May I please introduce you to Ms. Cleo:
Ms. Cleo came into our lives about a year and a half ago, (although she is 4yrs old – ish), after we adopted her from the Pasadena Humane Society.
My BF had been talking about getting a dog on and off for the last year. We looked at adoption sites, but just browsed. One morning, my guy IM’s me if I would send him a link to the dogs at the pound, which I did. Ten minutes later, I was sent back a link that said, “this is my dog.” I clicked and saw this black dog with enormous ears, staring at me.
I called the pound and found out she was available. My BF was busy canceling his after lunch appointments. By 1pm, we were heading out to Pasadena. By 2pm, we were driving back… with a dog in the car.
We all adjusted to the new living situation with ease.
About two weeks in, I went to pet her and she gave the slightest wince. Later that night, I saw her rub on the couch in such a way that I turned to the BF and said: “She has an ear infection.”
Little did I know this was the beginning of a 9-month journey…
Yes, Cleo did have an ear infection. We got it cleared up and not a month later she had another one, and so on. At some point, the vet couldn’t see her eardrum anymore and had concerns. We had to anesthetize her so they could really get in there and clean it out, but lo and behold, nothing was really working. The ear infection would come back.
We were in this constant battle of trying to ward off the ear infection and treating it once it arrived again. In a matter of hours, our girl would be great and then we’d look at her and she’d be tilting her head in pain.
We would have to give her steroids and antibiotics and flush her ear and on and on… all of us hated it. She was in pain. We couldn’t explain to her what we were doing and that it was supposed to be good for her.
Anyone who has had a sick animal knows what this is like.
At some point, our vet discovered a mass in the inner ear, that she couldn’t get to and she was still concerned about not being able to see the eardrum, that we were referred to a doggie dermatologist.
Long story short… after doing another surgical procedure (and removing the mass and checking the eardrum was fine), he confirmed that chronic ear infections are due to allergies and for dogs, the most common allergy is chicken or beef, but could be anything from wheat to corn to pork to environmental.
Then he said:
“We need to try Cleo as a vegan and see what happens”
Needless to say, both of us were a bit surprised. We both lived an animal free lifestyle, but didn’t know it was acceptable for dogs to be this way.
Now, before someone reads this and decides to be critical and tell me that dogs must live on a omnivorous diet and they must have animal products, etc… first, my research has shown that it is simply not true. But, more importantly, I don’t care, because even so, my dog cannot have animal products of any kind. Period. End of story.
(I should add that I have been apprehensive about sharing her story. We, excitedly, participated in a story for CNN about vegan dogs and after it was published, I was bombarded with hate mail. I am not preaching that all dogs must be vegan. Simply, that my dog must be vegan.)
We have very systematically allergy tested my dog for everything from chicken, to beef, to cheese, to eggs, to wheat, to corn, to pork, to fish, etc. etc. etc… and the truth is this:
Ms. Cleo is allergic to ALL animal products.
As soon as we switched her to an animal free diet, she has not once had an ear infection, nor her occasional skin issue. She is has been the perfect picture of health.
Why did I decide to share this with you? First, because having a dog with allergies is much more common than you would imagine. Second, because I know a lot of people would like to have their dog be vegan, but don’t know what to give them for food.
I make Cleo’s food for her. It is a recipe that was given to me by the vet and I wanted to share it with you.
Some things you need to be aware of are: First, you will need to adjust the recipe for the necessary caloric intake of your dog. Cleo is about 50lbs, needs 1200 calories/day and this recipe is exactly that. The recipe is a simple ratio (2:2:1) and should be able to be manipulated very easily.
Second, your pup will need additional supplements for the vitamins and minerals they might be missing… Cleo LOVES LOVES LOVES kale chips, spinach chips, other greens, apples, almonds, and cashews. This has done a lot to supplement her diet, but a multi-vitamin may be something you want to consider.
Lastly, we also give her probiotics. The diet is very high in fiber and we have found she does better with the addition of the Forti-Flora. I would suggest seeing how your pup does and decide if you want to include it in the diet.
And, in case you were wondering about the title… We call Cleo, “the BBD”… big black dog, of course. This is so she isn’t confused with this one:
“The LBC” (little black cat), aka Mr. Murray