Rocky Mountain Alsatian Gut health
Poops, and the probiotics, parasites and protozoa that love them
Our beloved pet's elimination system is often the first and most useful indicator
of their over all health. Predictable poops are what every pet owner strives for - when that consistency falls out of place we are alerted quickly and their poop becomes our best health management tool for them.
Maintenance and management of a healthy gut
Fennario's dogs will always be fed primarily high quality kibble, the particular brand is not so important as the availability of the brand for future puppy owners. I would not want to start a puppy off on an expensive hard to obtain type of food, obligating it's future owners to a difficult transition. THAT being said, there are a few things that we as breeders do to ensure 1. We do our best to "create" a healthy gut. 2. We do our best to mitigate possible or known gut health issues. 3. We strive to find the right balance of diet and medical care to rectify any issues that present themselves should an unhealthy gut show up somewhere in our lines.
STRESS is the no. 1 upsetting factor in a expectant mother's ability to create a healthy blend of gut flora to pass onto her pups. Studies have shown COCORTISOL, an d after-effect hormone of stress, can destroy the gut's ability to produce the correct enzymes for digestion. One thing leads to another and this condition can become Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Cushings disease or may even lead to hormone producing gland malfunction in the grown adult dog. PLEASE SEE OUR THYROID HEALTH SECTION FOR MORE INFORMATION. We treat our pregnant females with more lavish attention, hugs kisses because they deserve it, and because we regard it proper gut health management for our puppies. Limited "stranger" exposure during their gestation, whelping and weaning guards not only against germ exposure, but aids in maintaining a stress free environment while a future of gut flora is being "set-up" in the young pup. Coming away from the security of moms milk can be upsetting to the point of traumatic for some pups. Care is taken to make the experience stress free and journaling of the progression is tracked and applied to our records, and then shared with future owners.
Commercial dog foods have come a long way since my beginning days selling EUKANUBA in pet stores. Yes, I remember a time when IAMS was only sold in pet stores. HILLS was only available through veterinarians in the area where I grew up. Routinely feeding raw foods to dogs was thought archaic in some circles. As I've watched this ebb and flow of the industry, I have come to believe that only one thing is truly missing from our modern dog's diet. LIFE.... Foods so recently harvested that their natural enzymes and probiotics; the complete package of a WHOLE FOOD, have not yet lost their wholeness. As a rule of thumb, we strive to feed our dogs
one third of total caloric intake to be from AT LEAST one of these three categories: WHOLE RAW or UNPROCESSED.
More is discussed in the CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALSATIAN section diet choices and easy-to-follow feeding. CLCCK HERE
Probiotics and enzymes
Commercially available probiotics and enzyme mixtures come in many different forms, and are labelled for human or veterinary use. It is important that you check what probiotics are already added to your dogs food. lactobacillus acidophilus are currently added to many puppy and adult foods. Daily supplement of commercially available powders or pill form probiotics and enzymes is generally not necessary unless your RMA is on antibiotic regimen. We would recommend giving a course during and after antibiotic treatment. Feed the probiotic/enzymes at least four hours after the antibiotic is given. Our favorite GO-TO is OPTAGEST by in-clover. I have found tis product readily available throughout most of Colorado.
Here is a useful guide to help you manage your dog's tummy troubles.
Below are the most common upsets of gut health and our Rocky Mountain Alsatians.
Parasites and Protozoa
Worms - the three major kinds of worms that can cause the largest damage to young puppies' digestive systems as well as over all health. Most adults live a certain amount of internal parasites at one time or another. With the exception of heartworm, most infestations are low and easily managed. Our Rocky Mountain Alsatian trail blazers and dog-friendly campers should receive yearly low dose worming of in particular, round worm, as our elk and deer are known to carry large amounts of this nasty creature. Roundworm is primarily transmitted through horse flies and other biting insects that shed their larvae through the poops of their host. These little delicacies are found in most of our mountain town backyards, unavoidable to the RMA nose and palate. Hookworm and tapeworm are less prevalent "in the wild" as they are transmitted from dog to dog, through the mouth and skin. With tapeworm the host is usually small rodents such as mice or voles. Supervision and sanitation are usually the only mitigaters needed for these, however most worm medications will handle all three common worms in the RMA with no issues.
Whipworm less common but making more of an appearance in our area has proved to be very hard on the digestive system and/or recovery from infestation. Whipworms are small worms, usually only ¼" (6 mm) long. They live in the large intestine, where they cause irritation and inflammation. Symptoms of whipworm infection include chronic watery diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss.
Giardia - Giardia is a simple one-celled parasitic species; it is not a "worm", bacteria or virus. There are seven genotypes, A through G, with dogs being most commonly infected by C and D. The Giardia organism has two forms. A fragile feeding form, known as the trophozoite, exists in the gut of infected animals, while a hardy cystic form is shed in feces and can survive several months in the environment, particularly in water and damp environments. Studies report our eastern slope Rocky Mountains have a large prevelancy of all giardia genotypes and carry our dogs type of giardia and not show symptoms, and vice versa. http://home.eng.iastate.edu/~tge/ce421-521/Jeremy%20Nichols.pdf
Symptoms of Giardia in dogs include chronic watery diarrhea, depression, lethargy and overall poor presentation. Giardia can be especially hard to combat due the availability of cysts for transmission. Re-infestation of one giardia genotype after the recovery of another is common and total disinfection difficult. For this reason, we feel that proper management of the gut flora will aid the RMA is becoming tolerant of a low level "load" of Giardia that is tolerable to the balance of the dog's natural system. We believe this native giardia may assist on management of newer invading species, in effect protecting it's hosts natural balance.
Coccidia- All dogs have a certain amount of this parasite in their guts, and factors like stress, weaning, travel and other health conditions can cause flare ups. The "flare-ups" can completely debilitate a puppy quickly with dehydration being the catalyst of decline. Transmission is difficult to pinned down as the microscopic single-celled protozoa can be transported on feet, hair, skin, mechanically or by one-to-one transmission. Sulfades such as ALBON are generally used to control the reproduction of the current cocci living in the intestines. It does NOT however, eliminate the organism. The dogs own gut immune system most clear it out after re-infestation is stopped. The only thing that I have seen 100% kill coccidia is steam cleaning and a 10-12% ammonia/water mixture. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT DOGS ARE NOT PRESENT DURING CLEAINING. Bleach does not kill coccidia. Supervision and sanitation are the best preventatives. Keep young puppies away from public areas that other dogs frequent, keep yards clear of feces and do not allow strange dogs into your new dog's environment.
Allergies and intolerances - we have noted certain sensitivities that run our our dog's family tree. They seem to center around wheats grasses and trouble processing either commercial or raw foods. Each of these instances will be discussed in the HEALTH REPORT of the litter you gained your dog from. Allergies or intolerances can present in so many different forms including skin, digestive and immunity issues.
Over my career as a canine professional I've watched many pet owners spend incredible amounts of money trying to rectify an allergic dog's issues and it has driven to be devoted to do everything I can to develop an allergy free dog. Sensitive systems have to do with balance of gut flora, which we discuss next.