RECALLS: Logic VS Fear

 The FDA has announced they will actively test raw pet foods in retail stores for salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, and will recall any foods found positive. The risk of serious illness or death from these contaminants is extremely small. Simple safe food handling techniques...


by Aspen Anderson in Nutrition And Diet

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Status: the new RAW diet

I’m amazed how much knowledge I’ve gain after a month of feeding my dogs a raw food diet. After years of hit and miss on the “best” or “recommended”  even “prescribed” kibble I could not change the reactions my poor pups suffered. It seemed that at ages 8 and 4, everything just became worse. Medications to fix one allergy worked but only if they were given daily and once that allergy subsided something new would appear.


When I decided to go raw I knew there was no turning back. One of the “laws” of obtaining optimal canine health through a naturpathic approach was to trust. This came with the understanding that the allergies would resurface and the symptoms my pups had suffered after years of good intentions with a lack of understanding weren’t going to change overnight. The prescription medications had  masked the underlying problem for so long. The food abuse these dogs had endured and the toll on their immune system needed to change. It would be drastic, but there was no way around it and no going back. It was time to expose them to the allergens in an effort to promote a natural response – a rebuilding of the body’s natural defense: the immune system. I had been told that the changes would occur either very quickly or the allergies may take months to resurface. Either way, you must not give up.


Over the last month my dogs experienced a lot of changes, both physically and mentally. They now appear more relaxed and satisfied. Their coats are sleek and shiny. Their level of energy is unstoppable; no more scratching no more smell and their teeth are getting whiter! The changes in both my Miniature Pinscher and Manchester are undeniably noticeable. But this did not come without some challenges.


When I started the new diet I was not aware of the detoxification process.  I noticed my pups scratched a little more often, their eyes and nose were runny and their stools were wrapped in a layer of thick mucus. I convinced myself that this was probably normal; I mean this diet was something they had never tried before. And I wasn’t being skimpy…I started them on grass-fed Angus beef. Heck I had never even tried it myself! I added organ meats like calves liver, chicken hearts and gizzards. I discontinued veggies almost all together when I found that they could possibly go through their system undigested. I continued with the Quinoa, coconut oil and supplements. I added fresh ground eggshells and threw in toasted flax seed; a handful of blueberries and a scoop of homemade milk kefir to ensure their gut flora was optimal. No bumps on either pups ever emerged. This was usually a telltale sign for me. Onyx (Manchester) was so sleek any raised bumps on his body were easy to spot. The first time I noticed them on him was over a year ago and I thought for sure he had been attacked by a colony of ants. It looked bad and once they dried up and he scratched them – there went his hair. I kept a close eye on Lola too. Nothing. If she had a reaction her belly would show red blotches and when you rubbed her back she would cringe in discomfort. So if their stool looked a little weird – I could live with that. These guys were eating good and everything else was coming along. Just hold on and don’t give up.


As of today my pups are happily eating their raw diets. They eat slowly and methodically – no more running to their bowls with anticipation and gulping their food like a vacuum clearner. When they’re done everything is gone and licked clean. They definitely have better focus (although my little girl Lola still has a mind of her own).


As for me, I have learned where and how to buy organ meats and fresh fish. The other day I learned how to cut a fresh duck (okay that was more of a slaughter – but I’m learning!). After the duck slaughter I invested in a knife sharpener. Nothing fancy, I got it online for less than $15 and it works great. I watched a couple/few videos on how to cut a fresh chicken and now at least I have some insight. I’ve discovered markets that sell almost any part of an animal – including the uterus. Ugh no. I didn’t purchase it. My hunt for a beef heart has failed more than once. One of the workers at our local meat market (or Carniceria) has promised me two twice already and I’m still waiting. No worries, just this past weekend I discovered pig hearts and my dogs love it. Unfortunately, with all this extra meat in the freezer my fresh packaged goat meat had been broiled the other evening for dinner – to my dad it looked like lamb chops. Really? Not as tasty.  I’ve also learned the importance of measured quantities since about seven days into the new diet my Miniature Pinscher looked….”chubby.” I quickly found out that she was simply eating with too much enthusiasm. She loved the new diet…..maybe a little too much. 

The RAW experience

My dogs are in love with their food!! They have been on the raw diet for two weeks now and are simply thriving. They don't "smell" like dogs and my little girl Lola is definitely not spending as much time on the couch. I've learned to prepare new foods and try new things. Quinoa is pretty good in a salad. Goat cheese and fresh raw goats milk....unbelievably good. Oh yes, this IS for my pups but I can I eat it too!

An important thing to remember is to rotate favorable proteins. I've ventured to various organic stores, Costco, Safeway's and even a local Mexican grocery store. Finding organ meats can be a challenge - especially when you go searching for a beef heart. Luckily my intuition was correct and I was able to special order two beef hearts from Mi Pueblo. On my way out I picked up some fresh goat meat for my pups dinner. Wow did they ever like that!!

I've also included fresh ground egg shells to their meals. Did you know that 1/2 teaspoon of egg shells has 1,000 mg of calcium? I didn't either - not until about 3 weeks ago. Along with a fresh egg I add a multivitamin mixture from Dr. Harvey's. It includes bee pollen and spirulina. 

