Dog Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency EPI 2.5 Years Later –

dog epi exocrine pancreatic insufficiency lhasa apso

Dog Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency EPI

So we just had our checkup today with the internal medicine specialist vet for Chester, one of my Lhasa Apso dogs who has EPI or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.  This is the first time we actually had a specialist appointment 12 months apart (previously it was more frequent) as our last blog post on exocrine pancreatic insufficiency was a year ago.

Chester was fasted for 12 hours just in case the vet wanted to do an ultrasound on him.  But it turns out that wasn’t even necessary after the physical exam and reviewing the bloodwork from May.  What really pleasantly surprised the vet was Chester’s weight.

Back in May during our regular annual checkup with our regular vet, I had reported that Chester was kind of stuck at the 18 pound level.  The vet suggested we increase his food intake which I’m sure Chester did not mind!   So after a few months of eating one full cup twice per day, Chester weighed in at a bit over 20 pounds this morning!  The specialist vet never thought Chester would get over 20 pounds again.

She said that Chester is now even slightly overweight and it would be okay to decrease his food amount to maybe 3/4 cup of food each meal so that he can drop to maybe just under 20 pounds for a healthy weight, especially over the winter when both Chester and his sister Roxie are prone to gaining weight from a drop in outdoor activity.

Chester continues on his current lifelong treatment consisting of Pancrease powder, famotidine and vitamin B12 shots.  The specialist vet kindly wrote us another written prescription for the Pancrease powder so we could source it cheaper from an online pet pharmacy.

I told the vet that Chester’s stools are generally good (not soft) and there is no signs of wet or loose stools.  The only thing I notice different compared to his before-EPI days is that he tends to have a bit of heat sensitivity as he doesn’t like to go outside on the back deck during the summer but is the first to run out when it’s raining or during cooler temperatures.  The vet didn’t think this was a significant observation to his condition.

So all in all after 2.5 years of his initial EPI diagnosis, Chester is doing really well with a good body weight and otherwise living a great life.  Not only is he a happy guy at home with his sister Roxie and myself, he has a full social life with his doggie friends once or twice per week through our small dogs outings Meetup group which he enjoys.

I hope that for all those out there with EPI dogs, our case will act as some reassurance that our dogs can still live a normal, happy life as long as you do your best to keep them healthy as possible.

By the way, Chester is in the photo above on the left with his sister Roxie on the right as they enjoy an outing to Heart Lake Conservation Area this summer.


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We Control Our Dogs Social Lives –

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Dog Social Lives

I created our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group so that my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie can have a social life.  I felt it was important since dogs are naturally social pack creatures.

Whenever I see single dogs in the neighbourhood who are always barking like crazy whenever they see other dogs around, I know right away that these particular dogs are not socialized as their owners have prevented them from any contact with other dogs early on.  Dog socialization is considered by trainers to be an important element of overall dog obedience training starting at puppyhood.

Not saying that our dogs have to necessarily like all other dogs.  Many of our small dog members in our group including my Chester does not particularly like big dogs but being with other small dogs is just fine.  However, some of these neighbourhood dogs do not get along with any other dogs no matter what size.  This is a real shame since these dogs will never know the happiness possible from having other doggie friends in contrast to the regular dogs who come out with us in our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group.

We as dog owners end up having total control over our dogs’ social lives.  It is up to us to get our dogs out with their doggie friends even if it means getting in our cars to drive somewhere for scheduled outings.  Yes this may sometimes be an inconvenience to us as humans but we do this for our dogs since otherwise they are the ones being isolated at home without any of their doggie friends around. This is why I try my best at getting my two dogs out once or twice per week if possible so that they can be with others.

Small Dogs Outings Meetup Group Membership Purge

In our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group, I think many members had the right initial intentions when first joining up with us.  But what I noticed recently is that upon a closer look at our membership, a significant number of our members not only have never been out to a single event with us, but they have not even logged onto our group website in over a year.

It is quite clear that for these particular members, our Meetup group has not been meeting their needs and interests.  Therefore I removed about 60 members from our group membership as a purge this long weekend.  We will continue to do this on a rolling basis as other members reach a year without logging in, they will be removed.

