About My Life With Dogs (PDX) is a blog about health and wellness (with an emphasis on alternative techniques), enrichment ideas for dogs and outdoor tales. Christy Caplan is a Certified Veterinary Technician, she uses her knowledge to inform stories on health and wellness topics.
Happy New Year! As the main contributor to Wide Open Pets (WOP), below is a roundup of stories you may have missed these past few weeks. Many of the stories you typically see on Wag and Cluck may also appear on WOP! They certainly fit under chicken tips and dog advice – read on! Drop me an email or leave a comment!
My review! My old dogs have achy joints and the beds I buy always have memory foam for their old bodies. #ad
If you (meaning you the human!) sit on these beds, you’ll see the difference yourself. It’s really obvious when you even place your hand on the bed.
All three of my dogs are allowed on the couch and bed – Bruiser even has his own chair in the bedroom and in the family room but most of the time I’m working they always prefer the floor and I have beds literally everywhere as you read above.
They are part of Amazon’s Deal of the Day, coming up on Saturday, December 15 – 30 percent off their lowest prices on Amazon: $35.99 (S), $41.99 (M), and $45.99 (L). It only lasts 24 hours.
Here are some of the features we love: the memory foam that bounces back is awesome for old Bruiser and Sherm. My dogs are gross and it’s waterproof so when they plop on the bed after a very wet potty break, it’s fine. It helps relieve body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia, and arthritis.
So take advantage of this deal as a last minute holiday gift for your best friend. The dog bed is really high quality and the price is really good!
Disclaimer: We received the bed as part of their blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I only share information about products that I believe in and already fit into our doggie lifestyle and routine.
I’m a writer for Wide Open Pets (WOP)! I haven’t announced this formally but I wanted to shout it from the rooftops since so much of the content I write for WOP benefits all those folks that read any Wag and Cluck posts. Chicken tips included!
I also freelance for many publications including Animal Wellness Magazine. My latest piece is about acupuncture for senior dogs if that’s something you’re considering for your dog!
Three stories I wrote in 2018 were nominated for the Dog Writer’s Association of America (DWAA) special award categories! I’ve included the other writers under each award as well in case you want to read these as I’m honored my name is next to these wonderful writers.
The stories were published in Pet Sitting World Magazine, Rover.com and Wide Open Pets. I hope this information is helpful if you’re dealing with any of these issues.
Sherm always looks like the “sad hound” but these two seniors are my inspiration!
Sponsored by Pet Sitters International (PSI), this award is presented to the entry that best educates pet owners about the benefits of using professional pet sitters. Qualifying online or print entries include newspaper or magazine articles and blog posts.
Bloat in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms and Prevention Tips by Carlotta Cooper
No PAWS About It: Hiring a Professional Pet Sitter is the Right Move for Your Pet by Denise Alexandra Fleck
Combining pullets and chicks with full-grown chickens is a challenge. #ad
Because pecking order is a serious matter, it can be dangerous and risky no matter the circumstances. Having a mixed chicken flock keeps things lively though! There is no question that we were entertained throughout the process, and perhaps even some of the adult chickens were too.
Sadly, we did lose a chick to what we believe was wry neck. One day she just wasn’t herself and passed away quickly. Even if you want it to be, chicken keeping isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.
Existing dynamics are a consideration in mixed chicken flocks
Our chicken flock already has a well-established mama hen and two pullets, so that was another dynamic to be considered before adding eight new pullets into the mix. These pullets we’re incorporating were raised separately by my neighbor.
Before beginning, we made some coop adjustments (more hardware cloth please!) and a transition plan that we closely followed. From a few hiccups, most days are going smoothly overall.
Fresh Eggs Daily has an entire post and recommendation for a transition playpen or fenced off area in the coop (or next to it) when mixing chicken flocks, which was super helpful. We did that for a week before making an actual introduction.
Here’s my top ten list for your toolkit before you try a mixed chicken flock in your coop!
