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Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs Kindle Edition
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A few friends had been feeding their dogs the BARF (bones and raw food) diet and I myself had been recently converted to the: “Hungry for Change/Forks Over Knives/May I Be Frank/Crazy Sexy Cancer/Fat Sick, Nearly Dead” philosophy of eating (Check Netflix for those documentaries). Basically more raw, unprocessed food. I had given up soda and followed the general gist of “Hungry for Change” myself and was suddenly migraine free and I felt great.
MY DOGS: ------------------------It only made sense that I get on board the raw food wagon. I have a new rescue pup who was riddled with ulcers and other problems. Higgins is a 9 month old flat retriever/Aussie mix rescue dog from a high kill shelter in TN. He took to the BARF diet and he is doing MARVOULUS! Literally a dramatic change almost overnight. I could not be more pleased. YAY BARF!
I also have one elderly Jack Russell?Beagle mix who is 12 years old named Ginger. Ginger wouldn't TOUCH the raw diet, even after trying to wait her out a day and a half, she really put her foot (paw?) down and just flat out refused. Which is what lead me to this book. Not commercial food, but not raw......
Ginger started growing fatty tumors at a young age, her muzzle went gray very early on, and so even though most of my dogs make it to 14, 15, 16+ I started to become very concerned for her health. We had just lost her long time companion dog and she just seemed to loose the will to live on top of that. Ginger didn't even want to be touched. I thought it was arthritis, the vet suspected maybe pancreatitus or a swollen liver, etc. I had a full medical checkup done and although they didn't find anything, no tumors pushing or organs or anything, no real medical reason for her behavior.....needless to say it was a scary time.
Ginger was raised on Fromm Family foods, a product I buy from a local organic/higher end dog food place. It's not like she had been eating discount bottom barrel food her whole life. I wasn’t' sure it would make any kind of difference, but the BARF went so well for my rescue pup, I was willing to try anything.
THE BOOK:----------------I made two batches of the kibble and one batch of Beef & Potatoes, which IMO, is really great alternative to canned food. Ginger was raised on a mix of canned & kibble at each meal.
The food was easy for me to make and froze well too. ======Ginger ADORED the food. ======The book frequently mentions dogs coming back later to check their bowl and this was definitely true for me. Ginger pushed the bowl around to make sure she hadn't missed anything and double checked it again an hour later! The next morning she was standing on me in bed, jumping all around, and then ran downstairs and sat next to her bowl.
Within a week Ginger was perky and begging for butt-rubs. Sure she's still older and it's not the fountain of youth, but it made a HUGE difference. Ginger had a history of poor bladder control, even as a pup, and occasionally in adult life (some hormone imbalance I'm told), she would “wet the bed” in her sleep. This became an issue in the past month and the rubber sheets went back on, and trips to the Laundromat were beocming 'a thing'. Since switching to food made from this book she has not had one accident in the house of any kind and her poop is awesome and on a regular schedule! Although we haven't changed her eating or food habits, well...ever really, her potty schedule did change and it became an issue. That's certainly expected with older dogs, but that has disappeared on this food as well.
I've had my new rescue dog vetted fully, with an x-ray and everything, to check on his ulcer and he's gotten the all clear! Before this he struggled to put on weight, and did nothing but throw up, and despite his intelligence and training and obvious effort to remained house trained.......I had shampooed my carpets at least 5 times in 5 months after rescuing him. At this point I'll have to replace my carpeting in the living room. It was bad. Since switching to BARF and meals from this book he's not had one single accident of any kind (And he was having ALL kids prior) and his poop-schedule is on the mark too!
MY CONCLUSION:----------> I'm a moron for not doing this years ago. I can't believe I personally subscribed to a whole foods/raw diet and didn't think about my dogs. I was clearly healthier and happier. My dogs are CLEARLY healthier in every way and happier now too. I do suggest going back to re-visit the book once in a while to ensure you don't end up making only one or two recipes all the time, which might result in an unbalanced diet, and eventually health problems. As long as you mix it up I can't see how you could ever go wrong.
