Category Archives: General Health
~ Or How Lisa added years to Azura’s Life
Breeder Note: When we met Lisa, she didn’t know how much longer her Service Dog (Azura) would be with her. So, she was seeking a Weimaraner to train to fill the very large Azura Paw Prints.
You all know that I don’t write about anything except the OwyheeStar Weimaraner. I ask you not to post other dog information, etc., but this seems like the exception. Someone might be able to use this information to prolong or save their Weimaraner’s life. So read on–as Lisa tells you her story.
A few years ago I met someone by chance, she was admiring Azura, my Blue Doberman, we got to talking and she shared stories about how a Dog Crockpot Stew had helped her rescue dogs with their their various coat, allergy and general health issues. I asked her for the recipe, and she emailed it to me. I liked the idea and was going to try it when I had some free time.
Fast forward to the end of July 2019 when Azura, then 7 1/2 years old, was diagnosed with serious heart issues. I asked the vet cardiologist how long he thought we had and he said, “Maybe a year.” To say the news was devastating would be a huge understatement. What I also learned from the vet is that the FDA had been doing studies on grain-free diets and heart disease and had found that the combination of grain-free and sweet potatoes and peas in the first 10 ingredients seemed to be the connection to heart disease.
My regular vet recommended that we start Azura on some heart supplements in addition to the supplements and meds that the cardiologist had prescribed, and also suggested that I start feeding Azura beef heart.
Years before, my vet had recommended staying away from chicken and lamb, so I’ve been feeding Azura beef, fish or fowl kibble. Now I was looking for non-grain-free beef, fish or fowl kibble and was finding almost nothing. That’s when I remembered the Canine Crockpot Stew. I bought all the ingredients and made my first crockpot stew. I also managed to find a suitable kibble in the Wildology brand of kibble.
We returned to the cardiologist in November for Azura’s 3-month checkup. They ran all the tests and the results were that she had improved around 80-85%. He said the meds usually produced a 5% improvement. I knew she had improved because her energy level and stamina had greatly improved, and I was so grateful that the tests proved it. When I reminded the vet what he had said in July about “maybe a year” and asked how long he thought we had, he said, “Oh, years! She’s doing great!” I told him I had made a deposit for a puppy and he said, “Oh, puppies are great! It will be great for Azura and great for the puppy!” When I read his report later, his words were “Azura looks phenomenal today.”
We went back for Azura’s checkup in February and her test results showed mild improvement and the best news was that we could now go six months until the next follow-up. If her results at that time are static or improved, the vet will likely start weaning her off her meds and we’ll continue with the supplements.
On February 18, Sophia, 2-month old Blue Weimaraner, was delivered by Shela and Cliff. It’s been a little over a month, and I can safely tell the vet that he was right, this puppy is great for Azura and Azura is great for the puppy! Azura is now getting the exercise that only a puppy can give her, which is so much more than chasing, fetching and retrieving a ball! They’re both thriving.
Sophia had been here for three days when she realized that what she was eating was different than what Azura was eating. When Azura finished her stew, Sophia was right there ready to lick the bowl. I started adding a little water to the left-over stew at the bottom of the jar and I poured it on top of Sophia’s kibble. She now licks her own bowl clean. I’ve slowly been adding a bit more stew and a bit more water to Sophia’s meals and she now sits by her kibble until I add the good stuff. Smart girl!
I feed Azura the stew morning and night. She has free-fed all of her life, always had a full bowl of kibble available, and since she’s not used to eating only a mealtime, I open her kibble container early afternoon and let her snack. Now, with Sophia having three meals a day, I put a half a scoop of kibble in Azura’s dish when I give Sophia her afternoon kibble, and that seems to be working well.
A Reminder to Proceed with Caution
The Bernie X Boone Litter are twelve weeks old today. Keep in mind that they will celebrate their sixteen-week birthday on March 12th. Now is the time to remind your Vet that the Weimaraner Club of America *WCA) recommends the antibody titer test instead of the sixteen-week puppy shot. Your Vet probably is not aware of the low-cost in house titer test option. Download the pdf information to share with the Vet.
We realize by now a lot has happened, and everyone will have found themselves insanely busy raising their Weimaraner. The Weimaraner’s (and the OwyheeStar) Vaccine Protocol may have been forgotten.
Your Veterinary office will have a different (broad-based) vaccine protocol. Even if they agree to follow the recommendations, it will fall on the pup’s owner to remember these details. We suggest putting the dates on your calendar and ignoring the Veterinary office alerts. Otherwise, it gets very confusing. If you have forgotten the protocol read on.