Fortunately we do have a regular group of dogs and owners who do come out.  We would much rather have a smaller but active membership than a larger and generally inactive one.  I only hope that the members who have not been active are finding other ways to give their dogs social lives.

For the sake of the overall well being of their dogs, they don’t necessarily have to come out with us as they can go out and socialize with other dogs in their neighbourhoods or other groups.  But if they are not getting any social time with other dogs at all, then the owners are the ones at fault since they have the total control over their pets’ social lives.

These owners of course can come up with all sorts of excuses such as too busy work schedules, etc.   But come on, then why have a dog if you neglect to give it the opportunity to have a rich social life?


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Dogs Make A Place Feel Like Home –

navajo blanket dogs pets home

Dogs Make House Feel Like Home

Recently, I acquired a Navajo native blanket at a local aboriginal pow wow in Ontario.  It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for many years in order to fill a large space in my living room wall that I have reserved for it.  When I took a photo of it after it was all hung, I decided to include my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie into the shot shown above.

The photo was intended to show how a wall hanging such as a native blanket could warm up a room as part of my special interest website in native aboriginal Indian art.   But sure enough, the inclusion of my dogs also demonstrated that pets have the ability to warm up a room even further.  The combination of both the Navajo blanket wall hanging as well as my dogs really made my living room look like a warm, cozy home.

The photo now shows a place that one would love to come back to since it’s home and also a place to invite guests over.  This is a bit of a contrast to some countries like Honduras where I visited in the spring.  There, dogs stay outside of homes day and night.  Here where I live, our dogs live with us inside our homes and this photo shows that.

Our pets are part of our homes.

By the way, if you would like free ebooks on native aboriginal art, go to my special interest website called Free Spirit Gallery.


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Mississauga Small Dogs Meetup Group On Summer Schedule –

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Mississauga Small Dogs Meetup Group

Summer is here with hotter temperatures during the daytime so our Mississauga GTA Small Dogs Outings Meetup group is moving to our summer schedule.   We will continue with our Midweek Walks but with later start times at 8 pm rather than 7 pm.  This will help us utilize the cooler temperatures in the evenings.

However, walking later in the evenings also mean that we won’t be doing as many wooded nature trails since they will be hotbeds for mosquitoes during the evenings.  We’ll stay in well lit residential areas as well as lakefront trails where there are breezes instead.

We will also stop our longer weekend walks since they will be too hot to do for both our dogs and us.  Instead, we’ll try to do some shorter local walks first thing in the morning on some weekends as scheduling allows.

We’ll keep doing our leash free dog park outings too but limit them to 30 minutes and we’ll start them earlier too at 9 am on weekends.  Although some dog owners have told us that they find it hard to get up early on weekends, they will miss the early morning hours when the temperatures are still okay for our dogs before they start to rise at about 10 am.  Then the rest of the day will be too hot.

I think it’s important as dog owners that we keep our dogs fit and if the early mornings are not doable, than it would be the evening outings during midweek that would work.  We cannot let the summer hot weather as an excuse to turn our dogs to unfit and overweight pets.  We just have to work around the summer heat.

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Dog Litter Box Helped When I Was Stuck In Airport –

dog litter box potty training stranded airport overnight

Dog Litter Box Potty Training Helped A Lot

Once again, dog litter box training proved to be extremely helpful for me and my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie.  This week I went on what was suppose to be a very quick business day trip that involved flying from Toronto to Washington DC on Tuesday morning and flying back that same day getting me back home early evening.  Such as trip would not require any overnight stay nor a pet sitter.

When I got on the plane for the 5:15 pm return flight, we were told that there was a short delay in taking off due to a passing lightning storm.  They told us to deplane back in to the terminal by about an hour waiting in the plane.  Shortly after 8 pm, they said that all flights were cancelled for the night due to more storms in the region.

So as we all waited in the long customer service line to rebook our flights for the next day, we were also told that all hotel rooms within a 25 mile radius of the Washington Dulles airport were completely booked up.  I later confirmed this with a call to one of the hotel chains.

Naturally I became concerned about my two dogs since they were not going to see me come home that night.  My rebooked flight was for 9:45 am which meant that I had to be back in the airport to check in by about 8 am.  With the longer transits out to a further hotel and back to the airport the following morning in mind, I decided to just stay at the airport all night instead.

