This is my long haired German Shepherd Dog Boaz. I haven’t seen him look this beautiful in a long time.
I used to think we fed our dogs pretty well. We used to feed Boaz and his sister Zoe the dog food below.
At $45 a bag, we thought we were doing our best. However, nine years ago, I didn’t know anything about our industrial food system and being a newlywed at 25 years old, this was my first experience tending to live animals. My first time of having the responsibility of nourishing a pet, my babies.
I always noticed Zoe and Boaz had constant runny stools but I didn’t think twice about why.
About a few years ago I started seeing lawsuits against this company for causing cancer and other illnesses in dogs. Now being educated in our food system, the wheels started to turn.
I started reading about symptoms other dogs were experiencing and it clicked. I’ve been poisoning my dogs for about 6 years.
I was furious and switched their dried dog food right away. Immediately, I started to see a difference in the dogs. There stools were firmer, they weren’t gagging like they used to, and their energy levels increased.
It was about this time that I started to read about the raw food, BARF, diet for dogs. Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
BARF is about feeding pets responsibly and properly to maximize health, longevity and reduce allergies and vet bills. The diet is based on human grade whole foods including raw meat, finely ground bones, offal and other healthy ingredients such as fruit and vegetables.
I was very interested but at the time, scared that I wouldn’t be able to offer them all the nutrients they would need. I didn’t want to think about doing something extremely damaging to my dogs. So we continued with dried kibble.
During the summer of last year we started to notice Zoe’s back end swaying. At first, slightly.
She didn’t seem to have the control of her back end. Towards the end of the summer the problem started to progress.
Once we took Zoe in to the vet, we were told it was Degenerative Myelopathy that effects mostly German Shepherd Dogs and that unfortunately, there was no treatment and that the disease would only progress. The only positive side was that it’s not a painful disease so we were to give her the best quality of life until we knew it was time.
You know, when you get your first puppies, you never really think about them aging.
How it’s so incredibly important to keep them healthy during the early years to avoid disease and cancer that plagues so many dogs in their old age. It wasn’t until I started to educate myself on our industrial food system that I began to understand the dangers in most dried dog food.
After recognizing that Zoe wouldn’t have that much more time with us we were dealt another blow.
In the Fall of last year I noticed Boaz had a limp in his front leg. When I would touch his leg in the elbow area, he would yelp. It was painful.
All I could think of was, “No, not Boaz.”
I immediately took him into the vet and after an x-ray was explained that he either has a bone infection or it could be bone cancer. We didn’t have the money to have a biopsy done so we were sent with a round of antibiotics and pain killers and told to just wait it out and keep him as comfortable as we can.
I left crying. This was my gentle giant. My bubba that just adores being around people and allows the children to pull him in every other direction.
At the same time, he protects our family and children always noting if there are any strangers around and gives them a “don’t even think about getting close” look.
We put him on the meds and he seemed to get better for awhile but like most medication, once he went through them, the symptoms returned.
Now what? Wait for him to get worse and die? We couldn’t afford surgery of any kind.
Time For a Diet Change
With both dogs ill, I knew it was time to change their diet. They needed real food that would nourish them, heal them inside.
With sick older dogs, the vet was telling me that it wasn’t the time to play with their diet as things could get worse.
Worse? Worse than what? Death?
I prayed about it and asked God for wisdom and with Gabe on board I changed their diet pretty much overnight. Well, after countless hours of research and just plain common sense.
When I started to really think about animals and their diets, I started to think, “Why do we feed dogs dried, processed food?”
I go out of my way to make sure my chickens have a special mixed feed constantly giving them fresh veggies and scraps all year long to ensure optimal health. Why on Earth am I giving my dogs, mammals, processed kibble?
What would happen if humans ate one variety of dried food day in and day out? Would we be healthy?
History of Dried Dog Food
It wasn’t until the 1930′s that the first commercial dried dog food was sold by the Gaines Food Co. By the time WWII ended, pet food sales had reached $200 million. In the 1950s Spratt’s became part of General Mills. For companies such as Nabisco, Quaker Oats, and General Foods, pet food represented an opportunity to market by-products as a profitable source of income.
Does this sound familiar to our own problems in the food system. Marketing processed food for money regardless of health consequences.
So how did dogs survive before dried dog food?
Grains, meats, table scraps, and homemade food from their owners. Sounds too easy, huh?
When you search around the internet and look up feeding your dog raw and real foods, there’s always a warning that you should think about this because you could do more harm than good.
Really? What about us as humans? We don’t come with pre-made bagged food instructions because we are too complicated to feed. Warnings that we may mess the health up of our families and children.
No, we learn. We learn from tradition what has kept us healthy for generations. I don’t trust the FDA and I don’t trust our industrial food system. I trust tradition. Eating real food.
When I started to make sense of all of this, I knew right away, my dogs need real food.
Raw Food / Real Food
This past January we had to put Zoe down. It was the hardest thing to do for our family and big brother took it pretty hard. He loves his dogs and Zoe was his girl.
With her death, we were most afraid for Boaz and how he would handle it. They were together every single day since we brought him home nearly eight years ago. Praise the Lord, he’s been doing well as we’ve been pampering him and feeding him real/raw food.
He’s been on real food now for 5 months and we can’t believe how he’s changed in that short amount of time.
His coat is amazing, his breath doesn’t smell, his eyes sparkle and his limp is nearly gone.
He doesn’t yelp when I touch his leg and has more energy than I’ve seen from him in such a long time.
I don’t really know how he’ll progress from here but we’re just praying for a full recovery and that we’ll have him for more years to come.
Part 2: Boaz’s Diet
Now that I feel a bit more confident in what we feed him I’m going to share a post next week on Boaz’s raw food/ real food diet and what I feed him raw and cooked on a weekly basis. I’ve been taking pictures to share with you for a couple of weeks now and it includes raw meats, organ meats, nourishing broth, vegetables, fermented dairy, cod liver oil and flax seed oil.
I’m also going to share my tips on how to do this cost effectively. I can say it’s so much easier now that we’re only feeding one giant dog versus two.
Now this isn’t the diet for every dog. It’s what’s working for us and my giant German Shepherd canine. He can mow through bones like no other. But my hopes is that it will give you an idea of what a raw/real food diet looks like to wipe away any fear in feeding your dog real food in order to prevent disease and illness in later stages of life.
Do you feed your dogs real/raw food? Please share in the comments below