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Natural Pet Foods - Page 3

post #41 of 174
Yes, EVO is the only k9 or feline grain free food. Cats are carnivores and no where never meant to eat grain. I think grains that are easily converted to sugar are the reason we so much diabetes in indoor cats and to a lesser extent outdoor cats (because most tend to hunt--and therefore eat a more bio-appropriate diet)
post #42 of 174
Just wanted to add www.felineinstincts.com for a raw food based diet.
post #43 of 174
I make my dogs wet food from Dr. Pitcarn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. I used to feed them Solid Gold, but I switched to Trader Joe's brand senior dry dog food.. it seems to have similar ingredients... anyone know anything about it? I know that TJ's often takes a name brand product and puts their label on it.

Oh, and everyone always raves about my dog's soft shiny coat!
post #44 of 174
Originally Posted by QueenOfThePride
Is Innova EVO the ONLY grain-free cat food on the market? Something tells me that cats were NEVER intended to eat grain...

natural balance makes an allergy catfood that is grain free, venison and green pea. they also make a couple of types of grain free dogfood.
post #45 of 174
Thread Starter 

Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD is a holistic veterinarian who wrote a book called Dr. Pitcairn's complete guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. I just got it for Christmas and it is awesome! The book covers the dangers of mainstream pet foods, and a very comprehensive guide to feeding raw with recipes. Then he goes into environmental and emotional health. The book also covers how to choose a pet, and basic natural care and keeping of your pets. Then there is a great reference section (150 pages) that lists diseases and conditions and the suggested preventative, nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic treatments. All pet owners should read this book!
post #46 of 174
I like that book. I am searching for a used copy to buy. I also really liked The Complete Holistic Dog Book by Jan Allegretti and Katy Sommers, D.V.M. it talks about similar things as the Pitcairn book and also gives tips of homeopathic and herbal treatments for various illnesses/conditions.
post #47 of 174
I hope it's okay to add something to this thread even though it is fairly old now. Pet nutrition is a special interest of mine, I've worked in vet clinics and pet stores and have always loved the subject.

First, for those who might find the thought of making your own food or of the a BARF diet daunting or expensive, the raw diet I feed my animals is called a "Species-appropriate raw food diet". It's based on the principles that what they would get in the wild is what they will do best on. It is easy. The only supplement my animals get is salmon oil pills because I can't afford to get free-range meats for them (which are the best source of omega 3), and I don't cut anything up or prepare anything ahead of time. It doesn't take me any longer to feed them normally than scooping food out of a can or a bag would be.

As far as expense, there are a lot of ways to cut down on the expense, and I'm managing to feed them for less than I did when I fed them good quality kibbles. (And as a note, my dog was on one of the better natural kibbles out at the time, and had developed liver problems before she was a year old and given a very poor prognosis with little to no chance of a cure. She was also skinny and literally starving herself, and had terrible teeth. I switched her to a raw diet and 1 and a half years later there is no sign of her liver problems left, she has muscle on her, and her teeth are beautiful.) If anyone is interested, there is a link with info in my sig. That particular link talks a lot about the myths and ideas behind raw feeding, but has a link to an e-mail list with more info than you'd ever need.

This is a great thread with some good info and resources. It is so nice to come to a place where feeding raw diets and natural pet foods to our pets is the rule rather than the exception. The foods that everyone seems to buy that put all their money into advertising rather than research and quality ingredients just make me cringe. Since you asked for info on the dangers of pet foods, I am going to try and find a description of the AAFCO tests they do on foods before they are put on the market and post it. That may open up a few eyes. I figure if I won't eat highly-processed foods, why should they?
post #48 of 174
Oh, I forgot to add something. Someone asked about switching to a raw diet. Most of what I've read actually recommends switching cold turkey. However, start with one protein. Say chicken. So you might feed your dog chicken for a week. If he/she does well, then add in beef as well, and so on. We discovered fairly quickly that my dog is intolerant to eggs. I would never have known eggs were the cause if I had just started feeding her everything there is to feed. The reason switching cold turkey is recommended is simple. Your dog has a digestive tract built for digesting raw food. Their stomach is extremely acidic (compared to ours, which is almost neutral), which breaks down food very quickly as well as killing certain bacteria or not allowing them to reproduce. (Hence why even foods that may have gone a bit bad are fine for a healthy, raw fed dog.) Also, their digestive tract is much shorter than ours, again causing digestion to happen faster. Which means there's less time for any bacteria that survives the acidity to reproduce and be absorbed and cause problems.

