Can someone explain to me, in words that my simple mind can understand….
You take your dog to the vet for a regular wellness check. He gives your dog a physical and suggests a blood draw to view the over all wellness of your dog. You consent, blood is drawn, and the results come back. Some values aren’t exactly within the range of normal, but they’re pretty close and your vet tells you there’s nothing to worry about. Your dog passes his wellness check and the angels sing. You wrote on your intake form that your dog is fed a commercial dog food.
You home-make your dog food, and indicate as much on your intake form. You run the same blood tests as would be done in a ‘regular’ wellness screen, but request the addition of other values to be tested as well. Your results come back, and every single value falls within normal range. Even your sporadic elevated eosinophils are within normal range. Rather than receive the same passing grade on the wellness check, you are warned that continued feeding of a home made diet is a recipe for disaster (the word ‘recipe’ was used), even though the vet has never even asked what it is you feed your dogs. That this was the 3rd blood draw, the 3rd showing gold stars across the board, irrelevant. This was the first time the vet saw the dog, but he was made aware of the results of the prior blood tests, and their results at the original consultation.
A freak first ask forgiveness later incident happened involving Gracie Friday night, and we spent some time at the vet. Gracie was and remains fine.
I on the other hand really need to stop seeing fatal diseases around every corner. As long as we were at the vet, may as well make it worth it, so a blood test was ordered to see how Gracie is doing on the home made diet plan. Gracie has been on the plan for 15 months and this is her second blood test. This time, we ran a urinalysis as well.
Humor me! Actually click on the link to see what we found!
The elevated Creatinine doesn’t concern me since everything else was within normal limits. Gracie was gassy – probably from scarfing her way late dinner – possibly from eating something that didn’t agree with her in the back yard that morning – who knows. If she was bloated with gas most of the day, she might not have drunk as much as she should have, especially when the temperature had risen to the un-holy measure of 88 degrees. Remember, none of the Run A Muck Ranch dogs can survive in temperatures above 82 degrees, and we have the electric bills to prove it! Nothing like a little dehydration to elevate the Creatinine levels from time to time.
Other than that one measure, Gracie is straight A’s within normal ranges for everything.
To date, no vet, not even the “nutritional specialists” I have actively sought out and paid for consultations, has asked me what I feed my dogs. The constant recommendation from the ‘specialists’ is that I change all the dogs back to a commercial diet. Any commercial diet, they say, would be better than a home made diet.
Am I stupid? You be the judge:
AAFCO, which writes the guidelines on commercial dog food, has 3 ways to bring a dog food to market (overly simplified descriptions):
1. The proposed food may be analyzed by a laboratory. If the nutrient content meets the minimum requirements set forth by AAFCO, the food is considered adequate. Digestibility or useability of the nutrients are not guaranteed. As long as the correct molecules are present, you’re good to go.
2. A list of ingredients for the proposed food is imputed into a computer program. If the combination of ingredients meet the minimum requirements set forth by AAFCO, the food is considered adequate. It is possible this way to produce food that has little or no nutritional value, i.e. it is possible to meet the ‘protein requirement’ with plant material alone and be considered adequate. However, there is no guarantee that all essential amino acids are provided. The food does not have to be analyzed in a laboratory, or fed to a single dog, to pass muster.
3. 8 dogs start, but only 6 need finish, a 26 week feeding trial. At the end of the feeding trial, hemoglobin, packed cell volume, Alk Phos and serum albumin are tested. If those blood parameters are within normal range, and the dogs in the trial have not lost more than 15% body weight since the beginning of the trial, the food is declared adequate.
There is actually a 4th way available to manufacturers of several foods, but isn’t relevant since the original food had to pass one of the 3 tests described.
Morty, Willy and Slugger are only on a taste of home made with the bulk of their meals being commercial due to cost and cooking time issues. That leaves 11 Run A Muck Ranch dogs being fed the diet plan solely. 9 have been maintained for longer than AAFCO’s 26 weeks (Pablo and Gertie are recent residents and not included in the dog count which exceeds AAFCO protocols – at least for now). Blood tests are ongoing, and I check a whole lot more than the 4 parameters required and accepted by the experts. OK, so I don’t test every dog each time, but every dog is tested and tests are repeated for each dog.
To date, there have been no health issues that can be linked to nutrition. Remember, when Vito started having his seizures, I immediately bared my wrists, both to the regular vet and to the ultrasound vet, offering up diet as a cause. Neither would bite. Ultimately, it was verified diet was not a factor.
Will I convert back to commercial, any commercial? Nope! Until I have a veterinary nutritional expert, heck, just any vet for that matter, actually ask me what I feed (none have, believe it or not), and tells me specifically what is wrong with it, I will stay with what I’m doing, with the ultimate goal of getting the ‘neglected 3’ (Morty, Willy and Slugger) on the plan as well.
