Category Archives: Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets

Raw Diet for Cats

Recommendations for transitioning 
from other foods
There are several methods for transitioning cats to a raw-meat diet. A cat’s natural instinct is to ‘fixate’ on food, which helps kittens to learn what is food and to recognize it when they see and smell it. What is sometimes referred to as a cat being ‘finicky’, is really a manifestation of this natural tendency.
Some cats require a gradual transition to a raw diet, while others take to it immediately. Use the method that seems to fit the cat’s personality best.
When changing to a raw meat diet, we recommend eventually stopping all feeding of dry food – completely.
·         Transitioning cats currently on a dry food diet only: Begin by offering a small sample or wetting the dry food with raw milk or water. If they taste the sample at all, begin offering small amounts as a treat in the morning and evening. Gradually reduce the quantity of dry food left out for the day. Move toward one set meal in the morning and one in the evening with the raw and dry food, slowly increasing the raw portion and decreasing the dry food until the cat is completely transitioned.
Another option is to transition to a commercial canned wet food, then transition to the raw diet from the canned food.

·         Transitioning cats currently on wet food only: Begin a feeding schedule of twice per day. Place small amounts of the raw diet next to the regular diet, or mix with their current wet food. Gradually begin increasing the ratio of raw to canned until the transition is complete.
·         Transitioning cats currently eating both dry and wet food: Move to a feeding schedule for the wet food of twice per day, and eliminate or reduce the amount of dry food left out during the day for grazing. Add small amounts of the raw diet to the canned wet food, or offer as a separate treat at meal time. Gradually begin offering dry food only at during meals, and eventually not at all. For cats that have trouble recognizing a raw diet as food, and are completely ignoring it all together, here is something to try: Place a tablespoon of raw food next to their regular food. This will let the cat begin to associate raw food with their meal time. It may be a slow process, with the cat only sniffing it at first, but gradually, they begin to decide this might also be food, will taste it, and eventually begin a transition.
Bill Piechocki and Diane Suddath are co-owners of Fiesta Pet Deli in Festival Flea Market Mall at 2900 W. Sample Road, Pompano. Bill Piechocki has a degree in animal science and 40 years experience in the pet industry including working as a pet nutritionist. He has raised show dogs and also trained dogs. Dr. Diane Suddath has a DVM as well as master’s degree in Parasitology and Public Health. She also served as a Veterinary Medical Officer for the FDA and USDA for 10 years. Currently she consults for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. You can contact them at: 954-971-2500, or

Additional Notes on feeding
 Feed adult cats approximately 1/4 to 1/3 lbs. (4 to 6 oz.) twice per day based on the cat’s age, size and activity level. Younger cats should have slightly smaller meals, approximately 4 oz of food twice per day. Weaned kittens should be fed multiple small meals throughout the day.
• It is best to serve food at room temperature. Use a double boiler or fill a sink with hot water and place the food in a container in the water.  The food cannot be microwaved.  Microwaves change the structure of the fat.
• Raw chicken or turkey necks are great treats for exercising those chewing and gnawing muscles. The cartilage and bone are added nutrition for cats. Unlike the softer nature of raw bones, cooked bones are potentially hazardous because they can splinter. Raw bones are a natural part of a cat’s diet. Some cats may reject pieces of chicken necks and act like they don’t know what to do with them. If this happens, try again every few days or once per week. A raw diet brings back some of that carnivorous instinct. When cats eventually ‘get it’, they really enjoy them.

