Friday, September 14, 2007

remember when rainy joked about the raw food diet....

Jethro (the Dog) has had health problems since I got him from the pound last Sept 19. On his first visit to the vet, he was 59 lbs, had giardia, clostridium, infected ears and his hair was falling out. He was so emaciated that you could see every rib and bump on his spine and his hip bones stood up like fingers. Basically, he was a skeleton with a little bit of fur. Plus, he smelled and had a penchant for eating poo.

To put it mildly, the last year has been trying. Don't forget that I have two dogs. The other one - let's call her Princess - has never been sick in the 5 years I have had her (she's seriously the perfect dog; calm, quiet, relatively obedient). She's gone to the vet for her regular visit once a year and not much more than that. I haven't added it up but Jethro has easily been to the vet more in last year than Princess has in the last five. Consequently, the cash outlay for him has been significantly more as well.

The two parasites, giardia & clostridium, produce the most disgusting liquid diarrhea and are treated with very strong drugs - antibiotics etc. Giardia goes away fairly quickly but the clostridium can and did last for months. I would say he had it until March/April or so. Yes, that's 7 months in case you are counting.

Of course, I was thinking I was in the clear. He started gaining more weight and was generally healthier or so I thought. He's had some nervous habits like trying to eat his feet. I don't mean licking his feet, I mean that he puts his feet into his mouth and chews. Definitely not normal behaviour. He also has doggie ADD and has been getting increasingly destructive (the list is long). He drinks a lot. He drops a lot of hair. He can't keep still. Never. Ever.

I've been at my wits end and decided to take him to a homeopathic vet to see if there was anything else I could do. I was at the point where I was actually considering drugging him to calm him down (bad bad). Basically the vet said that his system has been completely destroyed by the drugs he was on and it is manifesting itself in the chewing and destruction etc. In a word, he is toxic. He also felt that he had some food sensitivity that should be tested and confirmed. We had the tests two days ago. Turns out he was right. Here is the full list of the things my dog is not allergic and/or sensitive to:

  • chicken & turkey
  • salmon
  • venison
  • most vegetables
  • apples
  • eggs
That's it. They tested over 100 things and those are the ones that are ok. The absolute worst food for him is lamb and guess what flavour his food has been. Yup, lamb. I buy them high end specialty food mind you, but still, the lamb is producing all of these symptoms. This explains a lot.

Please note the following things that are not on that list: beef, liver, cheese, grains

I am also need to scratch apples from the list. The vet gave him a piece after the tests were done and he promptly spit it out onto the floor. He may be able to eat it, but he doesn't like it.

Oh, almost forgot that the tests show he still has parasites. Goodie. He now has some holistic remedies for those.

Of course, they have recommended that he goes onto a raw food diet. I am completely on board with the idea of a raw food diet for the dogs. Obviously, it's better for them to be eating fresh food all the time instead of packaged food. The implementation of the raw food diet is another matter entirely. It is time consuming and I don't have a lot of extra time. I barely manage to make food for myself most nights and I don't know that I can get organized enough to make food for two dogs to eat twice a day. Trust me, it's not that I don't want to, it just seems completely daunting. Perhaps if I didn't work full time and spend 2 hours on the road every day, there would be time.

The good news is that Jethro now weighs 85 lbs and is much healthier than he ever has been. I've been googling different prepared foods are there are a few high end manufacturers that make high protein, no grain foods that would suit his diet. I picked one up today and gave him his first try this evening. He loved it.

I guess time will tell how the new food works. Hopefully we are over the hump and are moving on to greener pastures. It's possible I was bad to dogs in another life and am now paying the price. Cross your fingers the food works out.


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