Our dear Jelly is a sensitive pup. We buy her expensive kibble to keep her tummy happy, which is a huge waste of money since she scrounges any morsel of detritus she can find on our walks. She is also relentlessly itchy and scratchy. Our vet believes these symptoms may indicate allergies.
Last week, after a few nights disrupted by Jelly’s pacing, whining, relentless middle-of-the-night scratching, and frequent trips outside, we placed the dog on an elimination diet under our vet’s guidance. Consider it a cleanse of sorts, just in time for the usual seasonal overindulgence. We boiled chicken and rice, mixing them with unsweetened applesauce to stop her from picking out the poultry.
Initially, Jelly responded well on her new diet. She sat at attention while we prepared her meals and ate voraciously, licking her dish clean. But more importantly, she stopped waking us at night to go out, her scratching decreased, and we thought we were making progress. Until Saturday, that is.
Jelly waited until the coast was clear–J. was outside and I dared to go pee–and consumed a large portion of the 600 g of Lindt milk chocolate I had painstakingly chopped for my annual Christmas baking. (FYI: Of course Jews do Christmas baking, at least those who bake. This year, mine just happened to include rugelach.)
I hear you screaming: “But chocolate can be toxic to dogs!” After a little cursing, threatening, and, finally, internet searching, we learned that milk chocolate is not nearly as toxic to dogs as high-cocoa-content dark chocolate. Thank goodness I’ve always preferred milk chocolate over dark. Time to encourage J. to come over to the milk side.
We were no longer worried that Jelly might join her former siblings in Bad Dog Heaven, but we wondered how she’d respond to this lapse in her restricted diet. We found out at 5 the next morning when she woke us by scratching her ears furiously for a full hour. I stumbled out of bed, took her outside, and got her back to sleep. Another sleepless night, another insight into our beloved pup: mlik chocolate won’t kill her, but it will make her itchy.
As you likely know already, parenting is a challenge at the best of times. How often have I counselled parents not to make special meals for their picky eaters? This hypocrite is now cooking chicken and rice for her dog. And Jelly will most likely refuse kibble once we quit this nonsense.
Furthermore, forget depriving your child of her favourite foods; she’ll sneak them when you’re not looking. What do you really think your teenager is spending her allowance on? The answer lies in a mobbed convenience store by a junior high over lunch.
I’m not sure what to tell the vet when she calls today to check in. “Yes, Dr. Animal, Jelly is responding beautifully to the restricted diet, although we’ve learned she is allergic to chocolate.” Whose tail is between her legs now?
Oh well, like any diet, we can always start again. In fact, last night, finally, we all slept like puppies. Come to think of it, I may have even dreamt about chasing bunnies.