Monday, April 29, 2013

popo's switch to a PMR diet

if you haven't heard of PMR/BARF, you're not alone. i didn't either, until an ex-kolic told me her poodle was on BARF, and how she (the dog) has improved since changing to this diet. she also shared with me how some breeders and show exhibitors feed their dogs with PMR or BARF. truth be told, this was totally unheard of 10 years ago when i last had a dog, and was initially super disgusted by the thought of it. weeks of research later, i had probably read hundreds of articles and reports and first-hand experiences, and i was sold. 

so what is PMR/BARF? PMR stands for Prey Model Raw, and BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. in other words, raw food. lol. the difference between these 2 diets, is that PMR gives the meat, bones and organs directly, while BARF on the other hand, grinds the meat and everything together with some fruits and veggies. 

i go with PMR not only because BARF is more troublesome to prepare (i cannot imagine my mum's reaction if i buy a meat grinder home) and expensive to buy (there are some commercially sold), but also i believe in mother nature. dogs' DNA is only 0.2% different from wolves. i don't think wolves grind their food, munch on berries, or snack on biscuits and kibbles in the wild.

another thing i've learnt is the truth about kibbles, or more commonly known as dry food. (of cos this has been around for several years but you must factor in my 10-year absence from doggie community.) one of the processes of kibble production is cooking the 'meat', which you all know kills whatever nutrients inside. so they are added back artifically. not to mention preservatives and flavor and taste. fillers take up a significant % of kibble, and are used to make kibble look like what they look like. it is not absorbed by the body, so it comes out as waste. which means half that packet of kibble will come out as dog poop. not to mention you have no idea what meat goes into the production. (there's also this issue with commercial BARF foods but i guess it's still better than kibbles.) the more i read on this subject, the more i agree that kibble is unhealthy. i know the boss of a particular kibble company who feeds his dogs raw food. i wonder why...

there's so much more on raw feeding but i'm not gonna bore you with it. if you're interested, read it up yourself. disclaimer: the above can be found all over the internet. google is your best friend. lol. whatever is below is totally based on my experience with switching popo. each dog is different so if you are considering switching over too, please do your own research. i'm not responsible for what you do. 

first attempt
most people recommend going 'cold turkey', although i was advised to try 50/50 cos popo's been on kibbles for so long. anyway, we replaced her kibble dinner with raw pieces of chicken. also made the mistake of adding ACV. (it's good for dogs but i shouldn't have added it when introducing something new.) she had diarrhea once after that. subsequently for the next few days, all was fine, but she was getting lesser and lesser interested in the chicken, so we stopped it and gave her kibbles again. another mistake. she had diarrhea the whole day after that. i was SO WORRIED! luckily it cleared up the next day. 

second attempt
i was growing doubtful about my decision on raw feeding. it was so hard doing it all alone especially when family members aren't supportive and were even against it. i was also unsure if popo could handle the transition or is suitable for raw food. but having known what kibbles really are, i was very reluctant to feed it again. kibbles looked pretty unhealthy to me already. so i trolled the internet forums again for reassurance. 

this time, i decided to switch her to raw 100%. fasted her a day and surprisingly, when i started skinning her chicken wing, she was alert, and as i held it up for her, she tried to snatch it away! i've never seen her this excited about food before, not even her treats, and that got me excited too! she began gnawing it on the newspaper, but i made her stay on the cloth and she understood it. (this has nothing to do with the diet but i just wanna haolian my baby is smart lol.)

since less is better during the initial stages, i let her finish 3/4 of the wing and kept the balance for the next day. (if yours doesn't take to chicken initially, i suppose you can lightly cook it a little. kibbles are enhanced with fake flavors, smells and tastes which makes it more addictive and attractive.) 

so what makes up a daily meal for popo? initially i gave her chicken wings for dinner, and subsequently added a few pieces of meat for breakfast. after which, i reduced her feeding to once per day (which supposedly is better), giving her either full meat, or half meat half bone. i've recently started to introduce liver in her meals and she'll be having it once a week. she doesn't appear to have problems crunching the bones so far, though the sound of it scares me still. i do monitor her when i give bones, in case she swallows something too big. oh and i always check her teeth after her bone meals. #paranoiddogmum.

why only chicken you might ask? it's the cheapest, and easiest to digest. best for transition periods. and also she's been eating chicken so i know she's not allergic to them. i'm planning to start including something else. some turkey or duck maybe. she needs to eat from as many different meat sources as possible because different meats have different nutrients. variety ensures a balanced diet. 

