Tuesday, November 2

Blossom Goes Raw

Blossom is my dalmatian/border collie mix. When I adopted her nearly eight years ago (she is now almost 15 years old), I took her to the vet several times because I couldn't put weight on her. She was perpetually skinny. After numerous tests and exams, the vet told me that she'd never be a chubby dog. The mix of two hyper dog breeds had made her a nervous, picky, energetic dog who would always be thin.

Two or so times a year, however, she'll go through a period of time where she doesn't want to eat. Anything. I'm one of those people who tell customers that they just need to wait it out - eventually the dog will eat, because they won't let themselves starve to death. Blossom would. When this happened the first time, I served her the same bowl of kibble for four days - and she didn't eat a single piece. She got nothing else at all - she simple refused food. On the fifth day, I caved in and gave her canned food, which she daintily lapped up.

Since that time, when we have these periods, I'll go out and buy her whatever she'll eat - which usually means going down in quality. Blossom tends to prefer the most disgusting, crappiest dog foods on the market, and as a rule, in canned form. I cringe when I feed her this disgusting smelling crap that I wouldn't even give to a stray dog. This will continue until she's no longer interested in the junk, and I switch her back to what everybody else eats.

This time, however, Blossom wasn't very interested in horrible food either. She'd pick out a piece or two, and leave 9/10ths of the bowl behind. All the weight I painstakingly put on her melted off, until her hips stuck out. She'd never been this scrawny. It was time for action.

One of my agility instructors feeds a raw diet called Honest Kitchen. It's human grade, and weirdly, it's dehydrated. I figured I'd give that a shot - I could just mix it in with her kibble like canned food, and since it was such a high quality, maybe she'd like it. I ordered two different kinds, and when they arrived, I mixed her a large bowl and happily set it in front of her. She looked at it, and she looked at me. She poked it with her nose. Blossom let out a huge, exasperated sigh, and left the kitchen. And that was the end of Honest Kitchen. She did eat a mouthful of the other flavor I prepared later, then kicked her food bowl as she marched away. Clearly, this food wouldn't cut it.

I then got the brilliant idea of feeding her raw. I'm not too terribly into raw foods, for one, because with six dogs, I'd have to get another full-time job to pay for it, and for two, I would be absolutely terrified of forgetting some key vitamin or something that the dogs would need for good health. However, Nature's Variety makes a frozen raw food so that you don't have to remember anything. Defrost, serve, you're done. It is, however, insanely expensive. I calculated that for the weight I would LIKE Blossom to be, she'd need to eat around 8oz a day of the raw diet. That would cost roughly $64 a month. While I do buy premium dog food for my dogs, all six of them together can live on their kibble for that same price. That's quite a cost issue.

I bought her the food, defrosted it, and decided to use a few less patties and stick them over top of a small amount of kibble, hoping she might eat the kibble so I could at least save a few dollars by not going totally raw. Normally you would want to slowly switch a dog over to raw, but when your dog isn't eating ANYTHING, you don't have much of a choice.

Blossom had that meat gulped down before I had gotten more patties out to defrost for the next meal.

Today, a few days after starting, she actually licked her bowl completely out. I can't recall the last time that has happened. She is eating the kibble (I put 1/2 cup in with each meal, and 3 medallion patties) without a problem. I really don't want to stop feeding the kibble, I want her crunching up stuff as long as she has teeth. I do squash it around a bit so the raw stuff touches all the kibble.

It's too early to see many benefits of a raw diet, but then, I didn't switch for any of those reasons. I just wanted my dog to eat. And if she wouldn't eat raw meat, I had very little hope that she'd eat anything else, either. I will say that she made the switch without any digestive problems, amazingly, and her poop is now roughly the size of rabbit pellets, which is fairly impressive. It would be nice if she gets better smelling breath.

So hopefully she'll start putting on some weight, and stop looking like Skeletor. It's pricey, for sure, but if she'll eat it, and KEEP eating it, it's worth it.

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