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Summer

Whole Food eating for dogs - help?

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Hi there,

 

I hope this is not completely off limits to ask here, and moderators, I am so sorry if it is.  You can remove my post if not okay.  I didn't know what category to post in so I chose what seemed to fit best. 

 

My question is, does anyone have articles, websites, or experience for "W30" (so to speak) eating for dogs?  We have a lab who has epilepsy, and it is absolutely killing me to pop a pill in her mouth morning and night.  We asked the vet about it today and of course the answer was as you can imagine...'they don't recommend ever elimnating the pills, maybe lowering the dosage for a while to see how she does could be considered...' 

 

Does anyone feed their dogs raw meat?  Does anyone have a dog who has epilepsy and what are you doing?  Are there any vets on here that can guide me?  Food recomendations that are healthy for dogs? 

 

Again, I apologize if this post is completely off track for this forum. 

 

Any help would be appreciated though!

 

 

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Have you seen this that was on the blog last year? http://www.whole9life.com/2012/07/primal-pet-foods/

 

I changed what I feed my dog to Blue Wilderness Salmon - http://www.bluebuffalo.com/dog-food/wilderness-salmon. Raw, whole food costs more than I have been willing to spend, but this stuff is at least grain-free. And I add a can of sardines or mackerel to her evening meal to make sure she is getting plenty of omega3s.

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Dr Karen Becker at Mercola Healthy Pets is a holistic vet who believes all dogs should be on a raw food, species-specific diet.  She even has a cookbook out.  She does say that most people getting started don't know how to put together a balanced diet for their pets, and tend to overfeed raw meat.

 

I do not have the time to source and prepare a homemade raw diet (requires lots of organ meat in addition to muscle meat, plus bones), but I feed all my dogs a grain-free kibble mixed with some GF canned.  I stick to the high end foods, the ones which get 5 and 6 stars from http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com

 

After that huge recall a year or so ago, when all those brands that were manufactured in the same place got recalled for several different issues, I only purchase foods from companies who control the process themselves.  I have spoken to many of these people at trade shows (I'm in the pet industry) and feel more comfortable purchasing from people who are aware throughout the process that their name is going on the bag, not some giant factory making food for dozens of companies they have no affinity for.

 

I stick to Orijen (made by Champion), Merrick, and Earthborn Holistic.  I used to like Taste of the Wild, but they have their food made at the recall factory, and Blue Buffalo has been very evasive as to where and by whom their food is made.

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Guest Andria

Hi Summer, I am a veterinarian and unfortunately there isn't any information anecdotal or scientific that show a link between epilepsy and diet. So, definitely take your veterinarian' s advise and do not to eliminate the pills (and certainly not abruptly). I have had some patients that have been seizure free for a year come off anti-epileptics. Just because there are no studies, though, doesn't mean there is no link. I think anything that can reduce inflammation in an animals body can be of benefit, just as it is with us.

I am a proponent of the freshest, grain free, low starch diet possible for dogs. I believe there are many, many health issues that we see in animals that could probably be linked to their diet, if it were actually studied. The problem is no one is studying these links. We think it is bad in the human realm (ie, not realizing the impact of nutrition on health) it is the dark dark ages in regard to animals.

While a grain free dry kibble is better than grain based commercial kibble, it is still a highly processed, high starch food (potato or sweet potato based). I would definitely recommend a raw diet if you can afford the commercial products (Primal, Nature's Variety, Darwin's, etc) or making your own. Making your own can be daunting and you definitely need it to be balanced (ie, can't be all muscle meat, need bone and some organ meet). If you can't or don't want to do raw I would prefer to see a homecooked (albeit lightly cooked) diet over kibble. I am not a fan of kibble, but we are creatures of convenience. You could consider a half raw diet and half grain free kibble (if you need the convenience and lower cost of kibble). Talk to your veterinarian about adding in a high quality fish oil (like Nordic Naturals; you don't have to buy the dog specific one unless your pup is under 20#), too.

