The Journey to Healthier Pets Continues…
Last blog I explained why I’ve switched my dogs to a raw diet. This blog will help you gain more information on the benefits of feeding raw and how to get started — including costs.
I began feeding Wendy Volhard’s Foundation Diet on 5/26/16. This consists of a breakfast that looks like oatmeal (Wendy is from the UK, so she calls it Porridge), and a different mix (called PM Crumble) for dinner. Both are powdered, cool-dehydrated raw foods that contain the essential vitamins and minerals our dogs need and that are missing from processed dry commercial kibble.
What’s the difference? A lot! Even if the dog food company begins with high-quality ingredients, the process of drying it (cooking at high temperatures) actually kills the nutrients… therefore, your dog is merely eating to feel full but won’t necessarily be healthy.
The other shocking fact I learned from Wendy is that it’s legal and acceptable for pet foods to use meat from diseased, dying or already dead animals. AND sometimes the animal is not even listed; if the label says “meat meal” — it could literally be roadkill.
ALL dry kibble on the market is made this way, so don’t let the fancy marketing fool you.
By the way, when ordering, there’s a drop-down list that will ask you how you discovered her products. I’m not listed as a Health Consultant (yet), but I think there’s a place to type in my name — Cathy Mutnick. (I don’t get any kind of reimbursement, but want Wendy to know I’m spreading the word.)
I started with the smallest bag of each meal — 6 lb. bag of the AM Porridge & 9 lb. bag of the PM Crumble formula; you’ll use a little more PM than AM so they’re packaged so that a very active 75 lb. dog has enough for 1 month.
As I’m typing this, I’m on day 22, I’m feeding 2 dogs (Chelsea is 32 lbs. & Kona is 92 lbs.), and have lots of both the AM & PM left. I scaled back their portions after the first day when neither dog could eat as much as the package recommended*. No need to waste anything. If you have leftovers from one meal, cover tightly & put it into the frig until the next meal.
UPDATE: The AM Porridge bag provided 6 weeks of feedings and the PM Crumble will provide me about 7 week’s of feedings; I still have a lot left, so I’m guessing.
*NOTE: the directions on the package state that recommended feeding amounts are based on a “working” dog that is very active for at least 2 hours every day. If you have a couch-potato dog, you won’t need to feed as much – as I have found out with my dogs.
Chelsea’s mix for Breakfast:
- 1/8 cup AM Porridge
- 1/4 cup water
- a large spoonful of full-fat yogurt (you can also use plain kefir; found in milk area)
- 2 TBSP of whatever leftover vegetables I made for dinner the night before (except corn, which has no nutritional value)
- 1/2 tablet of Complex B (crushed); also on Wendy’s website on the “supplements” page; this is the natural flea/tick/mosquito repellent so you don’t have to use monthly topical treatments or oral heartworm medications. Heartworms are only transmitted via mosquito bites and Wendy has found that healthy dogs do not attract insects or parasites. (So why give them poisons they don’t need?)
Note that Wendy also has a diet called Natural Diet Foundation 2 into which you only need to add the raw meat of your choice & Complex B supplement during fleas/ticks/mosquitos season.
Here’s the link to that page on her site:
I might be switching to that just because it’s very simple – I won’t need to add vegetables, yogurt or cottage cheese. I think it’s going to cost about the same as buying the mix and supplement separately. But I haven’t added that up yet.
For Chelsea’s dinner:
- 1/4 cup PM Crumble
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup raw meat
- 1/2 B Complex (crush & mix into food)
Keep in mind that the dry mixes recommends feeding raw meat ONLY at dinner for 5 days a week, then you can switch to another meat or full-fat cottage cheese for the next dinner. On the 7th day, you only feed breakfast, giving the dog’s digestive system to rest.
I’ve found this is the easiest way to remember…
· Monday-Friday: raw meat at dinner only
· Saturday’s dinner: cottage cheese instead of raw meat
· Sunday: breakfast only
Awesome raw meat:
This company delivers to the Golden Gate Plaza in Mayfield Heights & various other locations in the Cleveland area once a month, so if you have extra freezer space, stock up! They will also deliver to your house for an additional fee.
