Friday, July 3, 2009

Pet Holistic Health Update

In my second blog post I wrote about our pets raw diet and some information about their holistic lifestyle. The little gremlins seem to be a favorite by everyone who views their pictures or reads about them so I plan on keeping everyone posted as to how they are doing as well as discuss successes and any stumbling blocks with their lifestyle. We recently have made some changes to their diet so I wanted to update everyone :).

Our three pets, Malachi, Maikoda and Milo are still doing very well :). They are all three still raw and love their Primal pet food. Despite their love for their food, Malachi, the black and white male, developed an inflamed annal gland....ewwww, I know gross. In light of helping others to navigate a healthy, raw or holistic diet for their pets, I felt I should share what we learned, despite the unappealing symptom :). An inflamed anal glad often develops with dogs when they are not getting enough fiber. You know that commercial with the dog dragging its bottom across the carpet!? That's often what dogs do that have this symptom. Luckily Malichi never did the butt drag... Phew!  

My husband and I take our pets to holistic vet, Jim Coddigton of The Country Vet in Navato. Dr. Coddington is very kind and knowledgeable. I love that he has alternatives to pharmaceutical medications, such as herbs and acupuncture. He lets us know when there is an herbal option and when he feels a medication may be necessary. Dr. Coddigton talked to my husband about our dogs diets and what they are eating. He told my husband that unfortunately the raw foods for dogs that are out on the market are not a perfect food and often lack enough fiber. Of course this depends on the particular dog and their individual needs. I was a little surprised at first because we often give our dogs fresh roughage mixed in with their food, but around the time this problem developed, we had been slacking with mixing in their fresh roughage. We were very busy because we had just moved and I figured they were getting a complete and balanced meal, and that what we added was just extra good stuff :). Silly me, as of course just like humans, dogs benefit from variety. Our vet suggested a dehydrated brand that he feeds his dogs. 

I took this information to heart and researched the brand he suggested. The ingredients actually ended up being nearly identical to the raw food with the exception of potato. This particular brand was also not organic and, if possible, I like to keep my pets on organic food, as commercial animal products (especially pet grade) often contain hormones, antibiotics and many toxins. Our pets also LOVE their food, so my husband and I decided to first try to add more fiber to their current food and see if they did well. Our vet also suggested this option, but in the form of psyllium husk. 

We have been slicing up sweet potato or squash on our mandolin and storing that for a couple days at a time in the fridge. The thinly sliced/chopped pieces enables the sweet potato to be easily digested. Dogs in the wild eat roots and tubers as a part of their natural diet. This gets mixed into their food along with any other roughage we have been eating, such as carrots, zucchini, greens and celery. I also have been saving the pulp from juicing (when it is safe for the dogs) and rotating that into their food as well. They still have been loving their meals and Malachi's situation has resolved. Yay! 

Ironically, this little incident shows that dogs are omnivores and need more vegetation that many realize. I stated in my past post that there are many dogs that actually thrive on vegan diets, if done carefully and with supplements. Our cat didn't need any changes to his diet. Cats are carnivores and do much better with a higher percentage of flesh. 

I would also like to add that we rotate the different types of Primal meat so our pets get a viriety of nutrients. For a couple weeks they will eat chicken, then they may eat duck and the next salmon. All our pets do not do well with the larger animals meats so we do not feed them bovine or sheep meat. It is important to observe your pet carefully for any sign of allergy or intolerance to particular foods. I have heard of many dogs and cats being sensitive or allergic to bovine, so this is something to monitor when feeding your pet. Signs of sensitivity include loss of hair, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, runny nose and watery, runny eyes. Also, trust your pets instincts if for some reason they avoid a particular type of food or do not eat very much of it, later becoming sick. Here is a quick list of foods that are not safe for pets: all parts of the avocado, chocolate, apple seeds, grapes and raisins, green tomatoes and tomato leaves and stems, onions, spicy foods, caffeine (not great for humans either) macadamia nuts, persimmons, salt, spinach and milk (most adult cats and dogs do not contain the enzyme to break down the sugar lactose in milk products). There are other possibilities, so it is wise to do your own research and always monitor your pet for their individual needs.

We also began alternating the echinacea supplement to our pets food every other week. Our vet informed us it was best to rotate, as the immune system can build a tolerance when it is constantly being introduced to the system. Our dogs seem to be doing really well with this eating regimen so far, and I will of course update as to any news or changes on this front. We are keeping the dehydrated food as a possible option for traveling, as it is convenient to simply rehydrate in a small bowl of water. Their current pet food is frozen, so it's a bit trickier for traveling. We usually bring a cooler anyway to transport some of our own raw goodies, yet options are always good :).

Lots of love and light from the Margraf clan ~ XOXO


Quisha said...

hi cassie- great post! i think for a lot of people they think of dogs as wild animals and feed them scraps, fats, table food, things like that and wonder why their pet is constantly sick. i'm glad you did this post. for awhile i've been trying to keep my chorkie (chihuahua/yorkie mix) natural and healthy. she'll be 2 soon and it's so hard since my boyfriends parents feed their dog cooked foods (chicken, pork, beef, sausage, basically whatever they eat, they give a portion to the dogs and most times cook a chicken thigh for both of them), and this upsets me a lot because their dog is dying from fat in her throat. she can hardly breathe. they feed them both because they think my dog feels bad haha.

in their country road kill is chopped up and made into dog food so they think the food that i buy is the same thing. i've tried to make them understand and it's not the same. i buy natural dog food with no fillers or anything extra in it.

all in all, thanks for this post. i think people need to realize the importance of caring for your pet as if they were your child. i know i do :)

p.s.- great blog and your pets are beautiful!

Laura Bruno said...

So glad Malachi's all better ... and that you got a great photo of Milo! Wonderful post as usual, sweetie. Keep spreading the light!
Love, Laura

Cassie said...

Thanks for stopping by you two! I'm glad you enjoyed the post :). Quisha, it's so great that you love your dog so much and feed her natural foods! Keep shining your light!! Laura, thanks for the comment about Milo's picture :). I got a few really great shots of him... he was being such a cute little poser! XO