Live Real. Eat Real.

Scooter’s Raw Food Diet

I was going to put off this post until next week and instead do a huge political rant, but this isn’t a political blog, as Beloved has repeatedly pointed out.  So let’s just suffice to say that yes, I’ve read the entire thing, I understand the context perfectly well, thank you very much, and it’s still insulting as shit.  There must be something very comforting in the idea that if you’re not responsible for your successes, you must not be responsible for your failures, and that someone will come along and bail you out – but everyone will get a trophy anyway.  Just remember that when someone comes along and takes away everything you thought was yours because “you didn’t build that,” you gave them permission to do so.

I’m sure the Chinese – who are funding the massive, crushing debt we’re passing on to future generations and expecting someone else to take care of (basically anyone with more money than us) – will appreciate it.**

Moving forward.

About a year ago, I wrote about Scooter – our little beagle/dachshund mix – and the autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands that he developed after years of eating commercial dog food (Kibble and Bits Beefy Bits, to be exact).  The ingredients are horrible:

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

You have no idea the guilt I feel because I let my sweet little dog eat that garbage for so many years.

When Scooter began having his problems, they were accompanied by terrible inflammation and infections.  I was pretty sure that much of this could be mitigated by diet, but when I spoke to the vet about it, he said I should keep him on commercial dog food, because if I fed him anything else he would run the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  In fact, his only solution to the problem was to put Scooter on steroids for the inflammation and give him antibiotics for the infections.  So we did, and the minute his course of steroids ended the inflammation returned, and eventually the infection did as well.  This happened three time before the vet decided that he was just going to have to be on steroids permanently – he could even end up on low levels of the antibiotic for the rest of his life, as well.

In the meantime, Scooter was miserable.  The inflammation was somewhat better, but he was still constantly licking his backside and dragging it across the carpet.  Because of the steroids, he was constantly, ravenously hungry and even though I wasn’t feeding him any more than usual, he was still gaining weight – at his heaviest, he was 24 pounds.  That may not seem like a lot, but for a dog that’s only supposed to weigh 16 or 17 pounds, that’s a lot of weight gain, especially in a very short period of time.  He also lost all of his spunk; he’s always been a happy, active dog – even at 10 years old, he’s more than happy to play fetch, or zoom around the house if he can get you to chase him, or run around the yard or take a walk.  But no longer; all he wanted to do was eat and lay on the sofa.  It was breaking my heart.

Now, as soon as he became ill and the vet told us to keep him on commercial food (and tried to sell us a brand that cost almost as much per week as we spent on groceries for the three of us), I began  to make Scooter’s food myself.  After doing a little research on what was in most home-prepared pet foods, he went on a mixture of cooked beef, rice and vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and green beans.  He loved it at first – he’d always preferred “people food” over kibble – but when those initial courses of steroids were over, he began to lose his appetite and often refused it, which worried me a great deal – Scooter NEVER left food in his bowl.  By the time the vet said he needed to be on steroids permanently, I decided it was time to get drastic – so I put him on a raw food diet.

When I told the vet this, he said that was unsafe; it was simply not a “balanced diet” for a dog.  But the more I thought about it, the sillier that statement seemed and when I began researching raw food diets for dogs, it became even sillier.  So Scooter began eating raw meat – mostly beef and pork, with some chicken thrown in every now and then and liver or other organ meats about once a week.  (We do give him bones from time to time, but even before he became ill bones messed with his digestive system – when we give him one, we have to confine him to areas of the house that are tiled because there will be a mess.)

Scooter loved the raw food diet – he ate it enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long until we began to see some improvements.  He continued to gain weight, because that’s just the nature of the Prednisone beast, but he regained some of his spunk and began acting more like the dog we all love so much.  And after much deliberation, we decided that when it was time to get the steroid prescription refilled, we’d wait a bit and see what happened.

What happened was astounding…or maybe not.  The inflammation not only didn’t return, it became better.  Not entirely better – it may never go fully into remission – but remarkably better.  The lingering infection, which the vet said might not ever entirely go away, even with long term antibiotic use, cleared up almost immediately.  He immediately began to lose weight and is now back down to 17 pounds.  More importantly, he is his old self again – active and happy and feeling pretty good for a 10-year-old dog with what amounts to nagging case of hemorrhoids.

Now, we’re not going to fire the vet – we’ll continue to take Scooter for his immunizations and we’ll take him in case of another serious illness or accident.  But if you think I’m going to listen to another blessed thing that man says about diet for my dog…well, you’re as crazy as you’d be if you think I’d listen to my doctor about my diet.

**I have a lot more to say about the subject, and will be glad to take the discussion respectfully into the comments section if you want.  However, I may not be able to get back to you immediately; we have a busy day in front of us – it’s Jolly’s birthday and we’re spending much of the afternoon/evening with her, and I will be busy at work this morning so I can do that.  But before you begin making any assumptions about why I feel the way I do, let me say right now that I am NOT a Republican and can’t stand Mitt Romney.  And I don’t particularly care that Ayn Rand collected Social Security; I’m not an Objectivist either.


14 comments

Be says:

I still can’t believe you don’t want to fire the Vet. The dog doesn’t even respect the dishrag.

Celia says:

Aw, I was hoping for a picture of Scooter somewhere in here!

