By Matt Stone
In the comments on a recent post the topic of dog nutrition surfaced. Several people mentioned switching their dogs to new diets or even applying my methods of “rest and refeeding” to a sick pet. TW writes…
When I came home from college my dog was really sick and frail with obvious signs of Cushing’s. She had lost a ton of weight, collapsed often, peed in the house, was losing her hair, etc. She is a 17 year old beagle-Rottweiler mix so I figured it was just old age. She wouldn’t eat her dog food anymore. I decided to feed her some freezer burnt hamburger. She ate ?people food? just fine. It has been a few months since I started feeding her chicken, hamburger, expensive moist dog food and graham crackers. She is spoiled I know. It is like she went back in time 10 years. Her hair is growing back, her bladder control is back to normal, she has plenty of energy and is able to run again. She still has a bit of arthritis but rarely collapses these days. She is a completely different animal. If refeeding reverse-aged my dog it certainly could do the same for my grandmother. Calories really are wonderful.
I did?[rest and refeeding]?with my dog almost 9 months ago. She had arthritis and a bladder infection that would not clear up. She got a little pudgy, but has started to slim down on her own. I actually have to give her organ meat or some fat to get her appetite going now, or else she won’t eat and her stomach makes terrible noises. Her coat looks amazing, her arthritis is gone and the infection cleared up.
I have had my own?experiences here as well with a dog I babysat for a couple weeks several years ago. He was practically on his deathbed when he arrived, and was hyper and wagging with a huge increase in mobility by the time the owner returned, who was convinced that his dog might die while gone. They went on and on about how?frisky and silky-shiny the old pooch was for quite some time. I fed him at least double if not’triple the amount of calories they suggestedI feed him, although I was very much into high-fat nutrition at the time, and I?was lucky I didn’t give’the thing pancreatitis with the whole sticks of butter I put in his doggie dish.
Canine nutrition is just as much up for debate as human nutrition. Nobody really knows for sure and everybody has their own firm, hardheaded beliefs. If I currently had a dog, or a sick dog in my care, this is what I would do considering all the factors…
- I would stress function first, and be flexible in my feeding practices. A dog should have energy, be able to self-regulate its food intake, be warm and energetic, have normal bowel movements and yellow urine, white, clean teeth and very pink tongue and gums, a shiny, soft coat, no noticeable health problems, and so on. In other words, I would assess’the dog’s health carefully to see the results of?its nutrition and lifestyle and make revisions when necessary.
- I would give it unadulterated access to its food, allowing the dog’s biological mechanisms’to regulate food intake rather than the clock or a measuring cup. Same with water of course.
- I would give the dog a variety of foods – not just the same thing over and over again. This stimulates?a healthy appetite and metabolism?and also lessens a dog’s desire to binge on anything it can find that is NOT its dog food. Can you imagine how good pizza would taste, and how much of it you would eat if you were forced to eat nothing but dry cereal out of box every day for years on end?? And how crappy and inflexible your digestive tract would be”
- I would feed it?a diet with very little linoleic acid or arachidonic acid. This means no corn oil or soy oil (and thus very little commercial dog food), but instead feeding butter, ghee,?coconut oil, and tallow from beef and lamb. This means no pork, poultry, or commercial eggs?-?instead I would give it mostly?beef, lamb, and game. That is even more important when it comes to feeding organ meats, as organ meats from pigs and chickens?are often the richest sources of arachidonic acid. And I wouldn’t give it any fish oil either, or very little if I did in the form of vitamin-rich?cod liver oil.
- I would give it raw bones and very tough meats, hides, ears, feet, and skin?for gelatin, marrow, minerals,?and to have something hard to chew on – important for’teeth.
- I would give it?well-cooked rice and a few vegetables.
- I wouldn’t give it too much protein, but give it more “fuels” from carbohydrates and fats. Any meat it did receive would be more energy-dense,?fattier cuts of meat. 30% protein by percentage of calories’seems to be a pretty good?amount. I?often?look to the milk?of certain species?for clues. Human milk is about 6-7% protein?whereas canine milk is 31% protein. That says a lot.
In terms of lifestyle, it wouldn’t even know what it looks like inside of a house. It would sleep outdoors on the ground in an area with overhead protection?with maybe some wood chips or hay to soften the bed. I would take that thing hiking unleashed in remote areas?and on as many adventures as possible to give it the appropriate amount of stimulation. Ideally it would have a little 4-legged buddy to play with too.
