I broke the baby

Turbo Charged Pickle

Turbo Charged Pickle

Well, it’s been a fun week. Someone at work gave me two bags of a new brand of raw dog food, and I stupidly decided to feed it to the babies. The result? Food poisoning, in all seven puppies who ate it. Bad food poisoning, no less – the kind that’s like a scene from the Exorcist, complete with projectile vomiting and diahrrea.


A very expensive vet visit later, and a battery of fecal testing testing confirms only that it’s some kind of bacteria, probably campylobacter or clostridium, but likely not salmonella. We’ll have lab results in a few days. All the babies had to go on antibiotics, but thank goodness they’ve all recovered in near record time. Just 48 hours later, and it’s like it never happened at all.

As much as I am a proponent of raw feeding, the problem is that if it’s not made using the very best ingredients and with rigorous testing, there will always be a risk of incidents like this. In commercial raw especially it’s essential to know not just the ingredients, but how they’re made, how they’re testing for contaminants, and if the company follows proper food handling protocols. Sadly, I’ve learned that an awful lot of companies are somewhat lax about cleanliness and quality of processing and ingredients. Too risky for me, thanks.

Topping it all off, Leah got a quick and painful lesson in why we don’t go near the sensitive parts of boys. After she bit Elliott on the winkie (while he was peeing, no less) he retaliated by chomping her on her tender little face. Poor Leah – she probably won’t have a scar, but it definitely left a mark, and scared both her and I half to death. Nothing says “please make it stop” like a tiny baby puppy who’s screeching in pain.

Super Sad Leah

Super Sad Leah

The trauma was all too much for Leah – the food poisoning on top of the face bite combined to make her ear drop back down again, a not untypical Frenchie puppy reaction to stress. Think of it as a Frenchie mood barometer – it will come back up when she’s back to feeling 100% again. In the meantime, Sean has been asking her if the other puppies are calling her “baby” and making fun of her flopsy ear. I’ve been telling it just makes her look even more adorable than she already is.

New photos of the rugrats after the cut.

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Raw Dog Food Super Simplified

I’ve been a bit short on time lately – which is more than just an understatement. Between work, Pickle, the other puppies, and the ten gazillion emails currently sitting in my inbox, the last thing I have time for is a three day raw food making spree.

At times like this, I’m grateful that there are raw food short cuts available.

Several companies offer ‘base mixes’ that allow you to make your own, home made raw pet food, without all the grinding, blitzing, food processing and mixing. Just pick your own protein of choice, add a few ingredients (or, in some cases, none at all), mix with the raw food base, and package. That’s it. You can make a week’s worth of raw in an hour or even less.

Here are some of the shortcuts we’ve tried and like.

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A Guide to Grading Your Dog Food

This has been circulating for a while, but I find the results to be fairly accurate, so it’s worth re posting.

It’s a formula designed to help you to ‘grade’ your dog food. Fairly straight forward, and results for most common brands are listed below.

By the way, my raw dog food mix would receive a score of 123!! I’m going to guess that’s an A++ grade.

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Frenchie Puppies’ First Meal – Video Version

Such cuties at this age…

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the pups are eating Pets 4 Life Lamb raw dog food. It’s mixed with warm goat milk into the consistency of oatmeal, and then put down for the pups to lap up.

Weaning puppies onto raw is actually quite easy, although I do still feed them one meal per day of kibble. I do this so that they’ll be accustomed to eating it, in case any of their new families prefer not to feed raw. I might change that in the future, however.

Video below the cut.

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My dogs eat better than I do…

Raw Sweet Potatoes

This morning I whiled away an idle Sunday morning grinding and chopping vegetables and fruits for my dogs.

I pre baked sweet potatoes and squash. I diced Dandelion greens and Colt’s Foot (most of which I gathered from my ill tended yard and gardens, I’m ashamed to admit, but at least it’s a cheap and chemical free source of food). I chopped melon, ground it, and drained it in a colander. I put twenty pounds of carrots through my long suffering food grinder. I cored and cubed apples. I mashed bananas. I crushed garlic cloves. I seeded and chopped summer squash and zucchini and cucumber.

Then I mixed it all up, added fresh, organic cider vinegar, and packed it into my freezer.

Next week, I’ll pick up my fresh order of turkey necks, hearts and livers, and 40 pounds of lean ground, grass fed beef. I’ll stop and pick up two dozen free range eggs, two cartons of organic, pro-biotic yogurt, a carton of unsulphured molasses, some nutritional yeast, and six cans of water packed jack mackerel (to go along with the three whole salmons I have in the freezer, that will get poached tomorrow night).

Then I’ll spend another whole day chopping, grinding, mixing, weighing, batching and freezing. No one ever said feeding dogs raw was easy…

Oh, and what did I eat this morning? Two cups of coffee and a caramel rice cake.

Yup, it’s true – my dogs eat better than I do. Maybe I should just eat their food – after all, it’s not like this is commercial dog food, with its long list of scary and nauseating ingredients. I know where every ingredient I feed my dogs came from, and with the exception of the canned fish, all of it is as organic and chemical free as I can possibly buy. There’s no mystery animal parts, no chemical preservatives, no greasy fats sprayed on top of it it.

Of course, if you ask the AVMA, or the pet food industry, I’m a bad dog owner. I don’t care about my dog’s health, since I’m willing to risk their very existence by feeding them this home made swill of mine. I’m not a professional, you see – not like the folks over at Menu Foods, for example, or the American Veterinary Association.

According to all of them, people like me are conducting poorly planned science experiments on our dogs, feeding them this, feeding them that, and none of it ‘complete and balanced’, those buzzwords of the commercial dog food manufacturers.

In spite of this, I’ve managed to muddle through almost twelve years of raw feeding, with some experimentation here and there and some changed recipes. I’ve gone from using pre made mixes, to feeding whole raw parts (that didn’t work so well on most of my dogs – too much food bolting and choking), and now to my home made raw stew.

The basics are pretty simple, really –

50% or so turkey necks and fish with bones (salmon, sardines and mackerel, primarily)
5% liver, kidney, giblets (organ meats)
5% heart
25% muscle meat (beef, sometimes mutton or pork)
10% ground vegetables, fruit and greens
the rest is a mix of eggs, dairy, nutritional yeast, molasses, yogurt and cider vinegar

We also feed leftovers from our meals – scrambled eggs, roast meat and chicken, pastas, salad, etc.

Somehow, in spite of the fact that we’re breaking all the ‘rules’ given to us by the big pet food companies on how we’re supposed to be feeding our dogs, myself and the rest of the raw feeding world are managing to raise healthy, disease free dogs and cats, with no melting bones or salmonella poisoning or other horrific complications.

Bear that in mind, the next time you read some scare tactic inducing piece of big brother comissioned reporting on the ‘risks’ of raw food for your pets.