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Pet Owners: discuss Food as Medicine/Life Enhancers for your non-human family members

Thanks, HillJ, for spearheading a Pet Food board idea. With any luck, if interested pet owner 'hounds make enough of an impression here, we'll get our very own board.

The thread in site talk mentioned a lot of ideas to enhance our pet family member's health. Would you share your own evidence (anecdotal or experiential?)

As many have posted, canned or fresh cooked pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not the pie mix) has long been touted to enhance dog's elimination habits. It's delish, high in fiber, and offers great protection against painful, costly woes like impacted anal glands.

Our vet has long touted the benefits of blueberries/blueberry juice for our dogs. We feed them blueberries, but have to cut them in half because round foods (egg yolks, cherry tomatoes, etc) confuse the heck out of our dog. We also give Ben (the hound) a swig in his water bowl every week.

For dog owners, especially female dog owners, a little tomato juice (esp homemade) now and then will prevent brown "pee spots" on your lawn.

And finally, just as humans benefit, dogs benefit from being fed a bit of plain yogurt, especially while on antibiotics. Helps to stave off the gastrointestinal symptoms that a prescription of Doxycycline, etc, can bring.

What foodie tips do you have to keep your pets happy and healthy (other than spoiling the heck out of them?) :-)

Please post a photo if you can, too!

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  1. My two canine nutters eat a diet of half grain-free kibble, half home cooked food. One is a Katrina pup from an anxious and sensitive litter and has had me running in circles trying to get her to optimum health. They were on Primal raw, but it got too pricey and ultimately caused sensitivity issues. Ideally they would eat 100% home cooked, but I am lazy and lack freezer space. The basic recipe (by weight) is 40% animal protein, 40% "light" vegetables, 20% heavy veg (root vegetables) plus some blueberries and sometimes apples. I add a vet-approved calcium supplement, plus fish oil every few days. They are nuts for this food, and clearly would prefer to eat it every meal. I rotate the fish/meats, as well as the vegetable mix, so they aren't getting the same thing every day. They snack on carrots and sweet potatoes, and get to eat the seared salmon skin when salmon is for human dinner. They eat a more rounded and healthier diet than many humans. Once a year they get to snack for several days on apple peanut butter pupcakes, which aren't grain free, but are, apparently, magically delicious! Wouldn't mind a good recipe for that, or other vet-approved dog food recipes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: maxie

      Maxie, do you just do a fish oil capsule? Thanks!

      1. re: pinehurst

        No, I use liquid. The one I'm using now is Metagenics. The serving varies by dog weight -- I give mine 1 t every couple days.

    2. Some time back I was intrigued by this article on a raw meat diet for pets addressing longevity.

      4 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        HillJ, just reading that...wow. I do give Ben little bits of good raw ground beef now and then when I'm cooking...and he loves rare beef. Of course. :-)

        1. re: pinehurst

          We give Asa 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon on his paw each day and cinnamon goes into his food. We do believe in the healthful benefits of this spice only for our dog but he clearly loves the taste too.

          1. re: HillJ

            We'll try the cinnamon--what a good tip. Actually, my H has been taking cinnamon in capsule form for a couple of months, and it has really good effects on lowering blood glucose levels. I believe it's a natural anti-inflammatory, too?

            Nice tip!

            1. re: HillJ

              I worked for a dog food company that came out with canned vegetarian "desserts" at one point. They added nutmeg although it was because they claimed dogs loved the taste.

        2. I make my little long haired fawn colored chihuahua his own food. I vary the ingredients from meats and sea foods (he loves sea weed!) to a bit of grain (quinoa, barley) and lots of veggies- and add lots of calcium from finely ground egg shell. Little dogs need lots of calcium in their food for their little bones. It can make them constipated though, so I add fish oil and that seems to work. He LOOOOVES me in the kitchen and he is a terrific tiny "taste tester"! He loves cooked carrots, spits out the peas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sedimental

            Your boy sounds absolutely gorgeous. Didn't know chihuahuas could be long haired!

            Ben also loves seaweed...we put lots in the chicken-miso soup we sometimes give him!

            My little pitbull we had before Ben was (as humans can be) allergic to shrimp. She was fascinated by it and wanted it, but one night she had the tiniest morsel and broke out in hives. So, she was denied that little treat for the rest of her days!

          2. Our dogs are on a raw prey model diet. I feel that a species appropriate diet is important for optimal health. The cats are on a grain free wet food diet with some raw except for our female that we adopted as an adult, I can't seem to get her to eat anything but dry food.

            25 Replies
            1. re: rasputina

              They claim that cats eat only what their mother ate while they were pregnant, hence the preference for dry, canned or table food. My three are across the board.

              1. re: coll

                Coll, I can't believe that concept. All of my cats are rescued feral cats (raised since day one or so) and the feral Moms sure as heck weren't eating those foods. :-) Sounds rather Urban Myth or such.

                1. re: Quine

                  All of my three are rescued ferals too, and were fed in the wild by rescue groups in their earlier years, before being caught and put up for adoption. Meaning donated commercial foods mostly. My littlest doesn't like anything BUT bought cat food. She does hunt bugs though, guess her Mom taught her that much, but plays with them rather than consuming. My middle one was fed exclusively wet by my husband's co-workers, out in the back of the warehouse, and that is always her preference. Started with bottle feeding. And my oldest I believe came from a nearby farm, he always prefers real meat to anything prepared. Anyway I worked for one of the bigger pet food companies and they are the ones that told us that, not that I questioned them about the details. Just seemed true in my many experiences.

