MemberAugust 31, 2011 at 4:23 am314
Whew! I understand your frustration and your confusion by all of this. Let me start in the order that your asked:
Weight: I always judge a puppy or dog by body condition, this means how he looks and feels. You were right to look for the tuck behind the rib cage, when looking down at his topline, he should also tuck up bit behind his ribcage when looking at him from the side. Next step would be to feel over his ribs. Running your fingers over his ribs pressing lightly you should be able to feel his ribs (as if their was a quilt over them), If you can see his ribs he is too thin, or if it is difficult to feel his ribs (the equivalent of a down comforter over his ribs 🙂 he is too heavy. If is spine is very prominent in addition to these other factors he is too thin. If he feels heavy but has a boney spine then he may just need more muscular development which does not necessarily equal more food.
Most labs will eat everything that they can, so I would not free feed him. In fact overfeeding can cause growth issues for him. If he is not overweight nor too skinny then you are feeding the correct amount. The guidelines on the food bag is just that…. a guideline. Take into context his body condition score when calculating his treat/ bone intake . The majority of calories should come from his food but it is definitely not a problem to feed him treats when training. Instead of cutting his food back by 1 cup total per day maybe you can evaluate his treat situation and bones. Treats should be given only when training and should be small pieces of mainly protein. If you feel that you still need to cut back his food you may want to try a more subtle change like 1/4 less at each meal. 1/2 per day is still a lot of calories to be cut from his diet. You may find you will need to add this back in soon as he will start looking too lean when he hits another growth spurt.
Neutering: I agree with the recommendation of at Least a year. You definitely want to give Cooper a chance to develop complete musculature before neutering him as it will help protect his joints from injury, (especially that cruciate which is so commonly injured in labs).
Vaccinations: First I must say that you have to do your research when you choose a vet, and that may mean calling around and visiting a few local places. It is really important that you have a trusting relationship with your veterinarian so that if the time comes when Cooper is ill, you won’t have to second guess the situation at hand. All this starts with well visits and vaccinations.
Vaccinations ARE important for your dog. They DO protect him from disease that is deadly and very dangerous. I have seen puppies die from Parvo. I have seen animals with Rabies. It is real. Having said that, Over vaccinating is NOT good for your dog either. Your veterinarian’s job is to provide you with the most up to date information on vaccines, and OFFER you services, and advise you what best suits your dogs needs. At this point I do believe that it is still standard care for dogs to get core vaccines ie distemper/parvo every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks old and then a booster at a year old, then every 3 years. Rabies should be given at 16 weeks and then at a year then every 3 years. Core Vaccines include Distemper (which is distemper/adenovirus/parainfluenza/parvo) and Rabies . Vaccination for Lyme, Lepto and Bordetella should be weighed on risk factor etc.
I don’t believe the veterinarians are trying to push vaccines even though they believe they are harmful. I just think that some are not keeping up with continuing education and current protocols. Sometimes, (and such is the case with human medicine as well), we have to be our own advocate for what is right.
As for the ear wax- did they do a cytology to test for yeast or bacteria? Some dogs have wax but no real organisms and others have a small amount of wax and are loaded with yeast and other little buggers.
What it really comes down to is that you may need to find a vet that you are more comfortable with. Again it is super important that you can have a back and forth dialogue about what YOU want for you dog. Another thing to look into if you are not happy with traditional veterinary medicine is a holistic Vet. A good holistic vet, knows how to combine the best of natural therapies and traditional veterinary medicine.
I hope I have addressed all of your concerns..
Oh and if Cooper got a Lyme booster, it is not uncommon for them to be sore. They usually get that vaccine over the Left hip area. See if he will let you warm compress it. I can help make him more comfortable.