Happy Birthday Melee!

Happy birthday to Melee and all of her siblings: Legolas, Kai, Marco, Smått Smått, Castor, LaLa and Lark.

And great thanks to Veronica for this lovely dog and to co-owner Maria for the change to have Melee to live with us!

Dogs and car safety

Crashtest

This article has been previously published in my old blog 3rd January 2014. I decided to publish it again as the previous article was written only in Finnish and also because this topic never gets old.

Human safety in car crashes has been tested for years with different kind of crash tests, but when it comes to pets, tests are not so common. However, the results are really alarming, as most of the so-called safety harnesses fail these tests. Most of the harnesses  tear completely during these tests throwing the dog against the windshield and human travelers. Even the best harnesses only protect humans and dogs get serious , even deadly, damages during the car crash. Finnish car magazine, Tuulilasi, wrote in August 2013 that when testing dog car safety harnesses, all products failed. Some of the harnesses would have even strangled the actual dog in a car crash. There are little to no regulations when it comes to dog car safety products. So even if manufacturers use weak plastic locks in their products, they are actually doing nothing wrong. Probably pet owners might see this “a bit” differently, especially when harnesses are often sold emphasizing the safety. This causes that many of the pet owners trust these products blindly.  Center for Pet Safety has published a video about Dog Harness Crash Test, which shows perfectly how weak these products are and how there is no reason to trust them.

I also searched few online stores selling dog car harnesses, and they never mention these weaknesses. Only Kulkukoira.com openly confesses, that plastic parts are too weak for safety products and they only sell AllSafe dog harnesses containing metallic parts. AllSafe  harnesses have been crash-tested at Statens Provnings- och Forskningsinstitut in Sweden and German TÜV has tested them and given them GS-record. However, I was not able to find any tests results or mention about what this GS actually means.

So, forget about harnesses, what about cages and boxes? The situation is not much better. Basic plastic boxes or metallic cages are not meant for a safe car traveling. They only help to avoid accidents, as the dogs cannot jump around in the car or if they are placed in the trunk. Even then the cage might kill the dog during the accident if it gets deformed badly (sharp plastic or metallic parts might harm the dog). most of these boxes or cages have not been tested at all, but pet stores still recommend them for a safe car traveling.

Crashtest
Screenshot from video: Center for Pet Safety Crash Tests Funded by Subaru

There are two cage options, that have passed car tests. One is Swedish Variogate, which also has crash test video on Youtube. The second one, US made Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate can be seen on the Subaru-sponsored crash test. Variogate costs about 500-7000 euros and is available in Finland as well. G1 Intermediate costs about 500$ but it is not sold anywhere in Finland.

There is also Sleepypod, that is soft traveling box for small dogs and cats. Sleepypod has also passed crash tests, and a video of the test can be seen on Youtube: Sleepypod Crash Test Success. Sleepypod costs about 2000 euros.

Dogi Oil – Finnish nutritional oil for dogs

Dogi Oil

I got a chance to test Finnish nutritional oil for dogs, Dogi Oil. The product was completely strange to me before this, so I decided to check it out.

At first, I would want to compare this product to regular rapeseed oil and fish oil.

Dogi Oil Rapeseed oil Fish oil
Fat (total) 97 g 97 g 94 g
Saturated 7 g 6 g 21 g
Monounsaturated 60 g 58 g 57 g
Polyunsaturated 30 g 33 g 16 g
Omega-3 11 g 11 g 20-35 g
Omega-6 22 g 22 g 10 g
Vitamin E 100 mg 19 mg 0-10 mg

This comparison table shows, that there is no much difference between Dogi Oil and regular rapeseed oil when comparing fats. However, Dogi Oil contains much more vitamin E. Products contains only natural vitamin E, so no synthetic, which is good.  Dogi Oil contains also phenol antioxidants, which keep the oil from being oxidized. That guarantees that  oil can be stored at room temperature even after opening, unlike regular rapeseed oil which should be stored in a refrigerator. This is a huge plus for me, as my refrigerator is always full of jars and bottles, so I do not wish to add any extra in there if not required. The difference between Dogi Oil and regular rapeseed oil can be also seen in its color and smell.

