Embarking on Raw - A Personal Story

We recently met Sarah who runs @thepancakepup on Instagram. We got to chatting and wanted her to share her story with all of you as to why she started feeding raw. Check it out below and make sure to go follow her on Instagram
As anyone who feeds their dog or cat a raw diet, you are often asked the W word. Why? Why would anyone feed their pet raw meat when you can drive ten minutes to your local pet store and buy a bag of dry food for a fraction of the cost? Some of the bags even say things like “organic” or “natural”, so what exactly is the point of a raw diet?
Well for myself, the point of it all is a dog named Charlie. Charlie was a beagle, my first dog that was my own. He and I were inseparable, and he was there with me through so many major times in my life. From 4th grade, to starting high school, to graduation day, to my first day of college, I remember having Charlie through it all. Some would say, “It’s just a dog”, but for me Charlie was family. You would do anything for family! That is exactly what I tried to do for him. I would buy very expensive bags of what I thought to be the most high-quality dry food. Things like Canidae, Merrick, and Blue Buffalo Wilderness. I mean, if there is a picture of a wolf on the bag that has to mean it is healthy right? I was just doing what I thought was best, like most pet parents.
One morning I put down his bowl, and he would not eat. Instead, he made his way very somberly to my bathroom and just sat there with a look I have never seen before on his face. I lost Charlie at age 11, on July 2nd 2017. It was the most unexpected, most gut-wrenching experience of my life. To any person out there that has lost a beloved pet, you know this feeling all too well. Charlie had a mass on his liver that had burst and was bleeding into his abdominal cavity. I did not understand how or why it could happen. I thought he was in the best health, and I was sure we had more time together.
Either way, he had a pretty significant heart murmur and the surgery would have been exploratory with no guarantee. I had to make the decision to bring our journey to an end. I went home that day feeling so defeated. I thought to myself, even though I provided what I thought to be the best food possible, I still lost my best friend to cancer. It still had not clicked in my brain that the nutrition he had received his entire life could possibly play a role in what had happened.
Around the same time, one of my friends named Kristen had also lost her beloved Rottweiler named Wally to hemangiosarcoma. It was similar to what Charlie had experienced. Except Wally was not 11, he was only 3 years old. Like myself, she too was very invested in providing the best dry food money could buy for him. The W word plagued us daily. Why? We were dumbfounded.
These stories are happening every day, to dog owners all across the country.
I do not tell this story with the intention of discouraging anyone or making anyone feel sad. The point of Charlie and Wally’s story are so that we can open our eyes as pet parents and renew our thinking about nutrition and how it plays a role in our pet’s well-being.
Fast forward to October of 2017, and I decided to adopt Oakley at the age of 8 weeks old. I got him from a little rescue in Tennessee called Slumdog Rescue Crew. I was still grieving over my loss of Charlie, and let me be clear Oakley was not a replacement. I am just the type of person that simply cannot live without a dog in my life, more specifically a beagle. Oakley helped me go through the grieving process, and I see so much of Charlie in Oakley.
Eventually, Kristen, like myself, decided it was time for a new puppy and got a little goofy German Short Haired Pointer named Forrest. I remember her telling me she intended not to go through the same thing again, like what happened with Wally, and she wanted to put Forrest on the best puppy food possible. One day I got a text from her, about how she decided on the best puppy food and was going to feed Forrest a raw diet. I thought to myself, what? What is a raw diet, and how does that even work? She then proceeded to explain it further to me, and I watched as little Forrest devoured raw chicken grinds with no problem and no adverse effects. He didn’t vomit, he didn’t get diarrhea, and he never contracted Salmonella or anything else. I was very intrigued.
Thanks to Kristen, Forrest’s diet sparked my interest and I decided to more research on the subject. I started reading as much credible information as I could (beware, there is a lot of false information) and came across amazing videos from Dr. Karen Becker, articles from Dog’s Naturally Magazine, and watched the incredible documentary on Netflix called Pet Fooled. One thing I kept hearing and reading everywhere were the terms “species appropriate” and “ancestral diet.”  In the documentary, they talk about a dog’s phenotype versus a dog’s genotype. Phenotype refers to an organisms outward characteristics, while the genotype refers to the genetic makeup. If you take that a little further, you will find that the dog sitting next to you and the wolves out in the wilderness share almost 99 percent of their genotype!
While our Goldendoodles, Beagles, and even our Yorkshire Terriers do not look anything like wild animals (still debatable about Chihuahuas), on the inside they do not stray far from wolves. It all started making sense, and it was like my eyes were finally opening.
Oakley was going on a raw diet immediately. I had decided, it was a done deal. Since that time about a year ago, Oakley has been eating raw meals and I would never go back to dry food. I continue to watch Dr. Karen Becker and do as much research as possible daily.
Oakley, Forrest, and every other pet on raw are living proof that this is what they were meant to eat to thrive, not just survive! According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, roughly 6 million dogs and cats will receive a cancer diagnosis each year. That number is simply unacceptable for our cherished four-legged family members.
When providing the best care for your dog, it is so much more than knowing the breed or putting them in the best training courses. The best thing you can do for your dog is to learn as much as you can about them from the inside out and feeding them a fresh food diet.
All in all, I refuse to let what happened to Charlie happen to any more of my pets. I share Oakley’s meals on his Instagram page to help others that might be intimidated by feeding a raw diet and also to contribute to this shift in pet nutrition. Oakley is in amazing health since being on raw. His skin, coat, teeth, breath, and even his stool are all great. Putting aside, outward appearance, I make sure to keep up with his annual bloodwork. Even that shows how well he is doing on this diet. I wholeheartedly advocate for this, and I encourage everyone to do more research and start asking questions about what the pet food industry is doing to our loved ones! That WHY I feed raw.
Thank you so much to Sarah for sharing her story! If you're interested in starting with raw but don't know where to begin, check out our consultations and we can get you started.


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