13 years ago I made friends with the most mischievous, hard-headed, but adorable Redbone Coonhound… I named him Geronimo. He was 10 weeks old when I brought him home. We did a spit-shake… lol. I spit in my hand, he spit in his paw and we shook on it. It was my promise to him that we would be together forever. Of course I’m joking… well, just a little bit. From that very first day we were velcro’d and being self-employed that meant 24-7.
Geronimo grew to become the most magnificent coonhound that I had ever seen. At the height of his prime he was 64 pounds of pure nitroglycerine… and the dog could hunt! It was like poetry the way he moved thru the woods, but from very early on in his puppyhood I knew something was terribly wrong.
Geronimo began to have “hunger-pukes”. He would graze grass to make himself vomit. Out would come a huge frothy pile of yellow-green bile and grass. This episode would then be followed by a bout of diarrhea. So, off to vet we would go and they would do a fecal and blood exam (which always came out negative) and they would put him on metronidazole (Flagyl) suggest we change food brands (kibble) and send us on our way. Over the years these episodes became more frequent and more intense and it was always the same drill with the vet(s)… over time I fired three of them (quack-quack-quack). Along the way I spent literally thousands of dollars on tests to try to determine what plagued him… complete blood panel workup, tested for Addison’s Disease, Cushing’s Disease, Thyroid, x-rays… and on and on. Everything always came back negative. I always wanted to put Geronimo on a raw diet, but the vets told me not to. Obviously you’ve heard the same otherwise you wouldn’t be here. Anyway, about when Geronimo turned 8 years old, the episodes had become so frequent and intense he lost 12 pounds. He was suffering from malnutrition (mal-absorption). He had yeast infections in his ears, goopy eyes. Everything going in was coming out in the same form. The vets had long before wanted to put him on Prednisone, but I had refused. Sadly, we reached the point where I had no choice… his entire digestive track was on fire. All during this time, I was doing a tremendous amount of research and came to the conclusion that Geronimo had food allergies. I suspect largely because he was fed kibble much of his entire life.
I discovered several herbal medications along the way, applied them and they helped tremendously. I changed him over to a raw diet pretty much cold turkey, but he struggled and struggled with the transition. I found a holistic vet who assisted me, who understood exactly what Geronimo was going thru. After being weaned off the Prednisone he gained back all the weight he had lost and even put on a few extra pounds. We managed to heal his “leaky-gut” and continued to work thru an exclusionary diet, so I could find novel proteins that wouldn’t trigger an allergic reaction, but we continued to have dietary obstacles. The raw food was proving to be just too much for him. He needed a limited diet (with a variety of proteins we could switch around) and it had to be bland. The conclusion: I could cook it, or I could buy it canned… venison, rabbit, wild boar, enu.
Here’s what I learned… You can influence the way a river runs, but you cannot change its course. I fed Geronimo cooked when I could and the best of the canned when I couldn’t. He lived happily without any further gastric incidents for the remainder of his life. I continued to give Geronimo meaty “recreational” bones and he had beautiful teeth, never needed to have the vet clean them.
I now have a new dog and her name is Millie, she’s a rescue. She’s young, healthy and strong. We’re in the process of transitioning over to raw and so far with the exception of a few missteps (entirely my fault) everything is going as it should… but Millie is about 22 months old.