I am naturally a very compassionate and empathetic person, sometimes to a fault. So I try to be very careful when talking to customers to not say anything that might make them feel badly about the nutritional choices they are making for their pets or have made in the past.
After all, you only know what you know when you know it, and the mainstream methods of feeding pets is so incredibly messed up - but that is not exactly the consumer's fault, is it? So I am very careful about expressing a certain sentiment that I truly believe, because it could come across rather insensitively, especially for someone new to the holistic approach:
You can spend your money on the food now, or you can spend it at the vet later.
I truly believe this. Of course, the expense can be prohibitive to many people, which is why I try to offer alternatives like Sojos and Honest Kitchen that can fall into the financial middle-ground of kibble prices, so that even if a pet family can't afford raw they can still likely avoid kibble. But today I was reminded of how the money is going to leave your pocket in an incredibly forceful way, and I really hope the individual facing this situation doesn't mind that she left an impression on me.
A woman came in with a 12 year old dog that she clearly loved very deeply. This dog has been through the ringer, and I feel so badly for what she and the dog have been through the past four months. The 55lb dog was diagnosed with cancer in the digestive tract back in February. It took multiple visits to the ER, multiple biopsies, and several tries to get the issue diagnosed. The results were some of the worst they could be, with two types of incredibly difficult cancer. The chemo protocol began, and this dog turned out to be part of the 5% or so of dogs who have poor reactions to the medication, so back to the vet they went. After two rounds of chemo, the results came back that it hadn't had an effect. Another round of different medications has now begun. She has struggled to get the dog to eat, and joked that her house looks like a pet store with how filled it is with different products - expensive kibbles and canned foods - trying to tempt the dog to eat.
She was at our store because several people had recommended Healthy Hemp Pet, our #1 selling CBD oil from a local Park City company. When she came in I mentioned that we had other natural products that could help with appetite, inflammation, discomfort, and some that even had extensive research out of Japan indicating potential for the management of free radicals and tumor reductions (which CBD has also been extensively studied for).
But the first thing I asked her when she told me her dog had cancer was if the dog was on a raw diet. While cancer is one of the few things that a raw diet may be contraindicated for (if the dog is undergoing chemotherapy and has a weakened immune system some fear the potential for bacteria to be a risk), removing the toxins, fillers, and simple carbs often found in kibble can be key to cancer management because the cancer cells feed off of those things, especially sugars. So while a raw diet definitely won't cure cancer, it may be able to help lower the risk of it spreading.
Her response was indicative of the attitude of so many people: "Oh, but raw food is so expensive."
I am definitely not judging her for that statement. It is expensive. But as our conversation went on, I learned that she had spent literally $7,000 at the vet in the past four months.
$7,000. At this point, there is no improvement and the dog still suffers and struggles daily. While I 100% honor her dedication to her pet and her willingness to dedicate her resources to the dog's well-being, I desperately wish that more people saw this mental block and were able to move past the financial fear of a raw diet - because the alternative is to spend the money treating a suffering dog, or cut the dog's life short unnecessarily.
I did the math. For a 55lb dog, it would cost on average $45-$60 a week to feed a commercial raw diet. That isn't cheap, by any means, but for $7,000, you could feed a dog a raw diet for over 2.5 years. Even accounting for a holistic cancer management protocol of Turkey Tail Mushroom, Raw Goat's Milk, Turmeric, CBD, etc., you could still stretch your budget for almost two years and with potentially much better results than chemotherapy, which can be wildly ineffective - even in this case the diagnosis WITH the chemo was a life expectancy of 12-14 months IF remission happened.
Six million dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year in the US. This number, as with the human population, is spiking dramatically. This is a CHRONIC disease, meaning it is the result of lifestyle factors. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the food we feed our pets is directly correlated to their chances of having cancer, their life expectancy, and their health. The money will be spent, whether spread across the dog's life, or in a desperate attempt to salvage it while it is suffering. The choice seems obvious to me, and the more people we can share our holistic message with, the more we can change the story for the next generation of beloved pets.
This article originally appeared in SALT Magazine.
While your family is out shopping for Black Friday sales (pick me up a TV, will you?) many veterinarians will be working hard at what some call the “National Day of Canine Pancreatitis.”
Pancreatitis simply means inflammation of the pancreas, but the consequences can be far from simple. Chronic pancreatitis can develop slowly over a long period of time, and can be traced back to processed foods that tax the pancreas and other internal organs of our pets. Acute pancreatitis occurs when a dog develops symptoms very quickly, because of an overindulgence of fat that overburdens the system. This second form is why vets see so many cases the day after Thanksgiving. When the family adjourns after dinner to the living room for football, they may leave the dishes on the table or wait to clean up the kitchen. Unattended, dogs can find their way to the best parts of the turkey, and trust me - they will go nuts and overindulge much as you just did. The turkey skins can do the most damage because they are high in fat. The dog’s pancreas is overwhelmed and it begins to overproduce the enzymes it needs to digest the fat, and bad things can start to happen. Within a few hours, you may see loss of appetite (obviously) vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or signs of dehydration. The abdomen may appear hardened and the dog may not like you touching it. If these symptoms appear, take your dog to the vet immediately. After the emergency has passed, there are easy ways to prevent it, including feeding a low-fat, species appropriate, all natural diet.