Stranded Overnight At Airport

It turns out that I was not the only stranded passenger as there were lots of others who had to do the same.   Most people tried to sleep on those airport chairs but there was no way I could do it since the arms were fixed resulting in no way anyone can lie down on those.  Some people slept on air vents but these were blowing cold air out so I would certainly not be comfortable on those.

I did see a few people sleep on the floor which was rock hard.  So I ended up sitting on an airport chair listening to some music and getting up to walk around throughout the long night while the overnight cleaning staff were busy doing their duties throughout the terminal.

When the security checks opened up again at about 5 am, I decided to go through since I already got my boarding passes during the late evening when I went to the checkin counter to reconfirm my rebooked flights.   My rebooked flights involved connecting at New York JFK rather than a direct flight to Toronto which would not have been available until the next evening.

It was about 4:30 pm by the time I got through all my flights, ground transfers and drove home.  I was expecting a bit of a mess since I was about 21 hours late getting home.  I had also forgotten to turn on the AC so I was worried that my dogs would get too hot during the daytime.

But when I got home on that Wednesday afternoon, my two dogs Chester and Roxie were both fine.  There was no mess anywhere and neither of them were in distress despite missing two meals and not seeing anyone since Tuesday morning.

They still had water left in the water dish and their dog litter box was fully than usual.  So their dog litter box training once again turned out to be extremely helpful.

Even if I did call my pet sitter while I was stranded in the Washington Dulles airport, she would not have gotten in anyway since I had one set of house keys with me while the other one was inside the house.  So I probably have to review this experience and if I ever go on a fly away day trip again, I should prepare better in case of a delay like this one.

I had to stay in my suit the entire time so what I may do on my next day trip is to pack some extra clothes along with some toiletries like toothbrush in my carry one luggage.  I might also give one set of keys to my pet sitter just in case if I have to call her to come in if I’m delayed overnight somewhere.

As awful as this experience was for me to spend my first night stranded at an airport and for my dogs to miss their daddy coming home on time, it was another success story for indoor dog potty training with a litter box.

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Your Dogs Deserve A Social Life Plus More –

dog socializing dogs social life

Social Life For Dogs

Just got back from another one of our midweek dog outings and took some photos which are posted here.  When I look at the top photo by the lagoon beach at Lakefront Promenade in Mississauga, Ontario where we were, I get a deep sense of satisfaction that I’m enriching my dogs’ lives by giving them interesting places to explore with their doggie friends.  Instead of being in the house all the time and just wandering close by, we do outings to nice places on a regular basis.  Through our small dogs outings Meetup group, we also get to do these with other dogs.  After all, every dog should have a social life since they are social creatures in nature.

It’s always surprising to me to see just how some other dogs in the neighbourhood have not been raised in this way.  Their owner never got their dogs socialized so as a result, they are not comfortable with any other dogs.  Whenever they see other dogs outside, they get aggressive and scared.  This is a real shame indeed.

Furthermore, they always just go around the same block for walks without exploring other interesting places.  Some dogs don’t even get to go on walks around the block as their owners are too lazy to walk them.

Dogs Need Mental Stimulation

In our case, my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie always get to go to different places outside.  They deserve mental stimulation through the many sights, sounds and smells at interesting places to check out.  We have a few different routes for local walks as well as many awesome nature trails we drive to.


Our dogs also get together with other dogs, many whom have become regular doggie friends now.  So exploring interesting places with their friends is a huge bonus since they all deserve social lives too.

Of course all the exercise our dogs get from these outings result in maximizing their health which is yet something else they all deserve.  There is really no excuse for having a dog overweight and unhealthy.

As part of proving a happy home for my two dogs, I ensure they are comfortable too.  So in our case, during really cold or hot days, they don’t need to go outside to freeze or bake since Chester and Roxie are both housetrained indoors with a dog litterbox.  We go outside for fun when the temperatures are within comfort limits but when inside the house, they can use their dog litterbox whenever they need to.  If you are interested, check out more details on how to housetrain your dog with a litterbox too.

So as a friendly challenge to all dog owners out there, you should all try to provide similar opportunities for your dogs as we do.  After all, for everything that they give you, they deserve it.