You might find this hard to believe, but spending hours every week cooking for the kids is not as fun as it sounds. Not to mention what the house smells like during, and for an extended time after, each cook.
I decided to attempt a marathon cook. My mission: To prepare an entire month’s worth of food as quickly as possible. By quickly, we’re talking about the 4 Day plan, every day, after work.
I guess I got a little tired on Day 3 because it all went to Hell in a hand basket. This is the result:
Poor Morty, Crabby hasn’t taken him hiking or camping as much as usual this summer. It sucks to have an aging Pa.
Due not to expense, but time, Morty, Slugger and Willy were put back on (gasp!) commercial dog food. The 3 of them eat as much as most of the others combined, and I already spend hours cooking just to keep up with the other 10. Return to home made would be based on seniority (arrival at The Ranch), Slugger, then Willy, with Morty last. Not good for Morty.
Worse still, with the addition of 2 more K9’s to Run A Muck Ranch, Morty lost even his promised one day a week homemade meals. His 1 day feeds Pablo for a week! While it was hoped Pablo and Gertie would be temporary, with each passing day, we are all surrendering just a little more to our fate of having to find a place to put 2 more stickers on the Waggin’ Wagon.
To add insult to injury, Pablo is yet one more Chihuahua mix who picks on Morty. Morty’s feelings get hurt very easily.
All in all, Morty World sucks right now.
In an attempt to keep costs down with the home made dog food, I’ve started buying in bulk. My grocery store meat manager scored me, what we thought was 30 pounds of chicken hearts and gizzards, at a smoking price, if I would buy it in restaurant packaging rather than grocery packs.
It was a smoking price, it was restaraunt packaging, but it was 40 pounds. Do you have any idea what 40 pounds of chicken hearts and gizards looks like? Now you do:
With the offal I got in last week, plus the food already made, there wasn’t enough room in the freezer to store it!
What to do, what to do…
Refer back to pitiful Morty.
It seemed there was only one way to solve both problems:
5 pounds of hearts and gizzards were converted into several sheets of the newest flavor of Run A Munchies. I haven’t made treats for the kids in ages – I spend too much time cooking their food! But that wasn’t the best part.
All of them belong to Morty.
All is better in Morty World now. At least until his treats run out.
As always, I caution all readers: Home preparing your dog’s diets is not a case of simply slapping whole foods in a bowl and calling it good. If done wrong, the negative effects listed in this article can occur.
A little commentary here:
There is an error in the article that needs discussion:
While board certified nutritionists are employed by commercial food companies, not all are. The problem with those that aren’t is they won’t deal with pet owners directly, only with vets (at least all contacts I have made have been that way). But if your vet won’t even submit your diets for review, heck, if your vet doesn’t even review your diets him or herself, you’re on your own.
Additionally, only vets and vet techs can get certification at their respective levels from the Board of Veterinary Nutritionists. What I find odd is that a tech who is only required to have a GED before taking the 18 month tech course is eligible for continuing education, but I, with my 4 year undergraduate college degrees which include college level biologies, chemistries, etc. (required for vet school admission), am not.
A personal communication concerning the possibility of an exemption, which included my college transcripts, or the suggestion of an undergraduate degree offering was met with the response that only those properly trained in the veterinary field (vets or techs) are suitable for such education, and that it would be inappropriate for the general public to receive same.
Getting into, or information from, the Illuminati would be easier than getting the same from the American College of Veterinary Nutritionists!
Oops! Big Error Found in University Pet Food Study
June 26, 2014
You might recall a study released by UC Davis last year claiming most home prepared diets fail to provide all the nutrients a dog needs. Warnings were all over the news advising consumers to ONLY feed their pet a meal balanced by a board certified nutritionist (otherwise known as commercial pet food) – based on this ‘study’. Well…as it turns out, the study appears to have a significant error (…I believe more than one).
The UC Davis press release on the study that bashed home cooking for pets stated:
“Some owners prefer to prepare their dogs’ food at home because they feel they have better control over the animals’ diet, want to provide a more natural food or simply don’t trust pet food companies,” said Jennifer Larsen, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the William R. Pritchard…
With worked ramped up to beyond what a middle-aged Crazy Dog Lady can do, I find the brain too tired to write anything of value of late. So let’s play THEN and NOW. It doesn’t take much brain power.
This video was posted in July of 2013.
That was THEN.
This is NOW:
Angus and Emmi are negative for Valley Fever titers. An accident with Angus’ Fluconazole dosage, coupled with the conversion to 1/2 homemade, 1/2 commercial lead to the first decrease in his titers – ever. He was removed from Fluconazole and given 100% homemade when the decrease was reported. Angus was negative for Valley Fever titers 3 months later.
