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What’s Your Pet Food True Story?

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  1. Terri

    After reading Buyer Beware and several other books I started cooking for my dogs. I had been feeding “good” kibble and adding veggies and rice. When they started getting all home cooked foods I was amazed at the difference. Allergic dogs stopped itching, ear infections disappeared, the fat “kids” started losing weight. I have one dog with the auto immune disease pemphigus . It’s about disappeared on the new diet, no more skin breakouts or terribly swollen feet.

  2. Lydia Diaco

    My rescued 8 year old cocker suffered from IBS. I started feeding him boiled chicken with pumpkin purée, mixed with a well known expensive kibble. He also was taking a well known name digestive aid and prescription CG for joints…he seemed to be doing better. After about 6 months or so on this diet he started getting very bad skin rashes and lesions. Did lots of research online for suggestions. I now boil fresh sweet potatoes and mash them. I also cook up ground turkey with nothing added. Both of these items stay fresh in fridge for the week…He gets small portions of these 2 items with grain free kibble 2 times a day. IBS, gas and lesions GONE. He has even lost 5 lbs, and climbs stairs again….So far it is working.

  3. SarahB

    I’ve been able to convince a number of friends to switch to better quality kibble – whether it’s from Beneful or Dog Chow to something medium grade or from one of the big brands to a high quality food. Every time, they’re amazed by the basic changes that ALWAYS happen – better coat with less shedding, better smell, less stool, cleaner appearance. One friend had always fed purina one. The oldest of the bunch had a chronically dry nose that she’d been to the vet several times about, along with a tendency to develop benign lumps on her body. A switch to grain-free Acana has made both of those problems completely go away. It’s been over a year now and she hasn’t had a single new lump or nose problem. The changes in that dog got a bunch of other people to switch, too.

  4. pat chesney

    I have done so much research since I started reading your site. Anytime someone mixes wet with dry I discourage them because research shows that the wet food lets any toxins “bloom” in the dry food.
    I use an all organic frozen food which costs me about $1 per day more than the old canned food I used to use.
    It is so easy on the stomach that I never have to wean a dog off the old food because it has not toxins.
    The dogs have beautiful coats and feel well. Without you site I would never have known that what they were eating was causing problems.

    1. Dori

      I’m a raw feeder to my Maltese, Maltipoo and Yorkipoo as of about two and a half years ago. I’ve never been able to find an all organic frozen food. Would you mind sharing the name of the food? I’d love to try it. Thanks!

  5. Michelle

    My daughters Maltese had issues with crystals in his system and she was feeding him Nutro dry food. After almost losing him and many medical bills he has been switched to Honest Kitchen freeze dried food. He is doing well. My dog began having hives a few months ago and and I narrowed the problem down to Rosemary in his food…. Amazing!

    1. bev

      I believe honest kitchen is dehydrated not freeze dried. check primal, grandma Lucy’s, orijen. they are freeze dried.

      1. Marie Dalzell

        Bev is correct, THK is dehydrated. From the most recent issue of The Whole Dog Journal:

        Dehydrated ones are: Addiction, DNA, Grandma Lucy’s, NRG, Only Natural Pet, THK and ZiWi Peak (never used this but the article says it’s more like jerky)

        Freeze dried ones are: Bravo, Champion (Orijen), Dr Harveys, Fresh is Best, Nature’s Menu, Nature’s Variety, Primal, Stella & Chewys, SoJo’s and Vital Essentials.

