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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.
      http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05...

      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...