                  1. re: Quine

                    I agree, that has to be an urban myth. The biggest problem with converting cats that were fed kibble to wet food ( canned or raw) is that kibble is sprayed with animal digest to attract cats. We call it kitty crack at our house. At least our girl will eat the grain free dry food.

                    My two boys are rescues that were caught as kittens. Our girl is technically a rescue, as we brought her into our home after she was kicked outside to live by someone else.

                  2. re: coll

                    I completely disagree with this statement. I've had cats for over 40 years and trust me, they will eat most anything. There are some finicky ones out there and you may have three finicky cats. My rescue cat does not like fish but will eat other foods. He especially likes the last bit of my cereal milk every morning.

                    I had a cat that ate potato chips. I am certain her mom did not.

                    1. re: Dee S

                      I'm with you! Surprisingly, cats like corn. As in on the cob, from the can and creamed corn. Many cats like melons, as well. One of my Mom's feral kittens (now 10 years old) waits for that milk from the end of the cereal, and will drink milk at no other time. I have seen barn cats (semi ferals) Moms, bring home, just about everything edible to the litters to teach, what is edible and how to hunt for it. Bugs, snakes, birds, you name it.
                      My guys, will try anything I eat. I've seen them scarf down some really spicy hot Pad thai. My cats (who are only indoors) crave fresh green grass and I grow catnip for them.

                      1. re: Quine

                        My Siamese used to eat corn right off the cob, you had to hold it and spin it around and they would gobble every kernal. My tabby now loves corn too, screams in delight when I walk in with a dozen from the farm, but what he likes is the husks. So gross, but I do let him chew on some for a few minutes anyway. Once he starts swallowing I grab it away.

                        And my 10 year old girl goes crazy for local muskmelons. Not cantalopes or anything from the grocery (I understand since I'm the same way). What is funny, is every winter I sort of forget about their likings, and the first time I bring these things home in the summer, there is a frenzy of excitement and at first I wonder why. Then it all comes back to me.

                        1. re: coll

                          My first cat had the corn on the cob obsession. She eventually learned that I would always leave a row on the ear for her to clean off.

                          I can't get my cats to eat anything but dried cat food. This has led to some smelly poop issues, but a crushed acidophilus pill sprinkled on the food has cured that issue.

                        2. re: Quine

                          My dogs are the same--they'll eat anything, pretty much, and are up for whatever I'm eating. One of my dogs likes raw veggies and shows up whenever I'm chopping anything other than onions. (Apparently she has gotten the message that these are not for dogs!) The other two don't like them as much, and if raw veggie dog isn't around to compete with, often won't eat them.

                          My dogs eat all home-cooked food. The only thing I buy for them is treats. I give them canned fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), which of course are bone in, yogurt, and eggs (I scramble these with my protein leftovers). I buy vegetables for them, which I cook with my veggie/fruit scraps and leftovers. I also cook oatmeal for them. Also: salt, glucosamine/MSM for the older ones, ground flaxseed for the one with dry skin.

                          1. re: foiegras

                            Here are the foodies ... Cherry, Cookie (as a puppy), and Gracie (aka Pumpkin). Gracie is like me--not very photogenic. She always puts her ears down and looks pitiful in pictures. This picture is from when she was still my foster.

                        3. re: Dee S

                          My Siamese went hysterical for Cheese Doritos. To the point that some friends in the movie business were trying to talk us into renting them out for an ad. One day I brought home Cool Ranch for a change, and they not only were disappointed, but it took about a year before they would touch any Doritos again. Not that that was a bad thing!

                          1. re: coll

                            The cat that lived to be almost 21 *loved* green olives. I don't know what it was but he went bonkers over them. There have been very strange people food items that my cats like. One would gobble down raw chicken while the other would turn away. Another liked Fritos....they are strange kids for sure!

                            Here's a picture of my current cat. He found us 1 year ago, weighing 1 pound at about 6 weeks old (the vet didn't think he'd make it). He weighs about 13 pounds.

                            1. re: Dee S

                              I just wrote on another pet thread how my Tabby loves olives in any form, but the weirdest is that he tries to steal them out of Martinis.

                              1. re: coll

                                If he has no ill effects from them, I imagine they'd be good for him and his coat.
                                I bet it's a special treat to steal them from a martini....like fishing in a delicious little fish bowl :-)

                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  He really does think he's a person.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Here's Mooch, the olive thief.

                                    Don't worry, this is a few years ago; hubby doesn't smoke anymore! Thank goodness....

                                    1. re: coll

                                      He's got "olive thief" written all over his stripey, cuddly self.

                                      Coll, do you get a kick out of the "Mutts" cartoon that has a cat named Mooch?

                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                        I used to love the Mutts comic strip. My husband came up with the name though; he may have remembered from some I cut out for him. He also came up with Cheech and Chong for our Siamese cats, he wasn't bad at the name game.

                                      2. re: coll

                                        Coll -- Your hubby and the cat sure resemble each other. I guess that is not surprising, though. THanks for the interesting photo!

                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                          Thanks, my husband will take that as a compliment! Tabbies can be so affectionate. These two are never far apart; they are the "men" of the house.

                                2. re: Dee S

                                  Oh Dee, he's lovely! What a coat! What eyes! Sounds like he's thriving since he adopted you!

                                  1. re: Dee S

                                    Yes, I had a cat that loved green olives, played with them for quite a while before she finally ate it.

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      Another olive-crazed cat here, too. He won't touch any other "people food," but olives send him over the edge. (Olives are always served in covered dishes here, as he seems to have no control. Much like his people.) At 17, the gent is becoming a challenge to feed due to finickeyness, but I've found that just a few drops of olive brine on his food does the trick.