  6. Lori

    I have 4 cats. I feed them wet food but have (high quality) kibble available up on a cabinet so they have to jump up to get it, which discourages grazing out of boredom. I had been giving the cats about 1/2 can of wet food/day. My oldest cat was cranky and losing weight. I saw him eating kibble, but realized that he was not chewing and that some was falling back out of his mouth. I have a friend who runs an elder horses rescue and she has described the problems and symptoms associated with dental problems in horses – it hurts to chew so they can’t handle hay and it falls back out of their mouths in clumps. I was seeing something similar. so I got out a can of wet food and put the whole thing in a bowl for him. He chowed down the entire bowl in 20 minutes. So I put down some more. I basically fed him as much as he would eat every day, and he started gaining weight. I got an appointment the next week for a vet visit, and sure enough he had tooth resorption issues. Thankfully, he had regained enough weight by then that it was safe to put him under and remove the diseased tooth. I had another cat who ended up with a blocked urethra – fortunately I was home when it happened, got him to the vet immediately, and all ended well, but in both cases the cats were getting more dry than wet. I now feed two cans twice daily of wet food – more if it all disappears – and have not had any further problems. I also see less dandruff, and my two overweight cats have been slowly but steadily losing weight. Purchasing a water fountain may also have helped – they all seem to enjoy drinking the water from there more than from a bowl. I have learned how vital ample hydration is for feline health.

  7. Amanda

    In my experience, cutting kibble from my house has worked miracles in itself.

    When my Siamese cat started spraying, the first thing we did was bring him in to have his urine tested for crystals. Although he did have some crystals, they weren’t enough to be causing the inappropriate elimination (it ended up being stress and we worked through it), and my vet did recommend looking into his food as it would be wise to make a change now while they’re not a problem. So I went home and threw out the cat kibble. It was hard to do as it was expensive and high quality but I was determined to get rid of these crystals without the “help” of those wretched prescription foods. Sure enough, feeding a diet of wet and raw food to the three cats helped in more ways than one. They seemed to sleep less, shed less, eat faster and not graze. And exactly a year later we tested my Siamese again and his urine came back clear as day. Not only had he not developed even more crystals, but his old crystals completely dissolved. I was ecstatic to say the least.

    Another situation where food made a world of difference was with the adoption of our second dog. He was previously my mother’s dog, one of two she had. When she was forced financially to downsize and was approved for a place that would only allow one dog, I offered to take one. My Shiba Inu has been raw fed since we got her at 7 months and we knew we’d transition this new dog to raw as well. He’s a Border Collie/Shepherd/Labrador mix who was on a high end kibble diet in the time he was with my mom. One thing she said to me upon handing him over was that he was not a big eater, always walked away from his food, and ate very little for his 90lb size despite his high activity level. She said that she would be surprised if he even touched the raw food, he was so finicky. She gave us two weeks worth of kibble to switch him over with, yet we ended up using only about 4 days worth! He was happy as could be with the raw, excited for meals, finishing everything in one sitting, eating the appropriate serving size for his tall frame, and overall just a happy dog. He loves getting real food in his dish, raw whole eggs with the shell, dehydrated mixes, cans of sardines, bonito flakes, and best of all: raw meat. Currently we are doing 2/3 commercially prepared raw and 1/3 prey model and the dogs love it. Their attention span is longer, their coats more soft, plush, and shiny, and their teeth look fantastic. So for anyone with a picky dog, its amazing what you might see if you give them real food instead of a bowl of baked meat pebbles.

    1. Shannon

      I shared my story about crystals on this page, too. I combination feed a low magnesium/low phosphorous/high protein dry food and a quality wet food, and I have a pet fountain to encourage drinking. It’s been about 3 years with this regimen and zero crystals.

  8. Shannon

    Three of my four cats are prone to developing urinary crystals and/or UTIs. One that has crystals and the one that doesn’t have also been diagnosed with stage 2 CKD. Being the “pet food Nazi” that I am, I did a great deal of research and learned that cats prone to crystals need low magnesium and phosphorous, and cats with CKD need low phosphorous (and do NOT actually need low protein). I found an excellent premium cat food sourced and manufactured in the US and had my cats on it for a long time before two of them were diagnosed with CKD, and since the food was already low in phosphorous, I did not change anything. They get blood and urine tests every three months, and guess what – their levels are great, and there is no protein or crystals in their urine. Vets think that cats should be protein restricted, but that’s counterintuitive. If cats, who are obligate carnivores, are fed quality meat based proteins (not plant based proteins), they will leak little or no protein into their urine. If you protein restrict them, however, they will begin to catabolize their own muscle mass, leading to weakness and muscle wasting, which are two “symptoms” of CKD that the diet intended to treat it is actually causing!

