That was me. I thought dogs and cats ate dog and cat food but then a series of events caused me to question everything I believed and had been doing…
Both of my cats Eugene and Miguel died of cancer at about 12 years old within a short time of each other. Okay, so pets get cancer. A lot of pets get cancer. Two cats in one home? At the same time? Wait, why DO so many pets get cancer? None of the dogs or cats we had growing up had cancer. The dogs and cats on our farm who lived on our table scraps never got cancer. That’s weird. They never even saw the vet.
Then my Tacos, my sweet beautiful girl. Look at her suffering on this table and yet she’s still got the sweetest expression. I told them I would pay anything. Just save her, fix her. Don’t let her die.
She was dead by morning. There was nothing they could do. Nothing helped. Tacos dropped dead on December 15th 2015 at about 10 years old. She was beautiful, loving, kind, sweet, wonderful, well behaved, the perfect dog, gentle to all creatures great and small AND she was perfectly fine, walking around, eating, active and just collapsed in front of me – she never ever got up again and was dead by morning. Test results said it was a pituitary tumor. One of the true loves of my life, just gone. Just gone. She should be laying at my feet as I write this but instead her ashes are in a box in my bedroom next to a clay imprint of her paw taken after death.
Then the next year my dog Betsy had a lump on her neck that just kept getting bigger – benign but we had it removed because it was the size of a lemon.
This is what her fatty non-cancerous lump looked like after they removed it. This is what Betsy looked like. I wish you could explain to a dog that they are going to feel better in a few days.
A few months after that I noticed a small lump on Betsy’s belly.
We had that tested and this time it turned out to be cancer.
Mast cell tumor.
We had that removed.
It was so painful to lose 3 pets whom I loved with all my heart in such a short period of time. Not to mention the pain and suffering of my dog Tacos, and my sweet kitties Eugene and Miguel. Then to have to see Betsy go through these surgeries — what was I doing wrong? In the back of my head I kept thinking of the kibble I was feeding them. I had recently heard that a kibble diet for cats is bad and I fed my dogs and cats kibble. I thought that was what dogs and cats ate. I fed them canned food sometimes but I thought that would make them too fat so I mostly just fed kibble. I was also seeing information about the way kibble is made (PLEASE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND WATCH PET FOOLED ON NETFLIX) and if you don’t know, you should really look into it because I’ll tell you… What’s going on in the pet food industry right now is messed up and I don’t trust the makers of commercial dog foods at all at this point.
Why do we all think that dogs can live their whole lives eating this hard little brick substance full of a bunch of things most of us can’t even pronounce? Something that’s dried out and cooked at a high temperature for hours and hours. Something that can sit on a shelf for months or years and doesn’t expire?
Could that kibble have been what killed my cats? Could the kibble have caused Tacos tumor? What about those flea drops I give the dogs once a month? Taco’s tumor was near where the flea drops would normally go. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about it all. I was doing everything that experts and vets told me to do and all of my animals were sick and dying…
And I didn’t just by any old kibble…
I bought that expensive, top of the line, “grain free” kibble that I was spending $160 a month on. The bag with all those words I didn’t understand listed in the ingredients. That bag. That mother F-ing bag was haunting me in my sleep.
It was as if I had taken the red pill – suddenly it seemed insane for me to have believed the kibble lie for so long. How did I believe that?
So did I dive in and just start dishing out raw food to my dogs?
That idea scared me also and at that point I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I didn’t trust the pet food industry and experts and I didn’t trust any of those raw feeding nut jobs! Those people are crazy. I didn’t want to be one of them! They never shut up about the raw feeding. But mostly I was afraid what raw food would do my dogs… so I started small. Along with the kibble lie I also believed the lies of the pet food industry that regular human food could make my pets sick. I had no proof it was the kibble that killed my animals and made them sick but I wanted to get off of the kibble. Something inside me just told me I should get off. So I started doing small things like… I would add some scrambled eggs to my dog’s food. I’d give them green beans for treats. I started super small but those small actions felt great!
Then I started cooking food for my dogs in a huge wok. Big batches of doggie stir fry. I was still afraid of raw meat. I believe all those people who told me my dogs could get sick or salmonella from raw food… but they weren’t getting sick… they were perfectly fine and getting better. Betsy wasn’t itching all the time and her strange anxiety issues seemed a little calmer. The other dogs were more spry and just seemed happier. I know I felt happier.
Then I one of my online gurus suggested I don’t cook the next batch. Dare I? I dared.
Now I feed my dogs raw food every day. Meats, veggies, fats, turmeric, eggs, egg shells and more.
I’m not a nutritionist so I don’t know if it’s a good or bad idea to just go from kibble straight to raw cold turkey (pun intended) but I do know that once you start down the road of feeding real whole foods from the grocery store to your pets, it’s really a gateway drug. You’ll want to do it more and more.
So for me it was small steps. One baby step at a time and look at me now. I’m one of those nut job wacko raw feeders!
So if you’re one of those people like me, who has slowly grown suspicious of that kibble you’ve been feeding your dog his or her whole life and you want to make a change but you’re afraid, don’t be, and don’t be afraid to start small.
Just by adding a few things to the kibble you already feed your dog is going to help a lot. But also, don’t be afraid to keep going down that red pill rabbit hole. Experiment. Try cooking some food for your dog if you’re afraid of raw. While you’re doing that, research dogs and their digestive systems – they have stronger stomach acid than humans – that’s why they can eat old rotten food they find in the streets – food that would make you or I puke our guts out – and be just fine.
Learning about dogs is so much more fun than a lot of the other things going on in the world right now.
I like to focus on the things I actually have some control over and I have control over what my dogs eat.