perry

Part of adopting a rescue dog is that most of the time you never really know what you are getting. Rescue groups generally post a description of the dog and breed but most times this is just their best guess. When we were looking for a dog we knew we wanted a hound but we were concerned about their tendency to wander and follow their noses. When we found Etta it was a perfect combination: Hound and Lab. She has all the scenting instincts of a hound but it is tempered by the train-ability and loyalty of the lab… Or so we think! In our situation we were able to see pictures of both of her parents. Etta was born in her foster so we had a good amount of information about her family background but even so, her parents are also both mutts so we cannot ever really be sure.

Here are the pictures of her mom and dad. We think her mom, Tess is a Treeing Walker Coonhound with a little beagle mixed in and her dad, Perry is a black lab mixed with who knows what! He is almost all black but has a little brindle on his legs. Maybe one day we will try a DNA test to see what else is in the mix!

 

 

 

Perry is still up for adoption! Please do let me know if you are interested!

 

– Roxanne

 

catnotimpressed

 

Getting ready to bring Etta home was painfully exciting but also  full of unknowns and second guesses; would she like the treats I already got for her, what toy would be best, what size crate will she need? There were lots of questions indeed! In order to be fully prepared I did a lot of research and came up with a long list of items that I felt would be essential for a new puppy:

  • A crate that would be big enough for her as an adult.( I made sure to get one with a divider so that I could make the space smaller for her current size).
  • A crate mat
  •  Food and water bowls
  •  Anti-Icky-Poo (this is en enzymatic cleaner for mistakes. If you use regular home clearner the scent will linger and they pup may think areas where they have previously made mistakes are open to future mistakes!)
  • A collar
  • Identification tags
  • Lead
  • A few chews to keep her busy (Bully Sticks, Scapulas, Pig ears etc.)
  • Small training treats
  • Some squeaky toys
  • Frozen raw food
  • Poop bags

This is a list of the essentials I wanted to have on hand before she arrived. The identification tags are especially important as your rescue may or may not already have them. Rescues can be unpredictable and if she would have managed to wriggle away from us somehow, I certainly would want some way of being able to find her again. I brought her new collar, with tags, when we went to pick her up. Preparing your home by taping down or hiding any exposed electrical cords, moving any household chemicals out of reach and blocking off stairwells is another important puppy proofing consideration.

The crate was another important decision. My husband and I were going to pursue crate training her, as we felt it was the safest place for her to be at night or if we had errands to run. We got a wire crate from Go-Go. The crate was easy to set up and felt sturdy. When we first brought her into the house, we put some treats inside the crate and opened the door. Etta seemed to know what the crate was all about and went right in. She made it easy for us and took the crate without much training at all. Night time was another story! The crate was in the kitchen (we wanted it to be in a high traffic area where she could see all the goings on in the house) and when we put Etta in for the night and went downstairs to our bedroom, the howling began and yes, Etta has the typical hound bay! This howling would go on for at least half an hour. It was very hard to resist going to sooth her. In theory if you crate train properly and do not reinforce the whining it should stop and your pet should be able to settle. Etta began to wake up and howl in the night at random intervals. We would take her out to pee and then the howling would start again. It was getting hard to sleep…

At this point a friend recommended putting the crate in our room so she could feel close to us. We were skeptical and had been trying to avoid having her in our room BUT we tried it. It was MIRACULOUS! There was no more whining. Not even a peep! She began sleeping through the whole night without any problems. Phew! After two weeks we moved the crate into the room next to ours. Etta was fine with this and continued to sleep through the night. Going forward we will probably get her a dog bed and have her sleep outside the crate. This step will have to wait until she is 99% reliable with potty training.

We also used the crate to introduce Etta to the cat, Ella (yes, those are their names!). Ella has been with us for over 2 years and had not had much exposure to dogs. She was curious and came and sniffed at Etta while she was in the crate. Etta was nice and calm (probably exhausted) and that helped the cat feel safe. We made sure that Ella had places she could go to escape the dog if need be. This is very important when you bring a new pet into a home with an existing cat. You never want the cat to feel cornered. Etta and Ella are still working on becoming friends. Etta wants to play with her all the time but Ella is not quite ready for that. Etta is good at respecting the cat’s space when she starts to hiss. My hope is that they will eventually be buddies and playmates, but that is ultimately up to them.

If you are thinking about bringing a new puppy or adult dog into your home do not hesitate to come in and ask us questions. We are happy to help and love to share in that new pet excitement!

