Dog Sweaters

Kelly refuses to go outside without a sweater when it’s cold (below 30F(-1C). We bought her a sweater and a lightweight jacket and I made her 2 sweaters. We got six or so inches of snow the other day and with her short legs the belly of the sweater has been dragging against the snow. This means when she comes in, we have to take off the sweater and set it somewhere to dry. Now, having stated the above we should have 3 sweaters for her to rotate through, but this is not the case.

Since I finished making both sweaters she has refused to wear the store bought sweater. When we try to put it on her she rolls over onto her back and refuses to cooperate. If we put it down and grab one of the other sweaters she’ll get up, stand and do what she can to get into the sweater. However, those 2 sweaters are starting to get a smell as they dry and get put back on her body… making me realize if winter continues much longer, I’m going to need to make her a couple of more. Thankfully, I can make one in 2 days. I suspect the sweaters I made are warmer which is why she prefers them.

I am hoping though that I am finally getting adjusted to my glasses. Writing this blog post has been much easier than any others. Which means I can probably get back to work next week for more than just an hour or so at a time… this is good because I am way behind where I expected to be at this point.

The Sweater & Dog DNA

This fall we bought Kelly a dog sweater, which she loved. When we took it off, we would hang it on a chair and she would go to the chair when she wanted it on. Unfortunately, she tore it up. Now around New Year’s there was a huge yarn sale on my favorite yarn line: Homespun by Lion and I bought multiple skeins because it was 40% off plus I had a coupon for 10% off the sale price.

I had projects in mind for the yarn and then I found this pattern: Poet Dog Sweater which uses Homespun and can be altered to fit any size dog. And so on the 17th of January I began making the sweater. I have learned a handful of things:

  1. I hate doing single crochet stitches over and over and over again, because they don’t add much height very fast.
  2. I think I need to DNA test Kelly. She is very peculiarly shaped. For some of the pattern I have needed to use the XL dog size stitches particularly around her neck and chest, but for the length (the area between covering from her neck to her hind legs), I have needed to use the small dog pattern.
  3. And then came the tapering for the neck… The pattern has it at 5 1/2 inches if I used the small dog, except Kelly doesn’t have 5 1/2 inches between her head and her front legs it’s more like 4 1/4 inches.

We know Kelly has either beagle or blue heeler in her and that she obviously has some border collie as well. But her chest is bigger around than Lola’s and it’s very stout. As a Collie/German Shepherd this is surprising especially since Lola is a larger dog than Kelly. Kelly is barrel chested without much neck, which makes me think those very obvious breeds obscure another breed: I am leaning towards pit bull because they are so popular right now, but it could also be mastiff, Rottweiler, or bulldog.

Now, I want to DNA test her to find out if I’m correct. It could also help the vet determine what weight she should be. Right now she is listed as slightly overweight and we are trying to cut back on how much she eats, but if I’m correct and she does have some stocky breed in her, then that could factor into her weight because I am never going to slim down the muscular stocky chest area. Now for a beagle or blue heeler she is overweight at 55 pounds.

We know she is a mutt, but if she’s a mutt that contains some large dog genes that cater to a stocky build, it is probable that 50-55 pounds is a good size for her. I know she’s supposed to be hourglass shaped like all dogs and she mostly is, but they still want her slimmer and I’m not sure it’s possible genetically. Especially since, her midsection where her “hourglass” shape should be noticed is exceptionally smaller than her chest. When I measured, her chest was 40 inches around, but her waist was only 21 inches.

And now back to the sweater making.

Dogs & Human Food

I have a friend that gets onto me every time I give my dogs something that could be considered human food.  Here’s the deal, my vet doesn’t care if I give them a chocolate chip cookie or chunk of roast or a carrot.  My vet cares that my dogs are happy, healthy, and not overweight.

As a matter of fact, I spent two years getting lectured about giving Lola more cheeseburgers, preferably from McDonald’s or Wendy’s because it was close to the vet’s office.  She didn’t want me to do this less, she wanted me to do it more.  Lola while not underweight, was dangerously lean.  My vet kept telling me she’s half collie and collie’s need more body fat that pit bulls, dobermans, whippets, and greyhounds, and even German Shepherds.  And while she was taking into account that Lola was also half German Shepherd, she was at only 3% body fat sometimes and that was not good for her.  She wanted Lola to be a few pounds heavier and between 5% and 10% body fat.

It took us getting Kelly before that happened and at Lola’s last appointment, she’d gained 2 pounds and was finally at 6%body fat.  And her vet was ecstatic.  She wants Lola to stay under 75 pounds (she’s currently 63 pounds) and she is still very active all the time.  And we specifically discussed cookies because Jude the Great Nephew feeds them chocolate chip cookies and Oreos.  Plus anything Jude has, he thinks the girls should get part of it too.  They’ve gotten pizza, fruit, veggies, even part of a freaking hot pocket from Jude.

The vet was fine with that too.  She knows they get cheese too, every day, and that we use it to give them their pills since Lola chews everything, even peanut butter.  There are a couple of things that they shouldn’t have:

  • Grapes/Raisins (although some dogs are fine with them, others can suffer kidney failure)
  • Tree Nuts (but Peanuts once in a while are okay – peanuts are actually a dried form of pea and not a tree nut)
  • No Olives
  • No gum, no breath mints
  • No Xylitol
  • Mushrooms (this one is weird, dogs cannot tell poisonous mushrooms from regular mushrooms so you don’t want them to get in the habit of eating mushrooms, so they don’t eat one that might kill them)
  • Meat with huge amounts of fat on it or chunks of fat from meat

That’s it.  Everything else is okay in moderation.  Even onions and garlic are okay in moderation.  I had to ask about this one because I love both and I have been known to drop onions and not get them picked up before either Lola or Kelly (both seem to love them) get them, but I had been told onions and garlic are very bad for dogs.

