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Should dogs be fed only "dog food"?.

 
Dale Hodgins
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  Our Labrador retriever , Peggy lived to the ripe old age of 14 which is pretty good for a 100 pound (mostly muscle) Lab. All her life she was fed a wide variety of food which included table scraps, dog food, treats given to her by strangers and anything edible which she was able to scrounge. She had one unhealthy day in her life, the day she died.

  Many people were appalled to find that I allowed her to eat bones including those from chickens. She wasn't dumb, she chewed the food carefully and didn't choke on things like some sort of contrived toy breed. I was constantly lectured by well-meaning dough heads on the indisputable fact that canines could only survive on manufactured foods available at the grocery store.

 
  Peggy lived with me at job sites where I often had many employees, so policing what went into her mouth would've been a full-time job since everybody likes to feed a friendly Labrador. She also had a very good nose and often located tasty treats as we walked along sidewalks and beaches. Sometimes I would catch her with a whole pizza and not let her have it all at once or I would prevent her from chewing on a dead sea lion, but usually her finds were small morsels dropped beside restaurant tables or given to her by old ladies.

  A dog's number one instinct is to forage for food. Left to their own devices they will do this constantly both as scavengers and hunters. Peggy enjoyed the chase whenever she ran a squirrel up a tree and even when she was quite old she enjoyed sneaking up on deer and startling them with a surprisingly quick charge for an old dog. When there was nothing to chase she liked to snoop around looking for edibles. In her entire life she spent less than 1% of the time on a leash and she was able to roam freely in an urban environment since she always seemed to instinctively know where the property lines of my job sites were. She was the official greeter at hundreds of demolition sales. Her friendliness and body language made it clear to all that she was open to the idea of being fed and petted.

  I never had any problems with Peggy barking incessantly or tearing things up. She never bit anyone, got along great with cats and guinea pigs and was always a pleasure to be around. I'm sure that a big part of her happy demeanor resulted from her being allowed to roam freely and do what dogs have always done.

    She may have lived six months longer had I always kept her on a strict diet of tofu and sawdust but instead she enjoyed a diet which included dog treats, leftover beef stew, pizza left on the beach, discarded bologna sandwiches, chicken bones and skin and anything dropped from the baby's highchair.      Whenever I fired up the barbecue or put something in the oven she would sit like a kid waiting  to lick the cake spoon in anticipation of culinary delights which she knew she would share in.

  Peggy lived a very happy and comfortable life. For a dog, enjoying and anticipating tasty food is a very big part of that.

 
Jami McBride
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I don't believe she would have done as well had her diet been only 'store dog food'

Lots of post around here on natural food diets for dogs, do a search for an interesting read.
 
Walter Jeffries
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The table scraps, pork bones and chicken bones scare is mythology. We have a lot of dogs. They eat some store bought dog food. It's a backup. But primarily they eat pork, including bones, chicken, including bones, mice, birds, coyotes and other small pests. Our logs live long, for a big working dog, and very healthy lives. We've never had problems with choking, stuck bones, perforation or obesity in our dogs. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2011/09/mms.html

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2006/02/feeding-big-dogs.html

Our dogs also do fine with chocolate.
Cheers,

-Walter
 
Jordan Lowery
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i give my dog raw bones with meat all the time. lots of veggies from the garden( he goes nuts over asparagus) and fresh raw eggs from our chickens. i actually try and give him as little processed dog food as possible, that stuff is pure crap and most of it is corn.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Trick on the eggs: boil or scramble them for the dog. Cooking eggs doubles the available protein according to studies. It is an easy way to have twice as many eggs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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    Regarding corn.

  Studies have shown that the average American now eats more corn than the average Mexican. And most of this is in the form of corn sweeteners.

  They studied the amount of carbon 13 in human fat. Corn is unique in using this form of carbon.

  It was part of an obesity study and it turns out the more carbon 13 you contain, the more likely you are to be overweight. Simple conclusion – corn makes people fat.

  When I put Peggy on better food which contained less corn she lost some fat.
 
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We feed our dog meat and veg cooked with brown rice, which she likes, and some dry store food, which she doesn't like much.  Eventually I would like to feed her virtually only home made food, just as eventually I would like to feed the rest of my family mostly home grown food.

