Don’t Throw that Raw Food on the Wall Just Yet!
I asked my readers about their biggest frustration in a recent issue of Vital Animal News, and got some great answers! Here’s a cry of discouragement that I think is a good learning tool. This is a common situation that many of you may have wrestled with.
We (us & our 2 shelties!) have been on this raw/natural “train” for appx. 2 years (they’re 2 1/2 yrs old) & we’re still having problems/issues:
- I cannot get their weight down! I’m feeding them exclusively raw @ 2% of their ideal weight.
- they don’t seem to be satisfied, they act as though they’re starving & gulp their food down way too fast.
- their coat does not reflect an all raw diet ~ it’s dull & lifeless + they shed terribly.
- they scratch a lot, especially after baths ~ that’s another ongoing struggle, trying to find the right shampoo
- their teeth & gums are not in great shape either, I’m currently trying to get that turned around without a dental cleaning under anesthesia ~ I haven’t tried the raw meaty bones yet, is that my only option for a healthy mouth?
The only positive from raw feeding at this point has been that one of the shelties had really bad skin issues which I finally was able to get cleared up through trial & error switching from one raw food to another.
…Raw feeding is expensive and it’s discouraging when I read all the rave reviews online & don’t see the results with mine! At times I’m just ready to throw in the towel!!”
Please don’t throw that towel just yet, DJ. I think I can help.
The Limits of Diet
I’ve run into variations of this frustration over the 25 years I’ve been a homeopathic veterinarian. It reiterates in me a quiet truth:
Now, I’ll never stop recommending a balanced raw diet to every animal owner on the planet, and I have seen amazing results with health by doing so, but there remains, in a percentage of animals, illness that won’t respond to diet change alone. Even the best natural dog food, raw and amazing in its ingredients, may not be enough.
I ask a series of questions when I hear of problems that persist in an animal who’s on a great diet, and here are a couple I asked DJ.
- What’s the vaccination history of these dogs? [Knowing full well that this is the most significant predictor of chronic disease in my patients, it’s important to know how many vaccinations they’ve already received, and if they have plans for more. I often tell my new clients that I really won’t be able to effect much significant, lasting change in health if they don’t stop vaccinations going forward.]
- What sort of diet is being fed? [Homemade? Store bought? GMOs in it?]
How Much of This Illness Could Be Vaccine-Related?
Knowing that most, if not all of my patients come in with a history of vaccination, I’m usually on the lookout for suspicious symptoms of vaccinosis, that part of disease that comes from being injected with disease agents in the form of vaccines.
Might vaccinations play a roles in these dogs’ symptoms? I can spot several typical vaccinosis symptoms here.
- “coats dull & lifeless + they shed terribly”
- “they scratch a lot, especially after baths”
- “one of the shelties had really bad skin issues … cleared up … switching from one raw food to another”
Q: What’s the number one reason pets see vets?
A: Allergies. Classic immune confusion disease.
Q: How do allergies show up in your animal?
A: In two main areas:
- The skin (itchy, dull coats, shedding excessively, +/- sores)
- The ears (waxy, inflamed, itchy, smelly, even painful)
Q: Does diet change cure this allergy state?
A: No, it merely postpones it, as we learned in the 70’s when the “miracle food” of lamb and rice came out. Itchy allergic dogs got nearly instant relief when switched to it. Until they became allergic to lamb. Or rice. Or later, venison or rabbit. Feather based food, anyone?
Uncured, allergies are often progressive like this.
So, I’m very suspicious that vaccinosis is weighing heavily on these two Shelties. Most of my patients, at some point in their treatment, will not get well until I get a vaccinosis remedy into them. I’m far from the only homeopath who’s observed this, either in veterinary medicine or single species medicine (MD homeopaths know this as well in their human patients. But wait. Did you just denigrate RD’s [Real Doctors]? Oh, I believe I did. Sorry).
Often, the improvement after a single dose of a well-chosen homeopathic vaccinosis remedy is remarkable. Caleb is a great example.
Oh, and shampoos? Not much help. We’ve got internal work to do.
What’s Hiding in That Raw Food?
