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Home cooking for your pets or buying a natural diet....

For those of you who feed your pets a natural diet, do you home cook or do you buy an already prepared natural diet?

If you don't home cook, why?  Time consuming?  Can't stand cooking meat in your home or your pots and pans?

I am just curious how you all handle it.

I have home cooked for about 15 years.  Although time consuming, not really.  I know the ingredients I buy are fresh and the preparation time, about 20 minutes and that is with ignoring the food for about 15 minutes of it makes it all worth while.

If any of you home cook, what do you feed your pets?  The carnivores.  Cats and dogs.

As well, for those of you who buy prepared pet food, do you think the meat in it is healthy and not the gross and possibly cancerous stuff?  I have read many articles and books stating it is so.

So another question, if you do feed commercial pet food and found out that the ingredients were cancerous, toxic and totally not healthy, would you be willing to home cook although knowing it would take a time commitment?

Brought this up tonight because I had a discussion at work today with people that couldn't believe I could be bothered to home cook for my pets.  They believe the government approval on pet foods.

No disrespect meant from this post.  Just a healthy discussion.

Di

Di,

I buy a natural diet pet food. I actually worked for the pet food company for awhile (as an "in store demonstrator") and read up on the company before I took the job and they get their lamb and salmon from non USA pro hormones and chemicals places, no corn fillers etc. Before the job, I was buying grocery store brands for my kitties and then my little man started getting sick and the vets wanted to put him on a SUPER expensive crappy food. (This is years ago now.) However, a few weeks on this food, his coat became as soft as his new baby sister's and he was an all around happier/healthier cat!! With one exception (read story below), I haven't had to make any "unscheduled" trips to the vet since. And this guy, until the food switch, had a nack for getting really sick!!!

About 2 months after we rescued him from the shelter, his eyelid started drooping and got red. Thinking it was tapeworm, I put anti-fungals on it, and it got better, but still drooped a little. My philosophy has always been if it isn't bugging them, then no reason to take them to the dr.... So we did this little dance for a few years, every so often, this "thing" would swell, he'd scratch, I'd put cream on it, it would go down, until last April, when it got GINORMOUS over night.... So called up the vet, they freaked out, we did an autopsy, and yeah, he has cancer. But it is one of the slowest growing/spreading, and when it does, it releases chemicals similar to histamines....so natural anti-histamines are slowing it down and we still have years of cuddles and paws to the face ahead...

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I have two rather small dogs and they have been on a home cooked diet for about two months now.  It is time consuming, but there is a lot that you can do ahead of time.  For instance, lightly steaming veggies (4 min max so they are still somewhat crunchy) can be done one night and those veggies can last for days. 

I feed them a mix of:
- grain (couscous, rice, pasta)
- protein (togu and eggs, chicken, animal heart)
- veggies (everything really, except onions)
- various other things (honey, nutritional yeast, banana, blueberries, anything that is around)

They absolutely love it.

My main reason for switching to this diet was because my older one was progressively gaining weight and getting sluggish.  But she's only three years old!  And I was back and forth to the vet for various problems, including itchy feet, itchy ears, itchy butt, etc.  They put them on special hypoallergenic food, but (I posted something here about it) it was basically crap.  It may have been working for their itchiness, but I was certain that it was putting weight on the already-fat one.

As soon as I started them on my own made diet, they made a complete turn around.  It was amazing.  They stopped itching, their ears cleared up, and the pudgy one is currently losing weight and actually acts alert and jumps around a bit.

This has been the most rewarding thing.  She was so playful and fun as a puppy, and to see her fat and sluggish was just painful.  Now she pulls forward when we are out walkng instead of lagging behind.  It is completely worth the time and effort.

As for how this works with my veganism....well, it doesn't really, and that's difficult.

I get their eggs from a farm outside of Amsterdam that I know treats their chickens humanely.  But it's the actual chicken pieces and the animal heart that give me pause every time I go to get them from the store.  For some reason, the animal heart (is it beef heart?  not sure.) comes in the meat section of my local supermarket and is marked especially for animal food.  I don't know where to go in Amsterdam to get better (as in: the animals were treated better) meat, and I'm not sure if my dogs would be OK with just tofu/eggs as their protein source.

Any input here is welcome, even if you want to bash me for being an awful vegan.  I can take it.  I've probably given it to myself ten times worse anyway.

