Nutrition has come up in my classes a few times recently and I figured it’s about time now that I cleared the air on my blog. I know it’s been mentioned a few times but Shayne and Rio are fed a prey-model raw diet. This was not a fast nor an easy decision on my part. The process was initiated after the premature death of my dog, Taz. This was a fast moving and idiosyncratic illness that could not be either identified or connected to a cause. It was after the death of this pet that I began looking into issues surrounding pet foods and vaccinations.
Nutrition is something that I find important for our canine and feline companions. What we put into our dogs bodies can have an effect on their behavior and can ultimately have an effect on their health–either in big ways or small ways. Our choice in what we feed could have a very profound effect on our dogs and because of that, I think owners need to take a moment to make an educated decision about what they feed. This isn’t to say I think anyone who feeds a grocery store brand food is an awful dog owner… but I think people should be given the information to make an informed choice. Most people (including myself) were unaware that the food they were feeding was sub-par in quality until they were educated or given information. I know I was completely unaware until I began researching and questioning… even my aunt, the vet, suggested the low-quality food we fed. For me, as soon as I was informed enough to make an educated decision, my choice to change foods was a no brainer.
My journey towards raw was not quick nor was it a direct route. It really was like a 12-step program. I figured today I’d share my story about what caused me to explore improving my dogs’ nutrition…while there is no proof that diet had anything to do with the premature death of my dog, it can’t hurt to improve a dog’s diet or, at the least, make an informed choice about their diet.
August 6th 2005, I took my 6 year old border collie/lab/husky to the park to run and play. She was racing around the park like her normal speed-demon self (dog could run like no other and gave those sighthounds a run for their money). We must have spent 2 hours at the park running, chasing, fetching, and swimming. August 9, 2005 she was euthanized. Between Sunday and Wednesday her chest absolutely exploded with cancer, she went to the vet on the 7th because she was having trouble breathing and they thought perhaps allergies or something because her lungs sounded clear. No improvement from the steroids. On the 8th I took her back in because it seemed to be getting worse… she couldn’t even lay down because she couldn’t breath. My vet took x-rays and came back with the worst possible news. He couldn’t even see any detail on the x-ray because it was completely clouded over with a mysterious growth all in her chest. They tried to tap her chest multiple times to relieve the pressure and allow her to breath easier (the three head vets all tried) but they couldn’t extract anything. There was nothing they could do to ease her suffering long enough to allow for further testing. I made the hardest choice my 20 year old self had ever had to make (and one that to this day rips me apart inside to think about). I took her home, pampered the heck out of her all night, cried all night and held her tightly as she struggled to breath. The next morning I tried to let her enjoy one last walk but she couldn’t do it…. I was devastated and so hurt that she was suffering so much. On August 9th, 2005, 3 days after showing zero symptoms of anything, Tazzie, my heart dog, was euthanized… about a month shy of her 7th birthday.
Who knew 6 years later I would still bawl my eyes out writing about her, wow. The vets never identified exactly what happened to her other than a cancer of sorts. The loss of a dog completely out of the blue, who was running like a maniac 3 days prior, and who was so young absolutely destroyed me. I couldn’t handle the loss for so many reasons … the only thing I could do was to try and figure out just what happened. I started researching canine cancer and was just inundated with information on the food industry and vaccines. I was further hurt thinking that what I fed and the routine vet care could have contributed to her death. Now there is no way of knowing what happened and what caused it but I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent losing a dog in that manner ever again and one of the things I can control is what I feed. I struggled through the year in college and was crazy distracted by the hopes of adopting a new dog to try and start to fill the massive void. I sort of lost sight of this nutrition focus until after I adopted Shayne. Once I had her and was no longer distracted at the thought of adopting a new dog, I was reminded of my desire to change what type of food I provided for my dog because I couldn’t bear the thought of losing another dog the way I lost Tazzie.
That is where my journey toward a better diet started… I’m going to do my best not to name names of food but if I slip, do know I don’t mean any offense. Over the next few days I’ll talk about my process of switching (and it really was like a 12 step program LOL!) and tips on evaluating dog food to make an educated choice!