When the decrease in Angus’ titers was discovered, Emmi was titer tested, then converted to 100% homemade. Emmi’s titers bounced back and forth between 1:8 and 1:16 since she was diagnosed in 2011. 5 months after converting to homemade, she tested negative for Valley Fever. Oh, and I forgot to mention; when I converted Emmi, I took her completely off Fluconazole.
Both Angus and Emmi were symptomatic for Valley Fever, more particularly, they both hurt a lot. Angus has not needed pain killers since before November 2013 (when titer reduction was first reported). Emmi has not needed pain killers since December 2013, about a month after her conversion to homemade.
At the time of Sarah’s conversion, she was on prednisone, amantadine, and tramadol. When Sarah was converted to homemade, she was immediately taken off of her amantadine. She had to be weaned from the prednisone. Tramadol was still given if she had pain. Though Sarah has not improved, as far as her choppy gate and clumsiness, she has not gotten worse without her medications. Twice since her conversion, I’ve had to give her tramadol, exponentially less than usual, and the last time was over a month ago.
In full disclosure, Sarah had a near four-month period of time in 2013 where she did not express her symptoms as badly as she usually does. During that time, though Sarah did not need prednisone, she did need Tramadol regularly. We are only 2 months into her conversion to homemade. It would be unwise for me to claim ‘cure’ this early in the game.
Something we have noticed is that the constant regurgitation/dehydration episodes appear to have stopped. I don’t think we’ve ever gone two months without having to sop up the floors and re-hydrate Sarah since she came to live with us. With respect to Sarah’s regurgitation issues, I’m confident in making the claim that homemade dog food has helped, much to the disappointment of paper towel manufacturers everywhere.
Our hearts are still broken over the loss of our Maude, one of the glucosamine kids. Unfortunately all the wishing in the world can’t make someone we love live longer when they’re very old.
Mortimer and Sarah have been removed from glucosamine. I have already discussed Sarah’s non-regression when taken off of her medications, glucosamine technically being one of them.
In Morty’s case, he was also removed from glucosamine when he was converted to homemade. He came back from a particularly hard camping trip last weekend, and rather than curling into a painful little ball (pre-glucosamine state), he stretched out comfortably. Additionally his gimpy swagger which showed itself if he played too hard is gone. Both the soreness after hiking and the gimpy swagger are the reasons he was put on glucosamine to begin with, and he did improve on the supplement. Conversion to homemade didn’t make Morty ‘better’, but it appears to negate the need for glucosamine.
To be fair and balanced here:
Slugger and Sarah were taken off Valley Fever treatment when the Fluconazole price increased 1800%. Neither has suffered negative effects as a result. Fact is, some dogs can have titers, and never show a symptom. Slugger and Sarah, from their lack of negative effects from being removed from the Fluconazole, are apparently two such dogs.
Work, not nutrition, was the reason Willy was weaned off his fluoxedine in January 2014. Actually, he reacted badly (behavioral) when first converted to homemade. That negative effect was fixed by adjusting the protein in his diet.
And to disclaim further:
I’m not so full of myself that I would put the health and happiness of my kids in front of my desire to be right. All meds are still in the freezer. Angus and Emmi will still get titer checks for Valley Fever from time to time. All kids are watched like a hawk for any negative effect or reaction, be they real or imagined, and immediate action will be taken if such an effect or reaction is noted, vet/meds being the first course of action. And finally, a soft shiny coat is not the measuring stick for whether a homemade diet works. For that reason, I do regular blood work on The Hoard to make sure the diet plan works.
All in all, homemade food has been a success here at The Ranch. Bummer is, the time spent giving all those pills of the past was so much shorter than the time I spend washing dishes now…
Some came from holes in the ground, a few from the streets, one from a war zone, a couple from the desert.
They should be happy just to have a roof over their heads, shouldn’t they?
But no, they kick us off the couch. They kick Crabby off the people bed. If we’re home, we have no other priority than to amuse them. They won’t let me sleep until daylight, even when I get a day off. They’ve even decided commercial dog food is below them, so I spend hours and hours preparing their food from scratch just so.
I have no idea how the kids have learned to expect only the best, but I have a hunch….
Take a look at Vito’s dinner as served this evening. Do you think I might have something to do with the kids’ sense of self entitlement?
Thank goodness Crabby has no expectations and is happy with TV dinners!
First off, since I know many, many people lost sleep last night after I reported the tragic news, I am happy to report that my beloved Cuisinart fired right up this morning.
I’m trying to get a month’s worth of food frozen for the kids so I can focus on marketing food for sale. As a result, I had the little guy going non-stop for over 2 hours yesterday. Apparently that’s a bit much.
Geminis are a mix of the yin and the yang, they are represented perfectly by the Twins. The Gemini-born can easily see both sides of an issue, a wonderfully practical quality. Less practical is the fact that you're not sure which Twin will show up half the time. Geminis may not know who's showing up either, which can prompt others to consider them fickle and restless.