- 6-Week NEOPAR® Puppy Shot (given at OwyheeStar)
- 9-Week *Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPv
- 12- Week *Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPv
- Other vaccines such as Lepto and Kennel Cough (Bordatella) should be given as needed–and avoided when possible. We recommend not combining these shots with any other vaccine–, especially rabies. Vaccine challenges the immune system to build antibodies; therefore, we strongly encourage you to space Lepto, Bordetella, and Rabies vaccination at least two weeks apart. We realize that many veterinary practices give multiple vaccinations at a single visit; however, this approach is easier on the immune system. If a reaction does occur, then you know what caused it and then can plan to avoid it in the future. Yes, we understand this is a more costly approach–avoiding the risk is worth it!
- 16-Week Crossroad <== Opt for the Vaccine Titer Test instead of automatically getting another puppy shot. We sincerely hope your Vet will agree. Your Vet is likely going to recommend just doing the shot because that is typical for the all-breed approach; however, a percentage of Weims are vaccine sensitive. Although it is likely that your pup probably never had a reaction before, please do not ignore this warning. Even a mild vaccine reaction can trigger immune system issues–some of these lead to on-going health problems and in certain instances death. It is not worth the risk! The vaccine titer test runs more than double the cost of the typical puppy shot, but it might save you thousands over time as well as the potential heartache, but the above pdf file is a much less costly option for the Titer Test. Almost without exception, our protocol has been producing immunity by week sixteen, which means your puppy doesn’t need another puppy shot. If you need the optional vaccines (Bordetella or Lepto) these can be done; however, please space them at least two weeks apart from the Rabies.
- Vaccine Blog Post For the OwyheeStar Client Only click here! (requires password)
PUPPY VACCINE CLARIFICATION (Lepto)
There is a significant push by the Veterinary community (due to the recent rise of Lepto) to include Lepto in the puppy shot. The Weimaraner Club of America (as well as others who study this breed) recommend you wait to give the Lepto, etc. until the puppy shots are completed. The puppy shot should not include Lepto or Corona. No other vaccine should be combined with the puppy shot. Waiting for the Lepto, Bordetella, and another vaccine until the pup is a little older is less risky. It takes more effort and costs a bit more to space the vaccine, but it is worth it.
What is the DAPPv?
Canine Distemper, Adenovirus Type 1 (Hepatitis), Adenovirus Type 2 (Respiratory Disease), Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus (Click Here to read more about the vaccine we use. Remember the Puppy Shot should not contain the Lepto or Corona.
We are neither Licensed Veterinarians nor Licensed Veterinary Techs. Our recommendations are based on twenty-plus years breeding the Weimaraner (exclusively) as well as the breed recommendation (from the Weimaraner Club of America). Ultimately, you have to decide what is the best approach. This protocol is considered a more Holistic and safer approach. That being said, our advice cannot replace that of your Veterinary of choice.
~Blue is not an OwyheeStar but–
Thought you might find this interesting. Blue is going to Hydrotherapy for his hind leg stiffness. It’s expensive and I was skeptical but it REALLY works!
You might remember Stone, who joined Victoria and her resident Weimaraner (Blue). Well, the aging has been tough on him. Being the excellent Weimaraner Mama, Victoria would do anything to prolong their time together–and to improve the quality of life.
Many Weimaraners like other large breed dogs, suffer stiffness and problems with mobility as they age. We have been asked before if there is anything that can be done? We do recommend the supplements as well as Duralactin–it does help, but here is something else that is promising. We wanted to share this so you would know this option exists.
~ In The News
We are positive you have heard the news. Grain-free food is out. “Grain-free” (defined as having no corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley or other grains) is linked to Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle. Food for your fur family members is always a hot topic. Raising a concern such as this is the type of thing that makes a lot of good pet owners think twice about what they are feeding.
Click Here to Read the Report–and for your convenience here are the foods on their:
- Acana (67 reports)
- Zignature (64 reports)
- Taste of the Wild (53 reports)
- 4Health (32 reports)
- Earthborn Holistic (32 reports)
- Blue Buffalo (31 reports)
- Nature’s Domain (29 reports)
- Fromm (24 reports)
- Merrick (16 reports)
- California Natural (15 reports)
- Natural Balance (15 reports)
- Orijen (12 reports)
- Nature’s Variety (10 reports)
- Nutrisource (10 reports)
- Nutro (10 reports)
- Rachael Ray Nutrish (10 reports)
We believe all our Weim-loving folks are buying what they believe is in the best interest of their fur family member. You might wonder about our recommendation or what we are using. We like the two options we list below for our adults. Which one of these foods a particular Weimaraner eats depends upon their dietary need, age, etc.—Cliff makes that calls. They are not considered Grain-free, because they contain rice. The allergens that seem to cause the most issues in our beloved Weimaraner are beef, corn, barley, and wheat. Along with the food we use for the adults, we are also listing the puppy food we use as well.
- Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete (5 stars) [M]
- Diamond Naturals All Life Stages Chicken and Rice [A]
- Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Lamb (4.5 stars) [A]
Not Just Grain-Free
~Let’s Not Forget Recalls
While we are all in an uproar about the grain-free diet potentially causing health issue, let’s not forget all the recalls. Click Here to check out the list. Honestly, we don’t know if there is a company that has avoided a recall, but we believe the last time Diamond had a problem was in 2012. When you look at this list of recalls, it will put that into perspective. It was a minimal recall which didn’t affect the Pacific NW if I recall correctly.
Everyone is going to have to make up their mind about what to do. Keep in mind though–each company makes a variety of food–under various labels. Their less expensive food is often something you want to avoid–of course, But a more costly food doesn’t always mean it is the best choice for you fur family member. For example, the highly touted Diamond made Taste of the Wild is identified with a serious implications.
Just Putting This Out There
Nestle owns Purina–say what? Click Here to view the 15 companies making most of the pet food. For a quick reference, look below.
Mars –Altogether Mars Petcare owns 41 brands including Pedigree, Iams, Whiskas, Royal Canin and Banfield Pet Hospitals. Of course there are other foods made under different labels or brands: California Naturals, Catson, Cesar, Chappi, Dreamies, Eukanuba, Sheba and Temptations.
Nestle –it might shock you to learn that the second largest pet food producer is another candy company. Nestlé Purina PetCare brands include recognizable names such as: Alpo, Bakers, Chef Michael’s Canine Creations, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Felix, Gourmet, Kit & Kaboodle, Purina and Purina ONE.
Hills — Science Diet, Prescription Diet, Ideal Balance and Healthy Advantage.
Diamond — Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Diamond Naturals Grain-Free, Nutra-Gold, Nutra-Gold Grain-Free, Nutra Nuggets Global, Nutra Nuggets US, Premium Edge, Professional and Taste of the Wild.
Blue Buffalo — BLUE, Basics, Wilderness, Freedom, Life Protection Formula, Naturally Fresh and LifeSource Bits.
Well Pet — Sojos, Wellness Natural Pet Food, Holistic Select, Old Mother Hubbard Natural Dog Snacks and Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food.
Merrick –Backcountry, Backcountry Raw, Before Grain, Classic, Good Buddy, Grain Free, Lil’ Plates, Limited Ingredient Diet, Natural Ultramix, Organix, Purrfect Bistro, Treats and Whole Earth Farms.
Ainsworth — Dad’s, Rachel Ray Nutrish, Better Than and Kibble Select Complete.
Dear friend, if you to write us about what to do, you will get a link to this Blog. We have gotten several Emails from concerned Weimlovers. We understand. Honestly–there is a lot to consider when selecting any pet food. We are not Licensed Veterinarians, or Licensed Vet Techs, or Canine Food Scientists. The only thing we have to share is what we read and our experience. If you have been feeding a Grain-free diet, you might want to rethink your food situation. I believe you are going to see a huge shift away from grain-free pet foods.
~ Ace of Clubs
Ace busy pruning my wisteria this morning 😬
The vet has agreed to administer the vaccines according to the Weimaraner protocol. He was prescribed an antibiotic for his eyes. We are hoping that his umbilical hernia will close by itself. I think it already looks smaller. His weight was 15 and 1/2 lbs. It seemed to me that he weighed a little more when we got him but he is eating, sleeping, playing and getting longer legs!! He is a beauty❣️
Dee and Mike
~ Not what I thought (whew)!