All of the meat is HUMAN GRADE (no diseased, dying or dead animals are used), comes ground up and FROZEN in what looks like a tall cottage cheese or yogurt container – it’s heavyweight packaging, but I still put each container into a ziplock bag when it’s in the frig to prevent drippings. There is 2 lbs. of ground meat in each container. You can buy containers separately or in a case of 12.
I didn’t have any idea how much to order, especially feeding 2 different size dogs. So, I got a case of turkey and a case of beef. My dogs love both.
I ordered a case (24 containers) of Turkey Delight & a case of Ground Tripe Supreme and seem to be using a 2 lb. container every 3-4 days, which is about 7 containers a month, so I definitely have enough to last me a while!
What’s feeding raw cost?
That was my #1 question, too. I was hoping that I would be spending a lot less all-around health care for my dogs. As saw in the picture at the top of this blog, my pets needed a LOT of medications! It had become a very expensive and frustrating cycle — feeding what I thought to be a high-quality food, dogs acquiring all kinds of health issues, going to vet for treatments/medications… continue feeding commercial kibble, repeat.
AND the above photo doesn’t even show the monthly flea/tick topical & heartworm preventatives. There just wasn’t any more room to show those!
My countertop now…
Kona has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, so he gets a tsp. of Glandex for a little extra fiber to prevent diarrhea. (It also makes a good gravy when you add a little warm water.) Vitamin B Complex is a natural flea/tick/mosquito prevention. The Canine System Saver also helps reduce inflammation so he doesn’t have a flare-up that causes vomiting and diarrhea. (My holistic vet said it would also be good for Chelsea’s arthritis.)
I also rub an essential oil blend into the dogs’ fur before hiking, as an added flea/tick/mosquito prevention. I use it on ME, too. It smells great!
My dog care costs include dog food, treats, grooming services/products, vet bills that include medications I receive during the visit, plus additional medications that were recommended.
2014 dog care costs: $3592.57 ($299.38/month)
2015 dog care costs: $3964.49 ($330.38/month)
So far in 2016…
Both dogs received their 3-yr. rabies vaccinations, but we used titer tests (blood work) instead of inoculations to ensure they had enough of the antibodies in their systems. The idea is to prevent over-vaccinating, which can also cause health issues and shorten a dog’s life. (Neither of my dogs has needed additional vaccinations since 2012.) Titers ARE more expensive than just getting the shots, but I’m willing to pay the difference to keep my dogs healthy and hopefully live longer.
January – May 25th: $2,895.14 ($1432.57/month) – this includes an overlap of veterinarian and holistic veterinarian care. I KNOW! I was as shocked as you are! In fact, I added it up twice to be sure I didn’t make a mistake. Unfortunately, I didn’t. This is why I finally said “enough is enough” and transitioned to holistic care.
My cost of starting the raw diet:
· 1 bag of AM Formula — $30
· 1 bag of PM Formula — $38
· 7 containers of raw meat – Ground beef tripe supermix $6.18/ea. = $43.26
· Vitamin B Complex — $15
· System Saver — $45
· 3 containers of yogurt — $12
· 3 containers of cottage cheese — $11
MY TOTAL: $194.26
plus whatever vegetables we have left over from our dinners
YOUR start-up cost could be a lot LESS if you only have 1 small- to medium-sized dog…
· 1 bag of AM Formula — $30 (will last you at least 2 months)
· 1 bag of PM Formula — $38 (will last you at least 2 months)
· Approx. 4 containers of whatever meat MyPetCarnivore.com has on sale – example, Coarse Ground Whole Pork @$5.29 a 2 lb. container — $21.16
· Vitamin B complex — $15 (contains 90 tablets; ½ tablet per meal for 25 lb. dog – that’s a 6 month supply!)
· 2 containers of yogurt — $8
· 1 container of cottage cheese — $3.59
· + whatever veggies you normally eat and want to share with your dog (except corn, which could cause allergic reactions)
YOUR MONTHLY TOTAL = $69.25
AND THE BIGGEST BENEFITS OF FEEDING A DOG A RAW DIET:
· NO more processed food (& the time to get it)
· NO more greasy topical flea/tick medications (poisons in your dog’s system)
· NO more oral heartworm medications (poisons for worms your dog doesn’t have!)
· NO more vet bills for health issues caused by vitamin/mineral deficiencies — including vomiting, diarrhea, allergies, joint problems, arthritis, kidney/liver issues & more!
Continued next month…