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Hello there :wave: I'm new here but have a serious question that I know could be misconstrued as trying to stir up trouble with the raw feeders, so let me just say that I have been feeding raw on/off since 2002, and even when we were doing kibble, supplemented with things like pork necks for teeth. I've been a huge proponent of natural feeding, and have no desire to go back to the crap in a sack (a.k.a. kibble).

That being said, I've been back to 100% raw since 2014, and seem to be hitting a few stumbling blocks. And they all seem to be related to systemic overgrowth of bacteria and/or bacterial infections.

First were runny eyes in an older female when she never had trouble with it before - this started overnight and was really, really problematic, in that the eyes were leaking profusely and all the way down to the muzzle. More recently, two other younger dogs developed the same problem, but not as bad. Two or three months after switching back to raw, a then 9yo dog started having intermittent seizures. No history of epilepsy or seizure disorders in the bloodline, and never gave any indications of seizures or auras before that time.

Now, I had a dog with idiopathic epilepsy about 15yrs ago, and raw was definitely the catalyst that caused him to start having auras, petit mal seizures, and inexplicable, sudden fearful temperament problems before the grand mals started coming later on. I remember a few weeks after starting him on raw, this incredibly outgoing, hammy puppy literally almost hanged himself on his leash trying to get away from a little girl and her father that were passing in front of us. And from the first time he was fed a pork neck, I noticed him acting very strangely, but had absolutely no idea what was going on (in hindsight, I'd say aura or very, very, very mild seizure). We thought he was just excited at the time. He was also not the last dog I suspected may have developed inexplicable fearfulness that was not present before going raw.

The latest problem, though, is an 8yo dog just diagnosed with an enlarged prostate. He's been taking homeopathic meds for the past week, and is looking better, but blood test results indicated his white blood cell count was elevated, and the most likely cause of the prostatitis is a bacterial infection. Not surprising, since he's had a fever on/off for weeks.

That caused me to reconsider what happened to another dog (I have 5 Beagles at present, if anyone is wondering) about two months ago. Out of the blue he stopped eating, but the Vet could find no cause. No blockage, no pancreatitis, nothing. Except that his white blood cell count was elevated and liver enzymes were "off". A round of antibiotics set him straight, even cleared up his ear infection. But. Once he was off the antibiotics, the ear infection came back in about a week. I'm still battling it today.

And then there's the teeth.

Raw fed dogs are supposed to have clean teeth, but dogs who had pearly whites before switching back to raw now have rotted, disgusting messes in their mouths :eek: I've been forced to use a tooth scaler on the 3yo, and started brushing everyone with baking soda and peroxide. And to be honest, while a few of my dogs over the years did have improved teeth after switching to raw, many of them actually developed dental problems that were never there before.

On a hunch, a few days ago I began to treat every dog in the household except the one on prostate meds with 250-500 mg of amoxicillin, and already I'm noticing differences. Runny eyes have cleared up entirely or almost entirely. The dog with seizures seems to have had a boost in appetite (he was a picky eater before, and refused chicken unless starving), the two dogs with ear infections are showing improvement, and the oldest is drinking/urinating less.

It would seem everyone has some outward sign of maybe not bacterial infection, but bacterial overload??? I always freeze and wash meats carefully before feeding, and buy from economical but reliable sources. It may be that the dogs had a bacterial overload from some other cause. I honestly don't know at this point, but I'd be very interested if any other raw feeders experienced similar issues, and how did you treat them? Has anyone gone from raw to cooked? I'm seriously considering trying homecooked for a trial period to see how everyone does.

Thanks for any advice or suggestions!
 

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It sounds like you have a lot of issues going on with your dogs, non of which sound raw related. Sounds to me like some of it is environmental type allergies, and as far as the teeth go, what types of bone are you giving? What different proteins are you feeding and what are the sources? What you are describing about the teeth makes me think user error with the raw feeding.

Raw isn't going to cause any sort of "infections" in itself. Salmonella COULD be an issue, but that is in dogs who are already sick somehow with poor immune systems from the start. So, all these "infections" you seem to have lead me to believe you have underlying health problems going on before raw ever came into play. Healthy dogs don't have problems with bacteria.

List a general menu of meals your dogs are getting each day.
 

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What @naturalfeddogs said. A healthy canine immune system is perfectly equipped to handle the bacteria in raw meat. The issues are caused by a dysfunctional, out of whack immune system. You need to address that. As for the teeth, if you are feeding the appropriate bones for clean teeth, then you might want to try the homeopathic remedy Fragaria vesca, I have found it helped my dog's teeth.
 

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Sounds like you've been through it... But I would definitely suggest Jenny's advice and lay out your detailed feeding guidelines.

What medications are your dogs on at the moment? Are your dogs neutered? And you suggest you're getting meats from economical but reliable sources?

