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Dog diet, not raw... other options?


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My dog is having issues with his current food, he refuses to eat it.  It was the only kind he'd eat for the last 6 months but he's recently started having "hot spots" and throwing up more.  He's almost 10 years old, is a chihuahua, has bad teeth so soft food only.  I think I'd like to go to feeding him real food, it'd make him ecstatic.  Other than avoiding chicken, since small dogs often have allergies to it, what else can I feed him?  Ground Beef?  What about grains, yes/no? which kind? I was thinking I saw some of the better dry brands have peas instead of grain, better for him?  I will be cooking it in batches and freezing meal sized portions.  I've tried this before but always went back top the can because it's easier.  I think I'm just going to have to do it for real this time but I want to make sure I'm doing it right.  Websites with specific info would be helpful.  Everything I find is raw diet and I can not do that.  The clean up alone from his throwing up would cause me to be sick (I can usually manage his dog food ick... sometimes). I did try raw ground beef with him once, he didn't like it. 

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I've been mostly home-cooking for about five years now and dabbled in it a long time before that.

 

It's flat out easy if you just have one small dog.

 

I used to worry so much about getting things just right (balancing the calcium:phosphorus ratio is the main thing in home cooking) but I've gotten slack about it over the years.

 

I have a huge thick folder (full of real paper ;)) of resources that I can hunt through if you're interested. Right off the top of my head here are a couple of good sites --

 

2nd Chance (a vet owned site)

 

Pet Diets (a veterinary nutritionist)

 

I can supply lots more info later. Have to run to an appointment now!

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 I would probably try a limited ingredient canned food. Something like this may work:

 

https://bluebuffalo.com/natural-dog-food/limited-ingredient-basics/wet-food/basics-grain-free-small-breed-lamb-potato-recipe-canned-dog-food/

 

I would avoid turkey, grains, beef and other common allergens for dogs. Maybe add in some canned organic pumpkin to settle the stomach.

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 I would probably try a limited ingredient canned food. Something like this may work:

 

https://bluebuffalo.com/natural-dog-food/limited-ingredient-basics/wet-food/basics-grain-free-small-breed-lamb-potato-recipe-canned-dog-food/

 

I would avoid turkey, grains, beef and other common allergens for dogs. Maybe add in some canned organic pumpkin to settle the stomach.

Wow, that stuff is expensive. I definitely can not afford to feed him that.  

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I've been mostly home-cooking for about five years now and dabbled in it a long time before that.

 

It's flat out easy if you just have one small dog.

 

I used to worry so much about getting things just right (balancing the calcium:phosphorus ratio is the main thing in home cooking) but I've gotten slack about it over the years.

 

I have a huge thick folder (full of real paper ;)) of resources that I can hunt through if you're interested. Right off the top of my head here are a couple of good sites --

 

2nd Chance (a vet owned site)

 

Pet Diets (a veterinary nutritionist)

 

I can supply lots more info later. Have to run to an appointment now!

That would be great.

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This is what I use.  You add your own protein (raw or cooked).  My dog had severe gastro issues and none since switching to this.  It is dehydrated and lasts for several months for two small dogs. 

 

https://www.chewy.com/honest-kitchen-kindly-grain-free/dp/109303

 

I use The Honest Kitchen sometimes. That's a great place to start. You can feed it all the time or use it to ease your way into full home-cooking. Some dogs seem to not care for dehydrated food, though. I love the company. I don't know if it's still true, but it used to be they were the only dog food company legally allowed to state that their food is human grade. They fought a long court battle to earn that right. I think they have several formulas now that you can add in your own protein source.

 

 

 

Other than avoiding chicken, since small dogs often have allergies to it, what else can I feed him?  Ground Beef?  What about grains, yes/no? which kind? I was thinking I saw some of the better dry brands have peas instead of grain, better for him?

 

I've never heard that small dogs in particular tend to have allergies to chicken. I don't know why they would. Mine does fine on it. I sure wouldn't avoid it unless you know he has a problem with it. You can use any protein source that works for him/you and that you can easily get--chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, more exotic meats if you can get them (I can find bison and rabbit pretty easily in stores around here; hunters often have venison, etc.). Canned fish can be used and some of it is certainly a healthful addition. Just be aware of sodium content.

