My first blog post — Why I started Happy on real food

annie and happy

Hello and happy Saturday everyone! This is Annie of Happy Fluff — the proud slave of Happy 😛

If you have been following us for awhile now, you would know why I started Happy Fluff in the first place. Since taking him home from the pet shop, Happy has never responded well to commercially available foods. He could never gain weight and in addition, he itched lots :(

The itching could not stop and things became worse over time as he continued to scratch his itch away. It got to a point where he developed a secondary infection.

happyswound sad happy

We made countless trips to the vets, and tried various premium kibbles but nothing seemed to help. 

At this point, Happy was ill — with fevers caused by his infected hotspots — and he had little to no appetite. I was so afraid that I was losing him and was desperate to try anything that would help. So I then decided to do some research and had the good luck of stumbling upon raw feeding. Like many, my first reaction was "Eeew! Feed them raw? That's gross!", but nonetheless, I took the plunge (with fingers crossed) and gave him some raw beef. To my relief, he took to the beef and ate everything! I made the decision there and then to go longer term on the raw diet.

Happy's Before and After

Weeks turned into months, and to my delight, Happy gained back the weight he lost. He eventually recovered and I have never looked back since. I knew that feeding Happy fresh meats were good, but I had wanted to be sure that he was getting balanced nutrients from the food, so I took an interest in preparing Raw/Barf meals for Happy myself. 

I started with online resources, and then moved on to books. Also, I began religiously following an American Holistic Vet by the name of Dr. Karen Becker who also advocates raw diets. As Happy is picky like most Shibas I know and as he doesn't eat bones (what kind of dog doesn't like bones right?!), I had to filter through loads of information to look for suitable alternative nutrient sources as I prepared his meals.

Happy has been doing great since I made the switch to raw food, but I've always wanted to make sure I'm on the right track. So when it came to my knowledge that there was going to be a Dog Nutrition Workshop conducted by a certified holistic vet by the name of Dr. Susanna, I signed up immediately! (Big shoutout to my dear friend Rachel of Sushicat (link to sushicat) for bringing the workshop to my attention)

The workshop was held in her clinic —the Asia Paws clinic in TTDI. It is an appointment-only clinic, so do check with them if you do intend to bring your pets there!

I was greeted by Dr. Susanna's friendly assistant at the door and was promptly led up to a room on the first floor where the workshop was held. The room was equipped with a TV for slide presentations, and a white board for explanation. Once everyone arrived and was ready, school was in session :)

Asia Paws Workshop

Dr Susanna first took down all the particulars of the dogs from the owners — info like breed type, age, and current food intake. 

Then, she proceeded to guide us through the workshop. She shared with us her experiences with her very own dogs, along with her experiences with her patients dogs to illustrate the difference between certain dogs — like how they all took to raw foods differently.  She wanted us to know that it is normal for dogs to be different from one another. And to always feed according to one's lifestyle and one's dog's habits. I.e if you find it too queasy to feed raw, then cook it lightly. And if you cant find certain ingredients, there are always alternatives. She emphasized that there is no one way to do things. Just a little common sense is needed!!

While I might have been exposed to Raw feeding prior to the workshop, I learnt so much that day. It definitely gave me more confidence to create different recipes for Happy without worrying too much about the exact balance of nutrients. What's important is that the basics are covered. Dr. Susanna did mention that she thinks about the palatability, flavor and texture of the foods when feeding her dogs, because she can't imagine having them eat the same thing all the time! I honestly hadn't really thought about that till then, I was more concerned with whether Happy was eating enough. 

So, I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who considers their pets as family. For anyone thinking about making the switch to raw but haven't had the courage yet, this might be the push you need. Dr. Susanna will give you every reason you need — to know about species appropriate diet — and debunk any myths you might have heard of raw diets or even any concerns you have.

It's really not as hard as you think. From the benefits I have personally witnessed and experienced with Happy, I highly recommend feeding fresh foods. You may start with cooked foods if you aren't ready to go straight to raw. In my opinion, I think ANY fresh food beats dry or canned food as they are filled with preservatives to have a longer shelf life.

Dr. Susanna ended the talk by giving us all a little handbook to take home. She saved the handbook for the end so we would sit attentively through the workshop and not be distracted by the notes in the handbook :)

Interested? Follow Asia Paws on Facebook to see when they might run another workshop!

And if you're interested in preparing something for your furry friend. Check out the video below! It's a beef based meal I prepared for Happy. Enjoy :)