Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

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Absoulte
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Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby Absoulte » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 am

I am seriously trying to do the best for my dog - feed him the best etc. I hear so much bad about every type of food that it all seems horrible.

I feed Science Diet right now - I tried switching to the various "Natural" brand dog foods and my dogs skin got dry, his hair flaky, and his nails were dry and cracked all the time. Now he is nice and shiny and healthy. I hear people saying how horrible these foods are and that you are killing them a little bit with each meal. I have heard from multiple people that the "natural" foods are not even natural and that is why they are called holistic etc. - they are not by law allowed to use natural anymore because there are guidelines that have to be met and they do not meet them to be considered natural. Basically, anyone can call their food holistic or be creative and use other words to replace the word "Natural" Food.

My other option I am seriously considering is feeding raw. I know that dogs are meant to eat meat - and yet all these other foods (natural and big store brands both) have a ton of fruits and vegetables and grains etc. I have heard that the problem with raw is that dogs have been domesticated for so long that they aren't adept at digesting what their wild ancestors have. My concern with raw is does it fully cover all the dog's nutritional needs? Joints etc. (I am seriously concerned mostly with my boy having bad joints/hips because that is the problem my Malamute had and it was horrible).

Any good reading I can do on feeding? Most of what I find is either vets (biased towards foods like Science Diet/Eukanuba), people crazy on Natural foods who talks a lot of crap on these big named brands but the natural foods I have tried have done nothing for my dog. Raw I hear mixed things on (as I said earlier with the digestion thing).

I know there are a ton of food posts and I am reading through those now but I want my questions answered and people's personal experiences on these foods. :)

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Absoulte
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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby Absoulte » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:10 am

There seems to be a lot of BIAS when it comes to feeding and everyone's "facts" contradict each other and they all have articles/readings to back up their "facts".

I have read that these natural food brands claim to have meat as their first ingredient because it has the most of that in it. However, upon further investigation that is not the case and if you look into their ingredients list you will see they have corn broken down into three (or more) different categories (corn mean, corn etc.) but if they bunched it into one category it would in fact be first on the list as well.

People claim SD is horrible, yet our last two dogs lived extremely long, healthy lives. Granted, our malamute had issues in his legs but that was due to how he was kept as a puppy and was not given any exercise from the person we got him from.

This is all just very frustrating! :eek:

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Absoulte
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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby Absoulte » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:31 am

CANIDAE All Natural Ingredients
Chicken meal, brown rice, white rice, rice bran, cracked pearled barley, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), millet, tomato pomace, natural flavor, flaxseed meal, potassium chloride, choline chloride, suncured alfalfa meal, inulin (from chicory root), lecithin, sage extract, cranberries, beta-carotene, rosemary extract, sunflower oil, yucca schidigera extract, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, papaya, pineapple.

This is an example - if you put all the rice together as "rice" then it would probably be before the Chicken Meal?

I just think all these food companies are sneaky.

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby kagnew » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:59 am

It's a really complicated issue and each "camp" has valid arguments for their reasoning. The best resource I know of is Ann Martin's [b]Food Pets Die For (Shocking Facts About Pet Foods)[/b]. It is fairly short, concise and quite instructive on how to deconstruct an ingredient list. One of the most interesting things for me was learning about the AAFCO standards and what exactly that means (a bit scary) and the overused and overblown term "complete and balanced." Because dogs DO have such efficient digestive systems, many somehow manage to do seemingly well on even the junkiest foods. They live long lives. But when I compare my 14 year old raw fed Pug to my 16 year Science Diet dog (RIP Chelsea) at the same age it is no comparison. That poor dog lived a long time, but she STANK, she had horribly itchy skin, lived on steroids and no teeth by 14. Nobody can believe Rudy is 14 (and he's only been fed well for 4 years.) We have 5 animals in the house and everybody comments that it doesn't smell like a barn in here. None of them have that "doggy odour."

The pet food industry tells us that if we don't feed a "complete and balanced" kibble, every meal, every day, 365 days a year our pets are going to suffer. Really? Are we that" careful" about what we feed ourselves or are children? No. Real food in a variety of ingredients is the healthiest way to go and our pets are no different. There is a great cartoon of a mother and child sitting in a pediatrician's office and the doc is holding a bag of franken-food and telling the woman to feed it to her child every meal, every day and the mother is thinking he's nuts. Hmm... The whole "Natural," "holistic," "organic" issue is a major discussion unto itself and unfortunately it is very hard to trust all that for people, much less pets! (Major homework issue that!)

