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QUESTION: I have a multi-part question I am hoping you can provide insight on. A little background first. We currently have two dogs: a 5-year-old, female English Bulldog and a 6-year-old, female Maltese. Our English Bulldog is so happy when she is able to play with others dogs, as most dogs would be. However, our Maltese refuses to play with her. Our Maltese is your typical lapdog, only wanting human companionship. We are starting to feel a bit guilty about our English Bulldog being bored with no playmate most of the time, hence our thought to potentially add a third dog to the mix mainly as a playmate/companion for our English Bulldog. We are unsure, however, if this is a good idea considering the harmony we currently have with just the two dogs. We do not want to disrupt this unless it is worthwhile, hence the reason I am here asking for your advice. Is it a good idea to get our English Bulldog a third dog as a playmate? Is having 3 dogs going to be exponentially more difficult than having 2 or just a bit more work? I am not concerned with extra food, vet expenses, etc., and we have enough room in our house for a third dog theoretically. I have been reading so many mixed reviews on having 3 dogs that it has made it confusing on whether or not my wife and I should pull the trigger on getting a third dog. The dog we are currently looking at is a 5-month-old Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix as we thought a medium to small size dog might be best/easier in terms of the logistics of having 3 dogs. I had read that a new puppy would likely follow our dogs around, and they would in turn help teach him/her the ropes, potty training, etc. Is this true or am I way off base here? Also, with a 3 dog scenario, is a small to medium size dog best or would a larger dog be easier? Should we get a male or female?

Are there other options we should consider for our English Bulldog instead of getting a third dog, such as doggie daycare twice a week, etc.? Iíd really like as close to a definitive answer on this as possible as my wife and I have been going back and forth on this issue for several months. Is the third dog worth it? I appreciate your time and advice. Thank-you.

ANSWER: Hi Mike,

This is really a behavioral question and my specialty on this forum is animal nutrition. You may be better off asking a trainer on this site if there is one. I will however give you my opinion and what I have done and seen with our own dogs.

If you should have any nutritional questions, I would be happy to help you out more. Just let me know what you're currently feeding and include brand names. Nutrition makes a huge difference in longevity, happiness and even some behavioral issues.

Now, back to your question. Your older dogs, may or may not take well to a new dog coming in. Some get set in there ways and don't want anything to do with a newcomer. Others will welcome them and start the bonding process. We've seen both scenarios with our dogs. There's not going to be a definitive answer for you until you just try it out.

As for care and maintenance, you're typically right as far as not really much more hassle to care for. We have 3 main dogs right now and we rescue others and bring into our home. We get them over any health issues they may have and then find good homes for them.

Some of these dogs get along great with ours when they come in and others have no luck at all at bonding.

It's great to have as many bond as you can so they can stay active and play with each other.

You're going to have to experiment a little to see how your Maltese will get along with others. She may never want to and just want to stay bonded to humans. This is fine but you're right about your bulldog not getting what he needs and wants out of life. This alone can cause other behavioral issue for her.

A couple of dogs ago, we had a very young rescue that wanted to play with any and everyone. For some reason, none of our dogs would play with her no matter what we tried. She wasn't with us that long and we did get her into a good home that keeps her busy.

You can try and take your Maltese to the park and see if she will play with any dog. If not, then that's going to be her decision.

But for your bulldog, if you can rescue a dog that needs a good home, you will be helping two lives.

There is probably a rescue group around your area that foster rescue dogs in there own homes. Many of these organizations will actually bring a dog to your house and see how everyone gets along.

If you have a particular breed in mind, search the internet for a rescue that deals with that breed. Also check local rescue groups as they get many different breeds in.

Most of the dogs we get are rescue's out of California that are in high kill shelters. They are usually on death row and we get them pulled before they are put down. There is weekly transport teams that bring them all the way up to Seattle with stops along the way.

I truly believe if you can afford to do it and the desire, a third dog will help them and your bulldog out. It's a win win. I believe the harmony in your household will just grow with them.

If you feed a proper balanced diet with the right supplements, you can keep them out of the vets office as well. I can really help there if you want me to.

Right now we have a 10 year old beagle rescue that we are helping. He get's along with our guys and there is some playing. But the feeling of helping him out and giving him a second chance at life is worth a lot to us.

I don't know if I helped you much but as I said, you can still ask a trainer their opinion but there's not much forcing a dog to play with others, at least not that I've ever seen.

Let me know if I can do anything else for you,

Roger

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Roger,

I really appreciate the time you took in giving me such a detailed response. My wife and I are still undecided on whether it will be in the best interest of our household to add another dog to the mix. I think you made a great suggestion in having a rescue bring a dog to our home to see if it gets along with our current pups first. Really a great idea thank-you.