1. Space … and Perhaps Even a Little More Space: You do need a considerable amount of space and places for them to roost and rest (and escape other birds) throughout the day. We have tons of ladders, two sawhorses, and a smaller roosting ladder so they can chill without being bothered all the time for those lower in the pecking order.
2. Lots of Feeding Stations: Have More Than One – We Have Four!
3. Someone To Do Multiple Drive-by’s Throughout The Day: Outside of the bird we lost to wry neck, I also noticed one of the birds that happen to be tiny has a wound that scabbed over on her chest. She gets around fine, but I do check her out each day to make sure it’s healing. More eyes on the flock mean more folks to run interference if the chickens get pushy with each other.
4. Clean Water…A Must: All the chickens seem to be scratching near the water stations, so it feels like their water dishes get dirty quickly. Always make sure they have fresh water.
5. Mixed Flock = Lots More Chicken Manure. Clean up the poop under the roosting bars.
6. When to Transition From Starter to Grower? Feed based on the youngest member of the flock, and supplement as needed for the older birds (such as additional calcium sources for laying hens). A feed formulated for laying hens isn’t good for little chicks who don’t need that extra calcium yet. When I say we have a mixed flock, even our pullets are different ages within their little “gang.” RULE: At eight weeks it’s ok to transition to Grower feed. Scratch and Peck has a great post about this, and that is what we’ve been feeding since day one.
Our youngest hen is now eight weeks old, so we are ready for Grower feed.
RULE: When feeding a mixed chicken flock, feed according to the youngest members of the flock and supplement as needed for the older birds. That’s the foundation of feeding mixed flocks.
7. Supplements Are Key: Grower Grit is Key During This Transition
8. Transition Playpens Do Make a Difference: I mentioned this above briefly, but the concept of using a playpen to transition our pullets into the coop was brilliant. We kept them in this exact playpen for a week with food and water of course – all the big girls got to know them with the safety of netting between the pullets and the sharp beaks of the ladies!
9. Combat Boredom with Ways to Enrich Hens
To decrease any “Mean Girl” behavior in the coop (fall and winter often mean less time outside, after all) it’s nice to bring in some distractions. I recently gave two huge sliced up spaghetti squashes to the flock for them to peck at throughout the day.
10.Spread Some Love and Stick to a Routine
Chickens, like many animals, like a routine. It eases stress in their day to day life and helps them understand that their human caretakers are going to feed them and provide essentials every day. When we leave, we keep the chickens in the mobile coop for the day. They’re not able to free range, and I notice a lot of chatting coming from my fave RIR hen! The sounds and noises are very specific!
Chicken keepers need to consider a lot including the suggestions above. Having a plan makes this transition less stressful for the birds and humans. I wrote a post about chickens being complicated earlier this fall, and they are! When adding pullets to your existing flock, make sure you review this list and please comment below if you have any questions!
#ad Disclaimer: This is sponsored. We received product in exchange for an honest review. I only share information about products that I believe in and already fit into our doggie & chicken lifestyle and routine.
*Check back this weekend as we’re kicking off a contest and giving away a 30-day supply of supplements!
This isn’t meant to be a “scary Halloween themed post about blood” but a serious post about animal blood proteins (plasma, serum, albumin, IgG and IgA) and the benefits for dogs. #ad
Scroll to our giveaway at the end on Sunday!
WINPRO introduced themselves to our pack about a month ago and we started giving one of the supplements, Immunity, to all three dogs. Immunity is one of their supplements used for gut health – I chose this one to try since Walt and Bruisy have some IBD related concerns. As recommended we gave them both one chew a day (for dogs under 20 pounds).
I honestly didn’t know a lot of animal blood proteins – and why these have an impact on inflammation. And as you know inflammation causes anxiety, allergies, joint pain, gut issues and muscle/lung fatigue.
