How I Improved my Dog’s Nutrition, One Dog’s Journey from Kibble to Raw – Guest Post by Orly Leitner
DISCLAIMER: This is our personal story of which I am happy to share with you. Everything I keep learning is from hours and hours of research, experimentation and of course, common sense. These instalments will provide you with insight into the challenges that surround transition, balancing nutrition and trying to do everything right. Pet owners should always conduct their own research and consult with a veterinarian before making changes to their pet’s diet. Every dog is unique with its own specific needs and please keep in mind that I am neither a veterinarian, nor a nutritionist. I am a passionate dog and cat enthusiast on the path to becoming a holistic pet nutritionist.
I dedicate this blog to Skai Wantstofly, who unexpectedly and accidentally passed recently at the young age of 16 years. He will always be remembered for being full of vitality and vigour and as the ambassador who taught me that dogs can grow old and still have a great quality of life. A big thank you to all my mentors and teachers who have guided me on this journey and continue to inspire me to keep learning and never stop trying new things. Dr. Peter Dobias, Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, Dr. Jean Dodds, Dr. Andrew Jones and the one person that keeps me grounded, Dr. Amanda Glew.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
Food is one of the most controversial subjects amongst pet parents and veterinarians that exists today. We suffer from information overload that often pulls us in all directions and we are at a loss. However, at the end of the day, we want to do the right thing and give our dogs the best food that we can…BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS AND WE ARE THE TRUSTED GUARDIANS WHO TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THEIR CARE.
IN THE BEGINNING
Our paths collided while visiting the Montreal SPCA. I had no intention of adopting a dog that day, but something happened when I spent a few minutes with her, in one of their private rooms. It was something magical, something special and on that fateful day, she became my third dog. “The dog”, the one that binds your soul with theirs forever. She was the
one that makes your heart melt and the one that knows your every thought, just by looking at you, the one that wants nothing more than to please you all the time. Her name would be “Chloe” She was 8 months old and had come from a home with little children, who played a little too rough with her. She was shy and timid. Loud noises scared her and she did not walk stairs or do her business outside. Fortunately, lots of love and attention got her over those things, except for the loud noises that still freak her out. At the time, I picked up the food that the SPCA was feeding her to have continuity during the transition to a forever home.
Soon enough, off I went to the pet shop to fetch some food – easy, right? Wrong…
The food choices had changed so much since the last time I owned a dog. Who remembers Alpo, Gaines Burgers and Ken-L Ration? Anything from the grocery store was okay back then because that was all there was – except for the time my Dad thought it was a good idea to feed our first dog, a small poodle, real food. He cooked minced meat with carrots for an entire summer, while I was in summer camp and as a treat, he gave the dog cooked leftover steak bones from Schwartz’s, which he proudly touted around the house in a large paper bag! I only found out because he continued to do that once camp was over. He was on the right track… natural food. Of course, this came from the same man who thought neutering was unnatural.
Now, Seriously! Pet store shelves are stacked with rows of food bags. Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to choose something? How do I navigate all these choices to find the right one? This was 2005 and the variety of dry kibble was astounding to me. I ended up choosing a variety of different dry foods like Natural Balance, Nutro, Acana, Ziwi Peak, Homestyle and others that I can’t recall. They were all quite similar with the real protein (chicken, beef lamb, salmon etc.…) coming first followed by a variety of vegetables and fruit and then some added vitamins, minerals and a preservative. She liked them all and was never really a fussy eater.
While I had her on all the premium kibble, that of course, I thought was fantastic, she developed watery eyes and itchy ears. I constantly wiped away goop from her eyes and cleaned her ears. To be honest, I never really thought much about it and I was told by other dog owners that it was common. I had no idea that it could be food related at all. Being an engaged pet parent, I read articles and watched videos about food and nutrition, particularly about dried dog food vs. natural food and it caught my attention, mostly, because I myself, don’t eat many processed foods. Most of my meals are made from real food purchased fresh at the grocery store or market. So I got to thinking, hey, my dog should eat real food too. I am sure it will be more nutritious than what she is getting now!
I could not responsibly dive head first in to the unknown, so while I was educating myself on how to feed natural foods, (believe me it is not just… here are my table scraps… have a good time my friend) I started slowly. First, it was going to be Mama’s chicken soup, as a topper, on the kibble. What could be wrong with a variety of vegetables boiled with chicken. In my mind, a dollop of this mixture on top of the kibble would be a great starting point. Chloe went crazy for it and right up until the present time, it is still her all time favourite veggie mix. If she is not feeling well, it is definitely, my go to thing. If she doesn’t eat it, I know that something is very wrong and off we go to see the vet.
That was the beginning of what was to become my educational journey toward raw and natural. In the next chapter “Knowledge is Power, or is it Just Confusing?” I will share with you the books I read, the sites I visited and how I started raw feeding.
Orly Leitner can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org