That’s 180D Doggy-Style.
For more interesting canine commentary, read the old post Pets and Western Disease.
My dog is such a faddist. For the last six months he’s been into Gabriel Cousens and the Essene-Canine 1.0 phase diet. Lately all he wants are these expensive vegan, raw No-“Bones”-About-It chews made from soaked and dehydrated flax seeds and chickpea batter with Himalayan Crystal salt; also the goji-chlorella kibble, apparently, is to die for.
However, even though he fasts for days and sits on the backyard sprinkler head to “detox” himself with a canine-colonic, he seems to lack that vigor and friendly pep that he’s always had. He no longer chases birds or cats. He doesn’t want to play ball (“I’d rather sit here and meditate,” he tells me), and worse, he won’t even lick me and slobber on me when I come back from work, because I’m “still eating dead animals” and he doesn’t want my bad vibes ruining his karma.
I dunno. Maybe he needs to go Paleo…
This made me laugh out loud! Thank you! :D
My dog is Paleo and never gets any of the parasites or infections that the other dogs at the dog park do, including giardia. I think Paleo is perfect for dogs and gives my 9 pounder a superdog immune system. I have been toying with Paleo also but I need much more veggies that my dog does.
Isn’t it weight gain, not weight loss that’s an obvious sign of Cushing’s syndrome?
You’re right. My dog seemed a lot thinner since I had last seen her so it looked like weight loss to me. I suppose the malnutrition and weight loss occurred first which led to the hyper cortisol symptoms.
I actually think finding this site and doing a refeeding saved my dog’s life. We had been restricting her food intake previously and the poor thing was really suffering as a result. After I started refeeding and having good results, it dawned on me that maybe my dog’s health problems would also clear up. We had already tried a couple courses on antibiotics for the bladder infection and I just felt that we had nothing to lose. It took a couple months for the episodes of bleeding to fully stop and then a couple more for the frequent urination to go away. It’s quite the relief, she’s 9 years old and I adore her. The link is for my instagram where I post photos of her.
I think it’s hard to argue that dogs and cats are carnivores designed for raw meat and bones. I know a guy with a couple rottweiler’s who goes to the butcher and gets meat/fat cuttings to feed his dogs. He’ll also pour Carlson’s CLO on it. There are a few raw pet food buying clubs out there too.
We roast bulk chicken thighs and then pull off all the meat, skin, and fat off the bones. Then we pour the pan juices over all that and freeze about a week’s worth in containers. In addition to about 1/2 cup of chicken, our dog gets a couple scoops of frozen spinach along with a full sweet potato to gnaw on for breakfast and dinner. We have fed him this exclusively for 7 years. Before that, every brand of dog food gave him terrible itching and diarrhea. He doesn’t suffer from anything anymore, we don’t give him heartworm meds, and he only gets one shot a year (mandatory for this license). He’s a 12-yr-old Welsh corgi but many people think he’s still a puppy.
Raw or cooked sweet potato? Just curious, we’re getting a pup soon (my first), and I want to feed him good n’ healthy.
7th! Sorry it’s just the closest I’ve been yet.
I have a poodle. If I made him sleep outside on woodchips and hay he would be calling his lawyer and therapist!
Since dogs are pack animals, I definitely wouldn’t have him sleeping outside alone. They need to be with their pack.
I totally agree. We are our dog’s pack. She sleeps with us on our bed and all three of us love it.
how do you do for getting some sex?
Sex doesn’t only have to happen at night. ;)
Our dog very politely gets off the bed and waits patiently if we show signs of going at it. Although she actually won’t spend the whole night on our bed anyway … she hates being crowded.
Maybe it’s easier to get dogs to eat health food. The trouble with my cat is that she prefers kibble, the cheaper the better. She won’t eat raw meat. Once, I sauteed some organic grass-fed burger in butter for her, and she ate a little. That was a huge breakthrough. I wonder how many days her hunger strike would last if I insisted she eat real meat every day. I won’t even try it, she’ll win.
I finally got my cat to eat raw fish but had the same problem. Kibble is like crack for cats. I did finally switch him to an expensive “healthy” canned food that I get through a buying club with my dogs raw food. I can’t believe how much I spend on the guy. However after getting him off kibble, my daughter, who was pretty allergic to him, can now sleep with him at her head almost every night. She still can have reactions to other cats (not as bad now) so I feel like it was the kibble.