I learned that WINPRO supplements are powered by K-Thrive Formula D, a unique blend of animal blood proteins. I asked for some third-party research as well that you all can review: click here.
Since the topic is complex I asked them to answer some questions for my readers about the efficacy of the product and where it all started. And also how the active ingredient makes an impact and what production looks like. How this active ingredient works is pretty remarkable.
Q&A with Tim Mitchum:
Q. How/Why did you launch WINPRO?
A. WINPRO founder Bill Bernardo, while working for a company in the horse industry, saw how well animal blood proteins worked combatting the harmful effects of stress and inflammation in hard-ridden performance horses. Owning four dogs of his own, he left that company and eventually developed WINPRO for dogs.
As he guessed, the animal blood proteins (serum, plasma, IgG, etc.) found in WINPRO worked even better in dogs since they are easier to dose due to smaller body size/weight and the fact that dogs are carnivores and love blood while horses (being herbivores) do not. And nothing in nature works as well as blood proteins in helping protect mammals from inflammation-related health issues typically caused by prolonged exposure to stress.
In developing the different WINPRO products, Bill was guided by where the science showed blood proteins did the most good…and these are some of the most common and most nagging problems dog owners deal with.
Since WINPRO products are made with blood proteins, they provide biological vs. nutritional benefits. So instead of “feeding more groceries” you feed biological benefits to your dogs in the form of an all-natural soft chew they love to eat.
Q. Please tell us more about Immunity – and the dogs (or illnesses like IBD) that will benefit from this supplement? Which cases have you seen make the biggest difference?
A. Our Immunity product’s goal is to maintain a healthy gut and when the dog’s gut becomes compromised (as often happens) WINPRO returns the gut to normal as fast as possible. When it’s functioning normally, the dog’s gut is inflammation-free and digestion (nutrient extraction) is optimized. So the dog gets more out of the food it eats. And a perfectly functioning gut eliminates issues like loose stools, vomiting, and gas among other things which are symptoms of unhealthy gut function.
We see great results from family dogs who have chronic loose stool (possibly from diet & anxiety) as well as competitive and service dogs who get loose stool due to stress. IBD, in general, is caused by the gut not functioning properly. Our Immunity product restores the gut to normal and helps get rid of gut-related issues.
Q. In very simple terms, can you please explain animal blood proteins?
A. The unique blend of animal blood proteins found in WINPRO is called K-Thrive. K-Thrive contains some of nature’s most potent blood proteins including serum, plasma, IgG, IgA, and albumin. All K-Thrive blood components are taken from porcine blood collected in the United States.
Because of their biological benefits, blood fractions have significant value and food-grade IgG, for example, can sell for $50 a pound. Lastly, most drug starter cultures (for both dogs and humans) are made from blood proteins. So their use in medical applications has a long and rich history.
K-Thrive is what helps WINPRO products work fast and it is the primary active ingredient in each WINPRO formula. Its role is to reduce inflammation so the other active ingredients in each WINPRO product can work directly on the problem area being treated. This one-two punch is unique to WINPRO and WINPRO is the only blood protein supplement line on the market.
Here is a really simple way to think about K-Thrive. Stress (no matter what form, toxins, activity, injury etc. sends a signal to the dog’s system (cells) to go and cause havoc (inflammation) in the dog, K-Thrive actively interrupts the line of communication. Cuts the dispatcher’s cord so to say. This process allows the dog to return to a normal state faster.
Q. What is the most compelling evidence when it comes to Immunity?
A. Our Immunity products goal is to return the dog’s gut to normal as fast as possible. When it’s functioning normally, then it is essentially running perfectly. A perfectly functioning gut eliminates issues like loose stools, vomiting, and gas among other things which are symptoms of unhealthy gut function.