 
Dale Hodgins
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  I had several run-ins with various officials concerning  Peggy.

   The SPCA stopped by several of my job sites to inform me that she must be tied up. But the law says she must be leashed on public property. We were always working on privately owned sites. They would always tell me that there's no fence. But the law does not require fencing, it requires that the dog not wander into the public space and she always stuck around.

         One jobsite was a 5 acre parcel within the city of Nanaimo. They had reports that a dog was roaming freely through the trails and swimming in the stream on this property and that hikers were concerned. I showed him a site plan which confirmed that all of this land belonged to the project I was working on and I could therefore expel anyone walking those trails.

     They paid me another visit on this same site after receiving a report that the dog was tied up on the hot pavement without food, water or shade. So I walked over with him and called her. She came running over demonstrating that she was not tied up. After a swim in the cold river she would often lounge in the sun on hot pavement.

    I was paid one final visit by the SPCA at the 5 acre jobsite, this time on reports of a dead dog lying on the side of the road. I saw her there and ran over to the edge of my parking lot by the sidewalk. She immediately hopped up to greet me. It was the weekend and there had been many walkers passing by. Since we were on this jobsite for months, many of them had taken to carrying dog biscuits for her so she chose a spot close to the parade of people and this became her post swimming lounge area.

   On several occasions I had altercations with well-meaning buffoons concerning Peggy. In Victoria the ocean is fairly cold year-round so after a cold swim I always dried her off and then she would lie in the back of my hatchback car which had a large rear window. I parked the car so that this window faced south. At any time she could move to the shade and I always left front windows open so she could hop out if necessary. Several times people removed her from the car which is easy to do with such a friendly dog. Most would look for me but a couple of times they just let her out  in parks and on the street. Once I came back to find her sitting against the front bumper shivering uncontrollably. There was a nasty note warning of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars. We've had plenty of news stories about babies locked in cars and I'm sure this is where the overheating fears came from.

    Once while I was taking her for a swim on a deserted beach a dog cop came by while she was out in the ocean pursuing a stick. He immediately started writing out a ticket so I knew this wouldn't be a warning situation. I informed him that she was in federal territory and would not enter city territory until she was above the tide line. So I continued tossing sticks and she pursued them, thus remaining offshore. It became clear he intended to wait me out, so I waded into the shallow water, picked her up and walked to the van. At one point he reached his arm out toward me but quickly changed his mind when I described how a physical altercation would end.

   When Peggy was quite old I used to take her to Starbucks in the morning where she would lie on her quilt just outside the window from my seating spot. Another visit from the dog cops. This time I wrapped her up in the quilt and had to walk two blocks to the van with 110 pounds of dog and blanket.

   When she was very young she pulled away from me and ran into the swimming area where dogs were not allowed. In dragging her out of there and making her sit in the car a spectator decided that I was being exceptionally cruel and I had a visit from the police. I offered to allow them to inspect her health and to see if she was afraid of me which would happen with an abused animal. They were insistent that I needed to give her up. They refused to do either veterinary checkup or to have one of their own people observe just how eager she was to spend every moment with me, again not something you'd expect from a dog who is being abused. I found the most expedient thing to do was to lie to them and say that I would immediately get rid of her. I waited a couple days and then called to give them the news that I had done this knowing that this might prevent a follow-up visit. That was the end of it and she lived with me for 14 more years.

    My land is in an unincorporated zone so whenever officials asked me to produce a dog license, I told them that the dog is only visiting Victoria and that we don't have dog licensing where I come from. In fact we lived in the city most of the time.

   Peggy roamed free all of her life and I never once bought a dog license and never once paid any sort of fine relating to her.I'm all for controlling vicious feral dogs, but animals which always stay close to their owners and are under voice control shouldn't have to spend their lives attached to a rope.       I had no idea when I started down the road of what to feed the dogs that I would end up on a "born free" rant. .
 
Len Ovens
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dale hodgins wrote:
   Peggy roamed free all of her life and I never once bought a dog license and never once paid any sort of fine relating to her.I'm all for controlling vicious feral dogs, but animals which always stay close to their owners and are under voice control shouldn't have to spend their lives attached to a rope.       I had no idea started down the road of what to feed the dogs that I would end up on a "born free" rant. .