Some changes to expect
• After a full transition to a raw diet, cats typically will drink less water. Cats in the wild get most of their water from their food. A raw meat diet naturally contains more moisture than dry or canned food, so cats may be less thirsty, yet be getting plenty of water.
• There may be a change in the odor and color of feces. It will stink less! It may also be somewhat harder and dryer, and be colored shades of dark and light brown. Much of the crude protein and crude fiber in commercial dry and canned cat foods are not digestible and thus, left to stink-up the litter box. Along with the assurance of knowing that all the food that is ingested is being digested, the reduction of odor is a nice side-benefit.
• Overweight cats tend to lose weight. However, weight loss must be closely monitored. Rapid weight loss can lead to serious health problems. A nutritionist or holistic veterinarian who is skilled in transitioning to raw diets can provide the best advice, especially when transitioning a cat with chronic health issues.
• Lethargic cats start to play more and may even exhibit hunting behavior. Cats are healthiest when fed a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. When cats aren’t experiencing the metabolic highs and lows associated with high carbohydrate sources, such as grains, they begin to use protein as their energy source, as they were designed by nature to do. This tends to provide more sustained energy throughout the day and reduces the need to “graze”.
• Allergies tend to clear up, which may be a result of less exposure to potential food allergens. Many cats have allergies to grains that can range from very mild to severe. These allergies can manifest on the skin, can affect digestion, and also contribute to runny nose and eyes. The reduction in allergic symptoms may be a result of not only a reduced exposure to allergens from a higher quality food, but also from a stronger immune system. The more nutritious the food, the stronger the immune system will be.
• Fur becomes incredibly soft and shedding is reduced. This may be the result of better nutrition and is typically one of the initial benefits observed after changing cats to a raw diet. There may also be a reduction in human allergic reactions to cats due to the reduction of dander.


Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets

Raw Food Diet for Dogs

The benefits and drawbacks of feeding your dog a raw diet.
Denise Flaim
The website for dog lovers
A decade ago, BARF was the acronym that raw-feeders used to describe feeding raw, meaty bones to their canine companions. Coined by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, it stood for “Bones and Raw Food,” which later morphed to
the eggheady-sounding “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.” But now, everyone pretty much just calls it “raw.”
Labels aside, the raw pet food movement got a lot of attention this spring, when wide-scale pet food recalls prompted many owners to rethink commercial foods. Suddenly, the idea of feeding a fresh, well-hydrated, varied, raw diet, whose enzymes and amino acids have not been altered by cooking, didn’t seem like such a radical idea anymore.

Owners often switch to raw feeding in times of crisis, such as when their dogs have been diagnosed with deep-seated problems like allergies, says Monica Segal, author of “Optimal Nutrition, Raw and Cooked Canine Diets: The Next Level” (Doggie Diner, 2007). But more and more owners are becoming proactive. “They’re asking themselves, ‘If a method of feeding is being touted as good when an animal is ill, why not when it’s healthy?’”

Still, despite the interest — and the growing number of companies that offer frozen and freeze-dried raw diets — many vets are still uncomfortable with the idea of feeding dogs a diet that mimics what they would eat in the wild: basically, raw meat, uncooked bones, and pulverized vegetables and fruit. Among their concerns are the risk of bacterial contamination, dietary imbalances, and internal injury from inadequately chewed bones.

Not every dog is cut out for a raw diet, agrees Segal, who is certified in animal healthcare by the University of Guelph and formulates raw diets for her clients.
“If you have a really immune-compromised dog, it might not be the way to go.”
When it comes to objections about raw feeding, its advocates note that good hygiene is important when handling any raw meat. Most healthy dogs can handle bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli, and grinding raw meaty bones into a
hamburger-like consistency eliminates any choking risk. (Never feed cooked bones, which are brittle and can splinter.)

Nutritional balance is also a concern: Not having an adequate calcium source, for example, can leave a dog at risk for severe orthopedic problems. The key is never to embark on a raw diet without doing adequate research. In addition to
Segal’s writings, a good introduction for wannabe raw feeders is “Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats” by Kymythy Schultze (Hay House, 1999).

One of the biggest drawbacks to raw feeding is cost. Segal notes: If you do it right, but don’t have affordable meat sources, feeding your dog can be as costly as feeding yourself.

