Sunday, October 30, 2011

First Whole Fish Experience

Maya had a "whole" (though cut in half) fish for the first time tonight. I was worried that she wouldn't like it (cause she didn't like her sardine mix), but she really enjoyed her mackerel dinner.

What's that?

The fish kept "swimming away", so daddy had to hold it for her.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homemade Raw - Week 3

The Plan:
  • Start Date: 10/19/2011
  • New Ingredients: Ground beef, cooked eggs
  • New Supplements: Alfalfa powder
  • Meal 1: Switch from ground chicken to ground beef + veggie mix + cod liver oil + uber powder + vitamin E, cooked eggs twice a week
  • Meal 2: Raw meaty bones (chicken)
  • Uber Powder: Vitamin C, kelp, alfalfa, Gentle Digest, Only Natural Pet Immune Balance
  • Veggie Mix: Baby carrots, apples, apple cider vinegar, honey, coconut oil

Day 1: Mixed some ground beef and alfalfa powder in her breakfast.

Day 2: Increased the amount of ground beef for breakfast. Dinner: daddy mistakenly gave Maya tomorrow's breakfast as dinner.

Day 3: Breakfast: ate the chicken leg that was meant for last night's dinner. We will be out of town and Maya will be staying at a friend's place for 2 days, will be eating Nature's Variety's premade lamb for the next few meals so it won't be too troublesome.

Day 4: Breakfast & dinner: premade lamb.

Day 5: Breakfast & dinner: premade lamb. Didn't finish all her dinner.

Day 6: Back home. Breakfast: 3oz ground beef + big chuck of veggie mix + uber powder. She didn't finish it, so I'll probably cut down the amount tomorrow. Dinner: chicken leg. Poop was pretty firm.

Day 7: Cut breakfast to half. She ate most of it, but still left a bite. So picky. Gave her a small spoon of honey mixed with warm water before bed. (I added some honey to the veggie mix, but she's not eating as much as I expected, so I gave her some separately.)

Day 8: Added a cooked egg yolk and a sprinkle of garlic powder to her breakfast.

Day 9: Had partially loose poop. Removing the garlic and will try cooked egg again.

Day 10: She seems to have a habit of leaving one bite of her breakfast. So annoying.

Day 11: Daddy accidentally gave her twice the amount for her breakfast, but she ate most of it (with 1 bite left, of course).

  • We noticed that all the chicken meaty bones bought from Costco are enhanced (with sodium). Will try soaking the meat in water for an hour before feeding her from now on, till we finish the big bag of drumsticks. 
  • Done with detoxification? Her poop is now pretty firm and stable, no more eye gunk, and her fur is starting to grow back in.

Top: mid-September, Bottom: Oct. 26

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fur Changes

Thank god Maya finally stopped shedding! Here are some pictures showing the changes of her fur. In both sets of photos:
  • Top left: 2 months old (September 2010), with fluffy baby fur.
  • Top right: 6 months old (January 2011), after she lost her baby fur.
  • Bottom left: 10 months old (May/June 2011), got super fluffy after a ski trip to Tahoe.
  • Bottom right: 1 year 3 months old (October 2011), she actually weights 1 pound more than the bottom left picture. (Imagine the amount of fur we collected in the past few months.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fish Oil and Vitamin E

Something new I learned today:

  • Fish oil will decrease the amount of vitamin E in the blood stream.
  • Vitamin E will help increase the consumption of fish oil. 
  • When feeding fish oil, make sure to supplement vitamin E.

From DogAware:
"You must add vitamin E to the dog’s diet whenever you supplement with oils, to prevent the body from being depleted of this vitamin over time."

From oilofpisces:
"The vitamin E concentration in the red blood cells dropped very significantly when fish oil was ingested but more than recovered with the vitamin E supplement. It is concluded that the negative effects of fish oil consumption can be overcome by taking them together with vitamin E."

From Organic Facts:
"Fish oil undergoes oxidation and can become rancid, leading to formation of free radicals. Addition of antioxidants such as vitamin E to fish oil can help prevent the formation of these free radicals. Excessive dosage of fish oil leads to reduction of Vitamin E in the human body. This loss of vitamin E should be supplemented with external vitamin E supplements. The combination of fish oil and vitamin E can have added benefit in the treatment of many cancers and heart diseases, than if they are used individually."

Monday, October 24, 2011


Maya's additional property laws:
  • If it's a ball, it's mine.
  • If it rolls like a ball, it's mine.
  • If I throw a ball under the sofa, it's still mine. (But you need to get it out for me.)
  • If you pick up a ball from under the sofa, it's mine.