 

– Roxanne

ettababy3

Happy Saturday everyone!

We have had Etta with us now for a little over a month. It is crazy how it feels like she has been a part of our family forever and still feels brand new at the same time. Getting a dog was something we have wanted for a long time. We knew we wanted a mid to large size dog but we lived in small apartments in Portland and did not feel like adding a dog to such a small space was a good idea. When we were able to move into a home with a large yard adopting a dog was nearly the first task on the list!

For months before our move date I would sift through the ads on numerous online pet listings as well as the local shelters and Craigslist. I will admit I was a bit obsessive about it. There were so many options and so many cute little faces needing homes, but one stood out. Etta was listed on Petfinder. Once we had a solid move date I contacted her rescue and transport, Pooches on the Move, and got the ball rolling. Etta was listed as being in New Hampshire but when I spoke with her rescue I learned that she was actually in Tennessee. Many rescue groups who transport dogs will cross list them in this manner. I was sad and a little concerned that we would not get to visit her before committing to adopting her since she was so far away. I talked a lot with her foster mom to get an idea of her personality, how she was with cats, seeing as we already had a 2 year old cat that we had adopted from H.A.R.T, and how she interacted with her siblings and other dogs. Etta’s situation was a little different than most rescue dogs; her mother and father had been surrendered when their family came upon hard times. The rescue group did not know that her mom was pregnant so Etta and her sister Abby were a surprise! We were happy to know that Etta was being raised in a home with kids and other dogs and would be able to learn some good puppy lessons from her mom. We attribute that fact that she is so well behaved now to having been able to stay with her litter mates and mother for the first four months of her life.

Once we had decided that Etta (Originally named Sparkles by her 10 year old human sister!) was the one for us we filled out a lengthy application and spoke again with the foster mom and the transport group. They approved our application and we paid the adoption fee by Paypal. Fees can range anywhere from $100 to $500. Generally the younger dogs will have higher adoption fees to encourage folks to adopt older dogs needing homes.

At this point we were still 3 weeks out from out move date, but the timing worked out well as Etta still needed another set of shots. The regulations for transporting animals across state lines vary by state and some have an age limit below which they will not allow puppies to be transported. A week before the dog is to be transported she will need to see a vet and be given a clean bill of health. This is where we ran into some trouble with Etta! Etta had come down with kennel cough and her arrival in Maine would have to be delayed a week. We were extremely upset since we had so been looking forward to meeting her. It was really for the best as kennel cough is extremely contagious and it would have put all other dogs on the transport at risk.

A week later Etta had a clean bill of health and embarked on the long , non-stop journey from Tennessee to New Hampshire. When Etta arrived in NH she was picked up by a Maine based volunteer and brought to Portland where we picked her up.

Etta was so cute but also VERY skittish and timid. She was a trooper on the ride to our house and was such a good pup right off the bat. Etta remains timid of people and unfamiliar places but we are working on it and seeing improvements. Next time around I will talk a bit more about bringing her home for the first time and helping her get settled in her new family.

 

Here are some photos that were on Etta’s Petfinder listing when she was just a wee thing!

 

 

If you are looking to adopt an animal please consider these great resources:

Almost Home Rescue

Animal Refuge League

Homeless Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T)

Greater Androscoggin Humane Society

 

Roxanne

 

 

Hello Again!

This week is all about food. Etta has been settling in well and we are working on fine tuning her diet. Since bringing her home we have come to learn that she can be quite discerning in her tastes so we have had to up the anti on training treats, to keep her motivated. We have also been rotating in new flavors of food to keep her interested and gaining weight.

When we adopted Etta she had been on a generic puppy chow diet. After some deliberation I chose to switch her to Stella & Chewy’s frozen, raw dinners right away. She took to the raw food without any hesitation. She eats approximately 2.5 8 oz. patties a day. I used the handy feeding calculator on the Stella & Chewy’s website to gauge how much she should be getting (she weighs 18 lbs.). Of course, no dog or cat is alike so I watched her eating and made changes as necessary according to how much she actually ate. Etta did have some loose stool so I added a little Nummy Tum Tum pumpkin into her food. The fibrous pumpkin helps with her digestion and I saw improvement within a day. It is often advised to change a puppy’s food slowly to avoid diarrhea. Had Etta’s poops not improved I would have taken a step back and started mixing in her original puppy food.