When you feed your dog kibble, it has been shown that the acidity in their stomach actually raises to be more neutral. This makes a much more hospitable environment for bacteria. Kibble that is contaminated with E. coli or any other bacteria (which has happened!) is much more dangerous than any raw meat because of this. It also slows down the digestion. So if you don't want to switch you dog cold turkey to a raw diet, never feed raw and kibble in the same meal. You might feed kibble in the morning, and then raw at night for a few days. Or vice versa. If you do feed kibble and raw together, your dog will probably be fine, but it does definitely raise the chance that they will get sick.
post #49 of 174
I hope I'm not getting annoying. Last post, I promise. Here are the AAFCO feeding trial guidelines:

AAFCO Feeding Trials

In summary: They use 8 dogs (or cats) and they are inspected by a vet both before and after the trial. The dogs are fed a particular food for just 6 months. If in those 6 months at least 6 dogs are still alive, and haven't lost more than 15% bodyweight, the food is passed. There is a blood test done at the end of the test to check blood levels, but there isn't one taken beforehand to compare the levels to, and most nutritional deficiencies won't show up in just 6 months. So basically, if a food can keep 75% of animals alive and they "only" lose 15% of their weight in 6 months, it's allowed to go out on the market. I find this very scary!
post #50 of 174
Here's another angle on natural cat foods: complete vegan diets.



Yes, cats are obligate carnivores in the wild, while dogs are omnivores, so designing an adequate vegan diet for cats is significantly more difficult than for dogs. However, it is not impossible.

Taurine, an amino acid not found in plants, is a case in point. Cats need taurine to make certain proteins they need for normal development. Heating destroys taurine (as demonstrated by the famous Pottenger studies), and the meat used to make commercial cat foods is heated. Thus, it is necessary to supplement the commercial cat food with taurine powder. Now get this: The taurine powder added to commercial cat foods is vegan-sourced. It's simply cheaper to manufacture using non-animal sources.

Nutrients not found in plants can still be manufactured from other vegan sources (such as fungi or good bacteria or mineral sources or seawater). Nutrients found in plants, but not in a feline-digestible form, can be pre-digested prior to incorporation into the food. It has been done, and it has been tested.

My cat was healthy, happy, and shiny for two years on a vegan diet, mostly Evolution kibble (she was killed by a dog after I began letting her outdoors - a decision I now deeply regret). I do rescue now, and use only the cheapest commercial foods (since it's only short-term fostering anyway); but I do not doubt that the vegan foods are nutritionally adequate and superior to mainstream commercial diets.

I tried HOANA and Evolution foods, and found that the Evolution kibble was easiest to switch to and easiest to deal with. HOANA's foods (Vegecat) are more of a hassle since they have to be homemade, but they may be cheaper.

For FLUTD (also known as FUS, feline urological syndrome) in male cats, limit magnesium content. Magnesium is the primary constituent of urine crystals that can "block up" male cats. A cat I had in my childhood had two severe bouts before being put on a lower-magnesium diet, and hasn't had any problems in the 14 years since. If I owned any male cat over 1 year old (kittens need magnesium for bone growth), I'd restrict dietary magnesium regardless of medical history. Vegecat pH is also designed for preventing FLUTD.
post #51 of 174
Thread Starter 
I love all these great posts people keep adding. Keep 'em coming! Vegan cat food is very controversial, and I would love to study more deeply into the subject. Right now with full time school and everything else, my independent study of animal nutrition is on the back burner.

For FLUTD (also known as FUS, feline urological syndrome) in male cats, limit magnesium content. Magnesium is the primary constituent of urine crystals that can "block up" male cats. A cat I had in my childhood had two severe bouts before being put on a lower-magnesium diet, and hasn't had any problems in the 14 years since. If I owned any male cat over 1 year old (kittens need magnesium for bone growth), I'd restrict dietary magnesium regardless of medical history. Vegecat pH is also designed for preventing FLUTD.
There are two theories about FLUTD that I know about. One is like you said, a too high amount of magnesium or other minerals in the diet. The other is that the urine is the incorrect pH. There are about a dozen different kinds of crystals that can form in the urine, each with a different suspected cause (urine too alkaline, urine too acidic, dehydration, dietary imbalance, or other organ disease). Magnesium crystals are the most common, but it is important for a veterinarian to examine the urine to diagnose which crystals they are.

