Just like every dog owner, I wanted the best for my dogs. I wanted them to have it all! I wanted them to be happy and healthy. To be fulfilled and content. To give love and be loved in return. I wanted to provide them with the best and the longest lives possible. And, for years I thought I was doing everything right to achieve this. But, my dogs weren’t happy. They weren’t healthy. Occasionally they were fulfilled, but very rarely were they content. We were in and out of the vet with stomach ulcers and bloody stool. Constant episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Ears infections that would not ease and constant itch of discomfort. Eyes that were never relaxed, with pupils that consumed them. I kept being told, “she’s just high energy and has a very sensitive stomach”, so we continued with our routine.
We were living in Hoboken at the time. I didn’t have all of my dogs at this point, just the ladies, Kaya and Sadie. I was still working in the corporate world as I built my skills and education in dog behavior and training (and later nutrition). We had a routine. Every night when I returned home from work, we would walk around the pier and swing into our corner bodega on the way home to pick up dinner for both myself and the ladies. The dog food was advertised as containing real ingredients, real beef, real carrots, real peas and real spinach. What a steal! Obviously that’s why the kibble was multi-colored, not some other reason, as I then thought. Boy did they love this food. The 3.5 bag would last us two feedings, which was perfect for our daily routine.
Each of the ladies was getting 5+ cups a day, who wouldn’t love eating all of that food? They wouldn’t eat anything else, they were hooked! What I didn’t know at the time was that this artificially colored kibble was slowly killing my dogs and was the culprit of most of their health and behavioral problems.
It was after about a year of this routine that I left my corporate job to pursue my passion for working with and helping dogs. At this point I didn’t even think that dog nutrition would be part of my future. To be honest, I am not sure how I stumbled upon feeding raw. I know that there were months of research on my end about ways to improve the health issues my dogs were dealing with. Feeding a raw and balanced diet kept popping up here and there, but I paid not much attention to it. It wasn’t until I saw a demonstration done by Wendy Volhard, of the behavioral effects that different kibbles have on dogs. Having different kibbles ground up and in zip lock bags, she slowly rubbed the bags individually on the dogs stomach.
Not expecting to see much, I was shocked when the dog had a crazy, overexcited reaction to the high sugar and processed kibble I was feeding and then laid there peacefully when a dehydrated raw grind in a baggie was then rubbed on her belly. I was sold! I went home and switched
my dogs over to raw and hoped for the best.
All my research had given me high expectations and I was soon to discover I would not be disappointed. At this point we had moved out of Hoboken and into the burbs. I knew I needed to find a new vet, because we were frequent visitors of our past vet and I had canceled Kaya’s dental procedure, who at 9 years old had teeth that were desperately in need of one. I made an appointment and was ready to dish out the typical big bucks for all of our usual health concerns. At this point we had been on raw for about 4 months. As this new vet is evaluating the ladies, he is asking me some general questions about them and taking some notes as he goes along.
At one point he asks me how old Kaya is. My heart sinks and I think maybe we don’t have a lot of time left together and something is seriously wrong. I begin by telling him that when I adopted her they weren’t quite sure of her age. They estimated she was about 3-5 years old. He interrupts me and begins stating what he is seeing in this check up. Eyes look good, ears are clean, coat is soft and healthy, teeth are in great condition… I’d say she’s about 3 years old. I couldn’t believe it. I chuckled and said I adopted her 6 years ago! Now he couldn’t believe it.
Next up was Sadie, my shark eyed basket case. She hopped up on the table and sat patiently for the first time ever at the vet. Now keep in mind, these behavior changes were also paired with our new lifestyle of fulfilling her mentally and physically, but I couldn’t help but notice just how amazing she looked up there. Her coat was shinier than I had ever seen before. As her exam began, she also got a clean bill of health! No ear infections, no blood in her stool, great teeth and an overall gold star! Again, I couldn’t believe it!
We have now been feeding raw for about 5 years. Our vet visits are down and our overall health is up. I finally feel like I am giving my dogs the best life possible. Providing them with the best for their well-being both physically, mentally and nutritionally. Since first beginning raw, my knowledge and meals have changed drastically and continued to get better. It has become a hobby among our household. What’s mom going to feed tonight? Check back next week to see what’s on the menu!