We had a cat that was on raw food, but our other cat just throws it back up when he would eat it and never really wanted to touch the stuff.
Cats imprint on their food when they are kittens. If all they have ever known is kibble then that is all they will eat. They may stalk and catch prey but then they don’t know what to do with it. Cats are also different than dogs in that they can’t go without eating for several days. If they don’t eat for too long they will go into hepatic lipidosis and then they won’t be able to eat anything and you will have a huge vet bill or a dead cat.
We have had cats that knew that meat or prey was food and we have had cats that didn’t. The former caught on to eating raw food right away and he keeps our chipmunk population under control. The other cats took more work to switch to raw. Mix it in with chicken baby food or canned tuna or whatever they can’t resist. The stinkier the better. Offer that first before the kibble. You want them to be hungry but don’t let them go too long without food. It takes persistence and patience.
I’ve always thought that cats needed more protein than dogs or that they didn’t really need grains/vegetables, but this makes me think maybe some do. Our non hunting cat is always stealing bread type products when he gets a chance. He has more weight on him than the other cat too (not really overweight though). Maybe we should offer him some carbs?
I also wouldn’t recommend giving cats or dogs cooked bone. They can digest raw bones fine, but cooked can lead you to stomach perforation and $$$$.
Also, you will find with raw fed cats (cats fed cooked people food too) that the litter box doesn’t really stink anymore. Sometimes it is a pain to feed the cats raw but the thought of the stinky litter box and vet bills keeps me going. They are indoor outdoor but one of my cats waits at the door to come INSIDE to use the litter box!
According to manufacturers, human food is bad for dogs. Especially your table scraps! Why? Because they compete with their bagged floor sweepings maybe?(about the floor sweepings, I was told this by an exec at a big multinational that along with dried milk, cereals, etc, also does dog food). Why would home prepared food be good for us, but poison for pets? Somewhere between the dinner table and their bowl, the food morphs, there’s a zone about knee height where it suddenly becomes deadly. It’s proven scientific fact.
Yeah, Sue, I feel that way, too. However, there are exceptions. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than we do, therefore can’t digest some things and can get quite sick. If you look up lists of foods that dogs can’t eat you’ll see garlic, onions, grapes, certain nuts, etc. that are common in cooked people food. Also, maybe they’re afraid most people would feed their animals Cheetos and other processed food (some of which contain spices) that they obviously shouldn’t eat? So it just becomes a blanket statement that no human food ever should be fed to pets. And then the dog food companies can make a killing on serving them waaaay worse stuff, likely forever, as most people buy one brand for the dog’s whole life.
Looking up why certain foods are forbidden can also give you leeway into feeding your dog. For instance, we give garlic to our dogs for parasite and flea control, but not in large doses. But maybe we’ve been lucky that our dogs have the physiology that isn’t affected by these compounds. After all, if WE have spent all this energy on dissecting our diets to find out what’s healthy and have barely figured it out, then we haven’t done as much with dogs, certainly. Grapes, too, are supposed to be poisonous, but we fed them for years before finding that out, no problems. Turns out there’s a fungus that likes to grow on grape skins that doesn’t affect us, but can harm doggies. If there’s no fungus, there’s no problem. It just takes more effort to feed our pets than most people are willing to put in.
This makes me think of “Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition”
My dog, a yellow lab, gets bloody diarrhea when she eats pork. The first time was cured ham from the grocery store. The second time was pork from a local organic farm that pastures their pigs. My husband and I realized that we don’t feel well after eating pork either, so I don’t buy it anymore, except bacon and lard which don’t seem to bother us.
To Heidi: My cat will not touch cooked meat. He preferes raw, fatty meat and liver. Ground pork, beef, and beef liver so far. Venison was too lean for him. I’m going to try pouring some tallow on it. He also hates canned sardines. I’m not sure where to get good quality cheap raw fish for him. I keep a bowl of grain free kibble for variety and he likes to alternate between the two. He even hates grain free canned wet food so I’m pretty sure it’s cooked meat he hates. At 10 mo old he’s growing and eats almost a pound of meat a day. When I got him from the shelter he barely ate any standard cat food. I hope he stops growing soon because even at a rock bottom $3/lb for grass fed meat trimmings from a local farmer, its quite expensive to feed him a pound a day!