Dogi Oil
Dogi Oil bottle

So, do the vegetable oils really work for dogs? For this question, I had to dig some information from a dog nutritional bible, Katiska (unfortunately only in Finnish). I happened to find an article about vegetable oil comparison, which was written 17th April 2014, but I believe the information is still correct. The article says that vegetable oils do not work as a source of Omega-3 fatty acids, as they only contain ALA-fat acid and not EPA and DHA-fat acids. This was new info for me. It is true that dog’s (and human’s) liver can somehow convert  ALA to DHA and EPA, but not well at all. Also, a heavy dose of Omega-6 weakens this converting even more. This means we cannot only trust if the product says it contains Omega-3 and I would say that fish oil is still certainly the best source for Omega-3.

Instead of Omega-3, Dogi Oil contains much more Omega-6 than fish oil, and that is also important for dogs (especially coat). With Omega-6, it must be taken into consideration, that it affects to blood coagulation and it boosts infections. When it comes to humans, there might be even overdosing of Omega-6 and with dogs, we should know there is a risk for that. Especially if a dog is eating food that is based on corn, its food probably contains enough Omega-6 already.

If used raw materials cointain sunflower oil, maize or corn oil , it is likely that there are much Omega-6 fatty acids. (Free translation, Katiska 22.1.2010)

So based on the information I read, Dogi Oil is not the best source for Omega-3. However, it contains a noticeable amount of vitamin E. Vitamin E works as antioxidant and it is salutary especially for active dogs with stressful activities. Otherwise, lack of vitamin E is not very common among dogs.

Dogs need about 18 milligrams of vitamin E for every 35 grams of added fat (Katiska 1.2.2015). Therefore we can count, that 35 grams of Dogi Oil contain 35 milligrams of vitamin E, so there would be 17 milligrams of spare vitamin E. Daily dosage for dogs should be around 0,3-3mg/kg. For example, the daily dosage of Dogi Oil for a medium size dog  (20kg) is three teaspoons (3x5ml). This contains about 15 milligrams of vitamin E (0,75mg/kg). If we notice also the oxidation load caused by added fat, there is only a bit over 7 milligrams of vitamin E (0,35mg/kg). So if there is an increased need for vitamin E (as there can be if a dog is injured, pregnant or stressed), it could be better to receive the extra vitamin E from a source that does not contain fat. For a dog that lives a regular life, Dogi Oil offers enough vitamin E as many dog foods also contain it (and also added fat).

Intake of vitamin E is not easy to calculate. It is a little difficult to get from food other than through vegetable oils and then increased fat intake increases the need for vitamin E itself (and other antioxidants). Simply said,  the E-vitamin included in additional oil is mostly used for the increased oxidation load caused by oil (fat) itself. (Free translation Katiska 1.2.2015)

And finally, we will talk about the price of the product, which is the thing that concerns me the most. A bottle of  Dogi Oil costs 8,69€/250ml, which means 34,76€ per liter. A teaspoon is about 5ml, so one bottle lasts about 2 weeks if used fo one medium size dog (daily dosage of 3 teaspoons). Regular rapeseed oil costs about 3-10 euros per liter, so compared to that Dogi Oil is quite expensive.  Because of the added vitamin E, this product probably should not be compared to regular rapeseed oil. However, there are some products sold for horses (that can be used for dogs safely as well, if I have understood correctly) that contain vitamin E without fat, and cost about 20-30 euros per liter. Most of the dog owners want an easy solution, so I would say Dogi Oil is the choice for them.

I barely believe I will continue the use of this product in the future. The main reason it the price. If the price was lower, I could consider using this with some fish oil. My dogs luckily haven’t had problems with skin or coat, so I don’t see essential need for this either (or any other additional nutritional oil either), but if during this test I would see positive effects, I would probably change my mind and forget about the price. Every dog is an individual, so no matter what the recommendations of daily dosages of nutrients actually is, different products might help different dogs.

