“What do you feed the Poms?” is something I get asked frequently. I have over a decade of experience in the pet food industry under my belt- I have seen trends come and go in pet food. But, it was my experience with Parker as a puppy that made me decide what to feed my pets.
As we know from previous blog posts I was a new dog owner when I adopted Parker a dozen years ago. I fed as I was told to when I got him- regularly available dry puppy food. It was available at the grocery store, there were commercials about it and it was from a name I recognized, so I figured it had to be good for him.
I learned in just a few short days of having puppy Parker that food was not working for him, so I started on the pet food journey I have been on for more than a decade now. Parker had constant diarrhea as a puppy. I was pretty much always at the vet with him. He lived on prescription anti-diarrhea drugs as we tried to figure out why everything he ate almost immediately came out of him.
This lasted for MONTHS. I tried high-end dry foods. At the urging of his vet I tried several different prescription dry foods- i/d, z/d, high fiber, low fat… nothing helped Parker. He was even diagnosed with Failure to Thrive at one point. That’s when his vet threw his hands in the air and said he wasn’t sure Parker would even live to adulthood if the diarrhea couldn’t be controlled. Since the prescription diets didn’t help the diarrhea he wasn’t sure what else to do.
That’s when I started researching. I poured over countless books on canine anatomy, physiology and nutrition. I joined dogster, which was then a message board community and became friends with other dog moms and leaned on them for advice. I wasn’t going to let my puppy continue on this path, so I looked anywhere for advice.
Around this time Parker had to have 9 baby teeth removed, so I was told to switch him to canned food for 2 weeks. He did much better on canned food, so that got me thinking. Canned food is less processed than dry, so maybe less processed is the way to go. My dogster friend Anika, creator of Pack Lunch, introduced me to the idea of feeding Parker a raw diet.
It made sense- feed them what they are designed by nature to eat. They have big, sharp teeth meant to rip and tear flesh and chew bones. They have jaws that go up and down, not side to side like herbivores. They’re classified as Carnivora. Our dogs aren’t wolves, but they are carnivores. What is the best diet for a carnivore? MEAT. With the guidance of Anika and my other Dogster friends I focused my research towards learning about raw diets.
A few weeks and trips to the butcher later and I was ready to start. I remember the anxiety as I fed Parker his first chicken leg. (Yes, dogs can eat and digest raw chicken and raw bones!). Guess what? Parker had his first solid poop EVER the next day. I KID YOU NOT. Once I started feeding Parker raw his body thrived- literally. He gained the weight and muscle he had been unable to while he had constant diarrhea.
I used to feed “prey model” raw- a parts-and-pieces of different animals mix of meat, bones, organs and some veggies, but now I rely on commercially produced, pre-made raw. The ingredients are the same- meat, bones, organs, veggies, but I don’t have to spend hours scouring the supermarkets and butchers to make sure I’m properly formulating their diet- it’s already done! Plus now that Parker has lots quite a few of his teeth ground pre-made raw food is much easier for him to eat.
Is raw the perfect diet for every dog? I don’t believe there is a perfect diet for *every* dog, just like not every human can eat the same diet. I do know, however, that I have been able to modify the Pom’s raw diet to suit their different needs.
BUT WHAT ABOUT SALMONELLA? I have been feeding raw for almost 12 years now. I treat their raw food with the same respect as I treat raw meat I am handling for my family. Dishes are disinfected, we wash our hands after feeding. There are actually more recalls for dry dog food than raw food as raw is held to a higher standard! There is an acceptable level of pathogens allowed in dry pet food, but there is ZERO tolerance in raw. Interesting, huh? Famed veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker has some great videos about raw feeding myths!
Have any questions about feeding raw? Let me know!