Probably, the number one question I get asked no matter where I go is "So what do you feed?". As the owner of a pet food store, director of a rescue and who has 5 dogs, 3 cats and numerous fosters with different ailments, it's a popular question. I wish there was a cut and dry quick one word answer...but there isn't.
Almost all of my pets are seniors and all have different requirements. My first go to food though is always a raw based diet. Every diet, no matter what I feed has raw in it. Raw goats milk and bone broth are always added to all my dogs, cats and fosters food. My small dogs, who are both in heart failure and one also has cancer, eat Honest Kitchen rehydrated food mixed with freeze dried raw rehydrated in oats milk and bone broth. Both have enlarged hearts (one came to me at the age of 6 with an already enlarged heart and the other at age 13) that press on the trachea and this causes regurgitation issues so after much trial and error I find this mixture works best for them. I rotate flavors of Honest Kitchen, freeze dried raw and bone broth weekly. Both of these dogs were rescued as seniors, in horrible shape and their transformation has been nothing short of amazing. My dachshund has cancer and was given 3-6 months to live...that was over 4 years ago!
My foster dogs eat Nutrisource grain and grain free food (depending on the dogs nutritional need), topped with raw goats milk, bone broth and topped with freeze dried raw. Everyone gets raw in one form or another....no matter what.
The three picky cats that run our house are fed a combination of Weruva canned food, Primal freeze dried food (Turkey & Salmon is their favorite) rehydrated in goats milk and bone broth. Cats are the true carnivore and every effort should be made to feed cats a raw or wet canned food diet.
My dogs and cats only get raw bones, whole sardines, Answers goat cheese or 100% pure freeze dried meat as treats. My dogs are ages 9-14 and with the exception of the 2 small dogs that I rescued later in life, none have ever had to have a dental cleaning. Their teeth stay white and free of tartar. Their food is also supplemented with an Omega 3-6-9 fatty acid. Our favorite brand is Life Line.
Do I feed raw all the time? Well I try, but there are times I can't. Sometimes I'm at the mercy of my pet sitter since I travel quite a bit. If we have to feed a kibble, then it's always high quality and grain free (preferably with no potato since potato can feed yeast and one of my rescue dogs has major yeasty ear issues). I'll rotate between Stella and Chewy's kibble and Orijen and then add freeze dried raw, bone broth and goats milk to the kibble.
So why raw? Raw meat based pet foods offer the greatest nutritional value and are the most biologically appropriate diet for dogs and cats. Raw foods offer the best solution to maintaining good oral health and preventing gum disease and tooth decay. Pets on a raw diet experience little to no gas and produce a firm and compact stool that has little to no odor. Because raw foods are biologically correct, they are digested almost completely, maintaining a healthy gut, better digestion, less gas and small compact stool. Raw diets are EXCELLENT for pet allergies, skin, and digestion issues.
What about costs? Raw is more affordable then what you think...especially for small dogs. There are many bulk options for larger dogs too. Some raw foods offer 10 lb and 30 lb bulk options! But we all have budgets. If you can't afford to feed all raw, then feed half raw or add raw to what you feed now. At the very least try to incorporate goats milk and bone broth into your pets daily feeding routine.
But my vet doesnt' like raw...... I deal with over 7 vets in rescue. Many, many vets are advocates of raw feeding. I'm fortunate to have an awesome vet that sees the benefits of feeding a raw diet. While there are vets that are totally against it, there are many vets that support it too. Find a vet that suits your needs. It always amazes me when I travel how different pet feeding is in other regions of the world. I was most impressed during a recent trip to Australia when I saw IN THE GROCERY STORE a huge aisle of only raw pet food! I had the opportunity to chat with a few pet professionals and they told me that many vets will use a raw diet to cure most ailments first before trying anything else! On that note though, I'm referring to a BALANCED raw diet that consists of the right combination of muscle, organ and bone. If you don't want to buy a complete and balanced raw food diet, then consult a dietitian, don't try to wing it on your own. Remember to wash your hands and counter tops just like you would when preparing your own food. Food Safety is important no matter what you feed you or your pets.
So there you have it! My answer in 9 paragraphs! Cliffs Notes Version: Incorporate raw into your pets daily diet! Whether its goats milk, bone broth, raw bones, freeze dried or a complete and balanced raw diet! If you have any questions or need help with a raw diet for your pet, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org