Friday, March 23, 2012

A Healthy Diet Validated

This article was written by a dear friend and supporter, Cathy Witlox.  You can read more of Cathy's insights about life with her 3 dogs at:

We adopted Cora from TAGS in April 2011. She was estimated to be between 5 and 10 years old and clearly hadn’t been taken very good care of before she came to TAGS. She came to us with a severe ear infection (she hadn’t been at TAGS long enough for her ears to have healed) and has had several others since.

Shortly after we adopted her, we had a wellness blood test done, in part because of her ear infections and also because of how low-energy she was. We learned that Cora was borderline hypothyroid (her level was 14, and normal is 13–55), and her eosinophils were elevated, suggesting allergies or parasites. 

When we adopted Cora and Dusty, also from TAGS, we put them on Orijen, which came highly recommended by a local specialty pet store. Orijen is a Canadian-made grain-free food with all natural ingredients and no meat by-products. In May, I read a book Kathy Asling-Cook suggested, The Nature of Animal Healing by Dr. Martin Goldstein. Having learned how much dogs’ health is dictated by diet, I decided then to start cooking for my dogs.

Last week, Cora had another blood test. (She started peeing in the house a few months ago, and we wanted to rule out any health issues.) The vet thought that her previous “borderline hypothyroid” label might have progressed beyond “borderline,” which could result in behaviour issues. The vet was obviously shocked when he called me with Cora’s blood test results. “She’s perfect!” he said. (Of course, we knew she was perfect, but it was great to hear her blood was, too!) There are no signs of any allergies or parasites or even hypothyroidism (her level is now between 21 and 22!). Her liver, pancreas, and kidney levels—perfect. Her white blood cell count—perfect. Her thyroid—perfect. All perfect!

Additionally, Cora hasn’t had any ear infections in the past couple of months. I attribute her improved overall health to her food. The regular exercise she gets (two good, long-when-weather-permits walks a day) helps, too, I’m sure. But the food is so important. I give our dogs a mix of Orijen and homemade food. Here’s the recipe:
3 lbs ground chicken
3 1/2 cups rice
10 cups water
1 tsp minced garlic (some recommend against giving garlic to dogs, but holistic books highly recommend it)
2 tsp rosemary
1 can of peas and carrots (water not drained)
1 large can of yams (water not drained)
1/2 bag of frozen mixed veggies (green beans, wax beans, and carrots)
2 cubes of frozen spinach
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
optional: 1 can crushed pineapple
Put water, rice, chicken, rosemary, and garlic in a large pot. Once the concoction comes to a boil, set to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, puree together the frozen vegetables, the spinach, and the yams, and chop the blueberries. Once the rice is cooked, add the pureed veggies and simmer for another five minutes. Add the peas and carrots and the blueberries. Turn off the stove, and mix everything together thoroughly. Let it cool; then add pineapple (optional), scoop the food into Tupperware containers, and freeze what you don’t need immediately.
I get two weeks’ worth of food for three dogs out of every batch I make. I add to their food a glucosamine supplement and flax seed oil. Our dogs love their food. Cora, who is a very nervous dog, comes out of her shell at breakfast and suppertime, bouncing around the kitchen in anticipation. Feeding the dogs food that I know is good for them makes me feel good, and by all accounts—even medical ones—it’s making them feel pretty darn good, too!

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