Seeing Red

2016 has started off fast! I’ve not had time to blog, and just discovered a stack of posts half-drafted that are waiting for my attention.

They’ll have to wait. This is big news.

After several months of multiple failed attempts to consult with Dr. Natalie to help get Evelyn healthy enough to withstand her heartworm treatment, I finally gave up.

You can only beg someone to take your money so many times, right? 

My brother-in-law’s brother suggested I try Dr. Mary Battistella at Kowaliga Whole Health Pet Care in Eclectic, Alabama. (Thanks Andrew!) I called on Monday of last week, and immediately got in to see her the following afternoon. Granted, it was a 2-hour drive south, but in the end…Totally. Worth it.

Since Evelyn’s arrival on Labor Day 2015, she has had a significant skin problem. The skin along her back was rough and discolored, the hair was patchy, and she scratched at it constantly. The base of her tail is completely smooth with no hair at all.

This coat is a complete wreck. The base of her tail is totally hairless. This pic is from her first week with me, and things really haven’t improved.

I didn’t worry too much at first because she had so many other things going on — vastly malnourished and underweight, heartworm positive, mast cell tumors, and various other imbalances — I focused on stabilizing her nutrition, tumor removal, and heartworm eradication. All along the way, we tried anti-fungal spray and shampoo, antibiotics, steroids, Bendadryl, Apoquel. I’ve been massaging coconut oil into her skin at night for months, to no avail. Nothing worked.

Until now.

Dr. Battistella took one look and said, “allergies.” She took hair and saliva samples from Evelyn and shipped them to a lab called Glacier Peak Holistics. Ten days later, we got this:


Everything in red is a trigger for Evelyn.


The good news is that only the circled items are the things she’s had in her diet: Chicken, chicken eggs, carrots, sweet potato, peaches, dairy milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt. 

The bad news is that I fed her a ton of cottage cheese back in November and December when I was desperate to get weight on her so that she could have her second heartworm shot. I also fed carrots and sweet potatoes regularly. Raw chicken is in the rotation. She gets a raw egg in her breakfast smoothie. Every. Day.

Poor baby! No wonder she was scratching non-stop!

The better news is that there is SO much on that list she is NOT allergic to. And now I know what to avoid. We have a lot to work with here and I am so grateful to Dr. Battistella. 

So is Evelyn!

Dr. B also gave us a B-12 vitamin, wheat germ oil to apply topically, and a homeopathic tonic for skin that I give her daily. With the dietary No-No’s delineated, I am finally hopeful that we can solve this problem from the inside out, and get her health on the right track once and for all.

Thanks Dr. B!

pugs & kisses,

JOY to the World!

The end of 2015 has been quite hectic for a number of reasons, and I’m certain that phenomenon is not unique to me. Crazy busy days and nights notwithstanding, there is joy in my heart this season because Evelyn has turned a corner and has started picking up good weight recently (up to 14.6 as of 12/20), which is great news.


And although the blogging has slowed temporarily, I thank you for your continued interest and for following our adventure into raw feeding.

We’ll be back in 2016 with new experiences to share.

In the meantime, Pearl, Truman, Evelyn, Chester and I wish you all a restful, peaceful, and joyful holiday season.

pugs & kisses!


It’s Halloween week, and that means e’er’body acting a fool for tricks & treats. Dogs included.

As if we need an excuse to eat candy….or anything made with a pumpkin… 

I’ve never been much for dressing up in costume – either for myself or my dogs — but sometimes we will deck a seasonal collar and a hoodie.

And that is just what we plan to do for Saturday’s Pugs & Pumpkins event to support Alabama Pug Rescue & Adoption at the Pelham National Guard Armory. Whether you have a Pug or just love their funny faces, come support the rescue. Guaranteed fun for all.

Pugs & Pumpkins 2015. WOOT!
Pugs & Pumpkins 2015. WOOT!

Evelyn will be sporting a special accessory to the party this year.

From the early days of fostering her, I noticed a bump under the skin on her back left leg. I paid little attention to it because she had so many other things going on with her health. I watched it, and it didn’t seem to change in size, shape, color, etc. Until last Sunday when all of a sudden, there were two.

