RALPHIE

Ralphie

This page contains links to some of the products that we use for our Shih Tzu Ralphie. He was born on June 11, 2019 and we brought him home on August 25, 2019.

GROWTH

Age Weight
3 months 5.24 pounds
5 months 9.5 pounds
6 months 12 pounds
9 months 13-14 pounds
1+ years 15-16.5 pounds

FOOD/TREATS

Ralphie likes green beans and crispy baked sweet potatoes (cut into strips). We feed him one small lean/boneless pork chop with vegetables (green peas and sweet peppers) as a meal. If you are feeding your dog home cooked meals you should consult with the proper resources (e.g. Balance IT or ideally a pet nutritionist) to ensure that they’re getting the proper nutrients for their breed/size/weight and taking into account their activity level.

Greenies* (Teenie size) are Ralphie’s favorite dog treat (he also enjoys the mini size of the Nutri Dent treats) followed by Old Mother Hubbard’s P-Nuttier biscuits, Trader Joe’s corned beef flavor dog treats, mini Milk Bones and his daily Zesty Paws supplement.

Other food and treats he will eat but doesn’t enjoy as much are Trader Joe’s Charlee Bear (beef liver treats), boiled eggs (he prefers the egg yolk), broccoli (I only give him 3 florets a day as a treat) and carrots.

*Note: Dental treats are not a substitute for regularly brushing your dog’s teeth.

FOOD ALLERGY

We cut chicken from Ralphie’s diet since he’s allergic to poultry. Eating chicken gives him ear infections which would cause him to chew on his paws and scratch a lot.

PICKY EATER

Ralphie used to eat or try new foods as a puppy but he’s become a very picky eater as an adult dog. I leave his food (if it’s human food I will put it back in the fridge so it doesn’t go bad/dry out) and treats out but he no longer grazes on his options freely throughout the day like when he was a puppy. Left on his own, he will sleep obliviously and go without eating a single bite if my husband doesn’t come home and especially if I’m having a busy day at work (luckily busy days are very infrequent) and he will throw up yellow bile due to am empty tummy.

I’ve try to take him on 2- walks (20-30 minutes each) or over to see his human cousins next door which improves his mood greatly since he loves socializing. However, when he comes home he still won’t touch any food no matter how many options he has. I’ve tried to bring is food/treats over but he’s usually too distracted to eat over their place either.

He is in the mood to eat as soon as my husband comes home from work. When I’m home alone with him (which is often since I work from home a lot) I will try to make time to play with him just to get him to eat a few bites or eat a few of his treats every few hours just so he doesn’t throw up yellow bile. Interestingly, he also has a favorite place he prefers to eat which is on top of our bed so I always have a clean towel that I lay down to keep the crumbs off our sheets. Often times, even if my husband is home and he’s allowed to eat on the bed Ralphie prefers to be hand fed which I will chalk up to the fact that he craves one and/or both of our attention in order to finish his food.

Update 7/9/21: We finally found a treat that Ralphie likes aside from Greenies. He loves these Stewart freeze dried beef liver treats and on days when he doesn’t want to eat I found that grating just a little bit of beef liver on top of his food will get him to start eating (as seen in this clip). However, sometimes he will lick/pick out the pieces beef liver and wait until my husband comes home from work in order to attack his food/treats.

Ralphie is the least food motivated dog. As an example, he will reject any dog treat including Milkbones when he’s outside. As another example, his favorite ritual after a walk is stopping to sniff the rug in our condo building’s front lobby after his walks and he will ignore and not take any treats (or not at first) from the concierge until he’s done sniffing the rug. He’s also very particular, rejects other treats and he wants his Stewart freeze dried beef liver treats which I need to have ready on hand in my pocket/purse at all times especially if we’re going out for a few hours. 

If you have any helpful feeding suggestions for a picky dog please let me know as I would really appreciate it. I’ve also tried various brands of dog food/treats and he doesn’t consistently eat them willingly/on his own without praise even if I hear his little tummy growling. Our condo only allows 1 dog per unit or else we’d get him a brother/friend.

POTTY TRAINING

When Ralphie was a young puppy he had a habit of eating his own poop. He outgrew this behavior once we started to offer him a treat in exchange for every time he defecated. Fortunately this tip (from a dog trainer) worked and now he wants nothing to do with his poop and he no longer requires a treat in exchange for doing his business. We were told that poop eating is a phase that they grow out of and we were glad that was the case with Ralphie.

Ralphie used to only do his business inside on pee pads but now he is trained to do his business both inside and outside (weather permitting). He’s had less indoor accidents once he was trained to go outside because he prefers to reserve his pee for walks and he enjoys marking every tree and pole on his walks. If the weather is really bad then doing his business indoors is a convenient option because he has a difficult time going or wanting to walk outside when it’s pouring or snowing outside.

These dog pads fit this silicone pad holder perfectly. I place it inside the small size of this waterproof play pen which is his designated potty area indoor and it helps in case his pee leaks onto the side. I prefer to wipe his paws after he goes but he also has a mat to dry his feet in case he goes potty on his own. He has better control of his bladder as an adult and we usually walk him 2-3 times a day in morning, mid-afternoon and sometimes at night. Usually he goes on the pee pads 2-3 times throughout the night since we don’t limit his water intake to ensure that he’s well hydrated.

GROOMING

We tried taking him to the groomers but he is afraid of the blow dryer. He hates regular clippers so I use a nail grinder. I now groom him at home and I usually groom him once a month using these Scaredy Cut clippers which takes at least 2 hours. Update 8/31/21: The Scaredy Cut clippers became blunt over time (note that you can sharpen them but I didn’t buy a sharpener). I recently switched to this cordless electric clipper (I use the 12mm guard for a “puppy cut”).

