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.
I may sell pet food, but I also have a Master's Degree in History. Anyone want to talk British Navy stuff? No? You just want the pet food stuff? Ok...