Maya's Weekend Getaway

Maya's daddy and I went on a short trip to LA last weekend. While we were out of town, a friend was really kind and offered to look after Maya. At first it was a bit chaotic when Maya first met her two Jack Russell Terriers, Casper and Bella, but they finally end up getting along (most of the time).   

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Homemade Raw - Week 2

The Plan:
  • Start Date: 10/14/2011
  • New Ingredients: Veggie Mix
  • New Supplements: Ark Naturals Gentle Digest, Kelp, Cod Liver Oil
  • Meal 1: Ground chicken + veggie mix + cod liver oil + uber powder + vitamin E
  • Meal 2: Raw meaty bones (chicken)
  • Uber Powder: Vitamin C, kelp, Only Natural Pet Immune Balance
  • Veggie Mix: Baby carrots, apples, apple cider vinegar, honey, coconut oil

Day 1: Breakfast: mixed some uber powder with ground chicken and lamb patty. Was worried she won't eat it, since it was quite powdery, but she was fine. Made some veggie mix and gave her a sip as a snack in the afternoon. She wasn't crazy about it, but finished most of it. The Gentle Digest came in, so gave her a capsule today. Hope it'll help firm up her poop. Dinner: chicken thigh.

Day 2: Breakfast: ground chicken + uber powder + frozen veggie mix. She left most of the veggie mix untouched and ate all the meat. Will try melting the veggie and see how that goes. Dinner: 2 chicken wings. The Gentle Digest really worked. Her poop finally firmed up.

Day 3: Breakfast: melted the veggie and blended with the ground chicken. She finished it all, yay!

Day 4: Cut back the veggie mix to half an ice cube. There's a big debate on whether dogs need veggie. Since she doesn't like it that much, might as well decrease the amount.

Day 5: Start adding cod liver oil to breakfast. I'm running out of ground chicken and she's adjusting well, so I'm cutting this "week" short.

  • She's okey with the veggie and powder when mixed with ground meat
  • Gentle Digest really helped firm up her poop
  • She's chewing on her raw meaty bones a bit longer before swallowing

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Costumes

We went to Petsmart for some Halloween costume shopping today. Maya hated it. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Deer Antler

Maya got a new toy/treat on Friday. A deer antler.

Ever since Maya started on raw, she has been much more energetic and spends much less time sleeping during the day. We need to find some stuff for her to do before she gets too bored and starts chewing on things she shouldn't. So far she really liked it, and already made a small hole on one end. Hope this thing can last a bit longer. It's not cheap!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Raw - Week 1

The Plan:
  • Start Date: 10/7/2011
  • New Ingredients: Chicken Feet, Chicken Wings, Chicken Thighs
  • New Supplements: Vitamin E, Vitamin C
  • Meal 1: Continue feeding Nature's Variety's lamb with some Primal sardine grind
  • Meal 2: Gradually switch to feeding raw chicken

Day 1: Was only planning to give her a chicken foot as snack, but daddy couldn't resist and gave her a chicken wing as well. She ate the foot pieces by pieces, but swallowed the wing in whole after breaking the bones. Kind of scary. Started to add vitamin E to her breakfast.

Day 2: Since we already gave her that much on day 1, my "switch gradually" plan kind of ended there. Gave her 2 feet plus 1 wing for dinner.

Day 3: Poop was half really firm and half really soft. Gave her a chicken thigh for dinner. She kind of swallowed the whole piece again. Asked on Dogster if this is normal, and everyone seems to be think it's okey. 

Day 4: Refused to eat her breakfast. Took some premade lamb when fed by hand, but won't touch the sardine at all. Poop was firm inside but soft outside. For dinner, she got the remaining lamb patties from breakfast, a chicken wing and chicken foot. Also gave her 1/3 capsule of vitamin C.

Day 5: Removed sardine and just gave her the lamb patties. She's still not interested. Poop was still soft. Maybe the lamb is too rich for her? Had 2 chicken wings for dinner.

Day 6: Since she wasn't that interested in the lamb, I started to add some ground chicken to her breakfast. She finished the entire meal (including the lamb) in seconds. She followed me around as if she's still hungry, so I gave her some sardine mix. She ate a small bite, then turned her nose up again. What a picky girl! I guess she's really not that into fish (except the super pricy sashimi daddy secretly slips under the table when I'm not watching). Dinner: chicken thigh. She seems to be chew on the meat a bit longer now. 

Day 7: Breakfast: 1 oz of ground chicken + 2 lamb patties. Gobbled all up in seconds. Added 1/2 capsule of vitamin C to her chicken, and she doesn't seem to mind it. Dinner: 1 chicken foot + 1 chicken wing. Her poop is still very soft and stinky. 

  • She likes raw chicken
  • She doesn't like fish/sardine
  • Poop still soft
  • She's okey with vitamin E and C in her food

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Raw Feeding Tools

I'm a true believer of using the right tools to make life easier. As soon as I decided to feed raw, I started to look for tools that will help make it less of a hassle.