I started feeding raw 4 years ago and will NEVER go back. It took awhile to sort out suppliers (basically found a couple of "co-ops" that I use), but it now costs me roughly $150/month give or take to feed my 50 pound Lab/Boxer, 2 Pugs and 2 cats. That might seem spendy to some, but seriously? $1.00/day per pet??? And I firmly believe - from experience - that you save money on medical care. I'd rather spend the money on food than the vet. And that is just what I've done. Of course - once you start digging you find yourself in a quagmire of passion for each of the raw "camps!" Arghhhh! It took me almost 6 months to find my comfort level and finally dive in.

Dogs aren't wolves. We have monkeyed with them in so many ways over the centuries of domestication. BUT. At the end of the day, they require a primarily meat based diet. And their digestive systems are quite efficient. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to eat rotten food and garbage and survive! (Much less manage to break down highly processed kibble!) My 14 year old Pug disappeared yesterday and I finally found him under the deck devouring a dead mouse probably left by one of the cats. He's fine. The purists feed the prey model. Others go with barf (including fruits, veggies and some whole grains - rice, oatmeal, etc. Before the pet food industry (a very young industry BTW) came about dogs were basically fed our leftovers - for centuries. Personally I kinda work off that model. My base is ground raw meat including bone and organs/offal. Pugs bolt their food and I although some do great on bones, after my older Pug choked twice I opted for ground. (BTW - bones are an excellent source of glucosamine.) Some days they just get meat. Primarily chicken, but also beef, fish, lamb, venison, duck for variety. I feed quite a bit of tripe as well. Stinky is kind, but they LERVE it and it's so good for them! Every now and then I cook up some rice or oatmeal (must be cooked) or pasta and toss that in. They love cooked or steamed veggies so that goes in once in awhile. Fresh berries. I do add a joint supplement for my active big boy and the old geezer. (The levels of supplements in prepared foods are rarely therapeutic FWIW.) They get our leftovers most of the time. Basically we share our food with them as long as it's not junk or raisins, grapes, chocolate, onions (a little bit of garlic or onions is no biggie) - the usual suspect no-nos.

I hope I've helped a little bit. Get that book. I gotta get to work, but I feel so passionately about feeding our pets (don't even get me started on cats. Obligate carnivores designed to get water from their meals. And why are the shelves lined with "urinary tract" formulas???) This is a huge and complex issue, and an important one to me. It's probably good that I'm in a hurry or I could go on. And on...

kathy

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Absoulte
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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby Absoulte » Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:22 am

I would much rather feed Raw, because over everything else it just seems to make the most sense to me. I'll be ordering that book or getting it on my Kindle if it's available! :)

Where do you get your food from - by suppliers do you go to grocery stores or to butchers? And what types of meat do you feed, like you say you feed chicken, beef, fish, lamb, venison, duck and tripe (as in stomach?) how do you fee them? What form do you feed them in? Like for the chicken, do you feel chicken legs and breasts or the whole chicken? I have read dogs get a lot of their nutrition from the eyeballs, brains etc. which would mean feeding the entire thing?

I would probably throw in some vegetables etc. too just for extra nutrition here and there.

Sorry I am asking like completely ridiculous basic questions but I would rather talk to someone who is doing it than read some guide - which I am doing as well but I get more from being able to ask questions and hear from someone who is doing it. If that makes sense?

Once we get our dogs on raw my mom would love to feed the cats raw - but that will be next I think switching them all at once would be a little much. But you can help me with that next! :)

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Absoulte
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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby Absoulte » Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:23 am

Not to mention my boy is constantly chewing at his feet and scratching his ears - which I am hoping raw would help to clear up since it is probably caused by his food.

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby FransterDoo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:02 am

If you search for "raw" or "barf" in the Health section of PBF you'll get a number of good threads about the subject. I've posted in a lot of them about my raw feeding experiences.

There's an insanely long BARF 101 thread but I'd suggest going back a few pages in it and reading it as well.

good luck!

