Dog Food: Observations Regarding Meat Quality

This post will tell you what Alice has taught me about dog food.

As of this writing, my Bouvier, Alice, is 14 years old. She is still working cattle and protecting livestock and fowl from would-be coyote attacks.

Alice herding cattle

Alice herding cow and heifer

 

4 month old Muchkin, considers his options.

4 month old Muchkin, considers his options.

 

 

 

 

 

I got Alice when she was just 8 weeks old. And right from the beginning, she was unable to eat kibble. The quality didn’t matter. Every brand of kibble caused:

  • gross gas (very, very green air)
  • diarrhea (many explosions in the back seat of the car… I learned to carry a set of sheets, towels and other protective coverings that made my car look like a crime scene)
  • rancid coat odor (ewww-ey, BABY!)

And so, Alice grew up eating raw chicken.

When she was 10 months old, I was thrilled to find turkeys on sale for $0.19 per pound! I bought a great bird and chopped it into one-pound chunks.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcapaldi/

Image by Jim, the Photographer

Her first meal resulted in green gas; her second in stomach upset (gurgling & diarrhea); and by the third serving, her body odor alone could clear a room.

 

475103311_7076526d90_z

Image by Satrina0

 

 

A year later I started raising chickens. I raised the first batch of 50 on “conventional” feed—that is to say feed that was sourced from genetically modified corn and soy then fortified with antibiotics. GMO corn and soy would have been grown in soil contaminated with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp.

Glyphosate accumulates in plant nodules. The chemical prevents plants from taking up essential nutrients, therefore, the plant and the critter that ate the plant are deprived of the chelated or unavailable mineral(s). This, along with the fact that our soil has been “rode hard and put away wet” for so many decades, helps explain why our food is not as nutrient rich as it was, say, 50 years ago.

Another problem is that Glyphosate also has its own built-in antibiotic. This effectively destroys gut bacteria of animals that eat plants grown in RoundUp contaminated soil. It contributes to the erosion of effectiveness of antibiotics we are witnessing today.

Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth- Image by Steve Bivans

 

 

Back to the chickens:

Image by Image by Robyn Anderson

Image by Image by Robyn Anderson

The day-old chicks were little butterballs of fluff that dashed around pecking at blades of grass, insects and shiny objects. Within three weeks, they no longer cared about foraging. By week five, they hung pretty close to the feed and water and by week 7 they waddled from water to food and food to water. By week 8, they didn’t even to into their hutch at night. The birds dressed out at age 10 weeks between 5-6 lbs.

Two years later I would raise the same breed of chickens—Cornish Cross— on organic feed. They never lost their desire to hunt bugs and eat grass, and used their entire pen. They marched themselves into their hutch each night. At age 10 weeks the birds dressed out between 3.75 and 4.5 lbs.

Northwest Organics * PO BOX 417 * Endicott, WA 99125

Northwest Organics * PO BOX 417 * Endicott, WA 99125

The price of organic feed is considerably more than “conventional,” and the poundage is less than one would get from the same animals raised on “conventional.” This partially explains why organic meat is so expensive. (To my knowledge, there is no dog food that is made with organic meat. But if you know of one, please write me and tell me what it is!!!)

 

Given that a turkey eats like a 2-legged pig, it’s no wonder that those three servings of conventionally raised turkey made Alice sick! (Incidentally, I’m sure I’ll devote a blog post to pork at some point.)

Alice had a bout of incontinence at age 5 after her mentor German Shepherd, Echo, died. I sensed that a nutritional boost might help her so I bought a month’s worth of Aunt Jeni’s Home Made raw dog food. Within a week or so, Alice was back to normal.

Aunt Jeni’s Home Made has set a high standard for raw dog food products. In my opinion (based on Alice’s “feedback” as well as Aunt Jeni’s credentials),  Aunt Jeni’s food is exceptional—perhaps the best in the market place today. However, shipping it from the East coast to the West Coast is rather expensive. Luckily, I have found outstanding raw food produced by Darwin and by Natural Pet Pantry, which are both located in the Seattle, WA area.

Feeding dogs raw meat is rather controversial for some reason. Some say it’s dangerous. Others claim that kibble is “balanced” while raw products are “shooting from the hip” with regard to creating a balanced diet.

I’m more impressed by Aunt Jeni’s credentials than I am by those who tout their opinions, which— it seems to me— are largely based on industry propaganda. I tend to chart my course based on what I observe and experience; what I’ve observed and experienced is Alice living a healthy life – now 14 years worth. She is the oldest dog I’ve ever owned: my three GSDs and Buck, the Lab-Shepherd didn’t make it past 11 years old.

Then there is Wil (a Bouvier I adopted at age 3 and who is now 5.5 years old). It took some time, but Wil went from a rancid dog with bear scat sized poop and endocrine system dysfunction to a dog that is happy, well adjusted, odor free.

Today his poop is small, scentless and disintegrates within a few days, unlike his old bear scat that stunk and took weeks to finally disintegrate. He smells great. His itching is significantly decreased (and I can even pet him without him becoming spasmodic). And his disposition is greatly improved. Part of this is due to diet; the other part is due to treating his mild case of Hypothyroidism. (Please subscribe to the K9 Well Being Newsletter to receive a free report on Hypothyroidism. It blew my mind to learn about this. There are SO many dogs that need help.)

Here are the commercial foods I have fed with outstanding results:

  1. Aunt Jeni’s Home Made
  2. Darwin
  3. Natural Pet Pantry
  4. Red Rock Raw
Alice's dog food for a couple of years was based on Aunt Jeni's recipe-- Only I used farm-raised (non-GMO) rabbits and produce grown here.

Alice’s dog food for a couple of years was based on Aunt Jeni’s recipe– Only I used farm-raised (non-GMO) rabbits and produce grown here.

I have also made my own raw food. I raised rabbits (fed organic feed), slaughtered them at age 14 weeks and ground them, bone and all. This was 1/3 of the food. The remainder was home-grown, organic vegetables and fruit as well as nuts, pumpkin seeds, and so on. (I must give credit to Aunt Jeni whose “ingredient list” provided me with a blueprint for my home-made food recipes— that and what was seasonally available in the garden.) It took a full two days to make a month’s worth of food for Alice.

I finally gave up and now buy my food from Darwin, Natural Pet Pantry, or Red Rock Raw.

 

 

 

© 2015, Tara Felder (Please contact to re-publish this or any article I’ve written. Thank you.)

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