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From McSkinny to McBlimpy


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Quinn's been off the pred and his other meds, Metronidazole and Sulfalazine, for his Inflammatory Bowel Disease for 10 days. He started a quick transition to from Prescription UD to Sojos European Pre-Mix with cooked turkey at the same time. Today is his one week mark of being 100% on the new food. He also is getting flax oil, 5 supplements and probiotic drops with each meal. He is a happy dog. His poop has gone from soft/gloppy/diarrhea to almost always pretty good and less of it! His exercise tolerance is returning. When I weighed him on Thursday, he had gained over 2 lbs, breaking the 40 lb barrier for the first time in his life at 40.2 lbs. He's 20.5 inches and while I've had numerous people tell me he was too skinny, I was quite fine with his weight though it took a lot of food to keep him at 37 -38 lbs.


Between losing muscle tone when his play went way down for over a month and this weight gain, he feels a little flabby to me but I'll wait to talk to his new holistic vet before making any changes. Also, now that he is able to run and play more, he should get some of his muscle back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we've found the right fix for his ills. He's been known to go for up to a month doing ok on a diet before going back to problems, so that will be an important milestone for us to reach.


Anyway, all the meds not only weren't helping, I think they were making him feel worse. It is so nice to see him fat and sassy, so to speak.

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Great news that Quinn is doing better. Just so you know, though, the added carnitine content of Hill's Prescription u/d might have had something to do with his being so skinny. Our vet put Godiva on Hill's Prescription w/d almost two years ago because of its low fat content to help calm her pancreas, but that food is actually marketed for overweight dogs, and the *super* levels of L-carnitine in there only served to make her thinner than she already was due to her renal failure. When it finally occurred to me to switch over to home-cooked organic food last year, over the following six months, Godiva showed a tremendous improvement both healthwise and energy-wise, and she even gained back 1.5 precious pounds that she desperately needed--she was skin and bones. Plus, she hated the w/d, let alone the u/d, which is further nutrient-restricted than the w/d--multiple vets have told me that most dogs won't even eat the u/d because there's hardly any meat protein in it. Plus, Hill's still puts ethoxyquin/BHA/BHT in their food, so you are definitely doing Quinn a favor just from that standpoint!!! In any case, congratulations again.

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Great news that Quinn is doing better. Just so you know, though, the added carnitine content of Hill's Prescription u/d might have had something to do with his being so skinny.


Oh, I always get my Prescription xD's mixed up. Quinn was on Ultra ZD, not UD. He's always needed a lot of food to keep him at a decent weight even on any of the various premium kibbles he's been on in his life. But I agree that the ZD didn't agree with him. And the pred definitely didn't seem to be agreeing with him. Quinn has never refused any food put in front of him but he's extra, extra thrilled with meals now :rolleyes:


What recipe are you using for Godiva?

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Quinn has never refused any food put in front of him but he's extra, extra thrilled with meals now.

What recipe are you using for Godiva?


Glad to hear Quinn is happier with his food than ever!! :D


The best advice I can give is to get the book called Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative by Donald Strombeck, who is a DVM, in addition to a PhD in nutrition. The first half of the book is extremely dense, and is essentially a very detailed crash course in canine nutrition that is an excellent read for anyone with a dog (admittedly, the book is much more geared towards dogs than cats, although there is some limited specific info about cat nutrition). The second half of the book is entirely devoted to recipes, organized according to normal adult, normal puppy, and then recipes optimized towards pretty much every category of disease (kidney, GI, etc.) The book was quite pricey at $42, but there isn't anything really like it out there (I've also read the Pitcairn book, and I think the Strombeck one is about 300% more detailed), so I signed up for the Amazon credit card just to get the bonus $30 off and then got the book for $12. :rolleyes:


The online files that belong to the K9KidneyDiet Yahoo group are also very useful, and the information there is widely applicable to all dogs, not just CRF dogs (like vitamin/mineral guides, recipes by dog weight, and some very handy online nutritional calculators), so I highly recommend that resource, as well, and best of all, it's free. :D The list is extremely active, though, so watch out if you sign up even for the Daily Digest version of the list messages!