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Are You Committed To Keep Your Dog In Shape?

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Keeping Your Dog In Shape

We just had a nice hike at Kelso Conservation Area which is where Glen Eden Ski Resort is in Milton, Ontario.  Since this conservation features a ski area, we always choose to hike up one of the ski slopes as part of the hike.  This of course is great exercise in to keep our dogs in shape too.

In fact, the initial part of this Kelso hike is going up one of the ski slopes since most of the hiking trails are at the top of the escarpment.  This is a good thing too for both people and dogs as the toughest part of the hike is right at the beginning with this slope climb.

Then the rest of the hike is through the woods with some nice lookout points at the top of the escarpment showing great views of Glen Eden and Kelso north side.  We can also see the highway 401 from the top as well.

After the hiking trails at the top of the escarpment, we hike back down another ski slope back to the parking lot at the bottom.  This hike took us two hours and my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie had no problems doing the full two hours it took to do it.  We took several water breaks of course since it was getting a bit hot but fortunately most of the hike is in the woods shaded from the sun.

Commitment To Keep Your Dog Fit

I am very proud of my dogs Chester and Roxie as they are both 11 years old now but had no problems with this Kelso hike including the intial ascent up the ski slope.  We made it up faster than most of the other hikers in our group.  Sometimes other dogs who are younger than Chester and Roxie, need to be carried part way through these hikes as they don’t have the stamina and fitness that my dogs have, even at their age.

It has always been a major commitment of mine to keep my dogs fit for as long as possible.  This includes maintaining a healthy diet without overfeeding them, especially with junk food as well as plenty of exercise.  We go out as much as we can when the weather is good and we do stairs inside when the weather is not good out there.

With our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group, we keep our dogs in shape with others on our dog walks too.  So in addition to the physical fitness aspect, our dogs also benefit from the social and mental fitness elements as well when they are on group dog walks.

Our dogs give so much to us.  So it is my belief that in addition to providing a safe and happy home for them, we should also be totally committed to keeping our dogs in shape.  Ask yourself honestly if you are doing everything you can to keep your dog in shape.   If not, determine what you can do whether it’s to get out there more often with your dog or to hire somebody else to help you.

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Midweek Group Dog Walks Are Great Ideas

small dogs walks group outings

Midweek Group Dog Walks

Our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group runs outings both on weekends and during midweek as well.  Our midweek group dog walks have turned out to be great ideas since they represent nice breaks in the middle of the week for all involved.

Not only do the humans get to use these midweek outings as a nice break from their usual work week schedules, our small dogs also get out for some nice exercise and dog socialization with their friends.   They no longer have to wait for an entire week in order to see some of their doggie friends.

Of course our midweek dog outings are a bit shorter with durations of 45 minutes to an hour at most while our weekend outings can be a few hours long.  But people and dogs still like coming out to our midweek dog walks.

The midweek outings tend to draw the local crowd since GTA is busy during the week with traffic which prevents our members from outside our local area to attend.  And we have to shift the hours a bit depending on how hot the temperatures are outside – the hotter the temps, the later in the evening we start our midweek walks.

For the spring, we can do our usual variety of nature trails in Mississauga during the early evenings but as we start them later during the hotter summer nights, we will have to shift from the mosquitoe populated nature trails to more residential areas.  This is okay since the residential areas we use are relatively quiet in terms of traffic and they are well lit.  We started some of these later night residential areas last summer and they worked out quite well.

My Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie (shown above with two of their friends during a recent midweek dog walk) just love being out with their doggie friends during the middle of the week as it represents something different from their usual week at home away from other dogs.

So consider getting together with some other dog owners in your area to organize midweek dog walks of your own.  You will find that they are quite welcomed by both dog owners and their dogs.


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How Small Dogs Group Adjusts For Hot Weather

group dog walks

Small Dogs Group In Hot Weather

As we head into the warmer part of spring, our small dogs group will have to make some adjustments on how we do our outings.  The temperatures get higher during the day so for both our leash free dog park outings as well as our weekend hikes partnered up with our general social Meetup group, we will start these events earlier in the day.