While no clinical studies of WINPRO Immunity have yet been done in gestating or lactating females, we have breeders who swear by our Immunity product during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy to help the gut handle the increased amount of food intake and better absorption of nutrients, and after pregnancy, the bitch can ingest an enormous amount of bacteria from two activities. 1) when cleaning up after birth and 2) the ongoing waste ingesting from the stimulating process the puppies need in order to relieve the digest tract. Our product essentially helps eliminates these issues to benefit both the bitch and the breeder. In addition, studies in lactating female pigs at Iowa State University showed additional benefit to the offspring in the form of stronger, more robust immune systems.
Q. Production process: This is really key, how you obtain blood proteins, can you please expand on this for my readers?
A. We source all our blood proteins through USDA inspected abattoirs located in the American Midwest. As quickly after collection as possible, blood is run through a centrifuge and transported in refrigerated tankers to nearby processing facilities. Here the blood is further spun to extract fractions used in WINPRO including IgG, Serum, Plasma, etc. These fractions are spray dried (an important initial kill step) to create shelf-stable powder free from contaminants, bacteria, salmonella, coliforms and E. coli. In addition, all lots of K-Thrive (our unique and proprietary blend of blood proteins) is sent to a third-party lab for independent analysis and safety checks. Lastly, when K-Thrive is further processed into chew form at our contract manufacturer, final analytical testing is done under strict FDA guidelines to ensure safety and wholesomeness of finished products.
Q. How are blood proteins different or better than a daily probiotic?
A. Probiotics are great and we are big fans of using probiotics for dogs. Specifically, refrigerated yogurt so you don’t have any denaturing and the cultures are alive and will actually benefit the dog. While probiotics work by introducing good bacteria into the gut to aid in digestion, blood proteins attach to receptor sites in the gut ready to actively attack inflammation via bloodstream when needed. Using both probiotics AND blood proteins in combination is a really powerful gut health combo. Probiotics will do nothing for inflammation-related issues so they are completely focused on two different issues.
Disclaimer: We received treats and compensation as part of their blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I only share information about products that I believe in and already fit into our doggie lifestyle and routine. The giveaway will be announced Sunday.
We started a few new techniques for Sherman in the past six months.
I wanted to share these since he’s feeling really good these days and just turned 12 years old. A few of these recommendations are herbs and of course, we’re big fans of acupuncture.
Most dogs are living longer (thankfully) and arthritis will occur as your dogs age. I’ve lived with dogs that have really bad arthritis but fortunately, Shermie isn’t super painful but certainly is showing some early warning signs when he’s outside chasing Walter around.
Remember that dogs hide their soreness well! So consider being proactive as your dogs start to age vs. waiting until the signs are fairly substantial. We have three techniques we’re using to help Sherm these days and we just recently introduced a few of these. Our holistic vet evaluated Sherm’s joints to determine what made the most sense and what would have the biggest impact.
Sherm spends a lot of time outside in the backyard running around. He feels so good he ran into the neighbor’s yard where they keep their horses. I just about freaked out but I was able to throw a slip lead around him and get him back… He feels almost too good!
This is an injectable drug that I administer (a tech at any vet hospital can do this) under the skin. You ultimately taper this off and we’re now administering once a month. This drug restores joint lubrication, relieves inflammation and helps renew the building blocks of healthy cartilage. (Bruisy is on this too).
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high.
So our holistic vet provided us with a script that has a higher level of curcumin that is more bioavailable than other supplements.
The combination of all of these items is what’s making a difference but honestly, I think this supplement with Tumeric we’re using is having a BIG impact.
This is going to sound dramatic but I’m not sure our older dog Bruiser would be able to move around as well as he does with his twice monthly acupuncture appointments. So Sherm and Walt have been added to the calendar every month – and we’re addressing arthritis and also liver issues as both our guys have varying elevated liver enzymes which is not good.
This is Walter at a recent appointment as I didn’t snap any pics of Sherm with his needles in.
