and 20% fat. You will often hear that high protein diets cause kidney failure in dogs. It is true that a dog already experiencing kidney failure will have that failure intensified by high protein diets, but the protein does not cause the kidney failure. I am sure that I have paid for at least one of my veterinarian’s kids to go to college, and she gladly talks to me when I call or text. The one study that was done to say that high protein diets is inked to renal failure was done on rats, not dogs.
In fact, there seems to be some evidence that a greater cause for the onset of kidney failure is Lyme Disease, or more accurately chronic Lyme. When Lyme is acute it often attacks the joints. I had a dog with Lyme that would have his back legs lock up. A full dose of antibiotics and he was up and running bunnies. He lived with Lyme for a dozen more years, kidney disease was the cause of death in the end. That kidney disease may well have been caused by his production of antibodies in response to the Lyme. These antibodies are not effective in fighting the Lyme bacteria, but they are large enough to effect kidney function over time, in other words, chronic Lyme. I am particular about keeping my pack of hounds current on their meds for ticks, which spread Lyme. Biospot and other companies make a topical application that is squirted onto the dog’s skin between the withers each month. I am currently using the Seresto collars, which last 8 months. I change them at 6 months, as repeated exposure to water lessens the time span of effectiveness. I also use a zip-tie to make sure that they do not fall off in the field. They were clearly designed to stay on a pet, not a working dog. The zip tie quickly remedies the limitation of the design. Heart worm is another worry if you are in the field enough, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best product. I like Heart Guard. If you compete at field trials, you may well encounter dogs that have heart worms and all it takes is for a mosquito to bite that dog, and then bite your dog.
Well, I have to go. My wife is treating the bone spur in her shoulder with lavender, ginger and cayenne pepper in a coconut oil base. All I know for sure is the dogs like the coconut oil and are good at stealing it from the counter. Some research indicates that coconut oil helps pooches with digestion and improves skin allergies and makes for a nice coat. In large quantities, it can cause diarrhea, which I can verify is true. I do not intentionally give coconut oil to the dogs, but they love stealing it. I better go help her. Once she recovers the container of coconut oil they try to lick her shoulder.