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Real Food is the Foundation of Life

February 27th, 2011

Nothing on this planet can grow, live, thrive, or flourish without real food. When we eat real, wholesome, healthy, and natural food, like chicken and vegetable stew, we support every single one of our biological systems at a deep, cellular level and bolster the body’s innate abilities to heal itself and resist disease and degeneration. This holds true for people, plants and animals.

Andi Brown – The Whole Pet Diet

I’ve been reading a few books about cooking for your pet, the one above being my favorite so far. I’ve been wanting to transition our pets to a Real Food diet, so I thought the challenge would be the perfect time to do it.

Lucy already gets homemade food on occasion and she LOVES it. She gets all the venison from the previous year after hunting season fills the freezer with a fresh batch. All the deer offals make it into her bowl as well, she’s particularly fond of these, as are the cats. We also give her raw meaty bones sourced from local pastured beef farm. Lucy is also a big fan of homemade dried squash leather treats and bacon which I make for her.

Even though we feed our pets good quality pet food, it will be interesting to see how the pets do when eating Real Food. I’m sure they’ll be much healthier just like we are when we eat real food instead of processed. We’re also in the process of transitioning Lucy from a synthetic thyroid pill to an herbal one and she seems to be doing much better on it. I think the Real Food diet will really help her with this problem and help her age with fewer problems.

Have you ever made food for your pets?

37 Comments to “Real Food is the Foundation of Life”
  1. farmgal on February 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Yes, I do make homemade food for the hounds, my younger ones are on a mix of good qaulity dog food and fresh food switching every second meal, but my older dogs are on all homemade food, and are much better for it.

    I have a number of dog books for making their food, and I agree the book you have listed above is one of the best, even on dog food meals, the hounds get all the veggie water poured on or bone broth etc, So far to date they are all very healthy.

    Reply to farmgal's comment

  2. K.B. on February 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Define “made” :)

    My dogs eat raw food – raw meat, organs and bones (yes, even chicken bones). No need for cooking, just portioning and feeding. Very easy, and cheaper than high-quality kibble.

    They occasionally get fruit and veggies as snacks (especially if I’m in the garden with them), but the only grains they get are in the occasional “dog biscuit” treat.

    In my opinion, you can’t get more “real” than raw meat, since that’s what carnivores are meant to eat.

    Reply to K.B.'s comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      Lucy loves some raw bones, so does our cat Dexter – the other two cats aren’t fond of it. I agree, raw is great.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Teresa Rawlings on February 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

    The only food I’ve made for my pets are dog treats. My hubby doesn’t hunt anymore and we don’t have any farm animals anymore either.

    I have been wanting to raise a few chickens and a couple of rabbits but just can’t get hubby to agree to it, but I’m not giving up yet. hehe

    Reply to Teresa Rawlings's comment

  4. Jennifer Fisk on February 27, 2011 at 11:16 am

    My 4 German Shepherds eat a commercially prepared raw food which includes veggies and fruits plus a commercial grainless kibble. When I have a chicken for them, they get it raw bones guts and all. Raw is better nutrionally. They love feet as a treat. I have some older hens now that are beginning to look like dog food. I also go to a poultry processor and buy bags of ground meat which consists of backs, organs, necks and I’m not sure what else. Being in the boarding kennel business, I am frequently appalled at some of the commercial foods people innocently feed their dogs. Who in their right mind thinks that corn should be the primary ingredient in dog food?

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      I know – it is appalling! And sadly a lot of people think that people food is bad for dogs. Notice they aren’t called “doggy bags” at restaurants any more, that’s not a coincidence, very sad really. Our pets also get good quality grain free kibble when they’re not eating homemade or raw.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Deb on February 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I’ve been cooking for my dogs for a little more than 3 years now. I too read many books until I found the perfect recipe that they and I could live with. They get a combination of ground turkey or beef combined with brown rice or brown pasta and frozen green beans or peas. Occasionally I will add in sweet potatoes or carrots and maybe some chicken thighs if they are on sale but the basic recipe works for me and them. On the weekends I fix them eggs and toast. I also make sure they have a good quality multi-vitamin daily. My vet was slow coming on board to this new food but has since seen the results and has declared that if it’s working don’t change it. They coats look beautiful, their stools are good and they are so happy when it’s dinner time. They have had no sickness or any other problems. Very rarely their stools are soft because of some unknown thing they have gotten into but that’s also easily fixed with canned pumpkin and a little yogurt. After reading about the sub-grade ingredients in commercial kibble I could never feed this to my dogs again. I’m not into raw, too messy and hard to get. The ingredients I cook are easy to get and often on sale. I make a big batch and freeze it in containers that last about a week, warm it up at meal time and usually have enough for about a month. My dogs are proof that this kind of diet works well.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  6. Katrina on February 27, 2011 at 11:45 am

    My bf’s mother feeds her dogs (1 bulldog and 4 beagles) raw meat as well. Most of the time they get chicken backs and necks. She aslo gives them a homemade kefir, garlic, apple cider vinegar mixture. There are probably some other items in the mixture, but I can’t remember them. :) They all seem to love it and they are very healthy.