 

Ideally, and especially if you're not giving a vitamin/mineral supplement, you'll want to add a bit of organ meat. Chicken or beef liver are good. Whatever you can get. Variety is good. I roughly shoot for 2 or 3 ounces of organ meat to each 1 to 1.5 pounds of muscle meat.

 

I'm not anti-grain at all. I think a lot of that is very misguided. I do what works for the dog in front of me. I've had a couple extremely active dogs who absolutely needed some grain in their diet to maintain muscle mass and good body condition. It didn't matter how else I tweaked their food (more protein, carbs from sweet potatoes, etc.)--they didn't thrive w/o a bit of grain. Most people who home-cook tend to use rice or oats. I've also used quinoa and (sometimes) pasta. If you don't want to do grains you can do sweet potatoes or various types of squash. Those are great for carbs and fiber. White potatoes can be used, too.

 

Peas are fine. They can have a fairly significant amount of protein, and that's one reason some dog foods include them. It makes the protein percentage look higher and fools people who assume it's coming from meat. Kind of a win/win for the food company. If you don't use peas you can add in a little of some other green veggie (and/or orange veggie if you're not using some sweet potato or squash as a carb source).

 

One thing you really need to add is a bit of calcium. Most ingredients used in home-made dog food are high in phosphorus, so you need to add a bit of calcium to balance it out. As a general rule many people will add about 900 mg. of calcium per pound of cooked food. You can save eggshells, rinse them well and allow them to dry. Put them in an oven on low heat for a few minutes to really dry them well, then grind to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. A half a teaspoon of that will have around 800-1000 mg. of calcium and is perfect for adding to cooked food.

 

This is a loose guideline that I follow:

16 to 24 ounces of muscle meat or fish

2 to 3 ounces liver or other organ meat

2 to 4 eggs

2 to 8 ounces of yogurt, kefir or cottage cheese

4 to 16 ounces of cooked grains or veggies

2,000 mg. of calcium

 

Is it perfectly balanced? No. You achieve balance over time by varying the ingredients instead of using the same thing all the time.

 

If your dog won't tolerate organ meat (some won't) you can give a bit of a vitamin mineral supplement. If I do that I grind up a Centrum (or similar) over 50 vitamin that doesn't contain iron and sprinkle just a bit over the food now and then (keeping in mind that it's formulated for a 150 pound person and giving it to the dog in an appropriate amount).

 

BalanceIt is an all-in-one supplement that's pretty popular. You can use their website to formulate recipes and it will tell you how much of their product to use to balance those particular ingredients. Their recipes tend to be a tad carb heavy for my liking. The Pet Diets site I linked to in my first post recommends BalanceIt in their recipes.

 

Monica Segal is well regarded by both home cookers and raw feeders. She has several ebooklets available that discuss home cooking. She isn't a balance over time person, but rather believes that each recipe should be completely balanced. So her recipes call for several supplements (including a few of her own).

 

In home-cooking there tends to be two schools -- Those who believe every recipe should be analyzed and balanced by adding supplements and those who believe that good balance can be achieved over time by feeding a variety of foods. I started out in the first group and as I gained experience and confidence I eventually worked my way over to the second group. ;)

 

ETA: DogAware is another very good source. The owner, Mary Straus, wrote lots of very good articles for the Whole Dog Journal. She's very well regarded. She's a feed variety/achieve balance over time person.

Edited by Pawz4me
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This is what I use.  You add your own protein (raw or cooked).  My dog had severe gastro issues and none since switching to this.  It is dehydrated and lasts for several months for two small dogs. 

 

https://www.chewy.com/honest-kitchen-kindly-grain-free/dp/109303

I really like this idea. Super easy and seems affordable.  I wish I could get a sample size to see if he'd even eat it.

 

As for the chicken, I'm not sure where I heard it but yeah, he does have issues with it.  He can have a little bit as a treat but any more than that has him digging at himself and is probably why we're having to switch.  His current commercial food is mostly lamb but does have some chicken in it and I think it's the reason for the hot spots.

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Wow, that stuff is expensive. I definitely can not afford to feed him that.  