I just wanted to let you know that all is going very well despite a young puppy’s voracious appetite and sharp teeth!!I believe we are off to a solid start. We have completed the AKC registration and the registration for the microchip. We have adjusted the feedings to 1 cup 3x a day. Unfortunately Ace thinks he needs more. Lot’s more!!You know what happens to a dog when you cross that line. Yep! Diarrhea!! We tried listening to him and that’s what we got 🙃
Just set your mind at rest, I turned in a stool sample on Saturday and it was negative 😊
He is sitting and knows his name. Mostly responds to “Ace come” when called. A terrific pottier outside 👍🏻We are monitoring the umbilical hernia but are not concerned. His eye infections are cleared up but he has to finish 3 more days of the antibiotic.I hope all the rest of his litter mates are doing well❣️🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾
Dee and Mike and Atkins Ace of Clubs
Thanks for the detailed updates –we are thrilled to hear that Ace is doing well. Yes, the last minute little hernia appears to be nothing of significance. I am glad you are not worried. Over the years, we have learned that doing as little as possible with these seems to be the best choice–only fix a larger one that is more risky.
We are glad you had the stool sample checked. With young pups it is always wise to check to be sure nothing more is going on–but you have this covered. It appears other folks are doing well–at least that is what we have heard.
~ We Do What we are able
Cliff and I get a lot of Email inquiries–most are from folks hoping we have a puppy that can make their dream come true. Others are from folks like Dale–seeking advice and making commentary on our blog. We cannot always offer the level of advice some need or expect. Recommendations are hard to give when we are not in the loop and time is limited; however, we do what we are able to do. In this situation, we shared the food we have used and some information about the Weimaraner and heart issues. We have not seen many cases –so relax. Nevertheless, there are plenty of things that can go wrong when it comes to health. We always recommend being as Holistic in your approach as possible. I have posted Dale’s note (with his permission)–maybe some of you can identify with Dale. We all can agree that the loss of our beloved Weimaraner is something inexplicable. There are no words to adequately describe our relationship and the hole they leave behind. It is best to focus on what they brought to our life–to count every day allotted a blessing.
Hello Shela, Your Owyheestar blog is the first email I open EVERY day. And re-read. And forward to friends and family. I know it’s a lot of work keeping up with the blog, but know that you do a great job, and all these Weimaraner pix and stories warm a lot of hearts. Although we adopted Duke, our Weim, at 1, we did not get him from you. Though we will next time. But this question is important to you and all your Weim lovers. I stumbled upon your website a few months after we lost our beloved Weimaraner, Duke (below) at age 10. He was a bullet running, swimming, hiking, playing until two weeks before he died of asymptomatic congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. It’s been almost 8 months and I still can’t believe he’s gone. Such a personality. I’d like to discuss your food recommendations. I purchased what I researched as the best foods, mixing up flavors every month. The brands were Origen, Acana and Zignature. Mainly Acana. They all had high protein levels (28%), and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. No grain. He received 5 cups of food a day, mostly chicken, beef and fish, until shortly before he died. One month after Duke died, research came out from Joshua Stern, UC Davis, that certain foods that were high in legumes, were linked to heart disease in several breeds that lack a genetic history of the ailment. (Canine diluted cardiomyopathy CDM) Apparently these expensive boutique foods had a taurine deficiency. Meats have plenty of taurine, but legumes do not. So the red flag is legumes listed in the first six ingredients of the food. Also, chicken and beef are high in taurine, while many exotic meats such as lamb, rabbit and others, and legumes have little or none. Research is ongoing, and I know that CDM happens in these big-hearted dogs like Weims, pointers, etc. I don’t know if the food caused or contributed to Duke’s premature death, but given his excellent health, it is a possibility. But have you heard anything? And what foods do you recommend? Also, we’re wondering about getting another Weim at our age. I’m 66, my husband is 68, and we’re not sure we can keep up and do justice to another Weim. Any thoughts on this? Thank you for all you do, Dale
~What We Don’t Want
The emergency Vet Vist probably tops our list. It is the quickest way to spoil our celebration. Nonetheless, is there a time when our attention is more divided? The snatch and grab Weimaraner could abscond with some spectacular finds. They are everywhere–the counter, the dining table, the plates, and possibly on the floor. One thing you might overlook–the rising bread dough or rolls. Bread Dough Toxicosis can prove life-threatening. Maybe a toddler is waving a turkey leg. Is that an invite? The opportunist Weimaraner will make the most of this food-driven holiday gathering.
The humans at your table–they are a significant threat to the Weimaraner. Who doesn’t want to sneak the pup a treat? But too many sneaks and the gut can become overloaded even with acceptable food. The sensitive Weim might have a bout of pancreatitis from too much fatty food. Then there are the cooked poultry bones–be sure if you throw them out it is where the Weimaraner cannot steal them.
You Might Consider
What if you made a plate for the Weimaraner that everyone could help share? This plating idea might work. Here are some excellent choices.