Stainless Steel Bowls

Maya used to have just one bowl that we use to feed her. Since were feeding her kibbles, it's really easy to clean, so we just rinse it before each meal and occasionally put it in the dishwasher. However, once we start feeding raw, the food will be much greasier and I really HATE washing greasy dishes. My solution: get a bunch of stainless steel bowls that are dishwasher-safe. Now I have enough bowls to last till I wash my own dishes in the dishwasher. I even found some lids that fit perfectly (from other plastic containers),  so I can just put Maya's frozen meal in a bowl, put on a lid, and leave in the refrigerator to defrost. 

Plastic Mat

I found this shelf liner at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10 ($15 with a $5 coupon). It's 24 inches wide and 10 feet long, which I divide into 3 and use as a feeding mat. Super easy to clean and roll up after meals. Maya tried to run away with her chicken wings a few times, but she learned quickly that she needs to stay on the mat or I'll take away the yummy.

Kitchen Scale

I need to know how much I'm feeding, so I went looking for a kitchen scale and found this on Amazon with lots of great reviews. It's supports multiple units, can subtract the weight of the container, and is accurate down to 1 gram. Not too big, not too small, fits perfectly on the kitchen counter.


It's amazing to see how fast Maya heals when she's not trying to hurt herself. The wounds that were on her muzzle for more than three months are almost gone in less than two weeks.


Monday, October 10, 2011

First Off-Leash Hike

Yesterday we found a nice hiking spot called Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve in San Carlos. Within the park, it has a big area where dogs are allowed off-leash (though not fenced). We were a bit worried at the beginning, but Maya did surprising well. She would run a few yards ahead or lag a few yards behind, but she never went far. We were lucky that she didn't see any wild animals, other dogs or human while off-leash, or it might be a different story. Next time we'll probably bring some yummy treats with us just in case.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting Better

After being on Atopica and a raw diet for 5 days, Maya is doing much better. She's finally out of the cone and is much more energetic. The tough part now will be to determine whether it's the drugs or food that's helping her. Though I really wish it's the food, it's probably the drugs that's doing most of the magic. But anyways, just thrilled to see that happy face again.

Premade Raw Trial

After our last vet visit, I've been on a mission to provide Maya a better diet in hope to cure her allergies. A lot of Shiba owners suggested to feed a fish-base kibble, because it's what their ancestors had been eating and closer to their natural diet. I switched Maya over to Orijen 6 Fish, but despite all the good reviews, she never really liked it. Sometimes she would leave her entire breakfast untouched till I got home in the evening and would only eat a small portion of her dinner. Her stools were also very loose and smelly. This diet is obviously not ideal for her, so I went back to research mode to look for better food options.

Ever since I started looking for a puppy, I've heard a lot of good things about raw diet, but I never had the urge or incentive to try it. It seems really time-consuming to prepare, and balancing all the different nutrition seems complicated. However, after reading so much success stories from pet owners about curing their little ones by switching to raw, I made up my mind to give it a try as well. Even if it doesn't "fix" Maya, I believe she will still enjoy the food. (She has always been a big fan of raw meat.) At least we can boost her appetite and make her happier.

Because I'm not quite ready to prepare my own homemade raw, I decided to start with some premade frozen diets. For her meal base, I picked Nature's Variety's "Lamb Formula". Nature's Variety have a lot of good reviews and lamb seems to be a safe choice. I still want her to have some fish everyday, so I also got of a roll of Primal's "Sardine Grind". (I wasn't able to find a complete meal formula that is fish-based among the top rating brands.) I also mixed a raw egg (with shell), baby carrots, cabbage, and some pumpkin squash with a blender, and freeze into small ice cubes to add as supplements.

Day 1: Gave her one lamb patty mixed with kibbles for breakfast. She gobbled up the food without even chewing. For dinner, some sardine grind with kibbles and wet food (was used to mix with her kibbles, have about 1/4 can left, so might as well finish it up). She ate it all and enjoyed it.

Day 2: Two lamb patties mixed with kibbles. She ate all the lamb meat first, then went back to the kibbles. For dinner, a bit more sardine grind with a bit less kibbles/wet food. Also added some fresh veggie mix. She ate everything except the kibbles, and refused to eat them even when I try to feed her by hand.

Day 3: I was planning to take longer for the transition, but since she refused to eat any dry food anymore, I stopped give it to her. Breakfast: three lamb patties. Still loved it. Dinner: sardine grind with the remainder of her wet food, veggie mix juice (melted the frozen ice cubes), and a bit more pumpkin mix (because she had very loose stools). Sadly, she turned her nose up and wasn't interested in it at all. I realized the food was probably a bit too watery with all the juice, grind, and wet food, and the portion of veggies might be too high. She eventually ate some when I fed her by hand, and she seemed to enjoy eating the veggie mix more as ice cubes instead of juice.

