By Leigh van den Berg, Lipgloss is my Life
I spent most of January living with my folks and putting up with my parents (mom, I’m kidding!) was a small price to pay for getting to hang out with my beloved dogs, Tiggy and Barracuda AKA Scu. Both of them were active little devil children when we adopted them, but over time we’ve come to realise that Tiggy has hip dysplasia and Scu, who already struggles with skin allergies, was recently diagnosed with the same condition.
For those who don’t know, hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects many doggies. Essentially, the hip joint socket isn’t formed properly so the bones don’t connect as they should. If it’s mild, it might cause stiff joints and pain and if it’s bad your dog will start to limp or go lame. If you’ve got dogs and have noticed they’re having trouble getting up or moving around this could be an early symptom so it’s best to take them to a vet who can make a proper diagnosis, often just by examining them or with an X-ray.
Like most things, it’s best to catch hip dysplasia early and there are lots of things you can do to treat it. My folks for example, are empty nesters who treat their fur babies like laat lammetjies so our bebbehs get treated with a host of therapies that include laser treatment, acupuncture and physio. Yep, this is all super expensive, but if you’re a freak for your dogs and can afford it, you’ll do it. However, not everyone has deep pockets so the least you can do is treat them via supplements and prescription medication.
Meds-wise, both our dogs are on Rimadyl, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and it makes a world of difference. Supplement-wise, hip dysplasia doggies can benefit from glucosamine, a naturally occurring substance that can help repair and hydrate cartilage respectively. As Tiggy was eating Hill’s Science Diet j/d, we thought she was getting enough of both. Itchy and scratchy Scu, however, was eating Hill’s z/d which is specially formulated for allergy dogs. My mom swears it makes a difference and didn’t want to take him off it, so we started looking for a glucosamine supplement and that’s when we realised that Tiggy, despite being on ‘joint food’, still wasn’t getting enough of it.
Ready for a bit of math? Most vets will agree that dogs need around 500mg glucosamine per 10kg of body weight. If we take 16kg Tiggy as an example, she’d need at least 750mg of glucosamine per day. Her dog food, however, contains 500mg per kilogram and, because she eats just 500g (2 x 250g) per day, she’s only getting 250g of glucosamine. So, while we thought she was getting enough, she was actually in a deficit of 250g grams a day.
We started looking for supplements and, because our dogs are fussy eaters, this became super tricky. Happily, Regal Pet Health picked up on the situation via twitter and were kind enough to send me a bunch of their products. I wasn’t going to create a post about it, just a bit of social media, but the more people I chat to, the more I realise that many could benefit from this post, so here we go. Apologies to those expecting beauty. Today we’re talking dogs.
So! Back to Regal Pet Health! Some of the their products were hits and some were misses, the latter being down to my dogs’ preferences. The Joint Health Remedy (R119,99) went down well. It contains 300mg of glucosamine per 10ml so Tiggy, for example, just needs less than two teaspoons per day (5ml per tsp) to make up her deficit. It’s supposed to taste like beef, but to me it tastes like a yummy prune-flavoured syrup. (Yep, I’m that freak that tastes everything that goes into my pets’ mouths. From dog food to treats to supplements, I want to know what they’re eating.) On its own, they turned up their noses, but when we poured it over a single tablespoon of wet dog food they devoured it and licked the bowl clean. Dogs are weird like that.
Right now, the only negative regarding Regal’s remedy is that it doesn’t contain chondroitin, which is supposed to work hand in hand with glucosamine. It’s also not the most cost effective on the block, but when it comes to our dogs we’re not looking for cheap, we’re looking for good. The less expensive powder formulation we tried first contained both glucosamine and chondroitin, but tasted revolting. Our dogs refused to eat it unless it was laboriously mashed into large amount of wet food and disguised even further with gravy. So, for now, Regal’s got half the battle won. Also, Regal’s mix isn’t just straight up glucosamine. It also includes Devil’s Claw and Rose Hip extract, two anti-inflammatory botanicals that have long been used to treat aches and pains, arthritis and joint problems.
The second syrup they sent us, Allergy Relief Remedy (R119,99), is more of a clear winner. Formulated with chamomile, bladderwrack and good old rooibos, it aims to support your dog’s immune system and protect it from allergens. (It’s supposed to taste like beef, but again I get prune.) This is brill for Scu, the allergy baby. As with the joint syrup, he doesn’t like it on its own, but pour it over a dollop of wet food and it’s gone. His allergies are mostly under control, but he tends to flare up on Friday because that’s the day his best friend (our gardener) comes round, so he spends all day in the back yard (which is more like an endless, multi-tiered Kirstenbosch) and comes back an itchy and scratchy train wreck. Since taking the allergy syrup, however, my mom says she can see he’s definitely improved.
The second allergy product that’s worked out very well is the Skin Healing Spray (R139,99). A super-soothing spritz-on anti-inflammatory with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, it’s ideal for irritated skin, rashes, eczema, bites, stings, you name it! Scu had a red, itchy patch on his tummy the other day that he couldn’t stop nipping at. We treated it with the spray and, amazingly, it was like he knew it was medicine because he immediately stopped biting it. Also, despite it tasting quite pleasant (yep, I tried it too), he didn’t even lick at it – although if he did he’d be fine as there’s nothing in it that could harm him. Within twenty minutes or so, the redness had visibly calmed. This is something we’ll most definitely buy when it runs out.
Something else we’ll end up buying soon? The Doggy Dental Chews! My dogs are absolutely mal about them. Mal!
Each low-kilojoule, nutrient-rich treat is shaped like a toothbrush and the various colours represent a different flavour. Green is mint… white is milk… red is beef and so on. It’s kind of like a packet of wine gums for dogs and, because they’re ‘tough’, they encourage them to chew, which helps with the removal of plaque. Initially, I didn’t think my doggies would. Chew that is. I expected them to be swallowed in one greedy gulp, but nope, both of them actually chew and maybe that’s why they’re so obsessed with them. They know it’s the treat that ‘lasts’…
I do realise this has come across like a big, fat advertorial for Regal Pet Health, but I wasn’t paid a cent. I was just super touched by how thoughtful they were in finding out what my doggies needed and how much of what they sent has been very useful. I also think more people have to take the initiative in finding out what their pets need from a nutritional point of view, especially if they’ve got health issues. If we hadn’t looked into it, Tiggy would still be eating just her joint food and only getting half of what she needs.
And now, because I’m obsessed and can’t help myself, I shall leave you with one last doggie pic.