DENTAL HYGIENE

Brushing Ralphie's Teet

Ralphie has really small front teeth and he appears to have less adult teeth than usual so as a result he prefers to chew with his back molars. Regular brushing (I use this baby toothbrush) is not enough so I try to scrape the plaque from his teeth with this tooth scaler. At only two years old he had tartar build up on his back molars which I was able to carefully remove as you can see here.

Scaping Plaque Off Ralphie's Teeth

This section was last updated 8/31/21.

PET INSURANCE

I like and would recommend Trupanion for Ralphie’s pet insurance since they file claims quickly and often by the next business day. I heard about them from my other co-workers with dogs who chose Trupanion over the pet insurance offered through our workplace.

We recently had to take Ralphie to the emergency vet and we also needed two regular vet visits for follow up blood work and urine analysis. Trupanion paid 90% of the emergency visit (after a $100 deductible) and 90% of the follow up visits since it was for the same condition. They don’t cover exam fees but they covered 90% of the diagnostic tests and medications in the 3 recent claims that I filed. They’ll pay up to 90% of approved costs (e.g. hospitalization, x-rays, blood work, urine analysis) for the lifetime of the condition (in the event that we require further treatment for the same condition). Based on the payout for this condition, we’ve received over $975 this year (and 2022 has just begun) which is more than what we’ll pay the entire year for pet insurance.

We currently pay $51.43 per month (it went up by a few dollars last year) and we’ve had coverage since Ralphie was a puppy. I polled my followers on Instagram and most people (75%) with pets did not have pet insurance. I should have also asked why they don’t have pet insurance but I do know that it’s difficult/impossible to get pet insurance once you want/need it especially if you have an dog with any pre-existing conditions.

Having pet insurance gives us a financial peace of mind in case of emergencies which for us seem to happen about once or twice a year. As dogs grow older they will inevitably develop age related conditions so I believe that having pet insurance is a good investment now and into the future so that you’re not paying for 100% of expensive vet bills which can quickly add up.

If you’re interested in Trupanion please use my referral link: http://r.trupanion.com/3P8tTm. In full disclosure, I will receive $25 for each referral (up to $100 per year).

This section was last updated 1/10/22.

SEPTEMBER 2019

BuddyTastic Pet Sling with Adjustable StrapBuddyTastic Pet Sling with Adjustable Strap | Click here to view a clip from my try-on

I originally ordered the Tomkas pet sling but the material is very stretchy and the strap isn’t adjustable so that sling is a better fit for my husband who is 5’11”. I ended up ordering this BuddyTastic sling for myself. The material doesn’t sag where Ralphie sits/snuggles and the strap is adjustable making it a more comfortable drop length for me. Ralphie is about 5.5 pounds right now. Update 12/10/19: Now that Ralphie is 12 pounds at 6 months he feels really heavy in the sling and since I’m petite my shoulders ache if I have to carry him in the sling for too long.

Puppia Authentic Junior Harness B, size SPuppia Authentic Junior Harness B, size S | Click here and here to see it on Ralphie while he moves around

I’ve been struggling to find a harness that fits Ralphie comfortably (so far I’ve ordered 9 through Amazon). The harness that fits him the best is a very simple one by Lupine that’s no frills but he hates it and he struggles and nips at us when we try to put it on. I just received this plaid harness by Puppia and I had originally ordered size M based on the online reviews which was too loose around his body. I then reordered size S which is the perfect fit across his chest right now. Ralphie got his first haircut yesterday (the groomer shaved him instead of doing a trim) so he doesn’t have extra fur which would have filled in the arm holes and neck opening better. Size M is 17.5″ end to end (15″ circumference when the velcro is secured). Size S is 14.5″ end to end (fits a 12″ chest when the velcro is secured). For size reference, Ralphie is a Shih Tzu puppy and he’s currently 5.5 pounds with a 8″ neck and 12.5″ chest (based on the length of his current Lupine collar and harness). He has a small neck and short torso in his puppy stage so many of the other harnesses I’ve tried are too long.

Update 11/2/19: At 5.5 months Ralphie is about 8.5 pounds and he has outgrown this harness and it’s a very tight fit on him so if your puppy hasn’t finished growing I would be mindful of investing in too many clothing related items. He also no longer fits into the cute buffalo plaid pajama we got him as seen here since he also grew a lot longer.

Update 8/21/20: At over 1 years old Ralphie is 15 pounds and he fits this Puppia RiteFit harness with adjustable neck in size M (as seen on him in this post). He has a 10.5″ neck and 16.5″ chest. He also fits this Puppia Junior Harness B in size S (as seen on him in this photo, review and measurements above) but the material is thicker so we plan to use it in the cooler/colder months.

Gen7Pets Regal Plus Pet Stroller in Starry Night GrayGen7Pets Regal Plus Pet Stroller in Starry Night Gray (also available at T.J. Maxx, Amazon and Chewy.com)

Ralphie can’t walk for very long without getting tired and wheezy especially once the temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I got this compact stroller so that we could take him out and about. The stroller is lightweight and it folds down for easy storage. Click here for a video clip review of the stroller and to see what he looks like inside it. The handles are not adjustable but they’re a comfortable height for me (I’m 5′ 2.5″) but less so for my husband who is 5’11”. Update 11/3/19: I spotted this stroller at T.J. Maxx for $79.99. Update 8/31/21: I sold the pet stroller a while back since I got this multi-purpose shopping cart instead.

PRODUCTS WE USE

Other Items:

This dog crate attaches to this exercise pen. We no longer use his crate or exercise pen now that he’s older and house broken.

Stay put bowl & mat set – To slow down how fast he eats I pour his food along the sides of the mat.

Thanks for your support!

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