    I’m in rescue, and I always tell adopters that the rule of thumb is: if you can buy it at Walmart or the vet’s office, DON’T. I inform them that the only nutrition course offered in vet school is an elective and is taught by reps from Hills, so vets don’t know any better. I wrote a handout on feline nutrition that goes home with each adopter, and I am happy to make recommendations to them if they seek guidance on specific foods.

  9. Abra Karhan

    As a dog breeder I am often asked for diet advice. I have listed your website and The Dog Food Advisor.com on my website and in my puppy going home info so families can explore how much nutrition they can afford in their area.

    One of my discoveries with a dog that has a problem absorbing zinc- after trying a number of diets with chaleted zinc, zinc protienate, and discovering some diets included the poison zinc oxide! I found a very cheaply made food, with almost everything that we don’t want; but contains zinc sulfate worked well for my zinc issue dog. Adding human zinc sulfate also helped with the expensive diets. Raw beef hearts and organ meat also helped him.

    Every dog is different, every diet is different, it’s ok to try expensive and cheap diets till you find the right one! Ice looks and feels so good now! The 4 years of changing diets was absolutely worth it!

  10. Mary Sue

    I have a 15 year old Shih Tzu I got from a rescue when she was two. She had chronic recurring diarrhea, vomiting, and skin infections. The vet put her on antibiotics and Flagy on and off for years, with no mention of diet other than a prescription intestinal diet which did no good. I was feeding high quality kibble and canned food. Finally I started experimenting with various protein sources (still commercial food), then home cooking, and finally a vegetarian diet (with eggs, cheese, beans for the main protein sources). There was little change with any of it, but the vegetarian diet was the best, though she still had occasional skin infections and digestive upsets. When she was 12 I started feeding home prepared raw food to my cats. Since the dog’s issues seemed to be related to meat protein, I gradually switched her to raw food to see what would happen. She was ecstatic. So was I. Within a month she was a different dog. She hasn’t had a skin infection in the past two years and she rarely has vomiting or diarrhea.

  11. April

    Susan, I am so happy that you have recommend Farmina N&D. I know dry food is a compromise but this food is great. My dogs coats are brilliant and all of the stomach issues are gone now. The quality of this food is obvious when you open the bag. It is not filled with peas and lentils and something called “pea protein” that so many foods have.

    Thanks Again!!!

    1. April, I agree 100% about Farmina. They JUST restocked across the US on their grain free cat food.. it’s been gone for 12 months and I am thrilled! I just bought 88 lbs of this food, and intend to feed it as my dry food for as long as it stays around. Yes, I feed Darwin’s Raw, and also organic canned food to my 13 kitties and they are fit, happy and healthy with awesome teeth and coats 🙂

      The Farmina product contains non-GMO fed meat as Italy is VERY strict about GMOs. It contains NO meat meals (meals are NEVER fit fro human consumption as they contain 4-D ingredients and can have high ash content too) but Farmina products DO have a bunch of very high quality fresh and dehydrated ingredients. It is also low in carbohydrates and has excellent botanicals and chelated minerals. Ingredeints are 100% non-China sourced. This is Farmina Natural and Delicious Grain Free Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food Deboned chicken, dehydrated chicken (source of glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate), potato, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dehydrated egg product, herring (source of glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate), dehydrated herring (source of glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate), herring & salmon oil blend (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken protein concentrate, dried carrots, sun-cured alfalfa meal, chicory root extract, fructooligosaccharide, yeast extract (source of mannan-oligosaccharides), dehydrated pomegranate, dehydrated apple, dehydrated spinach, psyllium seed husk, dehydrated blackcurrant berry, dehydrated sweet orange, dehydrated blueberry, salt, brewers dried yeast, turmeric, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid, niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, choline chloride, beta-carotene, zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, DL-methionine, taurine, L-carnitine, aloe vera gel concentrate, green tea extract, rosemary extract.