Right now Etta is eating the chicken dinner but I think I will change her to the lamb formula. I am noticing that she has very sensitive skin so I want to make sure she isn’t allergic to chicken, a very common allergy for dogs. At meal time I am also adding Grizzly Salmon Oil to her food. This Omega-3 rich oil is terrific for immune support (especially important for puppies and dogs coming from shelters & rescues), joint support and maintaining a healthy skin and coat.

Aside from her regular 3 meals a day (always on a schedule, puppies love schedules!) Etta gets plenty of tiny training treats and a couple of good chew sessions with her Bully stick or a Bison scapula (she loves these!). I have also incorporated a bit of training into meal time; when I am ready to put her food bowl down I tell her to sit. I praise her as she maintains the sit while I slowly lower the bowl. If she moves from her sit I move the bowl back up until she sits down again, I praise some more while I lower the bowl again. The goal is to have her sit quietly, with the full food bowl on the ground, until I say “Okay!” It only took about 2 days for her to be able to do this 98% of the time. We learned about this technique at our puppy class at Tree Frog Farms dog training and agility.

Switching to raw food can seem daunting and a little mysterious but it is actually very simple. I feed both Etta and Ella (the 2 year old Maine Coon mix cat) the same food. I thaw it the night before (or stick it in the microwave if I forgot!) and simply divide it up between then two of them in appropriate portions.  Ella eats like a voracious beast so I never worry about her finishing her food, but Etta has proved to be a bit more picky. I leave her food out for 15 minutes. Whatever isn’t eaten gets covered and goes back in the fridge. I put the food back out again at the next meal time.

Thanks for checking in with us again, and as promised, next time I will tell Etta’s rescue story!

Roxanne

 

ettasleep

Welcome the inaugural edition of the Puppy Diaries! In this series I will be writing all about the ins and outs of adopting a puppy. My goal is to share our learning process with you, talk about the how we went about adopting a rescue pup and share any tips we learn along the way.

I have been attempting to write this post for a few days now but, I have discovered that when you bring a puppy into your life, your time becomes about feeding, walking, napping, pooping, peeing and playing with little space left for quiet blogging time! Never the less, I have carved out a few moments while the pup is at home with her human dad, so without further a due, let me introduce you to Etta Mae:

Etta is a 4 month old Hound / Black Lab mix who hails originally from Tennessee. We found her on an online pet search and contacted her rescue to start the process. I will talk more in another post about the entire adoption process since it is quite involved (as it should be for such a big responsibility!) We have had her now for 10 days and she is doing remarkably well. Her foster home was in a rural area so she is very timid when we come into the Old Port. I am doing all I can to expose her to new situations, people and animals without taxing her too much. Having her behind the counter at Fetch has been great for her; she gets to meet all of our wonderful customers and their furry companions. She may not be ready to run up and accept treats and pets from everyone but she is coming along slowly but surely, so do make sure to say hi if you stop in.

Be sure to check back in. I will be talking about what I am feeding her, puppy class, her favorite treats and all the other fun stuff that comes along with adopting a little furry life.

Roxanne

 

Late on Friday night, Diamond Pet Foods issued a voluntary recall on dry dog foods manufactured in their South Carolina plant with ‘best by’ dates of December 9, 2012 through April 7, 2013.

Several other brands have since issued preventative recalls as well.  The reason for the recalls is contamination by salmonella. 14 people so far, including one person as close as Connecticut, have been diagnosed with salmonella.  For a description of symptoms of salmonella infection, read here.

Important:  If you buy any of the brands listed in the recalls, click the link for details. If you have any of the recalled batches, return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

Diamond Pet Foods Recall:

 

Other Recalls:
Canidae  ALS, Chicken & Rice, Lamb & Rice, Platinum

We’ll keep you informed of updates.  Recalls, when they happen, usually come in multiple rounds.  To be continued….

We’re running a contest, and for a buck (all of which goes to the Animal Refuge League), you can enter to win a pot of gold!

Yes, gold. Well, what gold is to some dogs that is.

Our pot o’gold is a bucket of brand-new, dog-friendly, fuzzy, bouncy tennis balls. And we’re giving one away in each of our two stores (Fetch and the Fish & Bone in Boston). All you need to do is stop by either store anytime during the month of March 2012 and buy a chance (each chance costs $1) to guess how many there are in this bucket (pictured) of tennis balls. Easy you say? Well we tried to figure it out in advance by computing the volume of the bucket, and dividing by the volume of a tennis ball, and even though we’ve got all the dimensions we weren’t even close.

