Saturday, September 18, 2010

Less Sit and Scoot

"Poop Van Scoop. We pick up where your dog leaves off. Number one in the number two business." -A long-running ad for backyard sanitation services.

Readers, if a post about canine gastrointestinal problems (read: pooping problems) isn't your cup of tea, why don't you read this post about how music made me feel better than the 20 pills a day I was taking at one point in my life.

I've always had dogs, but I never had one who would sit and scoot, until Molly. Dogs do this when their anal glands are too full; conventional wisdom says that hard, small stools cause the problem by not pressing on the anal glands enough to empty them. I just knew that every so often, I had to take Molly to the vet to have them drained. Sometimes they even became infected, or "full and stinky" in veterinary terms.

For the past few years, I've been fiddling with Molly's diet to help her poop be less like jawbreakers. From what I'd read about digestion, I thought the answer involved fat and fiber. I wanted to keep non-fiber carbs low because Molly puts on weight easily. (She was once stray and on a starvation diet for who knows how long--that surely didn't help her metabolism.) I know a person (and a dog, I presume) can have a few extra pounds and be healthy. But Molly has two congenital heart defects and really doesn't need blood sugar spikes or extra fat around her organs.

I finally created a diet that allows Molly to poop easily, doesn't spike her blood sugar (I've checked it), and hasn't made her fat. (My vet thinks she's fat; I think she's stocky and furry.) She does sit and scoot now and then, but not nearly as much as she used to, and I haven't had to take her to the vet since I got back from vacation in early June (when her diet was changed). Here's what Molly eats:

Morning:
3/4 cup Taste of the Wild dog food (usually bison flavor; the salmon works well, too)

Evening:
3/4 cup Taste of the Wild dog food
1/2 cup broccoli slaw

Late night:
2 tablespoons flaked coconut, no sugar added

A few times a week:
bacon grease from two or three strips of bacon

Taste of the Wild is grain-free dog food that's made mostly of meat. It's around $2 a pound. It isn't sold at the big chains, but a search on their web site shows there must be thousands of smaller stores in the U.S. and Canada that sell it. It's available online, too.

I give Molly broccoli slaw (which is mostly fiber) with her dog food because you need fat (from the dog food) to absorb certain vitamins (from the broccoli slaw). (At least, humans require fat to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, and I assume dogs do also. In any event, I don't see any reason the combination would be harmful to her.) I wait a few hours to give her coconut because it has phytic acid, which can inhibit mineral absorption. (This post has some info on vitamin and mineral absorption.) On days when I didn't give her coconut, she'd sit and scoot, and she sat and scooted more before I started the coconut, so this seems to play an important role.

One last benefit from this diet: I can't remember the last time Molly had smelly gas.

ETA 9/25/10: I'm beginning to think that it's important not to feed Molly too much. When I was on vacation, my neighbor fed her leftover hamburger in addition to her regular diet (and Molly's glands got infected), and whenever I feed her a little extra because she's worked up an appetite at the dog park, she ends up sitting and scooting more. If Molly is extra hungry, I'll try giving her a few spoonfuls of olive oil.

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