Now write the article for cats pleaz thx ok bye!
I wish I would’ve had this info a few years ago. My doggy had been gaining weight and the vet had us cut back her food intake. The poor thing was so hungry all the time, I feel so bad now thinking about it. A year after this she started having unexplained seizures and was very sick. We ended up putting her to sleep because the vet said there was nothing that could be done, and she was 13 so it was an age thing. Maybe it was, but I just wonder if it would’ve happened if we would’ve fed her more :(
I’m really glad that you took the time to come up with feeding suggestions for dogs. I might look into integrating more unprocessed food especially as she is so full lately. The development of my dog’s weight problem is actually really interesting. When we lived in a cramped apartment in Manhattan and I was working all the time, she developed an eating disorder and ate part of a rug and even an umbrella. I had to send her away to live with family members for a couple years and she put on a lot of weight. When I got her back her appetite was insatiable for a while (probably a sign of stress i think) and we eventually started controlling her food intake., so she was thin again.
We tried the raw meat/organs and veggies food diet with our two dogs and the larger breed(Cricket) ended up with an anal infection that had to be drained at the vets once a month for at least 4 months straight. Cricket lost a ton of weight and she was perfect to start with. My Maltese(Beesley) also lost a few pounds and for a small dog like a Maltese, that is pretty significant. Bee would have to go to the bathroom after every meal and for both dogs, the food was always visibly undigested, particularly the veggies. We had them on this diet for about a year then switched back to their kibble, but we have always fed them one that is all real meat, veggies and fruit. We get the grain free Halo brand.
Someone above mentioned that their cat’s litter box no longer stinks. I have been questioning this for a long time now ever since doing 80/10/10. The claim is that our poop shouldn’t stink and mine definitely didn’t on 80/10/10 and I attribute that to not digesting the raw fruits and veggies. Then there is my experience with my dogs whose poop didn’t stink much at all on raw, but again, they were clearly not digesting their food. I also think about cows whose manure definitely does stink even when it’s at the farm I go to where he feeds the cows 100% grass(so their true diet). Does anyone know if the lack of smell to poop is a good indication of an ideal diet or is it the lack of digesting food in general that accounts for the lack of smell? That or does it have to do with meat getting absorbed more fully leaving no odor and it’s the fruits, veggies, grains and dairy fermenting that leaves an odor? Just curious! LOL:)
Love and Blessings,
Yea cow poop, horse poop they stink on just pasture alone. But they smell worse on concentrates. I noticed even goat poo smells bad on high protein pelleted concentrates, which normally you hardly smell it at all since its so dry. So I say poo stinks, but total poo bombs show a problem.
Stinky poop usually means it’s been hanging out in the digestive tract too long. Anyone can eat undigestible food and have it fly through them with no odor. Digesting it and it moving through quickly is probably where it’s at.
My dog that I rescued 3 months ago looked sickly. I feed her my leftovers or make special meals of pre-soaked then cooked brown rice, meat and veggie with homemade broth. For example last night she got the marrow out of the beef shank with veggies and homemade chicken gravy. She also has access to high quality kibble, but hardly eats it much. She LOVES coconut oil, asparagus and my homemade sauerkraut. Her eyes have stopped over watering and her nose is wet and cold. She does get flea dermatitis, so I haveta put that flea/tick crap on her till I work out how to fix this problem. Hopefully she is doing okay. I know she is very happy with me.
This is a shot in the dark, but — has anyone in the 180D community used ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functionals) orthodontic treatment, or osteopathic treatment? As I’m re-feeding, and as my temps are finally roaring in their 90s, I’m noticing some interesting interactions with these dental/skeletal treatments and am curious if anyone else’s experience might corroborate my own.
Number 4 worries me, because my puppy doesn’t react well to any meat but chicken. The dark meats especially give him an overly acidic stomach and make him throw up in the mornings. He is very healthy and active, though when I was able to give him beef marrow bones his coat was so shiny it pretty much sparkled. Fugging vampire-like.
Anyway, should I be worried about all the chicken? Should I be actively seeking out some toxin-free wild meat of mythical beasts?
I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I don’t know if I would feed tons of chicken skin and fat though, but would remove skin and supplement fat from those beef marrow bones.
