Update on Emi

Emi lying on Shio

Time for an Emi update! Even though we've already adopted her, she's still growing in so many ways to adapt both to her new environment and our routines at home. She has officially been ours since December 13th but she came into our home as a foster on October 21st. This is our 3 month update!

Physical Appearance

Emi was 11 months old when she came to us so she didn't have much growing left to do but her physical appearance definitely had room for improvement.

Emi is a petite Shiba but when she arrived she was a little too skinny. You could feel each rib under her skin (not in a good way) but she was not starved. Emi would also tire easily after short periods of play time with Shio at home. I'm proud to say that since then, she has gained a pound or two and added a lot of muscle to her tiny frame. She can now run circles around Shio and still have energy to play fetch. Her legs are so muscular that she can gracefully leap onto any piece of furniture she wishes to and bounces around our living room with ease. Emi has such a high energy level that we started feeding her the same amount as we do for Shio and she still doesn't gain weight!

When she first arrived, her belly was shaved from her spay surgery and the fur from the base of her tail was missing thanks to a flea infestation. Her fur was brittle to touch and her skin was noticeably flaky. She looked a little scraggly but still beautiful. Since then, we switched her diet to home cooked meatloaf and added a squirt of salmon oil and ground flaxseed to her meals. We use oatmeal shampoo on her during baths. Her fur has grown back in and improved dramatically though her skin still flakes here and there. I'm a proud mama when people who met her during the first week with us compliment on the huge improvement in her fur condition since then! About two weeks ago, the fur on the back of Emi's head started turning red. She may actually be a redhead!

Emi's teeth were also covered with plaque when she first arrived. It was obvious that her teeth had never been brushed and likely that she didn't have any dog approved chew toys or food. When we took her to the vet, they told us that it was unlikely that the molars would ever rid itself of the plaque no matter how much we brushed with chicken flavored dog toothpaste. We're happy to report that she has sparkling white teeth after we let her gnaw on marrow bones! It was an amazing transformation and almost instantaneous! It was probably true that we would've never gotten rid of the plaque by brushing alone but allowing her to chew on bones made all the difference.



Personality Changes

Emi came to us as an extremely shy Shiba with very little exposure to the outside world. She would violently shake when we walked outdoors and hide under anything available or lay down and protest. She still shakes when she is outdoors sometimes but stopped breaking down during walks. She's now very comfortable in both our home and the dog run. For the first time this week, I watched her initiate play with a dog other than Shio outside while at the dog run! She will still shake when we are outdoors and there's a lot of people walking around but it has improved a lot. We've taken her almost everywhere with us to let her see and experience more of what the world has to offer. She's been to beaches, grassy parks, played in snow, shopping with me and visited my family on several occasions. She stayed with our puppy-sitter during our vacation earlier this month and our sitter said that she was amazing and sweet.

She's a very sweet dog and will jump up onto the couch and lay down next to me. She leans her head or body into my hand when she's looking for scratches and nibbles on my finger tips when I stop petting her. Emi has no sense of personal boundaries and will often leap and land on you when you're in her way while she's chasing after a toy. She's bonded with me but is still wary of Josh, especially when Josh is wearing a business suit. We're still working on that issue.

Emi can also be an off leash Shiba! She loves to run after balls and run back towards you, especially if she thinks that she'll be receiving a treat or scratches in return.

Shio's Dental Hygiene

Okay, so as Josh mentioned, I'm a little crazy about Shio's dental hygiene. Maybe it was because my friend scared the bejesus out of me when she told me her 3 yo Chihuahua had half his teeth removed because they failed to care for his teeth or maybe because I'm just crazy. On a serious note, here is why I pay close attention to Shio's dental health:

"Because dogs have been domesticated by man, they no longer use their teeth to tear through a skin layer in order to feed. As a result, their canine teeth become disused and prone to plaque buildup and yellowing. Infections, kidney and heart disease can result when poor dental health gives bacteria an environment to enter your dog's body. Bacteria in the dog's mouth break down food particles and converts them to plaque and excess acid. The plaque can become mineralized to form a hard deposit on the tooth surface called calculus. The excess acid damages the gums resulting in gingivitis. Unchecked gingivitis results in periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss. " -dogchewsrawhide.com

Here's a quickie on what I do for Shio's teeth and the products we use:

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Dental Fresh for Dogs I throw a capful of this yumminess into Shio's water bowl every single time it gets refilled. The product protects teeth and gums, removes plaque and tartar, brightens teeth, and freshens breath. I've used it since Shio arrived at our home and he's always had nice breath. One week, we ran out of Dental Fresh and his breath started to stink like a dog's. Next week, we had Dental Fresh to add into his water again and all order was restored. Besides, who can resist the Scooby-Doo looking fella on the label?

Petdental Natural Toothpaste for Dogs (2.5 oz.) Brush brush brush! We brush Shio's teeth with Four Paws Petdental Natural Toothpaste at least twice a week with a special dual headed toothbrush. He loves to lick the toothpaste off of  the toothbrush but does not enjoy the brushing. That is why we give him a "special" Greenie treat after the brushing.

Greenies Treats for Dogs Sigh. Greenies. Before anyone yells at me for giving my dog Greenies, Shio is very careful with what he eats and chews thoroughly before swallowing. I know that Greenies has a bad rep in the past but they have a "improved" formula. Yes, it is a risk and so is everything that you decide to give to your dog. He seems to love them and anything he loves, we buy. Yes, we are suckers like that. He only gets a Greenies treat after the teeth brushing and the treat is supposed to reduced tartar and plaque as well as provide a healthy supplement of vitamins and clean your dog's breath.

Rope Toys There are both social and dental benefits with having your dog play with rope toys. We play tug of war with Shio and that helps build our relationship with him. As far as dental benefits, the rope toy will act as floss on Shio's teeth when he's pulling at the strings. As the strings fray, I take the toy and cut the loose strings, so he can start all over again. It keeps him happy and busy, but freaks him out when he ingests the string and it comes out the other end. See this post for more details on that.

Natural Bones J and I will go to the neighborhood butcher shop and buy bones for Shio with the marrow still inside. Shio loves this treat and the chewing on the bones help toughen his gums and clean his teeth. We boil the bone for a few minutes before giving it to him to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs. After the bones cool off and we give it to Shio, he goes nuts. We actually needed to train him to "be nice" with sharing the bone because he became quite aggressive when anyone tried to take it away from him. I don't blame him though... they are quite yummy.

Rawhide I'm a little more cautious about giving Shio rawhide treats because they break apart and the jagged pieces could get stuck in Shio's system, but we do give this to him as a treat once in a blue moon for the same reasons why we give him natural bones.

So those are the basic ins and outs on what we do for Shio's dental health. Hopefully, he'll keep his pointy pearly whites for many years to come!