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby kagnew » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:20 am

Absoulte wrote:Not to mention my boy is constantly chewing at his feet and scratching his ears - which I am hoping raw would help to clear up since it is probably caused by his food.


I can almost guarantee it will help! Also - cats are sometimes difficult. Something new! Yikes! My cat was 15 when I started and it took me over a year to get him switched completely. His favorite thing was quail legs. (I know - blech) But he would go all stealth hunter and carry it around meowing before finally gobbling it up. Pretty cute!

There used to be awesome list of suppliers, raw friendly butchers (some are not - I got roundly scolded once - you will give your dog worms!!!) and co-ops. I can't find it now of course, but found this which looks promising. http://www.rawfoodsources.com/

The easiest and most expensive way is prepared frozen from a pet food store/supplier. Second is DIY from the grocery store or butcher. The closer you can get to the source, the cheaper it is. As you get going, you will stumble across contacts and sources. For instance, I went for a pre-enrollment check at a dog sport facility and spotted a note on a refrigerator - "Everyone who wants ground beef w/ bone and offal at .80/pound, please see Paul." Turns out he was driving all over the place picking up meat from different sources and figured since he would get better prices the more he bought, he'd pick up for friends as well. He has 3 huge freezers and a grinder in the garage now! And I'm on his email list and got some gorgeous, beef and whole ground salmon (at the same price I was paying for chicken!!!) in the freezer! Score!

I feed primarily whole ground meat. That's pretty much everything but feathers and fur. I love feeding whole chicken, backs, etc. (The bigger the better with meaty bones). My big boy gets that, but my Pugs can't be trusted not to try and gulp when they believe they've worked down to a gulpable piece... (Doggie CPR on an unconcious Pug is not my idea of fun) My Lab (rip) was great with meaty bones, delicately chewing it all up before trying to swallow and my new boy, Haggis, is just the same. My friend whose family raises cattle and also feeds raw used to bring me hearts and lungs and tongues and stuff - lervely... But! Great stuff! Again- you have to get creative and start talking to everybody and you will quickly find good sources. Most of my stuff comes frozen in blocks of varying sizes. (The larger the cheaper) Great thing is you can thaw and refreeze and freezer burn isn't a concern. Those are asthetic/taste concerns which apply only to us!

With the exception of the aforementioned cat, I have never done a long switchover. That is up to you and depends on your dog, but my Lab used to vomit at least once every couple of weeks. Never knew why, never a problem - just a delicate tummy according to vet. He went from kibble to raw overnight and NEVER vomited again - ever. Some dogs do have some runny poo - grab some plain yogurt and canned pumpkin (yes canned, not fresh) JIC. Pumpkin is doggie pepto bismal. I freeze it in ice cube trays and keep in bags in the fridge. The dogs love it, it's a nice healthy treat on a hot day and great to have on hand if someone's tummy is out of sorts. Some people add yogurt and enzymes to help their digestive systems to adjust. I've used a tablespoon of yogurt (and still do once in awhile), but that's it. A couple of runny poos from Haggis right at first is the only issue I've encountered - but they are all different! Do start with chicken or lamb - most dogs do well. Wait at least a few days before adding new proteins. Now I just feed whatever I grab when I dive into the freezer! Oh - and yes - tripe. I believe it's technically stomach lining. Low protein and crazy nutritious. Great for seniors and pretty much nobody turns it down. I get it ground and frozen in blocks. I get all of it frozen or ready for the freezer. Just thaw enough for a few days and either feed as is or mix in some cooked rice and veggies or some cottage cheese, eggs, whatever. Some are very scientific with lots of measuring and weighing and such. I was much more anal at first, but in the end I just want to feed my dogs good stuff, not make it a career change! Variety and quality meat is most important. I don't vaccinate any more (that's another thread!), but my critters go for annual check ups and bloodwork and although my vet isn't overly enthused (vets are not trained in nutrition any more than our doctors - the ones who know it are largely self-taught. Dog food company supported "training" doesn't count...), but "I can't argue with results, keep doing what you're doing."