                                    2. re: Dee S

                                      Haha! I had a cat that loved green olives, too- he was a black and white Persian and a very funny cat in many ways.

                            2. Great topic and board idea!!

                              I have been feeding my dogs a raw diet for about 15 years. I currently own 3 Pugs Tebow,- a 7 month old male (the fawn in the picture); Booberry- a 10 year old female(the small black one); and Bubba (his lower gum and lip stick out, so it's officially "Bubba Gump Pug, it's a household name"), a very recently adopted (have had him 5 weeks) approximately 13 year old male. All have been on raw since the day they set foot in my house. The change in Bubba is remarkable since starting raw. He's lost weight, gained a beautiful, glossy coat, and walks much better, along with other physical improvements.

                              I started a raw diet with a dog that I lost 1/24/12( the solo pic- Gator). He was over 17, and made it that long in great part, I believe, because 15+ of those years he was raw fed. One of the great things about feeding Pugs(and dogs in general) a raw diet is that it keeps them very lean and muscular, while still allowing them to eat a good volume of food. Along with the obvious benefits, that is important to me because I do competitive obedience and agility with them.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: JenJeninCT

                                Jen, even via a photo on the internet, I can see how glossy and healthy the coats of your pugs are!

                                1. re: JenJeninCT

                                  We feed raw prey model as well - our 8 month old Rottweiler mix was shedding her hay-like hair until almost bald and overweight despite a starvation diet, until we switched to raw - lost the weight, beautiful glossy coat returned, and though it turned out she had thyroid issues, I don't know that we would have been able to pinpoint them without getting her nutrition settled first, The prescription weight loss food from the vet at the time consisted of the following ingredient list: peanut shells, soybean flour, soybean oil, corn meal. *shudder* 8 years later and we still have not gotten/needed the hip replacement they said was urgent because of her weight, mobility, etc...

                                2. I am hoping that more Cat folks will jump in with some ideas here. I would like the idea of doing more of the food for my fur family. I seldom eat processed foods, so weird to be giving it to them. And some are getting into the senior years, so and pointers with that would be nice.

                                  20 Replies
                                  1. re: Quine

                                    Raw meat. Cut up some chicken thighs. My cats steal the meat as we are getting ready to feed it to the dogs. That is how they got started on raw at our house. Both the boys were rescues though as kittens.

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      Cats are a bit trickier. You can feed a homemade raw diet but you need to get certain supplements to ensure they get enough taurine.

                                      I've been blessed with very senior animals (cats lived to be 14.5, 20.5, 18.5; dog was 17 and I have a 21 year old cockatiel). My little guy is just a year old and is 13 pounds. What I find works best is a consistent diet; cats have sensitive systems and don't adapt too well if you change their food. Of course, if they are outside kitties, things are different. The senior cats grew up on good quality kibble with high quality canned towards the end. The little guy now eats Blue Buffalo Wilderness kibble and Primal Pet Turkey raw.

                                      I used to have a bunch of sites bookmarked for making your own cat food but I removed them from my favorites when I had the 18 year old put down last summer. After 40 years of having cats, I thought I was not going to have another until we found this one. Found him wandering around the street; he was six weeks old and weighed one pound. Vet didn't think he was going to make it. He's a stunning (but crazy!) cat!

                                      1. re: Quine

                                        Quine, you might want to have a look at this website:

                                        she's a veterinarian, and her instructions are the most detailed and useful i've ever seen.

                                        my girls - Sasha and Sophie - are thriving on the dry Grain-Free Spot's Stew from Halo right now. they drink a ton of water, and you can't believe the amount of litter box activity that goes on here...but if they ever develop problems with it i'll probably start making their food myself because i just can't handle the stench from the canned stuff. they're always interested in my food, but i never give them scraps because i don't want to encourage begging - i made that mistake with the last two, and they always tortured me in the kitchen and at the table ;


                                        as far as treats go. i give them each a "cookie" once or twice a day - Bench & Field Holistic Natural Feline Treats. i buy them at Trader Joe's, and the girls go crazy for them. they're just little fish-shaped crunchy things about the size of a nickel...if a nickel was fish-shaped.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I will second catinfo.org and also add catnutrition.org as sources for foodmaking information. I feed mine a raw diet based on these recipes. Prior to that, they were getting high-quality, grain-free canned food, but one cat still had bowel issues. The raw diet cleared that up completely. My guys are so healthy on this... great muscle tone, shiny coats. It is a pain in the butt, though, to make food.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            (Sticking this in here to keep on track, but not replying to anyone specifically.)

                                            Do any of you have tips for transitioning a cat from commercial cat food to homemade? My two-year-old black Maine Coon, Richard Feyman, eats exclusively a lower grain dry kibble; he won't even touch the canned food his 17 year old cohort Moses Winter-Lloyd gets, nor is he remotely interested in "people food." I've read that Maine Coons have a tendency toward overweight (well, weightier than they already are; Richard's a muscular 18 lbs and still growing), and I'd like to head off any potential joint problems, diabetes etc. with a homemade diet. Will check out the links from ghg and Mel...but other sites I've given a glance at have mentioned that it can be, essentially, futile to change a cat's preferred diet, or that it can lead to a finickey eater (?). I'd like to have a game plan in place to make the switch, and to make food to the satisfaction of The Cat. Things can get a little pitifully yeowly around here if the food is not to the Bosses' liking. (Haven't we all made that little misstep?)

