The following guest blog post was submitted by Carol Segovia, Mom to Perso the Great Dane Tripawd and his sidekick Snoopy. If you have a nutrition story you’d like to share, contact us today!
Two years ago, if you looked in my kitchen pantry, you would see two bags of dog food; a bag of Nutro Large Breed Puppy and a bag of Nutro Weight Control.
My Great Dane puppy and Walker Beagle had always eaten kibble except for the occasional table scrap. They ate two times a day once in the morning and once in the evening. They were both healthy and lived an average dog life.
Snoopy my Beagle would occasionally throw up. It was almost always yellow frothy foam, no food bits. I noticed that when he would throw up it was about an hour or so before their next meal time. I eventually came to the conclusion that he was throwing up because he was hungry.
In an effort to combat his hunger, I increased his food portion by a half a cup. The throwing up stopped for a time but he started gaining weight. Because Snoopy was never much for running around or playing, he wasn’t losing any weight. I called him my grumpy old man. To combat this second problem, and because he was getting up in age (seven years old) I switched him to Nutro Old Age. I lowered his severing size back down to what he used to get since it was a new food. He gobbled it down like usual and didn’t have any upset stomach since it was the same brand of food. After a few weeks of being on this new food he started throwing up again.
I once again increased his food portion by a half cup. He was great for a few more weeks and then he started throwing up again. So, I once again increased his portion by a half a cup.
My Walker Beagle, who was supposed to be around 35 pounds, was now eating four cups of food a day and tipping the scales at 50 pounds! Even with four cups a day he was throwing up every other day and always about an hour before his next meal.
With our work schedule we couldn’t add an extra meal during the day. And even if we could, Snoopy’s weight screamed “Diet!” not “More food!”
Finally I was fed up with always cleaning up frothy vomit and started looking online for a different diet option. I came across a web site talking about feeding Raw. I never heard about it before so I started digging.
After a full day of researching online, I told my husband I wanted to put Perso our Dane and Snoopy on Raw. He rolled his eyes and said “Yes dear, whatever you like.”
The next day I went to the store and bought everything I needed and got to work. Perso our Great Dane didn’t react to the switch in food very much. He was still a puppy at 1.5 years old and was always happy and playful. He had softer stools for a day or two but other than that he was great.
Snoopy however, was another story. He had some softer stools for a few days as well but his personality was a completely different story. My grumpy old man, who never ran unless it was raining and who never played, was running circles in the back yard and playing with Perso.
He had a whole new level of energy. Once he got good food into his body he was a new man. He stopped throwing up and he was acting like a puppy again. I started noticing some physical changes with Perso.
Growing up he always had pimples. They would be spread out on his body and sometimes on his face. We tried medical shampoos and such with no success. He is a Harlequin Great Dane and both of his sides, just past his ribs, are white. As he got older and his spots started filling in, he got lots of tiny brown spots in the white parts on his sides. We assumed it was just his markings. After a few months on Raw, Perso’s pimples were all gone.
I also noticed he had fewer brown spots on his sides. It finally clicked that Perso was allergic to something in his food. The pimples and brown spots were allergic reactions to the kibble! I couldn’t believe it. Today, Perso no longer has brown spots and he only has the occasional pimple (I still give them milk bones every day when I get home from work).
The change in both of my boys was huge. Once I received confirmation that Raw really worked for them in how they acted and looked, I never turned back. They have been on Raw for over a year and a half and they couldn’t be happier.
My Raw Ingredients
Through lots of research online I put together a list of foods that were safe and not safe for the boys to eat. If I saw even one website or forum that listed a food as being bad for dogs, I took it off my list of foods. Here is the list I came up with:
- Uncooked Bones (Calcium)
- Boneless Fish
- Eggs (Shell included)
- Organ Meats
- Turkey Wings
- Turkey Necks (Should get between 25%-50% meat per meal)
- Beans (Canned or Cooked)
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Collard Greens
- Flaxseed (Ground)
- Green Beans
- Mustard Greens
- Ox Tails
- Soy Beans
I believe corn is considered bad simply because it’s not a good source of nutrition for them. It won’t kill them or make them sick but it doesn’t provide any vitamins or nutrients either. Rice is listed as bad for the same reason I believe. There have been a few occasions where I had to feed Perso rice and cooked chicken because of an upset stomach after going to the vet’s office for X-Rays. From the list above, I selected several foods based on price and availability and I made these my staples in the boy’s diets. The food I selected and still currently use is:
- Chicken (Bones, skin, tendons, etc.)
