It just so happens that my canine family is a good (albeit small) group to study for the effects of a healthy diet. I have three very different rescued dogs: Lucia, a tiny, Toy Poodle, Whiskey, a medium size mixed breed, and ChoCho, a large Rottweiler mix who had a front arm amputated before we met him.
Although there are foods available that cater to specific characteristics (ie. small dogs, seniors, etc.), a more holistic approach looks at their shared canine digestive systems. “A dog is a dog,” so to speak.
Three years ago, I changed their diet to fresh, natural, and raw, thanks to Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, some freeze-dried formulas (either Grandma Lucy’s or Only Natural), and canned pumpkin. Darwin’s is the fresh raw component, and it is important to note that their foods are “carefully formulated and tested to meet or exceed AAFCO canine nutritional profiles for all life stages,” as well as meeting “the generally accepted National Research Council guidelines for dog nutrition.” Feeding raw does not mean buying a steak at the grocery store and giving it to your dog or cat, uncooked.
As their veterinarian and I look at their overall health, their skin and coat, their teeth, and their weight, it becomes apparent that they are doing really well. They all are:
- At or below their ideal weight;
- Fresh smelling, although they only receive baths between two and four times per year, except Lucia, who goes to a groomer every six to eight weeks;
- In excellent health despite some pre-existing conditions (Whiskey developed hypothyroidism shortly after we adopted him, Lucia has luxating patellas, a common condition in toy breeds, and ChoCho has arthritis in his one front arm).
Although we don’t know their exact ages, we’re pretty sure that Whiskey is about seven and a half, Lucia is perhaps the same age, and ChoCho might be between eight and nine years old. No one can believe their ages when they first meet them. Shiny, soft fur…healthy, hydrated, fresh-smelling skin…and energetic, youthful demeanors characterize our canine family.
It took me a long time (I first considered a raw diet in the late 1990s), quite a bit of research (reading books such as See Spot Live Longer, Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, and The Proof is in the Poodle), and some soul-searching (I eat a mostly vegetarian diet) to finally transition my dogs to a raw diet. Now, I’m glad I did.