DEAR DR. FOX: I'm writing to thank you for all the great information I've read in your columns over the years, but especially your whole foods diet for dogs.
I grew up hearing from vets: "Don't feed your dogs 'people food.' The companies that manufacture dog food spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to research what is best fed to dogs, and they know better than you." I have been owned by various loving miniature and standard schnauzers since my early 20s (I am now in my mid 60s). As you know, popular breeds like this suffer from many health problems that get worse as the dogs are bred back too closely, even by reputable breeders.
My dogs have had problems with different dermatitis and skin lesions, bloody stools, vomiting, intolerance of many foods, allergies and cancers. I started cooking up and feeding your diet for dogs nine or 10 years ago, and they have rarely had any health problems since. As I make up their casserole and stew, both of the schnauzers that I have now, Gypsy and Midnight Bella, sit where they can keep watch on the stove. I start from scratch with a mix of brown and wild rice, dry beans, lentils and oats. I add lean hamburger, chicken, pheasant, venison, lamb, fish or turkey. The last to go in are the fresh veggies and the frozen leftover veggies and stocks. I don't add tomatoes or beets because of the color and the mess in their beards. They love green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, carrots and some fruits, like apples, bananas and pears.
I help out at several food pantries and take home produce that is a little too ripe for clients but good enough for me to eat. When everything is done it fills a 16- or 20-quart kettle; we eat two or three meals of this great stew: Theirs is served plain with cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.; mine comes with a little soy sauce. The leftovers freeze well in zipper bags, so I cook this up only every week or so. It is never exactly the same, and I do add some supplements. I sometimes add a little dry kibble of a top brand to give a crunch.
Years ago, my regular vet complimented them on their beautiful, soft and shiny coats and their weight. When I told him about your diet, he didn't want to hear me extolling veggies and "people food." Over the years of seeing them, he has changed his opinion quite a bit. No schnauzer bumps, no scratching, no hot spots, no dandruff, no flaking dry skin, no tummy and bowel upsets. I feed them twice a day, and they sit waiting, tails wagging frantically as they moan and mutter for me to hurry up.
Lastly, their teeth are in nice shape just using a finger brush and a little paste. They have sweet breath, no stinky farts and no impacted anal glands. My thanks for your great contribution to healthier dogs. -- K.K., Moorhead, Minnesota
DEAR K.K.: I appreciate your detailed account of the benefits you have discovered in providing a home-prepared, whole food diet for your dogs. You confirm what I and other holistic veterinarians have advocated for decades, and which I have documented along with two other contributing veterinarians in my book "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food."
Yes, indeed -- good nutrition is the cornerstone of health care and is the best preventive medicine.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our kitty, Bella, adopted us a year ago. She is active and healthy. My concern is that she has never been seen drinking water.
We tried switching bowls, using a fountain-type water bowl, using a dropper -- she will not drink water! Our older male kitty is always drinking from his bowl. We think that when she was outside, something happened to her that makes her afraid of water. They are both indoor kitties now. She is always licking things like carpets, tables and whatever is on the floor. Should we worry? -- T.M., Charleston, South Carolina
DEAR T.M.: This can be serious, especially when most of the cat's diet is dry food. The net result is more concentrated urine with the possibility of bladder inflammation, formation of urinary crystals or stones and serious complications from dehydration affecting kidney function and overall health. Some cats have a poor response to becoming dehydrated, which some theorize is the result of an impaired thirst mechanism that harkens back to their desert ancestry and ability to adapt to low fluid intake, primarily in the live prey they consume.
Moisten part of the kitten's dry food or feed her a good-quality canned cat food (such as Wysong), which contains no carrageenan thickener, which could pose extra risks for cats who do not hydrate themselves daily with plenty of water.
Coax the kitten to drink a little regular cow's milk, canned goat's milk with a little water or water with the juice of a piece of boiled chicken leg. Cow's milk in particular can cause loose stools in lactose-intolerant cats, and if this becomes a problem, try lactose-free milk.
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