I would like to request your knowledge on canine nutrition. Our Maltese is a fairly picky eater but will usually come around and warm up to whatever dog food we are feeding both dogs at the time. Our English Bulldog, on the other hand, is a whole different story. She always eats whatever we give her, so that's not a problem. However, I feel as though I have tried just about every type and brand of food out there for our Bulldog, and she either does not digest it well, or she sheds excessively. I have done lots of research into canine nutrition as well and fully believe a raw diet is the best for them. I had both of dogs on the raw diet for a short period of time, but the expense became too great and the mess/clean-up of raw as also a factor. I then tried a dehydrated food thinking it would be the next best thing, but my Bulldog actually refused to eat it! Go figure. Maybe it was the consistency or the fact that it had a garlic odor (Grandma Lucy's Pureformance Chicken was used). I then decided just to go back to dry food as our Bulldog always seemed the most content on it. By content I mean not overly hungry all the time (she was this way on the raw), and it is obviously much more affordable and easier for us. Surely there has to be a dry food that will make her healthy I thought. I started trying many different brands (Canidae, Natural Balance, Great Life, Horizon Pulsar, Nutrisource Pure Vita, and Nature's Variety Instinct). Each one of these either made her have excess stool, excessive shedding, itchy skin/ears, or all of the above. I started playing with different proteins and moved away from Chicken as I read this is the most common allergen of the protein choices. All of these were grain-free formulas by the way.

I currently have her on the grain-free dry kibble Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Boost Venison and Lamb. This one has little bits of freeze dried raw mixed in with the kibble. She loves the food and her stools are small and firm, but she is shedding like crazy! I have no idea why. I donít think it is the protein source because Venison and Lamb should be hypoallergenic for her Iím assuming. Any ideas as to why she is shedding so much on this food? She has only been on it for less than a month by the way.

I called our local pet store who is knowledgeable about canine nutrition, and they recommended the NutriSource Pure Vita Bison dry kibble formula. She was on this briefly and her coat looked great, but I switched to the Natureís Variety because it had the freeze-dried raw bits inside and thought that would be better for her. My current thought is to put her back on the Pure Vita for 3 months and see how it goes. I realize I am switching her foods probably a little too often, but that is because I am constantly trying to find the best of all worlds: a food that she loves, makes her skin, coat, and digestion healthy, and is affordable for us.

Please let me know your recommendations given the above and if you have any other thoughts. Again, I appreciate your time.

ANSWER: Mike,

I hope you guys find the right answer to make everyone happy and content. If it's another dog or just more time with your bulldog, I'm sure whatever was meant to be will come about.

I applaud your efforts to research and try new foods for your dogs. Most people do not know how to do this or don't and their dogs suffer.

You're right about the raw food diet being the best by far for any dog. There is no comparison to homemade, canned or the worse for any dog is the dry food diet.

That's not saying some dry food can't be a part of a diet, it should however never make up more than 50% at the most.

Dogs are meat eaters by nature. This is a high moisture diet of around 70%. Dry foods only have around 10% moisture. A dog on dry only or mostly dry foods will actually live in a mild state of dehydration. This taxes their internal organs over time. Their skin and coat is their biggest organs and they have to filter everything.

Dry foods are also not complete nutrition, they can never be. They cook the kibble at high heat ranges and spray synthetic vitamins and minerals back onto them. These synthetic nutrients are missing co-factors that make it a complete diet.

When picking a diet for your dogs, you need to look at time, budget and availability. You also have to look at a couple more things.

Fist, as you mentioned is the cost of food. This actually has to be done on a "per feeding" basis and not the price tag.

We own a natural pet food store and have done experiments with the worse dry food, Beneful, with one of the premium foods like Instinct. The cost per feeding for a 20 pound dog was about .33 per serving for the Beneful and about .35 per serving for the Instinct.

When you factor things in like health for the dogs and reduced trips to the vet, the right choice is easy to make.

You have to look at the raw this way as well. Try to break it down to a per feeding cost and do your comparisons. Remember, you feed much less of the raw than you would dry or canned. The higher the absorption, the less is needed to feed.

As for a mess and clean up, I'm not sure what raw you were feeding but most all commercial brands of raw are balanced with meat, organ meat, ground bone and vegetables and come mostly in little nuggets or medallions.

Try to find local sources instead of National brands as they are usually better priced. Ask at your local pet food store for any local brands and see if there are any.

