Monday, June 22, 2009

Believe It Or Not

After two months of what appeared to be calm and effortless digestion, Reagan still looks terrible. She continues to have bald patches and thinning areas of fur on places that used to be thickly covered. She always appears to be slightly underweight despite the volume of food she consumes. Her skin is dry and her coat is brittle.

Dr. Toby strongly suggested that I try cooking what I was feeding to see if she would improve. Maybe she simply cannot break through the cell walls and absorb the nutrients in raw food. Cooking might make the nutrients more accessible.

In the past, I have cooked for older, sick dogs. It was time consuming and my primary concern was simply getting calories into failing bodies. I was not concerned with providing a balanced diet geared for long-term health. Reagan is only 2 years old, so cooking her food was going to be a huge commitment and required some education.

Balancing a raw diet seems very easy to me, but balancing a cooked diet does not. Do you cook the bones until they are soft and if so, is the calcium any good? And if you cook for so long that the bones are soft, have I changed the nutrients in the meat? Should I just forget the bones and supplement calcium? How much? My head was spinning. I decided to seek the assistance of a holistic vet hoping she could guide me through cooked diets.

Ironically, the holistic vet, Dr. Julia, suggested feeding Reagan a high quality, commercial dog food. So for the first time in a decade, I am feeding one of my greyhounds dog food. Yes, you heard that right. I am feeding Reagan kibble.

So far I am stunned with how smooth the switch to kibble and even some canned food has been. From a digestive standpoint, everything is coming out perfectly. I could not be happier. I felt a little pang when Reagan looked at me with "where's my chicken?" eyes. But she still eats her meals with lots of enthusiasm and is the only hound in our house that eats twice a day.... lucky Reagan. Only time will tell if kibble will bring Reagan back to the healthy state seen below. I am hopeful.
I will tell you more about the holistic vet in the next post.