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Regular bouts of diarrhea and vomiting during Sadie’s first year of life (she’ll be 4 in August) plus a nearly fatal attack of pneumonia at nine months sent me scrambling for a healthy, immune supportive diet.

images-7We traveled a twisted road full of detours through premium kibble and raw meaty bones. A variety of frozen raw meals proved to be dead ends. We took a wrong turn with grains. Finally we arrived at a feeding regime that Sadie loves and is (knock on wood) keeping her healthy. It’s homemade. Mostly. And, it might not be good for every dog. In fact, I’m sure it’s not. It’s just that I’m so relieved that after so much wandering, we found something that works for us.

I’d been thinking about writing about Sadie’s food saga since I started my blog over a year ago, but, tales about crossing troll bridges and dueling with dominance dumbinance pawed at me for my attention.

Then a few days ago, one of my favorite dog bloggers dished up a heartfelt query I couldn’t resist.

At Dog Food Dish Roxanne Hawn pondered whether she could be sure her beloved Lilly would eat a balanced diet if Roxanne made it from scratch. She wrote: “I still harbored fears of getting it wrong in the long term. Do you feed primarily homemade food? How did you overcome fears like mine?

I TOTALLY get Roxanne’s dog food fears. I have them too, and I suspect that they are largely dog food industry induced. It is in their interest after all to make us feel utterly inept at making healthy meals for our dogs. I wanted to feed Sadie fresh food but I was petrified that I’d blow the phosphorous/calcium ratio. There’s lots of advice out there about how to get it right, but much of what I read was contradictory. And then there are micronutrients and the delicate matter of balancing fats.

Talk about feeling hoisted on the horns of a dilemma. I could feed Sadie processed food (Premium or not, kibble and canned foods are processed to death.) and feel reasonably sure she was eating a balanced diet. Or, I could feed her fresh food and live on tenterhooks that her diet would come back to bite her with a disease due to too much or too little copper because I fed her too much or too little liver.

Then, I got lucky. At the suggestion of a friend I googled “See Spot Live Longer.”dinner I was looking for the book by Steve Brown, the originator of one of the first frozen raw foods on the market, Steve’s Real Food. (He has since sold the company.) I found the book all right, and read it, but I also found something else: Individually packaged packets of powder by the same name as the book that when mixed with one pound of raw or lightly cooked meat makes a complete diet.

I read and re-read Steve’s website and then emailed Steve a list of questions about his choice of ingredients, how they are sourced, and so on. I was more than pleasantly surprised when Steve responded with detailed answers to my questions.

In addition to the powder and meat, Steve suggested adding pureed vegetables so they amount to 20% of the total weight of the mixture. Every day Sadie devours a pound of fresh meat (grass-fed beef, bison, or turkey), ½ cup of veggies (spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, red beet, romaine lettuce, carrot, green beans, zucchini, apple, berries and such), and 1 package (1/4 cup) of See Spot Live Longer. I feed her the red meats raw and, call me squeamish, the turkey lightly cooked.

greentriperollAlong the way I discovered the wonders of raw green tripe or cow stomach. Apparently it’s nearly a perfect food. The calcium/phosphorous ratio is ideal as is that of omega 3 to omega 6 fats. Fair warning, though–raw green tripe stinks! Really stinks. But, I don’t care. Sadie LOVES it and it’s good for her.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a source for fresh raw green tripe from grass-fed cows so I order it frozen (not great, but better than none at all) from GreenTripe.com. Mary Voss, the woman who runs the business, is very particular. I’m satisfied from the conversations I’ve had with her that she produces a high quality product. So for 3-4 meals a week, Sadie eats tripe.

I throw in a few eggs laid by truly cage-free hens that I buy from Windsor Dairy, a local organic dairy from which I buy raw milk for myself. And, Sunday is sardine day. Sadie eats a can of sardines once a week to be sure she gets her omega-3 fats.

You might be wondering, “Is Deborah shilling for these purveyors of fine doggie foods?” Nope. None of them have any idea they’re mentioned in this post.

