DEAR DR. FOX: I started making cat food as you recommended and my 14-year-old cat’s eyes stopped watering and her horrible coughing stopped within 48 hours! When I was feeding her Purina Indoor Salmon & Rice, I may have been killing her. My vet thought she probably had cat shelter herpes.
Nowadays, she is running around, chasing her tail and generally acting like a fool–she’s very healthy and happy.
S.W., Naples, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: I had a cat that would throw up shortly after eating. Through trial and error, I found he was allergic to food that had fish in it. After eliminating that from his soft food diet, he was fine. I had to read the labels closely because, although they perhaps said ‘beef’ or ‘turkey’, fish was sometimes included.
P.M.S., Bedford, TX
DEAR DR. FOX: Our cat had a weight problem. I began feeding her wet food that was organic only. Because of carbs being cut out and more protein added, she ate less but was more satisfied and became more lean.
N.B., Front Royal, VA
DEAR DR. FOX: I have an 11-year-old male cat, Jerry, who had his first cystitis episode in 2001. At that point, he was switched to a raw food diet and a small amount (10 pieces/day) of Wysong Uretica dry cat food (formulated for cats with cystitis).
Jerry loved the raw food diet but 6 months later, he had another cystitis episode. One holistic vet I went to suggested taking Jerry off of turkey, though my regular holistic vet thought turkey was an unlikely cause–he didn’t think food allergies could cause cystitis episodes. 6 months after that, I tried a new cat litter made from corn gluten (“World’s Best Cat Litter”). A week later, Jerry was blocked again and I made the connection that corn might be a culprit: Jerry loves corn and even ate some of the litter. Then, I discovered that the Wysong Uretica dry food contained corn (it has since been reformulated, the corn removed and is now Wysong Uretic).
Several months later, my normal supply of chicken raw cat food was interrupted and I had to put my two cats onto the dog version of raw food for a few weeks. I had forgotten that turkey might be a trigger and decided to give my cats some variety by giving them the turkey raw food as well as the chicken. That was the last time Jerry has eaten anything with turkey, as that triggered his 5th cystitis episode. He recovered and has been fine since.
He’ll be 12 years old soon and is very happy with a corn-free/turkey-free raw food diet.
One food often prescribed for cats with cystitis, Hill’s Prescription Diet C/D, has corn gluten as the second ingredient in the dry food and has both corn gluten and ground corn in the wet food. Besides the corn, the food is just garbage. I don’t understand how the company is still in business.
I would advise your readers to feed only high-quality food with no corn, no turkey and no byproducts or preservatives. Make your own observations and don’t assume your vet knows everything.
R.A.P., Bridgeport, CT
DEAR DR. FOX: I appreciate your advice that saved my cat, Putty, who was wasting away.
He had been to the vet several times and had fecal and blood tests done. Several solutions were prescribed, among which were Prednisone, FortiFlora, Enisyl-F paste and Hill’s Science Diet W-D Feline Sensitive Stomach food. His weight dropped from 17 to 10 pounds.
None of these procedures or meds had any effect on his continued weight loss. It was about the time I was finished with these attempts that I had the good fortune to read a column of yours that suggested the addition of several drops of fish oil containing omega 3 to the animal’s food each day. Within 6 weeks, I noticed gradual improvement; and now, 14 months later, he’s back up to his normal weight of about 15 pounds.
My sincere thanks.
R.S., Silver City, NM
DEAR DR. FOX: We’d like to add our testimony to the benefits of switching from dry food to a diet richer in proteins and fat.
We have two cats: Tanner is 5 and Rocky is 1 year old. Both had been accustomed to Science Diet dry food. However, after reading your column and Elizabeth Hodgkins’ book Your Cat (which you suggested), we were convinced to make the switch to wet foods.
It took a few days to convince our cats, but they have made the switch successfully and seem much happier for it.
