Tag Archives: raw diet

Food tales

Yesterday, I led another Cooking for Dogs workshop which is a workshop I designed about four years ago to encourage owners to add fresh ingredients into their dog’s diet.  We also discuss the latest research into dog diets (such as the July 2018 announcement by the US FDA about a possible link between grain-free foods and heart disease) and what makes a ‘good’ ingredient for a recipe – things like choosing meat ingredients and the use of spices such as ginger and turmeric.

Cooking for Dogs - happy dog owners make recipes like doggy meatloaf and chewy chicken strips

Cooking for Dogs – happy dog owners make recipes like doggy meatloaf and chewy chicken strips

I’m a supporter of the hybrid diet – where dogs are fed commercial food, raw food and also homemade food for variety and nutritional support and to mitigate the risks of long-term nutritional deficits.

It’s been a month or so now of food-themed interactions with clients and colleagues.  For example, during my visit to Kindness Ranch, I was given a tour.  They make their own ‘sow chow’ of fresh ingredients for their pigs because they found that commercial pig food is designed to fatten up the pigs for slaughter.  (Whereas the pigs at the Ranch have been rescued and will live out their lives naturally.)

Look at the colors in the bowl – fresh foods like watermelon!  What pig wouldn’t want to chow down on food that that was this fresh?

And I’ve had a few interactions with clients this week which were also food related.  For example, the well-meaning owner of a Labrador puppy.  I had to tell her that I felt her dog was overweight and that she needed to reduce the amount of food being fed daily (adjusted also for treats used in training).

She was worried because the bag of her commercial puppy food recommended that she feed even more.  I explained that we should feed our dogs according to body condition and that many commercial foods often overstate the feeding rates for their foods.  After all, if owners feed more food, then they have to buy more food.  (I’m sure there are some dogs that may need the recommended feeding volumes – but these would be the exception and not the rule from my experience.)

And then there was the dog that had been losing weight and urinating in the house.  I strongly advised that the dog be taken to the vet for a health check and the results were in – a pancreatic problem brought on by feeding raw.  In this case, I suspect that the raw food mix being fed to this dog was way too high in fat and also contained consistently too much liver instead of a mixture of other organ meats such as heart and kidney.  Regardless, the dog was not thriving on its diet and, worse, was being hurt by it.  A change in diet to a commercial kibble has seen a return to health and no more urinating in the house which is a positive for both dog and owner.

Every dog is different when it comes to diet.  There is no one right or wrong answer, but there are tools and techniques we can use to match them to a diet that works.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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In praise of liver

Liver

I personally can’t stand the taste of liver, but it is a different story for Izzy and the dogs I see in my practice.

Liver, an organ meat, is found in the ‘offal’ section of supermarkets.  It’s very much worth buying some liver for your dog to be fed two-three times per week and this can be done easily with a commercial food diet by boiling the liver and adding the liver and the water over the food.  A third of a cup of the meat is sufficient per serving.   (I don’t like feeding raw foods combined with cooked/commercial foods – because the digestive enzymes needed for raw vs cooked are different.)  If feeding a raw diet, it’s okay to feed raw liver.

I also make my own liver treats which I use as a reward for dogs in my massage practice.

Liver is nutrient-rich.  It’s a source of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, and Co-enzyme Q10.  It’s a good antioxidant and, for performance dogs, it’s a super food.

It’s possible to feed too much of a good thing and this is also the case with liver.  If a dog is fed too much liver, it can develop a condition known as hypervitaminosis A; this is an overdose of vitamin A.

Symptoms of a vitamin A overdose can include bone deformity, bone spurs on the dog’s legs or spine that cause him to limp, digestive upsets, muscle weakness, stiffness and sometimes weight loss.

If feeding a commercial diet, I think liver is one of the easiest ‘toppers’ you can introduce that will bring some fresh ingredients into your dog’s diet.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

US FDA issues warning about raw pet foods

Feeding raw (or not) has to be one of the most controversial topics in dog ownership today.  Consequently, the US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) recent warning to owners feeding raw is likely to generate some controversy.

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) screened over 1,000 samples of pet food for bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. (The illnesses are called “foodborne” because the bacteria are carried, or “borne,” in or on contaminated food.) The study showed that, compared to other types of pet food tested, raw pet food was more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria.

Raw pet foods were included in the second year of a two-year study and the samples were from commercially available raw pet foods which were purchased online and sent to six different testing laboratories.

The participating laboratories analyzed the raw pet food for harmful bacteria, including Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Of the 196 raw pet food samples analyzed, 15 were positive for Salmonella and 32 were positive for L. monocytogenes (see Table 1).

