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

I am embarrassed to say I have no idea how long Hector has been with us.  Maybe 5 years?    What I do remember clearly is that fateful evening; e-collar clad foster Hector (after Cherry Eye surgery), laying on his back, happily being tickled by Crabby.  During that little interaction, Crabby proclaimed, “He’s not going anywhere!”.

And so it came to pass that we officially backed out of “Rescue”.  Hector would become #7.  Only insane people would have more, even on a temporary (foster) basis.  Oh, the irony!  Even more ironic was a previous threat by Crabby, that if we took one more permanent dog at The Ranch, our relationship was over.


In all this time, Hector has never had a bad day, a sick day, or a day when he was off, even just a little, and he’s always been a good eater.

Hector was switched from commercial kibble to a home prepared diet approximately 7 months ago.

The immediate, subjective observations were:

1.  Golly his coat got silky!

2. Where he was buff before, Hector is ripped now.  Kind of like the difference between a muscle man and the sinewy guys in the movie 300. Less bulk, but still a good weight and healthy.

Unlike DASH!, who had some ongoing systemic and personality issues, Hector has always been healthy and confident.  For that reason, subjectively, there really wasn’t much to improve on!


What about objectively?

Hector Lab Report

OK, so this is where I have to give some shout outs and apologies:

First, to the poor individual at the vet’s office who e-mailed the report:  I have a tendency to freak first, ask for forgiveness later.  It was the perfect storm:  1)  I didn’t completely understand what I was seeing and 2) y’all were then closed for the weekend.  My frantic posts and contacts, asking people to tell me how long my boy had to live, just might have been discovered by your boss.  You did the right thing in sending the results.  I did the wrong thing in ass-u-me-ing the worst when it was me who said no need for anyone to call and discuss unless something was wrong.  Since there was nothing wrong, there was no call.   My bad, not yours!

Second, to Laura at Grimm’s Furry Tail, a vet tech with a long career and Ray, a similarly employed tech, who both talked me back in from the ledge when I assumed the worst from my erroneous interpretation of the lab results.


To the Report:

The BUN/Creatinine ratio is irrelevant (and not an indication that Hector’s kidneys were shutting down, as I thought) since the 2 separate elements are within normal range.

The high Lymphocytes and low Neutrophils are similarly irrelevant (and not an indication that Hector had cancer, as I thought) since the absolute values are within normal range.  I can’t remember who said it, but one of the people ‘in the know’ stated that the second reading, separate from ‘absolute’, really didn’t have any real purpose other than to freak out people like me.  I guess lab workers need their fun too.

OK, so there was one tweak – the off the charts Amylase (and my panic that Hector was in early stage Pancreatitis).  Absent other abnormal levels, there are many reasons Amylase could be high that didn’t end in Hector’s demise, stress being one of them. Happens the day Hector had his blood drawn was the very same day Vito had his second Liver Panel done.  Vito had to stay at the vet’s for a few hours.  I sent Hector with him for moral support.  His blood was not drawn until just before I picked the boys up.  Hector has never seen the inside of a cage, never been restricted, never been away from home, for years.  I think we can all agree, a few hours in a cage, even if it was with Vito, was a stressful situation.

When Hector was in for a short visit – to have his stitches removed, we re-ran his Amylase.  The result:  Normal.

Hector Amylase repeat

As I said before, Hector has never been sick a day in his life with us.  For that reason, I don’t have a blood panel available from when he was on commercial kibble.   Subjectively, he did fine on commercial.  But with commercial comes the potential for recalls.  It was a recall that took our beloved Arrrmando (the second ‘r’ is silent) from us and caused me to change how I feed the kids (mix and rotate foods).  Additionally, though the commercial food did not cause Vito’s obstruction last year, that it passed through his system completely undigested (see The Story) made me become completely distrustful of any commercial food.

Hector’s blood work proves I can keep him healthy on a home prepared diet.  That I can control the ingredients and the preparation means it is me, and not some underpaid stranger, who controls quality and safety.

I beg you reader, be very careful if you are on the fence about switching your own critters to home prepared diets:  If done wrong, it can outright kill a cat.  For dogs, it’s not as simple as throwing some hamburger and carrots in a bowl and calling it good.  There are many books and Internet recipes available, but be wary:  If the recipe calls for a pinch of this or a sprig of that – it really isn’t a balanced recipe for a dog.  I mean really, when have you ever heard a dog complain about food because it needs more oregano?  If the recipe sounds like something you would eat – definitely don’t feed it to your dog!

10 thoughts on “The Effects of Home Prepared Diets on the Run A Muck Ranch Kids: Hector

  1. Love the pictures of hector. Don’t worry I would have freaked out about the lab report to. Thankfully you had someone talk you down and the vet explained things. Thanks for the warning about switching pets to home prepared food. I do have a question about your experience, how much does it cost and how did you switch them?

    1. I hear a blog entry in the works…. A little too wordy to answer in a comment. Mental note being stapled to my forehead as we speak! Maybe video rather than text – would make it easier!

  2. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I appreciate the helpful comment. This makes me feel better about my decision to switch my girls from a commercial vegetarian food to a homemade vegetarian food. Thanks!

    1. My apologies for taking so long to respond to your comment! It seemed to have slipped through the cracks!

      I am a loud and proud cheerleader for ‘real’ fresh diets, homemade being as fresh as you can get. As I stated in the blog entry itself, just be careful on the recipes you choose. I can’t believe the number of books and internet recipes that tell you how to make at home what you are trying to avoid in commercial foods! Additionally, some authors have it in their minds that ‘people ingredients’, (herb and spice flavorings) are necessary.

      Even when I was doing my recipes wrong – mostly by overcooking – I never fell for the lengthy ingredient lists. Keep it simple, use only the best of the basics, and rotate recipes to get the most nutritious value – and you can’t go wrong.

      As an aside… because we are but mere humans, add blood work to your annual exams. That lab report will tell you how well you are doing and if adjustments need to be made. I can not stress that enough.

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