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There are few things that excite me more than meeting a fellow raw feeder – especially one who shares my thoughts about raw feeding and dogs.  When I received the opportunity to speak with Dr. Tina Olivieri, I was excited, because she's one of the hosts of Nat Geo Wild's Pet Talk and she's a raw feeder!

Meeting a Fellow Raw Feeder

When raw feeders get together, we do a dance similar to when dogs meet for the first time.  We size each other up, we sniff butts, and then either someone bares their teeth or someone drops into a play stance.

Tina and I had a great play session over the phone.

When I meet a raw feeder, I want to know the following…

  1. What's your origin story?  Why did you decide to feed raw?
  2. What model of raw feeding do you follow?
  3. Where do you get your proteins?
  4. What differences have you noticed?

The fact that I was meeting a vet who was going to be a co-host on a national, prime-time show added to my interrogation and I let my imagination get away with me.

  • Tina is in a position to raise awareness of the benefits of raw feeding!  And as a vet, her experience carries more weight than the average dog lover.
  • Nat Geo Wild will probably ask me to come on the show to talk about raw feeding!  I am an expert, not really, but sort of, maybe, kind of.
  • I'm going to be the voice of raw feeding!  OMG, I need more clothes and to lose 5 pounds.
  • What will I wear on Ellen?  I wonder if I can fly my friends out to be in the audience.

Yeah, you're welcome to that peek into my mind.  Scary, right?

Dr Tina Olivieri of Nat Geo Wild's Pet Talk feed raw to her teacup poodle. Love her!

TORRANCE, CALIF.- Dr., Tina Olivieri on set for the segment “Scoop on Poop” (Photo credit: National Geographic Channels/Justin Ogden)

Why Did You Decide to Feed Raw?

I switched to raw, because Rodrigo had a host of allergies and couldn't have a solid poop if I pooped for him.  Lovely visual, right?  After three years, this dog could only manage a soft-solid poop – the kind of poop that looks like it might be solid, but when you handle it with your poop bag covered hands, you realize it's soft serve and that will not do.

Dr. Tina Olivieri switched her teacup poodle (now 14 years old) to raw for similar reasons.  Her dog had skin allergies.  Tina did an elimination diet and it didn't work.  She tried novel proteins, hydrolyzed proteins – nothing worked.  And like me, she found that it's difficult to find information online about raw feeding and how to create a balanced diet.  There aren't a lot of studies to support the benefits of raw feeding for dogs.

And don't get me started on “anecdotal stories.”  The word “anecdotal” seems so condescending to me – as if what raw feeders witness with their dogs can be categorized as Old Wives Tales or Myth.

Tina's mom, who was on the first episode of Pet Talk, switched her dog to raw.  And although Tina, a veterinarian, is trained to focus on research and evidence, she took a leap of faith and switched her poodle to raw as well.  Her dog stopped itching in two or three days.

Booo-yowwwww!

What Model of Raw Feeding Do You Feed?

When I asked this question, Tina said that she knew that I'd ask something like this and she didn't have an answer.  That was all the answer I needed.  Like me, Tina is still researching raw feeding.  In fact, I think many raw feeders will always be researching raw feeding, because there are new things to learn and every dog is different.

Basically, Tina feeds her dog FrankenBARF; CLICK HERE to read more about this diet that I totally made up one day.

I don't follow one model of raw feeding; I “franken” together multiple models and feed my dogs what I have on hand, what they can eat, and what they will eat.  This weekend, they're eating organic raw meals provided by Darwin's Pet (organic beef and green beef tripe with sardines).  Tomorrow, they'll be starting a few days on OC Raw fish and veggies.  Later this week, it'll be duck (that I prepare, because I rock like that).

Retraining Your Brain for Raw Feeding

During my chat with Dr. Olivieri, I was stoked to learn that she's doing many of the same things I do to figure out this species appropriate diet.  Tina relies on other veterinarians who are very passionate about raw feeding and who have been studying the diet longer than she's been feeding raw.

Basically, this evidence and researched focused person is building her own data to support the benefits of raw feeding.

Love it!

Raw feeding is a process, as many of us know, and balancing a raw diet is the most difficult part of being a raw feeder.  But veterinarians are seeing profound benefits that can no longer be ignored.  There are studies, but Tina believes there can be more.  And I believe that her voice and platform will lend something positive to the raw feeding community.

Finding a Vet Who Supports Raw Feeding

Since I was speaking with a veterinarian, I asked her for tips on how to come out to our vets as a raw feeder.  In my experience, many traditional veterinarians don't endorse raw feeding.  Although this can be frustrating, I understand their position.  I wonder what percentage of the dog lover world devotes the amount of time to research and prepare a raw diet for their pet like your friendly, neighborhood Pet Nutrition Blogger.  That's me, for those of you who didn't get that I was talking about myself right there.  Yeah.  Me.

I'm starting to see more people taking extra time and with the growth of commercial raw, raw feeding is more attainable to more people.

So, once you've made the leap, how do you talk to your veterinarian?

Tina shared that every vet-patient relationship is different and finding that perfect match is attainable.  You'll want to find a vet who is as passionate as you are about your dog and understands your goals.  To be honest, I've found that you don't have to find a pro-raw vet, just a vet that trusts that you'll put the work in to make sure you're feeding a balanced diet.

I work with several vets, one is traditional and totes the AVMA party line (raw is bad – that's my interpretation) and two are holistic and endorse raw feeding.  All three support the way I feed our dogs.

Nat Geo Wild's Pet Talk with Dr. Courtney Campbell, Dr. Tina Olivieri, Wildlife Expert David Mizejewski, and field reporter Andre Millan

CALIF.- Hosts, (left to right) David Mizejewski, Dr. Tina Olivieri, Dr. Courtney Campbell and Andre Millan of Pet Talk airing on Nat Geo WILD (Photo credit: National Geographic Channels/Stewart Volland)

This is why I'm excited that Dr. Olivieri joined Nat Geo Wild's Pet Talk.  The hosts are encouraged to share and discuss their opinions; and the show will be exploring all things pets.

In the first three episodes, they covered many issues that I deal with at home:

  • dog humping (Rodrigo)
  • are dog kisses safe? (all my dogs)
  • dog poop (very informative discussion)

Check out this recap of the last episode of Pet Talk, which I thought was the best of the three.  The show has taken a break and will return next month and I'm excited to see what they bring us.

Tune into Nat Geo Wild on Friday at 7 pm and 10 pm PST.  If you're in Western Washington, the channel on Comcast is 666 (yep, I was freaked out too).

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