Tanner was several pounds overweight, but lost several pounds due to the switch and is no longer lethargic. Dr. Hodgkins said: “You will be amazed at the immediate change in our cat’s behavior.” We took that to be hyperbole but, to our amazement, Tanner’s behavior changed within two days. Whereas previously he just sat and watched Rocky play, he now began to initiate play. His tolerance of the younger cat has grown significantly and the two have become even closer friends than before.
L. & C.H., Washington, DC
DEAR DR. FOX: I would like to thank you for steering pet owners to a home-prepared diet for their animal companions.
About a year ago, my 12-year-old indoor cat, Chloe, began to throw up on a fairly regular basis. As time went on, the problem became worse. Eventually, she reached a point where she was throwing up 2-4 times a day. I was constantly washing blankets, cleaning carpets and dreading coming home because I never knew what sort of cleanup job to expect.
I brought her to the vet several times and spent quite a bit of money on blood tests, X-rays and exams. The test all came back normal. I had been feeding her the commercial wet and dry cat foods and even tried the sensitive stomach and indoor formula foods–nothing seemed to work.
Then I tried the recipe on your website and began to research and make other homemade cat foods. I now feed her almost exclusively home-prepared food and the problem has disappeared.
D.S., Columbia, MD
DEAR DR. FOX: We have three cats, all ‘rescues’, ages 16, 8 and 4.
All three ate a primarily cheap canned food diet, supplemented with small portions of dry food mixed in. They were fed twice a day. During the course of two years, the oldest had to be brought to the vet for enemas. The vet recommended adding pumpkin to his diet and that seemed to work well at first, but it appeared to be an overload of fiber and his constipation got worse.
After much research, I decided to dramatically change my cats’ diets. They are now on a no-dry-food, no-grain, all-moist-and-raw-food diet. The changes over the last three years have been remarkable. They are all incredibly healthy, their coats are shiny and soft, and they play with each other regularly.
The older cat had occasional vomiting and ‘accidents’, so I added plain yogurt (about a teaspoon) to his meals a couple of times a week–he is much better in that regard now.
I have all cats on a rotating list of canned foods (brands such as Wellness, Nature’s Variety and Evo). This changeup in their diets has seemed to work well at keeping their digestive systems happy and they seem to appreciate the changes in menu.
C.P., St. Paul, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: My partner and I adopted a 2-year-old male gray tabby cat from our local Humane Society. They wouldn’t release him for adoption for several months as he was suffering from diarrhea of an “unknown origin”. We finally convinced them to release him to our care. He had a good appetite and was not dehydrated but couldn’t have normal stools no matter what we tried.
First, we took him to our vet who tried a broad-spectrum de-wormer. When that didn’t work, he thought it might be irritable bowel syndrome and suggested a good quality high fiber diet. I always read labels when buying food for my pets and my rule of thumb is if it doesn’t look like something I would eat, I won’t buy it. So, we gave him ‘high quality’ dry and wet food. If, after several months, there was no improvement re: his diarrhea, we would switch to other brands.
Then I read a recent column of yours that referred to the raw diet website at www.felinefuture.com. I switched him to a mix I make at home of raw ground turkey, raw ground chicken and the supplement mix and liver powder from the Feline Future website. The very next day after feeding him this diet exclusively, he had a solid bowel movement and has continued this way every since!
We thought we just had a big ‘mellow’ cat, but he has turned into an energetic, playful boy and he seems to feel so much better.
L.K., Naples, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: Three years ago, I adopted two kittens from a local cat rescue shelter.
After they reached one year of age, I noticed one seemed to groom herself more than the other and she would get a swollen lip from time to time. We thought it was maybe a reaction to spider bites because she was known to chase and try to eat spiders. I finally took her to the vet and he said it could be allergies and I should give her Sudafed.
After some research and reading of your columns, I realized that just about every cat food on the market today contains wheat gluten. I finally found one dry food with no wheat gluten and some wet foods that were wheat gluten-free or that ingredient was far down the list.