                                            1. re: cayjohan

                                              Easy tries, would be pick up a few jars of baby food, like corn, chicken, and see if either of these would tempt him. maybe you can try the freeze dried liver cubes that dog trainers use (petCo etc sell them) to see if he likes liver flavor. Also look at the link given in one of the above posts, about the Vet who makes cats food. She talks a bit about what supplements she puts in the food, maybe just those sprinkled into his dry will be a good help.

                                              1. re: Quine

                                                I never even thought of baby food...what a great first step, and an easy one to make now. I tend to overresearch some things and get bogged down with inaction, and this project seems like it could go "that way" if I don't have a first step. Thank you!

                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                  just be sure the baby food isn't seasoned with onion or garlic powder - both *highly* toxic to kitties.

                                              2. re: cayjohan

                                                I would start with small cut up pieces of raw chicken. Our girl who refuses to eat canned will occasionally eat raw. Also chicken hearts are considered meat nor organs and are a great source of taurine for cats. Ours eat them whole.

                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                  Do you serve the chicken hearts raw or cooked? Might be a stupid question, but does taurine availability vary significantly raw v. cooked? I could get behind this, as chicken hearts are always my cook's treat when roasting chicken, and bulk chicken hearts would not be a bad thing around here. Thanks!

                                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                                    Raw, just as the cats would eat them naturally. Taurine degrades from grinding and prolonged freezing but I'm not sure about cooking as my focus is on feeding raw foods.

                                                    I do remember that the Pottenger study fed one group of cats raw meats and another group cooked and the cooked meat group suffered from degenerative disease that started earlier in life in each successive generation fed the cooked diet. While the raw fed cats stayed healthy. This was prior to the discovery of taurine and it's role in cat health.

                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                      I can vouch that dogs as well as cats love chicken livers (raw or cooked)....more so than the livers of other animals, I've found. Of course, I find them pretty tasty too, cooked up nicely on a cold day.

                                                2. re: cayjohan

                                                  elsewhere in that link i provided she also offers suggestions for transitioning dry kibble-eaters to raw, so it's worth a thorough read.

                                                  i'd personally do as rasputina suggested, and start out by giving them some raw chicken (preferably dark meat) in addition to their kibble. then once they've adjusted to that, maybe feed them one of the high-quality frozen prepared raw options from Primal, Nature's Variety or Feline's Pride until you get the hang of preparing your own...?

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    I really like the link, although it's admittedly a little daunting in my early stages of educating myself! I regularly cook for our many family members with all sorts of dietary requirements and restrictions - diabetes, chemo, heart failure and dialysis - so I suppose I should be *too* intimidated by this transition. (The difference is, said family members don't simply stick their noses in the air and stalk off with a swish of a tail if the food isn't specifically to their liking...well, at least not that I've noticed, but the absence of an irritated tail might thwart my radar! <grin>) I'm looking forward to studying the link...thanks so much!

                                                    Love the pictures of your ladies...are they Bombays?

                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                      they were born to feral rescues, so we have no idea what their true lineage might be. but there definitely appears to be some American Bombay in the mix. they're actually from 2 different moms who happen to be sisters, and were born exactly one week apart. Sasha has a more angular face typical of the Asian breeds, but Sophie has the vocal tendencies - she has A LOT to say. all the time.

                                                      as for getting started on the homemade food, there's no need to go all in from day one. just take it one paw at a time ;)

                                                3. re: MelMM

                                                  I had a male abby that developed horrible digestive problems - constant runs. Only steroids would clear it up. After research, we decided to try a raw diet, our vet approved - and within weeks he was a new cat! Not only was his tummy all better, he had tons of energy and his fur was fantastic. We got chicken wings and hand ground them with a meat grinder. Tons of work but it really helped.

                                                  Gradually we were able to transition in some high quality low fat dry food to supplement. Some brands he tolerated well, others gave him the runs again so, we had to be careful.

                                                  Now our male abby has passed on (at 16, so he had a great run) and for our not so delicate cats we get freshly ground chicken thighs from the grocery, freeze it in 8 oz. tubs and thaw one out every few days so it is fresh. Warm it up with a bit of water and a pinch of bone meal and dinner is served! We also give them high quality canned and some dry, but having some raw in their diet does seem to give them something that the canned does not.

                                                  Plus we have a 15 year old cat with not many teeth - and she loves the raw. So, as she eats it happily, we'll keep it coming!

                                                  (FYI, we did have to experiment with groceries - many weren't having enough turnover for the meat I bought to be fresh, but one place grinds it fresh every morning so, that's where I go. If it's not fresh they won't eat it!)

                                                  You can also buy boneless skinless thighs, freeze them partially and grind them yourself but you need to get really high quality grinder. Otherwise, you get long bits that stay intact and mess up your grinder and your disposal. Easier for me to go to the store!

                                                4. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  The photo by the window is so lovely it should hang in a museum. They look very "Egyptian" there, regal in the pose of the sitting cat.

                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    aw, thanks. i actually captured that shot 2 days after i brought them home - before they got sick of me constantly coming after them with the camera :)

                                                5. My bruno used to have a homemade diet of chicken/rice/peas when he was a pup with a sensitive stomach. Now, he gets Nutro with the ocassional...
                                                  chicken liver
                                                  raw beef bone from the farmer market
                                                  scrambled egg
                                                  and an assortment of carrots/apples/celery (his fave) none of which are for dietary reasons.
                                                  He also got to drag around the bone from an Iberico ham leg that we had at a party the other evening. As you can see in the pic below, he's a very happy (spoiled!) boy.

                                                  1. The photo of Carmen's gorgeous Bruno raises a question...how many of you give your dogs bones....any issues there? I know, obv. not chicken bones, but I am a paranoid momma. Any "don't do this" issues re. bones?

