I’ve had the pleasure of watching this story unfold in real time. Bendog, Sasha and Poppy’s owner took to feeding raw in no time and within weeks was helping others make the switch. She’s dealt with allergies, switching three adult dogs and all whilst not being a meat eater herself.
I knew it would be an interesting story for people to read but what I hadn’t really appreciated until I saw the photos side by side and read the story start to finish was the change in Sasha. I will admit to having a little cry, it always makes me happy to see a dog’s life improved.
You can also see Bendog, Sasha and Poppy in their raw fed dogs post. And here’s their story:
“This is my story about switching my three dogs from kibble to a raw diet.
First, let me introduce the crew from left to right:
- Poppy, 11 month old Working Lakeland terrier, came to live with us in January this year.
- Ben is a Border terrier, 9 years old, has been with me since he was 8 weeks old.
- Sasha is a Welsh terrier, 8 years old. Also moved in with us in January this year.
Ben has been kibble fed all his life. I knew this wasn’t the best way of doing things, but back then I didn’t know any alternatives, except home cooking, which seemed too complicated. I first learnt about raw feeding about a year ago, I was living in a shared house at the time, with no freezer space, so raw wasn’t a possibility until my boyfriend and I finally got our own home in January of this year.
Our primary motivation for switching was because of Sasha. Sash has had severe allergies all her life, she’s allergic to grass and dust mites mostly, but I’ve always believed that diet played a big part. Her previous owners tried everything. Years of yo-yoing on and off steroids to control the scratching, countless vet visits, numerous shampoos and drugs, not to mention thousands of pounds spent on vet treatment, nothing worked. She was overweight, hurting, and about as depressed as any dog could get before she came to us.
Also, she was smelly, you had to wash your hands after stroking her, because she’d make your hands stink too, and that was just her fur, when she had an ear infection the smell was 10 times worse, and she has had so many ear infections that her ear canal is more scar tissue than ear.
I’d heard about raw diets by then, and was interested in them. Straight away it made sense to me, and I could see that dogs were made to eat meat. They are carnivores after all. I had no qualms about bacteria, or worms, or choking on bones, or any of the usual worries. My main fear was “Could I do it?”
See, I’ve been vegetarian all my life. Going into the butchers is about as alien for me as going to the moon. I’ve never tasted pork, or lamb or beef. Besides that, I’m vegetarian primarily because I hate the meat farming industry and everything it stands for, how could I justify giving money to that industry to feed my dogs? My golden rule has always been that I would never eat anything I couldn’t kill. Which, for me, means eating no meat and I can survive quite happily that way.
But my dogs are carnivores, and they need meat to thrive (and Poppy has also shown that she has none of my sentimental worries about killing things). It occurred to me then that I was already feeding my dogs meat anyway, it was just disguised in those friendly biscuit-y pieces of kibble I was doling out each day. I started reading dog food packets; “meat and animal derivatives” was a term that popped up often! And how did I know what that meat was, what drugs it had been pumped full of, what conditions it had been kept in? Not to mention the fact that usually the first ingredient was wheat or cereal and meat came a long way down the list.
I realised it was actually better, for my ethics and my dogs health, to switch to raw feeding. That way I could source the meat myself and know what I was giving them was free range, or organic or wild meat, not “animal derivatives”. Plus I was convinced that chicken made Sashas allergies worse, and without clear ingedient lists I couldn’t be sure which pet foods were totally chicken free.
But that still left the actual switch. I’d seen pre-prepared raw diets, but they were mostly minced meat and bone, and lack the teeth cleaning benefits of real bones. Besides, I don’t like to do things by halves, so if I was going raw, I was going to do it properly. Ben and Poppy had no health reasons for switching to raw, but if I was switching one dog, I might as well switch all three. I spent a long time researching, and then impulsively bought a rabbit from a farmers market one day, and took the plunge.
I’ll be honest here, by the time I finished cutting up that first rabbit into terrier sized portions my kitchen looked like a murder scene. Thankfully I’ve never been squeamish, but there was something chilling about hacking through the bones, and it wasn’t at all dignified or elegant.
Thankfully however, the dogs took to it straight away. Ben, the oldest, didn’t touch the bones on his first meal, but the next day he crunched them down with gusto, and has done ever since. Poppy had never really been a fan of kibble anyway, and was ecstatic to finally have some “real food”, and Sasha took to it like a pro.
Feeding raw has been easy, even for a total novice like me. Before I’d never been down the meat aisle in the supermarket in my life, now it’s the first place I go, and I’m always looking for new things for them to try! I’ve got much more practised at cutting up the meat, and it then only takes seconds to take a meal out of the freezer and hand it to a dog. And it costs about the same as I was paying for kibble anyway. All three of the dogs love their new diet, Bens teeth are cleaner, and he and Poppy are as happy and healthy as ever, but it’s Sasha who surprised me the most, so far she’s eaten every meal with enthusiasm, and she’s always the first to tuck in to new types of food.
I wish I could say that switching to raw meant that Sasha’s allergies all went away overnight. They haven’t. But there have been small improvements. Her excess weight dropped off her. She can now sleep through the night without waking up and scratching, there’s hair growing back on her paws, and though she can still scratch until she bleeds occasionally, when she does the wounds heal up in days, rather than weeks. Her skin seems softer, less dry and cracked. Even better, she doesn’t smell at all anymore and she has perfect poos – although my boyfriend did think I was insane the day I described a poo as “perfect” (it’s true, all raw feeders are poo obsessed!)
Before she barked, slept, and scratched, and that was her life. She was snappy, and grumpy and people were afraid to approach her. Most days she wouldn’t even move from the sofa. Now it’s no longer a struggle to convince her outside for a walk, and her world-weary trudge has become an alert purposeful trot. She used to be too depressed, and too uncomfortable to want to do anything but sleep, but now she looks forward to our training sessions, and adores her Kong Wobbler. She even enjoys cuddles and hasn’t once snapped at anyone since coming to live here.
How much of her behaviour change is due to diet, and how much due to her new life with us, I don’t know. We might never totally eradicate her allergies, but if raw feeding can keep her stable without steroids, that’s good enough for me. And there’s no doubt she’s happier. It’s hard to explain, but she seems more alive now somehow. And her tail wags more!”