This is an update no pet lover ever wants to make. Our raw feeding adventure came to an end on May 6 when we said goodbye to Chance.
Chance developed aspiration pneumonia again before Christmas. This was her 2nd bout in 25 months. Her 1st bout was the reason we started grinding her raw food.
As she recovered, she decided she didn't want to eat her ground raw chicken anymore. We thought she might be bored with chicken, even though it's always been her favorite, so I bought some ground turkey to try. If she liked that, we could add it to raw ground chicken bone that still needed meat. She ate a small amount of turkey then stopped. She was still eating her ground red meats though and the canned dog food we were feeding so she was getting much needed calories since she was underweight and recovering from a serious illness. Poultry is the only soft-boned meat she will eat so rabbit wasn't a substitute.
We decided that she didn't want the ground poultry anymore because it was so sticky and may have been causing issues with her megaesophagus pouch. I had bought a couple of bags of Stella and Chewy's freeze-dried raw patties to have in case of an emergency so we decided to see if she would eat those. She likes their meal mixers, which she has been eating as treats, and she loves the freeze-dried patties. She also stopped eating her ground raw red meats unless they were mixed in with canned dog food. Being almost 15 and needing to gain weight, we decided to let her eat what she wants.
We have tweaked and tweaked her diet in the 2+ months since her pneumonia diagnosis and have come up with a "meal plan" that seems to work well for her. She gets 4 Stella and Chewy's patties, 1/2 her normal red meat dinner that we further process in the food processor, 3/4 can of high calorie dog food that is pureed using the stick blender, and 4 high calorie treats. She also gets lots of meal mixers and other treats, cat food that we use to hide her meds in, and more high calorie dog food for a snack.
As of today there is a new Beginner's Guide To Prey Model Raw. Links inside the guide have been updated and there is a new section on grinding prey model raw. The rest of the information has pretty much stayed the same.
As always, this is a free guide.
Over a year into the grinding of Chance's food and we can now do it in half the time, so that's a plus. The most tedious part is the portioning out of the ground food into meal-sized portions. We put aluminum foil down to keep meat from drying on the bare counters to help with clean up.
I just took delivery of just over 16 lbs. of emu and almost 3.5 lbs. of emu liver. Emu was always one of Chance's favorite meats so we decided to start sourcing it again. We've been feeding emu again since August.
She now eats bone-in chicken, beef, pork, lamb, venison, emu, pork spleen, pork liver, pork kidney, beef liver, beef kidney, lamb liver, lamb kidney, and chicken liver.
Chance was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia on November 25 so we are now grinding her food. We bought a 3/4 HP grinder that is technically not supposed to be used to grind soft bones, like chicken bones, but it does a very good job with those.
Chance is doing well with her new ground food. We haven't had any issues with the megaesophagus and she is able to eat her full breakfast without needing to take a break. I still split up her dinner because she does not go a full 12 hours between meals. She gets her liver and about 1.5 oz. of food and then the rest of her dinner about an hour later. We are not grinding her organs yet, just cutting them into small pieces.
Chance is now enjoying her meals again and has put on about 1/2 lb. in 2 weeks now that she is eating everything and getting her "make me fat" meatballs.
This coming week will be a massive grinding session. We'll have close to 70 lbs. of meat we've cubed, or will be cubing in the next day or 2, that will get ground plus enough bone-in chicken for at least 30 days.
We've now started splitting Chance's final meal to see if it helps with her megaesophagus. Instead of getting her liver and full dinner, which we are still searing, all at once, she gets her liver and some dog treats at the normal dinner and then her full dinner 60-90 minutes later. So far, it seems to be working. Getting the liver when she does helps keep any bile issues from happening.
I'm also happy to say she gained 1.6 pounds in 2 months so she's still thin at 60 pounds but not as bony as she used to be! This means I have to start altering her afternoon snack recipe to have less calories.
We have started having to lightly sear Chance's food to get her to eat it during the hotter weather of summer. With her many health issues, we can't "tough love" her by letting her get hungry enough to finally eat it. We also can't feed her smaller meals throughout the day because she will only eat breakfast and dinner and refuses to eat her meals broken up like that.
I've also started making her "meatballs" with hamburger, cream cheese, eggs, and her favorite treats ground up to hold everything together. She always loses weight during the summer because she doesn't eat as well when it's hot out plus she loses weight on vacation because of all the swimming she does. The only problem is, she doesn't really have any weight to lose so she tends to get too ribby. Last year she dropped 4 lbs. over the summer. This year, she's only lost 2 lbs. but that's thinner than her vet wants her at. Luckily, Miss Picky likes her fattening meatballs. We'll see if we've reversed the weight loss, or at least stopped it, at her next rehab vet appointment.
We still haven't had to make changes in Chance's diet or current feeding style due to the megaesophagus. She still gets bone-in chicken in the morning and cut up boneless red meat at night.
I would like to be able to swap something for the chicken but there just isn't a lot of easily sourced, soft-boned meat out there. She isn't a fan of rabbit so that isn't an option because, with her health issues, we can't have her skipping many meals.
There's no new adventures in the raw feeding world for us. Chance is still doing well with her bone-in chicken in the morning then cut up pieces of boneless meat in the evening. She gets organs as well of course. We have found she doesn't do well with bone-in chicken at dinner though.
Haven't had to source any new suppliers for meat though I do plan on making a run into the city soon to, hopefully, get some spleen.
We are still feeding Chance her meals in small pieces in the evening and giving her bone-in chicken in the morning. Regurgitation only happens if she manages to chew off too big of a hunk of her chicken with bone but even that is a rare occurrence.
Fingers crossed it stays that way for a very, very, very long time!
Adventures In Raw Feeding: my woman's blog!