  12. Jeannie

    My little Maltese had GI problems. He would be sick in the mornings at times and not eat until noon. Lots of times would just smell his food and walk away. So with throwing up, blood in his poo once, ear problems, tear staining, pink paws, oily skin and finally a hot spot even with trying different quality food recommended by breeder and Dog Food Advisor and multiple trips to the vet, I started doing a lot of research. I happened to find Dinner Pawsible cookbook, shared the information with my vet who actually discouraged me from cooking for him thinking it would be difficult to get all the nourishment he needed plus inconvenience to me. To make a long story short, since I started cooking for him 1-1/2 years ago, he has not had one trip to the vet for an illness, only check-ups. No tear staining, pink paws, itching, and definitely not walking away from his food. Now he knows when it is dinner time and turns circles jumping when I feed him. I had blood work done just to make sure and my vet said it is perfect. He said he wants to see this book and may have to farm me out. 🙂

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Don’t know if you know this Jeannie – but Dinner Pawsible is a book written by myself and Dr. Cathy Alinovi – so needless to say I’m thrilled to hear your story!

      1. Jeannie

        I love your book!! Thank you so much for writing it. It has been a life saver literally. I make different meals and freeze them so he has a variety. He loves your recipes. No more kibble in this house. 🙂

  13. Brooke

    After researching a ton and going through many different brands, I feed my kitty canned Nutro Natural Choice. It has guar and xanthan gum, but no carrageenan or fillers like rice, veggies, etc. The one thing that bothers me is the mysterious natural flavors. But she loves it the most and compared to other brands it’s the best (even with the few recalls Nutro has had.) It’s all she gets. She has such a soft coat, healthy weight, and is overall perfect (or so I hope). The rescue fed her Purina One (cuz they get that free from Purina), but after research I knew it was trash. During our search we also tried grain free canned like Blue Buffalo and Merrick. I did give her Merrick Bistro dry for a while. Our first bag was fine, but the second was very crumbly and strange. After that, I took her off it completely- partly cuz of the quality and partly cuz she didn’t each much dry anyway. She has been off dry for a couple months, and eating Nutro since February when I got her.

  14. Tracie

    I’ve worked as a canine nutrition, behavior and common sense coach for 20 years and have seen such dramatic changes in health and behavior that some bump up against being called “miracles”.

    For instance, when I met Riley, a King Charles Cavalier spaniel, six years ago, he had no skin. Not, he had no hair because he had scratched or chewed it off. He had no skin. What little hair he had left around the edges was coated in some sort of sulfur hair care product the vet recommended the owner buy in the grocery store. (“Um, let’s get away from that vet.”)

    Riley’s mom reported she had tried every sort of kibble, prescription varieties, novel proteins, elimination diets, steroids, antibiotics…and the coating of sulfur oil. Thousands of dollars later, Riley was still miserable and mom was miserable watching her Best Friend suffer. “Have you ever tried REAL FOOD?” I asked. Not yet.

    I had been advocating, making and teaching people how to make real food for their dogs using both the Pitcairn and Plechner protocols and shortly after meeting Riley, I became his personal chef. Riley’s “bars” are made of hormone-free, antibiotic-free locally sourced meat/fish/bean proteins, whole grain (buckwheat, brown rice, oatmeal), carrots, broccoli, seasonal greens and veg, parsley, garlic, olive/flax/coconut oil in various combinations with a binder of pureed rutabaga or sweet potato. We dust with Dr. Pitcairn’s Healthy Powder and he gets a raw meaty bone once a week.

    Within 2 weeks his skin had healed; by 6 weeks his coat had returned and he was no longer a walking wound. And now, 6 years later Riley is at peak health, bright eyed, thick shiny coat and he has that ornery streak I like to see when a dog feels good.