If you are dealing with magnesium crystals (aka triple phosphate, aka struvite crystals) it brings up some questions. Why do some cats get them and others don't, even on the same diet? What causes the crystals to precipitate? Most cats are discarding waste minerals in their urine and they don't precipitate into crystals. Some cats have urine loaded with crystals, but never sustain urinary tract damage or blockage. There are a lot of questions that veterinary medicine doesn't know the answer to, but if you find a solution that works for your pet, keep doing it. And post here about it, I love to know what is working for people's pets (for any health problem). Thanks for posting, Kaylee18!

Also thanks, Lindsay for posting the AAFCO feeding trials. That's a great resource for this thread!
post #52 of 174
Now get this: The taurine powder added to commercial cat foods is vegan-sourced. It's simply cheaper to manufacture using non-animal sources.
This isn't true for all commercial cat food. I checked out the food I feed, Evo, and it does not contain synthetic (vegan-sourced) taurine. I actually called them to make sure they have no synthetic supplements added to either their cat or dog food, and they don't. So anyone interested may want to check out whatever brand they are feeding.

eta: "Although Taurine naturally occurs only in animal tissue, synthetic Taurine has been produced on a large scale since about 1930."
from http://www.vegancats.com/pages/1007/FAQ.htm
post #53 of 174
I tried to get as "the best" possible food in the beginning and purchased Bil-Jac ... well then I studied some more 7 found out it wasnt so great & we switched to Wellness but my pup didnt care for it so much.
We tried both Canidae & Timberwolf Organics & decided to go with Timberwolf! I highly recommend it! Some of their "formulas" are also recommended as a BARF mixer. Once you open the bag of food & smell you will see why the dogs love it !!
post #54 of 174
Does it cost more to feed your cats a natural diet?
I have two, 100% indoor cats. They are healthy (one gets hairballs sometimes, she is long-haired). One is 5 yrs, the other is 3.
I currently feed them Iams. When i started them on Iams, I thought I was upgrading them!
I would like to feed them a natural diet, as in no by-products, etc. I usually just feed dry food. But I am worried that it making this change will cost a great deal more, and currently I cannot afford that.
Any thoughts?
post #55 of 174
Thread Starter 
The natural commercial foods are only a little bit more expensive than the mainstream foods. Certain brands, like Innova EVO are quite a bit more expensive, but it is made almost entirely with meat. Each of my cats only get 2 to 3 tablespoons of EVO each day, and they are still slightly overweight. A food's cost reflects the quality of the ingredients, and if you feed a better quality food, you have to feed a smaller amount because it's more nutritious. So I think the cost evens out. Go look around at your local pet store to compare prices. You don't have to get the most expensive brand, and you don't have to do raw food if you don't have the time for it. Good luck!
post #56 of 174
I'm so overwhelmed by all of this.

I feed the cats and dog petguard.

I'm not convinced it is the best but I'm not sure what else to do. I did raw for a while but it was way too much work and the cats hated it. I looked into prepackaged raw and there is no way we could afford it (the frozen stuff).

My dog is probably allergic to something. She scratches and has off and on diahrea/constipation. Always has. When it got really bad we took her to the vet who put her on a lamb and rice canned diet for a few weeks. No more bloody diahrea but they never found a cause and she has it off and on (just not bloody/watery like that time).

One cat was an alley cat and he could live happily on anything I think. The other one was probably inbred. He gets uti's and starts peeing everywhere. I have him on all canned food and that seems to stop that (but I worry about his teeth). He was declawed before I got him and I think it has made him a little not right in the head.

Anyhow, I want to feed them good food but I can't afford to double my pet food budget. I like the ideas behind raw and I was totally sold on it but I just couldn't keep up and the research involved to figure it all out was overwhelming. I'm still trying to get a grip on our human families dietary needs and allergies, spending hours on the pets just isn't an option.