after the initial transition period comes a period of detoxing, the most worrying and nerve-wrecking of all. it's supposedly normal and is the body's natural way of expelling whatever toxin is left from all the kibbles and whatnot. generally, the longer she's been on kibbles, the more toxin is inside, and the longer her detox period. some could be done in weeks, some even months. the common rule of thumb is one month of detox for every year of kibbles. only after getting rid of the toxin, can the body start making use of the good nutrients to improve itself. and only then, they will start to glow. supposedly.  

different dogs have different detox symptoms and it's not unusual to have dandruff, hair loss, smelly breath, itch, etc etc during this period. since popo looked quite healthy to start with, her detox was mainly through her eyes and skin. her eyes became more watery and have started to goop more, although it appears to be slightly clearing up now.

she also had itchy skin and ears, to the extent of hair loss on one of it. (damn heartache!) wanted to bring her to the vet, but then i realized the hair loss seemed to looking better. and this is one site that also helped to clear up some of my incomprehension. i just hope it's not mites although her ears are quite clean in and out, but i'm still gonna do daily cleaning just to be safe. :(

poop patrol
one of the most common topics of PMR owners is poop. it helps us to decide what to feed the next day. you're probably thinking "wtf gross!", but yeah, i do go on poop patrol as often as i can. the PMR diet is all about meat, bones and organs. each part is important, and so is how much of each part. if the poop appears too soft, i'll add more bony stuff, like chicken wings. if it's too hard or crumbly, i'll add more meat. isn't mother nature amazing? :)

raw feeding reduces the amount of waste. healthy raw eaters churn out small, firm, odourless poops, mainly because 90-95% of the food is absorbed by the body and only 5-10% comes out. i've seen photos of big dogs like retrievers or hounds churning out tiny chihuahua-sized poops. i hate to say this, but....cute max! lol. i've also heard that if you leave the poop there, they'll crumble away after a few days. wish i had a garden to test it out. :\

anyway, as of now, popo's poop are still pretty inconsistent, sometimes soft and long, sometimes hard and small. she also doesn't poop everyday. but sometimes her poop really doesn't smell bad at all. her pee is also less concentrated (less yellow) and doesn't stink at all that much. 

nature's toothbrush
feeding raw meaty bones apparently has many benefits - helps to strengthen neck and jaw, clean the teeth, provide stimulation, and gives time for gastric juices to work. i don't really give popo huge bones to chew currently, maybe wait till her jaws and teeth are a little stronger. but at least i know raw food isn't contributing to even more tartar buildup on her teeth.

her breath still stinks, but not as bad as when she first came. i know exactly how her mouth smells like cos i have the habit of sticking my face into hers and she will lick my nose and mouth. -_- although it could also be due to the other product which i've started to use. she hates it though, so i haven't been able to fully maximize its potential hahaha. will share if it works. :)

energizer baby
this one is more of a next-day-result thingy. i noticed her energy level rose. she's more inclined to play or follow me around. especially when i wake her up from her sleep. usually she'll just look at me as if to say "you go then, i'll just stay here and wait for you to come back". nowadays, she's more like "where are you going? i'm coming too!" haha. 

nevertheless, it's been only a month since i switched and the full benefits of raw feeding are not evident yet. in fact, i still have many doubts and insecurities because i'm not sure how popo's health was (will be doing a blood test soon) and whether raw feeding has / will improve it. i'm also worried that my lack of nutrient knowledge will deprive her of her needed nutrients. but i will try, and learn, and do my best. because, as what PMR supporters say, it's the best food you can give. 

phew! i wasn't expecting it to be this long. again, i must emphasize that all dogs are different and if you are planning to switch, you need to do a lot of research! there is so much more to raw feeding than what i have posted here. i am merely sharing my own experience so don't follow word for word!

p/s. while PMR/BARF is getting increasingly more popular, i realize a lot of people are still skeptical about it. maybe it's the older generation, maybe it's our local kiasi mentality, maybe we don't see dogs as that important. or maybe, we're just not willing to share? raw feeding is a rather common topic among the many breeders, show exhibitors, trainers and groomers that i know (except popo's ex-owner), but not so much among dog owners outside (ie. the public). i read on a local forum that you shouldn't tell other people you're feeding raw unless you want to be chided or laughed at. i struggled with this too when deciding whether or not to admit i'm feeding raw. 

but then, there are real-life examples of how raw feeding has improved health and also reports of what crap goes into kibbles. i can't pretend i don't know and don't care. if there's a chance of a better health for popo, why should i let ignorance and fear deny her this chance? anyway, that's just me. i'm not insisting everyone follow this diet because it has its risks too. i'm merely providing facts and information (found all over the internet) and my own experience for your consideration. :)

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