    Thanks for doing your good work. I am an advocate for the cause and refer my clients to your site, first thing. Brava, girl! And many thanks.

  15. Audrey

    When my Domestic Shorthair, Devlin, was two-years-old, he started having diarrhea. His stools were pure liquid and smelled awful. To make things worse, he stopped using the litter box and would “go” all over my apartment.

    At the time, I was feeding Devlin a high-end, grain-free dry cat food. Devlin had been eating this food for about a year and had always done well on it. In addition to this, Devlin was healthy—he had no parasites or stomach sensitivities that I was aware of. Because of this—and the fact that I was somewhat knowledgeable about cat nutrition—I decided that Devlin’s diarrhea was probably linked to his diet.

    I had done lots of research on cat nutrition. I knew that wet food was better than dry food and that raw food was, by far, the best food you could give your cat. I did not make a lot of money though, and, because of this, I had always stuck to kibble. I figured it could not be that bad any way because it was on store shelves, everywhere.

    With what little money I had, I went to the supermarket and bought several cans of a moderately priced wet cat food (it comes in single-serve cans and comes in an array of flavors). This cat food was not the greatest, but I figured it would do while I saved up for something better.

    Devlin’s diarrhea improved a little while he was on this food, but it continued. After feeding him this food for a couple of days, I switched him to another brand of wet cat food that I had bought from the supermarket. It was the most expensive wet cat food at the supermarket and contained organic chicken. It was this food that stopped Devlin’s diarrhea and led him to begin using the litter box again.

    I kept him on this food for a week or so before switching him to grain-free wet cat food that I had purchased from a specialty store. I fed this particular brand of wet cat food to Devlin until I moved, several months later, and was unable to find it. This prompted me to switch him to another high quality, grain free wet cat food. He did great on this diet.

    Unfortunately, shortly after turning four, his diarrhea came back. I knew right away why he was having diarrhea, but I was in disbelief. I was feeding him what I considered to be one of the best wet cat foods available on the market. How could he be having problems?

    I immediately started offering him several other varieties of grain-free wet cat food. His diarrhea did not improve though. His diarrhea continued for weeks while I scrambled to find something that he could eat. I tried limited ingredient diets and novelty protein diets and they did not do a thing. Out of the dozens of wet cat foods I offered him, nothing stopped his diarrhea.

    I refused to take Devlin to see a vet because I figured that the vet would just check him for internal parasites or prescribe a bag of veterinarian recommended kibble. I was determined to stop Devlin’s diarrhea, though. As a last resort—because I had never had the money for it—I switched Devlin to a home-made, raw diet.

    I went to my supermarket and purchased some boneless, skinless chicken breast. I offered one to Devlin and he wolfed it down. This is when Devlin’s second bout of diarrhea came to an end.

    I have been feeding Devlin a home-made, raw diet for over a year now. I purchase pre-ground meat from an online source and buy supplements from a local health food store. Devlin is doing great. His stools are small and odorless, his coat is shiny and dandruff-free, and he has lots of energy.

    Some of you may be wondering what caused Devlin’s diarrhea, so here is some more information. I actually did take Devlin to see a vet shortly after his first bout of diarrhea—not because of his diarrhea but because he was itching his ears a lot. It turned out that his diarrhea and itchy ears were linked. Devlin was diagnosed with a food allergy. Devlin’s second episode of diarrhea was likely caused by an allergy as well. I do not know what Devlin is allergic to. All I know is that he cannot eat dry cat food or wet cat food, regardless of the quality.

  16. Lynne Fowler

    I lost my std poodle in the 2007 recalls and have been Home Cooking for my dogs ever since. My dogs are healthy and happy.

    I also do rescue and have seen first hand the miraculous change a dog makes from a shelter, crappy food diet, to a home cooked one. I’ll never trust a big dog food company, again.

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