The key is moderation.  Chocolate is poisonous even to people.  But it’s based on weight.  A 120 pound woman would need to sit down and eat around 17 pounds of chocolate in one sitting for it to become toxic.  Sometimes I have trouble getting an entire candy bar down in one sitting, let alone 17 pounds of chocolate.

My 63 pound German Shepherd/Collie mix and my 44 pound Beagle/Collie mutt are large enough that a couple of peanut butter cups and a couple of chocolate chip cookies aren’t going to hurt them.  If it did, little kids would also die of chocolate toxicity.  Now, Lola can’t handle bread, especially pizza crust, but Kelly does just fine with it.  So we just don’t let Lola eat anything that might rise in her stomach and cause her to vomit.  And on the rare occasions we’ve missed Jude doing it, we’ve just cleaned up the mess.

Remember I said no grapes/no raisins?  Lola has eaten both without ill effects.  The vet told me some dogs handle them just fine.  We don’t make a habit of it and if Jude has either grapes or raisins, we try to monitor him really close.

And some human foods are great treats for your dogs and I’m not talking just steak bones.  Lola loves cooked carrots and carrots cooked or raw (and Lola will eat them raw) are good for them.  Kelly does not like carrots in any way shape or form unless Jude gives them to her.  And during the summer, our vet told us to use cold watermelon chunks as treats because it can be beneficial to dogs, helping to keep them hydrated.  Kelly likes watermelon, Lola doesn’t.  Go figure.

Obviously, before you decide to feed your dog a chocolate chip cookie after dinner tonight, you should talk to your vet.  We’ve trained Kelly and Lola both not to beg, so while they may sit under the table during dinner or lay right next to the chairs, hoping for something, they don’t paw at you as you eat.

Also, if your dogs are medicated (like mine) talk to your vet about cheaper alternatives.  I thought I was going to have to buy the super expensive doggy Dramamine for Kelly who gets car sick.  It’s like $60 a pill.  So I hadn’t bought any, instead J and I just don’t let Kelly travel with us as often.  The vet eased my mind though, Kelly is big enough to take a human dose of 25 milligrams of Dramamine.  Which is $1.99 for a bottle of 10 or so.  And instead of buying special antihistamine medications, both dogs can take Benadryl or Claritin or Zyrtec.  Neither Claritin or Zyrtec seem to work as well for either dog as Benadryl, but at least we have options beyond doggy antihistamines which also aren’t cheap even though they are basically Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec.

Both dogs are on doggy Prozac which I get from the vet, but it’s cheap.  Both my dogs have compulsive behaviors that are problematic and anxiety issues (Kelly is afraid of wind, Lola has as many phobias as most people I know, including claustrophobia… she hates closed doors and she goes nuts if you put her in a room and close the door).

Communication is key.  I had a middle of the night phone call with my vet recently.  Kelly ate a quick dissolve 4mg Zofran that had been put on a counter (probably by me).  And I wasn’t sure exactly when she had eaten it, the blister pack was found on the futon covered in doggy teeth marks.  At first, I was like “oh, it will be fine” and then I was like “holy shit”…  So I called for a midnight consultation.  Turns out Zofran is a human and zoological medication and Kelly at 44 pounds wasn’t going to suffer any ill effects from it.  I was even told that if something were to happen where Kelly needed anti-nausea medication that’s probably what she would be prescribed is 4mg quick dissolve Zofran tablets.  Interesting.

I keep an open line of communication with the vet.  Lola has eaten extra Benadryl tablets during the day… but she’s slick, because she will not eat a Benadryl inside a piece of regular cheese or inside peanut butter…. She finds them and spits them onto the floor, and I totally believe she has figured out if she does this, she gets more cheese/peanut butter.  And when we have vet visits I will flat out tell the vet “Oh their on this type of dog food, but a couple times a week we give them food during or after dinner.”  I’ve also told them that if my mom cooks herself breakfast, she’ll cook stuff fro the dogs as well and eggs (even) fried are good for their coats, so my vet really doesn’t care that this happens, as long as we monitor it so that neither Kelly or Lola gets overweight, then human food is fine, even chocolate.



Jobe Fertilizer Sticks

Oh my dear God!

We got rain the other night, lots of it, with wind and lightening and loud thunder.  After it passed, the girls went out for the last time.  Lola stuck her head in bucket of tomatoes and I guess the storm had uncovered my Jobe Fertilizer Stick.  I buy the organic and before I could stop her, she had swallowed it.

Late night call to the vet emergency number.  There is a poison warning on the bag.  I was terror struck as the vet came back on to tell me it happens a lot and it’s not a big deal.  The first ingredient is bone meal.  The second ingredient is feather meal.  Dogs love them it turns out.

It can cause digestive upset because it also has potash in it… Vomiting and diarrhea are to be expected.  But it’s not a big deal.  The warning is more for small children and cats than dogs.  The vet told me to try not to make them a regular part of her diet.  I thanked him and pulled myself together.

I’m not looking forward to the digestive distress, but I’ll take that over the alternative any day.  I was scared we were going to have to load her into the car and take her to the vet for emergency treatment and that I might have had to try to induce vomiting before we went, or while in the car with her.

Good grief what a nightmare!  Glad I buy the organic because if I didn’t, we’d have had to run to the Vet ER.  Of course, she probably wouldn’t have eaten if it hadn’t been made primarily of bone meal.