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Monday, February 20, 2012


I have finally made the switch from kibble to Raw Meaty Bones or BARF ( Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food only) for my 4 kids, i.e. Cleo, Lucky, Rascal and Belle; after contemplating it for a few years. Admittedly I am not sure if I will stick to it but I have finally attempted it. So what prompted me to make this change?

Well the main reason for this is because Cleo gave me a big scare last month. She suddenly developed severe intolerance to exercise. Previously, Cleo was super fit - we can go for brisk walks in excess of an hour on hilly terrain with no problems at all.

But one day in mid-January, I suddenly noticed that Cleo was lagging behind on our walks. I was mildly concerned but put it down to her perhaps being tired or just feeling poorly for one reason or another. I mean she was eating well and did not display any other symptoms or signs of being ill.

But the next day, she lagged again; and on the third day she lagged really far behind. I was beginning to worry and on the fourth day, after 15 minutes of walking, she turned off on our road and went home. I took her to the vet immediately but we could find nothing wrong. So he suggested that we do an x-ray of the chest as well as of her hips in case her hip was giving her problems.

Cleo has been diagnosed with a severely enlarged heart...

We took her back to the vet the next day and she had her x rays done. When I picked her up that evening, our vet told us that her hips were fine, but that the x-rays showed that she had a severely enlarged heart.

He suggested that we do a complete blood test to rule out any other disease etc, and made an appointment for us to get an ECG, ultrasound of the heart and stress test done for her at the Gasing Veterinary Hospital.

We took her to the Gasing Hospital the next day and had all the tests done. All the tests showed that Cleo's heart was functioning perfectly, eventhough her heart was severely enlarged!

The blood tests result also came back and all her organs were functioning well and all the readings were normal. While that was good news, it also meant that we do not really know what is causing her to tire so easily.

We went back to our vet the next day, and after a lengthy consultation/discussion we agreed to observe her carefully for a month, and then to repeat the tests again at the end of February to rule out/confirm heart disease.

I have since put her on a range of supplements (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Hawthorne, Flaxseed Oil & Oxyfresh etc.) based on what I have read on canine heart disease, and she seems to have improved a little, but she is not the same Cleo as before. Now we can just about manage a slow walk for about 20-30 minutes.

Everything that I have read so far regarding heart disease seem to indicate that whatever the diagnosis might be (although Cleo's only diagnosis at the moment is an enlarged heart), conventional medicine will only control the symptoms and make the dog more comfortable, and will not cure the disease.

There were, however, lots of articles etc that indicated proper nutrition (hence the raw diet) and supplements could possibly improve the condition and, in rare cases, reverse it. So this is the main reason that pushed me to finally try a raw diet for my pack.

Lucky has been having a bad tummy for weeks and we have no idea what is causing the problem.
The second reason that prompted me to make the switch is that Lucky developed some kind of tummy problem and has had awful poo on and off for almost 2 months. The only consolation is that he hasn't got diarrhea per se, in that he only goes once a day, but when he does it really is quite disgusting.

We have had his stools tested a few times for various things and apart from a high bacteria content, he has no parasites of any sort or any other obvious issues. He has been on various meds and supplements which seems to help, but as soon as he comes of it, he goes back to having nasty poo.

Most recently, he was put a clay supplement to soothe and calm the tummy. This seems to have worked the best for far but we have just completed the course on Saturday. And on Sunday, his poo went back to being only semi-formed and quite mushy. Our vet has now ordered another stool test, and if his condition does not improve soon, he will have to get an ultrasound and scope done too.

I don't really want to subject Lucky to a scope, so I did quite a lot of reading and again, all that I have read seems to point towards moving to a raw diet!!!

In the past they used to eat a mixture of kibble (Lamaderm - which was pretty good for them), boiled chicken and yoghurt. Last year, when Orijen (which is supposed to be biologically appropriate and is - in my opinion - probably the best kibble you can give your dog) became more readily available at pet supply stores near me, I switched them to Orijen, and continued to supplement with boiled chicken and yoghurt, and they have been doing really well on that although it did cost me an arm and a leg each month to feed all 4 of them Orijen.