INVEST IN A DIGITAL FOOD SCALE. You can get them now for like $15-20. Get one with a TARE button (which will zero out the scale with a bowl or other food on the scale) and multiple reading outputs (grams, ounces, pounds). I throw my dogs bowl up on the scale and give her specific ounces of different things, and it makes it easy to put the bowl on, TARE, put in cooked kibble, TARE, some veggies, TARE, etc. That way I know she's getting X amount of food per meal, and what percentage of her food is meat, veggies, etc. It keeps everything very honest and you'll feel better having done the math!
It may sound complicated, but after a week, I felt I had gotten into the groove and it wasn't much work at all.
THIS BOOK ALSO HAS DISEASE SPECIFIC DIETS! You will not have to do all the extra math for special needs dogs! Yay.
If you went with a combo of the cooked Kibble and beef and potatoes to replace commercial kibble and canned food like I did with Ginger you'd run about $30-40 at the grocery store. Some of what you buy will last for many many months, (The flour), some for multiple weeks, (the quick oats), and there will be some initial investment for the yeast or oil.....so yes for the first week's investment you'll pay like $40. However you won't pay that EVERY week for a 40lb dog.. Especially, if like Ginger, your dog is banging on deaths door anyway. I'm sure $40 is nothing. - And really, what's the worst case scenario here? You give your dog one hell of a send off? Some really fantastic great last dinners? If you're even considering this book I have to assume you'd be more than okay with that!
Now as a new BARFer, I knew I was going to foot a hefty bill for raw food, and given my personal background as described, I felt okay with this. I felt properly educated and equipped to take it on without spending a enormous amount of time and money doing it. Not that it wasn't scary anyway, because let me be clear..........THIS WAS REALLY REALLY SCARY. There's about a million things we hear is bad for pets, food that will kill pets, that will make them choke to death, and OMFG we might raise them to be nutritionally deficient and they will die..........and it'll be all out fault.
Please don't let that fear stop you! The only thing I regret is I didn't do this sooner. I do personally feel a combo of BARF and cooked is where it's at, for a number of complex reasons, but frankly ---------->ANYTHING BUT STORE BOUGHT.<------------- is where I stand now.
If I bought commercially prepared raw food for BOTH my 40lbs dogs I was looking at about $100/month PER DOG. I have been reading up on how to manage a BARF diet on on my own (yeah I know, that acronym makes for interesting reading) and have since invested in a small deep freeze, and found good bulk suppliers locally. I've been able to BARF my rescue pup for about $40-60/month. I buy in bulk, and so I've only begun to estimate the per meal/per month price so that's kind of a big price gap there. Still much cheaper than $100/month.
On THIS COOKED DIET based on the book I was able to get Ginger's food to about half that. Potatoes and canned veggies/pumpkin, etc are MUCH cheaper that straight meat and help keep the cost down. Right now I'm estimating Ginger's monthly food cost at $35-40/month for an elderly 40lb dog.
Feeding them Fromm Family, which is a very high end kibble, I was paying about $50-60/month FOR BOTH DOGS.
If you bought high end grocery store food, such as Rachel Ray Just Six, you'd probably end up paying about $28-35/month FOR BOTH DOGS.
GOING FORWARD:------------I also plan to follow some of these recipes for my new rescue dog too. I am new to BARFing, but some of those ladies are a bit extreme for me. I think this book, combined with BARF, is a good approach. That's just my opinion. As a proponent of raw food personally for my own food, I realize why the hardcore BARFers are who they are. I suspect breeds prone to cancer, pregnant dogs, puppies, and dogs with severe allergies and chronic diseases would truly benefit from a BARF diet for all the reasons raw food people believe. That being said my young pup is just starting out, he's had some issues, and I want to go mostly BARF for him. Yet I appreciate Ginger absolutely refusing to eat a BARF diet and I won't force her. There's obviously a reason she won't and I won't force it. I hope some day she will get there, and I hope to get a few more years with her. This book serves her very well in the mean time.
