What we do for the dog...Part 1
In 2018, Indiana, or as she’s better known Indie, came into our lives. From the very start she was full of joy. Indie is a fine example of a loving and happy Golden Retriever. (I have included some of her photos throughout this blog to show you know matter what, she is happy and makes the most of everything!)
Unfortunately, Indie has serious digestive issues that we think started back in Bosnia when she was living in a basement as a puppy farm mummy dog. Most probably she ate whatever they gave her or whatever she could find. We suspect she was always starving and never knew when her next meal would arrive. Just like us humans, it is imperative dogs start their lives being fed the right diet, providing them with lots of lovely nutrients and goodness, in order for them to grow and develop. And Indie certainly didn’t get that.
It was just a coincidence really that I started studying for a diploma in Canine Health and Nutrition before we realised just how severe Indie’s condition was. I wanted to learn more about what dogs should really be eating and how to keep them safe, happy, and healthy. I have been feeding my dogs a mixed raw diet for quite a number of years after I had read a considerable amount on how certain manufactured foods available contained large amounts of chemicals, animal waste and other unpleasant ingredients. Despite what we may think, dogs really are not dustbins who will eat anything. Well, they would eat anything, but it doesn’t mean we should give them any old rubbish. Dogs bodies need just as much of the good stuff as we do if they are to live their best lives. I am about halfway through my diploma and whilst it is a challenge studying the course, it has come in very handy with Indie.
Essentially, Indie has something similar to colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, and she can’t process or digest normal food. Without getting into the grim details, it all goes straight through her. And because it goes straight through her, it means she gains nothing whatsoever from the food. During lockdown she was incredible poorly and lost so much weight. Indie became quite desperate and would eat anything all over again, including dog poop! She is quite small for a Golden Retriever, so whilst she was poorly there appeared to be nothing left of her. We had already spent the 18 months of having her trying different foods, and even raw caused her problems. It was so awful seeing her wasting away in front of us. But, despite all that she was going through, Indie never shown any signs of misery or aggression; she remained the happiest dog we had ever met. Indie just enjoyed life!
Thankfully, we have a great vet who helped and after a number of checks (especially for cancer) we got her on a hypoallergenic food. Indie started to gain weight on the new food. She had to have the food 4 to 5 times a day, small amounts, little but often. We couldn’t overload her system; even though we were desperate to feed her up, we had to take our time and carefully build her up, little by little.
But we soon realised this food was all she could then have. No treats, no extras, no sneaky pieces of sausage or cheese. We couldn’t even allow her to have something that accidently dropped to the floor (thankfully, Indie is very good when we tell her to leave). As we already fed the other dogs a raw diet, plus a variety of other good foods that gave them all that their body needed, we found it very sad that all Indie could have was this bland dry food. Yes, we were providing her with what she immediately needed, but long term we considered it to be insufficient. We wanted to give all our dogs the best, and we couldn’t leave Indie out of that.
Sadly, before we had a chance to investigate further into a more diverse diet, Indie reacted to the new food and began losing weight once more. We needed to act quickly and that’s when things got really interesting….