- Turkey — no bones
- Green beans (plain)
- Squash or Pumpkin (plain)
- Apple slices (without the seeds)
~ to mention a few
- Mashed Potatoes
- Corn on the Cob
- Nuts (pecans and Macadamia)
- Grapes and Raisins
You can bake a Weim cookie or a Weim pie that forgoes the seasonings. Eggs and pumpkin and a tiny bit of milk will bake up nicely. You could make the crust using treats. Possibly make them in a silicone cupcake pan or cupcake papers. We are not saying it cannot be a lot of fun for the Weimar too. However, no one wants the unthinkable to spoil all the fun.
Remember, it is all good and fun until the unthinkable happens!
Here’s to an excellent Thanksgiving Day Celebration for all our Weim-loving Friends!!
Water and Your Weimaraner
Most of you know that we try to swim puppies–time and weather permitting. Above is a GoPro Video of a litter swim taken a couple of years ago. It gives you a different perspective. Some pups are excellent swimmers; others struggle a little. Nonetheless, we have never had a puppy fail to be able to swim. Does this mean they will naturally take to the water? No! If you expect them to jump and take off, you may be disappointed. It will most likely require work to get them into the water and swimming. This effort is work we hope you invest. We deem this an essential part of the puppy raising process.
The Why and the How
Over the years we have written extensively on how to achieve the swim. More and more of our clients have managed to do this. Sometimes to their own surprise. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the Weimaraner.
To expend energy. The growing Weimaraner has boundless energy; however, they cannot be beating the pavement to run off this energy. Until the growth plates close, you need to limit high impact exercise. Many experts agree that about three miles is the limit. Imagine how quickly the Weimaraner puts in the three miles. Seriously, about a mile into your run they have probably gone this far. Using the swim is the ideal way to exercise without causing damage to the growing joints. We would go so far as to suggest it probably helps your Weimaraner get more years and miles from their body. That is something that serves everyone’s best interest. We think you can agree.
Hunter or not you need to master the recall. You say what do you mean by the recall? That is coming when called. Getting the retrieve to hand is also a part of the recall. The rock solid come when you call or give a command–verbal or otherwise. The bringing of a bumper or toy back to you. Keep away it funny and laughable; however, we don’t feel this is ever in the best interest of the Weimaraner or you.
Cliff and I suggest you find an area where there is no escape route. For example–a hallway (closing all the adjoining doors) will work for this exercise. You want to make this an exciting event. Something that they look forward to doing with you. Sit down in that hallway and work on the retrieve at least every day. You want to ingrain the love of the retrieve as well as getting them to bring the dedicated item it to hand. This discipline will serve you well and help you achieve the swim.
The hallway exercise should begin as soon as they arrive. Make it an event–the same person, the same bumper or toy, and somewhat a routine. Five-Seven throws blocking the exit with your body. Toss and retoss keeping the excitement going. This activity should be fun, short-lived, and you want to stop while they are still excited. Once you have the rock solid recall—then you can move to the yard. You may need to use a check cord in the larger venue. If you don’t know what that is, ask us. It is a long line that attaches to their collar and allows you to reel them back to you. Always giving them praise like it was all their idea.
Why the Retrieve
The Weimaraner that is in loves the retrieve then can be worked along the water–at first shallow water. A pond or something similar is ideal. Slopping sides even better. That way they can play at the water’s edge and retrieve. Eventually, you can edge them out a bit, and they will take off and swim a couple of strokes. This process takes patience. You might wonder how long. Can we say it takes as long as it takes? Typically, Cliff gets the water-retrieve in two weeks or less. The rewards are almost endless. You can do this! Believe in the process. Stay optimistic. Keep it fun. Stay at it until you achieve success.
For the long distance runner, this is the best way to set the Weimaraner up as your running companion. The growth plates typically close around 15 months. By then you should have them swimming. The waterwork can keep your running companion in the tip-top shape you need as well as help them develop muscles which may help prevent injury.
To Burn Off Energy
For those less inclined or find themselves challenged to keep up with the Weimaraner, this is an excellent way to burn off the excess energy. The Weimaraner will still be able to join you on walks, etc. But tiring the Weimaraner out is challenging. The waterwork helps and does it without injury. Of course, there are other pros to having the water-friendly Weimaraner.
Imprinting the Idea
We swim the pups with the idea that it imprints this experience. If you wonder, the Weimaraner has webbed toes. There are hundreds of updates on our blog that feature OwyheeStar pups and adults enjoying the water–swimming, retrieving, and playing in it. We hope you will achieve the swim.