Approximately one year ago, we were well into our nesting phase and making that oh-so-unique decision to get a dog. (Sarcasm.) We toyed around with the idea, and when we saw that the local animal shelter was having FREE adoptions, we jumped at the opportunity.
Did I mention the FREE adoptions were for “Extra-large breed dogs?”
Well, we visited the shelter and I promptly fell in love with a tall, sloppy drink of slobbery water. This mixed breed was some kind of Dane-Mastiff-Pit Bull mix. He was waaay too big, Husband said. But all us ladies know, when the Husband looks at us and emphatically says, “No” – it really means – “Go back to the shelter while I’m at work and put in an application.”
We brought Cal home in a rainstorm and immediately set off on a walk to establish the chain of command. After re-attaching my leash arm twice as Cal pulled me through rain puddles like he was charging the first leg of the Iditarod, I had my doubts. But we settled in to our routine, got a Dyson, let him up on the bed, and learned that the surefire way to “loosen up” is to adopt an untrained, fabulously obnoxious, overly enthusiastic 90-lb bundle of joy. I can say without reservation that my dog is the $#it.
We were fully Primal at this point, and as I became “one of those people” who chats with strangers about their “kid” without specifying that I actually mean “dog,” I started to think that we could do better than standard kibble. I’m no genius, but I’m 99.9% sure that wheat isn’t a natural part of a dog’s diet. So we switched to Orijen. I was happy with the ingredients and the improved digestion, but Cal wasn’t much more enthusiastic.
Even with my Primal devotion, I wasn’t sure about feeding dogs “raw.” Until I asked my friend Beth at Canine Cottage what she feeds her incredibly healthy, youthful dogs. We had a conversation about smart, against-the-grain (literally) nutrition and how it applies to dogs. She visits a holistic vet, doesn’t vaccinate on the traditional schedule (she titers) and has great success with feeding a raw diet to her pooches. Suddenly it made sense to me – crunchy, uniformly chalky beef-flavored nuggets? That may be the furthest thing from a natural diet there is. My dog is extra large, and I know XL dogs are supposed to be doomed to health problems, dysplasia, arthritis, stomach issues and earlier death than their teensy counterparts. Could this be diet-related?
I want to have Cal around for as long as humanly (and canine-ly) possible. If a raw diet will make that happen, I’m on board. So we gave it a whirl.
Raw food – the good stuff – can be obtained from local butchers (Cal also gets lamb), Majestic Raw, and US Wellness meats has it as well. Like eating whole foods, it may feel more expensive, but we’re looking at the long term here.
Interestingly, it seems that because the raw food is so water-dense, he’s hardly motivated to gulp down water all day as he once was. It seems he’s getting all the water he needs from his food. (Processed foods make me ridiculously thirsty. Must be the same with dogs.)
So ask around – there are vets who’ll say “no way, ” but as with doctors, sometimes the first opinion shouldn’t be the last. The ingredients? All kinds of nasty stuff that dogs love – Tripe, heart, liver, bone, and the kitchen sink. That long ingredient list on the Majestic sleeve makes use of just about every part of the cow, and the pooch makes use of just about everything in there too. His digestion is great (I won’t bore you with the details) and I hope this keeps him with us as long as possible. I supplement his diet with the occasional pastured egg yolk and coconut oil.
Anybody else feed Raw?