Good Luck

Edited for grammar

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No experience on W30 for dogs, but ketogenic diets have been used for a long time to manage human epilepsy, so grain free is probably a good start. I'm not sure if nightshades are ever in pet food, but I'd avoid those too. 

 

I have seen racing greyhounds eating only raw meat (not sure exactly what mix was in it, but pure-animal and raw).

 

If expense is an issue, see if an organic butcher will give or sell you their unwanted bits.

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Guest Andria
No experience on W30 for dogs, but ketogenic diets have been used for a long time to manage human epilepsy, so grain free is probably a good start.[/

The ketogenic diet is what dogs should be eating naturally. Unfortunately a grain free kibble does not equate to a ketogenic diet. The grain is replaced with a starchy vegetable and we do not know the ratios that would make it ketogenic. Therefore, raw prey model type diet is going to be the closest you get to ketogenic

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This thread for me is SO very helpful.  Thank you so much!  There is so much good information here, so thank you kindly for taking the time to write your experience, knowledge, thoughts.  I am very grateful beyond words!

 

I am a little overwhelmed at where to begin actually.  Especially since $$ is going to play a part in this.  We were feeding her elk meat, raw, but that is running out (we have new elk meat but we want to eat that....she was getting 2012 version.  :) )

 

Andria - I will definitely take my vets advice and not give up the pills yet.  She had blood drawn yesterday for the vet to check her levels of Phenobarbital, I think that is what they are doing anyway as well as checking something with her liver... (this is the only medication she is taking - 1 pill morning, 1 night - 64.8MG).  She last had a seizure about 6 months ago, and then before that probably a year. 

 

I guess I am looking for the cheapest way to feed her a healthy well balanced diet?  Brand?  But also, I would love to NOT be giving her pills morning and night for her entire life.  I wonder if there is EVER a chance to be done with the pills?  Even if it is slowly.....?

 

When you say "raw prey model type diet", what do you mean exactly? 

 

praxisproject - As a child we use to raise and race greyhounds too, so am very familiar with the raw meat they use to eat.  When mixing the elk up for my dog I had memories of the greyhound days! 

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If the rate of seizure escalated (12 months to 6 months) I'd be really careful about looking to reduce any medication until it's been at least 12 months clear health. From what I've heard, seizures can become more likely if they repeat, so risk will be a big factor in reducing any medication and she might still be in a high-risk period, maybe the vet can advise when you could trial a reduction (12 months no seizure?) and what might happen if she had another seizure during the trial.

 

Frozen might be a good way to save, if you can bulk buy (need the room!) a cow or elk or something. Some places have things people don't want (liver, organs), so you might get cheaper prices on specific items, if you ask.

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Hi I know this thread is a bit old but I wanted to chime in and say that I've been feeding my dogs and cats a homemade raw diet for over eight years now.  When I first started I way over analyzed things, probably due to being in grad school, I did spread sheets, calculations, and all that.  What I found was that a prey model raw (80% meat, 10% bone, 10% organ by weight) met or exceeded their nutritional requirements with ease.  

 

I've since relaxed a whole lot on the micro-analyzing and have still had happy healthy pets.  I used to do a veggie puree for the dogs, not cats, but after adding a pit bull to the family with horrible allergies to all kinds of plants I stopped that and haven't noticed a difference in my dog's health.  I do minimal supplements, only for joint health, omega-3, and a few times a week I'll give them a multi vitamin treat.  I also prefer to feed slightly more organ meat, about 13% or so.

 

I credit raw to getting my almost 16 year old Shep/Pit Bull mix to a ripe old age with very few health issues.  The few she's had, a tumor on her anus and degenerative disc disease, were easily taken care of and she sailed through those.  Her worst health scare, an autoimmune disease that started attacking her blood platelets and she was literally bleeding through the pores on her skin, happened when she was 2 or 3 and eating crappy dog food.