From the canine point of view, though, the pluses of raw feeding are pretty obvious. “Very few dogs,” Segal says with a grin, “will turn their noses up at it.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets

The Truth About Dog and Cat Food

Most pet owners are under the belief that dogs and cats are at their best if they only eat dog or cat food. The truth of the matter is dog and cat food were originally developed and marketed for one reason, to provide profits for the pet food companies.
If you think back far enough, the early makers of pet foods were cereal companies, the original convenience food for Moms’. When mom no longer had to fix us a “cooked” breakfast, there became a need for a companion product for our pets. (Up until then, Rover and Kitty shared our “people or real” food).
Few pet food companies are truly concerned with the optimal health of your pet. In addition, the competition for your pet food dollars has led to some much exaggerated claims.
To understand pet food, you must first understand your pet. Dogs and cats are carnivores, meat eaters, with a very different digestive system than ours.
Dry foods are full of indigestible stuff, no matter how high the price tag is, how reputable the seller may be, or how “premium” the ingredients sound. There is no such thing as a dry food that has “no fillers.” By their very nature, kibbles (dry, processed dog and cat foods) are 60% or more grain. Ever try to bake a cookie or muffin that contains no flour, or oats? Grains lend cohesiveness to the formula, and help the processed, cooked food hold together in its cute little shapes. Grains are also very inexpensive, making pet food cheap to produce, with a large profit margin.
Grains are carbohydrates, for which a dog and a cat (carnivores) have no need. They do not digest well, and they do not provide energy the way they do for us humans. Instead, dogs and cats obtain their energy from fats.
The term “energy” is not referring to how feisty your kitten is, or how much get-up-and-go old Rover has. Humans and pets go about converting the foods they eat into this energy in different manners. It just so happens that dogs and cats are much more efficient at converting fats into energy, than carbohydrates. After all, they are carnivores.
The fats serve many other functions in the pets’ diet. Our dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do so replacing the much needed protective oil layer on the skin and coat requires higher levels of Omega Fatty Acids and oils than can be added to dry foods. If these were added to the packaged foods, they would quickly mold and turn rancid, making some of these toxic to your pet.
Grains also metabolize directly into glucose, which feeds cancer cells, contributing to a condition known as cachexia. Therefore, grains in the diet of a pet with cancer are deadly. This is why some people refer to a raw, grainless diet as a “cancer starving” diet. There is no such thing as an anti-cancer diet that is a kibble. It has been shown that pets with cancer do best on a high-fat, high-protein diet, with the fats and proteins provided in the form of raw meat.
The conversion for these carbohydrates into “sugar” also contributes to our pets becoming overweight and diabetic, as well as dental problems.
Dry foods are also full of preservatives. The three biggest names to avoid are BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. Some “meat and fish meals” aren’t required to list these preservatives. Don’t be fooled by foods that claim to have no preservatives. They would have zero shelf life without preservation of some type. Check those “good through” dates on the bag, and think about it. How appealing is it that some of these foods will last 2 years on the shelf? There are at least some higher quality foods, which use “natural” preservatives, like vitamins. However, there is some controversy that high levels of these antioxidants used as preservatives can actually interfere with absorption of other nutrients. In addition, many are available in a wide variety of forms and qualities which can create their own problems.
The meat content of dry pet foods is quite limited by the processing equipment used to make kibble. The quality of the meat can vary considerably. For instance, if the food lists chicken as it’s’ meat source, this can be nothing more than backs and necks, with little or no muscle meat. Chicken by-product meal is even better. By USDA standards, this is a pre-cooked formula of beaks, heads, toes, and guts. Fish meal is very similar in its’ contents.
No matter how “natural, organic, or human-grade” the ingredient list, by the time those ingredients are processed into kibble form, there is virtually nothing left in the way of useful nutrition. The processing necessary to convert the ingredients into kibble requires high heat and days of cooking, followed by the extrusion process. All of this literally kills the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that lend their “living” qualities to raw foods. This is why you see a lengthy list of chemical-sounding names on the ingredient panel of all dry and most canned foods. The manufacturers must add back — in synthetic form — all the necessary vitamins and minerals which have been removed during the manufacturing processes. Synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals have been shown to be less effectively absorbed and utilized by the body than natural forms, found in real foods, in their raw state.
And finally, dry foods take 12-14 hours to pass through a pet’s system. All of that time spent lingering in the digestive tract will many times lead to room-clearing clouds of gas (attributed to fermentation of indigestible grains in the gut), and is also thought to contribute to the formation of “allergies.” The body sees these indigestible ingredients (grains, preservatives, denatured proteins, etc.) as foreign substances, to which it develops irritations, manifested as allergy symptoms. Translation: Bowser and Kitty are itchy, have flakey skin, gunky, infected ears, and bite and chew their paws.
It’s the cereal grains, corn, wheat, rice, and oats, the poor quality and quantity of meat, and the cooking process that is “wrong” with even the “best” dry and many canned pet foods. Unless your food is mostly real meats, not “meat meals or with real…Beef, turkey, etc”, look for a new food and give your pet the life they DESERVE!
This article by W.E. Piechocki and Dr. D.M. Sudduth, DVM is a summary of our research with our pets, those of our many clients over the past 35 years and the many articles on holistic and meat diets available today. Reprints and permission for use of this text is available by contacting us by email at

