I was going to call this blog a journey with a fussy, itchy dog, which would have probably resonated with a lot more people but Leroy is Leroy, and everything that makes him Leroy is my journey as well.
The hand feeding, frequent walking away from his food bowl, reluctance to eat, followed by the unending hovering of scratched out hair, the knots formed from chewing, gnawing, the red skin, the endless examining for non existent parasites, searching articles for answers, and the stress! I think the stress was mine and I don’t think Leroy was that bothered, but why doesn’t a dog get excited for his food?
I had never experienced this before, was he just fussy? I have been around dogs all my life, having a variety of breeds and I don’t pander to fussy eaters. It’s always been take it or leave it, but this was different, he just didn’t seem to have an appetite. I read up on fussy eaters and anorexic dogs, they do exist, but maybe not in the way that we would think. He didn’t look in the mirror and think ‘my bum looks big’, but he did have reluctance to eat even treats.
He was eating less and less, and when he tried to eat he seemed unable to, he’d just walk away from food altogether. The solution was apparently easy... “make food smell good” but anyone with a fussy dog knows that’s easier said than done. So the myriad of additives started, gravy, sardines, various sprinkles, liver, cheese, anything he showed an interest in was added to his meal.
We tried every bit of advice that was given, and for every four meals offered he would eat around one.
Conversations at home centred around what Leroy had eaten that day. He wasn’t skin and bones, so we thought perhaps he was getting the nutrition he needed? But the scratching continued, and allergy tests revealed the typical triggers - chicken, grain and a few other bizarre irritants like lobster and petrol!
A diet from the vets was prescribed for four weeks, and we fed him nothing else, deep joy! Some weight loss followed and hand feeding was the only way to get him to bite. While looking at the prescription kibble, I remembered the advice in the article for anorexic dogs to ‘make food smell good’, but this had no odour.
The scratching continued, and although it wasn’t horrific it wasn’t normal. When he chewed, it was like he had taken a pair of scissors and just cut a lump of his hair off! The vet then prescribed immune suppressant tablets, and the itching stopped. It was AMAZING! Almost overnight, he stopped scratching and chewing. I was thrilled.
He was 3-years old and we had the answer to all the scratching. It meant he would be on immune suppressants for the rest of his life, but the excitement lasted all of 24 hours. I needed answers, so back onto Google, and I hit the books. Skin and coat - what do they need to be healthy? How do I support his immune system? What does he need and how do I help him use it?
The body and its systems I likened to a wall, and each brick needed a solid foundation to support the one above. If one part of the wall is broken, then it affects the stability of the whole structure. I was after immune support nutrition, no nasties, just great food. Yet the constant at the back of my mind was always, will he eat it?! Then, enter RAWGEOUS.
I didn’t expect a company or individual to be as committed to my dog's health as I was, however a few phone conversations followed with Rawgeous and I felt the science that was easy to understand and justifications followed. I wasn’t the easiest of customers, I challenged and questioned, then I tried their food. To be honest though, he wasn’t that keen and would repeat his one meal in four ratio. Just eat it, I thought!!
I persisted as I knew this food gave him a good chance of supporting his immune system and would allow him to flourish, he just had to eat it. A phone call later along with a video showing me how to cook it… and we cracked it! The same piece of advice came back “make food smell good‘’ and it does, it is literally good enough for us to eat. Within three months Leroy was off all immune suppressant medication, saving me a staggering £400 every three months. His immune system now has the ability to support itself, and he now EATS, which is such a simple but JOYFUL thing to see.
Leroy now eats three out of four meals put out for him. He also shows interest in the food preparation, and although we sit with him while he is eating there’s no more hand feeding. So to anyone with a ‘fussy dog’ (I hate that term), because I know it can be so much more than that. Getting a balanced nutrition is a huge challenge, so for anyone with a dog, be it fit, healthy, young or old, I can’t recommend this food enough.
We all want the best for our dogs but every dog is different. The only real downside was that the transitioning to raw took a little while with a slightly runny tummy, and with Briards that’s not the most pleasant thing! We actually cook ours, and it's quick and simple. All you need is some extra fridge and freezer space, and we use plastic containers when defrosting and we store his meals at the bottom of the fridge.
This has been my journey with Leroy! I’ve just heard my husband shout from the kitchen “Leroy’s eaten his breakfast!“ (with no added medication)... it sounds silly that we still feel the need to announce it every day, but I guess it goes to show how much of a part it played in our lives, and how much head space it took up. Just know if you’re experiencing the same then you are not alone, you will get there. It’s the simple pleasures in life that keep you smiling! Thank you, Rawgeous.