Friday, March 29, 2013

Photography Friday

Here are a few posters I've been working on lately. Thought I would share them with the world :)
And a few photo edit's I've done lately as well.  I hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Interview With a Mastiff - Brinkley Mastiff

Tell us about your family?

First there’s my people’s.  Mommy and Shawn.  Mommy takes care of me and trains me and gives me cookies and baths and all kinds of stuff.  Shawn… or dad plays with me and I cuddle him on the couch sometimes.  I like to lick his head and ears when he’s not paying attention.  Boone is my brother.  He’s a pain in my tail, but when he’s gone or I’m gone and get back he’s the first one I look for to greet!  I guess I love da big lug a little bit.  Finally there’s that mean furry gray one that I like to stalk and chase (Molly the cat), but she beats the crap out of me if I ever get to close.  Sometimes mom gets mad at me cause I won’t stop chasing her.

Here's me doing two of my favorite things...
lying in the bed and licking (not sure what I'm licking though)
Take us through a typical day in your life.
I don’t get to sleep in the bed since that person after a long car ride cut my leg open (TPLO surgery) cause mom says jumping off the bed could really mess up my healing.  I feel great though, so I make sure to stand beside the bed and whine for a few minutes each morning cause I still want up real bad.  Then the mom gets up and feeds me, I get REALLY excited about this.  Then I go out for 2 minutes and potty and patrol the backyard.  I sleep all day while the peoples are at work, then get excited and playful for like 15 whole minutes when they get home.  I get to go for a walk a lot of days.  And then the rest of the afternoon I sleep.  At dinner time (which I KNOW of course) I start to whine and groan until the mom gets up and feeds me.  If I don’t get fed by 8:00 I whine constantly making them think I’m dying.  Then they feed me.  After I eat I go potty outside for 2 minutes, then back on the couch to sleep until the next morning. 
How do you fit in with the household?
I’m the one who makes sure no one is trying to kill us.  I make sure if the window is open and something is going on outside I bark to let everyone know.  I patrol the backyard twice a day and growl and bark at anything I think isn’t right.  I am the family protector for sure.  The Boone is too dumb for this job, he loves everyone too much.  The responsibility falls on me to keep everyone safe.
Me playing in the hose
What is you’re least favorite thing to do?
I HATE getting my toenails chopped off.  It is HORRIBLE TORTURE. I HATE it.
What are some of your hobbies?

I spend a fair amount of my time (that I’m not sleeping) waiting for food, whining about not getting the food and most of the rest of my time is spent sucking on my toys and chasing the cat. I like to play in the snow too. I eat it. I eat grass too.... and play in the water.  I looooove the water.   I love doing all these things. 

Me and Boone sucking on our toys.  I gots the big monkey
and he has his nasty love bear
Where are your favorite places to visit?
The couch and the bed.  I like walks too, but don’t like to go to places where I’m expected to do anything productive.
What would you like to tell everyone about yourself?
I have a true Mastiff guardian personality.  I love everyone unless you give me a reason not to.  Mess with my family and I’ll mess you up.  I also love to lick people.  My tongue is a good 10 inches long, it wraps around people heads real good.  If you want to be my friend give me food and let me lick you.  That’s all I ask.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Feeding Your Mastiff Puppy a Raw Diet

I want to thank my dear friend Tammy Kinkade of Eyota Mastiffs (  for providing me with this information, as I have yet to raise a Mastiff from puppyhood on a raw diet.  However, with my next puppy we will definately go this route.

New Beginnings Too Hot to Fox Trot "Pepper"
Owned by Tammy Kinkade, Eyota Mastiffs
Raw Fed Since 8 Weeks of Age
Basically, a puppy may tolerate the change to raw more easily than a lot of adult dogs, simply because their digestive system is younger, and less conditioned to the digestive process needed for kibble. I have had great success switching puppies at a young age without so much as a hiccup in their digestive abilities.

That said, you can do it in a very similar fashion to how you switch an adult. Depending on the age of your pup (right after weaning, vs. an older pup that has been eating kibble for awhile), you may want to start with ground chicken or turkey first. A young pup (the 4-6 week range) won't have teeth hard enough to chew through bones yet, so ground is a necessity. Be sure you're using ground meat WITH bone - pups need the calcium, and the balance between the phosphorous levels in the meat vs. the calcium in the bone.

Pups at this very young age aren't terribly picky about what they eat - they're so hungry all the time that any food you give them will be gone quickly! So it's the perfect time to try raw foods. They'll devour it quickly and happily. At this young age, it's best to skip the veggies and organ meats and stick to just meat and bone. The pups will do far better with simple foods right now, and organs will be far too rich for their developing systems. Offer small amounts at a time and don't let them gorge. Feeding too much will and can cause diarrhea in a dog of any age.

