My journey to holistic pet care
I met my heart dog Sheldon “Shelly,” at an adoption event in December 2011. This sweet little white fluff was recovering from bladder stone surgery, and I was immediately drawn to him. My Bichon mix, Jude, was not fond of other dogs, and I hoped he would possibly consider having a younger brother. Thankfully, he seemed OK with this little guy, and we took him home as a foster to adopt. One week later, we made his adoption official.
We took him to his vet appointment the following week to have his surgery follow-up and stitches removed. The vet explained that Shelly would need a super strict diet, including prescription dog food. The recommended food was Royal Canin SO for urinary health. We agreed and purchased an expensive bag of Rx kibble. We followed the vet’s instructions diligently because, at that time, we “believed” that he would know best.
Fast forward 18 months… our poor little Shelly Bean had to have a second surgery to remove a dime-sized bladder stone. How could this be? We followed all the dietary instructions! This time we had a new vet, who explained that Shelly needed a different prescription kibble. He prescribed Hill’s Science Diet S/D. He also prescribed Potassium Citrate to be added to his food which helps to regulate the PH of the urine.
Bladder stones come in different types: struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate), calcium oxalate, urate, cystine, and silica. Shelly’s first stones were struvite, and the second was calcium oxalate. So the vet claimed that we were on the wrong food. Um, Okay…
Although we were a bit skeptical at this point, we went ahead and bought the food and supplement. About six months later, we were talking to a friend who was much more educated about urinary health and fresh pet food. She had gone through the same issues with her Bichon, and after surgery #2, she looked for other options. Her story about her girl being stone free for 5+ years piqued our interest, and we decided to take a chance on a new path.
We switched Shelly to a raw food diet (frozen premade). We also switched Jude from his kibble to the same raw food diet. Our boys both loved their new food, and their energy levels were noticeably different within a few weeks. They were brighter and happier, and their stools were better than ever. Shelly always had a sensitive stomach, but he was also doing great on the new diet. After my experience with Shelly and Jude, I decided to educate myself about prescription food and was shocked when I actually took the time to read labels. As we know, ingredients range from the highest to the lowest.
Here is Hill’s C/D:INGREDIENTS: Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Egg Product, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Flaxseed, Pork Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, L-Lysine, Calcium Sulfate, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Potassium Citrate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3Supplement), Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous
Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, L-Carnitine, Natural Flavors, and Beta-Carotene.
Unbelievable!!! This was food? (I’ll have another blog about kibble later on)
Then I looked at the label of the raw food I was feeding.
Here is the ingredient panel for Small Batch raw frozen:
88% humanely raised and harvested turkey, 10% organic produce, 2% natural supplements, turkey, turkey necks, turkey backs, turkey livers, turkey hearts, turkey gizzards, organic squash, organic celery, organic cauliflower, organic green beans, salmon oil, organic bok choy, organic apple cider vinegar, organic kelp*, organic dandelion, organic cilantro, organic bee pollen, organic wheat grass, organic bilberry, organic garlic, organic thyme, organic oregano, vitamin e supplement
I learned about the importance of PH levels and began to test Shelly’s PH each week. He was in the normal range every time. This was the solution we were looking for. How to balance the PH naturally. As you will hear in the YouTube video below from Dr. Karen Becker, the route of prescription food with supplements such as Potassium Citrate is an artificial way to keep the urine PH at the appropriate level. Shelly’s two stone surgeries resulted from prescription food pushing his PH levels back and forth. Feeding a fresh food diet eliminated the need to balance his system artificially. It worked on its own. Yay!
I continued to feed my pups a raw diet and took Shelly for urine checks every 6 months to make sure he wasn’t developing any crystals or stones. Every test came back great, and I never looked back. I was a believer. No more kibble for my pups! I will tell you that my vet was not supportive of my decision, but he couldn’t argue with the results. This experience was a turning point in my life, and I began my journey to a more holistic way of caring for my pups. I also became an advocate for my babies and asked a lot of questions of my vets before just accepting things because they were the “experts.”
I am excited to begin this blog for BROC and share my experiences and education with you all. My goal is to share my experiences and help you to make informed decisions about your own pet’s health. Traditional veterinary medicine will not support many of my comments and suggestions, but I will always provide articles from professionals who are forward-thinking and committed to a more holistic approach to pet health.
I welcome your feedback and questions and look forward to this journey with you!
Here are some links about bladder stones. Enjoy!
Dogs Naturally Magazine – Home Remedies For Bladder Stones In Dogs
Dr. Judy Morgan Blog – Stones Belong in Your Driveway, Not Your Pet’s Bladder
Dr. Karen Becker – YouTube on Urine PH
BROC Volunteer Blogger
I love animals and have been a dog owner for over 30 years. After adopting my first rescue pup in 2009, I became interested in volunteering with rescues. I feel a connection to every dog that I meet and take the time to allow them to show me what makes them tick.