So instead of our usual start time between 10:30 am and 11 am, we will start most of our events at 9:30 am in order to catch the cooler temperatures in the morning.  This will make our walks and hikes more comfortable for both our dogs as well as ourselves.

Our dog park outings will be only 30 minutes in duration since most dog parks have little or no shade.  While our hikes at conservation areas usually have tree covered trails, they will usually end by midday when we can make on site decisions on whether to continue socializing or not depending on what the temperatures are.

If the temperatures are okay for the dogs to sleep in the cars without heating up, then we can extend our socializing but if they are too high, then the events will end for the day so we can bring our dogs home.

Midweek Walks To Start Later

For our popular Midweek walks, it’s just the opposite.  We will likely start them later in the evening at about 8 pm rather than 7 pm.  This means that much of the sunshine will have disappeared resulting in cooler temperatures.

We’ll stay on well lit areas like residential streets and any trails that we know are well lit too.  But since it’s during the summer evenings, we’ll avoid areas where the mosquitoes will be out in full force.  We tried several of these evening walks last August and those who came out really liked them.

Potty Training With Litterbox Great For Summer

Since our summers are quite hot, my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie usually don’t want to come outside until the temperatures are cooler.  And since they were both indoor litterbox trained, they don’t need to go out during the daytime at all.

Potty training with a litterbox is great for the summer since our dogs can stay comfortable inside with AC all day long no matter how hot it is outside.  So this type of potty training is great for all year round, not just during cold winters.  For more details, just click on the last link.

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Keep High Resolution Images Of Your Best Dog Photos


Best Dog Photos

It’s weird but due to digital photography, I have yet to actually print out any hard copies of photos of Chester and Roxie even though they are now 11 years old.  I thought that it’s about time to do so.  Therefore I spent a few hours going through all the digital photos I took of them over the years (and I’ve taken quite a lot).

Fortunately, we have a nice number of photos taken when Chester and Roxie were just puppies and have been doing so over the years. And with our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group, we have also taken a lot of shots featuring them with their doggie friends too.

However, one of the things I usually do after taking dog photos is to retouch them with  lighting and colour adjustments in Photoshop.  I have also converted the vast majority of our dog photos to smaller file size versions in order to save hard drive space in my computer.

Keep High Resolution Versions Of Dog Photos

The big downside of converting all my dog photos to small file versions is that they are way too low resolution to print out.  For most of our dog photos, this is not an issue as I don’t plan on having hard copies anyway.  But for some choice images that I would like to have enlargements made so I can display them on my wall, I suddenly realized that I now face some pretty big limitations on what I can do.

As of today, none of the dog photos we have are of adequate resolution to enlarge to poster size.  A few shots might have enough resolution between 200 and 300 dpi.  Standard requirement for printing is 300 dpi but some shots will be okay at 200.  Below 200 and images will be too blury or too small in dimensions for a hard copy.

The top photo above is one of my favourites of Chester and Roxie when they were puppies.  This is one that I would love to have made a poster size enlargement.  But the best that I could do was a 6×6 print which is certainly better than nothing.  So now I have this photo in a tabletop display which I’m pretty happy with.

My overall favourite shot so far of Chester and Roxie grown up is below.  It is a shot where I’m happy with the facial expressions of both Chester and Roxie as they show their true personalities.

This image is used to create the banner from our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group.  It is great for webpages but unfortunately for us, we can only print out a 4×6 as the biggest hard copy possible.

dog photos

By the way, the original version of this shot does have me in it but I looked like crap so it’s not worth having me in the shot!

So the big lesson here is for all of your best photos of your dogs, make sure that you keep high resolution versions, usually the original version file sizes, even though they will take up space in your hard drive.  All other photos you are sure that you will never make hard copies of can be converted to smaller file size versions.

From now on, I will be more attentive to this as any image of Chester and Roxie that I feel has the potential of an enlargement, I will most definitely retain a high resolution version.  This means ideally at 300 dpi, I can make a print of decent dimensions of at least 11×14 or even 20×30 if possible.  I would love to have a poster size shot of Chester and Roxie in the future that is worthy of being on my wall.

Interestingly enough, I do have a few enlargements on my wall of my previous Lhasa Apso dogs Pepper and Max but those were possible because they were made from photo negatives as they were way before the digital age.

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