We just open a bag (we use frozen nuggets from a local supplier) and pour them into tupper-ware type containers. These are kept in the freeze until needed and then we put one into the fridge to thaw out. Once thawed and dinner time, we simply scoop a little into each bowl and that's it. No mess, no clean-up and we put the bowl back into the fridge.

We will however add certain supplements during the week. Sometimes a little cottage cheese, a couple of eggs, some sardines, etc. We like to mix things up for them and add different things to spice up their meal time. Sometimes make a gourmet meal. This kind of thing will help your picky eater.

There's no better diet for dogs or cats for health and longevity than the raw food diet. But then you have to see how it fits into your families lifestyle.

Like my mom for instance, she has 4 dogs and as much as I've tried to convert her, she does not feel comfortable about feeding raw. That's fine then, but you must supplement with certain nutrients to make it a balanced diet. The two main ones are the enzymes and probiotics. These, no dog or cat should be without in there daily diet.

We feed raw exclusively to our dogs and we still add extra enzymes and probiotics just to give their bodies that much more resources to work with and help digestion. Plus, most of the raw food commercial formulas use muscle meat for their mixture and that contains very little enzymes. The bulk of the digestive enzymes from the prey model diet come from the intestine and duct system. They do not use these.

The Natures Variety you feed is a very good food and does contain some enzymes and that's a good thing. But, this or the NutriSource, another good food, is still dry foods and not very nourishing to the body, internal organs and the skin and coat.

Females especially need a lot of moisture in their diet to help keep the urinary tract flushed out.

Switching foods often is highly recommended. We switch protiens every time we go through a 6 pound bag of raw nuggets. But to see results from any food, you have to feed it at least 2-3 months. When a dog is having allergy or other skin problems, it can take this or long time to get the bad out of its system. Many times they will get worse before they get better as all the toxins and bad stuff leave the body.

The 10 year old beagle we have now had severe skin and coat issues, yeast and other conditions. We put him on a raw only diet that was rabbit. Even his treats we cooked from the rabbit only foods. We also gave him lots of sardines, herabal supplements to build him immune system and he has made a lot of progress in two months. This was one of the worse cases we've seen. It's no wonder someone dumped him, he was in so much pain and constant scratching. We had to put an anxiety jacket on him 24/7 to help curb a lot of it.

I would recommend you decide on the raw again or Nutrisource since she did well on it, but use it for only half of their diet, then add canned for the rest. If you can give them one meal of raw a day or even every other day, this will help.

I would get a good enzyme and probiotic supplement like from Animal Essentials, there plant enzyme and probiotic combination is very good and what we use. You may get a another probiotic for her and double up on them. Make this a therapy dose. This will help her digestive system when feeding anything.

For the shedding issue, the dry indoor heat during the winter plays havoc on a dogs coat. I would up her intake of omega's quit a bit. Use either fish oils, cod liver oil, canned tuna, canned salmon or the best thing to use is canned sardines in water. These little guys are a whole food and have a complete chain of omega 3's and 6's. This will add nourishment to her skin and coat.

The enzymes and probiotics will also help the shedding as this will help break down the foods far enough to get all the nutrients out of it and into her system.

To aid in building their immune system, I would also look to add some green type powders. Ones like spirulina, pet kelp or wheat grass is extremely good for them and will add the antioxidants needed for a stronger immune system. This will allow their own bodies to fight off many ailments. This is the holistic approach.

Whatever you try, stay on for a few months to see if things get better. Doing what you're doing and just adding more moist foods and a few supplements can make all the difference.

Keep up the good work, your dogs will reap the benefits of all your efforts. I know I rambled on a bit but it's a passion for me and my wife.

If you should have any further questions, please feel free to ask and I'll try to help. A lot of what you're going to have to do is trial and error. There is no one size fits all any more for dogs. Genetics took care of a lot of that.

Let me know if there is anything else,

Roger


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello again Roger,

I appreciate your detailed reply on canine nutrition. I am trying to work on being able to feed both my dogs fully on the raw. It is mostly the expense that gets us, but as I've been told, you either invest your money in the food or in the veterinarian. I would of course much rather invest the money into the food for my beautiful dogs! I am now in search of the most economical raw diet for our dogs. So far, Steve's Real Food and Darwins Pet seem to be the most economical of the raw choices. If you know of any other commercial raw diets that are less expensive, please fill me in on the details.

I also wanted to ask you a question about the kibble we are currently feeding our dogs. As I mentioned, this is Nature's Variety Venison and Lamb Raw Boost kibble. My English Bulldog's stool is firm but she is shedding profusely. How long should I give a dry food a chance to "work" on my dog? Should I wait a full 2-3 months even if she is shedding on it and tearing at her eyes? In other words, what is the earliest point I should pull the plug on trying a new food? Is it possible for her to shed on a new food then suddenly change and do well on it?