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets

Real Food Feeding FAQ

Why should I feed real food to my dog or cat?
Dogs are carnivores that evolved eating raw foods. Commercial foods are generally heat processed which alters or destroys nutrients and essential enzymes, so dog food companies try to add back what they destroyed, but they don’t always know what’s missing and what proportion is best. For example, cats were developing problems and dying when fed commercial food until it was discovered that Taurine was needed. Although it’s abundant in raw meat, they didn’t know until recently to add it to commercial food. It’s only in the last 50 years or so that people started feeding dogs commercial foods. And it’s quite a coincidence that during this time dogs have developed more cancer, heart disease, and allergies – just like people who also eat processed foods. 
Won’t raw food make my dog or cat sick?Dogs have a short digestive system that is designed to eat raw food. Cooked, commercial dog food takes longer for dogs to digest and often ferments before it is digested.  That is why dogs have bad breath and are always gassy.
What about bacteria?Bacteria is present almost everywhere. It only causes problems when the immune system is stressed. If you’re still worried, consider Salmonella: infection is usually acquired by ingestion of food contaminated by Salmonella-laden feces. Which is more likely to be contaminated by feces, bags of kibble stored in a warehouse or chicken parts wrapped in plastic for display at your local grocery?
Dogs, cats, and their wild ancestors, have survived eons by eating raw meat. Because they have survived by eating raw meat (sometimes rotting, dead things) it clearly shows that nature has adapted dogs to deal with the bacteria found on their food. People, however, may be at some risk when handling raw meat. Just like you would do when preparing food for yourself, be sure to thoroughly clean your hands, counters, and any utensils that come in contact with raw meat.
Shouldn’t I cook the meat?
No, and there are several reasons. First, dogs evolved to eat raw meat. Second, cooking causes bones to become brittle and dangerous. NEVER feed cooked bones to your dog! Third, cooking will destroy enzymes and anti-oxidants essential to your dog’s health. Many years ago Francis Pottenger M.D. did an experiment with cats. He fed one group of cats a raw diet and a different group a cooked diet. Soon, the cats eating a cooked diet developed problems such as tooth loss, skeletal deformities, behavioral problems, paralysis, heart lesions, and arthritis. By the third generation, these cats could no longer reproduce. Fortunately when these cats were later feed raw food, many were restored to health.
What is the best type of raw food?The best food for your dog may vary depending on his individual needs. The basic diet, however, should consist of mostly raw meat, and meaty bones with the addition of some organ meat. Some people feel that vegetables can provide additional nutrition. However because of the design of the dog’s teeth and his digestive system he probably won’t be able to derive much nutrition from fruits and vegetables unless they are cut very fine, mashed or lightly cooked.
How do I make sure my dog gets a complete and balanced diet?By feeding a varied diet based on raw and meaty bones you will achieve a balance over time. For example, chicken backs, necks and quarters, rabbit parts, turkey, pork necks and feet, beef, goat, fish, eggs (whole, including the shell), deer, elk, buffalo, ostrich and the list goes on…
Can’t my dog choke on a bone?Yes, dogs can (and have) choked on many things including bones, kibble, tennis balls, sticks, socks, etc. Dogs can also break their teeth on bones. Therefore it is best to feed bones of a manageable size, which generally includes poultry, rabbits, and non-weight bearing bones of larger animals. Although the bones should be of a manageable size, the pieces should be large enough so that the dog has to tear and chew rather than gulping it whole which could cause choking.
If you’re still worried about feeding bones to your dog – thanks to the propaganda that dog food companies have spewed for the past 50 years – you can still get most of the benefits of raw diet by feeding ground meat. Don’t just buy hamburger or even ground turkey, because neither contains the necessary bone. Although they may be fine for an occasional muscle meal, your dog needs the additional nutrients found in bones. You can buy a raw diet, ground and specially prepared for dogs, however you can never be sure what ingredients are actually in these packages. You can ask your butcher to grind for you, however he will probably decline because of the extra wear on his equipment caused by grinding bones. You can buy your own grinder and do it yourself, however you will probably be limited to the softer poultry bones. In a pinch, you can add some ground egg shells, however this isn’t the best long-term solution.