I took the picture below and sent it to Pug Rescue Queen Pam Mayes, who sent them to the most amazing Dr. Jay Crisman at 280 AMC. We all agreed an in-person visit with Dr. Jay was in order.

This is what Mast Cell Tumors look like.
They look to be Mast Cell Tumors.

After examination and discussion, we decided they should be removed and tissue samples should be analyzed to verify whether they were in fact cancer. MCTs, like many cancers, are treatable with high survivability when caught early. Stage I MCTs are considered benign. Stage IIs can be effectively treated. Stages III & IV are more serious and treatments can be less successful. So, we’re praying for Stage I.

Dr. Jay said they are fairly common, and easily removed. Since Evelyn is due for the shot that will kill off the adult heartworms hanging out in the bloodstream in just 2 weeks, we decided she would fair far better to proceed with this removal before getting that shot. So we did.

She came home looking like the spokesdog for Staples.

Frankenstein's got nothin' on my Evie. #tuffstuff
Ouch! Frankenstein’s dog.

The staples come out the same day as the big heartworm shot. But hopefully we’ll get good news on the biopsy before then.

In the meantime, I’m going to embrace the season and play up her most remarkable feature for Halloween.

Just call her Frankie.
Just call her Frankie.

pugs & kisses,

Evelyn and The Uncooked Grain

Y’all, Evelyn is up from her starting weight of 11.8 lbs to 13.3 lbs!!

Yay! Get excited!

This weight is coming on her very slowly, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s real weight. I can see muscle tone in her belly, whereas before, there was just loose skin over bone. I can no longer count all of her ribs by just looking at her.

She eats with passion. Her poops are healthy, solid, black. And she sleeps soundly.

Photo on left is her first day  with us (9/5). Photo on right is Saturday (10/10). One and a half pounds is nearly 10% of her original body weight in a month.
Photo on left is her first day with us (9/5). Photo on right is Saturday (10/10). One and a half pounds is nearly 10% of her original body weight in a month.

She’s coming along beautifully, IMHO.

We have one small issue — I think it’s one issue — it has 2 symptoms.

Her coat is not improving, and she has been scratching excessively. So, I’ve put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and went on a mission to sleuth it out.

The ridiculously insane scratching began in earnest early in the week. She got her second dose of Sentinel on Monday, and finished her 30-day round of Doxycycline (part of the slow-kill method for heartworms) on Tuesday. By Wednesday, she was out of her mind biting and scratching herself by any means available.

I’ve never before seen a dog throw herself on the ground to scratch from nose to tail. 

Tuffy, the Alpha.
Tuffy, the Alpha.

I rubbed her with coconut oil mixed with a few drops of chamomile essential oil; I bathed her in lavender shampoo & conditioner; I sprayed her with itch-relief spray– all of which gave only a short reprieve.

When topical treatment fails, it has to be coming from the inside.

By Saturday afternoon, and by process of elimination, I’d narrowed it down to three things: oats, Sentinel, or a skin infection that the Doxy was keeping in check.

I can’t do anything about the Sentinel at this point. It’s part of the very essential heartworm elimination process. And if there is a skin infection, continuing with the raw diet should go a long way toward solving that problem. 

But the past couple of weeks, because it’s fall when grains are harvested and because I like to feed according to the seasons, I’ve been soaking whole, uncooked oats overnight in goat’s milk to soften them, and then pureeing them with apples or berries for her breakfast.


Simplifying her meals will make it easier to identify any other culprits.

Because she may still be anemic due to the heartworms, she’ll be eating beef to build iron in her blood. Because pumpkin is plentiful right now and is a great source of fiber, I’ll add freshly cooked, local, pureed pumpkin to her beef. I’ll hit it with turmeric for inflammation, and milk thistle seed to support her liver after a month of antibiotics.

For breakfast, she will have green veggie smoothies made with goat’s milk. Find recipes here.

All her treats will be grain-free (thanks to Cahabones!) smeared with coconut oil.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted!

pugs & kisses,