This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Nishtha Srivastava the pet parent behind the Instagram account flik.dot.dim
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! What is your background and how did you start creating content for pet owners on Instagram?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and management and a background in biochemistry. After working about a year in corporate business, I decided to take a year gap and pursue my passion. During this year I adopted two dogs. As I got to learn more about pet nutrition and the longevity and health of pets, I really started to dive into everything fresh and raw food related. I am currently going back to school for Veterinary Nursing, and have plans to get additional certifications in Natural Pet Food (raw feeding) and Chinese herbal medicine. I also have a Vet Nurse Assistant position at an emergency hospital, in addition to working as a Veterinarian assistant at a holistic pet practice that focuses on acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. I, at first, created my animal Instagram just as a hobby, however it has turned into so much more than that. It is my passion to be able to inspire and educate people on companion animal nutrition. I recently am also starting a small dehydrated natural treat company soon!
2. What prompted you to start feeding your own animals a raw food diet?
I did not always feed my dogs a raw fresh food diet. At first, I had no idea raw food for dogs was even a “option”. However, when my two dogs Flik and Dot started having problems, problems that most pet parents would think is “normal for a dog”, I knew something was wrong. Flik had constant diarrhea and soft stools (no matter what kind of medication the vet wanted to prescribe and no matter the quality of kibble or wet food we gave him), he also had some skin issues. Dot wouldn’t eat any kibble that we gave her, and was gaining a lot of weight despite the little food she did eat. So naturally, I did some extensive research. What I found was amazing! Feeding your dog or cat a fresh raw food diet is actually a good thing! So I did some more research and was finally ready to switch them over. Both Flik and Dot are the healthiest they have ever been. Also, not too long ago we adopted Dim. Dim had Demodex mange and we did not want to put him on a 3-4 month prolonged medication that would most likely destroy his immune system, so instead we also switched him over to a raw fresh food diet, and his mange cleared up within the first 2 weeks of having him. My motto has always been: “A healthy dog is a happy dog”.
3. What is the biggest thing you’ve learned since you’ve started your Instagram account?
Not everyone is going to agree with you. Everyone feeds their dogs differently and everyone’s lifestyle and capabilities are also different. I realize that not every raw-feeder will feed the same exact way, because not every dog is the same.
4. Where do you source your dog’s food from?
We have a local meat butcher in our city’s farmer market! I think building a relationship with a reliable organic grass-fed/grass-finished butcher or joining a raw-feeding co-op is one of the best things you can do. This is because you know exactly where the meat comes from and how it is processed. I also order from online raw-feeding suppliers such as Raw Feeding Miami and Hare Today for things like whole prey options (rabbit) and bones.
5. Do you ever feed commercially prepared raw?
We only feed commercially prepared raw (freeze dried) when we go on road trips and backpacking/camping trips. We also feed this if we have to forget to thaw one of their meals the night before (haha). This has fared great with us and the dogs never had a problem with the switch.
6. What supplements (if any) do you give your pets?
Some things I call supplements and some I would just call “extras” (a boost to their meals instead of a necessity). The supplement I give them is Green Lipped Mussel powder (if I do not have fresh/frozen GLM on hand). I also give them an herb blend supplement every other day. The extras I include in their meals are homemade mushroom broth (every day), raw goat milk (3 times a week), and a homemade veggie cube (3 times a week). On occasion I will include things such as turmeric paste, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar.
7. Did you have any push back from your veterinarian when starting your dogs on raw?
YES. Unfortunately this is the reality for many people who feed a raw or homemade fresh diet to their animals. It can be hard to find an integrative veterinarian close to where you live, or a regular veterinarian that is willing to support the health and life choices you have made for your dog or cat. Every time my dogs go in for an annual check-up or in an instance where they needed to go to the emergency room, all I heard was, simply putting it, my dog is highly likely to get salmonella and that raw-feeding can be dangerous. Despite all of my dog’s great health status, they still seem to bring it back to that point. But what I have also realized is that it is important to stand your ground in order to do what is best for your animals. A while ago (about two years ago), I would feel pressured to listen to everything the veterinarian said and I would feed my dogs every medication they prescribed. I now know how to advocate for my pet and their health and to make sure that my animals are being given the treatment and care that I see fit for them and what is best for them.
8. What are your favorite sources for raw feeding information?
Holistic Pet Radio of course! I also love Dr. Karen Becker, Rodney Habib, Keep the Tail Wagging, The Primal Pet, Raw Feeding Community, and in general I do a lot of online research on various studies and experiments done on fresh raw foods for dogs. Even though there aren’t a lot of studies out there, more is definitely coming in the next few years – it’s going to be epic.
9. If you could tell pet owners one thing about raw feeding what would it be?
Don’t be discouraged on what your general veterinarian tells you. Seek out other opinions such as integrative and more holistically geared veterinarians, and read books about a more integrative and natural way to feed dogs and cats (there are lots out there, so do your research accordingly). If you are willing to put in the time to really learn about feeding a raw meat and fresh food diet to you’re your dog or cat, it is absolutely worth it. Research is always key!
I will always live by this quote (and I think it is very appropriate for the topic at hand) – “Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it” – Heather Morgan
Thanks again to Nishtha for taking the time to answer my questions! You gave some awesome advice! I hope everyone has a chance to go follow her and her adorable pups on Instagram <3
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