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                      My dogs eat bones everyday, including chicken bones. Raw bones are fine as long as they not weight bearing ones from a large animal. Our prey model raw diet consists mostly of raw meaty bones especially chicken. I've been feeding this for 6 years without issue, including raising our puppy on raw from the time we brought her home. We did grind her meaty bones for the first week or two and then switched over to pieces. She is now a 65 pound adult ( German Shepherd) and she just takes whole thighs in her mouth, chomps twice and swallows. We also have a pug on raw.

                                                      1. re: rasputina

                                                        Sorry to be stupid about this....but is it only raw chicken bones that are okay? I seem to remember a warning about chicken bones for pets but is that only for cooked?

                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                          You don't want to feed cooked bones because they can splinter. Raw bones from small animals like chickens and rabbits are fine. We are talking bones that the dog can swallow. Those big cow leg bones ect if you wanted to give them for chewing only need to be large enough that they can't be swallowed by the dog. We don't even feed those anymore though, since the dogs don't need them for teeth cleaning, their teeth stay very clean on a raw diet and they get plenty of calcium from the smaller bones they ingest with their meat.

                                                        2. re: rasputina

                                                          +1 on the bones - raw chicken is fine; it's cooked any bones that causes problems.

                                                        3. re: pinehurst

                                                          My dogs eat bones, though not every day, for tooth and gum health. They are always raw.

                                                          1. re: maxie

                                                            Maxie, are there particular ones that they favor? And what sizes are your dogs?

                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                              They get beef bones sourced through my local organic market from a local ranch. My dogs are 65 and 72 pounds, lean and super active.

                                                              1. re: maxie


                                                                When I was hand grinding the chicken wings for my cats, they'd get a bit of raw bone, crack it and get the fresh marrow - and good heavens. The gleam in the eye? From a cat I'd thought was a pure princess? Very educational!

                                                                For all their hearts, sophistication and quirks, raw bones are still powerfully joyful to our animals : )

                                                          2. re: pinehurst

                                                            I personally don't feed weight- bearing bones from poultry, as it has the most likelihood to splinter. Some people don't feed rib bones as it can kind of layer in the gut and cause a blockage if a lot is consumed, but others feed ribs with no issues. For my Pugs, beef ribs are more recreational than consumable (other than the meat). They do consume a lot of bone from chicken and duck necks, and pork, beef and lamb neck and knuckle bones. As long as they can pick it up and carry it, I offer it- it is surprising the size of bone they can carry!

                                                          3. r.e. raw chicken bones.

                                                            One of my poor hens made the mistake of hiding in the dog pen and was caught by our sweet little Daisy dog. She ripped a full leg quarter off and swallowed it whole before we could get to her. My wife was worried but it did not seem to hurt the dogs digestion.

                                                            Same dog I gave a corn cob to thinking she might enjoy gnawing on it. Swallowed it down in two gulps.

                                                            Ironically she has allergies and we feed her Blue Buffalo lamb and rice which seems to ameliorate her symptoms somewhat.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: kengk

                                                              Yes indeed...lamb and rice is a boon to allergy prone dogs...at least it was to Mishka, the dog we had before Ben.

                                                              I don't know whether to laugh or cringe at your hen story!! That was one motivated dog (and one poor hen!)

                                                              I have a feeling Ben would do the same to a corn cob...it's funny, he eats in two modes....thoughtful, dainty licking and nibbling (usually to items that he holds between his two enormous front paws), and NOM NOM NOM, wolfing down what we wished he'd maybe chew more than twice!

                                                              1. re: kengk

                                                                corn on the cob can be dangerous to dogs as it can get stuck in their throats or intestines if they swallow it whole.

                                                                1. re: kengk

                                                                  This reminds me of my little chihuahua (his "sister" is the cat) he is such a jealous pig, that if he is chewing on anything when she walks into the room (or if you call "here kitty kitty" while he is eating) he will swallow whatever it is- ON THE SPOT- regardless of the size. We have made several emergency room trips with a huge *something* clogging his tiny throat. His little character defect is pure greediness...and of course the cat has ZERO interest in his "whatever" chewy thing.

                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                    My Mishka was like that with hugs. If anyone hugged anyone in front of her, she'd run over and whine piteously, because she was left out of the lovin' for two seconds.

                                                                    :-) and XO to your chihuahua. What he lacks in size perception, he more than makes up for in spirit.

                                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                                      Sasha suffers from snuggle envy too. heaven forbid anyone else should get love - whenever i'm holding Sophie she rams into m legs & whines until i pick her up. she's a bully - she likes to steal Sophie's treats and push her off my lap.

                                                                      Sophie's wising up, though. she's started coming to me for secret snuggle time when Sasha isn't there, and recently i've noticed that she won't eat until her sis is finished and has walked away from the bowls.

                                                                2. picked up two new things to try today - Nature's Variety Instinct Duck & Turkey formula, which is the highest-protein grain-free kibble they carry at my local Petco...and refrigerated FreshPet Vital Complete Meal for cats. i'm curious to see how they respond to both. i hate to change their food too often, but i want them to get the best possible nutrition and i realized that Spot's Stew is lower in protein than i had thought. Wysong Epigen apparently contains the highest percentage of protein of all the dry formulas, but i have to find a specialty store that stocks it.

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    update on the Vital Complete. the girls are CRAZY about it. they snarfed down last night's dinner and breakfast this morning faster than i've ever seen them eat. usually they eat a bit, wander away, and revisit the bowl a few times before finishing, but this stuff makes them lick the bowls clean in a single sitting.

