So there we were with our nice new comfy crates, some herbs to help Millie’s nerves and finally the change to our diet. Through Katherine’s research she found out about additives and things that could affect behaviour, and so she decided to switch us to a diet that would eradicate these from our diet. We were switched onto a raw diet.
Now, let us say now that this is not a guide to switching to raw, if you are interested in doing so you can research that yourselves because when it comes down to it, it is very important to do your own research and even now Katherine is always reading up on things and finding our new things to try. This is just our experience with making the change.
We’d already benefitted from some raw added to our diet. When we came home we had terrible teeth – and we mean terrible! Covered in plaque and tartar. When Katherine first saw us she looked at our teeth and already suspected that we would need our teeth done so the vet just confirmed that when we went to register and have a check-up, but the vet said they’d leave it until the following year. Just as well, because Katherine started giving us raw bones every week and chewing on them knocked the tartar right off in great big chunks! Our teeth were cleaned up in no time! Phew! No having to have a dental done!
Then we started getting a raw meal as a treat every now and then – we did enjoy that very much! We really looked forward to our raw meals each week, then twice a week. That didn’t last long though because we soon made the full switch onto raw.
It isn’t the easiest switch to do, not so much because of the diet itself but because of the number of differing views on how to do a raw diet! There are so many different ideas and theories and controversies that it can be very hard to get your head around it and it can be off-putting, not to mention the fear of giving dogs chicken bones etc that is drummed into everyone’s heads. What a minefield!
We started off following a BARF model with carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, oats etc) and vegetables added as a daily part of our diet, but the carbohydrates were soon dropped after further reading, and partly because Fly turned out to be intolerant to potatoes anyway. Eventually the veggies went the same way though that took a lot longer to go. We do still get veggies though in the form of leftovers, and we get fruit as a treat every now and then but it isn’t counted as a part of our diet. It’s just a bit extra. What we do get in our diet is all kinds of meat and bones (chicken, beef, lamb, pork, duck, turkey, venison, rabbit...), offal, eggs and fish. We love our fish meals! We get various types of fish – sprats, trout, herring, sardines, mackerel, plaice, dab, sea bream, sea bass, salmon...fish meals are on Wednesday and Friday evenings, and we now get half a meal of fish for Monday’s breakfast! We have a big freezer all of our own to store all our food in, we get most of our food from a very nice lady called Donna who delivers our food to us on Tuesdays every few months (a full freezer lasts us a good long while!).
It was a couple of weeks after the change in our diet that the first physical changes were noticed. We went swimming in the sea on the morning, and later on our second walk Katherine had a bit of a panic when she saw a very shiny patch of fur on Fly’s back. Her first thought was that it was oil from swimming in the sea! But when she touched it there was no oil – phew! Turned out it was just our new diet taking effect on our coats! There were also benefits to Fly’s joints. She suffers from arthritis in her hips and switching to raw, and in particular it the adding of fresh fish, seemed to help her joints. Not to mention ‘bottom issues’ she used to have a problem with that she doesn’t want to talk about!
But what about the main reason for the switch? What sort of impact was there on that? Well, these changes were slower and more subtle making it hard for Katherine to notice because she was around us most of the time, but Iain who only really spent with us at the weekend did pick up on them. Millie was becoming less anxious, more relaxed and sleeping better. Though having taken a three-pronged approach it was at first difficult to say what had made the biggest effect!
That was until a trip to the pet shop. We were given a dental treat there. It seemed harmless at the time, but what a mistake that was! Millie went mental! She started reacting to noises, panicking about everything and nothing...it was like she had gone right back to the way she had been before! It was a couple of days to get her back to normal again. That was an eye-opener, and ever since we have for the most part avoided commercial treats. Katherine bakes us home-made treats now so she knows what is in them, we mainly get them when we are doing obedience at the dog club and there we won’t work for anything less than a nice piece of home-made liver-cake! Normal doggy treats hold very little value to us, we’ve found doggy biscuits on our walks and after a sniff just left them! Liver-cake is so much nicer!
The real test was the most dreaded day for a dog that suffers noise-phobia...a day we wish people would choose to forget rather than remember! The 5th of November. Where people celebrate the failure to blow up the houses of parliament by...blowing stuff up? And burning an effigy of a guy who wasn’t even high in the rankings of the plotters? Fireworks are not things we are found of, but that 5th of November there was a definite improvement...for one of us anyway... unfortunately when Fly was going to the garden to go toilet before bed, the people across from us decided to start their firework display at that exact moment and because we are higher up on a hill they basically went off in her face! So she ended up very bothered by bangs as a result, though she has since improved. Neither of us likes bangs going off though, however our reactions are at a more manageable level. We just like everyone to go to bed and to sleep in the bedroom and for the most part we are fine.
Overall, 5th of November was a success for Millie. She passed the challenge and by New Year she was off the herbs and sleeping on the sofa rather than in her crate, when she decided for herself she was ready for that. Katherine tried leaving her out of the crate a few times and it didn’t work, but one evening Millie felt ready and ever since hasn’t needed to sleep in there at night. We still have our crates though, they have another very useful use as a table at the side of the sofas and they are our dining rooms where we eat our meals!
Until next time...
Millie, Fly and Katherine T