I’m just thankful to have found a way to circumvent my dilemma. The bottom-line is that I trust these people and their products and, most importantly, Sadie is thriving. She hardly ever vomits or has diarrhea and when she does it self-corrects usually within 24 hours.

That said, you should know I tell this story not without a little trepidation. I worry that by blogging about how well Sadie’s diet is working for her, I’ll, well, jinx it. Who? Me superstitious?

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14 Responses to “What’s a Dog to Eat?”

  1. Stephanie says:

    My boy had similar problems. Raw diet fixed him right up. His coat is shiny and soft. He’s vibrant and strong.

    Around these parts, we call tripe “stink burgers”. Pups love them though!

    • I love it! Stink burgers. Indeed.

      I’m glad to hear your boy is doing well. It’s such a relief to feel on track with Sadie’s diet. I imagine you feel similarly.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Deborah Flick, Deborah Flick and Luna Frisbee, Moxie Paws (TM). Moxie Paws (TM) said: RT @boulderdog1: "Whats a Dog to Eat?" new post http://bit.ly/d98ywl inspired by @RoxanneHawn http://bit.ly/9RCy3K #dogs #dogfood […]

  3. excellent writing about dig sickness, it is actually useful for me. keep writing and happy blogging.

  4. Ashley says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m currently feeding Prudence Honest Kitchen, but I’m considering doing more and more home cooking and have been feeling the same trepidation as Roxanne. I was feeling a little bit more confident after reading the intro to The Honest Kitchen’s cookbook where they mention that a varied diet usually works itself out in terms of the vital nutrients. Now I’m even more confident after reading this post! And tripe, didn’t even think about that 😀

    I’m glad you’ve found a diet that has worked for Sadie. I’ll keep my fingers crossed (and knock on some wood) that you didn’t jinx it.

    • Hi Ashley
      I think you’re right. Feed enough variety and you’ll cover all the nutritional bases. A good source for raw green tripe (from grass-fed cows not grain fed) is a great addition to a diet. A vet told me it’s very easy to digest. When Sadie has a little tummy upset I feed her tripe. It seem to help smooth things out.

      Good luck with home cooking for Prudence. And I’m sure your crossed fingers are all the protection I need from the Jinxster :-)

  5. I recenly started feeding my dog a 90% home cooked diet. However, very little raw as I have not read enough on that subject yet. I feed a variety of meats and veggies which I cook in a crock pot. I also make all my dog treat at home, she gets home made jerky (chicken, turkey, beef liver and buffalo).

    For supplements she get a joint pill, salmon oil and calcium. I may try the tripe but I think I would have to cook it because I am not good with raw. I admit that I do feed a quarter cup of grain free holistic dry food per day to make up for anything I may have missed.

    I will try the “See Spot” Powder you mentioned as this may free me of the need to feed the dry kibble.

    Thanks for info on more resources that I can look to.

    • Your dog is very lucky! I haven’t yet ventured into making my own jerky. I’d love to try it.

      You can buy canned green tripe if you want it cooked. Tripette is a good brand. But, DON’T cook tripe yourself.

  6. We’ve had good luck with the Force product, a dehydrated raw food from The Honest Kitchen. It takes, literally, 1-2 minutes to rehydrate.
    At the end of the day, you have to do what you think is best based on the research you’ve done. Sounds like you’ve found something that really works for you and Sadie. Congrats! And kudos for publishing a post that lets other readers know “it’s not just them.”

  7. Sugar says:

    Woof! Woof! Thanks for the information. Green Tripe ??? I’ll ask my mom to check it out. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  8. Carol Bryant says:

    As a mom of cocker spaniels, dog lover and writer (FIDO Friendly magazIne), I can attest that it is soooo stinkin’ hard to get the diet right and takes so much trial and error sometimes. Your post is well timed and spot on! TY!

  9. […] Doggie Bytes initially caught my attention because I did switch Sadie to a mostly raw diet (“What’s a Dog to Eat?“) when she was about a year old, but I never could bring myself to go whole hog, so to speak, […]

  10. beefcake says:

    Completely agree. Although I don’t think that is the end of the story. Visit beef online. Can’t wait to read more. Kudos. Loved the post. I wish there was more to read.

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