Alison F., Seattle
After meeting and working with Nora, my dog (10 years) and cat (4 years) got started on a raw diet of mainly small chicken and Cornish game hen (plus fruits and veggies for the dog). Before going raw, my cat had consistently been throwing up his kibble every day and was also getting fat. My dog had horrible teeth problems and had 12 teeth pulled and the vet had said more were likely going to need to be removed in the near future. Instantly after my cat accepted the raw diet as his permanent food source, he started enjoying it and he no longer throws up at all! After only a few months of being on the raw diet, I noticed that both my dog and cat now have beautiful pearly whites – seriously! Both our dog’s teeth (what remain of them) and cat’s teeth no longer have the disgusting plaque build up and are AMAZINGLY white and healthy! Nora helped give great tips to transition our pets to the raw diet and made sure even our stubborn cat was safely transitioned to a healthier lifestyle. Besides the teeth changes, the behavioral changes have been a pleasant surprise. Our cat has become much more cuddly and loving and our 10 year old dog has even more spring in her step (the doggy stairs I had just purchased are now obsolete). I would definitely suggest a raw diet to all pet owners.
Heidi J., Yreka, CA
In April 2010, I took my little Cairn Terrier, Brindle, for her annual vet exam. The vet told me that she seemed a “little heavy,” and to cut back on her food. This surprised me, because Brindle does agility and I regularly weigh her. But. . one of my dogs passed away in March, so I hadn’t been weighing her, and I’d been busy with other things, so perhaps I had let her gain a pound. She weighed 14 pounds and usually weighs 13.
I cut back on her food, and decided to be more religious about making sure she got her evening walk. I noticed that she was lagging behind on the walks and seemed to have a hard time getting up the hills. I thought that her arthritis was bothering her, but it would warm up soon and we’d be back to agility practice and trials for the spring and summer.
Although, I had cut her food back, Brindle didn’t loose any weight. She was holding steady at 14.2 pounds. On June 3rd, she stopped eating. I had been feeding her “Taste of the Wild” dry dog food. A few months prior to this she had “stopped eating,” Van Patton’s Natural Balance, duck and potato formula. At the feed store where I purchased the dog food, the man said they had changed the recipe and to try another brand. That is when I switched to “Taste of the Wild.”
Brindle got diarrhea later that day. I made her some boiled chicken and rice. She picked through the meal and took out all of the chicken. We continued like this for a few weeks. She would eat some chicken and maybe a little rice or cottage cheese. Some days she’d have diarrhea and some days she wouldn’t. We went to an agility trial June 20, and she did well – didn’t run fast but she was consistent. I thought that perhaps she was having a bout with giardia, which she had when she was a puppy. I bought her some probiotics and added that to her food. She drank broth on some days, would eat a few bites of raw venison, but wouldn’t touch fruit or veggies that I offered. Soon Brindle looked very bloated, and her breathing became labored.
On June 21st, I took her to the vet. The vet gave her some sedatives, metronidazole (for the fluid retention), performed xrays and a blood test. Brindle had so much fluid around her lungs, that the vet couldn’t really see anything on the xrays. The vet said we should try some prescription food for allergies. Her blood protein level was at 2.8, and low normal is 5.4. The vet explained that Brindle had irritable bowel syndrome, which had lead to protein losing enteropathy. The vet felt that the prescription food would cure the irritable bowel and Brindle would begin to rebuild her blood protein levels.
The metronidazole led Brindle to drop 2 pounds of fluid in just a few days. By June 29, she weighed 12.8 pounds.
July 1st, we took her back for another blood test. The protein level had raised slightly.
On July 3rd, I had to leave for a two week trip to Alaska. My 19 year old son took care of Brindle and continued to give her the prescription food and monitor her fluid levels by weighing her every day. During that two weeks her weight increased to 13.9 pounds. I returned on July 17th, and Brindle stopped eating the prescription food on July 18th.
We went back to the vet on July 20th. I got additional metronidazole to alleviate the fluid retention. The vet said our next steps were to take a gut biopsy to find out if Brindle had cancer. I didn’t want to put Brindle through that, so I started doing my own research. I contacted other cairn breeders/owners and asked if any had similar conditions with their dogs. I got a few leads on some that had irritable bowel syndrome. I talked to one lady who had managed IBS with her Cairn for 4 years. She told me that there were several times when she would fast her dog – or only feed it broth so that her digestive system could calm down. On the rawschool list, Nora had just posted about her cat’s death after eating processed cat food. I wrote to the raw food list begging for help. Nora wrote back, and said she could help us.
Nora and I had a conference call on July 20th. We talked about her raw-fed dog/cat diet. I knew that Brindle liked fruit because my dogs always eat apples, pears and grapes that fall from our fruit trees.
The first thing Nora recommended was fasting Brindle for two days. It was very hard for me to consider fasting this little dog who looked very thin after losing so much fluid. Brindle was hungry – she had been eating her feeces because everything was passing through her system undigested. I called the vet and talked with the vet about the prospect of fasting Brindle. The vet said that would kill her because she was already in a compromised state – with the fluid surrounding her lungs and heart. Brindle again had labored breathing and spent the entire day/night sleeping behind the toilet (her safe spot).
I took a deep breath and knew that I would try to fast Brindle. It was better than letting her die under anesthesia during a gut biopsy. The first day was hard. I took Brindle outside on a short walk, while my husband fed the rest of our dogs their morning meal.
When I came home at noon, Brindle wanted lunch – she was out of the bathroom looking for some food. I took her out in the yard, and she looked for feces. The yard was clean, and she couldn’t find anything to eat. She was very distraught – pacing around and looking at me with sweet, trusting eyes. Nora told me to tell her, “I’m doing the most kind and compassionate thing I can do for you right now.” I told her that several times that day.
When I came home after work, she continued to look at me very worried that I wasn’t feeding her, BUT the good news was that she had more energy. She wasn’t just sleeping, her breathing wasn’t labored, and she was moving about the house. During the warm months, I leave the doors open at night. Brindle was up all night, trying to capture moths against the screen door. She ate several moths. Although it broke my heart to hear her pawing at the door and jumping all night trying to catch food, it encouraged me to see that Brindle had the energy to hunt.
The second day, was more of what we had gone through the day before. Brindle lost a pound of fluid and was down to 12.2 pounds. That evening Brindle had 2.5 oz of cantalope. She devoured it.
In the morning, she had a solid bowel movement that was about 10 inches long and solid black. It must have been full of blood from her damaged digestive system. We continued on Nora’s food plan: Fruit one day, sweet potatoes the next, and raw rabbit on the third day. Brindle ate everything that was offered. She has never had another bout of diarrhea. She continued to get stronger every day. Looking forward to meals. She had bounce in her step again. When I took her out for walks she was sniffing and hunting for squirrels and rabbits. She was pulling at the end of her lead.
In October, we competed in the National Teacup Dog Agility trial in Washington. Brindle finished 10 seconds faster in her runs than she had at the June trial. She finished as a finalist in the 8” class of jumpers and accomplished her championship at that show! After being so sick just 5 mos before, I never thought we’d be able to compete, let alone finish so strongly!
I quickly transitioned my four other dogs to this way of feeding. They are all doing well. Each of them lost a little bit of weight, they all have high energy, and look forward to each and every fresh meal!
On November 24th, I took Brindle in for a final blood test. Her blood protein levels are up to 5.4. It took 4 months for her body to heal itself – but her body did it. The vet told me, “You made her better through changing her diet.”