In 2007, we spent several hundred dollars to have Tonya screened for food and environmental allergies. It had been quite a while since I'd reviewed the test results. I thought I'd put Tonya on a food that was "safe" for her. Just before leaving for our appointment, I printed out the ingredients list from her current food from the maker's website. When reviewing that list later with Dr. Ruth, I was horrified to see that peas were in her food. She is highly allergic to peas. Did you know that food manufacturers often add new ingredients and subtract others at their own discretion? Sometimes, it can take months before those changes even show up on the label. I suspect this is what happened with Tonya's food. When I first chose it, peas weren't on the ingredients list. Lesson #1: review your dog's food label often for any changes, and check the maker's website for any recipe changes that may be listed there. Sigh.
Dr. Ruth made another comment that really struck me. I've had Tonya on an ocean fish-based food because she's not allergic to fish. Dr. Ruth said, "We don't know that she's not allergic to fish. They didn't test for fish." Oh my! This seemed too simple to be true, but it was. Often, vets suggest diets with fish as the protein source and potato as the starch for dogs who are allergy prone. But....the most common allergy screening panel doesn't even test for fish allergies. Duh. Seems like a no brainer. Lesson #2: feed your allergic dog ONLY those items that she's tested NEGATIVE to on the screening. In Tonya's case, she tested negative to three protein sources - pork, venison and lamb. Beef, chicken, turkey, duck are all proteins that she IS allergic to, so those are out. Also out are any products that may contain some derivative of those proteins, such as bone meal (a major calcium source for dogs on raw or homemade diets), and marrow bones and rawhides for gnawing.
So, based on our discussion, my dry, bagged food choices for Tonya were extremely limited. In fact, I only found one or two that I could buy locally that are free of anything she's allergic to (all of those proteins, plus rice and wheat and peas and soy and a few other things). She is now on Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet, Venison & Sweet Potato Formula. There is a dry kibble and a wet canned food. For gnawing and chewing, she can have pig's ears (gross...) and a dried sweet potato chew carried at most local pet suppliers.
Had I not found this bagged and canned diet for Tonya, I would've pursued home-cooked or a raw diet for Tonya, mixing raw ground pork, lamb and/or venison (with bones) with vegetables (carrots, kale, etc) in juiced form (so her digestive system could make use of the nutrients), a calcium source (other than bone meal), an oil with Omega-3's, etc. If the dry/canned diet doesn't "work" for Tonya, I plan to go in this other, more expensive, time-consuming method. Of course, she's totally worth it.
In reviewing the allergy test results, we also noted that she's allergic to three grasses and three major trees. These allergies are affecting her currently, as all of these trees and grasses are coming into season. Dr. Dalto added a Chinese herbal formula, in pill form, in hopes of giving Tonya some relief of her incessant itching. We've noted some small improvement after several days. Two weeks' worth of pills cost about $25.00.
We dealt with Tonya's allergy issues first, and spent a lot of time figuring out what more I could do to improve her health and well-being via food and supplements. Then, we spent a whole lot of time on Tonya's emotional issues. Emotional issues? Huh? In actuality, I have always known Tonya is a fearful dog. She is not the typical exuberant Lab who runs up to every human with love and drool to share. She lowers her head and stands still when meeting people. She'd prefer not to be acknowledged or attended to by strangers. In fact, her "fear issues" along with her allergies caused her to be dismissed from the service dog program she was in as a pup. Fearful, hesitant dogs don't make great service animals, understandably.
Dr. Ruth is somewhat of an animal intuitive and she does a lot of hands-on energy work with patients. Our first session found the two of us seated on the floor beside Tonya, each with a hand on Tonya. Dr. Ruth ran through a battery of questions concerning all aspects of Tonya's health, including mental, spiritual, emotional and physical issues. I was told to share any "messages" Tonya might send to me energetically. At first, I was hesitant but within just a few moments, I kept getting messages I couldn't ignore. As we went along, I felt freer and more confident in sharing what Tonya seemed to be "saying" to me. One strong message was that Casco, our older Lab, doesn't like her. Another was that she missed her Mom. Later, though I really didn't want to "hear" it, it seemed that Tonya was "telling me" that she wanted a little boy dog/friend. Good grief!
Trust me, I'm a grounded person. But, I'm also a spiritual being and am open to alternative forms of "knowing." I did not expect this revelatory spiritual energy healing session, but here we were. And Tonya was hurting in many ways, apparently. Dr. Ruth goes through a process of removing those negative thoughts/emotions/energies at the end of the session. Wow.
At a minimum, this energy healing part of our session really put me in touch with who my dog is, on an emotional, personality level. I have been much more sensitive to her needs this past week and to attending to her signals that I had been overlooking or even ignoring on a daily basis. We will return to Dr. Ruth in about 10 days for a follow up to see how Tonya is doing. More on that later....