I would also like to give some feedback on the brand image of Dogi Oil, which shows man and English Bulldog. It might be, that regular person sees it differently, but I feel that if there is a product that is meant for dog well-being, it should not be advertised by an English Bulldog. The breed is probably the saddest breed in the world as they are prone to a multitude of serious health problems and many think buying and reproducing these dogs is unethical and has nothing to do with dog loving or animal well-being!

Here is also a video a made just for fun about how well Dogi Oil tasted for my dogs. 🙂

Dogi Oil
Dogi Oil Facebookissa

Melee and balloons

Halloween-Melee

Halloween offered a great opporturnity to write about one of Melee’s special features: balloons. All of my dogs of course have loved balls and balloons, but the lifespan of the balloons has not been very long in the hands (paws/teeth) of a Belgian shepherd. Melee was not a exception and her first balloons broke up after few seconds. But she is a quick learner, so after breaking two balloons, she knew how to handle them. She learned, that when a balloon is in the air, she can jump and poke it and nothing but fun happens. But the moment trhe balloon touches the floor, she puts the caution-gear on. This means, she needs to search the knot of the balloon and gently grab the balloon.

This balloon thing is one of the many things that prove Melee is a lot clever than average Belgian. Everybody knows that Belgians are clever dogs that learn stuff quickly, but this tender behaviour towards toys (or towards anything) is not a common word when describing a Belgian shepherd. So it is a pity that Melee’s roommate Ginga represents this group of average group of Belgians, so the lifespan of balloons in this house is not prolonged… Even Ginga has an idea, that she should be careful with balloons, she just lacks the ability to think before acting and unfortunately she also believes, that speed and power are the keys to all success.

Melee’s games with balloons is, however, super-cute to watch, as she is so miraculously tender towards them and really pays attention to how to roll the ball to correct position so she is able to grab the knot.

Halloween-Melee
Our Halloween-balls had a rubber bad too, which Melee quickly learned to be an option for the knot.

 

Sewing a jacket for Melee

Mellu ja takki

I have always been handicraft-person, even tough my sewing hobby is not always so active as it could be. When it comes to sewing, I happen to have three main problems:

  1. My basic knowledge about sewing is from a comprehensive school, which means my last textile work class was over 10 years ago.
  2. I hate reading instructions, so I do not know correct names for sewing accessories or sewing styles or textile materials.
  3. I am sort of perfectionist, but at the same time I always want to try to make difficult or unusual things – which often causes frustration

I could actually say, that my sewing skills are a result of mixing trial and error.

Anyways, this time I made a jacket for Melee. I have done one for each of my dogs in the past, and each time I have learned something new. This time I wanted to try a new material too, so I chose that softshell would be the main material of the jacket. Other materials were cotton jersey and a basic lining. In the past, I used fleece as lining, but it tends to get really electric when it gets in touch with dog hair, so I kind of hoped that cotton jersey could solve that problem.

Dog jacket
Ready jacket

Sewing was a bit of a challenging, and I had to buy a special ball point needle for a cotton jersey, as regular needle left dropped stitches behind. For me, both needles look the same, but the difference in the result is huge! Not a single dropped stitch! A store called Ompelutalo (located in Oulu, Finland) helped me to find a correct needle and also lots of different stuff for my future projects.

For Melee’s jacket, I also decided to put a neck part that is adjustable with elastic band and eyelets. The Same solution was used when connecting front part and hem that allows the shoulders to move freely. Of course, I also added some reflectors and also wide rubber band that goes around the hind legs  and keeps the jacket in place even on windy days.

I am quite happy with the result, even tough there are some things that I would do differently now. Maybe I would add more “format” on back and groin area of the jacket, so it would sit better on the dog. But this jacket works great for its purpose and I also find it stylish – at least it matches my taste.

Reflectors of the dog jacket
Reflectors of the dog jacket