The book makes a good point about “what nature says” and the modern world we live in now. It points that, yes, XYZ is what dogs ate in nature as predators (the BARFing poitn of view), BUT as intelligent beings with science and research on our side is it REALLY necessary to feed dogs EXACTLY what they eat in nature hundreds or thousands of years ago (The Cooked Food point of view) ? Doesn't the impact of the meat industry mean anything? (The Hippie Point of view) Isn’t there a better approach to meeting our dogs nutritional needs while at the same time being more compassionate, more diligent stewards of the earth!?
It's a well made point, one I am inclined to agree with. I want healthy happy dogs, I also want to live more responsibly overall. Plus kids don't like to eat their veggies, and parents make them. So who is to say because dogs don’t' eat pumpkin in the wild doesn't mean they shouldn't? Just because they don't in the wild doesn't mean we can't use our human brains to mix it with some beef and make out dogs healthier, right?
-------------------THE CONS: The only issues I take with this book is what seems like the constant mention of cheese, despite the authors mention of how it should be feed sparingly. Seems like a do as I say, not as I am encouraging you to do.
Also some recipes almost insult your intelligence (tuna water on bread) except I guess =it is= a good way to use up tuna water and old bread. Maybe. Once in a while. EXCEPT it's really only healthy, IMOA, if you’re eating some high end whole grain bread, or you made the bread yourself. Otherwise please don’t' think giving your dog some walmart wonder bread full of chemical crap, with tuna water on it, is okay! It's not okay. I don’t' think that was the authors intention, I just thought a few ideas like that had the potential to be misread by someone who isn't an experienced foodie like me and could get horribly abused to a bad end.
The pros outweigh the cons, but I felt it needed to be mentioned.
It's not perfect though and as someone who has used and relied on herbal medicines for years a few of the ingredients used or recommended here cause me concern:
A lot of the recipes call for Rosemary. Rosemary is a great plant with likely some anticancer properties, but it is also traditionally used as an abortificant, and it generally avoided by women who suffer from endometriosis, cysts, fibroids and other hormone related conditions - it's antiestrogenic properties may be helpful in some cancers, but I do not believe it is a safe thing to give to female dogs unless they do have cancer and even then only under the direction of a vet.
Ditto for Yucca - although none of these recipes call for Yucca it is listed as a good ingredient in dog food. I disagree. Yucca may be antiinflammatory, and might be okay to give an arthritic old dog now and then, but it acts as a steroid. I do not agree that it belongs in dog food.
Millet is easy on the tummy and nutritious but it supresses the thyroid -something I had personal and very bad experience with. Millet may be allright now and then, but be prepared for thyroid damage if you give a food that has it on a regular basis. Avoid this ingredient like the plague if you have a breed that tends to have hypothyroidism. The whole reason I quit buying commercial food for my dogs was to get them back on a more natural and simple diet and to get them away from having to eat this kind of stuff. Although I have no doubt the intentions are good, I would personally urge some caution when it comes to some of these nontraditional plant ingredients unless your dog has a specific medical need. They do indeed have medicinal properties but are not good for normal, healthy dogs to be eating every day.
That said, overall this is a good book, most of the recipes are sensible and its loads of fun to make tasty and nutritious meals and treats for your dogs. I think most of the recommendations here are still a much better alternative than what the dog food companies are giving to us lately. Your dog will thank you for the fresh home cooking and you will likely see a healthier dog for it. The author has worked hard to come up with these recipes, has put them through the ropes with his own dogs and it is evident that his work comes from the heart -which automatically puts him well ahead of most of the dog food companies!
Something I like about this book is the truthful and detailed chapter on what foods you can feed your dog. I went straight to the kitchen for a banana to see if my girl, Lucy, would eat it. She was smacking her lips in shock over the new treat. So this recipe book has helped me understand her foods.
A note of caution over the supplemental stew... it is pungeant... if you freeze the stew like I do in icecube trays for easy use, wrap the trays well with plastic wrap before you place in the freezer or the smell will permeate everything, to include your automatic ice machine. Just ask my mother visiting for the holidays who had a salmon oil ice water. It was pretty funny at the time. We had to throw out the ice and clean out the freezer but we got a good laugh and no one was hurt.