Considering it appears that all the dogs are suffering the same fates - it could be something they are being fed - or something external they were getting into.


This pup has been raw fed for nearly 2 years now. Fed cooked for a 2 month period as the vet wanted to do a food trial. Still an issue cause you can't cook the bones. We made a simple soup for him, packed it up in individual servings and froze it. No major change except for larger poop.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sounds to me like some of it is environmental type allergies, and as far as the teeth go, what types of bone are you giving? What different proteins are you feeding and what are the sources?
I did consider allergies as a possible cause, but not sure if antibiotics, rather than steroids, would clear up or at least improve on some of these issues :confused:

All the meat I buy is from a supermarket which I get my own meat from, and I think, in general, their quality is very good. I've never seen those colossal dinosaur chicken legs or "enhanced" meats at this particular store, and on occasion, I've fed the dogs and have myself eaten fish from this source. So I think, for the most part, they're trustworthy. Been using them for several years, but I also go to another, closer store for pork necks, and had two other stores, both ethnic supermarkets, when I originally started feeding raw.

The base of their menu is chicken leg quarters, followed by .99lb pork roast which I cut up for myself, as well. Organ meat is usually beef liver, but I alternate between beef kidney and chicken hearts and/or gizzards. Offal is fed 2-3x weekly, and usually not as a whole meal. I occasionally feed ground beef, and give pork necks once a week. Supplements are egg yolks and sometimes a teaspoon sized chunk of butter for extra Omega 3.

About twice a month they get turkey necks and/or lamb ribs, but I don't consider it a significant part of the diet. I also will occasionally give leftovers that consist of chicken, veg (sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli) or pork bone broth...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What medications are your dogs on at the moment? Are your dogs neutered? And you suggest you're getting meats from economical but reliable sources?

Considering it appears that all the dogs are suffering the same fates - it could be something they are being fed - or something external they were getting into.
The only meds anyone is taking right now is the 8yo for the prostate condition, which he's being treated homeopathically for with saw palmetto and small amounts of ginger for the digestive upsets. Everyone else is just taking plain amoxicillin (Fish Mox), and the "little issues" that have been compiling with them seem to be clearing up on it.

The dog with seizures does not have them frequently enough (one or two bad ones every 3-5 months) to warrant taking any medication. the Vet initially though brain tumor, but that seems to have been ruled out. I've also had over ten years experience with this bloodline, and seizures from any cause has been something they are blessedly free of. He started having them right before he turned 10yrs, and that does seem late even for late onset ideopathic epilepsy.

Everyone is intact except for the older bitch who originally had the eye infection (and now has it pretty bad in the ears, too). I run rabbit dogs and also used to show in conformation, so all except two of the dogs I've mentioned were neutered.
 

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I did consider allergies as a possible cause, but not sure if antibiotics, rather than steroids, would clear up or at least improve on some of these issues :confused:

All the meat I buy is from a supermarket which I get my own meat from, and I think, in general, their quality is very good. I've never seen those colossal dinosaur chicken legs or "enhanced" meats at this particular store, and on occasion, I've fed the dogs and have myself eaten fish from this source. So I think, for the most part, they're trustworthy. Been using them for several years, but I also go to another, closer store for pork necks, and had two other stores, both ethnic supermarkets, when I originally started feeding raw.

The base of their menu is chicken leg quarters, followed by .99lb pork roast which I cut up for myself, as well. Organ meat is usually beef liver, but I alternate between beef kidney and chicken hearts and/or gizzards. Offal is fed 2-3x weekly, and usually not as a whole meal. I occasionally feed ground beef, and give pork necks once a week. Supplements are egg yolks and sometimes a teaspoon sized chunk of butter for extra Omega 3.

About twice a month they get turkey necks and/or lamb ribs, but I don't consider it a significant part of the diet. I also will occasionally give leftovers that consist of chicken, veg (sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli) or pork bone broth...
Antibiotics and steroids aren't helping with any of it. In fact, all they are doing is covering up the problem, rather that cute or fix anything. They are also a source of digestive upset.

Butter doesn't need to be fed. That's not a source of omegas, but it does tend to be heavy in salt. And even if not, the omegas aren't there. It could also be acting as a laxative as well. Substitute that for fish or krill oil.

It sounds like you also need more red meats.

How much are you feeding of each of everything? Too much at a time can cause digestive issues, as can too much organ at once.

Veggies aren't needed. Dogs aren't designed to be able to easily or effeciantly digest them.

What protocol did you use when you started raw with these dogs?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Antibiotics and steroids aren't helping with any of it. In fact, all they are doing is covering up the problem, rather that cute or fix anything. They are also a source of digestive upset.
No one is on steroids atm, but the antibiotics are clearing up the eye discharge and ear infections. My reasoning is that since the white blood cell count of at least two dogs was elevated, it's the bacteria overload causing the ear & eye problems. Stools have been fine, but I do plan on giving probiotics once the course of antibiotics is finished.