The fat lip disappeared and I didn’t have to drug my cat to achieve this outcome. Both cats are now very healthy with nice shiny coats.
L.S., Virginia Beach, VA
DEAR DR. FOX: Your column helped solve my 16-year-old cat’s throwing-up problem by suggesting wet food over dry and recommending the book Your Cat by Elizabeth Hodgkins (now on loan to my vet) which addressed the dry food problem.
My cat was throwing up 3-4 times a day, listless and seemed to be failing. He now gets wet food 3 times a day and I keep a bowl of Hill’s ID laced with a capsule of fish oil available, too.
The vomiting is down to a minimum now and he is happier and friskier than he’s been in years.
P.W., Palm Beach, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: I have recently switched my 11-year-old Sheltie, Tux, from eating commercial dog food to your recommended homemade dog food recipe. The results have been dramatic.
A few months ago, Tux had a staph infection of his skin that cleared with medication but left him with no appetite for eating. He developed a mast cell tumor in his groin area that grew to the size of an orange. His liver numbers were off and the vet wondered if he might be a candidate for surgery, fearing the cancer had spread to his liver.
I started feeding Tux your dog food recipe and he loved it. He would stand at the stove and bark when I was cooking it. After 3 weeks, we re-tested his blood and everything had improved/looked great, so we proceeded with removing the tumor. It was a major surgery but he came through it with flying colors. He healed quickly and his skin and coat are beautiful. It looks like we will get to enjoy him for more years to come.
Thanks again for encouraging pet owners to feed their animals high quality homemade foods. This definitely saved my dog’s life.
R.T., Minneapolis, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: Our Border collie mix, Lilly, suddenly began throwing up bile several times a day–on walks, in the house, wherever. Her throwing up continued after several diet changes to eliminate such food items as corn. Of course, there were numerous consultations with her vet along the way. He recommended Pepcid AC, but she never seemed to get better.
Finally, I bit the bullet and began cooking for Lilly from Dr. Strombeck’s book Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, which I believe I first learned of through your column. Her coat improved immediately (she had lost her shine). She stopped throwing up, except on rare occasions when she grabbed something from the ground outside.
Lilly started on the rice and cottage cheese diet for dogs with gastrointestinal problems and she tolerated that well, so we moved on to the balanced version. We tried adding beef and brown rice, but she began to throw up again. Back to the rice and cottage cheese, but now with chicken and, most recently, sardines added. We also tried adding organic baby food of sweet potatoes, but she threw up again. We’ve now begun introducing some of her past treats, e.g. Mother Hubbard peanut butter bones and some of the Wellness non-sweet potato cookies and so far so good.
These homemade recipes have made all the difference in the world.
D.E.C., Chevy Chase, MD
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 13-year-old Pomeranian, Bear, who, for the past several years (7 at least), has suffered from dry, irritated skin and hair loss. When I first adopted him, he had the thickest, most beautiful black coat. This deteriorated to the point where the fur on his hindquarters and sides was almost non-existent, particularly in winter. He was diagnosed with “seasonal alopecia”. I was told that this breed was particularly susceptible to this condition.
Bear was given blood test after blood test. He was prescribed special shampoos, skin conditioners and medications, including Thyroxine and Prednisone to treat his problems. All the while, he was eating IVD, an expensive veterinary-prescribed low-ingredient dog food because he had experienced digestive difficulties with regular dog food.
My mother reads your column often and printed out your recipe for homemade dog food. I was very skeptical because I had assumed he had a genetic condition that couldn’t be fixed by simply changing his diet.
Was I wrong! The change was almost immediate. Bear’s fur began growing back, thick and shiny, all over his body. For the first time in years, his tail ‘returned’. I can see that he will soon again have the ‘feather duster’ tail he had as a young dog. His dry, flaky, irritated skin is clear and healthy again.
I cannot thank you enough for your recipe. I feel awful that my dog had suffered all those years and that we spent so much money on vet visits and medications that did nothing to help his problem. I promised our vet that I would give her the recipe to share, since it has been so helpful to our little dog.
