Let’s add another thing to the ever-growing list of “things I had no anticipation of learning more about when I adopted Risa.” First raw-feeding (before I adopted her, actually). Then learning about rehabilitating a fearful dog, clicker training, dog body language, dog-dog reactivity, canine sports, GI issues, back problems/chiropractic care, traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, tick-borne diseases, and now homecooked food. Apparently, not growing up with dogs, I must need to catch up and learn all these things with a single dog! 😉
As much as I’m a raw-feeding advocate, it’s pretty clear that Risa can no longer tolerate raw food. My experiment with homecooking went well and then I tried giving her raw food only for a meal. Next day’s poop was horrible and so I decided to switch Risa to a homecooked diet. (I bought a bag of kibble to try that too but it doesn’t seem to be agreeing with her either. Even when I only give it in small quantities.)
I never wanted to do a homecooked diet with my dog. It’s a lot more difficult to balance than a raw diet. (Granted, raw feeding isn’t easy either. Unless you’re willing to do the research and learn how to feed properly, you’re better off sticking with kibble which IS easy.) There’s no raw, meaty bones to supply your dog with calcium. You can either grind up eggshells (my fingers are sore from crushing them with a spoon), give bone meal, or use a calcium supplement. You still need to feed organ meats like you do with a raw diet. You need to add omega 3s which, for Risa, is extremely difficult with her intolerance of fish. I’ve been using ground flaxseed (though there is debate as to whether or not dogs can use plant-based omega 3s) and am hoping she can tolerate eggs which are also a good source. You need to use a source of fiber as well; it can’t be all meat. So I’m cooking the hell out of veggies for her rather than using grains. I already know there are several grains she can’t tolerate and I feel dogs have no need for grains in their diets. However, I feel I may have to start using them on occasion to make this diet more cost-effective.
Already, it seems like Risa has to eat a lot more food with homecooking than she did on raw. And she ate a lot on raw too. She lost a couple pounds while I was figuring things out and she hasn’t gained any back since I switched her. So I’ve got to up the quantity even more to get her back to normal. And, speaking of quantity, oh how I miss the tiny raw-fed dog poops. 🙁
I’m only just beginning on this homecooked journey. I know, as time goes on and I get used to it, it’ll be less difficult. It’ll still be a lot of work and preparation but it’ll be worth it. It’s like I always say: “You have to do what works best for your dog.” Unfortunately for us both, raw is no longer the answer.