I'm a letter carrier for Canada Post. I can tell lots of dog stories.... But the biggest thing I can say is that different people see things different. There is a dog on my route that I had never seen tied up... old, fat... it would come at me barking... like one bark every two or three strides, then roll over in front of me for a belly rub. This dog's fastest run was one I could walk away from. I came back from holidays to find a "problem dog" tag at this address.... some people are just afraid of any thing that moves. On the other hand... there is a dog I thought was quite friendly, happy to see me, would lick my hand and be petted.... up until about two weeks ago when I started to wear gloves, now I get the most unfriendly snarl and snapped at.... I am almost feeling that 30inches of fence is not high enough. Not sure if it is the gloves for sure, but the timing is right. I'll see what happens in the spring or if there is a nice enough days. (I'm still wearing shorts and sometimes short sleeved shirt - jacket on friday, but gloves keep my hands working and they go on before the jacket).

On topic, Our dog loves left overs... pig/cow bones, chicken bones.... but not fish bones   He's a shepherd/border collie cross at about 12 years old... he doesn't get as many chicken bones since my 6 year old started chewing them apart for the marrow.
 
John Polk
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When I read the label on human foods, I am often appalled.  Can you imagine what goes into cans "not for human consumption"?  If it grew on your property, it is probably a lot better than the factory junk.
 
Len Ovens
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John Polk wrote:
When I read the label on human foods, I am often appalled.  Can you imagine what goes into cans "not for human consumption"?  If it grew on your property, it is probably a lot better than the factory junk.



Not disagreeing.... but "not for human consumption" sounds like raw milk.... which BTW can be bought legally in some places for a pet...

I am not sure now, but it used to be law that pet food could be eaten by people as some of the low income people lived on it.
 
Phil Hawkins
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John Polk wrote:Can you imagine what goes into cans "not for human consumption"?  If it grew on your property, it is probably a lot better than the factory junk.


On the first sentence it's important to remember that dogs' stomachs are a lot more 'efficient' than ours, and they can certainly (and it seems in some cases, preferably) eat things that would make the average human quite unwell.  However, I don't doubt that factory dogfood probably has a whole host of artificial stuff that evolution has not equipped the dogs for.

On a semi related note, I saw a TV show the other day that said "a large dog has the same ecological impact as two Toyota Landcruisers, because of the meat they must consume".  They made some vague reference to the total energy cost that goes into building and driving (though not quantifying what that meant) the car being less than the energy requirements of a dog, presumably over its lifetime.  Whilst that's potentially (somehow?) mathematically correct, I suspect it's a bit like suggesting that, if the amount of energy I use walking to the shops is more than the amount of energy a string trimmer might consume running for five minutes, the latter has "less ecological impact".
 
Dale Hodgins
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  The only way that could be true is if those dogs have somehow learned to drive.

  Most of the meat fed to dogs is by product in some way so I don't think it's fair to count all of the impact against dog food.

  I do know a few people who have purchased vehicles far beyond what they need in order to accompany a gaggle of dogs. In this case you could say that the dogs along with the owners silliness are responsible for whatever extra resources are consumed. Dogs who are driven to daycare everyday will have a large environmental footprint.

  A big farm dog who eats scraps along with commercial byproducts will have no more environmental impact than a pig.
 
Brad Davies
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I agree with this completely. I exclusively feed my dog raw or cooked "human" food. When I first adopted my American bulldog he was ~1yr old and on the low side of 60#'s. He was thought to be a stray, because when the shelter got him he was even skinnier than that. First thing I thought was we got to get some meat on your bones so I bought the most high quality dog food I could afford and began feeding him enough for a 100# dog according to the label. This was "Eukanuba Naturally wild salmon and rice, or venison and potato" At this feeding rate he went through a $50, 30# bag a month, and put on no noticeable weight, and pooped 4 times a day. Another month of this went by until a co-worker mentioned that he fed his dog raw meat.