N.W., Rhineback, NY
DEAR DR. FOX: About 5 years ago, my Golden retriever (7 years old at the time) started getting a rash in her stomach area.
I took her to our regular vet and he prescribed an antibiotic (Cephalexin). The rash cleared for a while, but returned. I took her back and he prescribed a higher dosage. The results were the same. I then took her to a different vet, but they prescribed the same thing. Neither vet speculated on the cause of the rash.
About two years ago, this dog started having frequent spells of diarrhea. The vet treated her, but the diarrhea returned after a while. My dog’s diet at the time was a mix of dry dog food (Nutro) and canned dog food (Alpo). I decided to eliminate the canned food from her diet and substituted either cottage cheese or yogurt and ground beef or chicken. She hasn’t had rashes or diarrhea since!
It’s obvious to me that the rash and diarrhea were directly related to the commercial canned dog food and this change in diet made all the difference.
M.M., Corolla, NC
DEAR DR. FOX: When our 4-year-old English bulldog developed canine epilepsy, she was prescribed phenobarbital and potassium bromide to control the seizures.
Once we started her on a diet of cooked ground beef mixed with Sojourner’s food (all natural, human-grad dog food mix–www.Sojos.com), she stopped having seizures! We also eliminated as much sodium chloride (aka table salt) from her diet by reading the dog treat labels carefully.
C.G., St. Louis Park, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: I walk a friend’s Golden retriever, Bucky, daily because she is physically unable to do so herself. I also brush his teeth and comb him every day.
Your column has been a favorite of mine and I started making your recommended homemade, natural dietary supplement posted on your website. I vary the kind of meat and vegetables each week.
I’ve now noticed that Bucky doesn’t try to eat goose poop anymore (we have lots of geese and ducks around here) and he seems more docile and doesn’t pull hard on his leash like he used to.
I think this homemade diet has caused these welcome changes.
R.J., Stillwater, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: My 11-year-old Westie has been having seizures for the past two years. My net put her on phenobarbital, but this hasn’t helped much.
I read your column a few weeks ago re: food allergies, specifically gluten. I read the label of my dog food and it was loaded with corn gluten and gluten meal. I changed her diet to no gluten and she improved greatly–usually just one seizure a day and with less intensity. My vet never suggested gluten as a problem. My poor dog suffered due to ignorance–she was having seizures every hour; small seizures, but seizures nonetheless.
Since she is a small dog, I now cook her food: rice with either beef or chicken and I add a multivitamin. She’s doing just fine now.
D.B., Nanjemoy, MD
DEAR DR. FOX: While visiting Houston, Texas, I adopted a Chihuahua mix (Basenji?) dog from a shelter and named him Paco. He was found wandering on the street, close to starvation and had a severe case of heartworm.
He was a frightened, nervous dog. I brought him back to Massachusetts and worked with him diligently for a long time. However, from the start he suffered from colitis. He’d been under my vet’s care from the beginning, but we couldn’t get the colitis completely under control. I purchased a special Science Diet food from the vet, along with pills and a liquid medicine. Nothing worked well. He gained some weight, but seemed uncomfortable all the time.
One day, I happened upon your column and read a letter from someone who had changed their dog’s diet to your special homemade diet with good results. I printed your recipe out, went shopping and began to feed my dog your diet.
It has been 9 months now and he has not had one episode of colitis! My only problem is keeping the amount of food under control–he loves it so much. He hated the Science Diet, both canned and dry.
He is now 16 pounds and looks wonderful. He runs every day for over an hour, is happy and cheerful and I feel I owe it all to you. I’ve made you famous with my dog-walking friends: everyone calls him “Paco the Wonder Dog” because he is now so friendly, listens to every command cheerfully and we all can see he feels great.
D.C., Northampton, MA
DEAR. DR. FOX: I have switched my dogs to your dog food recipe.
