Jack LaLanne and his raw fed German Shepherd Dog, Happy

Jack Lalanne – The original raw feeder?

Celebrity fitness guru Jack Lalanne just passed away, at the age of 96. Over his many years in the spotlight, Lalanne always practiced just what he preached – healthy food, lots of exercise and a positive outlook on life. Making regular appearances on his television show was Lalanne’s big white German Shepherd, Happy, who often performed tricks for the “kids in the television audience” who might be watching alongside their moms.

Lalanne was a pioneer in fitness, and he was also a pioneer in the realm of raw feeding – long before many of us had ever heard of it, and before some of us were ever born.

This YouTube clip from Lalanne’s television show details Happy’s diet, which Lalanne thought was the ‘key’ to Happy’s fitness and long life. Jack Lalanne – fitness and health pioneer, and one of the original ‘raw feeders’!

Distemper Outbreak in Toronto’s Wildlife

Raccoon nests like this one inside homes can spread Canine Distemper

Raccoon nests inside homes can spread Canine Distemper

An outbreak of distemper has killed off hundreds of Toronto’s raccoons and skunks – and has put dogs at risk.

From the Toronto Star

If you see a raccoon lying on a sidewalk in the middle of the day, call Toronto Animal Services – and keep your dog on a tight leash.

The animal is likely sick and dying, and could infect your pet with a lethal strain of distemper, an epidemic that has killed hundreds of raccoons and skunks in the GTA since May.

“It’s not transferable to humans but there is definitely a high risk to unvaccinated cats and dogs,” said Eletta Purdy, manager of Toronto Animal Services. “It’s not rabies but it kills quickly.”

Distemper is a highly contagious, highly lethal virus. The same virus affects dogs, skunks, ferrets, weasels, raccoons and possibly opossums.

It’s hugely irresponsible to not use the readily available, virtually risk free distemper vaccination to protect your pets from distemper. Prior to the invention of the canine distemper vaccine in the 1960’s, distemper ravaged thousands of kennels world wide, wiping out entire lines. A trip to the dog show could result in the death of all of a breeder’s puppies, and sometimes their older dogs, as well.

Advocates of no vaccinations often argue that it is only puppies with weak immune systems who develop viruses like distemper. They point to raw feeding and homeopathic remedies as a method to prevent and cure distemper. Raccoons and skunks are hardly surviving on a diet of take out food, and yet they still are highly susceptible to distemper.

The other argument made by no vaccine advocates is that their puppies only end up contracting distemper when  they come into contact with other puppies which have received the distemper vaccine, and are ‘shedding’ the virus. Ignoring the fact that modern distemper vaccines are made from killed forms of the virus, it’s an incontrovertible fact that any puppy not living in a bubble stands a good chance of encountering a raccoon, a fox or a skunk, even in the most urban environment. Your dog doesn’t even have to have a face to face run in with a wild animal to become infected with distemper – it can be spread via feces of infected animals just as easily (and who among us hasn’t seen our dogs snuffling up something gross and unknown on our daily walks?).

Please, get your dogs and puppies vaccinated. It’s such a simple preventative, for such a horrible disease.

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.