Now, here goes with the rest of what I do!! :D I base everything on the information from the above two sources, but I no longer follow the book recipes verbatim. The most imperative concept for CRF dogs is to maintain a low level of phosphorus and still give moderate protein, so as long as I adhere to that mandate, I'm pretty much okay (btw, the idea that CRF pets could only have low protein diets has since been discounted, except in end-stage renal failure, as new evidence suggests that senior, convalescing, and chronically ill pets actually have higher protein requirements than normal dogs). Keeping low phosphorus levels is often tough, however, since most protein sources are also high in phosphorus, but some meats/dairy are lower in phosphorus than others, and the K9KidneyDiet Yahoo group has some great lists for almost every ingredient imaginable (for example, chicken is relatively low, and cream cheese is very low in phosphorus). I have to give a liquid phosphorus binder with every meal to aid with this (Alternagel), but I give it separately (syringe it down her throat), because she won't touch her food if it is mixed in.


Also, most renal dogs require moderate- to high-fat diets, but because of Godiva's personal past history of pancreatitis, I have to go easy on the fats and oils so as not to flare it up; thus, with moderate protein and moderate to low fat, by necessity, simple and complex carbohydrates actually comprise a large proportion of her nutrition, but I've never had any problems with her and grains...of course, this is just my personal experience.


One other important point is that CRF dogs are essentially immunocompromised, so raw meat/bones are forbidden, even if I wanted to feed them. I do make exceptions for sushi/sashimi, however, since it is of sufficient quality for human raw consumption.


I was also forced to expand upon the Strombeck recipes based on what Godiva will or will not eat on a daily basis, since a major feature of kidney failure is inappetence, and she pretty much won't eat the same food more than two or three meals in a row--and if she misses a meal, she will promptly begin vomiting due to an empty stomach and high stomach acidity (another feature of kidney failure), and this vomiting can be multiple times a day and last a week or more, so it's not like I can just let her go without food because she will "eat when she's hungry"--she literally will starve or dehydrate herself with vomiting first. Reglan, Pepcid, and sucralfate help to protect her stomach and increase her intestinal motility, but they're not foolproof if she's not eating. Thus, I struggle to keep the weight on her, as well, just as you do with Quinn. I give her more food than Mojo gets, even though he's twice as big as her, and she still is skin and bones!


In brief, I try to adhere to all the above points, and then I have the freedom to design each particular meal based on what I can get at the supermarket that day, as long as there is at least one item in each of the following categories:


1. Some type of organic boiled or roasted meat (about a handful, shredded: e.g., roast beef, sirloin, boneless skinless chicken breast, pork chops, lamb chops, ground buffalo, ground turkey, salmon or tuna--cooked or sushi, occasional egg)

2. Some type of organic boiled vegetable (about 1/8 to 1/4 cup: e.g., zucchini, squash, corn, baby spinach, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes)

3. Some type of organic dairy (couple spoonfuls of cottage cheese, cream cheese, or Kefir, a type of probiotic yogurt)

4. Some type of organic grain (about 1/8 to 1/4 cup: boiled white rice, Malt-O-Meal, barley, polenta, couscous)

5. I will also occasionally throw in some fresh diced fruit, like apples, for variety, but this is probably once a week or less.


That will make up one meal, and I offer her a fresh bowl four to six times a day. Four usually ends being what I can get into her, on a good day. Sometimes she finishes all her meals and begs for more, and sometimes she doesn't finish any--it really depends on the day.


Despite what you may be thinking now, all this really isn't as hard as it might sound now that it is all typed out--essentially, I grab whatever's organic and whatever's on sale in a meat, veggie, dairy, and grain! Roasts are great because you can just stick them in the oven for hours and forget about 'em...plus, they're delicious, and all the humans in the house are free to sample it, as well. :D I always, always have freshly cooked meat on hand for her no matter what, but if I have, say, run out of grains or veggies, I keep a stockpile of organic baby food (e.g., Earth's Best Peas and Brown Rice) on hand, and those work as a great substitute for fresh grains/vegetables in a pinch or when I'm in a rush and don't have time to boil a whole pot of stuff.


Then I throw each food group together in approximately a 1 to 2 to 0.5 to 2 ratio, add the supplements (opened human capsules of Co-Q 10, taurine, vitamin B, vitamin E, fish oil that are divided over the course of a day), and there it is.


CRF dogs aren't supposed to get a daily multiple vitamin because excess vitamin A/D can be toxic to the kidneys, but I will give half a tablet every 1.5-2 weeks so that she can get the benefit of the other trace minerals, and also once a week, she gets less than one ounce of fresh or frozen calf's liver (or other similar organ meat) to help supply what vit A and D she does need. Same for water-packed canned sardines and honey, which help with the B vitamins, and tuna, which helps with magnesium.


