When Franky followed us out of the desert that day, what, 4? 5? years ago, he was perfectly healthy. Other than a rather profound under bite, and a burn scar down his back, there was nothing remarkable about him. He’s never been sick, never taken so much as a bad step, never so much as sneezed that I can remember,
Unlike the low maintenance Hector, who has a mind his own sometimes, Franky is both low maintenance and voluntarily obedient, the latter being quite unusual, since we make no demands on any of the kids.
Franky is one of the luckier Run A Muck Ranch kids. Because he comes in under 20 pounds, like the other small dogs, he is now approaching one year without ever having a molecule of commercial dog food pass his lips.
Subjectively, there has only been one improvement we’ve noticed: his coat is silky. Franky was never go-getter to begin with, and the new and improved Franky appears not one over exert himself either.
The only other thing we’ve noticed is that Franky’s hair has grown. It’s not that he had bald spots which now have hair, it that his existing hair is longer. No, he has not grown Fabian locks, but he has fluffed enough to cover a pretty good chunk of the burn scar on his back. I have no explanation for the hair growth. Some breeds of dogs do experience coat changes as they get older and maybe this was something that would’ve naturally happened to Franky despite his diet.
I never got baseline blood work prior to converting Franky to the home prepared diet, but if you click the link below, I provided the reader with his blood results from April 12, 2014.
At the time Franky’s blood was drawn he had been on a home prepared diet for approximately 11 months. As you can see, (if you actually click the link, that is) Franky has no worries.
Given the short narrative of Hector’s conversion, I sincerely hoped I would have more to write about Franky. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Franky is still Franky but with great organ function.
In an attempt to make this blog post a smidge bit longer, and as an excuse to display more pictures of Franky, I shall digress here:
In the United States, pet foods are ‘regulated’ by the organization AAFCO, and to a lesser extent the NRC. In order for a pet food manufacturer to put the words “Complete and balanced”, or “Complete and balanced for all life stages”, on its label, the food must be a) analyzed in a laboratory, OR b) have feeding trials performed.
Laboratory analysis can be problematic in that even plants have protein. However, the many plant proteins are not very digestible, and therefore, useful, in dogs. More importantly is the incomplete amino acid profile contained in many plant protiens. Additionally, even wood chips contain vitamins and minerals. Show of hands out there: how many of your dog food labels contain “lignin”? Lignin comes from wood. Imagine my chagrin when I researched prior dog foods fed to the Run a Muck Ranch kids and found one that contained lignin. Remember, gluten, a component of grains, was added in massive amounts by virtually all pet food companies to boost the protein content claim on their labels. It would probably be the same today if not for the contaminated gluten that killed so many dogs back in 2007.
Laboratory analysis only guarantees the presence of nutrients but does not guarantee whether or not those nutrients can actually be digested and therefore used by dogs. It is possible to have a great nutritional analysis listed on the label, with no guarantee as to the nutritional value for dogs. It is equally possible that a commercial pet food can reach the market bearing the label “Complete and balanced” without ever having been fed to a dog at all. Shall we all ponder this for a while?
Using b), a pet food manufacturer must feed a group of dogs for a period of not less than 26 weeks (that’s 6.5 months). [As an aside, sad but true, this same short time period, per the FDA, is all that is required for the prescription and therapeutic diets you pay extra for at your vet!] At least 8 dogs must be fed the diet but only 6 need finish the feeding trial. At the end of the feeding trial, necessary blood work is drawn, and if all is well, Shablam! you have a dog food that can claim it is “Complete and balanced’ or “Complete and balanced for all life stages”. That the dogs in the study, even today, were “laboratory animals”, kept in laboratory conditions, irrelevant.
The Lilliputians of Run a Muck Ranch (the little ones for those who never read Gulliver’s Travels) are approaching one year on home prepared diets. The mid-range kids (Angus and Gracie) , and then Emmi, followed not long behind. That they have done so well, both subjectively and objectively (blood analyses) in real life circumstances tells me I am doing the right thing.
We got some happy, but frustrating, news the same day Franky’s blood work came back. Our reaction to that news was that as of then, all Run a Muck Ranch dogs (except Slugger) have been converted to home prepared diets. Technically speaking, based on the ones converted already, once I get organ function blood work done on Angus and Gracie, my food qualifies under the AAFCO guidelines, to bear the claim “Complete and balanced”. That the Run A Muck Ranch kids vary in ages, I can claim “Complete and balanced for all life stages”.
Oh, wait, no I can’t – the dogs in the study must be purebreds and kept in cages for the duration of the study. My test subjects are family members living in a healthy, happy, real life world. Laboratory setting clearly give a better indication as to the quality of a food for the rest of the population.
When I compare commercial foods that bear the “Complete and Balanced” claim to mine, well, with mine, I know exactly what’s in the food. From here on in, I choose home made.
For those who are wondering why Slugger has not been converted, it is with a heavy heavy sigh that I will respond:
Slugger must chew every kibble 32 times before swallowing. A marching band can stomp to and fro in front of Slugger while he’s eating and he will show no reaction as he is too busy concentrating on proper mastication. It’s not that Slugger doesn’t like the homemade food, it’s that its texture causes him mental dilemmas.
Puréed food which doesn’t really require chewing all, causes Slugger to go into brain meltdown. Proper digestion requires proper chewing after all and if he can’t chew it properly, it can’t be safe to swallow.
Whole pieces of food items provide a similar quandary. Where kibble breaks down into crumbs, pieces of meat don’t. Slugger doesn’t know when to stop chewing and just swallow. He would die of starvation with a steak in his mouth.
There will come a day when Slugger too will be converted over to homemade food, but we have to go slow to avoid intellectual upset. He doesn’t have much higher brain activity as is, and we would like to keep what little he has.