RAD Dog Ella: Raw Dieting for Rescues

The RAD Girls journey through adoption has led us to meet dogs with a variety of medical issues and ailments: some simple, other highly complex and requiring combinations of medications and rehabilitation tactics.  We want to be able to give people a wide variety of resources so they would feel more comfortable adopting a dog who may need extra care.  We began researching holistic options and were met with so many alternative solutions to the typical medications.  We spoke with our friend Maggie Herrick about the benefits of using raw dieting; a tactic she used to help her rescue dog Ella through allergies, bladder issues, and skin conditions.  Stay tuned as we work on our resources page for some of the best local places to seek alternative medicine and practices to help your rescue dog!

"Ella and I found each other in January 2011. I had just graduated college and had always wanted a dog of my own. I searched Petfinder.com where Ella was listed as an English Bulldog, Australian Shepherd mix. Fully grown I’d say she’s more like a Border Collie and some sort of hound. Ella was at a rescue called Wynne Friends Of Animals in Arkansas.

After a long conversation with the rescue’s vet to determine if Ella and I were a match, I filled out all the paperwork and patiently waited for my growing girl to be big enough for transport day. Through a partnership between Wynne Friends of Animals and Animal Planet’s show, Last Chance Highway, Ella and a slew of other rescue pups were driven out of the South to eager adopters in the North East."


Q: When did you first sense Ella was having pain or discomfort and what were the first signs and symptoms?

When Ella was 8 months old she had her first bladder infection. The signs were very clear, she could not hold her urine in the house and began having accidents. While walking outside, Ella would urinate multiple times on one walk. Knowing something was not right, I took Ella to the vet to be examined. She was placed on antibiotics and we waited it out. However, Ella’s symptoms persisted even after the first round of antibiotics was complete. We went back to the vet and were given another round of the same meds. After the third time of being prescribed the same antibiotic without results, I decided to get a second opinion.

Q: Describe the difference between your experience with the Western vet and the holistic vet:

A: Preferring to lead a holistic lifestyle myself, I thought why not for my pet? I did some research and found a vet that combines both Eastern and Western medical approaches. At our first visit to Natural Vet For Pets in Hastings, NY, Dr. Stacey Hershman cultured Ella’s urine to determine which strain of antibiotics would effectively treat the ongoing infection. In addition, Dr. Hershman prescribed Ella to a raw food diet, which she explained would help balance the PH of Ella’s urine. I learned that Ella’s urine was very acidic, and the higher moisture content and alkalizing properties of a raw food diet were essential to balancing Ella’s PH.

Q: What was the process for choosing the right raw diet for Ella and were there any drawbacks?

A: Dr. Hershman helped formulate a raw diet that I could make on my own. It consisted of raw organic ground chicken, a teaspoon of plain Greek yogurt, salmon oil and a supplement that provides essential daily vitamins and minerals.

Ella thrived on this diet for years. The main drawback I had with the diet is how expensive it was. Preparing every meal was also more time consuming than serving kibble. I have since switched Ella from a home made diet to one that I buy at the pet store, which is a little less expensive but still contains high quality ingredients in a complete diet formula.

Q: Is there any advice you would like to provide readers interested in pursuing a raw food diet for their pet?

Switching to a raw food diet has enhanced the life of my dog. Do not rule out diet when considering the source of a pet’s ailment, in fact, that’s where I would begin. I would say if you’re interested in a raw diet for your pet, start by researching vets in your area that have experience prescribing raw food. There are countless benefits to feeding a diet that mimics what your pet would eat instinctively. Just ask Ella :)