Category Archives: Dog Health – Food Related

Bone Treats Receive FDA Warning

Bones of any kind have long been a concern for dog owners. When I brought my first Great Dane home, the breeder told me to be sure to get her a “big ole knuckle bone” from the butcher.  Years later, we learned that bones of any kind weren’t good for dogs because of the danger of splintering, but retailers continued to sell flavored bone treats. Now there is a new cause for concern with those.

The Food & Drug Administration has issued a warning about the “purchase and use of store-bought bone treats.”  The agency claims the risk goes beyond the risk of regular bones.

FDA issues warning about bone treats

Commercial Bone Treats

The FDA has received reports of 68 cases of illness related to these treats.

Bone Treats that Could Cause Problems

Bone treats for dogs were listed in the warning as:

  • Ham Bones”“Pork Femur Bones”
  • “Rib Bones”
  • “Smokey Knuckle Bones

No specific brands were named.

Watch for These Symptoms

Illnesses reported to the FDA by both pet owners and veterinarians include:

Gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract
Choking

Cuts and wounds in the mouth or tonsils
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Rectal bleeding
Death

15 dogs have reportedly died after eating a bone treat. Reports from owners and veterinarians show that problems with about 90 dogs and some reports included more than 1 dog.  There were also reports of moldy appearing treats and treats that splintered when chewed by dogs.

Be careful when you choose treats for your dog. Avoid purchasing any kind of real bones for treats. Instead, look at the Nylabone brand of flavored bone treats. They don’t splinter and dogs enjoy them. But always watch your dog when he chews them. With any toy or treat, a chunk could break off and become a choking hazard.

A better idea for treats than any kind of bone is one you make yourself.  You can find easy-to-follow recipes here. Homemade treats are cheaper, fresher and tastier than commercial treats, and you will be certain your pet is receiving a quality product.

If you purchased the bone treats, I suggest you return it to your place of purchase and ask for a refund.

 

 

 

FDA Sends Warning Letter to Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company

The Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food company’s quality mess continues.  I wrote in the past about various recalls and complaints regarding the presence of pentobarbital in some of their products. Evanger’s was an exemplary pet food manufacturer until 2002 when the new owners took over. Since then, complaints followed recalls, followed by more complaints and so on.

Late last year, the company issued a voluntary recall of specific products after 5 dogs became ill after eating the products and tests showed the food contained pentobarbital.  In late February, 2017, the company issued an expanded recall of some of their products due to the potential of pentobarbital in the petfood.  Now it appears that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is getting serious about enforcing their laws.

On June 29, 2017, the Food & Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Evanger’s stating that as a result of their inspections of and evidence collected at the company’s manufacturing facility in Wheeling, Illinois, in January and February of 2017,  “including supplier traceback, facility inspection, and samples collected by FDA, we found serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and its implementing regulations.”

The FDA’s analysis of canned, chunk meat dog foods, including Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks, Evanger’s Hand-Packed Hunk of Beef in Au Jus, and Against the Grain – Grain-Free Pulled Beef and Gravy products revealed the presence of pentobarbital. thus causing the products to be adulterated under FDA law. No amount of the drug is acceptable in pet food. Pentobarbital is used by veterinarians to euthanize animals.

Was Only 1 Ingredient’s Supplier at Fault?

While the FDA acknowledged that Evanger’s did issue recalls of affected products, there is still a question about the company’s claim that only one of their suppliers sold them the contaminated meat. The FDA states in their letter that no documentation was provided to prove that claim.

Evanger’s Claims that Small Amounts of Pentobarbital Are Acceptable.

The company claimed in their letter to the FDA on 5/18/17 that if any pentobarbital were to be found in their products, it would be in such a small amount as to not be a health or safety issue for pets.  FDA says no amount of pentobarbital would be considered acceptable.  The Evanger’s letter went on to say that they would be conducting random testing of finished products to determine if any pentobarbital were present. That was not considered acceptable by the FDA, because their own testing showed that the presence of the drug was not the same throughout the pet food. Therefore such company test would not prove that all of the product was safe for pets to consume.

What Is Most Egregious

In a letter to the FDA dated 4/4/17, Evanger’s expressed a desire to donate their recalled products to an animal shelter. This would be after individual units of the recalled food had been tested and found negative for pentobarbital.  Since the FDA believes that test does not mean the entire food would be safe, I am horrified that shelter animals, already stressed from their homeless circumstances, would be considered acceptable recipients of this food.  The FDA recommended destruction of all the recalled petfood.

The FDA warning letter of 6/29/17 clearly says that the infractions listed above do not include all the violations found at the Wheeling plant.  Evanger’s was instructed to basically clean up their act or face further disciplinary action.

If you are still buying this company’s products for your pets, please take the time to read up on the recalls, violations and questionable truths that continue in the Evanger’s case and form your own opinion.  As for me, I will avoid any product produced by this company.  Buyer beware!

Fixing Fido’s Aging Joints

Aging canine joints benefit from natural supplements.

A dog’s aging joints may be helped with natural supplements.

As dogs age, they often suffer from aching joints, just as we humans do.  Veterinarians will prescribe arthritis drugs to ease Fido’s pain and stiffness, but why not be proactive and add some vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your dog’s diet to try and ward off those old age aches and pains. You can find a multitude of all natural products on the retail market that work to improve canine mobility and strength. Joint supplements are believed to increase energy levels and longevity, as well as help maintain cartilage health and promote strong joints.

Pollen Power for Pets

Bee pollen is known to contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and most important for an aging dog, it helps build stronger muscles and increase performance and stamina. The pollen is believed to relieve arthritis in dogs. Pollen that comes from the actual flower could cause allergic reactions in some dogs but the thought is that pollen from the hive is safe. Know what you are buying!

Chondroitin for Cartilage Health

Chondroitin is found in the cartilage and connective tissue, helping to create healthy joints. In fact, the body uses chondroitin to make new cartilage and keep joints better lubricated. My favorite source of chondroitin (and glucosamine) for dogs is natural beef trachea. While it is perfect for helping strengthen joints, chewing on it cleans the dog’s gums. My favorite source of beef trachea comes from Clear Conscience Pets, a  family-owned company that has won multiple awards for excellence in pet nutrition. Anthony and Amanda Bennie founded the company to create holistically-formulated and cleanly-sourced nutritional products for dogs. My own dogs thrived on their products, and I wholeheartedly recommend them. (And no, this website does NOT benefit financially from promoting this company. I will promote any pet products company that I believe is good for pets.)  Their Beef Trachey Chews™ chews provide an excellent source of chondroitin, as well as glucosamine and collagen, the building products of joint health. I also suggest trying their Lamb Trachey Chews™, which come from 100% lamb trachea. The chews are hard enough to provide a satisfying chewing exercise while not causing problems for the sensitive gums of senior dogs.

How Glucosamine  Improves Canine Joint Health

Glucosamine, along with chondroitin, has been used to treat osteoarthritis in Europe for over 20 years and is just now becoming to go-to choice of treatment for dogs in the United States. Like chondroitin, glucosamine is a natural substance found in the body, especially in cartilage. As a dog ages, it is not able to synthesize enough glucosamine to keep up with the body’s needs. That’s where supplements come in! Your veterinary professional can decide whether supplements are needed or if your dog would receive enough glucosamine from treats like those mentioned above from Clear Conscience Pet to take care of his needs.  In any event, every dog would benefit from treats and pet food that contains glucoasamine and chondroitin. A 2007 study published in The Veterinary Journal concluded that dogs treated with glucosamine-chondroitin sulfate showed less pain and more mobility after 70 days of treatment.

Look to the Ocean and Beyond for Canine Joint Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to benefit the aging joints of senior dogs. In fact, The University of Montreal conducted a study of 30 dogs with osteoarthritis and concluded that a diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids resulted in significant improvement in movement problems and performance of daily activities. Other studies confirm that dogs suffering from arthritis saw improvement after supplements with Omega-3 fatty acids were added to their diets. As a preventive measure, consider adding natural sources of Omega-3’s to your dog’s diet, such as salmon. The superfood, Spyrulina, boosts the immune system and also provides a strong source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Accupunture has helped many canines with joint disease. Talk to your veterinarian about this ancient art of healing to see if it might help your pet. Massage and chiropractic care could also help reduce joint degeneration in dogs and help alleviate pain.

A comfy, supportive bed helps a dog's aging joints.

Talk to your veterinarian about alternative methods of improving your pet’s joints. Keep in mind that as your dog ages, he will need consideration for the pain he suffers.  A supportive but comfortable bed is important to relieve stress on his old joints. Daily walks may be slower than before and he may not go as far. Adjust your routine to fit his needs and always keep your vet in the loop about changes in your dog’s routines and health.

Lawsuit Decision: Is Beneful Dog Food Really Exonerated?

In a previous post, I mentioned that a Class Action lawsuit had been filed against Beneful Dog Food. The plaintiff, Frank Lucido, alleged that Beneful made his 3 dogs very ill and 1 dog died after eating the food on Jan. 15, 2015. He also claimed that the company had added propylene glycol to the product, that the product contained mycotoxins produced by molds in grains that posed a health risk to dogs.  The lawsuit went on to say that more than 3,000 complaints had been lodged against Beneful with dogs suffering internal bleeding, weight loss, dehydration and more. It also claimed that Nestle Purina (the parent company that owns Beneful) misrepresented the product. A Federal judge in California has ruled that there was not enough proof that Beneful actually caused the dogs’ illnesses – that the plaintiff failed to prove the food was unsafe.

Details about the Lawsuit

Truthaboutpetfood.com posted an interesting article about the lawsuit. It states that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) found 6 samples of Beneful tested above the legal limits for cyanuric acid and melamine (the same substance that caused all those pet deaths resulting in the 2007 pet food recalls). Six samples of Beneful showed ethoxyquin not listed on the label. (It is illegal to include ingredients that are not listed on the label.)

A few other factors were that in 2013, there were so many consumer complaints about Beneful that the FDA opened an investigation into the manufacturing plants that produced Beneful. Nestle Purina refused to provide the FDA with copies of their records and refused to disclose safety tests performed on ingredients to the FDA. The article also said that the company refused to disclose the actual content or weights of individual ingredients that went into the foods that sickened or killed pets, according to consumers reports.

“Even though the FDA found legal reasons for a recall (melamine and ethoxyquin), the agency ended their investigation of Beneful with a ‘talk’ with Purina and no recall, no accountability to families with dead pets.”

Apparently, that fruitless investigation by the FDA wasn’t considered relevant by the judge in Lucido’s case.  But there was more. The judge ruled that one of the veterinarians who testified in the case was not qualified to make the statement that consumers expect a commercial pet food to be safe when they buy it.  And a veterinary board-certified toxicologist testified that “a build-up of mycotoxins, heavy metals or glycols could adversely affect a dog’s health.” His testimony was also thrown out. The truthaboutpetfood.com article goes into detail about the testimony and decision, and I suggest you read it for further information.

Pet Owner’s Opinion

My question as a pet owner: What would it take for a veterinarian to be considered qualified to make such a statement as saying that consumers expect a commercial pet food to be safe when they purchase it? When I visit the vet with my pets, I expect him or her to be knowledgeable about what is or is not healthy for my animals. Any reasonable pet owner would agree that a veterinarian is capable of speaking for pet owners when saying that we expect the pet food we purchase to be safe. That’s not rocket science.

Readers, please share your opinions as consumers.

While I am disappointed with the findings of the California Federal judge, what he did was bring home to me the fact that we cannot trust some pet food manufacturers to produce safe, healthy products for our dogs and cats. Years ago I was a Purina customer but there is no way I would ever buy one of their products again, even the so-called healthy, natural brands. Trust, once broken, is very difficult to regain, and the lives of my pets are worth far more than being willing to trust a company that doesn’t seem to care what happens to the animals that eat their products.

Buyer beware!

 

 

The #1 Reason Why I Avoid Most Rendered Pet Food

 

Animals Waiting to be Rendered

Animals Waiting to be Rendered

 

 

Rendered pet food has a bad reputation and with very good reason.  As consumers become more educated about pet food ingredients, we know that rendering companies add spoiled meat and waste from supermarkets, old grease from restaurants, road kill and all manner of dead and diseased animals to those cooking vats. Why, then, would we trust them. When animals go to the rendering companies, no one removes their collars or identification tags  The garbage from the supermarkets is not removed from the plastic wrap, nor is the styrofoam packaging. All of it is shoveled up by machinery and dumped into the large vats. The simple solution is to avoid any dog or cat foods containing the terms “meat meal,” “meat and bone meal,” by-product meals (of any flavor),” “animal digest” or “animal fat.” But some of you may ask, “If the rendering vat contents are cooked at high enough temperatures to kill any bacteria, what’s wrong with it if my pet likes it?” (I have actually been asked that question.) That leads me to my number 1 reason for avoiding most commercial dog and cat foods with rendered ingredients.

Veterinarians use the drug, Pentobarbitol, to euthanize animals. It may be farm animals or it may be your beloved Fido or Fluffy who had reached the end of its life and had to be put to sleep. They could all end up in the rendering vat. The residue from that Pentobarbitol also ends up in your pet food.

This is not conjecture, not a guess.  It is confirmed by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the following quote:  “Because in addition to producing anesthesia, pentobarbitol is routinely used to euthanize animals, the most likely way it could get into dog food would be in rendered animal products…Pentobarbitol seems to be able to survive the rendering process…”

Susan Thixton of truthaboutpetfood.com quotes the FDA, saying that when asked if the agency will continue to ignore law and allow diseased, dead animals in pet food after risks like endotoxins were discussed, the FDA said, “We’re going to allow animals that have died other that by slaughter that are further processed; we will allow those ingredients in pet food…”

Farm animals may have been sprayed with pesticides before they died to kill unwanted pests. Flea collars from euthanized pets contain pesticide residue and they are not removed prior to rendering.

So we have proof that it happens. Rendered pet food does contain animals that died from other means than slaughter. And that also means that dog and cat food containing such animals will likely contain drugs, as well as endotoxins, that may survive the rendering process.

The only way to avoid this is to avoid rendered pet food. You will find plenty of options at the Big Box stores in a mid-price range.  If your budget allows, look for foods with organic ingredients. Orijen has an excellent reputation, as does Fromm’s Family Foods. Castor & Pollux is well-thought-of. Newman’s Own is a brand I particularly like.  Just read the labels. Avoid the terms listed above and looked for named meats, named fats, green and yellow vegetables and healthy fruits. Your pet will thank you!

 

Top 10 Reasons to Add Coconut Oil to Your Dog’s Diet

 

The top 10 reasons to add coconut oil to your dog’s diet:

  1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
  2. Incredibly emollient, coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health — whether you add it to her diet, her shampoo, or both!
  3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
  4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor, and its pleasantly tropical aroma imparts a delightful scent to a dog’s skin and coat.
  5. Coconut oil prevents and treats yeast infections, including candida. Its antiviral agents also help dogs recover quickly from kennel cough.
  6. Digestion and nutrient absorption are improved by the addition of coconut oil to a dog’s diet. It can, however, cause stool to loosen; if that happens, just add a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet (go here for more stool-firming tips).
  7. Coconut oil reduces — and sometimes eliminates — doggy breath. Some dog lovers even brush their pets’ teeth with the stuff! Which makes sense, as dogs love the taste of coconut oil, and that makes the chore less arduous for brusher and brushee.
  8. Like cinnamon, coconut oil helps prevent diabetes by regulating and balancing insulin. It also promotesnormal thyroid function, and helps prevent infection and heart disease.
  9. Helping to reduce weight and increase energy, coconut oil also promotes mobility in dogs with arthritis and other joint issues.
  10. Again like cinnamon, coconut oil is excellent for brain health; it’s being used to stave off dementia in humans, and it’s a must to keep senior dogs’ minds from becoming cloudy.

Have you had a positive experience with coconut oil and your dog’s health? Please

Rethink Your Chubby Dog’s Diet

Did you know that as many as 53% of dogs in America are obese? Just like with us humans, the pounds creep up on Fido before you realize what’s happened. So…what are you doing to correct the problem? According to statistics published by Packaged Facts, 28% of dog owners say they buy pet food formulated to address obesity issues.

First of all, include your veterinary professional in your plans. Then you can plan your method of attacking Fido’s extra pounds. You’ll want to make sure every calorie you feed him counts. His food should contain no extra fillers that would contribute more pounds to the problem. Increased fiber, lower fat and lower calories overall are important considerations. Measure the amount of food you give your dog at each meal.  We keep a plastic, one-cup measuring cup in Maggie’s food container so that we know exactly the amount she receives. Through trial and error, we determined the amount that works best to keep Maggie’s weight down.  She’s an oversized Miniature English Bulldog with a tendency to get thick around the middle. But 1 cup of a premium dry food twice a day keeps her at an ideal weight, along with the right amount of exercise.

Many commercial pet food manufacturers made food designed to address weight issues.  Merrick sells a grain-free, healthy weight food for dogs. However, this food uses a combination of meat and plant proteins.  Spring Naturals produces Dry Dinners for dogs which has been certified gluten-free and diabetic friendly by the Glycemic Research Institute’s Pet Food Program. (“Pet Age,” July, 2015, page 88).  Wellness CORE and Royal Canin also produce foods designed for weight management.

An easier, and less expensive way to cut calories in dog food is to reduce the amount of his regular food and replace that amount with canned green beans.  There are virtually no calories in those green beans but they fill up Fido’s tummy.  When our Weimaraner, Gator, developed a weight problem, a veterinarian suggested that diet to us and it he lost the extra pounds in just a few weeks. Gator loved those green beans!

Be careful with treats between meals!  Those treats can add up before you know it and give your dog a few more pounds to worry about. Instead of purchasing commercial dog treats, feed your dog baby carrots for snacks. Maggie loves carrots and they contain virtually no calories.

Along with the changes in Fido’s diet, add an extra walk or two to his exercise program.  A ballgame in the back yard or park will also get him moving and burning calories.

As long as you are patient and steadfast in your resolve not to give your dog high-calorie food, table food or treats that would contribute to weight gain, your pup should quickly get back to his old svelte self.

 

 

Medical Conditions Related to Fido’s Diet

WITH ME.As our family enters yet another food sensitivity phase with our dog, Gator, this seems like a good time to discuss a few diet-related issues that affect many dogs.  A little research showed me that the most common food allergens for canines are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish.  I noticed that corn is not on the list, though 2 of my dogs were specifically allergic to that grain.

While most allergic dogs display such symptoms as digestive issues, itchy skin, red eyes, or nasal discharge, some become even more ill, lose their fur or suffer with severe hot spots.  You may want to try an elimination diet to isolate the source of the allergy.  Talk to your veterinarian for the best method to detox your dog and introduce new foods.  The important part is to allow your pet to completely rid itself of the offending food.  Detoxification is necessary to rule out the other food-related conditions.

What your dog eats can determine his overall health.  Many diseases, as well as allergies, occur because of something the animal eats.  It’s up to you to determine the offending food.

Yeast infections.  Our Gator developed yeast infections in his ears as a puppy.  His ears itched deep inside, and he constantly shook his head.  Antibiotics didn’t do much to help him.  The vet finally put him on antibiotic ear drops and a liquid ear cleaner and the itching would cease, only to begin again a couple weeks later.  Gator’s ears smelled and he was miserable.

When we brought Gator home as a small puppy, the breeder told us to feed him Ole Roy puppy food.  I knew very little about dog nutrition in those days and followed her advice for 2 months.  The problems with his ears helped me to begin looking at other dog foods.  I don’t remember the brand we chose, but it was a lamb-based puppy food.  Lo and behold!  After 2 weeks, we had a healthy puppy.  He stopped shaking his head and scratching his ears and was a much calmer pet.  It became obvious that the food was the problem.

8 Months Old Gator

8 Months Old Gator

Signs of a yeast infection include smelly, itchy ears or skin; head shaking; incessant feet chewing; loss of fur or skin changes.  Your veterinarian can correctly diagnose the problem.

Pancreatitis.  This inflammation of the pancreas causes the pancreas to literally “digest itself.”  (www.nutriment.com/common-diet-related-health-problems/).  This condition can be life-threatening.  Dogs that eat commercial dry food are most likely to suffer from pancreatitis because the heavily-processed, grain-based dry diet causes the pancreas to become inflamed.

Diabetes.  Diabetes prevents the body from regulating the blood sugar levels.  Diets high in carbohydrates cause an increase in blood sugar.  Many lower-priced, commercial dry dog foods are high in carbs because of the grains in them.

Bloat.  We used to own Great Danes and my biggest fear was the threat of bloat.  Any dog is subject to bloat but it is more common in large, deep-chested canines.  No one knows the real cause of bloat, but one thought is that dogs drinking a large amount of water right after eating a meal of dry food are susceptible. Never exercise your dog heavily right after eating.

These 4 conditions, plus allergies are directly-related to what a dog eats.  Feed your pet a grain-free, low carbohydrate diet whenever possible to avoid the likelihood of such problems.

Food Sensitivities: A Tale of Woe

I want to share with all of you that we fed both of our dogs the grain-free 4Health Salmon Dog Food that is sold only at Tractor Supply for several weeks. For the first month, all was well. The ingredients list was the same as that of a much pricier brand that they previously ate, and we felt it was a safe switch to make in order to save a great deal of money. Our fur kids go through 40 lbs. of pet food a month, and every dollar helps!

I reviewed the 4Health Grain-Free Salmon Dog Food on this website at the time we made the switch and promised to provide updates for readers.  Here is my update:

Food sensitivities plague our dog.

Gator

 

Something in this food caused a major skin eruption on Gator. Given his history of food sensitivities, I wasn’t terribly surprised, just disappointed.  But a few days later Maggie, who never has been sensitive to any food and seemed to have a cast-iron tummy, developed a measles-like rash all over her body.

 

Hot Spot Caused by Food Sensitivity

Hot Spot on Gator

 

Both dogs itched and scratched constantly. Low doses of Prednisone and Benadryl stopped the itching, and the redness has faded to pink. Gator’s hot spots have mostly healed, and the fur is growing in to cover them. Another week and both dogs should return to normal.

Meanwhile, Gator and Maggie are back to eating Natural Balance Duck & Potato Grain-Free, and Jim and I are breathing easier.

SONY DSCMaggie Before the Rash

There may be nothing at all wrong with the 4Health Dog Food, but I feel that I must share this experience with all of you readers.

The moral to this: A bargain is not always a bargain! Buy the best food your budget allows for your dogs and cats.

The only food change I anticipate in Maggie’s future is to a new holistic brand just launched. More about that one next week!

How to Feed Dogs with UTI’s Or Bladder Infections

Maggie Digiovanni

Maggie Digiovanni, Guest Blogger

 

Have you been to the vet lately only to find your sweet dog has a urinary or bladder infection? Have you been assured that to cure this nasty business you must allow your pet to be operated on to remove a stone and afterward, a special dog food diet is a must to avoid reoccurrence of the problem? Have you then discovered your dog is on this diet forever to avoid more stones?

The operation is necessary, especially if stones have developed. No other method of removing them in pets is currently available. However, about that special diet…

The diet usually consists of a hard kibble as the basis with a soft food available, if doggie is picky. The bags and cans come with a C/D, U/D, S/D designation and cost a small fortune that many simply cannot afford.

The struvite crystals (stones) may be reduced by feeding your pet a low-protein diet, but why not go for the prevention and not have to bother with the cure? The crystals usually form because there is another infection somewhere. That does not mean that when the crystals are found, your dog should be on a special diet for the rest of its life.

Since these special diets are usually severely protein-restricted, phosphate-restricted, magnesium-restricted, highly acidifying and supplemented with salt to increase water consumption, they can be detrimental to your pet’s health if used for months on end. Ask your vet just how long your dog should be on the diet. If he says always, get another vet. Puppies should never be put on these foods.

A diet of chicken, white rice, potatoes, carrots for nourishment and a bit of olive oil to keep your four-legged friend’s coat healthy can get rid of a multitude of sins and prevent others. Hard food, no matter what the designation on the bag, can actually be detrimental to the struvite crystal prone pup. The special pet foods from the vet can cost almost $3 per can while an 8.5 pound bag of dry food can run almost $25; a 17.6 pound bag averages $43 and if you need a 35 pound bag for a big dog, how about $76+.

For the chicken mixture above, buy a large bag of chicken legs and thighs, a large bag of carrots, a medium bag of rice and a couple of pounds of potatoes. Cook all ingredients, plus a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven until tender.

At that point either pick the chicken off the bones and divide the meat, rice, and veggies equally into snack size baggies, if your dog is relatively small and use larger bags for bigger dogs. Freeze the bags, taking one out and thawing as needed. Or pick the meat off the bones, put everything together in a blender, blend until thoroughly mixed. If there is too much liquid, return it to the Dutch oven and cook until liquid is reduced. As before, put a meal or a day’s worth of meals in a freezer bags and freeze them. This diet tends to provide most of what any dog needs for nourishment. However, with a dog that tends toward the bladder or urinary stones, cranberry supplements or bit of juice also helps. The end result is a large number of healthy, hearty meals at a pittance of what the specialty dog foods provide.

Before you change your pet’s diet, discuss this with your veterinarian.

For more information, go to: Whole Dog Journal @ http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_4/features/Detecting-Urinary-Stones-Dogs_16215-1.html or Go Pets America @ http://www.gopetsamerica.com/dog-health/bladder-stones.aspx.
Our guest blogger, Maggie Digiovanni, is co-writer and editor of www.frugalfloridaseniors.com, a website designed for SW Florida and those who just love our state! You can read Maggie’s “Widowed” series on that blog, along with her hilarious “Dating Seniors” column. She shares her life with her daughter and 2 adorable Shih Tzu’s, one of whom has suffered frequent UTI’s.  She now uses the homemade diet described above to discourage stones from forming.