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Answers to your Questions about
by Julie Jones

Having received such a tremendous response to the article "Diet, Does It Make A Difference?" that was published in the August issue of THE BASENJI magazine, we decided to publish the most commonly asked questions along with answers. I hope that you will find this information helpful when considering whether or not to try a raw/natural diet for your dog(s).

Question: Why is kelp/sea meal not recommended for blacks and tris?
Answer: The reason for this is because sometimes kelp/sea meal can cause a black coat to look "burned" with a slight reddish-brown tinge. Sort of like a coat that is sun-burned. This does not usually happen with small doses so the fact that Sojourner Farms already has kelp/sea meal added to it shouldn't cause a problem. However, adding more may result in a burned coat. You may want to try it and if the coat burns, just cut down on the amount.

Question: Where can I find Sojourner Farms Dog Food?
Answer: Sojourner Farms can be bought directly from the company. We found it much cheaper to buy from the company than from any of the local retailers. They will UPS it right to your door. You can contact them via the internet (www.sojos.com) or by phone (888 867-6567).

Question: Are "nutritional yeast" and "brewers yeast" the same thing?
Answer: Yes and no! Although nutritional yeast is a type of brewers yeast, not all brewers yeast is nutritional yeast. Usually the brewers yeast sold for dogs is very low quality with little nutritional value. Nutritional yeast has many trace minerals and amino acids. The brand we use and recommend is Kal Yeast Flakes. Ask your health food dealer for this or an equivalent.

Question: Should I crush the vitamin pills?
Answer: Yes. Because of the short intestinal tract, dogs sometime pass pills without digesting them. For this reason if at all possible, buy the vitamins in the powdered form. If you cannot get them in powdered form, crush any pills and open any capsules, with the exception of the gel type capsules that vitamin E comes in. Those types of capsules dissolve quickly and therefore digest without a problem. For the record - medicines in pill form are fine. They specifically are made to dissolve fast. So, if your dog is taking any kind of medicine, please don't worry about crushing the pills.

Question: I feed my dog twice a day. Is this still possible with the natural/raw diet?
Answer: Yes. Simply divide everything but the vitamins into two meals. Put all the vitamins in one meal and in the other just add a dose of calcium which is needed to properly assimilate the raw meat).

Question: Should I fast my dogs? If so, how often?
Answer: My research supports fasting the dogs one day a week. In the wild, dogs may go days without eating. When they do find food, they gorge themselves on it and then may not eat again for days. Their system was designed for these periods of rest. When we first started the diet, I couldn't bring myself to fast the dogs. I felt so bad, after all, these are my babies, I can't let them go hungry! But the more I read, the more I thought that maybe I was wrong. In addition, several of the professional handlers that I know fast all their dogs once a week. So, about three months ago we starting fasting them one day a week. So far, none have starved to death.

Question: Isn't 1,000mg of Vitamin C too much?
Answer: I guess my recipe should have said "no more than 1,000 mg of Vitamin C." When we researched this diet, we checked everything with our veterinarian. The concern that she expressed was that amounts over 1,000mg can cause crystals in the urine, so she recommended that we stay below 1,000mg. The Vitamin C that we buy is powdered. 1/4 tsp is 1,000 mg. We usually give a little less than 1/4 tsp to each dog. Our concern was that the literature enclosed with the sugar strips says that excessive amounts of ascorbic acid (50mg/dl) may cause a false negative on the glucose strip. My veterinarian checked into this for us (she IS a great vet!). She called the experts at Davis and also two laboratories that run these types of tests. They concluded that 1,000 mg was not an excessive amount and should not affect a glucose strip test. According to the experts, a false negative would be just that - a negative. Since both Raider and Jessie spilled sugar before we switched diets and continued to spill sugar, although less, after the switch - I am not getting false negatives. However, if you are uncomfortable giving this amount, you can certainly give less.

Question: I've heard so many bad things about raw meat I am afraid to feed it to my dogs. Is it okay to cook it?
Answer: By far the most concern expressed is in regards to feeding raw meat. People are concerned about e-coli, salmonella, worms, etc. I can only tell you that I have been feeding raw meat for almost three years. I have fed ground beef, turkey and chicken as well as whole pieces of chicken. (I never feed pork of any kind.) None of my dogs have ever experienced any kind of illness from the raw meat. I have spoken to many people who feed their dogs raw meat, some for over 20 years. None of those people have ever experienced problems from the raw meat. Now, I am quite sure that there is someone out there who is going to say that they know of a dog who had some problem. When I consider the number of dogs that I know of that have been fed raw meat with absolutely no problems, hundreds for sure - possibly thousands, I personally feel the positive benefits far out-weigh the risk. However, some people just can not bring themselves to feed raw meat to their dogs without taking some kind of precaution. Those people can soak the raw meat in grapefruit extract, which is said to kill bacteria in raw meat. Having never done this myself, I do not know how long you have to soak it. However, I'm sure a health food store would be able to tell you that. If you feel you must cook the meat, cook it for as little a time as possible. Cooking kills the important enzymes. However, cooked meat is still better then canned dog food.

Question: What kind of organ meat do you feed? Is it okay to freeze it? How do you keep it?
Answer: I use beef liver, beef heart and lamb kidneys. Yes, you can freeze it. I buy "thick cut" beef liver. It's more like a steak and not as messy as the liver in the plastic tubs. I take the liver, cut it into pieces no bigger than 1" square. Then I lay the squares on a disposable cookie sheet, making sure they don't touch one another, cover it with aluminum foil and put it in the freezer. Once it's frozen I peel them off and put them in a zip-lock bag. Now I have frozen cookies. The dogs love them and my hands don't get all gooey! I try to give each dog at least one "cookie" a day. We do the same with beef heart. I also use a lot of lamb kidneys. Some of my dogs don't like beef kidneys, but none of them refuse lamb kidneys. They are not as bloody as liver so some people prefer to use them. One lamb kidney can be divided between 3 or 4 dogs, so unless you by a large quantity, you don't have to freeze them. I have tried chicken livers, but the dogs much prefer beef liver.

Question: Do you feed this to your baby puppies?
Answer: I feed my puppies kibble and supplement it with raw meat and vegetables. The reason for this is because, although I try to convince them, some of the puppy people just will not feed the raw/natural diet. I think it would be harder on a puppy's system to go from an all natural diet to kibble then the other way around. As soon as we know which puppy we are keeping we change the diet over to all natural.

Please remember that although I have done an extensive amount of research, I am not a nutritional expert. I am only sharing with you what has been successful for me. If you have any doubts or hesitation, please contact your veterinarian or, better yet, a nutritional veterinarian. There is just one more thing I'd like to address: I am not suggesting that you use a natural/raw diet in place of treatment for Fanconi. The reason that Jessie and Raider do not get the protocol is because, at this point, they do not need it. Their blood values are all perfectly normal and they do not have any symptoms of Fanconi at all. Giving them medication that they do not need could be harmful to them and would, most likely, cause more damage then good. If your Basenji has Fanconi and needs medication, please provide them with it - even if you switch their diet. If you do switch over to a raw/natural diet, I would love to hear how it is working for you.


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