I was skeptical to say the least, but decided to Google it and see what I found, search for BARF diet. What I had read seemed to make perfect sense to me and I started him on a natural food diet. His diet consists of 2 potatoes for breakfast and 4 eggs, microwaved potatoes and then scrambling the eggs up in the bowl with them. For dinner he gets 2 potatoes, 1 cup mixed veggies, 2 chicken leg quarters raw or frozen chicken breasts thawed. A couple times a week I will drizzle his breakfast with bacon grease, makes his coat extremely soft. After 2 years of this he is now ~100#'s, his skeletal structure is way larger, lots of muscle, no bad breath or teeth problems, and the best part only poops once a day. People always comment on how soft his coat is and ask what shampoo I use, I usually just laugh as his “bath” consists of me throwing his stick in the water a few times for him to chase. The only thing that I try to not feed him is grains.

A couple more benefits from this diet is it is cheaper than the $50 a month I was spending, and whenever my groceries are running low he is always willing to share his “dog food” with me until I can get some more “people food”.

Changed the pics to show a before and after. The Skinny one is him right before I switched to real food. The other shows how much “smarter” he has become, jk.
Rufus 1yo.jpg
[Thumbnail for Rufus 1yo.jpg]
Rufus reading.jpg
[Thumbnail for Rufus reading.jpg]
 
Shawn Bell
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Brad, nice pic...if you add some carrots to his diet, his eyesight might improve.

We are getting rabbits tomorrow, the goal is meat for the family and the dogs.
I will definitely have to check out the BARF diet.
 
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dale hodgins wrote:
 Many people were appalled to find that I allowed her to eat bones including those from chickens. She wasn't dumb, she chewed the food carefully and didn't choke on things like some sort of contrived toy breed.


You're not supposed to give dogs cooked poultry bones because they could splinter during chewing & puncture the intestines. My LGDs have eaten plenty of cooked chicken bones (stolen after making stock) or picked around them and there weren't any issues

Raw bones are fine.
 
                            
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My mother's border collie was fine eating bones his entire life until he was 10 and one got lodged in his intestine. Border collies are working dogs, not toy breeds. I would recommend never feeding cooked bones to a dog.

I've never ever heard of a problem with raw bones.

Also, no experience on this one but I've heard that if you feed raw food, you shouldn't mix it with store bought food. Something about the grains slowing down the digestion of the dog, allowing harmful bacteria in the raw food to actually have an impact.
 
Brad Davies
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Shawn Bell wrote:
Brad, nice pic...if you add some carrots to his diet, his eyesight might improve.

We are getting rabbits tomorrow, the goal is meat for the family and the dogs.
I will definitely have to check out the BARF diet.


He actually loves carrots, he thinks they are treats. I got 3 New Zealand rabbits about 2 months ago for the same purpose. BARF stands for Bones And Raw Food if you have a hard time finding it.

I only feed Rufus raw bones also, or raw meat with the bones still in. It's very interesting how he eats them. He doesn't tear the meat off but rather munches the whole thing, chicken leg quarter, and you can hear the bone snaping in the meat. Once he has the bone broken he will literally swallow the leg whole. The first time I saw this I was immediatly like oh crap now he is going to choke, but he just smilled wagged his tail and went for the next one.
 
                
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Brad, I started up raising rabbits (and guinea pigs) for dog food as well.  I figured our dog would do better but I never imagined just how much better.  Chronic stinky ears (spaniel) are gone, his coat is thick, thick, thick, teeth clean and just so much brighter.

Rabbits are very lean so make sure you give your dog lots of fatty cuts when you buy other stuff.  We also safe the trimmings to add to the rabbit. 
 
Fred Morgan
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Our dogs pretty much live on scraps from butchering (and failures in aging meat!). Incredibly healthy. One thing I do notice is my dog Silky assumes if I am eating it, it must be good.  He will eat okra, cukes, oranges (that was a surprise!), loves papaya, which is good for him. I read somewhere dogs aren't pure carnivores, like cats. They do need some veggies, and he gets his.

Baby cukes and papaya is the only thing I have seen him steal from the garden though. Oh, he loves fried plantains, too.

He won't touch store dog food, but they say Cocker Spaniels are very smart dogs. 
 