                                                                    i think i'm going to use this stuff to transition them off dry, and then make the move to raw. i need to start working on a homemade recipe - i'll be using the link i provided the other day as an outline.

                                                                    gotta love that i was fine keeping them on dry a few days ago, and this discussion motivated me to experiment...which led me to change my stance completely!

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      Nicely done! The proof was "in the pudding" (or in the Vital Complete) for your cats. When we got our first dog, I was an absolute newbie to the feeding and care of dogs. She was from the shelter, freaked out (so freaked out, they put her in a cage in the cat room...this is the little orange pit bull, Mishka) and she was underweight. At the time, they recommended Science Diet b/c that's what they fed the dogs/cats at the shelter...and the person who did Mishka's adoption paperwork said "She loves it."

                                                                      Not so much.

                                                                      Well, Mishka Would. Not. Touch. it. My mother, God bless her and rest her, went to the fridge, lopped off a piece of leftover kielbasa, chopped it fine and scrambled it with an egg for her. Similar to Veggo's sister on the "Cat eating people food" thread, she opened a bottle of water, and put it in a bowl....with ice cubes....setting a precedent for "ice water only please" with Mishka.

                                                                      Anyway...the point is, we DID find brands of dog food that Mishka liked, but the proof is in the tasting with the pets....no matter how well-meaning the suggestion. Goodhealthgourmet has totally the right idea....do the research, let them try it...and watch the result!

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                        For the transition to raw I cannot possibly recommend Darwin's Pet more highly. Conveniently packaged, bright fresh red RAW frozen meat sent out in convenient to defrost sealed 1/2 lb. packages, and nutritionally complete to AAFCO standards. Not to mention they offer a 10lb trial for only $14.99 which is cheaper than you could feed prey model raw yourself!

                                                                        Only down side is they only have chicken and turkey, so once you go 100% raw you'll want to mix in a few other proteins on occasion.

                                                                        Best quality and regarded source I've found for that is Hare Today, which has rabbit, pheasant, quail, duck and much more. You'll want their finest ground with bones and organ meats and then they offer already blended nutrition supplement that just has to be mixed with the defrosted ground and you're good to go.

                                                                        I was going to go homemade or prey model but when I found Hare Today and Darwins thanks to some raw cat food boards decided it's just so much easier to have the already packaged and ground when it can be shipped to my door for an average of $5 per pound. That's no more than I was spending feeding premium canned!

                                                                        1. re: NuMystic

                                                                          i was JUST looking at the Hare Today website after seeing jenscats5 mention it earlier. it's so great to have a positive review from a trusted fellow Hound. thanks for the feedback :)

                                                                          now if only i could solve my never-ending kitty litter conundrum!

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            Happy to oblige, your post in the TJs thread led me here to offer a vote of confidence in going raw. I know many others have struggled with transitioning, but these two took to it INSTANTLY. Wish I'd known and wouldn't be sitting on two full cases of Hound & Gatos canned!

                                                                            Do not pass up the Darwin's deal, it is fabulous food as well and at $1.50 a pound for already portioned frozen pouches I can't imagine an easier way to ease into feeding raw.

                                                                            1. re: NuMystic

                                                                              i'm absolutely going to take advantage of that Darwin's deal, and something tells me the transition won't be very difficult with my girls - they're LOVING this Vital complete stuff so much that at both meals today they only ate those chunks and left the kibble behind in their bowls! i'm glad i decided to do this now - they're so young (7 months) that they're not too set in their gustatory ways ;)

                                                                              thanks again for the info - much appreciated.

                                                                              1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                so i gave the girls a kibble-free dinner tonight of half Vital Complete and half this stuff:


                                                                                they INHALED it. in fact, they ate all the raw first, then picked at the cooked Vital stuff. this transition is a piece of cake :) i'll keep them on this combo until i figure out what i'm going to do about Darwin or Hare Today products.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  Glad to hear it's going so well!

                                                                                  Just keep in mind that Darwin's can take a long time from day you sign up to when you receive it. They make their raw to order only once a week I think. It was a week before my order was made and then another day or two in transit. Then you've got defrosting time before any actually makes it on the plate.

                                                                      2. Bruin, my Avatar and 150lb Ridgie, loves whatever falls into his dish. Until we got him from the RR rescue org. we'd never heard of fish for doggies. We give him Nature's Balance sweet potato and salmon kibble along with cooked chicken. Whenever there's leftovers from our dinner, he gets it; could be steak, pork, roast, etc. The only thing we're careful about is making sure he gets nothing with onion; all other seasonings are fine. He does get raw carrots and dearly loves cheese and PB.

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                          Bruin is a big boy!!!

                                                                          Anyway, total thumbs up for the fish suggestion. Ben loves salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines. The only thing we go easy on is turkey, which for some reason gives him gas. I'll check out the Nature's Balance sweet potato and salmon.

                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                            Yes, canned mackerel is a relatively inexpensive way to supplement kibble. Both the oil and the bones are good for them, plus for most dogs: the stinkier the better!

                                                                            Most premium dog food lines include a fish-based version -- Kelpie's favorite is Premium Edge "skin and coat formula" (salmon, potatoes and vegetables) which isn't even that high end (it's the cheapest of the foods in our rotation).

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              Ruth, is this available at Petco, etc?

                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                http://www.premiumedgepetfood.com/dea... -- I ran my zip code and it doesn't appear to be carried by Petco. If you have Costco, you might want to try their grain-free salmon-sweet potato kibble, which is good quality and very reasonably priced.