My 6-year-old Aussie has arthritis in her knees and legs and was going lame. My vet put her on Rimadyl, but that didn’t help much. Since I have been feeding her your recipe and stopped feeding her dog biscuits, she has dropped 14 pounds and now hardly notices her arthritis.
All my dogs love this recipe and are healthy and happy.
L.B., Eugene, OR
DEAR DR. FOX: I have two dogs.
Holly is 15 years old and ½-Brittany/½-English Springer. I rescued her from being chained to a doghouse when she was 1 year old and she is my best friend.
Delta is a 10-year-old Welsh Springer. She must have a companion or she eats the furniture (she has outlived several). Delta was carefully bred by a wonderful breeder and is very healthy.
Holly, however, has always had skin problems. I put her on the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet (BARF) at an early age, but my vet didn’t approve so I eventually gave up on this. After years of medicines and special baths (which left her with chronic ear infections and smelly, broken-out skin), I went back to bones and raw food.
I make my own dog food. I am not doing the raw wings (like the BARF diet recommends), but I buy ground beef and turkey and mix it with vegetables I have put through the food processor. I add yogurt, flaxseed oil, uncooked oats, garlic and olive oil. I make it into 1-cup patties and give each dog ½ patty, twice a day. They love the food.
They get table scraps like meat and vegetables, but no bread. I’ve eliminated any dog food that has gluten in it (I think Holly has a wheat allergy). Special dog foods like Science Diet weren’t helpful.
Holly’s skin and ears are now perfect!
M.E.C., Fort Myers, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 4-year-old Lab who had constant ear infections. My sister has a good friend who is a Lab breeder and veterinarian and she advised me to change my dog’s food.
I was feeding Science Diet Light (Labs always have weight problems). The vet recommended no beef or chicken, so I switched to Nutru Natural Choice Lamb and only gave him lamb treats. The ear infections cleared up and I had no problems for 2 years, but he gradually gained weight, so I switched to a Light version and he now has no problems with his ears and has lost weight.
My regular vet said he looks good and to continue doing what I’ doing.
S.F.G., Milford, CT
DEAR DR. FOX: I have two small Maltese/Poodle mix dogs, Sonny (14 lbs.) and Cher (8 lbs.), both 4 years old.
For more than a year now, I have been feeding them your fresh food recipe and they are better than ever. The benefits are truly worth the extra effort to make the food once a week. I will never go back to commercial dog foods.
Their faces are no longer constantly wet, the dark discharge from their eyes is much less and their fur has much better texture. They don’t have bad odors any more and are much easier to groom, as before they matted terribly and hated to be groomed.
I have also discontinued giving them once-a-month flea/tick medicine–neither I nor the groomer has seen any evidence of fleas or ticks.
B.J., Alexandria, VA
DEAR DR. FOX: I rescued a Rhodesian ridgeback/Lab mix. She is 3 ½ years old.
A couple of months ago, I noticed she was limping then holding her leg off the ground. I had just started her on a new dog food that was supposed to be the best (one of the Wellness dry foods) and it happened it happened 3 weeks into this new diet. I took her to the vet right away, thinking she had maybe fractured her leg or something. They did X-rays and told me that she did no have hip dysplasia or a fractured or broken bone.
They sent me to an orthopedic specialist to check for fragment ruptures. He palpated the her knees and said, right away, that she needed TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) surgery on both hind legs. I mentioned the change in diet and he said it was just coincidence.
I took her home, did some research and changed her to a dehydrated raw food diet (made by Honest Kitchen) and added chicken breasts. I also gave her the no-grain food made by Evo and added fish oil.
The change in her was nothing short of miraculous! She was off the anti-inflammatory meds with a week. Now, 2 months later, she is taking short jogs with me and running up and down the stairs (which she could barely do before). She is getting stronger every day, so I’ve decided to not go ahead with the surgery. The specialist checked her out and said he could hardly believe the change and that she didn’t need the surgery after all.
D.D., Arlington VA