Christa Wilde
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My 13 year old mastiff/ridgeback was super skinny, people would ask me if I was starving him skinny. I free fed him, then swithced to the really good Blue Buffalo food also free fed him(which did help a little but cost me way too much), now that I have moved to a more rural area. He, with the help of two other dogs, has been catching and eating vermin that come into the yard. At first it freaked me out and I did everything I could to stop him, worried that he would get parasites and diseases. Then something awsome happened, he has totally filled out and is developing some impressive muscles. He looks and seems to feel like a five year old again. I did some research about raw food and though it is a little iffy from the results I have seen I think it is worth trying to raise rabbits (or other low input high output animals like fish) specifically for dog meat. I am going to set up a system and buy some breeder rabbits next spring. I also supplement my dogs with leftover people food and it doesn't seem to hurt him.
 
Len Ovens
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peacepaws wrote:
I think it is worth trying to raise rabbits (or other low input high output animals like fish) specifically for dog meat. I am going to set up a system and buy some breeder rabbits next spring. I also supplement my dogs with leftover people food and it doesn't seem to hurt him.


My dog happily munches bones of all types including fowl.... but won't touch fish. He tried it once and I would guess found the tiny prickly bones too much. Never touches it since. So try it first before raising a bunch. Small fish like smelt are probably fine... I eat them whole so my dog should be able to
 
                            
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I just wanted to throw a resource out there that I found extremely useful (I'm in school for urban forestry, and landscaping is a part of that), a magazine/book called Dogscaping.  It's got tons of information of what dogs can and can't have, and of course being a landscaping book it has great information on how to plan your yard depending on what type of dog u have. 

Also wanted to mention... I'm always so jealous of the people who have such well behaved dogs that stick around so well.  I'm still a little new to owning my own dog (we always had dogs growing up, but never one that was my own), and right now I have a Jack Russel who's not even a year yet.  We've (my fiancee and I) have had some trouble getting him to eat any decent amount during the day.  He burns energy like mad, and he's eating a little more than what the packages recommend for feeding.  He gets a can of Mighty Dog as well as crappy dry food (he won't eat the dry food thats actually decent).  I'm going to look up this BARF diet.  He loves garden stuff, can't get enough of those.


You know, I'm all for an occasional hand out, but when I was younger somebody tried giving our husky mix chocolate cake (not that she ever got sick from eating chocolate... she managed to get into some during her life), I would think it would be common sense to ask about something like that....
 
                        
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Len wrote:
My dog happily munches bones of all types including fowl.... but won't touch fish. He tried it once and I would guess found the tiny prickly bones too much. Never touches it since. So try it first before raising a bunch. Small fish like smelt are probably fine... I eat them whole so my dog should be able to


For people with extra fish..you might try pressure cooking it which should soften the bones so they aren't noticeable.
 
Dale Hodgins
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wayne stephen
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Decades ago I had a medium sized German Shepard / Malamute / Wolf mix . Weighed in at about 35 lbs . She was pretty wily at times . One morning I woke up and heard some squawking . The dog was perched on her belly holding a Rhode Island Red laying hen with one paw . I came out the back door telling her to let the chicken go . She made a quick decision and swallowed the live bird whole and flapping . Two gulps and it was gone . So I can attest that a dog can not only eat chicken bones but every bone in a chickens body at once. Including feathers .
 
Fred Morgan
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This issue with chicken bones are after they are cooked, the bones in the legs will splinter, when they are raw, this doesn't happen. The splinters can cause a dog to choke, notice I said, can. Won't happen all the time, but it is a risk.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Fred Morgan wrote:This issue with chicken bones are after they are cooked, the bones in the legs will splinter, when they are raw, this doesn't happen. The splinters can cause a dog to choke, notice I said, can. Won't happen all the time, but it is a risk.


Our dogs eat chicken bones raw, boiled, baked, pan fried, what ever. They've never had a problem with the bones. Sometimes they swallow entire chickens whole and in one case I watched one of our bitches regurgitate it back up for her pups. Same with turkey bones, pork bones, sheep bones, deer bones, cow bones, etc. This is across dozens of dogs, decades of time and tens of thousands of bones.

Note that these are large working dogs, not toys. Our dogs are more like their ancestral wolfs which ate most anybody and scavenged burnt things after fires and from around your ancestors. Your dog may be different.

Vet told me once that it is the toy dogs, beagles and such that have the problems with bones because they've been destroyed by breeders.
 
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I'm not 100% sure about the chicken bones, so personally I would rather use them for soup stock. In the end, hardly anything is wasted, anyway.

