Home > My Journey To Raw
Author: Julie Falanga
Feb 17th 2015


We got a new puppy, a Bullmastiff, and fell head over heels in love with her. One day, she began getting hot spots, mainly around the back of her neck and on her head. At first, I thought it was just a freak thing that was happening, but quickly began to realize (after new hot spots would appear every time one would begin to heal) that my baby had allergies. I wasn't sure what I was going to do to handle this, at first. My initial thought was, let’s go to the vet, but talked myself out of that. I didn't want them pumping my baby full of anti-histamines and prednisone, if this was something minor she could heal from on her own. I had been reading up on raw for many, many years, but never jumped into full on 100% raw feeding. I am a reader, by nature. Love reading new things and learning. I felt as though I had a pretty good handle on RAW feeding, oh boy, was I wrong! So the day came, after discussing options with my husband, we agreed that our sweet baby, Phoenix, would benefit from a 100% raw fed diet. So "D-Day" came...we went to our local grocer and purchased about 60 lbs of raw chicken quarters, you know, the kind that comes in the 10 lb bags. I double checked the sodium, and made sure that all were within parameters for raw. I remember thinking, this isn't going to be so bad, and can be do-able. I figured we were off to a good start, finding our quarters on sale for $0.69/lb. I knew chicken would be my only protein for a while, until she adjusted.

So we cracked open our first bag and began raw immediately that night. I had already calculated out her daily amounts to feed. From my reading (remember, I've read a ton already and had it all figured out...ha!) I knew to calculate percentages based on her adult weight. She was to get 1.3lbs twice daily. Pulled out my kitchen scale, precisely measured, and off we go...our first raw meal. So her first raw meal didn't quite go over quite like I envisioned in my mind. My girl had troubles with eating her quarters, at first. She liked the raw, but seemed as if she didn't know how to chew it like it needed to be chewed, before swallowing. She tried several times to swallow a huge hunk of meat/bone at a time (she would gag it back up and try again), because she was new and had trouble figuring it all out. Okay, so my confident nerves of steel are slowly dwindling, because things didn't quite go as I had envisioned. I chalked this one up to an inexperienced raw fed dog, and decided...we'll try again in the morning. Saturday morning came, she ate her 1.3 lbs of food, and things were looking up. Our morning meal went better than our evening meal. We got this, right? Then came the afternoon...and, finally, her first RAW fed poop.

Now, from all my readings, raw feeders put this whole poop thing on a golden pedestal. Poop can tell us just about everything we want to know in a raw fed dog. Her first poop happened and "Houston! We have a problem!" My girl had loose stools. I was still okay at this point, because I knew a diet change would create some digestive upset. I knew her body had to rid itself of the toxins that had built up from kibble....so we're just going through that normal process, right? Well, once the poop started, it only went downhill from there. I was still okay at this point; we're still adjusting and detoxing. So our next meals went over pretty well, she seemed to be getting the hang of things a little better...but our poops were getting looser and looser. I've been a member to several raw feeding groups on face book and through various groups forums. I decided...let's go to the experts on this one for advice. I posted on my face book forum, to see if any fellow raw feeders had advice on the, now liquid, poops. My first attempt wasn't all that helpful. I did follow some advice on pulling off the skin and fat to see if that would help. We went through Sunday's feeding fatless and skinless on our chicken quarters, I thought, this'll take a bit to clear up, but we're going to do this!