By the age of 8 weeks, puppies should be able to handle the bones of chicken wings, necks and backs without too much trouble. Oh, they'll spend some time chewing and working at the backs, but it's good exercise for them and teaches then to chew well - a good lesson for them to learn early. At this age, it's also safe to add another protein source - again, staying away from organ meats and veggies if possible. Sue Johnson said it best in her book, “Switching To Raw"... use the KISS method... Keep It Simple, Stupid! (Not meant to be insulting... just meant as a caution that we tend to get overly excited when starting something new, and throw too much at our poor dogs at once!) One ingredient at a time...  

My biggest piece of advice, and one of my biggest pet peevers, is to stay away from the pre-groun mixes that have "everything but the kitchen sink" in them when starting a dog on raw. Some of these commercial raw foods have meat from more than one protein source, supplements, exotic fruits ad vegetables, and really cool sounding stuff in them. The only problem with the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach is that *IF* your dog reacts badly with digestive problems, you have NO way of knowing what ingredient might be causing the digestive upset. And therefore, you have no idea what needs to be eliminated from the diet. If you can't figure out what it is your dog doesn't tolerate well, then you're setting the dog up for a roller coaster ride of uncomfortable digestive upset.

Once you have a dog who is an experienced raw dog, who you KNOW has no issues with the various ingredients in the "everything but the kitchen sink" mixes, then by all means, give them a try if you think your dog might like them. But until then, think about how *you* would feel if someone took the ingredients from all three of your daily meals, threw them in a blender, and then asked you to eat that mix. I don't know about you, but I think I'd be spending more than my fair share of time in the bathroom!

Puppies will also benefit from certain supplements, eggs, and even green tripe. I'm sure to slowly add them all, over time, and make them regular additions to their meals.
Keep in mind that with Mastiffs and Great Danes – our giant breeds – nutritional needs are different from other breeds. I have always fed a higher bone content to puppies, until about 5-6 months of age. It goes against what people tell you to do when feeding kibble… but what this does is it helps keep protein levels down. The calcium they are getting from bone is more naturally absorbable, and also more naturally dispersed if it isn’t needed. It is more “bioavailable” than any of the supplements added to kibble. By keeping more bone content in their foods, you are helping to limit protein – and protein tends to be a bigger problem for young puppies than calcium. By about 10 weeks, I am adding in veggies – ground veggie mix I make myself or buy. I use green leafy vegetables such as Romaine lettuce, celery, and spring greens, then for variety, I add zucchini, broccoli, peas, green beans, an occasional carrot, and even some blueberries. I put it all in a blender, add some water and the eggs (whole) and grind together. You can freeze it in ice cube trays for convenience, or put in containers or baggies. I feed a couple of “cubes” per meal.

How much do to feed?
In comparison to feeding an adult Mastiff a raw diet, puppies need to be fed more as they work through heavy growth periods. The general rule of thumb for puppies is to feed approximately 10% of their current body weight... OR... 2-3% of what their adult weight should be. In all actuality, these two formulas work out to pretty much the same weights. I use the 10% rule, feeding three meals per day until the 6 month age range, or until a puppy stops wanting to eat that middle meal. Many pups will tell you when it's time to drop the mid-day meal as they'll be far more interested in playing than eating... if they skip the middle meal for a couple of days at a time, at around the 5-7 month range, then you know it's probably okay to go back down to 2 meals per day and just divide the food evenly into those two meals.
Harvest Haze Griffin's On The Brink "Brinkley"
Owned by Amanda Griffin, Gryphon Mastiffs
Raw Fed Since 1 Year of Age
Typically, by the age of 9 months, you could be down to using the 2-3% of their current weight. That will depend on the lifestyle and energy level of your pup, it's growth rate, and just how hungry they are. My experience with giant breed dogs is that you typically need to keep them over 3% until they're close to a year. Just do what works best for your breed. And remember, the goal in feeding raw to a puppy is slow, even growth. Your raw-fed pup WILL, most likely, be smaller than its kibble fed siblings for quite some time. It will mature more slowly. What we've come to find is that while a pup's kibble-fed siblings may already be out in the show ring and successful at 6 months of age, a raw-fed pup will develop more slowly and may not "come together" until a later age. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as slower growth may help your pup have a longer, healthier lifespan with less chance of the bone or joint issues often seen during puppyhood (panosteitis in particular).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Switching Your Mastiff (or any dog) to a Raw Diet; a 1, 2, 3 Plan

Step 1: Calculation

There are hundreds of opinions on how to ‘correctly’ feed a dog a raw diet. The consensus among many is to feed a ratio of foods that are equivalent to what the dog would consume in nature if they were a wild animal. This is called the 80/10/10 rule. This stands for 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ. Some even go a step further and say 80/10/5/5, splitting the organ category into 5% liver and 5% other organ meat. So we have our ratio of the types of food to feed; now we need to figure out what amount that actually figures up to for your individual dog’s needs.