 

A few days ago we got a surprise diagnosis of a spleen tumor with a 50/50 prognosis of being fine with surgery or having 3 months left basically.  Obviously devastating news but if the worst scenario becomes reality I can take comfort in the fact that she has been active, healthy, and still ruled the roost right up to the end.  The fact that her vet, who is totally supportive of raw feeding, thinks it's worth it to go ahead with the surgery even at her age due to her exceptional health is testament to the power of a properly prepared raw diet!  

 

I'm not so sure we can make comparisons to a ketogenic diet for epileptic humans and more natural raw meat, bone, and organ diet for epileptic dogs but I guarantee making the switch will be the most important thing you can do for your dogs health.  Good luck and if you need any specifics or have any questions I'd be happy to help.

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I have been feeding raw food (prey model style, meaning meat, bones, and organs in ratios roughly equivalent to how they'd be found in whole prey animals--70-80% meat, 10-20% bone, 10% organ) to both of my dogs for as long as I've had them: 8 years for one, and 4.5 years for the other.  They do great on it.  I highly recommend reading through the resources on the Dogster forum post at http://www.dogster.com/forums/Raw_Food_Diet/thread/431875 -- it's old, but full of great information that my friends and I put together a few years ago.

 

It's actually pretty easy to feed raw once you get used to it.  I basically just freeze hunks of meat or meat+bone in portions that will feed both dogs for 2-3 days, and thaw a package out the night before I'll need it.  I use a kitchen scale to give the dogs the right amount per day (though I know plenty of people who just estimate the amount and don't weigh it), and feed them on a mat on the kitchen floor.  Once a week or so, I give them organs that equal about 10% of their weekly diet (by weight), about half of which is liver.  I get a beef organ blend (ground) from my local meat co-op, plus whole beef liver for the extra liver.  I also give them a few squirts of salmon oil daily, and eggs 1-3 times a week.

 

There's also plenty of companies that sell ground raw food in good pet supply stores.  My favorite brand is Stella & Chewy's, since they actually test their meat for pathogens and they're about 95% meat/bone/organ, with the rest being veggies and fruits (some compies are only 70% meat/bone/organ).  This is a very convenient option, but also much more expensive than buying meat at the grocery store.  I go this option when other people are feeding my dogs, such as when I'm on vacation.

 

I'd be happy to answer questions if you have them.  I actually started out learning about dog (and cat) nutrition long before I learned about human nutrition.  It's one of my favorite things to geek out about.  :)

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We feed our dogs Nature's Variety Instinct and Wellness Core, all grain free kibble and wet food. The two brands are the only two my dogs will eat and trust me we have tried every high end brand out there.. plus they no longer act like they are still starving right after eating. Both brands have 95% protein choices. My dogs love turkey/liver and beef/liver options. Also, my little monsters have lost and maintained a healthy weight since switching their diets from crap food. :)

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0Angel0 - I agree with doing the splenectomy, especially if you have had an ultrasound to see if there has been any spread to other organs.  The ratio is more like 70% hemangiosarcoma, 30% benign, but just doing the surgery gives you some more time with your pet, rather than having to make a snap decision.  Mean survival is about 4 months, but plenty of people take the gamble and get more time with their pet before another bleed occurs.

 

Summer - if your dog has gone that long without a seizure, I agree with asking your veterinarian if you can try weaning your dog off of the drug.  Reasons to not wean off are if the dog starts having seizures with frequency after the drug is reduced, or if the previous seizure activity was too severe to risk a recurrence.  There are other drugs - phenobarbital is inexpensive and is the mainstay of anticonvulsants in dogs; however, it is hard on the liver.  Some people will use potassium bromide instead of, or along with, the phenobarbital, to reduce the phenobarbital dose.

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I am so intimidated by starting a raw diet.  I have 4 dogs, about 70 lbs each, and the thought of being able to keep them in raw food is daunting.  There are no farms within a reasonable distance, and buying enough meat at the store--even if I use Sam's or Costco--just sounds prohibitively expensive.  Then there's sourcing bones, and organ meats.  We have one 'gourmet' butcher shop in town, but I can't afford his stuff for myself, let alone 4 big dogs. 