Monday came; I went off to work, making sure to let her out to potty a couple more times than usual (so she wouldn't have an accident in her crate). When I got home from work that afternoon, it was a crap-tastic experience, to say the least. My girl had liquid cannon-butt, as seasoned raw feeders call it. I quickly take my girl outside, let her potty, and get her some water (with bone broth added). We came in and began the clean up process. A bath was first on the order of our ever growing list of things to do on this "WONDERFUL" new raw diet. (Sense my sarcasm here?) Finally after cleaning her crate, my walls, the area rug near her kennel, and the floor....all order had been restored in my life. I, once again, got onto my social media network of friends and typed another desperate plea for help....my confidence in raw feeding had dwindled to NONE, and I was ready to fill a bowl of kibble and hand it over to my girl, apologizing profusely, and making that dreadful trip to my vet...to explain..."What had happened was...". This time around, I got a handful of advice, mainly to add pumpkin, pro-bios, deworm her, fast her, feed her....you name it. I am now feeling more overwhelmed than ever, and began really questioning my decision to feed raw. All of a sudden, that little ding happened and a notification popped up that I had a new private message. Thinking it was a family member messaging me about summer vacation or such, I was like, let me take a break from this crap storm I'm living...I'll check my messages. Lo and behold, a message from someone I had never met, never talked to before was waiting on me. I was intrigued. I opened the message, it was from Carol Turner. I began reading her message to me and I think the clouds parted, rain stopped and the angels began to sing. FINALLY! My RAW Feeding guardian Angel had arrived. I remember laughing at her message, telling me if some of these folks had kids, she was scared for their survival! She informed me that she had successfully been raw feeding for over 32 years and if I would like help, she would be more than happy to help me work through this and get my girl on the right track. I said to myself, what have I got to lose....she's already pooping puddles, if she can't help me, we go back to kibble and figure it out from there. Carol asked me tons of questions. She said, "I've never NOT been able to figure out a dog, some of them just take some time and deciphering what works best for them". So after our question/answer session...it was determined that I was feeding her too much (even though I was feeding according to the guidelines) and that the chicken I bought, even though it was only 85mg of sodium per serving, that it was still coated in a brine solution (even though the bags said nothing about enhancements, broth solutions, etc), to preserve the chicken in the bag to keep it fresh for weeks while it waits on the shelves to sell. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking, 85mg of sodium is within parameters, this lady here....has me going out to buy MORE of what I already have, ugh. This RAW feeding is becoming a pain in my rear. 85mg is 85 mg, right? Carol explained some dogs can handle a little sodium; obviously your girl isn't one of them. I asked her, do I just need to throw away all this chicken I have? She said no, hang onto it. I have a fellow raw feeder friend locally, who bought it. Her dogs aren't as sensitive as my girl is. Carol advised I find chicken with even less sodium, no enhancements. I went to my local grocery store (this was all that was open) and after emailing pics of what was available, I found something that still had sodium, but less than what I currently had. I fed her some chicken backs for dinner that night and called my local meat market for a bulk box of chicken quarters the next day after work.

I've been in contact with Carol throughout this process, thinking, this lady probably thinks I'm the world’s biggest idiot (I felt like one), and she's probably saying, "What have I gotten myself into with this lady?" Carol was ever so kind, and answered every question without hesitation. After about 2 days on our "new chicken", her poop went from liquid and water, to pudding, finally to soft serve, then a nugget with mucous and a little loose, to....WAIT for it...a perfectly normal little nugget. Who knew, I felt like dancing in my front yard, can you imagine the concern from my neighbors? Why was I SO EXCITED over POOP? My husband has spent more time laughing at me over all this than anything. I'm all out in the front yard with my flashlight and phone (to take picture of my "little prizes" along the way to share with my new friend who LOVES poop too). I recall, sending that first poop picture, Carol didn't immediately respond, she was busy with chores. I didn't know this kind friend of mine had a life other than helping me with my RAW issues and admiring my poop pictures. I messaged her again, apologizing, in case my poop pics had upset her. She replied with hysterical laughter, telling me my pics of poop were not the first, nor would they be the last, of the thousands of poop pics she had ever viewed. My husband has lovingly nicknamed Carol, "Your Poop Friend".

So now we've finally gotten her squared away in the poop department, my confidence is building, now what. Carol says, now we must add more protein. I was like WHAT?! We just got this girl on track and you want me to mess it all up? She said, we are going to do this slowly and steadily, as not to upset your girl's digestive system. I thought, okay, she got me out of my poop predicament the first time around, surely after her many years of raw feeding, this lady knows a thing or two, let's give it a go. Pork was next on our list. I bought pork tenderloin to start her on. I gave her 1 ounce of pork to 14 ozs of chicken. Yes, we decreased her food to 15 ounces per meal. I did this for a day with no "backfire", so to speak. So I then decided to up her pork portion by about a half an ounce each time and continue watching her poops. She had a bit of looser stools when we first added pork, but nothing compared to her cannon butt poops. Carol advised me that some mucous on her poop was normal when switching, just to watch her closely. We worked our way up the chart on the amount of pork and I got her to about 4 1/2 ounces of pork before I started seeing loose stools. Carol said this is an immature raw tummy and her stomach acids will get stronger with time, and she'll be able to handle it like a pro, but just leave her where she's at for now.