I'm glad to hear Peggy had a long and full life If I get a dog when I move to my dream property, I'll do my best to dedicate some crops for dual purpose human/dogs consumption.
 
fiona smith
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My dog too is fed on a 99% whole food diet. Bones and left over anythings.
The remaining 1% being a total ban on brussel sprouts and too much chocolate.
She's 14 now, and only got sick once, and that was after she stole all the kids easter eggs one year and spent the whole day after throwing up.
I don't think I need to explain why she's banned from the sprouts
 
Hildegard Bogart
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So, I have a Yorkie. 9lbs. Tried to eat a live chicken twice her size last year. Today,
I would LOVE to give her a healthier diet. We live with four roommates and five cats...all of which are larger than she is. She loves her cat friends. What she loves even more, though, is cat food.
Do you think offering her a raw chicken leg would choke her to death?
Thanks for your input!
 
M Foti
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My opinion is that purpose made dog food has probably not been around for very long, and certainly wasn't used widespread for very long, not more than a generation of humans for sure. yet dogs have been around for quite a while as domesticated animals, they've evolved without storebought food made from . A better question would be, what commercial dogfood is safe for a dog? Especially with all the news lately on the poison chinese dog treats.

on a side note, while my G/F was in high school (that's been a while now, haha) she came across an empty box of meat that said "grade D FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION"... wonder what the heck "grade D" is and if that's ok, then what is in dog food?
 
Ray Star
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Location: twin tiers of WNY zone 5A
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I had a rottie mix that would drop weight every winter, even when offered unlimited amounts. Had a friend suggest chicken quarters and bananas. Worked like a charm. Our old yellow lab, loved rabbit. Ate my first breeding trio, a week after I bought them. Restarted, after securing the area better, added some chickens and everything was great. For him. Our golden wouldn't touch them. Zoning officer made me get rid of chickens, and the rabbits were killed off within 2 weeks, after. Didn't realize how messy rabbits were without the chickens to run under thier cages. Yellow and rottie are gone now , still have golden and added a great pyernes last year. Odd thing, none of my dogs digested deer. would throw it up. Didn't tag anything this year, so not sure about GP. But my rottie, yellow and golden all threw up venison, if given any. Had a coworker tell me his dog found a carcase. Guess his dog, hit it everyday for almost a week straight. He knew because the dog was ralphing it back up, in his house, every night.lol. Anyone else have problems feeding it to thier dogs? Any ideas?
 
dawn shears
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Location: north Oregon coast (zone 8b)
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Tyler Ludens wrote:We feed our dog meat and veg cooked with brown rice, which she likes, and some dry store food, which she doesn't like much.  Eventually I would like to feed her virtually only home made food, just as eventually I would like to feed the rest of my family mostly home grown food.


We recently started making our own dog food for 11-year old Joey. We've always supplemented his kibble with local, free range meats and eggs and veggies and fruit from our garden....he's very healthy but was having some candida issues and needed to lose a little weight too.

Not only is he happier since we took him off of kibble (we were feeding him a mid-range $30 month brand) but he has lost weight and the candida issue is gone.

We feed free range beef/innards or turkey with brown rice and plenty of veggies and fruit and add coconut oil, nutritional yeast, kelp powder, dried nettles, raw yogurt or whey and eggs.

He's looking great and has more spring in his step, now
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Dale Hodgins
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Galadriel Freden
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It was in reading this thread that got me interested in a raw meat diet for my dog. She was 14 when we made the switch from dry kibble to raw meat (including muscle meat, organ meat, and bones, but nothing else), and we noticed an improvement in her arthritis, her breath, her fur quality, and even her balance. And she loved eating it! Sadly she died in November 2013 (almost at her 15th birthday), but in those last few months, her quality of life had really improved.

So thanks Dale, for starting this thread, and for those that posted in it. You made one old dog's last days a little bit better.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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As to bones, my Australian Cattle Dog mix once came to me for help when her jaw got stuck in a pork bone.

I figure raw or boiled to mush is probably best.
Thing about dogs and bones in nature is that "nature" doesn't mind losing any given dog to bone splinters.
I am more particular, sentimental about MY dog, so I do avoid chicken bones, and give her others on a case by case basis.
 
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