Table 1: Number and type of pet food samples that tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes (Years 1 & 2)
Type of Pet Food Sample No. samples tested No. positive for Salmonella No. positive for L. monocytogenes
 Raw pet food  196  15  32
 Dry exotic pet fooda  190  0  0
 Jerky-type treatsb  190  0  0
 Semi-moist dog foodc  120  0  0
 Semi-moist cat foodc  120  0  0
 Dry dog foodd  120  0  0
 Dry cat foodd  120  1  0
a Non-cat and non-dog food, such as dry pellets for hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, amphibians, and birds.
b Included chicken jerky and pig ear-type products.
c Typically packaged in pouches for retail sale, such as (1) pouched dog and cat food; and
(2) food treats shaped like bacon, fish, pork chops, and burgers.
d Included pellet- or kibble-type food typically packaged in bags for retail sale.Note: CVM did not collect or test canned and wet pet food samples in this study.

The FDA has gone as far as warning owners against raw feeding, but in an acknowledgement that this type of diet is the preference for many owners, they also provided these tips to prevent Salmonella and Listeria infections:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potential contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potential contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls, and cutting boards.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
  • Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
  • If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
  • Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.

In my practice, I have clients that feed all types of diet (commercial, raw, homemade).  I have seen raw food diets implemented successfully with some dogs, and others who fail to thrive on them for a variety of reasons.  That’s why I am a proponent of the food therapy approach, which can successfully be implemented with all types of diet.

For my clients here in New Zealand, I’d like to emphasize that the food hygiene suggestions by the FDA do make sense.  According to our Ministry of Primary Industries, Salmonella is the second most common bacterial cause of foodborne disease in this country (campylobacter is the first).  Incidents of Listeria are rare, but some people like pregnant woman are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Source:  US Food & Drug Administration

Pukka’s Promise

Pukka's Promise coverIf I had to choose a byline for this book review, it would be ‘Ted Does It Again.”

Author Ted Kerasote has delivered another great dog book following the success of Merle’s Door which I have previously reviewed.

This book, inspired in part by the large volume of correspondence Ted received after releasing Merle’s story, documents Ted’s extensive research into the health of dogs and the factors that may determine longevity.   So many ‘dog people’ contacted Kerasote asking variations of the same question  – ‘why don’t our dogs live longer?’  And since Ted felt the same way, he did what any professional journalist would do – he asked lots of questions.

In Pukka’s Promise -The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs, Ted tackles subjects including nutrition, the politics behind the pet food industry, and what diet is right for dogs.  Ted lays out the facts about raw food and commercial diets, the concerns about grains  and whether they are appropriate for dogs and a favourite topic of mine – variety in the diet.

Because Kerasote observes his dog so well, he realises that there are times when Pukka (pronounced PUCK-ah) rejects the food that is laid before him.  Pukka lets Ted know that he prefers something else one day when he follows him into the pantry.  Having rejected raw lamb, Pukka readily accepts some dried elk chips.  Ted then listens more often to what Pukka would like for his meals noting, “Today I do not want sardines, I want chicken.  Yes, I do love elk, but this evening I prefer dried elk.”

And just as he did in Merle’s Door, this communication between Kerasote and Pukka is not contrived nor do these moments come across as a story book type of anthropomorphism.  Kerasote is a keen observer and dog aficionado.  When he listens or hears Pukka, it’s because he understands what his dog is trying to tell him and translates it into words.  Few authors could achieve this in such a natural way.

An example of the communication between Ted and Pukka comes when Ted is frustrated by Pukka’s excessive barking.  Dog trainers should be prepared that Ted’s solution doesn’t come from clicker training or positive reinforcement, although Ted tries these things.  Ted’s solution is a direct result of understanding dog behaviour and putting that knowledge to good use.  It helps that Ted can communicate in dog.   Enough said; you’ll have to read the book for the ending of this tale.

Kerasote covers a range of health topics including vaccinations, the history of the ‘annual vaccination’ recommendation, and the latest research on why over-vaccinating is a concern.  A good message to take away from reading the book is to enquire with your vet about having your dog ‘titered’ to determine the amount of immunity they still have from previous vaccinations.

Still other issues that are tackled in a thorough way are the effects of neutering and alternatives to the traditional spay/neuter operation that may help our dogs retain the health-preserving effects of their natural sex hormones.  Kerasote also questions the spay/neuter philosophy in a constructive way and whether you agree with his conclusions or not, he does lay out the facts very well.

Another topic that I hold dear is the issue of cancer and the simple message – if you find a lump on your dog, don’t let anyone (including your vet) tell you to ‘wait and see.’  Some lumps, if caught early and tested, can be removed before the disease takes over the comparatively small body of a dog.  Take heed!

As a backdrop to the book’s hard facts, we also get to enjoy a wonderful story about Ted’s search for another dog and his choice of Pukka.  Once Pukka’s is on the scene, we share some of their adventures.

My only criticism of this book is its lack of photos.  Other than the cover photo of Pukka, we don’t get to enjoy any photos of Pukka, Ted, or their other dog friends (A.J., Burley and Goo) nor any of the great scenery from Ted’s camping and hunting trips with Pukka.  I don’t think photos would have detracted from the contents and scope of the book, but I guess that’s the publisher’s decision.

With 49 pages of references, this is a thoroughly researched book that took five years to complete.  Add it to your book collection and refer back to it as the basis for a conversation with your vet (your dog will love you for it).

Well done, Ted!  What are you cooking up for us next?