Sam has had some kind of ear problem for most of his life. We have tried everything we could think of to treat and prevent his ear problems. In the last few months, the yeast infection in his ear got so bad he developed a bacterial infection which was resistant to everything we had tried. Finally, our vet, Tia, suggested we take him off of all commercial dog food (we were giving him a combination of commercial organic natural food and my homemade dogfood) Instead we now give him something totally different: a homemade diet of veggies and protein from rabbit, llama, venison or salmon along with some white and brown rice. The food is protein-based rather than grain based. Sam's vet especially suggested we avoid corn, soy, wheat, beef and lamb. Hmmm... we had been feeding him a high quality organic lamb/brown rice food for years.
She also changed the treatment for his ear to one of cleaning the ear flap oogey stuff four times a day with witch hazel (very gentle and non-irritating on the sensitive ear tissues) and applying a custom-mixed cream (an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, emulsifier and moisturizer all in one) after cleaning the ear. We began using this 4x a day and his ear looks so good we've decreased the treatment to 2x a day. I can hardly believe the difference! We have also completely eliminated wheat, corn, soy, lamb and beef from his diet.
It may take months on his new diet for Sam to show significant signs of improvement, but this venerable, 17-year-old flatcoated retriever seems to be immortal. Tia says, sorta tongue-in-cheek, that he could live for years. Besides, he's worth every bit of extra effort if it makes him more comfortable and happy. So, although I am sure this is not a perfect canine diet, and I will be making adjustments to the food I prepare for Sam, here is what I'm currently feeding him. I freeze most of it in meal-sized, 1-cup balls.
Sam's Veggie Salad aka Sam's Healthwise Rawfood Cakes
(makes enough for one to two weeks for a 70# dog)
3 cups brown rice or barley, cooked (so you end up with about 8 cups cooked barley or rice)
4 to 8 large carrots, chopped finely
1 large zucchini, chopped finely
1 large yam, steamed lightly and mashed
other veggies and fruits as desired **
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T finely ground egg shells
2 T each finely ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
2T olive oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
Chop everything (except the rice) in a food grinder til very fine. Then mix by hand and freeze 1 cup balls of the mixture on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Thaw 2 balls of rice salad each night for two meals a day.
At mealtimes I mix 1 ball of salad, 1 egg, 1/4 cup cottage cheese or yogurt and 4 oz ground raw turkey, chicken or rabbit or raw salmon. Once or twice a week Sam also gets some organ meat (heart, liver, etc) I moisten his food with hot water and sprinkle on some acidophilus.
Dogs like humans, need the proper nutrients to stay healthy. So, to make sure he's getting the minerals, vitamins and other nutrients he needs, each day, Sam also gets dog multi-vitamins, glucosamine and VitC tablets (with peanut butter to make them tastier)
Meats we feed Sam(ground up)
rabbit, turkey, chicken venison, buffalo, liver and heart - not from lamb, pig or cow (contains taurine - we give this once a week)
Veggies we use for Sam's rice-salad mixture (I try to use a variety of veggies to give him good nutrients)
carrots, cabbage, yams, broccoli, kale, chard, peas (with the pod) green beans, winter squash, zucchini, parsley, pumpkin, apples, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries
Sam is a happy dog ... well treated and very healthy! Below, Sam is being weighed by his favorite vet, Tia. Sleeping in the garden where he belongs with Buddha and sharing "his" bed with our cat, Baggins.
There seems to be tons of information online about dog foods. One website I came across that will provide hours of reading in the future, is The Dog Food Project It also seems to be relatively objective about the benefits of feeding dogs either commercial dog food or homemade food. Check out their article on the myths of feeding. I plan to dig deeper into that website as I have time.
The following further information about raw meat/homemade food diet for pets is derived/paraphrased from Pet-grub.com, A Hassle-Free Guide to Wholesome Natural Pet Food, a useful website about natural health for dogs and cats. I found it to have so much information it was a bit overwhelming at first, so I have paraphrased and distilled some of the information pertinent to our dog's diet-for-allergies. I highly recommend if you are interested in changing your pet's diet to raw meat and homemade food, that you read the entire website. There is so much information there, including recipes such as the following for dog biscuits. You can also sign up for Jesse's newsletter by email.
Jesse writes, do NOT use veggies in the nightshade family: potatoes (yams are ok) green peppers, chilis, tomatoes. Also, do not feed your dog or cat onions or garlic.
Supplements on Jesse's list for dogs:
- calcium supplement made with finely ground baked free range egg shells
- probiotic beneficial bacteria such as acidophilous
- pancreatic or vegetable enzyme for digestion
- flax seed meal or sunflower seed meal for essential fatty acids
- Vitamin C from a food source, such as rose hips (Nutribiotics Meta C is made from rose hips) for absorbing calcium, among other benefits of Vt.C
- Dog Treats: (cats like these too)ving Sam salmon oil with each meal.
Katherine DeBarnes (Jesse's dog) Favourite Biscuits
rice flour 6 cups
water 6¼ cups
spelt flour 2½ cups (the original recipe calls for corn meal, but Sam is allergic to corn, so I substituted the spelt flour)
oat meal 2½ cups
ground cinnamon 3 TBSP
alfalfa powder 3 TBSP
kelp powder 3 TBSP
In a mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then add the water and mix. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and make into a dough. Roll the dough and cut some biscuits. Place biscuits on a tray and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to roll the dough on cornmeal or bulgur to prevent sticking. I also use this on the cookie tray.
This is a hard biscuit to roll as brown rice has no gluten. As a result you may need some practice to make this biscuit, but on the other paw this biscuit is good for gluten intolerant dogs and because it will break easily, this biscuit is excellent for training purposes.
Jesse's advice about adding warm or hot water to your pet's food:
Feed your pets meats with normal fat content add hot water to the food to volatize the odor, moisten and warm the food, since cold food shuts down the digestive system. All of which helps to recreate and simulate the warmth, moisture, smell, and taste of a fresh kill in the wild, like cats and dogs had before they were domesticated.