If I can't do the raw, I will likely try her on the Pure Vita Bison dry food, but I'd like to know at what point I should make this change form her current food.

By the way, we decided against getting a third dog because we felt it was not wise to disrupt the harmony we currently have in the home. However, my wife's friend needs to re-home her neutered male Pug, and we are considering taking him. The reason for this is that our Bulldog actually was "friends" with this Pug, and they used to play together frequently.

I appreciate your continued help.

Answer
Mike,

For your raw, I would be checking ALL the local natural pet food stores in your area. If you go to http://www.naturesvarity.com and look up "find a stoer" by your zip code, they will list all the stores in your area they sell in. This will help you find all the local stores.

Call some of these stores and ask if about the raw foods they carry. See if any of them carry a local brand. We have two local brands in our area and they are less expensive than those national commercial brands you mentioned.

Both of those are good foods and in fact, Steve's Real Food is made by Steve Brown who has been in our store a couple times giving lectures on the raw food diet.

Our store is in the Vancouver, WA area and we have one very local supplier and one who is in Portland, OR area. There is also a store in Portland called "Meat" and they only carry raw foods for dogs.

We do have people who live down at the Pacific coast and will drive to us once a month and buy up a cooler full of raw to get them by for another month.

So even if you have to drive a ways, I'm sure you can find a supplier that you can get it a little less expensively.

Some of the raw food companies have frequent buyer programs. You buy so many bags and get one free. This helps reduce cost as well.

Even if you have to feed one dry meal and one raw meal a day, they are at least getting good benefits from that. Even every other day. The more you can do the better but all you can do is all you can do.

If your bulldog is still shedding and tearing at her eyes, I would get her off Instinct and back on the Pure Vita while transitioning to full or part time raw diet. There maybe something in there that is causing her problems. We've seen how just one ingredient to a sensitive dog can cause problems.

Just be sure to include the enzymes and probiotics so her digestive system will operate normally. These are all good foods you tried and there should be no reason why she can't do well on any of them. But you must supplement with the enzymes and probiotics to achieve good digestive health.

It can take a couple months to clear up a dog and they often get much worse before getting better but it sounds to me that this is more of a certain ingredient bothering her.

Be sure to include some canned sardines weekly, this will give them the omega's they need for the skin health.

So if you have to use your dry as a base, that's fine. Just try to rotate in some raw as much as you can. Don't mix the dry with the raw as they digest at way different levels. This can potentially cause a twisted stomach.

Don't worry about it if you have to keep asking questions. I will be happy to assist if I can. I just want your dogs to be as healthy as possible.

The best thing you can do in return is to tell others about good dog diets and make some recommendations for them. The more people we can educate on a healthy diet, the better off the lives of these dogs will be.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Roger  

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Roger McLeskey

Expertise

Can answer all nutritional information for all dogs. Common problems with food, supplements, weight control, allergies, fleas, etc. Questions regarding raw food, homemade food, skin & coat issues, ect. Can't and/or will not do medicinal type questions that the vet takes care of.

Experience

I am certified in Dog Nutrition. Over 6 years now I've owned a natural pet food retail store. I've worked with hundreds of dogs and there owners to achieve better health. We promote a healthy balanced species related diet. This is the way nature made your pet to thrive. Fortunately for those who cannot or wish not to feed a raw based diet, there are alternatives with supplements and cooked food. Just don't let processed food be there only diet. Food is the most powerful medicine. Heal the core of the animal and the rest will take care of itself. We've turned the lives of many dogs around. There parents come back into the store and comment to us on how there dog acts like a real dog again. Our business is thriving and we continue to help many.

Organizations
We work with Second Chance Companions, Must Love Dogs, members of ASPCA, HSUSA and started our own personal "Red Head Rescue" (non chartered) for stray dogs and rescue dogs from high kill shelters. We've been able to heal the many health ailments these dogs have and place them in good homes.

Publications
Dog Food Decoded - How To Choose A Health Diet For Your Dog and Your Budget - Available on Amazon in Kindle format or Paperback. Various articles for in store and web.

Education/Credentials
Certified - Canine Nutrition Level Three. Last 7 years I've been working with veterinarians, holistic veterinarians, attending seminars and best of all, real life experience with hundreds of customer dogs and cats. I've seen what works and does not work. Feeding a proper species appropriate diet works for most ailments. We've taken away our petís natural diet and caused most of todayís problems.

Awards and Honors
None.

Past/Present Clients
Many satisfied pet owners coming to our store for nutritional help and advice.

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