 

Even if I could find enough raw food, where would I store it?  I'd need another freezer.  And I'd be afraid that once I got them started, they would never accept their old food again.  What if I run into sourcing problems?  What if I run into budget problems?  Would I have a bunch of starving dogs, turning their noses up at the grain-free kibble they used to love?

 

Maybe I just don't have a realistic image of how much I need to feed per day.  I have visions of lugging a side of beef home from the store every week.  And my wallet would never stand that.  I feed top of the line, GF kibble and canned now, but only because I own a bird store and can buy dog food wholesale from the same distributors.  If I had to buy it retail at the pet store I'm not sure I could afford it.

 

Can some of you raw feeders give me a better idea of how many pounds of meat I'd need a week?  Is pork okay?  Wild hogs are considered an invasive species, so around here you can hunt them year round, with no bag limit.  I might have to start thinking of hunting as a necessity, not just something to do once or twice a year.

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1Maryann, assuming your dogs are all adults and of a normal activity level, you generally feed 2-3% of their body weight per day.  So, that's about 1.5-2 pounds of meat per dog, per day.  In my experience though, larger dogs are usually fed on the lower end of the scale, compared to smaller dogs anyway.  As an example, my almost 60 pound dog is fed 3/4 pound a day (1.3% of her body weight), while my other 13 pound dog is fed 1/3 pound a day (2.5% of his body weight).  They both are a little active, though not too much.

 

And yes, pork is great!  You could definitely get a lot of good, cheap meat from hunting.  I would definitely suggest getting a chest freezer, though.  It's worth it in the long run, since you can buy meat in bulk and store it in the freezer, which will be cheaper than buying it in human-sized amounts at the grocery store.

 

In my experience though, the cost raw feeding is comparable to feeding a high-quality kibble.  You said you get your kibble for cheap, so raw might be more money for you, but probably not much once you get the hang of it.  I get my meat from multiple places, but the two main ones are the grocery store when it's on sale, and my local meat co-op for weird parts that I can't get at the grocery store.  And I have a chest freezer, so I stock up whenever the costs are reasonable.  It can take time to find the best deals, but it's definitely possible!  When I shop at the grocery store, I generally keep in the $1-$2/lb cost range if possible.

 

Also, there's nothing saying you can't feed raw just some of the time.  You don't need to go 100% if you don't want to.  Unless you have extremely picky dogs, you probably don't have to worry about them starving themselves if they don't get raw food.  Most dogs will take what they can get, especially if you show them that they need to eat what you give them (i.e. don't give in and give them something else if they don't eat what you provide).

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Lots of mainstream veterinarians dislike raw food diets for dogs because we believe we see more parasite infections after eating raw food.  Just like Whole30 for us, feeding your pets a raw diet takes a huge commitment and I believe is much more expensive than feeding a reputable dry dog food.  I have no experience with feeding a raw diet so cannot comment on the positives of it.

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0Angel0 - I agree with doing the splenectomy, especially if you have had an ultrasound to see if there has been any spread to other organs.  The ratio is more like 70% hemangiosarcoma, 30% benign, but just doing the surgery gives you some more time with your pet, rather than having to make a snap decision.  Mean survival is about 4 months, but plenty of people take the gamble and get more time with their pet before another bleed occurs.

 

 

Thanks!  She's actually in surgery right now.  I'm feeling positive and hoping for the best.

 

Maryann, I buy my meat and bones from the local stores.  I check the sales and stock up.  I've looked into raw coops but the price per pound just didn't seem comprablae to what I can get here by shopping smart.  

 

I feed two 60 lb dogs, one 25 lb cat (a Savannah) so bred to be large, and a 14 lb cat (another Savannah).  My dogs each get about 1.5 lbs per day.  They'd get way too thin and be starving on 3/4lb per day.  My cats eat 10 and 6oz per day.  That's around 4 lbs per day.  The 3 adult humans in the house eat grassfed, pastured, wild etc but I can't afford it for the pets.  They get the CAFCO stuff.  I feel bad about it as I feel CAFCO meats and that entire meat industry is morally wrong for so many reasons but I just can't afford the prices of the good stuff for both people and animals.  When I can afford it I will definitely switch but my first responsibility, I feel, is to my pets and to make sure they get the most nutritious diet I can provide.  