So someone tell me what to do and I'll do it.
post #57 of 174
Patty, if you are really sold on the idea of raw, click on the link in my sig (about feeding raw) and go to the mailing list that is listed on that site. Post your exact post you just posted there, and I guarantee you will get a TON of help. There's also a cat-specific raw feeding list. I can find that link for you if you like, just PM me. BARF is a lot of work and expensive, but raw feeding doesn't always have to be. I don't put much effort into finding the most cost effective meats for my two, because they weigh less than 30 pounds combined, and I think it's still cheaper than feeding a lot of the commercial foods that were listed already. My dog got bad diarrhea as well as vomitted a lot, and switching her to raw has pretty much eliminated that. I also don't do any work, I buy meat, and give it to them. That's it. Honestly it's hard to believe (I know, I've been there), but if you can feed your kids, you can feed your dogs raw. I used to be so nervous and scared and asked that mailing list above about a million questions, including: "Hold my hand and tell me what to do!" and couldn't believe the response. Now I'm one of the biggest advocates for it, though I'm sure watching my dog completely recover with no drugs or surgery helped. Not everyone gets such drastic results.

Innova Evo is probably the next best thing though, and if that's too expensive (it came out after I started feeding raw so I'm not sure how much it is), any of the natural foods listed are good too.

As far as cost, I once worked in a pet store that sold Iams, Pedigree, etc., as well as some of the higher quality natural foods. I went through and figured out how many cups were in each bag, how much the food recommended feeding per day, and how much a bag cost. I was actually pretty surprised to find out that besides Eukanuba (which came out most expensive by far, and which I don't consider natural anyway), pretty much universally the "cheaper" foods were more expensive than the natural foods. My mom has a 100 pound dog who she feeds 3 cups of food a day, and some other foods she's fed him she's had to feed him 7 or 8 cups a day. Can you imagine the reduction in poop when she was able to get him down to 3 cups? So definitely take into account the feeding recommendations. They can't lie about those, one company is in the process of being sued for doing that.

Here's my biggest problem with pet foods (besides the fact that it's processed and I've tried to cut processed foods out for myself too ) : They are a lot of a guessing game. People keep finding things that pet foods are missing that raw food has had all along and will always have. Taurine is the most striking example. That was caught very quickly when cats being fed commercial foods started going blind and/or dying though. The latest one is DHA (omega 3), which some natural foods have had for a while now, and a lot of the others are just catching up on. Plus, watching my cat and dog eat makes me smile now, they both enjoy it so much. (My cat didn't take to the raw right away either, now it's all he'll eat.)
post #58 of 174
Thread Starter 
Fromm Family www.frommfamily.com has some unique food combos that may help you figure out the food allergies. Or it could be a grain mite allergy. You could try a grain-free food like EVO. www.naturapet.com

Also see post #45 above. Dr. Pitcairn's book has recipes for raw that are already balanced. If you can follow a recipe, you can feed raw.
post #59 of 174
Thanks again for this thread and your help. I have located a pet store near me that carries a bunch of these brands mentioned here. I think I'll go in and tell them my issues and see what they recomend.

While I am sold on the idea of raw I also know that it is beyond my ability at this point. Some days it is a struggle to get the scoop of food into my dogs bowl. It almost killed me doing all the work of getting raw food ready for the pets each morning and evening when I did raw with them. Once I am out of the toddler phase of my life I can consider it again. I'm sure that if I was already doing it, it wouldn't be too difficult but I'm not and I am in the process of revamping the eating of the humans in this household and I know my limits.
post #60 of 174

Trader Joe's and Science Diet for struvite

First, what's the skinny on Trader Joe's catfood? We have four cats on it (2 males 10yrs; 2 females 5 yrs).

Trader Joe's Premium Chicken Catfood: chicken meal, ground corn, whole wheat flour, corn gluten meal, chicken fat (preserved w/mixed tocopherols and ascorbic acid), herring meal, tomato pomace, alfalfa meal, natural flavor, salt...crude protein - 30% min; crude fat 18% min; crude fiber - 3% max; moisture - 10% max; ash - 6% max; magnesium - .095% max; taurine - .10% min; omega 6 - 3.85%; omega 3 - .0%

Second, we have one seven year old male cat on Science Diet for struvite crystals. His first UT problem occurred in 2/05. He's been on the food and fine since the first episode (he was hospitalized) one year ago. What are healthier alternatives? Also, our vet said something about the types of crystals formed sometimes changes around seven years of age...and its something that requires a different type of food. Ever hear of this?

Cool thread!
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