Jan says:

Oh, Celia, I didn’t even think about that – I’m sorry. Here you go: http://www.janssushibar.com/?p=5705

You’ll find more if you bonk around the blog a bit.

BSH says:

Do you supplement his diet with eggshells or anything since he doesn’t get much edible bone? I would think the Ca/P ratio would be off otherwise.

Jan says:

No, but I should (we do keep our eggshells for compost). He does get a certain amount of cooked vegetables, mostly in the form of leafy greens (and he will eat just about anything that falls on the floor, including iceberg lettuce), but the majority of his diet is raw meat and offal. You’re right, I should dry and grind some eggshells for him. Do you have any suggestions about amounts and frequency?

BSH says:

Mine does well on edible bone so I’m not sure. He still gets grain-free kibble during the week (until we have a bigger freezer) but for the weekends he’s pretty much on prey model raw (80% muscle meat and fat, 10% edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ). Lots of raw feeders don’t want to feed bone for whatever reason, so the information on supplementation should be out there.

Jules says:

That vet reminds me a bit of my gastroenterologist! “Hey doc, that painful bloating I used to have every day has gotten so much better when I quit eating gluten!” “You tested negative for celiac; there’s no need for you to cut gluten.” “O_o”

Jan says:

I once went to an endocrinologist who told me to give up grass-fed beef and pastured pork for Cheerios and sugar-free Jello.

Note the past tense.

Makes me wonder about Blue and Harry. Harry, on his own, is fine. Blue is our problem child. While she likes to eat, her thirst has become insatiable lately. And due to this, her ability to control her bladder has lessened. They’ve always been grazers, just leave the food in the bowl and let them have at it when they want. But maybe, if I were to give them a morning meal and evening meal and just leave water the rest of the time, I could control it better, and just making a big container of meat, veggies, and brown rice and doling it out during the week would be cheaper and obviously better for them than the crap ingedients in whatever’s on sale. I honestly don’t know where I’m going with this comment, but I do love you. :-)

Nancy says:

For sure you should get them on regular meals, no matter which type of good quality (grain-free diet, home cooked or raw) food you are feeding. By feeding free-choice how do you have any idea who’s eating how much and when, and if their “normal” pattern of appetite changes?

I am happy to report that I made up their week’s meals on Saturday morning and kept them to a morning/evening schedule of 1/2 cup each. They are gobbling it up, mostly because it’s not kibble. :-)
And best yet, no begging for food between meals. Plus, no leftover food to step on when they pick out the stuff they don’t like and leave it for us to find.
I agree with you, Nancy. I was not able to see who was eating what, but Harry no longer has to guard the food bowl and growl at Blue, so he’s enjoying his retirement. :-)

A “good vet” nearly killed our first dog. It took several tries to find one we agreed with. Now, years later, we drive a long way to see him. (And we have yet to let anyone else see our dogs.) I suppose it’s just like anything else, good ones and bad one … and ones that have similare philosophies and those that don’t.

BTW – I know you’re busy, but I’ve been told my blog feed is not working. Someone else told me it IS. Whenever you get a chance – could you let me know if the last few posts have shown up for you?

Thanks!
S.

Jen says:

Oh, Jan.

I love you I love you I love you I LOVE YOU.

As an itty-bitty entrepreneur from a long line of entrepreneurs…I do love you. Have I mentioned that lately?

I would like to put all of our furry “kids” onto a raw food diet, but Hubby is not really keen on it for some reason. That said, we do share our meat and veg scraps with our collie and the cats, though Ben (the collie) is of course more amenable to eating them. Lu loved little bits of raw milk, but of course, being in Ohio now, I cannot obtain that anymore >insert enormous sigh HERE<. I will say that Ben adores venison, which we get a lot of thanks to my hunter dad (and venison-disliking Mom). Bwah ha ha!

Interestingly, Ben cannot have any dog food with chicken in it. If he gets some, usually by nipping the cats' leftovers, the poor dog ends up violently ill. But if I give him bits of raw chicken from the market (antibiotic free poultry…can't find a decent pastured farm around here, either—you'd think in a farm state…!), he hasn't a single problem with it. Weird.

If more people actually took the time to read the ingredient list on a bag of commercial dog food, they would likely think twice before feeding this to their dog. Let me go a bit further and say that if they knew what was NOT listed on the bag they would not have to think twice but would stop using the food immediately. Most people are unaware that chicken feathers, beaks, “downers” (animals who die prior to slaughter) and other waste is routinely sold to dog food manufacturers and rendered into “protein” by-products.

Reading the ingredient list itself can be tricky because of an industry practice called “splitting”. Example: A particular food has as it’s most abundant ingredient wheat. Of course, they would prefer to have poultry or another protein listed as the main ingredient for the folks who actually do read labels (ingredients are required to be listed on the label by decreasing order by weight) To scoot around this issue, food companies are allowed to split the wheat into groups- wheat flour, ground wheat, wheat bran, etc.and list those by weight. If you totalled just “wheat” by weight, you would see that it is comprises most of the content of the food, but on the label it looks like this:

Ingredients:
Chicken by-products, ground wheat, animal fat, wheat flour, water sufficient for processing, wheat bran…etc

So good on ya for making your own food! You can also find recipes that comply with AAFCO standards (the nutrition requirements for dogs) online. Monica Segal is a good source of information: http://www.monicasegal.com/

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