Yesterday afternoon I officially enrolled for classes at The American Council of Animal Naturopathy and will earn a certificate as a Animal Health Coach. My dream is to help people to understand the importance of good nutrition for their dogs (and cats too!).  

Stay tuned for more posts as I learn more about the holistic approach to animal health!!

Why I switched to raw foods

If you view my website you'll note that I have several articles about allergies in pets. When I see a good article I want to be sure to share the ideas to help other owners; but mostly because the ideas worked for me.

I had always tried to purchase the best kibble for my dogs. Like most people I was raised thinking that “dog food” was kibble and I believed in it. When my own dogs developed food and environmental allergies at age 4 and 8, my vet suggested antibiotics. Then told me it would take months of testing to eliminate "possible" food causes without a guarantee that a cure could be found. The environmental allergies were there to stay unless I could keep my dog indoors and off the trails that we ran almost daily. Are you kidding me?!? My Miniature Pinscher was put on antibiotics on and off again for months. When the antibiotics were gone we used Benadryl to stop the itch. It made her lethargic and I felt horrible for giving it to her but without something she was a mess. Skin rashes, bumps that itched, goopy eyes and itchy paws. My Manchester’s sleek body was riddled with flaky bumps that when scratched would take the hair right off his back. Ear infections that came and went. Something was just not right. And why had this problem just surfaced? It seemed like from one year to the next these problems just appeared and then got worse. “Why not eliminate the root cause of the itch? I thought.... so I eliminated kibble altogether and began feeding home cooked meals. I slowly eliminated foods like chicken and rice and all sorts of potatoes. I began incorporating low carb veggies like green beans, squash, pumpkin, broccoli and cauliflower.  I continued researching and learned about the GI tract and gut floura. I even learned to make milk Kefir to help get a better hold of my pups overall internal health.

I managed to resolve the itchy bumps with the food changes. But when I noticed my dogs had a distinct yeast smell I researched again and found remedies that worked - simple and inexpensive over the counter products like white vinegar and an enzymatic / anti-fungal rinse. After about three weeks of this I finally got rid of the smell and the itch! My Manchester's ear infections? Gone.....with witch hazel! Holistic and homeopathic remedies quickly became my source for information. I was becoming more and more convinced that holistic animal care was the answer I had been searching for. We added Dr. Harvey's multi-vitamin powder, coconut oil, organic tumeric and bone meal to their diets. Ultimately, we resolved both the food and environmental allergies that had plagued my pups for so long. My dogs were thriving and their coats were gleeming!

I decided I wanted to be a part of all of this new generation of integrated animal nutrition only after speaking to my nephew Daniel about becoming a canine massage therapist. I thought massage therapy would be a great addition to my credentials. While Daniel visited me at home I spoke to him excitedly as I prepared the dogs evening meal.  Cooked ground turkey meat, steamed organic green beans and Quinoa, fresh ground eggshells and coconut oil.  He watched in disbelief at what I was giving them and told me "they're eating better than me!" His statement caught me off-guard. Then he said "You should go into nutrition for dogs....package up what you're feeding into single servings and sell it to the neighborhood! You've always been into nutrition!" He was right.

This comment eventually pushed me toward researching how to become certified in the field of canine nutrition. Not veterinary nutrition - I had long given up on the idea of kibble being a food source for my pups. As I researched I was able to find an online course that offered canine acupressure, massage and naturopathy. This was it. I researched as much as possible to be sure this was what I was truly looking for. I read about Naturopathy, holistic nutrition, carnivore nutrition etc. it all seemed so familiar to me since I had made it my goal as a young adult to be lean and athletic; to obtain optimum nutrition. I followed the Zone diet and had at one point, reached a fat percentage of 12% weighing in at 114 pounds. I understood the concept of eicosanoids and hormones, controlling how my body functioned and how it processed food. It seemed that canine naturopathy and holistic medicine would be about learning the same concept just on a totally different level. But this was it.

So where did it all begin? The more I read the more I realized – food. Food had long been the lesson I learned when I started the Zone diet. To gain optimal carnivore nutrition also started with food. Raw foods. That’s when everything kind of slowed down. I had heard about feeding raw foods and never looked twice. “I could never do it…” I thought. The dangers were far too many in my mind. How could I support this concept? I researched, I spoke to fellow LinkedIn group members and mentors. I dug in deep to find answers. Had I not had a clear understanding of how the human body functions I may have given up with all the technical terms and data. The number of people against raw foods far outweighed the individuals who promoted it. But the results of those that followed it were undeniable and I wanted in. The selling point for me? Although I have a great respect for doctors in the veterinary field I have long known that the education they receive promotes kibble as a staple in a dog’s life. Ask your vet what they think of a raw diet – the answer may surprise you. But when I learned that veterinary doctors are aware of how to “identify “cell markers” allowing them to provide nutritional intervention and return a pet to cellular health, avoiding genetically predisposed disease…..” I thought “why wouldn’t they?” This is powerful information!! Sure veterinary doctors can eliminate the symptoms but why not eliminate the cause of the symptom? This was my research in full circle. I’m in.