- Green Beans
- Black Beans
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
I occasionally add Apples, Bananas, and Eggs (no shell because my boys won’t eat it).
For their meat, I went with chicken because it was the cheapest meat on my list. I can get a 10 pound bag of chicken leg quarters at Wal-Mart for about seven dollars a bag. I usually buy 40 or 50 pounds at a time (four or five bags) for less than $40 total. It’s perfect and the chicken lasts my boys about two weeks. The way I used the do their chicken is I would take the chicken leg quarter and chop it into five pieces.
I stopped doing this however because when the boys would eat it, the chicken would be flying around and flinging juices everywhere. Additionally, it’s difficult to get accurate weight measurements with pieces this large. It still works you just have to constantly clean your walls of chicken guts and veggies. What I do now is I use a meat grinder and grind up all the chicken (bones and everything). I get accurate measurements and there is no need to clean the walls anymore.
For their veggies, I buy the cabbage, celery, and carrots fresh. Everything else is canned food. I tried using fresh greens but it just adds more time to the process because I have to put them in the food processor as well. When I select my cabbage, I go for the biggest heads I can find. They usually weigh 3-5 pounds a head.
I do my veggies in batches and I use three heads of cabbage per batch. I use about one pound of carrots per batch (I cut off the leafy tops from the carrots and throw them away). I use one bunch of celery per batch (I use the leafy tops in the batch). For the canned food I buy 12.5-15 ounce cans of everything except the tomatoes. I get the cheapest brand I can find for all the canned food. Also, if the canned food is offered in a no salt or low sodium option, I get that.
I buy four cans of green beans (cut doesn’t matter; French or other) two cans sweet peas, two can black beans, one can each of mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens, and one large can of petite diced tomatoes (28 ounce can.) All of this makes up one batch of veggies which is usually between 20-25 pounds of veggies.
I use my shredder attachment on my food processor and shred the cabbage, celery, and carrots. I drain as much juice out of the canned foods. I combine all the above ingredients into a five gallon, food grade bucket, and mix everything together. The veggies are done. All that’s left is to separate the veggies into the containers and pop them into the deep freezer.
The “Technically” Raw Diet for Weakened/Compromised Immune Systems
In January, Perso was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his left hind leg. On January 16th we amputated. On January 30th he received his first treatment of Chemotherapy. At his first appointment the Oncologist recommended we take Perso off Raw. He stated that when receiving chemo, there is the chance that it will affect his white blood cells making him more susceptible to getting an infection. Also, if he gets a bad batch of chicken, something that wouldn’t be a problem for a healthy dog, could put him in the hospital while receiving chemo. He suggested cooking the chicken or switching him back to kibble. He didn’t even finish his sentence and I already made up my mind what I was going to do. I was going to cook the chicken.
Everything is the same in regards to the veggies and the weight he gets. He still receives the same amount of chicken as well. Once I grind the chicken up using the standard plate on my meat grinder, I double grind the chicken using the smaller plate.
I do this because I need to make sure the bones are as small as possible because I don’t want them to puncture his insides but I still want him to get the bones. Once the chicken has been ground up the second time, I cook it. I use my largest pot (a canning and preserving pot from Ball) to boil the chicken in. I fill it halfway with water and get it boiling.
I take the chicken mash and roll into large meatballs. They are about the size of a baseball or softball. I drop them into the boiling water. I’ll put about 20 meat balls in the pot at a time. Once the water returns to boiling, I set my timer for 15 minutes. I mix them every five minutes or so just make sure each one gets cooked. Once my timer is up, I’ll find the biggest one and take it out. I split it in half to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. If not, I cook the whole batch another 5 minutes.
