Food Lifestyle

how keto saved my dog

September 11, 2014

Because of all the questions I get, I’m currently working on a FAQ post about Keto eating. I know it’s not for everyone, but the Keto lifestyle has really turned things around for everyone in my family…even our dogs.

It was actually our dogs who made the switch to full-time Keto living first. Specifically, it was Tian that prompted us to take a good hard look at our eating habits – this is his story. It starts out a little sad, but it gets happy at the end, I promise. Here goes.

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Ever since Tian was a puppy, he had a terrible skin condition that left huge itchy welts all over his body. We tried everything, for years. No expense was spared. We changed all our cleaning products and detergents, and searched out vets who specialised in animal dermatology. But nothing worked; Tian would gnaw on his own skin till he was bleeding and crying, and all we could do was try to stop him from hurting himself too badly at any one time.

Finally we saw a vet whose best guess was that Tian was essentially allergic to himself, and he was prescribed an indefinitely-ongoing course of Cyclosporin, which is an immunosuppressant. If you aren’t familiar with the term, immunosuppressants are a type of drug that suppresses a body’s own immune system, destroying one’s natural resistance to illness and infections. Taking them on a long term basis will cause liver, kidney and intestinal damage and eventually failure. This was the only choice we were given: either watch our dog scratch himself till he cried every day, or doom him to a premature and painful death.

We were desperate to give him some relief, so we opted to put him on the drugs. He deserved an immediate solution, and we hoped it would buy us time to find a more complete cure.

The drugs worked, in a way. The rashes abated, but then the ear infections came. The inside of his ears became caked with a black tar-like substance that we had to clean out with a special solution almost every two days, and we were constantly watching to make sure he didn’t damage his ears with all the vigorous  digging.

Then suddenly one day, Adam just snapped.

He pointed out that Tian was still in great discomfort, and now in danger of renal failure as well – Tian’s quality of life depended on us finding a better answer than what we’d been given by the vet. I guess because we were raised to just believe doctors, Mom and I were initially skeptical that there was another option out there. But to his credit, Adam wouldn’t give up. He went into crazy research mode for a few days, and came back with one tiny sliver of information he’d found in a dark corner of the internet: dogs were healthier on raw food diets.

Nobody had said anything about it clearing up allergies, but the testimonials from other dog owners who’d made the switch were still pretty compelling. Their dogs apparently seemed healthier, happier and more youthful again from eating the way “nature intended”. That’s literally all the information we had to go on – even our vet refused to endorse a fully raw diet – but at this point we figured we had nothing to lose.

So we switched both our dogs from kibble to a daily diet of raw beef and fresh herbs*…and we were blown away by the results.

Though it took their bodies a couple of weeks to adjust to the raw meat, we were able to take Tian off his immunosuppressants immediately with no relapses or adverse effects . The rashes that had plagued him for years – that not a SINGLE vet could properly diagnose or cure – just never came back. Now, he is healthier and happier than he’s ever been, and even though we still watch for ear infections (his body will take a long time to completely recover from an annihilated immune system) they are few and far between these days.

Our other dog Dolce, who turns 10 this year, has regained the alertness and energy levels of his much-younger self. His transformation has also been nothing short of miraculous – where we would often remark sadly that he was “slowing down”, we now talk about how feisty he’s gotten, or laugh about all the mischief he gets into daily. It’s honestly as if he’s ageing backwards.

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Tian’s recovery has been the most indisputable example of the direct impact the right nutrition can have on an illness. By simply cutting kibble and all the carbs it contained, we were able to heal Tian’s body completely and give both dogs the quality of life all pets deserve. I’m just relieved we found the right course of action for our dogs before it was too late. It’s the happiest ending to this story that I could have wished for – thank you so much for letting me share it with you. On behalf of Tian, I hope you’ll pass this on if you think it could help another family.

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*Tian and Dolce are fed two small servings of cubed raw beef and beef fat per day, which we mix with a variety of fresh herbs (primarily parsley) for vitamins and antioxidants. Occasionally, they also get a bit of probiotic kefir to boost the levels of healthy bacteria in their digestive tracts, eggs for additional fat as well as skin/coat vitality, and raw lamb bones for calcium. The raw bones are especially important because they counteract the phosphorous that builds up in a body on a raw diet, though of course our dogs just see them as the “weekend special”.

We buy their beef (flank or chuck – whatever’s cheap but fresh) from our local wet market, cube it as required at mealtimes and serve it at room temperature. Though we started out by searing the meat to kill the bacteria, that’s really more of a human hangup. Dogs have the necessary enzymes to digest fully raw meat, and we actually noticed an improvement in their digestive health once we stopped searing their beef.

 

 

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