Friday, August 6, 2010

Desperate Dog Owners

This week I am visiting family in the Milwaukee area, where my son Phil and daughter Rebecca live.  Phil's two sons, Erik and Christopher, are 9 and 12.  Rebecca's two children are 3 1/2 (Jane) and nearly two (Asa).  Both have very nice spouses as well.

Left behind with friends in Hawaii are responsibilities for 14 adult dogs, 7 puppies at 4 weeks of age, a cat, and management of an active, raw-meaty-bones pet food cooperative.  It's hard to thank Mark and Joslyn enough for their willingness to take on such huge jobs.  When I go away, it becomes apparent how much I do everyday.  No doubt, I have a busy schedule in my "retirement".

Despite being 5,000 miles away, I still get phone calls from desperate pet owners.  Typical story is the dog has terrible allergies, tormenting itchiness, hot spots the dog licks relentlessly, and is miserable.  Owner has tried everything veterinary medicine offers -- antihistamines, steroids, ingredient-restricted diets, antibiotics, special baths and ointments.  Owner recognizes the dog is sick, not well.  What to do now?

My mobile vet sent me such a case just hours before I left on this trip. He said he cannot do more and told the owner to try a raw-meaty-bones diet to cure the dogs' multiple ills.  This is very unusual advice from a veterinarian, but my mobile vet has actually read about the rmb-diet  and believes it makes sense.  I tried to call the distraught owner, left a message with my phone number.  I'll try again to reach her when I get home.

The first day in Wisconsin, a phone call from an acquaintance in Kona told me about her Doberman pinscher.  The dog is itchy, irritable, and has skin eruptions and sores that plague the poor animal.  She was in PETCO looking for remedies for her poor dog when she spoke out loud to a total stranger about her dog's problems.  The stranger told her to contact, the raw pet food co-op.  She went online and found me.  After a half-dozen phone calls to me and to Mark to learn about the rmb diet, she ordered rmb for her dog this week and picked up the order yesterday.  She will need a lot of support and information when I return to Kona

Yesterday, when Amy, Erik, Chris, and I were in the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum, my cell phone rang.  Another desperate dog owner told me the familiar story about his dog with allergies, itchiness, open sores, and generally miserable state.  He began to cry because he feels so bad for his dog.  I told him to go online to, to order some meaty bones and meats for next week, and to come next Thursday to meet with me and pick up his order.  I hope he has enough information and reassurance to try the rmb diet.

All of these pet owners need re-education about appropriate diets for carnivorous pets.  That cannot be accomplished in a long-distance phone call.  It's difficult and painful to unlearn everything you have been taught about pet foods.  It's hard to accept that everything you have been feeding pets for decades -- kibbles and canned mush -- are disastrous for pets' health.  How could vets recommend health-destroying foods?  Aren't vets the experts on pet nutrition?  Well, not exactly ....  And that's another very long story.

How many thousands of Kona pet owners could tell the same story about pets' health being destroyed by kibbles and canned mush?  In our small community, there are so many suffering pets, it's hard to imagine how to reach and help them all.  Just removing all kibble from their diets will start them toward recovery.  

Adding healthful animal proteins and fats to their diets will restore many pets' health, but there may be detours on that road to recovery.  Some of these pets have infected teeth and gums that require veterinary cleaning and antibiotic treatment before the pets can begin the road to health.  Some of them have chronic disease conditions, caused by years of inappropriate diet, and those diseases may have advanced beyond a dietary cure.  At least they can enjoy a healthy diet in their remaining months or years.

It is ironic that pet owners have to rely on other pet owners to learn how to feed pets.  We often rely on family members and friends for advice on rearing children, but medical experts  -- pediatricians -- also offer helpful advice.  More importantly, most of the advice on feeding children healthy diets is consistent across family and medical experts.

Pediatricians promote whole foods for omnivorous children.  A balanced diet for children includes meats, dairy products, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Pediatricians and human nutritionists advise against feeding children processed and "fast" foods.  Grandmother and family friends also "know" that whole foods are healthy diets for children.

A balanced diet for carnivorous pets consists of raw meats and meaty bones with minor additions of family leftovers and cooked or minced veggies and fruits.  By contrast to pediatricians, veterinarians have been brainwashed to believe that processed grains and other starches provide a "balanced and 100% complete" diet for carnivorous pets.  What a disaster for pets!

I expect to receive more phone calls from desperate pet owners.  I know that veterinarians will continue to oppose the raw-meaty-bones diet and continue to treat diet-induced illnesses medically, with predictably poor results for many pets.  Pet owners are torn between adamant veterinarians who demand they feed commercial junk food and their own good sense that carnivorous pets require a variety of raw meats and meaty bones to thrive.

When they get desperate enough about their pet's suffering, some will find me and call.