I’ve been raw feeding my dogs off and on for almost twenty years now. Back when I started, raw feeding was something that you turned to in desperation, when all the other diets had failed you. It was also something you didn’t advertise to most people, as you were almost assured of being considered a ‘kook’. I remember several potential puppy buyers who balked when informed that my pups were raised on raw food. A few thought it meant that they’d be walking salmonella farms, and one or two actually believed the old myth about ‘raw meat making dogs savage’! Times sure have changed – you can now buy raw diets commercially, some puppy buyers specifically come looking for pups who’ve been raised on raw and lists for raw feeders abound on Yahoo Groups.
No matter how long you feed raw for, it’s still possible to have the occasional crisis of faith. Mine came when it was time to wean the chipmunks. As always, I started them on a slurry of raw dog food mixed with goats milk. I then gradually reduce the milk, until they’re eating just raw. This time around, a week or so in and the little hellions all went on a hunger strike. In an adult dog, this would be time for a case of tough love – eat or go hungry, is generally my motto. With babies, it’s a little bit more worrisome – they can’t afford to skip meals, and they don’t have the energy reserves to make fasting practical.
And so, I admit it – I panicked. I picked up a bag of premium quality, grain free kibble, I soaked it in some goats milk, and I offered it to the kids. And, of course, they loved it. Like sucky, over indulgent moms the world over, instead of just insisting that the kids eat their damned broccoli, I gave in and fed them the canine equivalent of a trip to McDonalds. Initially, it seemed a simple solution – give in, feed them dry and say ‘so be it’. It wasn’t quite that simple, however.
As soon as the pups went on to the dry food, they had constant diarrhea. This wasn’t the truly frightening, dehydrating diarrhea, either. Excuse the crudeness, but their poop looked like pudding, and poor Alvin was suffering from a wicked case of diaper rash as a result. Not life threatening, but not pleasant, either, and I was desperate to get it under control.
First attempt? Re worming. I use Safe Guard, which covers the widest variety of intestinal worms, and also addresses any potential Giardia. Nothing. Next attempt, a precautionary dose of Baycox, an almost impossible to get wonder drug that knocks out Coccidia in one dose. Still no change. Alvin’s bottom was so sore I was applying zinc oxide cream four times daily, and the poor little guy still looked miserable. Next up, we tried a course of Flagyl (aka metronidazole), surefire cure all for all mystery cases of runny poop. No improvement. Final attempt, a pricey box of FortiFlora, which my repro vet swears by. Still runny poop, still scooting their little bums, and still a sore bottom on Alvin.
On Friday, I’d had it.
I decided to switch them back to raw, whether they liked it or not, and put down a dish of raw lamb dog food. Picky as always, they sniffed at it and said ‘no thanks’, until I sprinkled a remaining packet of FortiFlora over top of it, after which they scarfed it down like they were starving.
End results? By Saturday morning, their poop was fifty percent better, and by Saturday night, their poop was 100% normal, for the first time since I switched them to dry.
Lesson learned! I’ll be sticking to raw from now on, and if another batch of puppies get picky, I’ll ride it out and use tough love until they get their appetites back, instead of feeding them junk food. As Sean said “If you know raw works, why were you messing around with their food?”. It was a simple case of breaking what wasn’t broke, and I’m not going to make that mistake again!