Just like with kibble, each dog’s individual caloric needs are different.  You can have 2 dogs both 60lbs and one needs 5 cups of kibble a day to stay fit and one only needs 2 cups per day and is still a little overweight.  The same thing goes for a raw diet.  It will be up to you to observe and evaluate your dog’s physical condition to determine if your dog needs more or less on their raw diet.  A good starting off point to begin with is to feed your dog 3% of their ideal body weight (I have found for the Mastiff breed about 2% is closer to ideal), and then as you progress into the new diet you can adjust your amounts if you dog needs to add or take off some weight.
For our example we’ll say we have a 150lb Mastiff.
            150lb x 3% = 4.5lb of food per day

            4.5lb x 80% = 3.6lbs of meat per day
            4.5lb x 10% = .45lb (or 7.2oz) of bone per day
            4.5lb x 10% = .45lb (or 7.2oz) of organ per day
I feed two meals per day because Mastiffs are prone to bloat and I’m not comfortable with that much food going into them in one meal per day. 
Here’s the best part, you don’t actually have to feed these exact amounts every day.  You can take a week period of their intake needs and just average out each day’s meals so it is balanced over time.  This way you aren’t picking apart every single chicken leg trying to weigh how much bone is actually in it. It’s all about balance over time. Some meals I feed are all meat, every other day or so I throw a large chunk of organ in the bowl.  It’s not balanced for every meal, but in the long run it all works out.
Over a weeks’ time our example dog would need 25.2lbs of meat, 3.15lbs of bone and 3.15lbs of organ. Check out the article Bone and Food Values for Raw Feeding Dogs on the Dogs Naturally Magazine website.  It's a great article that provides the approximate bone content of commonly fed raw diet items.
Step 2:  Preparation
Now that you know what to amounts to feed your dog it’s time to prepare yourself, your freezer and your house to begin the switch.  I suggest having at least a whole weeks’ worth of food ahead of time, more if you have the freezer space. I actually have a 28 cu ft freezer in my garage just for the dogs.  It will get both my Mastiffs through about 3 months.  Any meat you acquire from the store is fine to feed fresh, but any wild game or meat from other sources is recommended to be frozen before consumption to kill any germs prior to feeding.
You might also want to think about where you feed your dog.  When on kibble my dogs ate in the kitchen, but with raw they feel the need to grab a large piece of meat and run into the living room to eat it.  I personally don’t like raw meat rubbed all over my carpet, so we moved our feeding place to the back porch.  So now that your freezer is stocked, you have your plan, how do you start the new diet?
Step 3: Feed the Dog!
When first starting out it is recommended to use only one protein source for a week or so, chicken is a good starting point. Each week you can add a new source of meat until your dog is accustomed to numerous protein sources. Be advised, that during the first few days of the new diet, as your dog is adjusting, they may have some stomach upset and need a few extra trips outside, but once their body starts acclimating everything should settle down.
In an effort to keep this article from becoming a book here are some other quick note items.  If you would like more information or clarification or if you want to discuss an item specifically you can contact me.

1. NEVER feed your dog raw and kibble in one meal. Kibble takes 12+ hours to digest because it is extremely processed and compressed. Raw takes approximately 4 hours to digest. Mixing the two can cause severe stomach distress and led to bloat.
2. Organ meats are deceptive. In a raw diet “Organ” is an organ that secrets something, i.e. liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas. Body parts that we think of as organs, but are classified in the raw diet as “Meat” are heart, lung, tongue, etc.
3. Tripe is good, but really gross and smells awful. The dogs love it.
4. As with everything there are extremes that some people go to with raw food diets. Some think it’s best to let your dog gorge itself until it can’t eat anymore and then not feed it for two days to mimic how a wild dog would eat. Some people only feed wild game. While I personally believe these methods are unnecessary, it’s up to you to decide what you feed comfortable with.
5. Supplements… this is an article in itself (one I've already written I might add), so all I’ll say is I do use supplements, but whether on kibble or raw I use the same ones. I use Phytoflex by Nature's Farmacy (for Brinkley with her TPLO surgery), Vitamin C, Fish Oil, Coconut Oil and Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Read more about supplementing your Mastiff here.
6. Other items that can be added several times per week include eggs, (shell and all), canned pumpkin, pureed vegetables and yogurt. 
In summary, there are many ways to feed your dog a raw diet ‘the right way’.  Everyone’s opinion is a little bit different.  Please just do your research; there are so many resources available. Talk to your vet and see if they have any advice, but be objective, some vets are against raw diets, don’t let them talk you out of it if you think that it’s right for your dog. And remember, the reason that you are doing all of this is for the health of your dog.  Don’t lose sight that objective in the details.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Birthday Cake for Your Dog!!!!!

What?  You don’t celebrate your dog’s birthday?  How cruel of a dog owner are you?

