Or maybe more like Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock.
But anyway. The vet assured me that the most common canine allergy is to flea bites. The flea bites cause a reaction that is manifested by constant scratching, biting, chewing, digging, rolling and general malaise. Wimzie, whose skin is more sensitive than Hershey's, generally gnaws all the hair off her hind legs and her girl parts and just looks defeated and miserable: Her button-bright eyes get dull, she drags along on her walks -- usually the joy of her day -- with no energy and her personality becomes notably more unpleasant. I can't really blame her for being short-tempered. It would be awful to itch and itch and itch all the time.
Before this July, the only thing we could do to stop the scratching, digging and biting was dose the dogs with prednisilone, the canine version of the steroid prednisone. I absolutely hated giving her those pills. The side effects in dogs are generally the same as they are in humans and I know people who have been knocked cock-a-hoop by taking prednisone for various ailments (most notably my friend Martha and my grandpa, both of whom used predisone for their fibromyalgia.)
The steroids worked, but at what price?
And speaking of price, they weren't cheap. Wimzie's medication was costing almost as much per month as a medication that I take. Only I have health insurance and she doesn't.
Other than the pills, the only therapy the vet could offer was a cortisone spray meant for "hot spots," which are random places with a super-itch where a dog can bite in one spot until she bleeds. This spray was about as effective as spritzing her with the morning dew. It did nothing to alleviate the itch. All while costing a pretty penny; $12 for a tiny spray bottle. Between the two dogs, we could have easily used four of those bottles a month.
Since moving to this house where we have no yard, our dogs don't suffer as much from flea trouble as they used to when they had an enormous suburban yard to run around in. Back then, we bought Frontline or whatever that stuff is called. It does stop the fleas from breeding and infesting the house, but it doesn't stop them from biting. And biting is the problem.
But still we have the biting. Scratching. Digging.
I listen to talk radio a lot and in the past few months, I've been hearing a commercial for a product called "Dinovite".The claim is that this product will stop all the above symptoms by improving the dog's diet with minerals, digestive enzymes, vitamins, etc. The spokesperson relates that dog food is cooked in the factories at very high temperatures and that all the good stuff is zapped out of it. This is all stuff I can understand, but I don't really "get" how all that is supposed to stop dogs from being allergic to flea bites, so whatever.
I started doing some online research, going to the Dinovite website and also doing searches of product information and consumer reviews. I felt that I was reading a lot of positive things and frankly, it unwinds me so much to see my pets so miserable that I was willing to try a little snake oil if I had to.
So I bought the smallest size available, which was about a three week supply for both of our dogs. The website made the h-u-g-e disclaimer that I'd have to wait for three months to see the full benefits of Dinovite, which I cynically felt was long enough for the manufacturer to soak me and a bunch of other rubes for $90 each and then peacefully retire to the country to grow cantaloupes.
Our container of Dinovite arrived while the girls were still vacationing at the lake. I was anxious to see what this stuff was all about and I opened it, finding a dark greyish-brown powder, slightly grainy in appearance, that actually smelled very pleasant.* Like brewer's yeast. I was surprised, because frankly, I thought it was going to smell like road kill.
The instructions said to sprinkle it directly on the dogs' dry food, four tablespoons a day for Hershey and one-and-one-half tablespoons a day for Wimzie. I gave it to them like that and both of them backed away from their food bowls with accusatory looks, as if I'd just given their kibble a dusting with Barkeeper's Friend.
I'd read something on the website about using beef broth to moisten the Dinovite and the dog food and tried that; Hershey ate it happily, but Wimzie (the dog that I was most interested in seeing ingest this wonder product) stalked off in a huff and went behind the couch, refusing to come out even for cheese.
Cheese! Cheese might work, I thought. So I sprinkled some shredded cheese on her bowl of kibble, Dinovite and beef broth and set it on the floor. She came running as if she just knew, the little brat, and gobbled down the whole bowlful, looking up at me soulfully afterwards. I rolled my eyes at her and left her trying to lick the glaze off her ceramic dish.
The dogs have been eating the stated amount of Dinovite since the first week of August, and although there is still some scratching and biting, it has dramatically decreased. DRAMATICALLY. For the past two years, Wimzie's hind legs and bottom have been denuded of hair by this time in August, yet her her little rear is still furry. Hershey has completely stopped rolling on the floors, trying in vain to scratch his poor back. There is still some scratching and biting, but after not-quite-three weeks, there has been an amazing improvement.
The Dinovite seems to be working. It is working and it is NOT costing as much as the prednisilone that I hated to give them. I am cautiously ecstatic. Wimzie's eyes are still bright and she has energy and an appetite and she obviously isn't suffering from her "summer complaint" as much as she has in the past. And as an added bonus, her breath isn't bad anymore. And considering that her pre-Dinovite breath could fell an ox at thirty paces, that is kind of a big deal.
I think I may be onto a good thing.
*Dinovite details (courtesy of Pittrpatter.com ; scroll down)
Dinovite Canine is a nutritional supplement designed to promote
your dogs good health. Dinovite Canine is a coarse powder, the consistency of
ground pepper or coffee, made from all natural ingredients including: omega 3
fatty acids, trace minerals, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, spirulina,
diatomaceous earth, montmorillonite clay, zinc and beneficial bacterial
Ingredients: Ground flax, kelp meal
(Ascophyllum nodosum), yeast culture, ground grain sorghum, diatomaceous earth,
zinc methionine, montmorillonite clay, yucca schidigera, alfalfa meal,
spirulina, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation
product dehydrated, Lactobacillus casei fermentation product dehydrated, Bifido
bacterium bifidium fermentation product dehydrated, Streptococcus faecium
fermentation product dehydrated, Aspergillus oryzae fermentation product
dehydrated, zinc sulfate, vitamin E, folic acid, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12.
Recommended dosage is 1 to 2 tablespoons of Dinovite per cup of dog food
fed to your dog.