    Reply to Katrina's comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Lucy’s a big fan of yogurt and apple cider vinegar for a night time snack.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. melissa on February 27, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    When I had dogs all of their treats were real food. I have a nearly impossible schedule to maintain so preparing meals for large dogs (one of whom weighed 210 pounds and ate 10 cups of premium food a day at his highest growth rate) was out of the question for me (I wanted to though). I no longer have them but I do have four cats and I run up against the same time issue for them. I have them on a really good food that seems to keep everyone happy and healthy so for me it will be a “nice to try someday” project.

    The main thing with cats is to make sure that they get enough protein (their diet has higher protein requirements than dogs) and to supplement with taurine to make sure they get enough (without it they will go blind and eventually die)

    Reply to melissa's comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      I found a place on-line where you can buy frozen mice for a good taurine source for your cat – I be they would LOVE that!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Cam on February 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I don’t have carnivorous pets–I’ve got house rabbits. They get all kinds of veggie scraps from the table and a bit of fruit, too. When I was living in a apartment with a huge untreated lawn, I’d pull dandelions, violets, and clover for them (flowers, stems & leaves–but mostly leaves).

    Some house rabbit people feed rabbits solely hay and fresh veggies, but my bunnies (per the House Rabbit Society recommendations) also get timothy hay pellets (high in fiber, low in protein, etc, too much of which can be harmful for a grazing critter). And they always have timothy hay available to them. We buy bales from local farms or from the farmer’s supply in the winter, when farms aren’t selling.

    Reply to Cam's comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      I’ve always wanted a house rabbit – so cool. When I was a kid we had guineas and we gave them scraps and we’d put them outside in the summer so they could eat grass & clover.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. annie on February 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    We don’t although someday I’d like to. Our dog does however get to eat the scraps and lick all the bowls from our real foods diet so she gets some good extra nutrition. Her favorite whole foods are eggs (scrambled or raw… she licks the bowl/pan after we cook our homegrown pastured eggs), applies, peanut butter, and carrots. Of course she likes all meat and we give her all the beef bones after they’re been cooked for broth.

    Reply to annie's comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Lucy loves eggs too, she often gets them for a night time snack. I sometimes will make her an omelet for dinner with liver, eggs, dandelions & some kelp – she LOVES it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Mary W on February 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Our food progression with Mika was: high quality kibble, homecooked, raw chicken meat and bones, then store-bought frozen raw. Her stomach problems became almost non-existent since switching to raw. Another beneficial side effect is her coat stays soft and non-greasy, so we haven’t needed to bathe her in years. Now if we could only get the cat straightened out . . . .

    Reply to Mary W's comment

    • Susy on February 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      Cats are more difficult aren’t they. I have one that I know will be a huge problem. Actually they’re all sitting right near me, one on the desk, one on the arm of chair, and one at my feet because I put some oil blend on their food and they want fresh without the oil – I guess when they’re hungry enough they’ll eat it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. stacy on February 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve been cooking for my dog for probably 5 years. Also did the raw food diet for her when she was pregnant. She had a litter of 11 puppies…easy pregnancy…easy birth…all pups were very healthy. I make a big crockpot full for her about once a week and bag it up to put in fridge. Also, sometimes cook for my cats (ages 12 and 16) but supplement with commercial food because I worry about the whole taurine thing.

    Reply to stacy's comment

  12. sarah on February 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    My mom feeds her cats pureed chicken livers that she cooks – I have no idea if it’s good for them, but it’s always really grossed me out.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about how to do this with a cat. Dogs seem easy… my cat is picky and doesn’t eat meat if we give it to her (she tries to bury it instead). The only people-food she likes is butter, cream cheese (we only know this because she’ll lick it off a bagel if we leave it sitting around) and olives. I don’t think it would be healthy for her to live off cream cheese and olives!

    Reply to sarah's comment

  13. Wendy on February 28, 2011 at 1:02 am

    We fed our dog a homemade mixture of oats, venison, and pinto beans, making it in large batches and storing it in the freezer. We added other oils like wheat germ oil, flax, etc. according to a friend’s recommendations/experience. We first started doing this to eliminate his itching/allergy problems, but also found it to be a big money saver, too!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  14. MAYBELLINE on February 28, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Ajax gets roasted chicken each morning supplementing his dry dog food. No wheat or any other grains except for the occasional popcorn. Who can resist popcorn?