Don’t be afraid to feed your dog a few pieces of white turkey meat as you enjoy your holiday - but avoid feeding stuffing (especially if it has raisins which are toxic to dogs) and other foods, especially the turkey skins and drippings - these are extremely fatty. Don’t leave food on the table, kitchen, or in the garbage where your dog can get into it. Finally, come visit us during our extended Black Friday hours and learn about how a species-appropriate diet can help you avoid this life-threatening chronic disease in the future. Happy Holidays!
I belong to several Facebook groups for pet parents, and this week the same question is being asked over and over again - "My dog has anxiety, what do I do?"
July always sees a spike in dogs turned into the shelter because fireworks and thunderstorms can trigger their fight or flight response in a big way. Pet anxiety can be dangerous for everyone - dogs run away, they jump in front of cars, they get aggressive - so knowing how to deal with it is going to help make your summer celebrations run much more smoothly.
There are a lot of things you can do, but I want to talk specifically about hemp products. Like many things mother nature has provided us, hemp is one of those blessings that used to be commonly used but was replaced and forgotten by modern medicine's imperfect imitations.
Industrial hemp contains a component called CBD, or Cannabidiol. Both pet and human brains contain what are called Cannabanoid Receptors, and they received this name because of how perfectly several cannabanoid compounds bind to them. These receptors are found throughout the body and promote homeostasis, or balance. Therefore, when they bind to cannabanoids, they are promoting balance throughout the body, and support health in a myriad of ways.
Many people are beginning to use CBD products to regulate pain, anxiety, and even seizures and cancer. It is a homeopathic alternative to literally hundreds of medications that can't do the job as well as nature can. What is really great about using it for pets is that they actually have almost twice as many cannabanoid receptors as humans do, so if it works well for people, you know it is going to work wonders for pets.
Want to know more? If you read THIS article you can get super sciency, but honestly it was a little over my head, not being a scientist. If you want more information on hemp for pets, our favorite brand Healthy Hemp (local to SLC) has some great LINKS on their website you can use for further research. There is a reason Healthy Hemp is the number 1 seller at Desert Raw!
Steve's Real Food (also a locally-based company) has a hemp product we carry in the store that also has raw goat milk. The article describing their success with pet anxiety can be found HERE.
We also have other great items, including our Farm Dog Natural's RELAX tincture.
In the long term, training and coping mechanisms, exposure therapy, and more can help relieve dog anxiety, but if you need something to get you through the summer holidays, our hemp products will all be 10% off through July 4th. We want your pets to be comfortable during the holiday, and we strongly believe this is a great option.
I guess it says something about the type of person that I am when I take a break from prepping for the move-in tomorrow and decide to relax and write a blog. I believe the term is 'workaholic' but I prefer 'passionate and dedicated'.
It's true. We are moving into our space in Foothill Village tomorrow. I've been running around like crazy painting, preparing decorations, adding and pricing inventory, and doing things like creating an evacuation plan and scheduling building inspections. All the while, my animals are dancing around me, distracting me with their cuteness or mischeviousness. Case in point:
In the meantime, the store is running our lives 12 hours a day. We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary - road tripping to Denver to pick up product. We spent the 1 year anniversary of moving into our new home doing trainings, and the 1 year anniversary of our dog Asa entering our lives receiving inventory. Luke turns 30 next week, and we celebrated early because we knew three days before the store opens we wouldn't have time to mark the occassion. I guess that is the life of a business owner, but I think we have a lot to be grateful for. After all, we aren't opening just any business. We are opening a store we can truly feel passionate about, with a mission that creates a drive that is keeping us going through the exhaustion of starting up. We want to help your pets. We want you to see the same changes we have seen, have the same joy, and be able to feel good about your pet's quality of life. If that means a few sleepless nights and a lot of hard work, it is worth it! See you all soon!
I know Labor Day was yesterday, but I realized I hadn't posted in awhile and wanted to check in.
We have been open for nearly three months now, and we have been amazed by the response. We have been able to meet so many pets and hear so many stories already about how our mission to educate pet parents about the benefits of quality, real food has helped already. Here are just some of the things we have heard:
As Luke and I took a two-day weekend for the first time since March, we reflected on how much better life is because we get to do something we love. We wandered the shops in downtown Jackson Hole, window shopping and talking about how we may be poor as church mice, but being part of you and your pet's lives makes us feel rich as kings.
Please spread the word and tell your friends! We need your help to make our store a success so more pets can benefit from eating real food!