 

As is I pay about $300 per month in pet food.  Chicken I can get for cheap but beef is more expensive.  I think it's really nutritious so I feed it.  I rarely if ever feed them pork although with proper freezing I wouldn't have an issue with wild pork meat.  There are a lot of ethnic stores here and get a good variety of organs and "nasty bits" for them.  

 

I do have an extra freezer.  Feeding this many animals it's pretty much a requirement so I can buy in bulk when there are sales.

 

As for wild boar I don't feed them wild meats but I've read that there are issues with parasites in any wild game, including fish.  I'm pretty sure that concern would be pretty high if you are planning to feed wild pig.  Extended freezing times can kill various parasites but you'd have to look into how long for each animal and what parasites are common in your area.  The other issue is that if you're feeding larger animals you'll need an alternative bone source.  I only feed poultry bones, nothing larger.  I'm even careful of turkey leg bones.  The harder bones from beef and pork are too hard on their teeth.  As is my almost 16 yr old dog is showing mild signs of tooth wear after 8 years but if that's the main drawback to a raw diet I'll take it.

 

ETA:  I have fecals done on both dogs yearly and haven't had a single one come back positive for internal parasites.  I also can't even remember the last time I used flea medicine on them and I live in So Cal where fleas are a huge problem.  I don't do fecals on the cats as they are indoor but if the dogs don't have them why would the cats.  Also my cats are 6 and 7 and have not had a drop of flea medicine in their lives.  Parasites of any kind aren't an issue for my raw fed crew.

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Okay some questions, do you just give them  some raw meat.. none of it's cooked or prepared in anyway to prevent some sort of health problems? Like tummy issues or worse? Do you mix in anything else? I can barely afford grass-fed for my husband and I, I surely couldn't afford it for my two dogs. I do feed them carrots and sweet potatoes as treats because they love them. I'm just really squeamish about giving them raw meat because of something made them sick and I lost either one, I would never forgive myself.

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Guest Andria

Sharon, NO, a diet of just raw muscle meat would be very unbalanced. As mentioned above, prey model raw diet is ideal. You are mimicking their natural diet in the wild by providing the nutrients they would receive by eating prey. So, prey model raw is 80% muscle meat, 10% bone% 10% organ meats. It is best to fast a dog one day before changing to a raw diet. In other words, you don't want to mix kibble and raw diet if your plan is to go 100% raw. With that said, I made a recommendation for the original poster to provide half daily diet as raw and half kibble (not ideal) if she was unable to go fully raw with her dogs. In addition, you want to start with one species at a time before moving on to another to be sure it is tolerated. Supervision is necessary when a pet is eating bones as well. There are forums and decent information on the web if you google "prey model raw diet for dogs."

If your dogs are small or your budget allows, you can buy commercially prepared, high quality raw diets from brands like Nature's Variety, Primal, Stella & Chewy, etc. You just want to supplement their diet with some raw bones so they can get the cleaning benefit from chewing on them.

In addition, salmon should be deep frozen for at least 7 days or served cooked to avoid Salmon Poisoning and pork should not be fed raw unless frozen for 3 weeks to kill parasites. All meat should be frozen at least 24 hrs before thawed and fed raw to avoid toxoplasmosis.

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Guest Andria

Oh and as for cost, plenty of people report getting raw meat/bones/organs for $1-2/lb. Here in the Midwest there is a raw dog food coop and I can get a lot of options in that price range. Some people, I know, will go to ethnic markets and get those prices, but I wouldn't trust that. Some butchers or farmers will sell organs meats and things like chicken necks and backs cheaper since many people don't eat those parts.