So guess away! Buy as many guesses as you like, $1 a piece. Every dime of the proceeds go to a local animal shelter or animal care fund. Every dime from the contest at Fetch goes to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. Multiple correct guessers will be put in a random drawing, with one winner drawn for each store at the end. The winner gets all the tennis balls in the pot. Anyone is welcome to buy a guess, other than employees of Fish & Bone or Fetch and their families. May the luck of the Irish be with you!

The Pancreas in a Dog

Zip has had two bouts of pancreatitis, once, in an instance of worst-timing-possible, while I was away on a silent retreat with no phone or internet access.  He’s now 11 yrs old, and thriving, as near as anyone can tell, as he looks and moves like a much younger pug.  I manage his health with the assumption that the most important thing to watch is the pancreatitis.  Watching that also keeps his weight low, which is a factor in longevity.

The Pancreas in a Dog

I’ve been reading up on pancreatitis again, both because I’ve noticed how recommendations can change in the nutritional world – or how we often are given contradictory guidance (eg, one vet told me that protein is as important to watch as fat, and no other vet I’ve talked to has agreed – in fact I’ve read elsewhere that low protein diets, due to the necessarily high starch content, are a trigger) – and because one of our favorite customers, Max the chocolate labradoodle, has just been diagnosed & I want to be sure to give the best advice I can.

What causes pancreatitis?  Most sources agree on a short list of possibles:

– genetic predisposition

– sudden overload of high fat food (especially around holidays when dogs are given say the skin from the roast turkey)

– hyperlipidemia, or high fat levels in the blood

– hypercalcemia, or high calcium blood levels

– trauma, as in getting hit by a car

– bacterial infection/contaminated food or water

– corticosteroids (eg Prednisone)

– pesticides & some chemical flea & tick products

– concurrent diseases (like Cushings)

– overvaccinating

Generally, keeping the fat content low (low is usually considered no more than 10% dry matter) is recommended for dogs with a history of pancreatitis.  Most sources add that once a dog has recovered from an acute episode, he or she may be able to return to their normal (ie not necessarily low fat) diet.  When Zip had his second acute episode, I followed orders and put him on a chicken and rice diet with half the amount of chicken and double the rice.  He broke out in hives all over his back…the vet had never seen such a reaction, and from that point on, I’ve been careful of his exposure to grains.  Chicken he’s fine with, but that much white rice was clearly a problem.  Zip gets a lean raw diet that rotates.   Right now, he’s on Nature’s Variety Instinct Bison Medallions.  I also use rabbit and the venison, and mix them with Honest Kitchen Preference as a base to lower the overall fat content. Sometimes he’ll get cooked meat & vegetables, but I prefer raw for him as he appears to digest it best, he doesn’t put on weight, he isn’t itchy, his coat/eyes gleam, and I like the water content.  And he isn’t bothered by the grains.  I also supplement with Wholistic Pet Canine Complete Joint Mobility, mixed with Nupro for taste.  And I add Wholistic Pet Wild, Deep Sea Salmon Oil.  While salmon oil is fat, fish body oil lowers blood lipids, and has numerous benefits to the immune system, heart, brain, eyes and skin/coat.  Note that the fat content, adjusted to dry matter basis, is almost 25%, which is normal.  I get his blood tested every 6 months to a year, and his pancreatic enzymes are great.  So it could be a matter of what kind of fat, and how much food is fed per meal (I don’t give him the recommended amount; I cut back and add more vegetable content).

With rabbit, venison and bison being the most lean in pet foods (surprisingly, raw chicken diets by Nature’s Variety are higher in fat; I believe it’s the amount of skin that must get ground in), I took a look at some options to get the fat down to about 10% dry matter.  Remember that with a lower fat diet, you have to feed more to get the same amount of calories, especially for an active dog like Max.  So the following are just suggestions for you to follow up on, considering your dog’s caloric needs and the ingredients involved:

Blue Buffalo Senior …..chicken the #1 ingredient (but then when taking out the water content, would likely be lower…however it’s supplemented with chicken meal), fat at 8%, 8,8% adjusted to dry matter.  I’d rotate this one in.

Nature’s Variety Prairie Venison ….fat is at 15.5% dry matter, considered moderate rather than low…but look at the ingredients.  Venison first, then millet (a very high quality grain source for protein)

Natural Balance Ultra Reduced  …..note the large amount of grain and potato; fat at 8% but probably a little closer to 10% after moisture (moisture% not given)

Innova Low Fat Adult …..I like the ingredients better on this one. Fat at 7%, adjusted to dry matter about 8%.  I’d rotate this in too.

Canidae Platinum (Senior/Low Fat) …..Canidae performs very well, but there’s a lot of grain and potato before the 2nd, 3rd and 4th protein sources.  Fat, at dry matter, 9.4%.

When doing your own research, filter heavily articles that recommend specific prescription foods (Hill’s Prescription Diets for instance).  I found these articles to be really helpful:

Healthy Low-Fat Diets for Dogs with Special Dietary Needs

Canine Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis (B-Naturals Newsletter)

 

 

Itchy Dog

Well there’s one good thing about the New England cold spring seasons, and it’s that bugs lay dormant that much longer.  As soon as the temperatures climb, it’s time to figure out your plan for flea and tick prevention.  All dog owners should be thinking about heartworm prevention too.  Heartworm preventative works retroactively remember; it kills any larvae that exist in your dog already.  Many of us only give heartworm preventative during the warm months (looking backward one month, the daily temperature is 70 degrees or above).  If you don’t use a year round heartworm preventative you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your vet for a heartworm test, and you can pick up the preventative at the same time.

 

As far as fleas and ticks, you’ve got some choices to make.  At Fetch/Fish & Bone, we try to help you support your pet’s health holistically first, and if that isn’t what you are looking for, then (in the world of flea and tick prevention anyway) we have the big guns for you as well (Frontline and Advantix).  However, keep in mind that a chemical product all by itself often doesn’t work!  For flea and tick prevention, whether you go all-natural or chemical, you really need to think in terms of multiple layers of defense.  Best defense is to use as many layers as possible.  All of the products mentioned below (except for diatomaceous earth) are available in our stores, over the phone, and within a month or two, on Fish & Bone’s new website.

Itchy Dog

First layer of defense:  protect the immune system with a natural diet that is appropriate for your pet.  Foods with low quality ingredients, or that have artificial preservatives, dyes and flavors wear down the immune system.  Why is that relevant?  Because fleas and ticks are parasites, and they seek out weak ‘hosts’ before healthy ones.  The weaker your animal is, the more susceptible he or she is to being a target for fleas and ticks, and mosquitoes too.  Come visit either store and make my day by asking me if we can talk about pet food J

 

Second layer:  Supplement a healthy base diet with an anti-oxidant rich vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid supplement that will further strengthen the immune system (you should actually be adding this to your pet’s food year round); and with a supplement specifically designed to repel fleas and ticks.

 

Essential fatty acids are important to protect skin cells, which are irritated by flea bites.  Many times the ‘itch’ is caused by an allergic reaction to a flea bite, rather than the fleas themselves.  Help minimize the itch by lubricating the skin cells from the inside out.  The EFAs in fish oil are ‘long chain’ fatty acids, and are better absorbed by dogs than flax oil.  Don’t bother with capsules unless you can’t get your pet to take fish oil straight; remember, you are paying for that extra step of making the gel caps.  And with oils, you get what you pay for.  Cheap oils may be heavy with mercury and PCBs, and they can be rancid or oxidized from exposure to too much heat in transport or storage.  Rancid oils smell bad; never use an oil that smells bad.  For my dog Zip, I use Wholistic Pet Salmon Oil or Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil.  Why those two brands? Because both companies are clear about the purity and handling of their oils.  Neither are fishy-smelling. The Wholistic Pet is more viscous, and it’s pink; the Nordic Naturals is clear and a little bit thinner.  Prices similar.  I love both companies.  Local- and regional-vores, Wholistic Pet is a New Hampshire company J.

 

This is our first year selling Earth Animal’s Healthy Powder (also in tablets, and yeast-free Herbal Powder) but I am expecting great results.  Dr. Sue & Bob Goldstein, the vets behind the label, have been holistic vets for a long time.  Their Healthy Powder shifts the blood chemistry (B vitamins, selenium) to not only support the immune system but also to make the blood ‘bitter’ to biting insects.  I’m using the Healthy Powder on Zip too.

 

Third layer:  choose a potent natural flea and tick (and mosquito too while you are at it) repellent.  Ingredients like neem, eucalyptus, rosemary, erigeron, rose geranium, cedarwood and tea tree oil are some of the active ingredients to look for.   My go-to repellent is Quantum Herbal Products because they are very clear about their manufacturing process (6 month distillation of essential oils), and they are so un-marketing oriented.  I’ve been using it for 10 years now.  It’s also highly recommended by Dr. Martin Goldstein (you may have seen him on Martha).  Ark Naturals, and Buzz-Off are also great picks. I’ve just brought in Earth Animal’s flea and tick repellant, and I trust it’s as good as Quantum unless I hear otherwise.  Most products will last a couple of days between application, but I always re-apply, especially to legs, neck, belly and hindquarters, before walking in high grass or in woods.   Or the Shoo Tag, which alters the magnetic field around your pet (or you…there are Shoo Tags for people too) to repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.  Seriously.  We brought in the Shoo Tag based on customer testimonial; and, there’s a guarantee on the tag.  If you are not satisfied for any reason, you can return it to the manufacturer for a full refund (one per household).  I’m going to try one this year.