Once they are all cooked, I take them all out and put them into another bowl. I put the whole bowl of cooked meat balls in the sink and fill the bowl with cold water. I keep the cold water running over the meat balls for about 5 minutes. This cools them down quickly and allows me to package the chicken almost immediately after it’s been cooked. Once the chicken has cooled down and has been packaged up, I put the containers back in the deep freezer.
One thing to keep in mind when cooking chicken is that the fat from the chicken gets cooked out. But he still needs some fat in his diet. What I did after cooking the chicken, I left the broth in the pot to cool overnight. The next day I mixed up the broth and bits and ladled it into ice cube trays. I put them in the freezer overnight. The next day I emptied the trays into gallon zip lock bags. Now, with each meal Perso gets one “fat cube”. Now I know he is getting at least some fat in his meal. It is a longer process because it takes about one to one and a half extra hours to cook 30 pounds of chicken (Snoopy gets about 10 pounds raw). Plus the two days it takes to freeze the fat. But, I am willing to give it the extra time to ensure Perso is getting the best diet possible while going through chemo and fighting cancer.
Check out my videos for detailed instructions on
how do everything listed here.
The Measurements for Raw Diet
Figuring out the measurements was a challenge. When I switched my boys to Raw Perso was getting eight cups of kibble a day and Snoopy was getting four cups of kibble a day. I started Perso with one pound of chicken and one pound of veggies, two times a day. Snoopy got 5 ounces of chicken and seven ounces of veggies, two times a day. When I switched them, I didn’t go a little at a time, I went cold turkey. They had some softer stools for a few days but that was about it.
After a few months Perso started losing weight. We could start seeing his ribs a little too much. I increased his chicken to two pounds and 1 pound veggies, two times a day. He put the weight right back on and actually started getting a little chunky. I dropped his chicken down to 1.5 pounds and 1 pound veggies, two times a day. This helped him stop gaining weight but he needed to lose a pound or two to be at a good weight. To do that I lowered his chicken to 1.25 pounds and 1 pound veggies, two times a day. This is what he is currently getting. It keeps him on the leaner side which is preferred with his amputation. Extra weight would put extra strain on his one back leg.
Snoopy is maintaining a good weight on his current serving of five and seven ounces.
How I Store Raw Food
I thought of several different ways to store my boy’s raw food. Zip lock bags, Food Saver bags, and Tupperware. The first two options were not really cost effective and I would need a large amount of bags constantly. I decided on using Tupperware. It could reuse the containers and I was able to find them really cheap at Wal-Mart. I use a 3.75 cups container for Snoopy’s food and a 7 cup container for Perso’s food. It’s about $1.88 for one pack with 4 containers and lids.
I weigh out the needed veggies and chicken in the containers and then I put them into a deep freezer. The boys have their own small deep freezer. I also have three days’ worth of food in the refrigerator at all times. Once I feed the boys a meal, I rotate the food in the refrigerator and put in a meals worth of frozen food. By the time that frozen container gets to the front of the refrigerator, it’s been thawing in the refrigerator for 2.5 days. It does require extra storage space unless you want to share your freezer and a shelf in the refrigerator with your pets. But, I’ve found this to be the best option.
Feeding Raw does become a bit of a pain when it comes to traveling. We have to take an ice chest with us and take several days’ worth of food depending on how long our trip is going to be. In regards to leaving the boys somewhere, we do not kennel them, ever. We tried kenneling Perso once when he was about a year old. Even though they kept Perso and Snoopy together in the same kennel, Perso stopped eating (they were still on kibble at the time). We had to cut our trip short and come back and get them. Now they go on all our trips.
I did all my research online and after talking to other pawrents that fed raw. Here is a list of a few websites I visited.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained here is intended as education/information only. It is not intended to replace your veterinarian. Please use your own good judgment and always discuss any dietary changes for your pet with your veterinary team.