Does my dog need vitamins?

October 31, 2012 · Posted in Dog Food/Nutrition, Doggie Healthcare, Service Dogs · Comment 

You may take supplements even though you eat well, so does that mean your dog should take vitamins and minerals also?

Canine nutrition is an evolving field but today’s high-quality dog foods generally make nutritional supplements unnecessary.  So says the DogWatch newsletter from Cornell University.  They asked Kathryn Michel, DVM, professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania about the topic.  Her advice?

Some dogs may require certain nutrients under certain conditions that are not provided in a commercial diet.  For example, a dog with joint pain and arthritis might benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin, but this may not help all dogs.

Other supplements can pose a risk. Dr. Michel warns that people should not give their dogs the same supplements they take in the same doses.  Fat soluble vitamins in particular, such as A, D, E, and K, are stored in the body and can become excessive. Too much calcium can also be dangerous.

Giving your dog a general vitamin-mineral supplement designed for dogs is not necessarily harmful, but not all the experts are convinced they will necessarily help your dog.  Some say more studies are needed and that your dog may not be harmed by them, but you might be spending money unnecessarily.

Vitamin deficiencies are uncommon in the U.S. these days since dog food companies have formulated blends that will take care of “typical” dogs.  But if your dog is a working dog, very athletic, or a puppy, they may have special requirements.

Things to look out for in balancing your dog’s diet can include too many treats or a homemade diet which may not be giving your dog the nutrition he or she needs. If your dog is lethargic, weak, or has a coat which isn’t healthy looking, make sure to consult with your veterinarian to rule out nutritional deficiencies.

I give Whistle a vitamin E every day.  What do you give your dog?


Vitamin image courtesy of adamr /

Assistance Dogs at Craig Hospital

October 24, 2012 · Posted in Assistance Dogs, Guide Dogs, Puppyraisers, Service Dogs · Comment 
Retired guide dog HeatherRetired guide dog Heather

Recently my husband Franz, Whistle, and I traveled to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, for my annual physical and re-evaluation of my disability-related medical needs. I’ve been coming to Craig for over 10 years. They are consistently  recognized as one of the top rehabilitation facilities in the country.

During my stays throughout the years, I have noticed one or two other assistance dogs beside Whistle. But during this visit, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of outpatients who are accompanied by an assistance dog.

In addition to service dogs, I also was excited to take a peek at the recreational calendar for the week to see what fun things were happening. Every day there was one or more different therapy dogs who were visiting both inpatients and outpatients. I met a lovely volunteer named Connie. She was accompanied by Heather, a former guide dog who had developed some health issues and had to be retired. Heather made a perfect therapy dog.
We also got to stop by and meet four-month-old, yellow lab Otis. Otis is a Canine Companions for Independence puppy in training. He was nestled under the desk of his puppyraiser and Craig employee, Jeni Exley.

There is also Emil, a yellow lab that works with his partner, Becki, in Follow-up Services.  The first thing Whistle and I noticed was Emil’s luxurious bed that was in the patient waiting area.

Everywhere we’ve turned this week I’ve heard wheelchairs bustling through the hallways and the beautiful sound of collars jingling as service dogs and their human partners are busily traveling the Craig Hospital corridors. Thank goodness for innovative medical facilities like Craig that truly understand and support the role assistance dogs play in the independence of the patients they serve.