Now comes the time to add in my 3rd protein. Turkey was next on the list. I searched and searched for turkey (it's hard to come by when it's not Thanksgiving). Carol, my knight in shining armor, once again came to my rescue. She suggested I join the Carnivore Carry Out TN and place an order. The cost of turkey here, compared to what they had available, was unbelievable. I got my order in and picked up my first delivery. I'm ready to go now, right?
Well, I got home and pulled a turkey tail and a turkey heart off the "Block of meat" I brought home. I gave her a frozen turkey tail and a frozen turkey heart along with her usual chicken. She powered right through the chicken and turkey heart, but seemed to have a few troubles with the turkey tail. I watched her closely, as I always do, and I heard her crunching her way through it and began to relax a little, thinking she would be good. But, I continued to watch her. I am watching my girl and notice her stumble a bit, I thought "goofy dog, she just tripped, she's so into her raw". Next thing I know, my girl stiffened up then collapsed on my front porch. I was terrified, but knew I needed to remain calm and help my girl. I held her head up and felt of her throat from the outside to feel where it was blocking her airway. I applied gentle pressure then released. I opened her mouth and ran my hand down her throat until I could feel the lodged turkey tail. I began applying pressure and releasing (much like massaging gently), until I felt the pressure of my girl's teeth on the hand that was down the back of her throat. Her eyes started to focus, and she seemed a bit confused for a little bit, but suddenly she jumped up and began looking for the remainder of her meal and acted as though nothing had ever happened. Now, I didn't add this tid bit of info in here to scare anyone off, I'm still a raw feeder and a firm believer in raw. I added this info to tell you two things:

1. KNOW THY DOG, when selecting cuts/pieces of meat you are going to feed your baby. Select appropriately for the size/breed of dog you have, and if ever there is a question, ASK an experienced raw feeder, before making the same mistake I did. It was a mistake that could have cost me my girl's life...thankfully my situation turned out differently.

2. NEVER, EVER leave your dog unattended, not even for one second. This all happened so quickly to my sweet girl, and could have been deadly.
Now, with all the scary stuff out of the way, My girl (almost 4 weeks in) has been successfully introduced to Chicken, Pork, small amounts of chicken liver, and now turkey....and the best part...NORMAL poops. GO TEAM RAW! Right? I will continue to feed her the new turkey protein for 5-10 more days, watching for any allergy symptoms, before I introduce a 4th protein into the rotation. My next protein will be duck, followed by beef.

I have to say, throughout all my troubles of feeding raw, I'm hooked. The difference in my girl in 3 1/2 weeks is unbelievable. She got one new hot spot the day after I started raw and another new one about 5 days after I started raw. This gives you an idea of how quickly these things pop up on her. So far, for 2 1/2 weeks, she has NO NEW Hot Spots. Pre-Raw, my poor girl was so itchy. Whenever we would just rub our hands down her back to pet her, her legs would just collapse out from under her because she was so itchy. Almost 4 weeks into raw, that has stopped. Since being on raw, she's gone through periods of smelling like a bag of Lay's Fritos chips, and shedding more than normal and feeling like she had a "dirty film" covering her. All of this is part of detoxing; the skin is the biggest organ in the body and is usually the fastest way that the body clears itself of all the toxins put into them from kibble. I took pictures of my girl's hot spot to show Carol and took another pic ONE week later; I couldn't believe the difference that ONE, I repeat ONE, week had made. Her hair had almost completely grown back in that one spot, in a WEEK! She seems like she feels so much better already, she has more energy during playtime and is more relaxed and chilled in the house. All in all, I would consider us a successful raw feeding story. We've just had our bumps along the way. I am ever so grateful for such a kind hearted and knowledgeable lady sending me that message the day I was ready to give up on raw. I can say, honestly, without Carol's help, I probably wouldn't be sitting here typing this story today. My girl would have been put back on kibble and probably taking her antibiotics, anti-histamines, and prednisone to clear her skin up.

I must say, the only thing Carol asked of me, in return of her help...pay it forward. Help a fellow raw member who is struggling in their journey into raw. I have been a good student (I think) along the way and have already offered advice of things I've learned so far. I still have lots to learn, but I am more than happy and more than willing to share what I do know.

Sometimes, we as humans make some of the simplest things so complicated. Raw is not as complicated as it seems, you just have to figure out the puzzle pieces. Thank you Carol Turner for helping me put the pieces together correctly in my puzzle. I will forever be grateful.