The Effects of Home Prepared Diets on the Run A Muck Ranch Kids: DASH!

DASH! has always been our ‘special little eater’.  When he first came to live with us, we believed him to be starved.  Turns out, that may (or may not) have been the case.

The easy part is surrounding  DASH! with mountains of food.  The hard part is getting him to actually eat it.

I tried everything, begging, demanding, games, more begging, different foods, it didn’t matter, if DASH!  didn’t like the look or smell of the cuisine set in front of him, he wouldn’t touch it. If we were fortunate enough to find the right food, the challenge then became getting DASH! to focus on eating.  Didn’t matter how hungry he may or may not have been, the slightest distraction would cause DASH! to forget all about eating.

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As you can imagine, outsiders seeing DASH! for the first time usually glared at Crabby and me accusingly. That’s probably why, whenever I introduced DASH! to anyone, the introduction was always followed by the proclamation “Yes, we do feed him!”. Sometimes I would tell people I was considering putting a cork in his back end to get some calories to stick.

DASH! is the Run A Muck Ranch kid who has been on 100% homemade food the longest.

Here are the immediate subjective results:

1. DASH! is excited about eating. No longer do we have to chase him around the house, catch him, then beg him to eat.

2. Significant coat improvement and sheen.

3. More energy (like we really needed that…)

4. Personality change. DASH! has always been a relatively shy kid since he moved in about 4 or 5 years ago (forgive me if their entry dates have become a blur!).  Not a smidgen of commercially produced dog food has passed his lips since May, 2013. Since that time DASH! has become very outgoing to strangers and more confident (will at least make a show of standing his ground) around strange dogs.  He’d been here for years, but the transformation took months.

5. Significant weight gain. (from 9.5 pounds,  his previous heaviest weight to 12.4 now).

6. Assumption: DASH! has always been quick to get cold. Where our winter afternoons have been unseasonably warm, the nights and early mornings are still pretty chilly. I have not seen DASH! shiver as much this year. That being said, it may simply be a case of the winter being warmer than usual.

7.  We have not had to Fart Walk DASH!, nor has he had any bouts of constipation or other stomach upset in all this time. This is the longest we have gone in years.

So, is home feeding a good thing? Subjectively, yes, but what about systemically?

While DASH! is eating much better now, he still has things he refuses to touch.  I had 'hidden' this blob of yogurt as the creamy center hidden in a meatball of his food.   DASH! was able to eat all the food without touching the offending yogurt.
While DASH! is eating much better now, he still has things he refuses to touch. I had ‘hidden’ this blob of yogurt as the creamy center of a meatball made with his food. DASH! was able to eat all the food without touching the offending yogurt.

Here’s DASH!‘s recent blood work:

DASH! Blood Panel Page 1

DASH! Blood Panel Page 2

Discussion:

BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) is 1 point high.   Since all other chemistries are within range, the 1 point elevation is indicative of a high protein diet.  (Don’t take my word for it, do your own research).   High BUN in dogs on high protein diets is common.

DASH!‘s food ranges from 38-42% protein, depending on the mix.  Mixes are rotated by container, which are used up daily.  Estimated protein content for a wild canine (coyote, wolf), is around 50%.  Because meat alone does not provide a complete and balanced diet, 42% was the highest I could get without knocking other nutrients out of whack, using only food ingredients without synthetic additives.

I asked my vet if a constantly elevated BUN due to a high protein diet can cause problems down the road.  She said no, especially for a single point elevation.  I have not had opportunity to raise the question with other vets yet, but I will.  I’m not finding the question, or the answer, in any of the texts I have available.

This seems to me to be an excellent opportunity to learn to re-calculate and formulate a slightly lower protein diet for DASH!, while keeping all else in balance.

 

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On page 2 you will see that DASH!‘s eosinophils are also out of whack.

I had never even heard of eosinophils until Vito’s issues last spring (first time with workup at this particular vet). At the time, I was told it could be an allergy or a parasite. No follow-up was really required. Further research adds Valley Fever, eating ‘wild things’ and other causes for the elevated reading.

I recently collected hard copies of blood work taken in the last 2 years for all Run A Muck Ranch dogs who had workups done.   All but Slugger and Maude had elevated eosinophils, and yet the vet who drew the blood never mentioned them.

Angus’ last workup was March, 2013, and he showed elevated eosinophils.  He just had a more recent panel done last week – eosinophils are normal.

When Vito had a workup done a couple weeks ago in the ER, they did not do a differential (where eosinophils would show on the report).

Point of going into this detail: Darned if I know what the story is with eosinophils! One vet mentioned it but wasn’t concerned, another vet wasn’t concerned enough to mention it. Angus’ issue resolved without treatment. All dogs existed on the same diet (panels dated back 2 years, before I began home making food), some had elevations, others didn’t. I’m going to infer from all of this that nutrition is not an issue with eosinophils.

I’m embarrassed to say, this was the first blood panel we have ever done for DASH!, so I had no reference point to document objective changes due to the homemade diet. Still, the diet is causing no harm.  Since he is not a performance dog, and because I have become obsessed with what I feed my kids, I will be re-calculating his ‘menu’ to lower the protein so I can see his BUN level reduce.   We’ll re-run the BUN in about a month, giving DASH!‘s system time to react to the new diet. Results, whatever they are, will be posted as an update.

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Next Up: The Effects of Home Prepared Diets on the Run A Much Ranch Kids: Hector

Coming Soon: Nutritionally Managing Liver Disease in Vito

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