Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raw By The Numbers

Rylee's raw diet is going really well. We've been at it for just over three weeks now, and we've made some progress in the variety department. I started her off on chicken thighs only, then added in a few other chicken "things", while still keeping it all the same critter. She's eating chicken liver for her organ meat, chicken gizzards for muscle meat variety, chicken breasts for muscle meat, and the thighs are our staple at this point. They're fairly cheap, have quite a bit of meat on them, and include the bone, so she's getting her raw meaty bones from those, and I also got some chicken necks, so she was getting some of those thrown in too.

Once I knew we were good with chicken, I ventured out to try and find some inexpensive ground beef. That's just not possible. Since I haven't been at this for very long (and don't really have my "supply places" yet), if I can find stuff for under $1.50 per pound, I'm happy. I've been able to keep all the chicken stuff at right around $1.30 per pound, but the cheapest I've been able to find ground beef is $2.99 per pound. I've been to Harris Teeter, Kroger, Food Lion, and Walmart so far. I plan on checking out Costco or someplace like that too and see what kind of bulk prices I can find.

I found some variety at Walmart for decent prices, so I stocked up on a few things there. Here's my cart from this past Monday:

I think my dog eats better than I do!
I got the usual items, and picked up some ground beef ($2.99 per pound) and also some ground turkey. They had one package that was marked $2.14 per pound, so I got that one. Once the Easter turkeys go on sale, I'll pick up a couple of those, but I wanted to make sure she wasn't allergic before I stocked up on something she can't have.

I spend HOURS cutting up chicken and other assorted gross things. I weigh out how much of each she's supposed to have (raw meaty bone, muscle meat, and organ meat), and toss it all in a baggie. Most of them go in the freezer with labels of what kind of protein is in each bag. I think I finally have enough meals for 2 weeks, so I look forward to not having a kitchen coated in chicken juice for a while. In the meantime, I can look around for deals on meat.

Here's what a typical meal looks like for my high maintenance pup:

Chicken thigh, neck, breast, gizzard, and liver... with some ground beef thrown in.
If you're curious, even with the expensive ground beef added in, I'm averaging $1.49 per pound of food. She eats 1.5 pounds per day, so it costs me right around $2.23 per day to feed her the raw diet. The Fromm kibble she was on before was costing me around $1.80 per day, so raw is a bit more expensive so far, but I'm sure once I get used to feeding it, and I know what to look for and where, I'll be able to reduce that figure a bit. If I could stay at or below $2 per day, I would be really happy.

I was also trying to figure out how much a grain free kibble would cost, just to compare which might be the better way to go. The Orijen I was looking at would cost around $2.60 per day (yikes!) and the Taste of the Wild would cost me around $1.44 per day. Fromm makes a grain free kibble too, and that would run me around $2.05 per day. Those figures are based on a 4 cup per day feeding, which is the recommended amount for her age and projected weight.

The biggest expense so far has been my time. It's a lot easier to open up the bag of kibble, scoop some out, and toss the bowl on the floor. On the other hand, though, I'm not cleaning poo off the walls and carpet and spending over $1,000 at my vet to try and figure out what's wrong with my dog. She's happy, healthy, and enjoying her raw food diet, so I plan on sticking with it for a good long while.

**Disclaimer** I have terrible math skills, so I feel like the math is correct, but don't hold me to any prices or figures. Numbers hate me. **

In other news, Lilly had her hooves trimmed today and my trimmer was very happy with how things look. I told her about the ACTH test results, which made her even more happy, and then we talked about raw diets for about an hour. We reminisced about how Lilly used to be my high maintenance child, and now that torch has been passed to Rylee.

I don't want to jinx it, but things are going well... FINALLY. Oh god, I hope I didn't just jinx it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Birthday Gift

Today is Lilly's 14th birthday... where has the time gone?!

It's hard to believe it's been 14 years already. A lot has happened since I first brought her home, and through it all, she's been the one constant... the one thing I could always count on. She was always whatever I needed her to be... a mane to cry in, a goofy girl good for a laugh, and an escape from the realities of life. It's an unconditional love, and she's truly my best friend. I love her so much, and I'm looking forward to so many more years with her!

Sweet, sweet girl.
I also received word from my vet that Lilly's test results showed she was within the normal limits for everything, including her ACTH. I know it's Lilly's birthday, but that feels like a gift for both of us!

Glucose = 76
Insulin = 6.78 (10-40)
ACTH = 17.6 (9-35)

Remember, when we had the test done back on October 31, her ACTH number was 126. It was after that when my vet told me the numbers fluctuate wildly in the fall, and it would be a good idea to do the test again in the spring. Now I wonder why we bothered to do the test in the fall at all... other than so I could spend an extra $117 for fun.

BUT, that's not important now. I'm super, super happy and while I know I'm still going to have to watch her weight and keep an eye on her hooves, at least she's not pre-Cushings and won't need medication.... a muzzle perhaps, but not meds. A good day!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mmmm... Raw Chicken!

Rylee's raw food diet has been going spectacularly well. She's been on raw for a week now, and has had solid poo for over 4 days! I haven't seen solid poo in over a month, and it's the best thing ever. I've never seen her get so excited at feeding time either... apparently, raw chicken is GOOD!

This past Friday I met a friend of mine at a local pet store to get some raw meaty bones, some treats that might work for Rylee, and also a rabbit she murdered butchered for us. (I kid, I kid... thank you so much for the bunny!) I put a few pieces of him in with her food Saturday morning, but Rylee wasn't interested in the meat at all. She pulled them out of her bowl, continued to eat her chicken, and then went back to sniffing them once it was all she had left. I tried some different tactics to get her to at least try it, but ended up freezing the meat instead. My friend mentioned sometimes the meat smells a bit too fresh, and after being frozen they take to it better. So maybe I can try again shortly... I'm hoping that after she's had some meats other than chicken, she might be less picky.

It's just wrong when your dog will eat rabbit turds, but not rabbits. Just sayin'...

So the raw adventure continues. The next protein I'm going to try is beef, and hopefully she'll do okay with that as well. I'm doubting she's allergic to proteins, but you never know, so I'm adding new things in very slowly, and one at a time.

I ended up getting her dehydrated (or freeze-dried?) chicken liver pieces for treats. I figured I had better stick with the same critter, and get her something with just one ingredient. There are a lot of treats out there that say 'grain free' or 'gluten free', but the ingredients still made me worry. Since when isn't rice or barley or oats considered a grain? The gluten free stuff still had starches and 'flour', so I opted to go with the liver instead.

We're very happy to be a diarrhea free household and I'd like to keep it that way!

Here's my sweet girl modeling her new Ruffwear Approach pack. Once she gets a little older (around 18 months) I'll start putting stuff in it, and hopefully we'll go hiking. For now she just carries it around empty so she can get used to it and learn NOT chew on the side compartments.

But I like to chew on EVERYTHING.  :)
Lilly had a visit from the vet Monday and all went well. I always like to split up her vaccines, so she's coming out again at the end of the month to finish those and also float Lilly's teeth. We took blood for the insulin/ACTH test again, so I'm anxious about what those results will show. The vet did say she was happy with Lilly's weight and she thought she looked really good. Once we get the test results back, I'll have to come up with a game plan for the summer months. No point in speculating until I know if there's an issue.

Good times, good times. :)