Oh...and it's quite expensive.  Around 20 euros a week, where it used to be that a bag of dogfood cost about 12 euros and lasted a month.  So, about 6 times more expensive. 

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I feed my cats Innova kibble in the morning and Nature's Variety raw meat medallions in the evening. Both of the companies claim that their animals are raised on small farms w/out the use of hormones, antibiotics, etc.  I would like to do more research on this, though, particularly in regards to the way their animals are treated.

Although I like the idea of home cooking, I don't think I could bring myself to cook the meat--the smell makes me gag and I don't want to even touch it. Also, I'm paranoid about getting the right mixture of stuff for cats since I've read that their nutritional needs can be more difficult to meet w/ homecooking than it is for dogs.  At least w/ the medallions, I just dump a few from the freezer into a plastic container, let them thaw in the fridge, and then serve them w/ a fork--no touching involved. This is likely a selfish decision, but my cats are incredibly healthy--amazing coats, tons of energy (BF and I joke that we should buy them some Meow Mix every once in a while so we can sleep  ;D  ), and I never have to take them to the vet except for yearly exams.

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I feed my cats Innova kibble in the morning and Nature's Variety raw meat medallions in the evening. Both of the companies claim that their animals are raised on small farms w/out the use of hormones, antibiotics, etc.  I would like to do more research on this, though, particularly in regards to the way their animals are treated.

I was looking at the NV rabbit medallions.  Do your cats like them?  Do you have to heat it up at all?

My holistic vet has a raw, grain free dry food.  Since dry food is supposed to be so bad for the cats (kidneys, etc.) I think I might try a bag.  I can't remember the name, but I"m going there today.

Right now I feel Life's Abundance dry and Instinctive Choice canned.

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I feed my cats Innova kibble in the morning and Nature's Variety raw meat medallions in the evening. Both of the companies claim that their animals are raised on small farms w/out the use of hormones, antibiotics, etc.  I would like to do more research on this, though, particularly in regards to the way their animals are treated.

I was looking at the NV rabbit medallions.  Do your cats like them?  Do you have to heat it up at all?

My holistic vet has a raw, grain free dry food.  Since dry food is supposed to be so bad for the cats (kidneys, etc.) I think I might try a bag.  I can't remember the name, but I"m going there today.

Right now I feel Life's Abundance dry and Instinctive Choice canned.

My cats had been kibble eaters only before their human mom saw the light  ::) So, it took them a while to get used to the texture. We started slowly by mixing in small amounts of canned w/ their dry and then mixed some of the raw in with the canned and dry.  They now love them--we feed the Rabbit, Venison, and Organic Chicken varieties.  Two of my cats will eat all three; Mom will only eat the Rabbit and the Organic Chicken.  We don't heat them at all and I think you aren't supposed to? I dunno.  They love them, so I don't think they care about the temperature. Some cats might be weird about that, though (you know how cats are  ::) ).  I know that you're not supposed to leave them out for more than 30 minutes. 

I think that the medallions are very reasonable, too.  I usually get them for between $13 and $15 for a bag of 48, which lasts over two weeks for three cats (they each get one per night).

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my animals diet is something I DO worry about. I did so so so so so much research before I even got my dogs. I was mortified to learn about how bad packaged food is for doggies. :-( I also decided that i should feed them a carnivorous diet.  :-X I did home cooked for the first several months with them. I had their own " meaty" crock pot. I'd just throe heaps of vegetable and some meat from the grocery store and let it stew over night. I hardly even had to touch it. It was over all pretty easy. I supplemented with California natural, a dry kibble with just rice and one meat chicken or lamb.

BUT D'Artagnon started getting really sick all the time. He was losing a lot of weight and everything. So i took him to the vet and she said that a home cooked diet was basically killing him. Something about the fact that i used slightly different veggies and meats most days. She recommended that i buy a "cheap brand" of dog food to "pack the weight back on". I settled on Purina. (um, yes, thats cheap...I was paying over a dollar lbs for their food before, and thats not including the fresh stuff...) So...um...yeah it defiantly packed the weight on...holy crap! They are getting freaking FAT!

I tried avoderm vegetarian formula with them for a while and they LOVED it. I was just feeling really terrible about the animals used in the diet. And talked to my vet about. She said that although it is not the optimum diet, it was more than sufficient. I actually mixed it in with the Purina and they went through the bowl and only ate the vegetarian kibbles. They spit the other stuff right out. You can tell because the avoderm kibbles are white. Avoderm is  really good brand. I DID noteice an IMPROVMENT in D'Artagnons bowel movements while he was on this.

