Feeding dogs


Here at The Swamp, we have been feeding raw long before there ever was a Swamp in our lives! When we first started we tried to make our own with ground beef, veggies and bone dust. It was a huge amount of work and very little variety. We then heard about a company that was making raw and we started buying from them. Over time the quality decreased to the point that the dogs wouldn’t even look at it let alone eat it. At that point we decided that we would feed raw meaty bones (RMBs) exclusively. At least doing this we knew the dogs’ food was human grade. We found a great store in East Van that stocked all sorts of different types of meat. Beef lung, pig snouts and rabbit could be found there. Once we moved from East Van it became harder to source human-grade RMBs that didn’t break the bank.

Last week we finally made it out to Surrey Meat Packers. We intended to strictly buy RMBs however, we were blown away by the quality of their ground raw. It looked fabulous and nothing like the brown/grey slurry we had seen before. We bought chicken, lamb and beef ground. We didn’t get any with veg as our dogs get lots from us when we eat. We debated the wisdom of buying all this ground raw without making sure the dogs would eat it first.

A week later and we (and the dogs) couldn’t be happier. Everyone has embraced the new food. Some of it is a little different, like the green tripe, but most of them ate that yesterday without problem. We still supplement with some RMBs as it is important for the dogs to have to use their minds and jaws to eat their food. The best part is that Stevie Ray is being exposed to so many different foods and she is embracing all of them!

If you feed raw, Surrey Meat Packers (with a location in Burnaby as well) is an excellent source for all sorts of great meat for your dogs.

Disclosure: I have received nothing from Surrey Meat Packers for this blog. I like the products.

Evangelism at The Swamp

Over the years, I have been accused of militancy in many areas of my life. It started when my friend Joe told me I was a musical imperialist. This came about on a trip driving from Calgary to Vancouver. We did not have the same taste in music.[1] We decided that we would alternate playing a tape.[2] A problem arose when he would start a tape and asked me if I liked it and I would say no. He would try another one and I would still hate it. Then he gave up. I told him to just play his music and it would be fine but he said he couldn’t enjoy it if I hated it. Clearly this all worked out in my favour![3]

I can be a bit like a dog with a bone when I find something I really love. Of course I think this is a good thing. I like to spread the word so to speak. So here are 5 things I am a bit evangelical about:

  • Raw Feeding– it took me a long time to come around to the idea of feeding our dogs raw meat on bones. I finally agreed to it when one of our Shih Tzus had to have a bladder stone removed at age 5. When I saw the stone it looked exactly like a piece of Iams kibble that she had been eating her entire life. I did a lot of research about what causes these stones to form and I learned that her system needed to be more acidic if we did not any more stones to form. Kibble fed dogs have a higher pH because of the carbs in their food. The only way to get a more acidic environment was to feed raw. Se we jumped in and we have never looked back. Our dogs are happier and healthier and our vet bills are much lower. I have written several posts about raw feeding if anyone is interested: herehere, here, and here.
  • Nasal Rinsing – another friend of mine had been trying to convince me to use a neti pot for years to deal with my allergies. I was really suffering once we moved to Maple Ridge because of all the hay. My doctor referred me to an allergist who did some skin scrapings. Unfortunately, due to my ulcerative colitis I am on immune suppressant drugs and he couldn’t get a reaction. So he told me to rinse my nasal passages daily with a Neil Med bottle. I have not looked back. I do this faithfully every day. I also spread the word whenever someone is having allergy problems.
  • Hopcott’s Meat – we have the best meat store relatively close to us. It is all hormone and antibiotic free and it tastes really good.
  • Crocheting – I have become reacquainted with crocheting. I used to do a lot in my 20s and 30s but had stopped for some reason.[4] I find it much more relaxing than watching TV and being on the computer. I can almost get into a Zen-like phase as I create something. Here are some pictures of projects I have completed recently:
Dragon in filet. Pattern circa 1900
Baby blanket
Realta Afghan
  • Apple – my first computer was a Mac Plus. It had no hard drive and 2mb of RAM. Around 1995, I decided to get a PC as I was discovering I had a knack for computers. I even had my own mobile computer repair business for a little while.[5] I stuck with PCs until about 2009. I had noticed over the years that every PC I had became really slow no matter how much RAM or how fast the CPU was. It was infuriating. I did some research and apparently as Windows degrades the machine slows down.[6] The only answer was to format and re-install windows every year. I was not into doing that. The other answer was to get a Mac. I already had an iPod, iPhone and an iPad so I knew the quality of Apple’s products. So I made the leap back to Apple and I couldn’t be happier. Apple gets a lot of flack for its proprietary ways but really there stuff just works. I live happily in an Apple world.

So, for my 12 readers, what things are you evangelical about?

[1] He likes syrupy female singers and I think I was going through my male rocker/folk phase.

[2] Yes, that would be a cassette tape! I am that old.

[3] We had a passenger with us who threatened to get out and hitchhike if we didn’t stop arguing. My dog Tippy was with us too and she liked to dance on people’s legs in the car!