So from all the reading that I have been doing for the both of them, I have come to the conclusion that feeding raw is probably the best way to go. I think this has been something that I have known for a long time but have been just too scared to try.

I had a million concerns like: contamination concerns, choking hazards of raw bones, will the bones cause them to have tummy problems, do I have the ability to balance their meals etc, and most importantly will I be able to obtain fresh meat and bones that are chemical free (and organic?) at a reasonable price.

I finally decided that I would start them on raw chicken and went to Isetan on Saturday evening to buy the "Kami Sakura" chicken (this chicken is supposedly reared with very high standards, and are not your typical battery chickens. They apparently are not fed antibiotics/hormones and are semi free-range, with access to sunlight and exercise etc.).

They had their first "raw"  meal yesterday evening. As I was still a little nervous, I decided to blanch the chicken by pouring boiling water onto the chicken before feeding it to them in an attempt to reduce the amount of bacteria on the chicken. I know this was probably stupid and probably didn't do much to reduce the amount of bacteria as the chicken was still raw, but it made me feel somewhat better.

Sunday evening - First Raw Meal

Cleo (30kg) - a chicken wing and breast quarter (300g)
Lucky (22kg) - chicken breast meat only as his tummy is still wonky (200g)
Rascal (16kg) - a chicken leg quarter (200g)
Belle (16.5kg) - a chicken leg quarter (200g)

The verdict? 

Cleo, Lucky and Rascal ate their chicken with no problems at all. They seemed to really enjoy it. Cleo and Lucky finished their meal pretty quickly that I didn't even have time to take a picture.

Rascal ate slower, but he always eats slowly as he is a bit of a gentleman. But Belle, who usually inhales her kibble in 20 seconds, struggled. She took 40 minutes to finish it as she is not used to having to work for her food. She got really angry at one point and started barking at the chicken because she just didn't know how to eat it. But slowly she managed to eat it all.

Rascal - eating his chicken leg
Belle trying to figure out how to eat her chicken.
After the meal:
Later that evening, Cleo had a really nasty poo. It was really disgusting! But I was prepared for it as everything I read told me that they may have terrible stool and may even vommit for up to a week as their bodies would go through a detox of sorts.Nobody else did a poo.

Monday morning - Second Raw Meal
Cleo (30kg) - a chicken wing and breast quarter (300g)
Lucky (22kg) - chicken breast meat only (200g)
Rascal (16kg) - chicken breast meat  and a chicken feet (100g)
Belle (16.5kg) - chicken breast meat  and a chicken feet (100g

Again, Cleo, Lucky and Rascal ate their breakfast happily. They actually seemed really content after finishing their meal and looked like they were smiling! Belle struggled again and this time only managed to eat half her meal - which is really strange as Belle is possibly the greediest dog I know. I had to harden myself and remove the uneaten food and hopefully this evening she will eat all her dinner.

After their breakfast, on their morning walk, Lucky did a pretty decent poo. Okay I know all this talk about poo is probably a bit off-putting, but it is a good indicator of how well your dog doing is doing and/or accepting their new diet. And mind you Lucky has had nasty poo for a while now, and this has to be the best poo that he has had in a long while.

Admittedly, this could be due to the clay supplements that he was on, but he completed that on Saturday and he still had horrid poo on Sunday morning. So I am not really sure whether the raw food or the clay improved his condition.

Cleo's poo this morning was very small but already semi-formed and not disgusting like the night before.  Rascal and Belle had semi-formed poo...So I hope they continue to improve, and more importantly that Cleo will start feeling better.

I shall try to keep a journal of sorts on their progress on this raw diet and hopefully it'll be helpful in one way or another to anyone else who is contemplating to make the shift but is too nervous to do so...

In the mean time, here are some articles/links that might be helpful to anyone contemplating a raw diet.


Raw Meaty Bones
Raw Feeding FAQs
Myths about Raw Feeding
What is Best: Cooked or Raw?
How Much to Feed Calculator

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