Are there any foods that I should not feed my dog or cat?Other than poor quality commercial “dog food” you should NEVER FEED your dog cooked bones. Cooking makes bones brittle and dangerous. Sugars, grains and dairy products should also be avoided. Sugars provide no nutrition and may increase your dog’s chance of developing diabetes or cancer. Some dogs can tolerate grains, but they break down into sugars and may also contribute to allergies. Except for puppies nursing their mother, dogs should rarely (if ever) eat dairy products as it is not a natural food for them and may contribute to digestive upsets and allergies.
Can you give me some recipes?
You don’t really need any recipes, as such, just remember to give your dog a varied diet. You can relax and stop obsessing. You don’t calculate the exact percentages of protein and carbohydrates or the amount of each vitamin and mineral that you eat, do you? Feeding your dog a healthy diet isn’t difficult. The majority of his diet should be raw, and meaty bones. Add some organ meat (e.g. heart, liver, etc), and maybe some mashed up vegetables. You can throw in some eggs (whole, including the shell), some fish (again, whole, if possible), and perhaps some yogurt (with active cultures to help digestion). Your dog won’t care. Just remember you’re striving for balance over time. 
Another way to help you visualize what to feed is called the prey model. Think of a chicken or rabbit, the whole thing, before it gets cut and wrapped for display in the meat section. Try to feed your dog the proportions found in that whole prey animal – a percentage is bone, a percentage is meat, and a percentage is organ meat.
How do I determine how much to feed my dog or cat?
As a starting point give your dog about 2 to 3 percent of his ideal adult weight. If your dog is very active, you may need to feed a little more. If your dog is more of a couch-potato, you may need to feed a little less. A good way to tell if you are feeding the right amount is to run your hands over your dog’s sprine. If you can feel the sprine, but not see them, your dog is at a good weight. It is healthier for him to be lean rather than fat or skinny. Puppies should also receive about 2 to 3 percent, but not of his current weight, rather 2 to 3 percent of his ideal ADULT weight. Also, you don’t have to give your dog the same amount every day. You don’t eat exactly the same amount every day, do you?
What about supplements?A varied diet of raw meats with a little organ meat and a meaty bone will provide all the nutrition the average dog needs. Some people feel that meat from commercially-raised animals may not provide the same amount of nutrients as meat from wild animals, therefore they supplement with salmon or fish-body oil. These oils contain high amounts of Omega-3s that may be deficient in the commercially-raised animals. Also some dogs, particularly dogs with health issues, may have greater requirements for certain nutrients.
How do I start?
It’s usually best to start simply: a variety of different meats for the first week or two.  Give your dog some time to adjust to this new food. Some dogs do best on a cold turkey switch rather than half-kibble and half-raw. Some dogs may take a little while to adjust, and you may see some diarrhea. If so, you can try adding a little sweet potato or canned pumpkin.
You may also see a little vomiting. Sometimes it’s bits of bone that he just couldn’t digest, other times it’s a yellow foam that means his stomach is empty. Raw meat digests faster than kibble, so you may need to feed more often.
My vet says there have been no studies to determine whether raw feeding is better for dogs or cats. How come?
And who would pay for these studies? Pet food companies? Most of the evidence that raw food is better will probably always be anecdotal. But what a body of evidence it is, considering dogs and cats have been eating raw for thousands of years and only started eating commercial food within the last 50 years or so. By the way, ask your vet how many hours he or she spent studying nutrition in school. In all the years of veterinary school, most vets only receive about 4 hours instruction on nutrition. And those 4 hours are often presented by representatives of dog food companies!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets