Some pets, especially cats, are supposed to be carnivores. The pet obesity epidemic has been much in the news lately. Has anyone noted health, behavioral, or appearance improvements in their pets after switching from corn-meal containing chow to a more paleo diet?
I have a friend who went 'raw' with her pup from the start - from his food (whole raw chickens, liver, various cuts of meat, intermittent fasting (!!!)) to things like tick and flea prevention and worming. His fur is immaculate - soft, but not with that kind of icky greasy coating some dogs get from storebought pet foods. He's also fantastically good-natured, but that may be more due to genes and proper discipline than diet, though I don't think it should be discounted entirely either.
From my own experience, I switched our dog to paleo for a short while after she started reacting badly to her normal food (started drinking a lot and needing to go out all the time, became very restless). She was almost immediately better on paleo, and seemed to have a lot more energy and bounce than before - even though she's a rather spry 9 yr old at that! Had her checked up regardless because of the behaviour/physical changes and it turns out there may be some thyroid issues related to her breed/age, but the paleo change seemed to have alleviated, if not slowed down the onset of this. ^_^
Unfortunately she's back on dry food but a different kind, as my parents (whose dog it really is) have no real desire to keep that kind of diet up. :/ It's a shame because she definitely loved the raw meat and definitely seemed to fare better on it. **I should also add she shed the extra pounds she was carrying while on paleo as well. ;P
The cheapest canned cat food I've found that's grain-free but still claims "complete feline nutrition" is Innova EVO- the chicken/turkey or the beef. Our kitties have decided that they aren't fond of the chicken/turkey but they still gobble up the beef just fine. To switch it up I also get the Evanger's Caviar & Seafood Dinner or the Weruva Polynesian BBQ (worth it because of the free shipping on Amazon.com). Both are grain-free but I try to limit the big fish seafood because of mercury content. Their favorite canned food though is the "by Nature Oganics" brand- all of the available flavors (Chicken and Chicken Liver, Chicken and Mackerel, etc.). Yeah, I probably do too much shopping on Amazon.com, but it's easy and I get extra rewards on my credit card. :) It's a pretty big dent in the budget of course, and I hope to eventually feed them fresh offal and the like, but in the mean time... my first kitty died last year at 13 years of age... of cancer. It was after she died that I switched the other kitties off of cheap grain-filled kibble. To this day I wonder if I had bothered to feed my old kitty quality food rather than the cheapest kibble available if she wouldn't still be alive...
I started my dog on "paleo" diet when I first read this post about a month ago. His coat has improved, like everyone said it would, he doesn't get "greasy" feeling and stinky so quickly. I am pretty sensitive about this so I used to wash him 2x a week. After going on this diet I didn't have to wash him for 3 weeks.
His stools are much smaller and firmer (though, unfortunately for me living in a city, he still likes to space them out into 3 little ones throughout the day).
He lost 7 pounds, from 60 to 53, and I didn't think he was overweight to start with!
And best of all, he is calmer! (not so hyper-active) Though this could also have to do with him approaching the end of his puppy phase.
Needless to say, he loves it. And for me it hasn't been that expensive! At the grocery I can get meaty marrow bones fro 25 cents a pound, and meaty soup bones for 50 cent/lb. He gets about a pound twice a day. Sometimes, he gets left over cooked meat or vegetables that we're not going to eat (I'm careful to avoid vegetables known to be toxic to pups). Also I often left him lick the pan after I roast some sort of meat (after I've poured off any fat I want to save, of course). This helps with cleanup too ;) He's also had fish a couple times (herring or sardines) and pork ribs that we on sale.
One more thing: before, I think he would eat kibble until he threw up if I let him, but now if he gets full he stops eating. Unfortunately this does mean that I've found the occasional slab of meat or fish head stored on the floor in our bedroom.
And one last thing: the bones often take him a while- maybe a few days- to eat, so he has something to entertain himself with in those hours when to his dismay we can't give him 100% of our attention. I recently discovered that he's been "burying" these between the cushions of the sofa for later (we live in an apartment and he sadly has no yard to actually bury them in).
It's crazy that veterinarians don't understand that this kind of diet is better--- how could a diet of fresh food closely related to what they would have "in the wild" not be?
Our two cats eat ground turkey mixed with Primal brand raw feline beef and salmon. Some days it's just the turkey, and I sometimes feed them raw beef scraps leftover from slicing it for jerky.
When we first had them, their poo was smelly and runny. It was a big problem. Once they went to raw meat, the problem went away the next day and never returned. They are still very young, and in excellent health.
Here's the Primal brand food they eat: http://www.primalpetfoods.com/product/detail/c/7/id/9
EDIT: One of the cats figured out how to pee in the toilet on his own. It's great except when you need to go and you have to wait for him to wash his paws.
