One day last week, I dropped an e-mail to the customer service department at B-naturals.com. The person who answered was Lew Olson. Our exchange was helpful enough that I went ahead and tossed her book in with my order.
In the end, I was quite glad I did.
If you already feed a raw diet, there’s very little in here that will be brand new. What I like it for the most, for myself, is that there’s pretty comprehensive treatment of supplements, with a full explanation of dosages and occasions that you might want to give them. Unlike my other favorite raw-food resource, Dog Aware, Olson makes these things seem approachable, rather than overwhelming. Olson also has a quite logical, practical way of dealing with things like feeding an adequate variety of foods.
This is the only raw feeding book I’ve read that would really be enough information, and confidence inspiring enough, to actually start a new diet.
It isn’t just a raw-feeding diet, though. Olson also offers that rarest of beasts–information on how to feed a completely grain free cooked diet, with plenty of examples and (again) a logical treatment of supplements. Most of the cooked diet recipes I’ve seen seem very much like a recreation of the average kibble, including all the parts I tried to avoid when I was buying kibble, like oats or rice. I’ll say right out: if I’d had this book when Silas had to go on his allergy diet, one of Olson’s cooked diets is where I would have started.
If, instead, all you want is to make your dog a few meals a week, or add a few tasty morsels to her kibble, there are also guidelines for that, although it’s a slim chapter. I also imagine that after reading Olson’s history of kibble, which stops short of all the newer high-end kibbles, you’ll be less than excited about it.
The second half of the book is devoted to specific nutritional needs to specific ailments. Olson lays out in separate chapters how diet can help your dog with kidney problems, liver disease, arthritis or other joint problems, cancer, and even allergies. (Seasonal/inhalant allergies, that is. Olson is firmly of the “food allergies are so rare your dog can’t possibly have them” camp, even when she and I spoke directly.)
My one qualm with this book is that Olson recommends a lotof the B-naturals products. Now, I like B-naturals. I’ve ordered from them a few times, and I’ve yet to be disappointed. But there is definitely a lack of clarity about her relationship with them. She is listed on their website as their nutritional consultant. The author bio in the back of the book says that she “has designed several nutritional supplement blends for dogs, under the name of Berte’s Naturals.” I’m not sure how much she benefits from individual sales, or if she’s simply a salaried employee. Which, I guess I’m of two minds about. On the one hand, it seems a little sketchy. On the other hand, if I’d gone to considerable trouble to develop a product line, I would want to recommend it, too. And, the truth is that most of the things she recommends are blended products. Vitamins with minerals and probiotics, for example, or a blend of sea vegetables. None of the recommendations seem forced or illogical, and unless you want to give individual human supplements there aren’t a ton of reputable dog nutrition supplements out there. In fact, if you do want to give individual supplements, if can be hard to find them in a dose that can be split small enough for a dog under 50 pounds. If that side of the book bothers you, Olson does explain why she recommends these particular items, and there is ample information to help you made a different choice.
Now, for the giveaway part! I liked this book so much that I want to buy another copy and have it sent to you. (I will not be doing the mailing. I never seem to make it to the post office.) All you need to do is comment below. Selection will be random, BUT you will get two entries in the drawing if you are either really interested in starting to feed raw or home cooked food or if you have a dog with one of the health issues listed above. Maximum of two entries per person. I don’t get hundreds of hits in a day, so you’ve got a good chance to win. Drawing will close on Friday, January 25, 2013 and is open to anyone, although I can’t promise speedy delivery outside of the US.