I had to stop feeding it because it just got to expensive and difficult to buy. (they only sell it in one place in town and I have to take a cab there...so that automatically puts another 20ish on the cost.) I want to switch to it when I find new homes for the foster dogs. I feel really like I'm playing with fire on this cheap "animal bi-product" thing....

and they are getting seriously, over weight. Their weight was pretty good on the other stuff (except for when D'Artagnon lost weight)

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Zealia, I'd look into Nutro..... (Yes, that's the brand I worked for) Their Max Dog line competes w/ Purina Dog Chow and is by-product free... You'll probably still only be able to get it at the store witn Avo Derm, but I've found for the price, it really is among the best quality you can find. They have higher price ranged lines as well. But the cat food is certainly doing my kitties good!!!

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After reading Zealia's post, I was going to post about Nutro and saw hanashi already did! So, yes! Look into Nutro.  There is still a lot of grain in it, but it's by-product free, like hanashi said. 

Also, not sure what your budget is, but Innova is a good quality kibble--fewer grains and higher quality meat.  It's more expensive than Purina or Nutro, but it has fewer grains so you don't have to feed as much.  Innova's kibble has 557kcal/cup while Nutro has around 370kcal/cup.  They often sell it at feed stores.  Are you still in Tucson? If so, here's a list of places that sell it in Tucson.  Perhaps one of these is closer to you than a pet store:

Carter Feeds
1430 West Wetmore Rd.
Tucson, AZ  85705
(520) 887-6232

Holistic Animal Care Shoppe
6336 North Oracle Road
Suite 310
Tucson, AZ  85704
(520) 293-6639

Holistic Animal Center
7334 E Broadway
Tucson, AZ  85710
(520) 886-1727

OK Feed Supply
3701 E. Fort Lowell
Tucson, AZ  85716
(520) 325-0122

Tanque Verde Hay Feed & Supply
11050 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Tucson, AZ  85749
(520) 749-0211

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I just recently tried making homemade food for my cat. I bought a few products from vegepet.com and used one of their included recipes; a rice, seitan, and tamari mixture.
I just wanted to try and make so food as a supplement to his kibble, which I've fed him ever since he was a kitten. I've always bought what I thought to be a higher grade cat food, lately made by a company called Nature's Variety, but I'll admit I haven't done enough research.
Anyways, the homemade stuff looked really good to me! I tried mixing it 1:1 or so with dry kibble, but he wouldn't have anything to do with it. I was surprised!
But I'm going to keep trying a few more recipes. He probably doesn't like rice.. I doubt I would if I were a cat. I just had some cooked already so it was convenient, but in retrospect I probably should have guessed he wouldn't like it.

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thisisroger: Nature's Variety is a good food. My cats don't like that company's kibble, but they like their raw frozen diets (see above post).

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I feed my dog Innova.  everyone always comments on how shiny she is.  I think at some point I would like to feed some homemade food, but for now time constraints, and a lack of confidence in my ability to determine a dog appropriate diet, get in the way.  My BF feeds his dog Solid Gold, it seems like good stuff as well, but it takes more of it to get the same calories (Like what Kbuettne was talking about) and they are both pretty expensive.

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ok  maybe i will try some of their other products.
if i were a cat, i think ii'd probably get tired of just kibble all the time.

/trying to think like a cat here.

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ok  maybe i will try some of their other products.
if i were a cat, i think ii'd probably get tired of just kibble all the time.

/trying to think like a cat here.

Haha, good luck trying to think like a cat  ;D

Yeah, I think Nature's Variety even suggests that you rotate what you feed--kibble, canned, raw.  The variety is good for them, just like people (different nutrients, moisture content, etc.). My cats get kibble, canned, and raw, but all different brands (Innova kibble; Avoderm, Pet Promise, Innova, or Solid Gold canned; and Nature's Variety raw).  There are a lot of really good commercial pet foods anymore, and luckily some are making their way into mainstream pet stores where most people shop.

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My boys are currently on Solid Gold , and my girl is on Natural Balance's Venison and Potato mixed with Solid Gold's Barking at the Moon.

One of my dogs has allergies. The food I had them on Flint River Ranch must have changed one of their ingredients because out of nowhere she broke out in a massive allergy attack. I've finally got her totally detoxed off of all grains.