Day 4: Since she loved her breakfast and wasn't that interested in her dinner the day before, I decide to mix them up. So for both meals, she got one and a half patty, some sardine and some veggie mix. The only difference is that the veggie mix I gave her in the morning was still frozen but was melted in the evening. Somehow she gobbled up her breakfast but wasn't really interested in her dinner. I'm not sure if the frozen/melted veggie mix made such a big difference or maybe she's just not hungry. I'll need to do a bit more experiments on that. Her poop also seems to firm up a lot, which is a really good sign. 

For now, I think I'll stick with this meal plan and maybe play around with the veggie mix. Once things are more stable, I'll start gradually adding more supplements and introduce different types of meat. Eventually, I would like to prepare her meals myself to reduce the cost (premade raw are super expensive) as well as have more control of what she eats. Meanwhile, I've been gathering information, looking for meat sources and preparing myself to make the switch.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Story So Far

A quick summary of Maya's allergies and treatments:
  • Early June: We noticed that Maya has been scratching her face a lot.  At frist, we thought it was due to her shedding, but it got worse and worse and eventually started to draw blood.  That's when we decided to go see the vet.
  • 6/20: Our first visit to the vet. Did some skin scraping, though nothing were found, the vet still believed that it's caused by mites/scabies, so Maya got a shot (Ivermectin) and was sent home with some antibiotics (Clavamox).
  • 6/27: Follow up vet visit. Maya seems to have some improvement, so the doctor gave her another shot and some shampoo.
  • 7/5: The itchiness got worse over the week. The vet thinks she should visit a specialist and referred us to a dermatologist.
  • 7/7: First visit to the dermatologist. Did some more skin scraping and still didn't find any mites/scabies. However, the doctor still gave Maya meds for it just to rule out the possibilities. For infections in the wounds and the itchiness, she gave us more antibiotics (Cephalexin) and some steroid-based drugs (Temaril-P) . She also wants us to start giving Maya a limited ingredient diet to test for food allergies. That visit itself cost us $300+.
  • 7/28: 2nd dermatologist visit. Not much improvement, so we ruled out mites. The doctor doesn't believe in the Nature's Balance "limited ingredients diet" we were feeding Maya, so asked us to start on Royal Canin's prescription diet. She also gave us more steroid-based medicine (Trimeprazine-P) for the itchiness. Another $200+ bill.
  • 7/28-9/8: The new food didn't do much good. The pills may have suppressed some itchiness, but it never really went away. We also noticed that her conditions would get worse after we take her to a dusty dog park, go hiking, or stay outdoors for a longer period. We suspected it's caused by something environmental instead of food. 
  • 9/8: 3rd dermatologist visit. The doctor agreed that it may be environmental. She gave us two options, one is to give Maya an allergy medicine called Atopica, and the other is to get an allergy test and order some customized shots. Either way, she believed that Maya will need to be on drugs year-around and probably throughout her whole live. She gave us some Atopica to start with till we decide whether to do the allergy test or not.

I was almost in tears on my way back home from the last dermatologist visit. Maya is still so young and the idea of staying on drugs for so long just freaks me out. We decided to put the meds on hold and try a few more "natural" approaches before making such a big commitment. I've been so desperate to "fix" her. I spent almost all my spare time doing research online and tried almost everything someone claimed helpful, such as:
  • Switching to a fish-based, grain-free diet (Orijin 6 Fish)
  • Yogurt
  • Fish oil
  • Only Natural Pet Aller-Free Herbal Remedies
  • Only Natural Pet Immune Balance Supplements
  • Sulfodene for the wounds
  • Aloe Vera Gel to ease the itchiness
  • Switched to an all-natural shampoo (Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe)
  • Wipe her face and feet with baby wipes after walks

Despite our efforts, Maya's conditions are still pretty bad. We have to keep her in an e-collar and doggie socks to stop her from scratching her face and chewing on her feet. We came to realize that even with good diet, she won't be cured overnight and it would take patience to see improvements. We kind of gave in and started her on the Atopica meds a few days ago. Our hope is that the meds will at least suppress the itchiness so she can be out of the cone soon, then we can take our time strengthening her immune system. We've heard a lot of good things about raw diet for dogs, so we'll also get her started on that as well. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Starting a Blog

Our baby girl, Maya, has been suffering from allergies since early June. We've been desperately trying everything to cure her, but so far still not much progress. I decided to start a blog to record our efforts and to have a place to rant. Let's hope she'll feel better soon and we can use this place for more joyful posts.