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  15. Sincerely, Emily on February 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I am joining in the Real Food Challenge. I have not made any food for our cats, although it is something I have thought about. I look forward to your posts on it. Right now I will concentrate on the adult area of real food concentrating on finding more local foods. Our cats are important to us and I need to think about them also. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  16. Lee on February 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I got this recipe online that requires only chicken, rice, carrot and water. In my opinion it was pretty good but my cats didn’t like it at all. Some ate it a little but most didn’t care for it. I made a big batch too and didn’t want to throw it away so I added a bit of salt and pepper and ate it myself, for days. I actually liked it. :-) Does anybody know of a good cat food recipe?

    Reply to Lee's comment

    • Susy on February 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      I’m going to be working on one for this challenge so I’ll let you know. I have one cat that can be really picky – but I’m guessing if she gets hungry enough she’ll eat it :)

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Lee on March 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm

        Thanks Susy.

        to Lee's comment

    • Carrie on March 1, 2011 at 12:15 am

      You actually don’t need rice or any grains for your pet’s food. I just give my cats a few chicken wings/drummies, turkey neck/backs, or chicken thighs. They love them! Once a week they get beef liver or chicken hearts, whichever is cheaper when I am getting groceries. No cooking required!

      Reply to Carrie's comment

      • Lee on March 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm

        Thanks for the link. Is it safe to give the cats raw chicken? I’m worried about salmonella. I was also told not to give chicken bones to cats because they might choke on small pieces of bones. Am I worrying too much? HAHA

        to Lee's comment

      • Carrie on March 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

        Yes, it is completely fine to give cats (and dogs) raw chicken. In fact, raw food is better than cooked for your pets. And it saves YOU time since you won’t have to prepare it. Its only COOKED chicken bones that pose problems, the raw bones are great for calcium and other nutrients and keeps those teeth spanky clean. Generally, my cats eat up their meals quickly so the chicken doesn’t ever sit out too long. Once they are done, I wipe the floor with some diluted bleach and all is well. I also supplement my cats’ diets with taurine. And with any pet, you should make sure to feed about 80% meaty bones and 20% organs, to keep their diets balanced.

        to Carrie's comment

  17. Carrie on March 1, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Raw food is the best! I buy my chicken parts in bulk and spend an afternoon portioning and bagging all the parts for my kitties. Let me tell you, the change in their attitude and health is amazing. I have a cat who is allergic to corn and even the best dry foods still made him sick, so the switch to raw was worth it just for his improved health alone. Switching my older cats was hard, but you just have to keep at it and keep trying different stuff on them. Chicken wings are a big hit in my house and this summer we gave them fish we caught from a near by lake. has some great info on getting older kitties switched over.

    OH! And when you get your puppers switched over to raw, raw poop rocks! I realize this is a weird thing to say, but seriously!

    Reply to Carrie's comment

    • Susy on March 1, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Thanks for the link, I’ll head on over there and read up.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  18. Jackie on March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Squash leather? Do tell!

    Reply to Jackie's comment

  19. diane on March 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Absolutely! Home cooked food for my two golden retrievers has been great for them. They smell good, poop less, and aren’t eating mystery ingredients (from me anyway). I’ve been doing it for the last few years. Although if I can’t find the time, sometimes they get store bought stuff for a week until I can catch up.

    I have it down to a routine – everything (ground turkey, brown rice, green vegetables, sweet potatoes or carrots, and water) cooks in a covered roaster in the oven – or – a big crockpot. I don’t have to watch it really, its done when the rice is well cooked. Then we portion it out into reusable food storage containers and fridge or freeze it. The dogs eat from the containers, so cleaning up is super easy, the dishes just go in the dishwasher.

    Another trick I have discovered is that plain yogurt is really good for them. My dogs get ear infections pretty easy, and hot spots on their bellies in the summer – like a yeast thing. Meds from the vet don’t work very well, but feeding them a bit of yogurt works like a charm. In a day or two they’re always back to normal.

    Glad to read others are concerned about this too. Best of luck to all!

    Reply to diane's comment

  20. Lynn Miller on March 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I would like to know what herbal thyroid pill you are using for Lucy…thank you very much!

    Reply to Lynn Miller's comment

    • Susy on March 5, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      For our dog with thyroid problems we now have her on the Thyro-Up from Pet Wellbeing they have a large variety of herbal products. We also have her on the Gaia Herbs Thyroid Support from Mountain Rose Herbs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Lynn Miller on March 23, 2011 at 3:49 am

        thank you for your reply :)

        to Lynn Miller's comment

      • Blar French on August 6, 2014 at 5:59 pm

        Hey Susy,

        I know you wrote this comment a while ago but just wanted to give an update.

        Thyro Up is actually a product of NHV Natutal Pet Products. They use to sell through Pet Wellbeing, but was able to track down their site here. They have a bunch of great natural pet products.

        to Blar French's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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