Another wonder, as we move forward into the 21st century, regards toxicity in the diet. Does that natural dog food contain GMO grains, or beets, or soy? Were the animals who provided the meat for the diet fed on GMO corn or soybeans? Any of these could be enough to keep animals eating this food from full health.
Unfortunately, Big Pharma is pushing GMO products out to the public well before their safety concerns have been laid to rest. It’s now known that eating GMOs or feeding them to livestock kills beneficial flora in the gut. As these are intimately related to immune function and digestion, there’s no predicting what illness would look like in someone given no choice but GMO foodstuffs.
Similarly, pesticides are now numbered in the thousands, and foods grown or raised non-organically can bring these to your animal and you.
These ingredients can certainly cause disturbed function and phyical illness. You can choose healthier organic options (if you can afford them!).
Overweight and Ravenous: Another Face of Vaccinosis?
One of the most common diseases plaguing dogs today is hypothyroidism. It’s caused by autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland. Yes, the immune system attacks the dog’s own healthy gland, causing inflammation and lack of function.
What’s the basis of this? Immune confusion again, right? What on earth would cause one’s immune system to attack one’s own thyroid gland, a key organ in health? My assumption, until proven otherwise, is again vaccination, confusing immune systems since its inception.
How to Test Thyroid Function
It’s fairly common for a blood panel to be run that contains only one thyroid function measurement, called T4. When that comes back in the normal range, Dr. WhiteCoat may assure you that hypothyroidism is not an issue.
We now know that more values must be measured to accurately assess thyroid function, thanks in large part to Dr. Jean Dodds and her work in this area. If you are suspicious of low thyroid problems in your animal, ask for the following in your blood profile:
- Free T4
- Thyroglobulin autoantibody
If these values come in out of normal range, you know you’ve got problems with your animal’s thyroid function. While I treat with homeopathy, I will also add a glandular supplement to support that weakened gland. Your vet may opt for artificial thyroid hormone, and that could be a fine place to start. It’s not unusual to see significant symptom improvement by doing so.
Teeth and Gum Disease
Bad breath, red gums, discolored tooth enamel and calculus, that dense accumulation of material adhering to the teeth are symptoms seen quite frequently in the chronically ill.
While raw natural dog food can help with this by avoiding the simple carbohydrates that feed tooth damaging bacteria in the mouth, if bones are missing, it may not be enough to keep the mouth healthy.
But again, if you’ve done this and still see and smell a less than healthy mouth in your animal, it’s a good sign that something more is needed. Enlist a homeopathic vet to help get the Whole Animal well, and the teeth and gums will follow. I’ve seen this time and again over the years in my practice.
The Deepest Solution
When I’m called on to help an animal, it’s because I’m a veterinary homeopath, and that’s all I do. So, homeopathy is my go to medicine when a sick animal comes to my practice, regardless of diet.
When I hear a history like these two dogs have, it’s apparent that diet alone isn’t enough to get them cured. That’s when my gentle but deep-acting tool called homeopathy comes into play.
Homeopathy has an amazing and long history of success, not the least of which is in animals, who don’t have a placebo effect, by the way. Homeopathy’s naysayers, not understanding how it could possibly work, say that “it’s impossible!” and any effect is a result of wishful thinking on the patient’s part.
Enter the animals, who live in the moment and who either get better when a remedy is given or do not. If they do, the remedy fit well. If they don’t, we know that we must try again.
I’d suggest that DJ, and anyone else who can relate to her frustration, not throw out the raw diet, but rather realize it has limits. Your dogs can be properly cured with homeopathy, and for this, you need professional help [see my AVH link on this page]. While acute disease like injury, burns, abscesses, bites, stings, and sudden diarrhea or vomiting can very much be DIY, it’s always best to leave the chronic diseases, the commonest lingering, often maddening illnesses of our day, to a veterinary homeopath.
A large part of getting these animals cured lies in case management, and that’s what we’re trained in. A vet who practices homeopathy, ideally as his sole modality, will be able to guide your animal carefully and surely back to full health in most cases.
Have you seen the limits of great diet in your own animals? Did DJ’s concerns mirror your own? Let us know in the comments.