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This month, Scout developed a fever out of nowhere. At it's highest, it was 105.8 degrees – at 106.0 degrees, it's pathological and requires immediate hospitalization and treatment. Scout could have died.
I love my dogs. I love them to distraction. These are my babies. The thought of losing one of them on the two-year anniversary of losing Blue was a shock to the system. But J and I are a good in a crisis when it comes to our dogs. Between online research, speaking to various veterinarians, and consulting with our pet insurance company, we were going to help Scout beat whatever this was…
What was it? We still have no clue. All of the tests came back as negative, so tomorrow, we go to our holistic vet for a new round of blood tests and his annual check-up.
I Don't Hate Dry Dog Food
Someone recently shared that they were surprised that I would feed Scout dry dog food. Another person recently accused me of attacking everyone who feeds dry dog food when I shared my belief that fresh food is superior to processed food. I think people have got me all wrong, and I want to clear things up.
Many people are under the impression that I'm a diehard raw feeder. Nothing “dry” will touch our dogs' lips. This simply isn't the case.
- Our cats used to eat dry cat food mixed with freeze-dried raw – now Cosmo eats soft food with freeze-dried raw.
- I used to use Carna4 and ZiwiPeak as training treats.
Scout's Compromised Immune System
When Scout was sick, he wouldn't eat. He'd have a little bit of bone broth here and there, and he'd eat his PetKind Bison Tripe dog treats. Mostly he was drinking water (a good thing). By the time we reached the specialist, Scout's temperature had been above 105.0 degrees for more than 48 hours. His white blood cells were tanking, especially his neutrophils.
“The majority of white blood cells in circulation are neutrophils, which help the animal fight infections. Neutrophils can be decreased in pets with bone marrow disease, in some viral diseases, and in some pets receiving cancer chemotherapy drugs. Neutrophils are increased in pets with inflammation or infection of any part of the body and in pets receiving prednisone or other cortisone-type drugs.” Source: VetMed.WSU.edu
Scout's Blood Panels
WBC (white blood cell count)
- Normal Ranges: 5.05-16.76
- Scout's Results 10/10/15: 1.99
- Scout's Results 10/12/15: 6.00
- Normal Ranges: 2.95 – 11.64
- Scout's Results 10/10/15: 0.06
- Scout's Results 10/12/15: 0.07
- Normal Ranges: 0.16 – 1.12
- Scout's Results 10/10/15: 0.72
- Scout's Results 10/12/15: 2.33 (indicates infection)
- Normal Ranges: 0.06 – 1.23
- Scout's Results 10/10/15: 0.1
- Scout's Results 10/12/15: 0.1
- Normal Ranges: 148 – 484
- Scout's Results 10/10/15: 145
- Scout's Results 10/12/15: 80
My dog was sick. He was very sick. What our veterinarians are most concerned about are his neutrophils, which were starting to increase, but weren't there yet. Not even close. We were sent to a specialist who did further tests; Scout was still improving, but not quickly and it wasn't apparent what was causing his fever. We were sent home with antibiotics.
3 Reasons Why I Fed Dry Dog Food instead of Raw Dog Food
The Veterinarian Said So
Our veterinarians weren't experienced in raw feeding, but they did see raw fed dogs and appreciated the value of the diet and how serious I am about my dogs' nutrition. I wasn't shamed into feeding dry dog food. Because Scout's system had no protection, and we weren't sure what we were dealing with (viral, bacterial, etc.), it was determined that raw food should be shelved for the time being.
J Didn't Want to Feed Him Raw
The veterinarian's logic made sense to J, and he didn't wish to take any chances. Two years ago today, we lost the love of our life. The pain of losing Blue has dulled, but it'll never fully go away. We had so many regrets after losing Blue, and I wasn't willing to risk another disappointment by not respecting J's wishes.
It didn't matter to J that dry dog food
Scout Wouldn't Eat His Raw Meals
Raw doesn't have a long shelf life, and he wasn't interested in his food so I created a diet that I thought would spark his appetite using the best quality ingredients available.
- extra-lean, ground beef with carrots and kale (cooked)
- Carna4 (duck formula) – a synthetic free, organic dog food approved by The Whole Dog Journal
- ZiwiPeak (venison formula) – an air-dried, grain-free dog food made from pasture raised, grass-fed venison and doesn't contain fillers.
These were the best options available at my local pet store, in my opinion. Neither has a recall. Carna4 is slowly baked to avoid degrading the vitamins and nutrients and the use of synthetic vitamins. ZiwiPeak contains over 93% real raw meat, organs, natural fat, finely ground bone, at least 7% of which is green tripe and 3% fresh green lipped mussels.
The air drying process for ZiwiPeak is a low-temperature process that does not cook the food like a kibble and it can be fed straight from the pouch with adding water. It's as close to a convenient raw food diet that you can get.
Check out the ingredients:
Carna4: Duck, pork liver, eggs, organic sprouted barley seed, potato, salmon, sweet potato, organic sprouted green lentils, organic sprouted flaxseed, organic sprouted red lentils, peas, apples, carrots, sea salt, kelp, rosemary. Nothing Else.
ZiwiPeak: Venison Meat, Liver, Lung, Tripe, Heart and Kidney, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lecithin, Chicory Inulin, Dried Kelp, Parsley, Naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols, Vitamins, Minerals. “All vitamins are sourced from the USA or Europe. None are sourced from China.” ~ Nigel, ZiwiPeak
The only concern I have is with the potato and peas in the Carna4. I'm curious if the vitamin mixture in ZiwiPeak is sourced from China (where I read most mixtures come from).
I also picked up canned food, but he wasn't interested in it for very long (after a few bites).
If you regularly research dog food brands on DogFoodAdvisor.com, you may notice a “Special Alert” on the review for ZiwiPeaks. Scroll down and read the comments where ZiwiPeaks customers share their positive experiences. There are two sides to every story.
I'm a blogger who writes about raw feeding; but I'm a dog mom first, and when it comes to the health of my dogs, I'm going to do what I think is best for my dogs, which includes taking in everything I've learned and my veterinarian's recommendations.
Some people may be disappointed in my choice to feed my dog a high-quality dry dog food, but I stand by the decision to protect my dog. His immune system was temporarily compromised – why take a chance?
What's Next for Scout and Raw Feeding
After two days eating Carna4 in one meal and ZiwiPeaks in another, Scout was switched back to raw dog food. No transition was necessary, but I did add the following supplements to his food to help with his recovery.
- FullBucket probiotic paste – this is a supercharged version of their powder and great for dogs taking antibiotics or dealing with digestive issues.
- Nupro Joint and Immunity Support supplement – I'm adding this to Scout's food to help give a boost to his immunity system. It's done wonders with Sydney's joints and I hope to see similar results with Scout's immune system.
- Fresh Vegetables – and I'm adding a heaping spoonful of fresh vegetables to his meals.