We’re using this with Bruiser but Sherm is having some elevated liver enzyme issues so I took him off of this just in case as it’s an NSAID. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can have noticeable, positive effects for the arthritis patient. But there can also be some side effects which includes kidney and liver damage – pending how your dog feels and if you monitor bloodwork regularly NSAIDs are a great option.
Bruisy is doing really well on Galliprant and his bloodwork has been fine since he started it months ago. It gives him increased mobility when in the backyard hunting for rabbits.
For Sherm, we’ve decided to address some of these early signs so we can avoid anything serious in the future. Here’s a story worth sharing. After Sherm’s dental in May he had a lump removed and was given Metacam. I noticed a difference and a spirit in his step which I was kind of stunned to see – how could I have missed that he was having some pain in his joints! Given the Metacam course was short and only to address the lumpectomy I knew I would need to start considering ways to make him more comfortable. Our vet said this was common! Sherm is good at masking how he feels.
If you care for chickens you have experienced “a broody hen” and probably like me, researched hundreds of forums about what to do and how to handle this situation. #ad
Our Rhode Island Red is VERY broody. I remove her from her box all day long. There are many techniques and this one honestly isn’t working great! I’m also showing her how awesome she has it as I add Scratch and Peck’s Organic Coop Confetti to the nesting box.
And as a new chicken keeper – there are many “coop” concerns that come up – over and over again. In addition to having a broody hen, I occasionally discover that my hens have laid eggs outside their nesting box, or in only one nesting box (even though I have five). Also, I found a bird mite on one of the eggs last month (quickly sprinkled more diatomaceous earth) which really put me over the edge.
Did you know that the number of eggs hens produce can be as high as 5-6 eggs per week during their prime laying years? They use these nesting boxes a lot. So I wanted to provide some ideas for how to make nesting boxes comfortable for your ladies – a nesting box and coop that isn’t ideal will impact egg production and also how your hens feel about their “house”.
Scratch and Peck Organic Coop Confetti sprinkled in a nesting box.
Here are some general tips about nesting boxes that I’ve learned this past six months:
The confetti is a bouquet of aromatic, organic herbs, and edible flowers. Note that although this product is for nesting boxes and coop areas, they are safe if consumed. The herbs are Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. I sprinkle these onto the nesting bed material I use and throughout the coop. Everything smells MUCH better when I’m done. And it helps with pests like those mites I mentioned above.
The Organic Coop Confetti contains Organic Lemon Verbena, Organic Calendula, Organic Chamomile, Organic Echinacea, Organic Lavender, Organic Lemon Balm, Organic Spearmint, and Organic Rose Buds/Petals (see above pic).
Pic of the Organic Coop Confetti!
These are from my garden but I’ve barely been able to collect enough since I just planted this past summer.
Your hens should have shiny, full feathers. If the feathers are falling off and the coop and boxes look like a feather explosion, don’t panic – they’re molting.
What do you use for nesting bedding? What’s the litter for your birds? I love aspen wood shavings. I personally think wood shavings make it easier to clean up coop poop daily. There are many preferences. Straw just doesn’t work as well in our existing coop but we have a new coop (coming!) we just purchased and we’ll change things up…
I use fake eggs to encourage my hens to lay eggs in a box and not in a “great” place on the ground in the barn somewhere. So I also clean daily and add Organic Coop Confetti daily to ensure the boxes are a sanctuary. If you scroll up to the top pic, that egg the hen is scooping up – is fake!
Speaking of broody hens, she’s in her box (although I’m kicking her out to make sure she eats) all day so her box needs to be fresh and smell good – she agrees, take my word for it. This is a great reason to make sure the boxes are aromatic.
And if you need advice on the size your nesting boxes should be – visit this article written by one of my fave chicken experts, Fresh Eggs Daily.
#ad Disclaimer: This is sponsored. We received product in exchange for an honest review. I only share information about products that I believe in and already fit into our doggie & chicken lifestyle and routine.
Another important note is healthy chickens are social and energetic. I can tell almost immediately when someone is under the weather. Watch your flock!