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Before anyone with terriers panics that I’m talking about dogs chasing rabbits down into burrows, fear not. I’m actually talking about how, for a lot of people, raw feeding starts us questioning so many other things.

The rabbit hole

It was raw feeding that started it for me, a friend had already advised to feed pre prepared raw, and that, along with a health scare very soon after Ted came to live with us, led me to read up on canine nutrition. As a result I declared Tom Lonsdale the best thing since sliced bread and immediately switched Ted to a raw meaty bones, or prey model raw, diet.

But it didn’t stop there, if the pet food industry, all cosied up to my vet, was trying to pull the wool over my eyes, who else might be? I was now alert to not simply accept everything I was expected to do for Ted’s health. Like so many other dog owners and raw feeders I networked on forums, yahoo and facebook groups, and read books and websites to gain more experience and knowledge. So of course it was only a matter of time before my views on keeping my dog healthy changed and I started to question everything.

Monthly preventatives

Before even considering the safety of the chemicals involved in these so called preventatives why do we assume that all our dogs are running around covered in fleas, ticks and full of every imaginable type of worm? There’s a huge gap between squirting a pesticide on your pet every single month, that you mustn’t let touch your own skin, and that comes with a long list of possible side effects; and performing periodic worm counts and checking your dog over regularly, then dealing with any invaders with a specific treatment, holistic or otherwise. My regular vets are horrified that I don’t squirt pesticides on my dogs on a regular basis and shocked that the worm counts come back clear.

Antibiotics and anti inflammatories

Now don’t get me wrong, antibiotics and anti inflammatories have their place and it IS difficult to diagnose a patient who can’t talk to you about how they are feeling. But both seem to be dished out “if in doubt”, with no thought about whether the patient might be able to heal itself given a little time and a strong immune system; or that each drug comes with its own side effects and downsides.


I’ve no idea why I’d never stopped to think about why dogs and cats are given annual boosters, whilst we are immunised at certain points in our lives and few of these immunisations are boosted at all, let alone annually. But once you start to question things this is an obvious one. Exactly which puppy shots to miss out and which to give, and the timing of giving them may take some head scratching, deciding not to keep on giving annual (or triannual) boosters is a pretty easy decision to take once you educate yourself. And if you’re still not sure there are titres, although I bet you’ve never bothered to titre yourself for anything you’re immunised against.


This one gets people particularly excited, and so it should, keeping entire dogs (and I’m going to talk about dogs as I really don’t know enough about cats or ferrets to comment) is a huge responsibility, whether or not you intend to breed them. And the decision of whether to neuter or not is a complicated one, driven by where you live, personal circumstances, the level of responsibility you are prepared to take, health considerations both in favour of and against (which are different for each sex), behaviour considerations both in favour of and against, development considerations for dogs who are not yet fully mature and probably many other things I have failed to list. But this complicated decision is not being made consciously, our dogs are being neutered at 6 months old (or even younger) as a matter of course, with no discussion or consideration of the pros and cons. Worse still we joke about it, I don’t know why the removal of an organ is funny, but apparently it is.

How far down the rabbit hole am I?

I think when it comes to dogs I’m pretty far down that particular rabbit hole. I might even be right at the bottom, what did I miss? How far down the rabbit hole are you?

Edited 13 May 2014:

Wouldn’t you know it, a few days after I wrote this another issue popped into my head!

Unnecessary surgery

I suddenly remembered reading about cruciate ligament surgery in Dogs Naturally Magazine. Obviously I’m not advocating for our pets not getting surgery that they need, but I am advocating for considering other alternatives to non emergency surgery, and for understanding the causes of the problem we’re trying to fix and success rates of surgeries, before sending our furry family members under the knife. I was told repeatedly by my vet that I should get Ted’s one retained baby canine removed as it would never come out on it’s own, my holistic vet and myself were of the opinion that provided his gums were healthy and it wasn’t causing his adult teeth a problem it wasn’t worth the anesthetic risk. Wouldn’t you know it, just as Ted reached the ripe old age of two and a half, Ted’s Dad found Ted poking something on the carpet with his nose … his baby canine!