 

There are some cheaper brands, but in general most decent grain-free canned foods are a bit expensive. I would rather pay more money than have to make special dog food, especially with all the separate meals I have to make for the humans in the house, lol. Maybe check out Whole Earth Farms if you have a Petco or other store near you that carries it. It's made by Merrick but it's cheaper. I feed my dog the poultry-free dry food from them and his ears have been much better. They have canned grain-free but I don't know the price.

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I really like this idea. Super easy and seems affordable.  I wish I could get a sample size to see if he'd even eat it.

 

They do offer sample sizes, but apparently they're out of stock right now. You might want to keep checking. Although it looks like two of the three samples are chicken based, so I don't know if that would work for you or not. I've used the samples in the past. Each one makes about two meals for my 15 pound dog, but he's a light eater. A 2 lb. box of one of the varieties that you add your own protein source to might be the way to go if the samples don't get back in stock soon or if you want to try a different variety. If you need to return a product they'll send a shipping label (free) within 30 days of purchase. See the returns section of the FAQs.

 

ETA: The return policy is for items ordered directly from THK. I don't know how returns would be handled from Chewy, Amazon, etc.

Edited by Pawz4me
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Pawz mentioned it above, but let me reiterate, it is IMPERATIVE that if you are going to prepare homecooked meals that you do some research in how to come pretty close to hitting the 1.2:1 Calcium to Phosphorus ratio that is established as the ideal target for dogs. Many raw feeders (including myself) chose raw because an 80/10/10 (meat/organ/edible-bone) ration is an easy way to meet a dog's needs for a mineral balance. Balancing the calcium (relative to phosphorus-rich meat) can be done using calcium supplements and/or ground eggshells. But one needs to understand what one is doing here.

 

Meat alone (or in combination with vegetables) w/o bone or a proper calcium source, will cause a serious nutritional imbalance,

 

There are some pretty wacky "recipes" on the internet. 

 

Dogs do not require carbohydrates (or vegetables, or legumes). 

 

I'd definitely include 10% organs (half of that liver) in any mix.

 

Good luck!

 

Bill

 

 

 

 

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I really like this idea. Super easy and seems affordable.  I wish I could get a sample size to see if he'd even eat it.

 

As for the chicken, I'm not sure where I heard it but yeah, he does have issues with it.  He can have a little bit as a treat but any more than that has him digging at himself and is probably why we're having to switch.  His current commercial food is mostly lamb but does have some chicken in it and I think it's the reason for the hot spots.

 

I'll send you some. PM me your address. 

 

:)

 

One of my dogs is allergic to chicken too.  We use turkey, beef, and pork for the protein.

Edited by ManagerMom
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To be a contrarian, all those vegetables (carbohydrates) that are the Honest Kitchen base mix are not essential to a canine diet.

 

Getting carbs out of the diet is the main rationale (for most) for doing a home prepped meal. Adding those elements back in through a very pricy dehydrated source makes no sense to me. 

 

Dogs are healthier not eating the sort of stuff in this "base" IMO.

 

Bill

 

 

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Getting carbs out of the diet is the main rationale (for most) for doing a home prepped meal.

 

IME that's simply not true. Not of people who home-cook. Among those who feed raw -- perhaps.

 

There was a huge surge in home-cooking after the big 2007 melamine recall. Many people choose to home-cook because their dog has allergies, GI or other health issues. In all the years I've been home-cooking (and hanging out on many, many message boards related to it) I don't recall anyone specifically say or even imply that avoiding carbs was the reason they were doing it. 

Edited by Pawz4me
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To be a contrarian, all those vegetables (carbohydrates) that are the Honest Kitchen base mix are not essential to a canine diet.

 

Getting carbs out of the diet is the main rationale (for most) for doing a home prepped meal. Adding those elements back in through a very pricy dehydrated source makes no sense to me. 

 

Dogs are healthier not eating the sort of stuff in this "base" IMO.

 

Bill

I think my issue and why I would prefer a pre-mix type thing is because of the need to include bone and organ meat.  I just can not do it.  Is there an additive that I can add to a mostly meat/ veggie homemade diet?  Something that has the nutrients that meat and veggies alone are missing?

Edited by foxbridgeacademy
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IME that's simply not true. Not of people who home-cook. Among those who feed raw -- perhaps.