This company makes excellent prepared foods. Sometimes if I run out and can't get to my supplier in time - or just want to throw in something exotic I buy their stuff. But their website is a GOLDMINE of educational material. http://www.carnivora.ca

That enough to keep your head spinning for awhile? It really isn't as daunting and complicated as it may seem once you get going!

kathy

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby snikles » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:29 am

If your dog was doing well on Science Diet and having problems when not on Science Diet, then I would go with Science Diet.

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby BrokenAquarian » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:57 am

The thing about dogs not being able to digest raw meat is false.
Dog food has only been around for a short period of time - so dogs have been eating meat/animal parts up until quite recently. There's also the fact that many people have always fed their dogs real food instead of/or with, kibble.

I wouldn't worry about that myth. :)

There are some dogs who have sensitive stomachs to anything new and cannot handle raw meat - but they are in the minority.

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby starrlamia » Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:30 am

kagnew wrote:
Absoulte wrote:Not to mention my boy is constantly chewing at his feet and scratching his ears - which I am hoping raw would help to clear up since it is probably caused by his food.


I can almost guarantee it will help! Also - cats are sometimes difficult. Something new! Yikes! My cat was 15 when I started and it took me over a year to get him switched completely. His favorite thing was quail legs. (I know - blech) But he would go all stealth hunter and carry it around meowing before finally gobbling it up. Pretty cute!



if your dog has allergies to something in the kibble it may help. My dogs are both on raw and have been since december. However my little dog chews her feet and scratched at her ear, it was a yeast infection for both, cleaning both regularily has helped get rid of it, along with probiotic suppliments and immune boosters.

Raw is a great diet and healthy for the dog if you do it properly, but it is not a cure all, it will not neccessarily cure every little illness that is bothering your dog.

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby kagnew » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:10 pm

snikles wrote:If your dog was doing well on Science Diet and having problems when not on Science Diet, then I would go with Science Diet.


Except he chews his feet constantly and scratches his ears. More often than not that is yeast overgrowth and a B to get rid of. Raw diet "can" (I said can not will!) help or even cure this, but not always. My Lab had a yeast problem his entire life - constant battle. Switching him to a raw diet did not cure it, but it absolutely contributed to making it significantly more manageable for the last two years of his life. That, gentian ear treatment and finding a vet who didn't run for antibiotics every time she saw yeasty ears... sigh.

A raw diet is most assuredly NOT a cure-all. But in my experience (4 dogs, 3 cats, many fosters over the last 4 years), it is absolutely key to optimum health, quality of life and does virtually eliminate many of the concerns that I thought for most of my life were simply the way it goes with dogs, especially as they age - ie. doggie odour, dandruff, gnarly breath, rotten/lost teeth, loss of muscle tone/wasting... When we got Haggis from the rescue he had been eating whatever was available at his succession of shelters and rescues for the previous 8 months. Hubby complained about the doggie odour in the car for days after we got him. I had to wash my hands every time he got a rub down or scritches. My fingers would be sticky and dirty and smelly. He's been eating raw for 2 months and is glossy, has no odour and I can love him up without having to wash my hands. That says a lot to me!

kathy

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby Timas Mom » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:17 pm

www.dogaware.com

She has great info on kibble, homecooked and raw. Pretty detailed and lots of great info!

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby snikles » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:05 pm

kagnew wrote:
snikles wrote:If your dog was doing well on Science Diet and having problems when not on Science Diet, then I would go with Science Diet.


Except he chews his feet constantly and scratches his ears. More often than not that is yeast overgrowth and a B to get rid of. Raw diet "can" (I said can not will!) help or even cure this, but not always. My Lab had a yeast problem his entire life - constant battle. Switching him to a raw diet did not cure it, but it absolutely contributed to making it significantly more manageable for the last two years of his life. That, gentian ear treatment and finding a vet who didn't run for antibiotics every time she saw yeasty ears... sigh.


Well if your dog is having problems with itchy feet and itchy ears then he is not doing well. I was talking to the OP who basically said that the dog was happy, healthy and doing great on SD, then she switched and there were problems and when she switched back the problems went away and her dog was happy and healthy again.

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Re: Natural Food vs. "Major" Brand vs. Raw

Postby kagnew » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:23 pm

Absoulte wrote:Not to mention my boy is constantly chewing at his feet and scratching his ears - which I am hoping raw would help to clear up since it is probably caused by his food.


Posted by OP later in conversation! So happy and healthy - except for that!


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