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Raw meat, bones, and organs are perfectly fine for dogs.  I agree with fasting a day before switching.  I did a slow gradual transition for my dog and it caused her a little bit of digestive upset for a few days.  If I had it to do over I would have just gone cold turkey.  As Andria mentioned it's very important to give your dog a proper ratio of meat, bones, and organs.  Muscle meat alone isn't sufficient.  You don't have to do it all in one meal but over the week make sure you feed the proper ratio.  Some dogs get constipated from a meal too heavy in bone so for those you want to make sure to spread their bone consumption out over a period of time.

 

IME, the teeth cleaning benefit comes from chewing muscle meat not bones.  The bones are crushed by the very tip of the teeth and so never get up to the gum line to provide any real benefit.  That comes from chewing and gnawing on muscle.  For that reason I like to feed a big hunk of meat at least a couple times a week.  I use chicken feet to make up the bone portion.  Those are really healthy for your dogs as well.  A lot of raw feeders feed pigs feet as well but for me and my dogs there is too much fat so I stay away.  Also eliminating carbohydrate laden kibble alone can do wonders for the teeth.  Kibble is really terrible for a dog or cats dental health. 

 

I buy a lot of my dog's food from ethnic markets.  The variety is wider, they have more of the off cuts rather than just muscle meat, and they are held to the same standards that any other grocery store is held to.  There's nothing inherently unhealthy or unclean about an ethnic supermarket.  I've had zero problems so far.  Now if I could get meat from a co-op for 1-2 bucks a pound I'd be all over that. Out here though the prices run from $4-$6 per pound or more for some cuts.    

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The surgery went really well and I might be able to take her home tonight.  The Dr wants to run a few more tests on her later to check her blood levels and heart but if those are OK she can come home.  My old girl is a fighter that's for sure!!  The Dr did say the tumor has grown quite a bit over the past week or two since the xrays but I'm choosing not to worry (too much anyway!) and stay positive until the biopsy results are in next week.

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I guess we'll have to stay with the status quo for now.  4 dogs x 2 lb each per day is 8 lbs a day or 240 lb a month.  IDK where people are seeing meat for $1-2/lb, but that sure isn't the case here.  I can get ground beef for $2.87 at Sam's, but actual hunks of meat are never less than $3.99 no matter the cut.  We have no real grass this far south, so no cattle farming.  No ethnic markets either, at least not that sell meat.  I looked for months for chicken feet to make bone broth with.  And even bones are almost non-existent.  I can get marrow bones (femurs) from the gourmet butcher, but they're several dollars a piece, and from what I understand they aren't the best because they can't really chew them up.  You'd never find chicken backs or anything like that in a high-end town like this :(

I love my dogs, but I can't afford $1-200 a week on food.  Thank you for all the help, though.  If I win the mega-millions, at least I'll know what to do.

 

0Angel0--glad your girl came through the surgery so well.  Paws crossed here for a clean biopsy and a speedy recovery.

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Yeah, Maryann and I live in the same town. Finding quality affordable meat just for ourselves can be quite annoying. No chicken feet, backs or necks! Which is odd for me because where I grew up the grocery stores carried those things in the meat case along with pig tails, ears and feet. :) Maybe the next time I visit home I will pick up some of those things to bring back for making stocks. I guess the best I can do for my babies is keep feeding them the best grain free kibble and wet food I can afford. I do give them some stock or gelatin in their food. I will check into Natures Variety Raw Instinct but I think it's more than I can afford. I can't afford failed experiments because I do have a pet food budget each month.

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I really appreciate this thread! I don't have dogs, but I have been toying with the idea of switching my cats to raw food recently. I'm not ready to commit to real raw food, but I was totally game to try freeze-dried raw or the raw bites from Nature's Instinct. I got 2 other brands of freeze-dried to try as well. My cats won't touch any of it. :angry: I'm in the process of trying to wean them off of dry food, and maybe once they're mostly eating canned I'll try a little harder to get them used to something new. I'm thinking if I can do that, maybe I'll introduce some small bits of raw meat or small bones for their dental health. Just not sure what to get (although I haven't looked into it too much). I have one cat who can't have any chicken products, so I'm a bit limited there. Does anyone buy bones or meaty bones for their cats at the regular grocery store, and what do you recommend?

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