 

There was a huge surge in home-cooking after the big 2007 melamine recall. Many people choose to home-cook because their dog has allergies, GI or other health issues. In all the years I've been home-cooking (and hanging out on many, many message boards related to it) I don't recall anyone specifically say or even imply that avoiding carbs was the reason they were doing it. 

 

Unfortunately many (most) people who are "cooking" for their dogs are operating on the mistaken assumptions that dogs--like people--should be eating veggies and carbohydrate-laden food, when there is no essential need for these items in a canine diet.

 

It is largely driven by anthropomorphism (and a deficit to feed dogs "healthy food,") but dogs and humans have different needs as species.

 

These added carbs are a negative in a canine diet.

 

I accept your point that there are many who are now "cooking" for their dogs were driven by the melamine crisis (and my other recalls).

 

Unfortunately, many of those people took to recreating diets similar to commercial kibble with respect to carbohydrate levels. This choice is avoidable and by including carbohydrates the main advantage to excellent canine health is lost. It is far preferable to cut out all those carbohydrates. Meat is a far superior source of protein than peas or corn gluten. And for energy, dogs do far better when metabolizing fat (which they were shaped by evolution to do with great efficiency) than when forced to metabolize carbs (which really isn't appropriate to the species).

 

It is why I warned about some whacky recipes on the internet. I sure there are message boards filled with recipes that seem cute to fellow boardies that are loaded with vegetables and carbohydrate sources, when that is not the way to go. 

 

Bill 

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Unfortunately many (most) people who are "cooking" for their dogs are operating on the mistaken assumptions that dogs--like people--should be eating veggies and carbohydrate-laden food, when there is no essential need for these items in a canine diet.

 

It is largely driven by anthropomorphism (and a deficit to feed dogs "healthy food,") but dogs and humans have different needs as species.

 

These added carbs are a negative in a canine diet.

 

I accept your point that there are many who are now "cooking" for their dogs were driven by the melamine crisis (and my other recalls).

 

Unfortunately, many of those people took to recreating diets similar to commercial kibble with respect to carbohydrate levels. This choice is avoidable and by including carbohydrates the main advantage to excellent canine health is lost. It is far preferable to cut out all those carbohydrates. Meat is a far superior source of protein than peas or corn gluten. And for energy, dogs do far better when metabolizing fat (which they were shaped by evolution to do with great efficiency) than when forced to metabolize carbs (which really isn't appropriate to the species).

 

It is why I warned about some whacky recipes on the internet. I sure there are message boards filled with recipes that seem cute to fellow boardies that are loaded with vegetables and carbohydrate sources, when that is not the way to go. 

 

Bill 

 

Bill, I  believe you've posted before that your experience in feeding is with exactly one dog, and for (IIRC) about four years. 'm not going to debate you, but I will say that I've been raw and home-cooking for going on twenty years with many, many dogs (my own and fosters). I've seen that what works for one will not work for all. I know this will sound condescending and I truly don't mean it to be but you have the zeal of the newly converted. I was you fifteen or twenty years ago. I got over myself. The dogs that were in front of me made me get over myself. They taught me. 

 

I will post my advice on these threads but I have no patience any more for debating. Anyone reading can take or leave what they want.

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I think my issue and why I would prefer a pre-mix type thing is because of the need to include bone and organ meat.  I just can not do it.  Is there an additive that I can add to a mostly meat/ veggie homemade diet?  Something that has the nutrients that meat and veggies alone are missing?

 

If you can't serve bone (say in the case of a dog with bad teeth), it is possible to supplement with calcium. Not uncommon.

 

You'd need to become familiar (at first) with the USDA website that lists all the nutrients in foods/meats, including (but not limited to) Calcium and Phosphorus. Then you'd need to do some math.

 

Once you get the basics down, it would come easy.

 

Organs (in my strong opinion) are essential to good canine health. There is no excuse not to feed organs, and would be non-negotiable for me.

 

Supplements are unnecessary* when dogs are fed organs at 10% of the meat-based diet (half of that liver).

 

*Omega 3s being a potential exception if dog not fed fish and/or eating non-grassfed beef.

 

If you fed just a little under 90% meats (various would be good) and slightly over 10% organs (5% liver), you could figure the amount of calcium to balance this mix. It would be outstanding.