Butter doesn't need to be fed. That's not a source of omegas, but it does tend to be heavy in salt. And even if not, the omegas aren't there. It could also be acting as a laxative as well. Substitute that for fish or krill oil.
I use sodium free butter, although with such a small piece so infrequently fed, I don't think a little bit of salt would be harmful, especially since it's a required nutrient and they're pretty active even in hot weather. But it definitely is a source of Omega 3s, iodine, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, CLA, and is helpful for joints. I will try omitting it just to see if there's any difference, though.

It sounds like you also need more red meats.
Beef on a regular basis is not do-able on my budget, so I stick with the liver and pork, which is technically not red, but not white meat, either.


How much are you feeding of each of everything? Too much at a time can cause digestive issues, as can too much organ at once.
Smaller dogs usually get a drumstick, cut up back or small thigh with offal and then an even lighter meal at night. No weight issues, so I think the amount is right, and no one has any problems with digestive upsets, except for the 8yo w/ prostate problems, which is begin caused by the enlarged prostate itself. The only issue I've been having are ones that seem to trace back to some sort of bacterial source.

What protocol did you use when you started raw with these dogs?
Back in 2002, I started out with "BARF", then quickly ditched that and its high bone content for something similar to a prey model diet. That's basically the menu I'm using today. Mostly muscle meat, then bone, then offal, then "extras".
 

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The only thing I don't like about your feeding is the pork. Do you deep freeze it to get rid of possible T contamination?
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Reread this thread a couple of times...

Allergy or intolerance would explain some of the symptoms, but not the teeth. That would generally be caused by some severe deficiency in the diet.

Seems like everything else is ok - maybe a vitamin/mineral supplement is in order for a while?

What offal are you feeding?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The only thing I don't like about your feeding is the pork. Do you deep freeze it to get rid of possible T contamination?
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No... I do freeze the pork for a few days before feeding but don't use a deep freezer, and sometimes don't freeze the necks at all. I hadn't considered trichinosis - or other possible pathogens from a specific meat, so thank you very much for bringing that to my attention. How long would you suggest it should be frozen for? Or would pork better cooked/not being fed at all?
 

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I deep freeze for 3 weeks to be safe. I believe cooking removes some of the benefit of feeding raw. No need to freeze turkey necks - my dogs' favorite.
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I deep freeze for 3 weeks to be safe. I believe cooking removes some of the benefit of feeding raw. No need to freeze turkey necks - my dogs' favorite.
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Thank you! I wasn't freezing pork anywhere near that long, maybe 4-5 days at most.

I also just did a quick internet search about pathogens in raw pork, and the first article I came across is pretty horrifying. Tapeworm parasites in the brain give epilepsy | ScienceNordic

It's also interesting because the link between pork triggering epileptic seizures was always very clear with my now departed bluetick, but we always thought the underlying cause was an allergy or intolerance irritating his brain. I'm not so sure now. Think I'll lay off pork for a while, or go with the deep freezing method until we can find some replacement.

If I can't get red meat at a reasonable price, would a good substitute be the beef liver or other organ meats (beef heart, tripe, etc.) with something like fish for variety?
 

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Make sure you have your dogs checked for a T infestation. Fish is great except salmon unless deep frozen. IMO dogs really need red meat now and then. Get raw meaty bones from your butcher or cheap ground.
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No... I do freeze the pork for a few days before feeding but don't use a deep freezer, and sometimes don't freeze the necks at all. I hadn't considered trichinosis - or other possible pathogens from a specific meat, so thank you very much for bringing that to my attention. How long would you suggest it should be frozen for? Or would pork better cooked/not being fed at all?
Trichinosis is commonly in wild boar, not USDA farm raised meat. The possibility of that is very low. Over ten years, I can't even tell you how much pork I have fed never frozen. Unless its wild boar, I wouldn't worry. I know this because I called our state vet, after talking to a game warden and they both explained the whole wild boar vs. Domestic pig deal.

Have you fed any wild caught salmon or related fish from the pacific Northwest? That can have salmon poisoning. If farmed, its fine.

I don't remember, did you have any tests done for coccidia or giardia? Those are environmental type parasites. Something a vet can test for.
 

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No... I do freeze the pork for a few days before feeding but don't use a deep freezer, and sometimes don't freeze the necks at all. I hadn't considered trichinosis - or other possible pathogens from a specific meat, so thank you very much for bringing that to my attention. How long would you suggest it should be frozen for? Or would pork better cooked/not being fed at all?
Freezing will not kill trichinosis. Read my other post above as well regarding trichinosis. It doesn't affect all pork.
 
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