With over 50 years experience living with, breeding, caring for and showing dogs, Sandra Bailey is in a position to give respected advice concerning the health of your hairy housemates. She is passionate about pets, and has published a book concerning the nutrition of dogs entitled “Real Dogs Don’t Eat Kibble,” the first title in The Naturally Healthy Dog series.
Sandra Bailey’s pets are close to her heart
When Bailey’s first papillon died at the age of only nine, she wanted to know why that might have been, since almost all breeds of dog (even the large ones) should be able to thrive until their teens. She began doing research on diet, nutrition and medical treatments, and found that a poor diet coupled with excessive shots and antibiotics often contributes to an early death. This should not sound terribly unfamiliar, because this concept of healthful diet paired with preventative medicine is the basis for human health as well.
Bailey’s next papillon, a champion specimen of the breed, was named Phoenix. The dog lived to be 17 years old as a result of improved diet. Had the raw food that is now recognized as the best for dogs been given to Phoenix since the beginning he might have lived even longer. During an interview, Bailey explained more about this ideal feeding plan for dogs.
The raw diet is comprised of uncooked muscle and organ meats that are then fortified with particular nutrients, especially taurine. There are other components as well, and there are recipes available online, as well as more information in Bailey’s book. Most if not all the diseases that have become common in dogs since World War II (when bagged dog foods were first introduced on the market) can be prevented without medication simply by improving the quality of your pet’s food. Afflictions such as cancer, mange and doggie odor are actually rare in the wild, and are a symptom of poor nutrition.
Sandra Bailey’s prize papillon, Phoenix, was an inseparable friend for 17 happy years.
“I feel very strongly that people should take responsibility for what their pets eat, and not blindly trust what is typically used in commercial dog foods,” says Bailey. She was very quick to point out the fallout that has resulted from multiple pet food recalls, which were brought on by contaminated ingredients from China where regulation is even more lax than in the United States.
The raw diet Bailey endorses has been shown to be the food that is most healthful and natural to a dog’s digestive tract. Dogs evolved to eat mostly raw proteins, and also need a day every week or two to fast in order to allow their systems to rest and cleanse themselves. Dogs are really not well suited for digesting grains and carbohydrates. This is particularly distressing, given the fact that some sort of grain, often corn, is almost always one of the first ingredients in most brands of dry dog food.
In order of descending nutritional value are fresh raw foods, commercial frozen foods, top quality canned foods, top quality dry brand foods, low quality canned foods, and low quality dry foods. The more a food is cooked, processed and preserved, the more likely you will be to spend money “saved” on food at the vet. Investing more on food and less on medicine is the single best way to prevent disease and enjoy many happy years with your pooch. If you cannot or choose not to prepare your pet’s food each day, Sandra Bailey suggests Aunt Jeni’s Home Made as an excellent supplier of frozen raw foods that will ship directly to you.
If nothing else, there are eight foods you should know about that can kill your dog. Chocolate is notoriously toxic — always avoid giving it to your dog. Dogs should also not ingest sugar, dairy, and grain, as these are incompatible with a dog’s digestive tract and metabolic needs. Although raw meat is generally excellent for your canine companion, avoid feeding him raw salmon. Onions, grapes/raisins, and macadamia nuts are also poisonous to dogs, and can cause kidney failure and death. Even if you are not in a position to follow the raw diet, the aforementioned foods should be removed from your friend’s meals.
Bailey also advocates journaling. By keeping track each day of what you feed your pet, when and how much, as well as your dog’s level of activity and any abnormal behavior or bowel movements you will be in a position to help your vet help your pet if the need should arise. “Most problems, however, stem directly from diet,” says Bailey.
Journaling will also help you more easily notice the silent symptoms of illness that your buddy cannot complain about verbally. A sick dog doesn’t eat, has low energy (or will play with diminished enthusiasm), prefers to lie rather than sit or walk, and is less responsive in general. According to Bailey, holistic treatments are best, and there are many homeopathic vets throughout the Carolinas.
— Along with her business partner Christine Mullen, Bailey owns and operates Ruff Ruff Resort. A kennel-free boarding service in her home, she has reserved two rooms for small breeds to socialize with other dogs. Bailey also makes sure there’s plenty of time for several out door walks and play sessions in her fenced in back yard.