                                                                                http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-foo... (this is a great site, btw).

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  Thx! Ran my zip and we are good to go!

                                                                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                BTW, Kelpie has a gorgeous coat (see my avatar), but especially on this food. I took chicken-based foods out of our rotation because her coat always seemed a little drier and duller. Plus, she doesn't seem to like them as much as the others.

                                                                                I should note that Kelpie will eat anything I will eat. The fact that I'm eating it seems to be the big attraction. I should say anything except lettuce -- she once turned her nose up at the last couple of bites of my hamburger because there was lettuce on it. And she doesn't eat the rodents she kills (thank goodness!), although she did eat a dead bird once. Lettuce and dead rodents are just about the only things she won't eat, though!

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  Kelpie is gorgeous indeed. Ben will only eat lettuce that is soaked thoroughly in meat juices. Sigh.

                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                    Why would you be unhappy about your cats not wanting to eat something that as obligate carnivores they're digestion is not adapted for? The only reward if they did would be looser stinky poo. :)

                                                                                    1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                      Ben's a dog. He happily eats lots of different veggies and some fruits....but lettuce, not so much. Takes after his momma in that regard. :-)

                                                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                        Ah! Sorry! Please don't share with Ben that I confused him for a… (gasp) feline. lol

                                                                          2. My grand-pup eats a raw diet now......2 raw chicken drumsticks and a handful of broccoli.....she's always had issues with itchy skin & rashes and being chubby.....now on the raw diet her coat is soooooo shiny!!! Her rashes have cleared up & she's lost her pot belly.

                                                                            As for the cats I've had, I had a kitty who had Diabetes which I managed to control with Wheat Gluten Free canned food.....she love the Fancy Feast Classics, so ate that which kept her Diabetes under control till she got Renal Failure. I was able to stop giving her insulin once she ate Gluten Free. My other cat at the time also at the same & loved it!!

                                                                            When I got Miss Maddie who had MANY health issues, I gave her ground raw boneless chicken thighs to get her to eat. She loved that off & on.

                                                                            Another site to get raw foods for pet is: https://www.hare-today.com/ I haven't used them personally but heard many good things about them from others. For those considering feeding their cats raw, the link GHG posted a while back is a good one. Taurine is VERY important for cats to have in their diet, so be sure to add it. Amazon.com has good prices for large bags of Taurine.

                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jenscats5

                                                                              My dogs get raw chicken too. Drumsticks and thighs. The flexible raw bones keep their teeth clean too.

                                                                              1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                Weird question: do dogs not run the risk of illness borne by raw/undercooked chicken that humans do?

                                                                                Sorry to be so backwards...I'm a raw diet noob.

                                                                                1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                  Proper handling of raw meat is just as critical for animals as it is for humans. Most of the raw food sites with recipes also offer handling guidelines for safety. It's a significant enough issue that it's one of the reasons I opt for the convenience of pre-packaged frozen raw as the better providers of it take those concerns VERY seriously and maintain very high standards.

                                                                                  In fact some vets that have finally come around to supporting raw often recommend that route unless you have a butcher you REALLY trust and are willing to go to great lengths to maintain a super clean handling chain.

                                                                                  1. re: NuMystic

                                                                                    While I would never encourage people to skimp on food safety, it's also true that dogs are less susceptible to food-borne illness because their intestinal tracts are shorter and the bacteria have less time to multiply to a stage where they cause illness. It seems a little silly to me to be super careful about handling food for an animal that evolved eating garbage and that regularly drinks out of the toilet and eats cat poo!

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      I hear you Ruth, but I'm just passing on information shared with me by a Vet who has first hand experience with a pet dying from salmonella due to raw food.

                                                                                      While all you shared may be true, there is also greatly increased risk from the raw meat as they are consuming far larger quantities of it uncooked than any human ever does. So while their digestive tracts may be shorter, if there is contaminated food they are going to be exposed to a far greater quantity of the bacteria from the outset.

                                                                                      I can understand how it may seem otherwise given your stated rationalizations, but it's simply untrue and potentially dangerous to lead others to believe it is "silly" to be super careful in these matters when there are far more factors at play than you are giving consideration to.

                                                                                      Not sure if you've ever spent time in countries where there are packs of dogs that eat a great deal of garbage, but I can tell you first hand they are some of the scariest, ugliest, and most diseased looking mongrels you could possibly imagine. :)

                                                                                      As for cat poo, they're not adapted or evolved for that. In the wild cats bury their scat so no dog would be eating it. It is only in an unnatural domesticated modern environment that dogs do that… just like eating commercial junk food or chocolate none of which is healthful in the least simply because they'll do it given the opportunity. :)

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        LOL no kidding. We have to keep the litter boxes behind baby gates so the dogs can't get to them

                                                                                        ewwwww disgusting.

                                                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                                                          I'm familiar with the habit...the little Scottie next door regards Ben's doo doo with great affection. But who am I to talk? Ben, when he finds it, wants to roll in skunk poo.

                                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                            Oh my ... you're reminding me of an emergency trip to the groomers. I don't know what wild animal it came from, but one of my dogs could not have been happier to roll in it. Good Lord ...

                                                                                            As long as we are on this not very appetizing topic ... I have read that dogs ate fecal matter (not saying cats') regularly in the days when they were following the camp and scavenging rather than being fed.

                                                                                    2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                      I've read that cats (probably dogs, too) have a natural resistance to salmonella. Even so, I make sure I buy chicken thighs from WF. Also, I make sure they only get the food I grind/mix up at home has first been frozen -- freezing will kill bad stuff. I always thaw the food (which is in Ball pint glass (wide mouth) freezer safe jars) in the refrigerator.