Just kidding, in all honesty my dogs are pretty spoiled, so treating them extra special on their birthday takes a lot of “extras” so it’s not just like any other day to them.  I do however save the cake for this one times a year occasion. I think every doggie birthday we’ve celebrated I’ve used a different recipe, but I recently came across this recipe from a member post on Mastiff-Forum.  It’s nearly identical to the dog biscuit recipe I use and with the rice flour instead of regular flour it is gluten free.  I went ahead and made an exception the other night and made one of these up for the dogs, and it was a hit! 

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Birthday Cake

1 cup brown rice flour
1 egg
1/3 cup natural peanut butter

2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin-pie mix as that has sugar and other ingredients in it)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I don't really like this ingredient but there is no substitute available)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons GREEK Plain Yogurt
2/3 cup natural peanut butter, slightly melted

Mix all cake ingredients. Bake in a small, greased and floured pan at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool. Meanwhile, mix frosting ingredients and frost when cake is completely cool.

I think it’s funny how we instill human holidays on our pooches.  Do you celebrate any holiday’s with your dogs? Mine are just in it for the ride and love the attention, treats and toys that come along with celebrations.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Exercising Your Mastiff Puppy

Proper exercise is especially important the first 18 to 20 months of your Mastiff puppy's life. Mastiffs grow extremely rapidly the first 18 months in height and continue to grow in overall size and weight until 3 to 3 1/2 years of age. During this time of rapid growth your puppy will literally grow up to 150-200 times the size it was at birth.   

Within this time period your Mastiff should not engage in heavy amounts of running, jumping or any other strenuous exercises.  It is safe to save these types of activities until after the age of 18 months. Joints and growing bones are extremely prone to prone to injury, and an injury during puppyhood could affect your dog for its entire life. You should not allow your puppy to jump off elevated areas including couches, beds, trucks or higher vehicles, etc.  Also your puppy should not be allowed to climb up and down stairs on a regular basis. Additionally, in order to prevent joint or ligament injuries, Mastiffs of all ages should not be allowed to play or spend significant amounts of time on slippery surfaces like tile, linoleum or hardwood.

While Mastiffs are supposed to be massive dogs, it is imperative to not allow your Mastiff puppy (or any adult for that matter) to become overweight as this places unnecessary stress on the growth plates, bones and joints.

So after all that you may be thinking you should just lock you puppy in a padded room until they are an adult, but it is important for your puppy to get adequate exercise. A lack of exercise can create just as many issues as receiving too much or improper exercise. Exercise is required for a puppy to develop proper muscle tone and bone structure to carry its adult weight and be a strong healthy, active dog.  I recommend starting your puppy out with short walks (less than a block).  If after a while he seems to handle the block walk well, increase the distance and see how he does. Some things to remember are; your puppy may seem like he wants to keep going and playing, but he does not understand that over exercise can be hard on his body.  After all, his is just a puppy and the only thing on his mind is go, go, go, play, play, play! Be careful to stop when the dog shows signs of fatigue; a rule of thumb is never walk your Mastiff farther than you can carry them home!

Particular care must also be taken to insure that a puppy is not injured or over-tired by play with another dog. Never leave a puppy under the age of 6 months alone with adult dogs. Always supervise interaction to prevent injury to the puppy.

When it comes to children, although your puppy may look big, they are just as fragile as any other baby animal.  Do not allow children to pull on the legs, jump on, or lie on your puppy (or any dog for that matter). Long term permanent injury could result. Always supervise your children (both the very young and the older) and teach them proper interactions with your puppy. Teasing, hitting at, and causing harm can cause your puppy to have a permanent antisocial temperament. A puppy should receive love and positive reinforcement from all members of its family.

The time, expense, and care you provide these first few months determines a great deal of the overall size, health, soundness, and longevity of your dog.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Financial Assistance with Vet Bills

With Brinkley's surgery all said and done I was collecting up vet bills to send off the the insurance carrier and got to thinking how does the average person cover this type of expense? Personally, I have a credit card with a $10,000 limit I never use. I consider it my emergency card, so if I didn't have pet insurance to reimburse the costs of much of her surgery I guess I would just slowly make credit card payments until I got it paid off. Many people with pets don't have that option. Either they don't qualify for higher limit credit cards, don't have pet insurance or a savings account to cover these types of expenses.  I mean, we literally have spent $3800+ dollars on this ordeal. After the pet insurance reimbursed us we were only down about $1000, but for some familys that's a devestating amount. Ironically I saw a post/page out of The American Dog Magazine (check them out, they’re awesome!) about financial assistance with vet bills.  Here is the page from their most recent publication, the Winter 2012/2013 magazine outlining different options for obtaining financial assistance. 

Tell us what you think?  What's your plan to cover emergency vet bills that come up or do you have a plan in place at all?