 

Fourth layer:  Shampoo as needed with a natural flea and tick repelling shampoo, or use your usual shampoo and follow with a natural spray or an herbal dip like Cloud Nine by Halo.   Soapy water removes fleas and their eggs, and kills them by washing them drown the drain.  Be careful about shampooing too often as that can cause more itch by drying out the dermis.

 

Fifth layer:  monitor the situation by brushing and flea combing regularly.  You will see how well your flea and tick prevention plan is going by penetrating the coat, and you can physically remove any fleas and ticks.  You’ll need a few good tools: a brush and comb, and tick remover.  Everyone absolutely needs a flea comb.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  The teeth need to be extremely tightly spaced though, and it helps if the comb is stainless, or white or pale in color, so that the little black buggers will show up easily.  Ticks, too, are tiny before they have eaten and become engorged.  Brush thick coats first, outside preferably, or in the garage.  It’ll be easier to follow up with the flea comb.  When flea combing it’s a good idea to have a bowl of soapy water nearby.  After every pass of the comb, dunk it in the soapy water. Why?  Because the soap changes the surface tension of the water, and the fleas will fall in the bowl and drown.  If you come across an attached tick, use a tick remover tool rather than tweezers.  The tweezers can leave the head intact, and you want the whole tick to come off your animal.   Once you have removed the tick, if you are concerned that it might be a deer tick carrying Lyme’s Disease, you can save it in a ziplock baggie and send it to Maine Medical Center’s Disease Lab for testing.

 

Sixth layer:  wash pet bedding often in hot soapy water, and vacuum more than usual.  When vacuuming, you can place an inexpensive chemical flea collar in the vacuum bag to kill any ticks, fleas or eggs that have been sucked up; otherwise, you will need to throw away the bag each time to ensure you aren’t providing a nice spawning ground for parasites in your vacuum.

 

Seventh layer:  Line thresholds to outside doors, and the perimeter of warm, moist rooms like the bathroom (which fleas prefer) with diatomaceous earth.  DE is made up of the skeletons of diatoms (one-celled creatures).  The skeletons are microscopically thorny, and they puncture the exoskeletons of all kinds of insects.  Once the buggers have come in contact with the DE, they slowly dehydrate and die.  It’s not a quick fix, but it does interrupt the life cycle; and it’s safe for allergic households.  If you use DE, be careful not to shake it into the air; it can scratch the esophagus if inhaled.  You can buy DE at natural gardening centers.

To Cook or Not to Cook?

To Cook or Not to Cook?I’m a fan of Timothy Ferriss.    He’s a radical self-experimenter with a sense of humor and a basher of popular assumptions.  Some people can’t stand the guy but I think they must just be envious; who wouldn’t be?  Regardless I wouldn’t have expected to come across Pottenger‘s cat study in his new book.

Pottenger studied the efficacy of synthetic hormones in cats whose adrenal glands had been removed for that purpose (he was making the hormone, and needed to see how well the hormones worked in keeping the cats, glands removed, alive).  By chance, he started feeding some of the labratory cats raw meat/bones/organs/connective tissue.  The basic diet was the same for all the cats:  meat (raw or cooked), milk (raw or pasteurized), and cod liver oil.  The only (and, it turns out, very significant) difference in their diets was the raw v. cooked.  The raw-fed cats thrived; the cooked/pasteurized-fed cats had high rates of death, disease, and infertility.

The one important aspect that doesn’t always get mentioned when the study is quoted, though, is that taurine, which a cat can’t live without, is heat-sensitive.  So the cats with the raw diets had a big leg up over the other cats simply by virtue of having their taurine needs met.  This wasn’t known at the time of the study (early 1900s).  Nowadays pet food manufacturers add the taurine after the food is cooked, and there are oodles of cats that seem to do well enough on a high-quality canned or dry.

But this study is worth looking into.  I’m going to order the book from Longfellow Books next.  Definitely deserves a place on the shelf.