                                                                                      When I feed the cats (one pint jar is good for 3 meals for 2 cats; I feed morning and evening, NO DRY FOOD) I put the food in a plastic zip lock, run hot water in a bowl and place the zip lock bag in the bowl just to take the chill off .. never microwave!

                                                                                      My 2 Abbys have been eating this way about 8-9 years (one is 10, the other 9). It costs some $, is some trouble to mix up but I know this is healthier for them. They get fresh water everyday but I NEVER see them drink water (water is mixed into their dish of food). They are both healthy and active. (The mix has some chicken hearts, as well as the boneless AND bone in chicken thighs. They like it better if I mix in a little finely chopped cooked chicken or turkey.)

                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                        freezing will kill bad stuff
                                                                                        it most certainly will NOT. freezing slows or halts *growth,* but it doesn't kill bacteria. once that food comes back up to room temp, they'll start to grow & multiply again...and there are some strains that can even grow at or below freezing.

                                                                                2. My Ivan is a pure-bred Siberian forest cat. His breeder fed him raw and so do I. I put bone meal and gelatin in it because that's what the recipe says to do. I never heard that taurine degrades in the freezer, that's a bit scary. I don't want him going blind! He loves his homemade raw the best, also loves smelly grain free wet food, nature's variety raw, and Friskies' part time treats (he'll steal them for where ever they are hidden and rip open the package). He's shown no interest in 'human food' apart from meat, seafood and eggs once in a while hje likes a finger tip full of goat cheese or really bland ice-cream. The thing is I think he's underweight. But feeding him raw is the best he's playful and full of energy. I've watched him play games by himself for the first time since he was a kitten! And in the second pic that's him eating some venison, I bought at the farmer's market.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: YAYME

                                                                                    Ivan has the cutest nose ever, btw.

                                                                                    I've noticed that Ben also is nuts about venison. We realized this while gnawing on some venison jerky during a car trip....Ben had his own snack but I'm telling you, he was cuckoo for cocoa puffs for the venison.

                                                                                    Re goat cheese....Ben only likes "Strong" cheese....little nubbins of pecorino, or asiago, or goat cheese, or very sharp cheddar. He sniffs monterey jack/Kraft singles and walks away.

                                                                                    1. re: YAYME

                                                                                      I don't think that we know taurine degrades in the freezer, it's more that we don't know it doesn't. So the most cautious recipes have extra taurine to allow for any possible degradation.

                                                                                    2. We spent a small fortune having our dog tested for her allergies and got the results back today.

                                                                                      We are now looking for "grain free chicken based" food.
                                                                                      Our vet does not endorse a raw diet but it is tempting when I can buy leg quarters for well under a dollar a pound and this dry food is going to cost more.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: kengk

                                                                                        Costco carries a grain-free chicken-based food. Very reasonable.

                                                                                        ETA: oops, it's actually turkey-based.

                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                          Is it a Costco brand? The nearest store is about an hour and a half away. Have never set foot in one but have been tempted to check it out based on other anecdotes.

                                                                                          I don't think turkey was on the list but sweet potatoes are which seems to be in several grain free rations.

                                                                                          1. re: kengk

                                                                                            Kengk, don't know what chains/types of stores are near you but a lot of the larger places like Petco let you search for your specifications of what your dog can/can't have. Also, we have a lot of Agway/Dodge Grain farm supply stores near us, and they tend to have a decent range of products and knowledgable employees. Good luck!

                                                                                        2. re: kengk

                                                                                          If you want to keep your vet happy, you could just cook that chicken.

                                                                                        3. Our little one will eat anything (rescued off the street at 2 pounds and probably 6 weeks,) and has huge feet with extra toes so she's an adept food thief but our 3 year old Bengal has a very sensitive tummy. I would love to feed her more protein because she is so muscular and incredibly active,) but have to do so carefully. Plus, she's picky. She really only likes london broil cooked on the BBQ and plain cooked chicken and she doesn't want either of those all the time. She has no interest in raw what-so-ever no matter how it is introduced to her. She's not interested in fish or the chicken "guts" when I cook a whole chicken (these were the dogs treats but she passed away recently so I thought I'd give it a go with the kitties.) Nope. She just wants her Natural Balance Duck and Green Pea grain free kibble and she's a happy girl. She's absolutely gorgeous and in top health according to our vet so its not something we worry about too much, just my being "Mom" and wanting her to eat well, I guess. They occasionally get gushy noms as a treat but when I've tried to feed it to them frequently they won't eat it.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                            so beautiful! i ADORE Bengals. i love the center photo - Sasha & Sophie sleep entangled like that sometimes, and it melts my heart.

                                                                                            it sounds like your Bengal is doing great so obviously don't force the issue, but if you want to give the raw thing another go, you can get a trial-size bag (0.75 lb) of the frozen Nature's Variety for $4.99 at Petco. i just started my girls on this stuff a couple of nights ago, and they're hooked. they LOVE the duck formula, so i thought it might appeal to yours since she already eats the duck kibble. just a thought!

                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                              I will keep my eyes open for it, I know at least Veda will eat it even if ChaCha won't.

                                                                                            2. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                              Incredibly, incredibly cute and happy cats.

                                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                Thanks. :) They are happy- they're playing in a big blue IKEA shopping bag right now like it's just the best thing ever. Too funny.

                                                                                            3. Appropos of nothing, Ben just made short work of a small bowl of turnip. He likes squash/sweet potato, but I thought that turnip would be too "peppery" for him. The answer would be noooooooo.