Thanks! So do the benefits of beef marrow outweigh the potential allergic reaction?
The way you wrote it I did not read it as your animals had an allergic reaction to marrow bones, but big slabs of red meat. But hopefully they will overcome that tendency with less chicken fat in their diet.
Is it the high blood diet that makes a vampire sparkle??
I think it’s hack writing that makes vampires sparkle, but I wouldn’t rule out blood either.
My cats eat raw meat, and I make it in batches once every three weeks or so, with a combo of meat (usually beef, sometimes with chicken, turkey etc), offal (incl hearts, kidney and a bit of liver, but generally whatever I can get), bone meal, brewers yeast, taurine, a tiny sprinkling of veg (which they usually pick out) and spirulina, which they go mad for, but I can’t be bothered to eat anymore. In the beginning, I tried only chicken and turkey and one cat totally refused to eat. I gave up. Then I thought of beef, after thinking about people eating steak tartare…ever since, anything covered in beef they will eat. They still get kitty crack (kibble) to save money, but tbh they would eat the meat instead no problem. They are more satiated on the meat, and they are less annoying on big portions. People tell me they are fat all the time, but they are devastatingly cute. One has a definite swinging little belly. But they seem happy, healthy and are never ill- except they vomit a fair amount. Free access to grass seems important to them. But they are lazy. I don’t worry about it. The concentration of calories seems important here. My mum’s dog gets an all-natural pet food but gets tiny portions and has so many ailments. My mums cats get standard cat food and they all look thin, undernourished and like hyperthyroid cats- greasy coats and the like. This is not scientific, but I have a hunch that slightly fat cats live longer. Not too fat, mind you.
I have been feeding my 8 year old dog a raw diet for 4 or 5 years now. Her poop does still stink, although it doesn’t smell as bad as other dog’s poop does. It is well formed and fully digested. She rarely has diarrhea or constipation.
Her coat is luxurious, very thick and silky. I’ve never met a lab with fur as nice as hers. We rarely bathe her, she doesn’t need it. She doesn’t smell bad or feel greasy.
She is often mistaken for a young adult. She is very energetic, her eyes are bright, her teeth are very white with no tartar buildup, her breath doesn’t stink, and she is quite intelligent with a large vocabulary.
I’m not sure why the other commenter has had such a bad experience with feeding raw. Dogs do have a problem digesting raw veggies, they need to be finely chopped. Feeding bones can cause some digestive disturbances, too much can cause constipation and the shards can cause intestinal irritation which could explain the anal sac issue. There are some manufactured frozen raw foods out there that have the bones ground up in them, that may help. Raw food also has more water content than kibble, so the volume of food fed needs to be larger.
Hmm.. I suppose overfeeding could apply to all mammals!
A bit off-topic: I am somewhat new to the 180 Degree way. I have Diet Recovery 2, and I am considering buying Eat For Heat as well.. But I wanted to first ask if there was the overlap would make the purchase unnecessary? Will I learn more 180-Degree concepts? I’m kind of looking to get a more broader understanding in terms of Metabolic recovery….. And, of course, so I can actually get up to date on the 180-Degree Lit, and keep up with the posts! :)
How do you feed the dog meat marrow bones? I have some grass-fed beef bones in freezer – should I just let them thaw and let our cocker spaniel have at ’em?
Thank you for this post! I just looked at my dog’s expensive grain-free dog food and realized it’s a bunch of crap. They add Salmon oil and omega 6’s to it. I won’t eat the stuff, so why the heck am I feeding it to my dog?!
P.S. When I took our dog to the doggie dermatologist (he has a skin condition), she wanted me pumping the dog full of all this chemical crap and fish oil, and I was like, “can’t I just feed him things to improve his immune system?” And then we paid $600 for his lab tests and her “expert” advice. Turns out, a bit of coconut oil and carrots help a lot.
Hi Matt! What about feeding cats? I read that feline milk content varies depending on the lactation stage and is generally very low in protein, surprisingly (28%, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/112/9/1763.full.pdf). And the need for maintenance protein seems to fall to 12% later on. This makes me wonder, what else should we feed our cats? Also, what kind of protein is best?
My cat seems to be crazy about everything sweet: caramel, ice-cream, condensed milk, my mint chewing gum.
Regarding dogs, you said some vegetables work. Could you name a few? I heard potatoes are no good, do you know if it’s true?