My mastiff puppy is more paleo than I am. He eats raw, bone-in chicken (mostly thighs and wings for now) which is not terribly expensive. He also gets whatever’s on sale: raw turkey necks, lamb shoulder, etc. A few times a week I give him sardines canned in water with a raw egg, as well as chicken livers, gizzards and hearts (very cheap).
For now I’ve noticed no dog breath and smaller stools. It is a bit more costly than commercial dog food, but in the long term, this will help him avoid obesity, joint problems, tooth tartar and allergies.
I'm going to jump out of the dog/cat thread here and discuss my pet rabbit who ate a traditional "small pet diet" for his first 8 years, and a paleo-for-rabbits diet for the last 3.
Most rodents/lagomorphs are fed a standard alfalfa pellet mixture, fortified with various synthetic vitamins, and then supplemented with sugary/dairy/grain based treats, because you know how much rabbits enjoy cow's milk in the wild. I never even thought about an alternative because he seemed active enough and rabbit breeders/showers actually recommend against "overfeeding" vegetables. But then once he was about 8 years old he began to slow down dramatically (8 is old for a rabbit) and suffered from mild seizures. A pet sitter that took care of him for a weekend did a very novel thing: for the entire weekend she fed him nothing but good old fashioned plant matter and hay. And you know what? As a geriatric rabbit he was sprinting loops around the living room. I've been feeding him vegetables and hay (a rabbit makes a great compost system for all vegetable/salad trimmings) for 3 years, his coat is healthy, he's alert, and he's so energetic that he charges anyone who comes into the house, though it's not particularly threatening since he tips the scales at about 3 lbs.
So there you go! The world's first domestic Paleo rabbit ('paleo rabbit' kind of sounds like a recipe...)
Our three dogs are on a raw/BARF diet. All are pretty close to ideal weights. One has to eat more so as not to lose too much weight. None have the sour doggy odor and we don't even bathe the 2 outside dogs. Their coats are shiny and healthy. Our white bichon/poodle doesn't have nearly as much tear stains as when she was on kibble. Feces pretty much disappear unless one of them gets into the chicken or goat feed.
To everyone who is feeding their pets paleo - kudos - it's great for them!
With that said, I saw several references to feeding dogs bone-in chicken and I feel like I need to put this out there: My wife used to work for a veterinarian. She's seen dogs brought in for chicken-bone issues.
Imagine a chicken leg bone with the knobby ends chewed off, so it's jagged on both ends, wedged sideways across the roof of a dogs mouth, sharp ends in the gums on either side above the upper teeth - wedged in so securely that the dog needs to be sedated so the vet can use wire-cutters to cut the bone in half to get it out. She's seen it.
Imagine a couple-inch (adjust based on dog size) shard of bone being swallowed by a happily nomming dog along with a chunk of meat, and then getting snagged/wedged somewhere in the intestines. In this case the dog owner had to make a decision on surgery for the dog that would be either very costly, or heart-breaking. She's seen it.
When you think about it, with the exception of carrion or sick/wounded birds - birds are probably not a common historical prey animal for dogs. Dogs and wolves are normally pack hunters. They run down prey (often larger than themselves) similar to ancient human persistence hunters. This doesn't work with birds.. birds fly away. Birds get hunted by cats, and larger birds, and humans.
I have two cats that are both a little over a year old. When we first got them, we fed them the standard cheap dry food. After going paleo and reading more about feeding cats, I have switched them to the Wellness Core line of food. I was hoping to use the wet food, but they turned their noses up to it, but they love the dry.
The male cat was starting to put on the pounds and had bad dandruff before making this switch. Now he has slimmed out, the dandruff is nearly gone, and he coat is much sleeker.
We also give them freeze-dried salmon as treats and raw chicken and salmon whenever I'm making it.
I'd love to go completely raw with them, but just can't afford it at this time.
Here's the link to the Wellness food: http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/cat_wellness_dry_core.html
I don't know if this is entirely "paleo" since we not feeding them raw meat, but about 3 months ago, we started our two kitties (6 and 8 years old) on a mixture of chicken thighs, beef liver and tuna fish. I combine about 8 lbs. of chicken and 1 lb. of beef liver, and slow cook it in water at a low temperature for about 24 hours. By the time it's done, the water has reduced into a thick gravy and the meat and bones are soft enough to process with a stick blender (the bones disintegrate into the mash). Recently, we started adding 4-5 cans of tuna to the mixture to improve flavor - the cats seem to prefer it that way. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but a batch will last 6 weeks or more, so it doesn't have to be done often. Both cats have trimmed down and are energetic and healthy looking.
One cat had gotten pretty chunky on his old dry kibble diet (we affectionately called him "Jabba the Cat" lol), so it nice to no longer be worried about caring for diabetic kitties in their golden years.
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