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Amy’s Attitude: Spring 2024

Amy’s Attitude: Spring 2024

Recently, one of the members of our canine pack fell ill with a nasty stomach bug. Unfortunately, the gurgling belly wasn’t easily remedied with the typical dose of Metronidazole. Throwing up bile, disinterest in food, and general lethargy resulted in multiple trips to the vet while Greg and I watched our dog drop weight day by day. While the vets dialed in the diagnosis and navigated their way to the proper treatment, I took it upon myself to get some nutrition into my ailing dog.

As a staunch advocate for raw food more than 20 years ago, I decided to revisit this cuisine to see if it would stimulate his appetite. Back in the day, I would hit the markets looking for cheap cuts of meat, marked-down vegetables, and anything economical that I could use to make meals for our dogs.

We based our recipe on books by Juliette de Bairacli Levy (“The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat”) and Dr. Ian Billinghurst (“Give Your Dog A Bone” and “Grow Your Pups With Bones”). Our in-house formula consisted of ground meat, pulped raw vegetables, raw eggs with shells, full fat yogurt, garlic and sometimes rolled oats and rice. We mixed this in huge tubs and froze it in three to five day supplies. This meat and veggie “mash” meal was fed in the mornings and offset by the raw meaty bone (RMB) meal in the evenings. For the RMB meal we used a lot of chicken leg quarters, some whole chickens (halved), canned salmon or mackerel, pork neck bones and turkey necks.

In short, our dogs thrived! Their coats were beautiful, teeth were clean, breath was clean, poops were normal and without putrid odor. However, as I started traveling more to show dogs, it became more challenging to keep up the raw diet, so I joined the masses and hopped over to the kibble train. Our dogs have continued to do well on kibble, but with one of the pack falling ill and needing a bit “extra” I wanted to revisit feeding raw.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the price. Holy moly! THE PRICE!!!! As we know the price of groceries is sky high, but to feed our dogs the way we used to would be absolutely cost prohibitive with a pack of five. I then began looking into a few of the premade mixed raw and cooked foods. Of course I had seen and heard the advertising for “The Farmer’s Dog” but I had absolutely no idea how many of these companies were out there. It is clear this has become an extremely competitive industry.

Over the past six weeks, our dogs have been test subjects for ten different premade foods including raw meat patties, raw meat and vegetable mixtures, cooked mixtures, freeze dried kibble and baked kibble. It has been quite the experiment to compare the style, consistency ingredients and palatability (according to five unbiased canines).

In no particular order, here are the brands we have ordered for the pack. Most of these brands offer additional products, but these are the recipes we have personally tried. For example, some of the freeze dried brands also make raw recipes or vice-versa.

Steve’s Real Pet Food – frozen meat/organ/bone patties in beef, chicken, turkey or lamb.

Little Hunter – freeze dried raw in beef, chicken, rabbit or salmon/whitefish. Adding warm water creates a rich gravy.

Ollie – slow cooked recipes with beef and sweet potatoes, chicken and carrots, turkey and blueberries, lamb and cranberries or pork with apples.

Farmer’s Dog – cooked meals using human grade ingredients, available in beef, turkey or chicken.

Nom Nom – gently cooked meals with chunks of meat/ starches/veggies available in chicken, pork or turkey.

We Feed Raw – raw, human-grade meat/organ/bone grinds in beef, chicken, duck, turkey, venison or lamb.

Pet’s Table – gently cooked recipes in chicken casserole with green beans, turkey casserole with carrots or beef stew with broccoli.

Spot & Tango – UnKibble recipes (air dried to maximize nutritioual integrity) in cod & salmon, beef & barley, chicken & brown rice or turkey & sweet potato.

Pet Plate – slowly baked to preserve crunchy texture and lots of aroma, available in chicken or beef formulas

Viva Raw – raw, single protein recipes with slight addition of fruits, veggies and supplements, available in chicken, turkey, duck, beef, rabbit or goat.

I did take advantage of a lot of coupons and first time order discounts for these products, which made them much more affordable. Some were as much as 60% off for the first month. Overall, I think our crew is grateful for the new recipes in their bowls. They have never been a picky group, but it makes me feel good to be going the extra mile. What began as a quest to help one dog’s upset belly has turned into a full scale experiment and taste test kitchen for our pack, and I don’t think they could be happier.