Admittedly, I do not supplement Godiva with high levels of additional calcium or bone meal, as both Strombeck and the K9KidneyDiet group recommend, because she is also taking calcitriol (prescription activated vitamin D) for her renal failure (controversial new treatment intended to prevent/delay the CRF complication of secondary hyperparathyroidism, but I have found it to be phenomenal in raising her energy levels and keeping her appetite going, as she always seems to be particularly ravenous right after a dose), but its use also means a higher chance of causing hypercalcemia (too high blood levels of calcium) if supplementation is given above what is already naturally contained in food--this is actually the recommendation of Larry Nagode, DVM, who pioneered the treatment of calcitriol in dogs, and I definitely trust what he says. Notably, many people on the K9KidneyDiet list don't use or recommend calcitriol, which is why they insist on maintaining a 2:1 to 3:1 Ca:Phos ratio at all meals. Mojo does get both calcium and a very modest amount of potassium/magnesium supplementation with each meal, and I try to stick with the rec for non-CRF dogs (about 1.3:1).


Any treats I give are natural, organic, or both--I personally like Zuke's (the Hip ones that contain added glucosamine/chondroitin), Plato's Chicken and Plato's Duck strips, and Cloud Star Buddy Treats--somehow, Godiva will always eat these particular ones even if she doesn't feel that well, when many, many, many other treats have failed--and I've tried what must be dozens over the course of this year! Also, as a very, very special treat, I will buy organic beef ribs with stout bones, remove the loose bony ends, flash boil them to kill surface bacteria, and then let the dogs gnaw on and pull apart the medium-rare meat. Godiva can hardly even make a dent in the MEAT in half an hour, but Mojo is the one to watch--he is a sneaky master Bone Cruncher--so I monitor him for the whole (five minutes or less) time it takes him to strip the meat from the bone, and then I take the bone away before he can get himself into trouble. Of course, he then lies down and stares (alternately) longingly/menacingly at Godiva for the rest of the time it takes her to finish her bone, which is extremely pathetic.


Despite the frequency with which I change around her food, interestingly enough, I have found that this variability actually has stabilized Godiva's GI system, rather than upset it further...but I am doing this out of necessity to keep her interested, because it certainly isn't out of convenience! :D I wouldn't try constantly changing food in a dog with known GI sensitivity (like IBD, for example). Then again, when we found out that Mojo had seizures, I took him off Innova and started feeding him small, frequently changed and frequently given home-cooked meals, as well, and even though he had always had lots of gas and constant loose stools on the strictly-Innova twice-a-day diet, changing his ingredients daily or near daily (since I give him what I give Godiva in different quantities with slightly different supplements, with some additional ingredient adjustments to account for some particular ingredients being better for epileptic dogs than others) actually seemed to take care of his digestive issues, as well, for inexplicable reasons. I think whether food is fresh or if it is processed/concentrated has a great effect in determining the level of a dog's ability to process a variety of said food, despite the fact that Innova is among the best of the super-premium holistic kibbles, but of course, I have no scientific evidence to prove this.


Whew, what a can of worms that was! :D I'm glad to type all this out, though, if it helps answer your question. I know that I had to look long and hard for information on home-cooked dog diets and how to balance them nutritionally, particularly in regards to a dog with a specific chronic illness.....nearly all the info out there is on either commercially available dog food (kibble or canned) or raw feeding, and I couldn't/didn't want to do either with Godiva!

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In brief, I try to adhere to all the above points, and then I have the freedom to design each particular meal based on what I can get at the supermarket that day


Wow, Godiva is getting primo care from you! You are incredibly educated and dedicated. She should know how fortunate she is to have someone as devoted to her health and well being as you are. I'm gettting off very easy with using a premix and cooking up turkey every 4 days. It's always been a matter of making sure I fed Quinn enough rather than ever needing to coax him to eat. He inhaled the kibble and now scours container of the new food.


It's amazing what we end up learning when our dogs are sick, isn't it. Thanks for sharing all this information, especially Strombeck's book (I have Pitcairn's). That is something to consider for future purchase. I like the smart use of the $30 off from Amazon. :rolleyes:


I wouldn't try constantly changing food in a dog with known GI sensitivity (like IBD, for example).


I've been wondering about that and I wrote that down as a question to ask when I have my phone consultation with the vet next week. Because I've read that changing the food can be a good thing, especially with the protein source. But I certainly don't want to upset the apple cart right now with how well Quinn is doing.


Thanks again!

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Thanks again!


Hi, Liz! You're very welcome--I'm glad that I helped a little bit. Thank you for the kind words! I just try to do the best I can!! It's really fantastic that Quinn is happier than ever with his new food--a few other people I know have switched from commercial food to home-cooked diets, too, and they all seem to be similarly happy with the results so far.


In any case, best of luck with Quinn once again!

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