 

I'd advise going relatively low-fat (at the beginning), but then building up to a healthy amount of fat. Fat is very good for dogs.

 

I advise a little (lean) in the beginning, as there are many mechanisms (from the release of proper digestive enzymes by the pancreas, to GI issues (too much fat, too soon, equals loose stools, to even changes in the mitochondria at the cellular level), so good to go slowly n building to full fat.

 

I advise avoiding "cooking for dog" websites. When you see elaborate recipes filled with vegetables, you've got well-meaning (but misinformed) people who are confusing the needs of the canine species.

 

Bill   

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Bill, I  believe you've posted before that your experience in feeding is with exactly one dog, and for (IIRC) about four years. 'm not going to debate you, but I will say that I've been raw and home-cooking for going on twenty years with many, many dogs (my own and fosters). I've seen that what works for one will not work for all. I know this will sound condescending and I truly don't mean it to be but you have the zeal of the newly converted. I was you fifteen or twenty years ago. I got over myself. The dogs that were in front of me made me get over myself. They taught me. 

 

I will post my advice on these threads but I have no patience any more for debating. Anyone reading can take or leave what they want.

 

I've also read every scientific paper on the issues of carbohydrate vs fat metabolism in the veterinary medical literature. It is an area that has been very widely studied. In every case, whether dealing with sled dogs, racing dogs, drug/bomb dogs, hunting dogs, or even out-of-shape couch potato dogs, the improvements in condition and stamina was well-established (and dramatically so).

 

So it isn't just "one guy's opinion." There is a vast mountain of evidence. The universally recognized authority on dog food, The National Research Council, says that carbohydrates are unnecessary in a canine diet.

 

I have raised and trained (to very high standards) quality gundogs for almost 50 years. I'm not new to dogs. I see a difference in the body condition, coat, teeth (drastic), breath, and physical stamina that comes with not feeding carbs. it isn't a subtle difference.

 

Bill

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Bill, you are right, the carbs aren't necessary but the poops are gorgeous on this food, lol.  I did the raw thing for a bit (and I really did it whole hog) and it's by the far the best diet.  Getting the bone content down with little dogs is not easy though and for various reasons I won't get into, I looked for an alternative and tried different things.  This is the one I've settled on and my dogs love it and most importantly, allergies and gastric issues are gone. 

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Bill, I believe you've posted before that your experience in feeding is with exactly one dog, and for (IIRC) about four years. 'm not going to debate you, but I will say that I've been raw and home-cooking for going on twenty years with many, many dogs (my own and fosters). I've seen that what works for one will not work for all. I know this will sound condescending and I truly don't mean it to be but you have the zeal of the newly converted. I was you fifteen or twenty years ago. I got over myself. The dogs that were in front of me made me get over myself. They taught me.

 

I will post my advice on these threads but I have no patience any more for debating. Anyone reading can take or leave what they want.

:iagree: :iagree: :iagree: :iagree:

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Foxbridge, have you considered a pre-made raw? You can get complete mixes and they're not icky to handle. It's an expensive way to feed, but for a very small dog it's usually not cost prohibitive.

LOL, My issue isn't the raw food going down, it's when it comes back up.  He's getting old and not the best health so even on the best dies he will still throw up occasionally... I have a very weak stomach when it comes to that kind of thing.  Plus for such a little guy he eats a lot, about 1/2 a pound of food per day.  

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LOL, My issue isn't the raw food going down, it's when it comes back up.  He's getting old and not the best health so even on the best dies he will still throw up occasionally... I have a very weak stomach when it comes to that kind of thing.  Plus for such a little guy he eats a lot, about 1/2 a pound of food per day.  

 

As you likely know, when a dog gets a high-fat/high-protein diet they eat considerably less food. Fat has 2.25 times the amount of energy per gram than carbohydrates or protein.

 

For all dogs, it is kinder to their GI system to feed them less food by mass and volume. This is doubly so with a dog that regurgitates easily.

 

Further, fats and proteins are what dogs were shaped by evolution to digest easily. Getting rid of the carbs would be a kindness.

 

Meat (whether raw or cooked) coming back up isn't especially less pleasant that kibble-vomit, and it is less likely to happen and there would be less to throw up.

 

Bill

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