I do make stews as a suppliment for my dogs, but I haven't in awhile.

Truthfully, I'm not concerned about "cancerous stuff" being in my dog food..because unless your getting your meat/grains/vegetables from a local farmer your probably getting the same cancerous junk. 

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I just put my cats on Blue Spa Select chicken and brown rice kibble.  It's looks like a good food without a lot of fillers.  Has anyone heard of this?  I wanted to try Nature's Variety but it wasn't sold anywhere near me.  The Blue Spa is sold at my local Petsmart.  However, I was sad to find out just recently that the chicken and brown rice kitten kibble and some of the canned food had be on the pet recall list.  My bf's mom had bought that kitten kibble for her kitten and a few days later it was really sick.  That's when I looked it up and found that it was on the recall list.  The product number was different then the one listed so we couldn't bed sure if the food was bad or if the kitten had gotten sick for another reason.  Anyway, my cat's are doing fine on it but I can't tell if there is any sort of improvement or not in their health or activity. 

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I couldn't resist replying to this. I have rabbits. Their diet is as natural as they come. Unless you want to count when they chew the corners of my books... :)

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I had a pet goat when I was about 13, and she was a vegan her whole life.....but this one time, I was eating a turkey sandwich (back before I was allowed to decide what to eat or not) and my goat, Delight, was with me, and, and....she ate a bite from the sandwich, stole it right from my hand....I was mortified....it seemed SOOOOOOOO un-narural :-X had to share...sorry

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I had a pet goat when I was about 13, and she was a vegan her whole life.....but this one time, I was eating a turkey sandwich (back before I was allowed to decide what to eat or not) and my goat, Delight, was with me, and, and....she ate a bite from the sandwich, stole it right from my hand....I was mortified....it seemed SOOOOOOOO un-narural :-X had to share...sorry

That actually doesn't surprise me about the goat, they will eat anything :)  I used to volunteer at a children's zoo when I was in high school, and I was always chasing the goats around trying to pull out of their mouths all the things that they would steal off of people and eat (paper maps, shirt tails, etc)! 

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my goats were pretty pick eaters! Believe it or not...they had definite likes/dislikes. Delight had a strong dislike for lettuce..and most fruits. Lemon leaves were her favorite treat in the world. Goats are very expressive with their body language and they will really show pleasure with the things they enjoy.

The paper and things, like the map, it seem pretty enticing to a goat....they think its a nice, dried pull autumn leaf, with all its crunchy stiffness...I don't know whats up with the eating of cloths...my dogs totally do that though! ;) The worst thing she should not have like though...was cigarette buts, when ever we went out, she seemed to spot every one that had been discarded on the side of th road. ::)

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BUT D'Artagnon started getting really sick all the time. He was losing a lot of weight and everything. So i took him to the vet and she said that a home cooked diet was basically killing him. Something about the fact that i used slightly different veggies and meats most days. She recommended that i buy a "cheap brand" of dog food to "pack the weight back on". I settled on Purina. (um, yes, thats cheap...I was paying over a dollar lbs for their food before, and thats not including the fresh stuff...) So...um...yeah it defiantly packed the weight on...holy crap! They are getting freaking FAT!

I am curious if your vet is a conventional vet or a naturopathic vet.  I have used very different veggies and meat for the last 15 years and all is well.  Many conventional vets have had next to no training in nutrition except for a very basic course.  In total, I have had 10 animals on home cooked over the last 15  years.  Their diet varies constantly.  I have been doing this over the years from a holistic/naturopathic vet with experience in nutrition.
I also know, many conventional vets get kick backs from recommending certain  'pet food'.  Although your vet said the cheapest pet food so wasn't getting a kick back on that.
My critters eat a very varied diet although their core protein is chicken, turkey and fish.  She told me tofu was not a good protein source for dogs and cats.  I used to add it as filler.  I have also read this but don't remember where.  I was also told to avoid pork or beef except once in awhile.  The exception being raw beef liver which provides our critters with many vital nutrients. 
Cats, I find are the hardest to convert to home cooking because they so hate change.  Dogs seem to eat everything including cat poo! :-(
The only thing I know is my 12 year old cat was dying eating pet food.  The crap pet food.  He had colitis and basically no immune system.  He lived to past 20 when I started to cook.
A good naturopatic vet will test for allergies in the food using an energy method.  That helps us know what is not good for them.

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