[4] I suspect the reason was dogs…

[5] I discovered that I really did not like going to people’s houses to fix their computers.

[6] Unfortunately, I cannot find the original article I was referred to.

 I found a new blog. It is called Vets Behaving Badly. I have gotten into a disagreement with them about raw-feeding. I posted this very long comment (actually broken into 3 parts) on this thread.


I find it interesting that because so many of you disagree with me you cast me as a lunatic. But whatever.

So, Don!, I think the diet you are feeding your dog is awesome. I am not completely against kibble. In fact, here at the Swamp, the dogs get high quality kibble and canned about once a month. We call it McDonald’s for dogs. Our dogs also eat a variety of other stuff in addition to RMBs.

One of the vets said that it is not possible to teach everything in vet school and that what education does is teach one how to think and how to solve a problem. Well that can be true of many other degrees and disciplines. I have a Master of Arts degree and I have also been taught how to think and research. Sadly for all of you, you do not have the market cornered on critical thinking. Now, let’s debunk some of the stuff you are saying about feeding raw.

First off one of you has pointed out that dogs are not true carnivores. You said they are opportunist scavengers and not hunters (although I am sure anyone who has ever lived with a terrier would argue that dogs are indeed hunters). So if dogs are scavengers it stands to reason that they would eat carrion and other such stuff. Carrion would be full of all sorts of bacteria and other stuff, yet the dogs can eat it and they have no problem. So if they can eat half rotten meat and other stuff why can’t they eat human grade raw meaty bones that come from the grocery store? I really would like an answer to this question. If you trot out the ‘Oh no the salmonellas will kill them’ argument you will lose. Please give me a reasoned answer.

Dogs are not meant to eat corn. In fact, if you do some research you will see that the same thing that happened to human food (over-processing, full of corn) is killing us. It is also killing our pets. Dogs are not meant to eat a diet where the first ingredient is corn! Then there is the ever ubiquitous ‘_____ meal’. This stuff is rendered parts of animals that humans don’t consume and turned into a meal for dogs to eat. Why would you want to feed your dog rendered ground up chicken feathers and other such crap?  It is not bio-available to them for digestion. Then there is the ‘lets cook it at extremely high temperatures and extrude it out of machine’ process. Sounds nummy doesn’t it! Another huge issue with kibble is that dogs must reconstitute it in their guts so they can digest it. According to another vet this keeps them in a constant state of slight dehydration for their entire lives.

Now, lest you feel like you can just dismiss me as a crackpot why don’t you listen to some of your colleagues? Here are 2 links to other vets who disagree with you:

Dr. Karen Becker on why grain-free diets are not optimal for pets: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/11/08/new-trends-in-pet-food.aspx

Dr. Peter Dobias answering some of the common objections (remember the ‘oh no the salmonellas!’ argument.


In fact, Dr. Dobias has never seen a case of salmonella in a raw fed dog. How do you explain that? He feeds his animals raw.

I was against feeding raw for a very long time. I only came to it reluctantly because we had a 3-year old shihtzu who developed a bladder stone. When it was removed it looked exactly like a piece of Iams kibble which she had been eating her whole life. As we did research about how to prevent further bladder stones we discovered that she needed to eat a lower pH diet. Our vet could not recommend anything at the time that would meet this criteria (it was before grain-free kibbles and foods). The solution was raw. She never had another stone.

Now onto the vaccine issue as some of you think that raw feeders are also against vaccines. We vaccinate our dogs. We do not do it every year as protocols are slowly changing at least in Canada. After age 5 the only vaccine they get every three years is rabies. Again, critical thinking has been instrumental in our decision about vaccines. We believe puppies must be vaccinated but we don’t buy that dogs need them every year. We don’t need vaccines every year of our life so why would dogs? The only exceptions to this are the flu shot and perhaps bordetella for dogs.

One more thing about raw-fed dogs is that they are healthier. We have not had to treat for fleas in so many years I have lost count. Yet we live in a high flea area. Our dogs do not get parasites anymore. When we fed kibble we had to treat for worms yearly. Don’t even get me started about the hookworm infection of 2001! We had 6 dogs with bloody diarrhea. Since feeding raw the dogs have never had worms again. Parasites are just not able to overwhelm healthy raw-fed dogs in the same way they do with kibble-fed dogs.

Someone also questioned how much dog experience I have. My partner and I have been involved in rescue for 15+ years. We have fostered, adopted and reared over 25 dogs in that time. We have seen dogs given 2 months to live because of cancer come here and live for 2 years. I know this is anecdotal but I think it bears discussing. Cancers feed on carbs (it is the same thing in humans). If you deprive those cells of sugar they don’t grow as fast. We have never had a dog with pancreatitis or a bone obstruction. Dogs are meant to crunch up raw bones! (the exception, of course, being large ungulates).

I am not a crack pot because I feed raw. It was a well thought out decision. Once we saw the results we could never go back. I personally know at least 30 other raw feeders and no one has ever had a case of salmonella or bone obstruction or e. coli. All of these people are feeding anywhere between 2-11 dogs. We and other vets cannot all be wrong.