How Do My Dogs Look On Their Low Carb Diet?

Long-time reader and low carber Paul Abrinko asks: Re: dogs, Dana, I'm curious: how trim do your dogs look on their low-carb diet? How's their health? What about their teeth? I see so many obese dogs here in SF, and although I don't have dogs anymore, I cringe to think of all the fancy, "scientific formula" dog food I used to feed them, filled with rice meal. It made them hungry all the time and led to to very poor dental health, even though the vet told me that kibble was good for their teeth.

My dogs look wonderful, thanks! I'm too technically illiterate to know how to get photos from my phone to my blog -- I can do photos to FB, but not here -- but when TNBIM gets home I'll post photos if you like.

* Jed the Hero Dog is nearly 12, and still has a waist and shiny, clean, strong teeth. He does have some arthritis, but aspirin, cod liver oil, bromelain, curcumin, and DLPA seem to be helping with that.

* It's Dexter the Pug's birthday today. I believe he's turning 7. He is possibly the only 7 year old pug in the world with a waist, and still athletic enough to leap up on the couch and climb up to the back -- his favorite perch -- and to climb up to graze on the dining room table. (:-/)

* Gracie the Beagle was already old when she showed up in the yard a year ago. Her bad diet showed in her generally poor condition, and in particular her incredibly rotten teeth and foul breath. A year of real food has certainly given her more energy and a shinier coat, and while it hasn't fixed her teeth, her breath is now okay, indicating that her gums are good, and nothing's rotting anymore. She was actually too thin when she wandered in; she's now a healthy weight.

They get cottage cheese and raw eggs for breakfast most mornings, and this time of year they get raw venison bones for dinner. (Hard on the carpets, but very good for the dogs.) Out of deer season, I buy chicken backs in 40 lb case lots, usually three cases at a time, and freeze them in one or two day quantities. I have a helluva lot of freezer space.

Yes, we feed whole chicken backs, bones, skin, marrow and all. I know you've been told that chicken bones are dangerous, but according to veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, epicenter of the BARF movement (Bones and Raw Food), it's cooked chicken bones that are dangerous. Because chickens are slaughtered at about 3 months, the raw ones are actually pretty soft, and dogs can eat them. Certainly my dogs have had no trouble.

We do whack the chicken backs up for the two small dogs. It's not that they can't chew them up, it's that they don't want to take the time, and having done the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog -- it worked -- I don't care to have to do it again. So I use a big, scary, serial-killer meat cleaver to whack 'em up. Jed just gets a few backs, whole; never has a problem.

If I'm having a handful of nuts they often get a few, and Dexter is downright kinky for cauliflower; I can't cut it up without sharing. He also loves asparagus and canned pumpkin. But our favorite dog treat is pork rinds -- cheap, nutritious, loaded with gelatin for their joints, no additives, and they adore them. Beats the heck out of Pupperoni, Beggin' Strips, or Snausages.

Except for the cost of buying and running freezers, I believe I spend less on dog food than most people, especially people who buy "good" dog food at the pet store or the vet. The chicken backs run me something like 20-25c/pound at the poultry processor -- I do have to drive up to Indianapolis -- and I get deer bones for free at the deer processor. Since we have chickens, we get ridiculous numbers of eggs in the summer -- when we don't have to pay much to feed the birds, 'cause they're eating grass and bugs.

I know I pay less than most people in vet bills, because I pay almost nothing -- shots now and then, and that's about it. I've been adding powdered, unflavored gelatin to their food, and recently started adding brewers yeast, too. Oh, and Jed gets Cosequin every morning, again, for his joints.

As for kibble being good for the teeth, you know what dogs' teeth evolved to chew on? Bones. Raw, meaty bones.

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You should take Jed to some

You should take Jed to some vet clinic where they treat arthritis. I have a recommendation, arthritis clinic Fairfax VA where they treat using acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.


Nice try, spammer.

How much to feed a 17 lb dog

Hi we have been on a low carb diet for a couple of years and are now starting our dog on a low carb diet. I was just wondering how much we should be feeding him for instance if we did what you do and feed him cottage cheese and eggs for breakfast should we give him one egg with a spoonful of cottage cheese? And how much of the chicken backs for dinner? He is a 17lb bichon/shitzu.

How much to feed a 17 lb dog?

Hi we are starting our 8 year old bichon/shitzu on a low carb diet and just wondering how much to feed him. For breakfast you give cottage cheese and eggs so I'm guessing one egg with a spoonful of cottage cheese would that be right for a 17 lb dog? How much of the chicken backs would we feed him? Thanks.

Feeding little dogs

We have three dogs, one large and two small -- Dexter the Pug, who is about 20 pounds, and Gracie the Incidental Beagle, who is a few pounds lighter. Yes, the small dogs get one egg and a spoonful of cottage cheese for breakfast, along with a sprinkling of dry, unflavored gelatin. (Hey, it's good for them,too.) For supper, we feed the big dog, Jed the Hero Dog, one large chicken back, or two smaller ones, and we split one good-sized back between the two small dogs. This involves chopping up the back with a big, scary serial-killer cleaver, while humming "A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd. Not because they can't chew up the backs, but because they don't want to take the time, and will try to wolf them whole. Yes, I have done the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog. (It worked.)

You could try your pup on whole backs and see if he'll chew them up properly, many dogs will. If not, I do recommend the cleaver route.

(BTW, we buy our backs from a poultry processor in 40 pound lots. Sadly, the poultry processor here in town closed, so I have to drive to Indianapolis -- so I buy 120 pounds at a time. This is one reason why we have 3 deep freezes. That, and...

In the winter, we feed raw meaty venison bones that we get free from the local deer processor. It is hilarious to see Dexter, who looks like a very expensive stuffed animal, revert to his wolf geneology, hunkered down, gnawing on a bone and growling gently. I can only imagine how cute it would be to see your little guy acting this way!

Thank you so much for the

Thank you so much for the info it is very much appreciated! I'm new to this blog stuff and didn't see my post right away so please disregard my second one. So raw eggs aren't bad for dogs?

Dog treats

Since putting our dog on a species appropriate raw diet, I have completely nixed grain or any starch. This left out all of the dog treats my sweetheart gave the dog multiple times per day. He really loves the dog and can't resist the puppy eyes.

He got an idea. We have an oriental market nearby that sells very inexpensive pork livers and kidneys. He buys them 10 or more pounds at a time, slices them up and puts them in his dehydrator for 24 hours. They turn into hard crunchy "chips" that the dog goes nuts for.

No bad stuff, happy dog, happy dad. Healthiest dog I've ever known!

Liver chips

A local grass-fed beef farm sold these at the farmers market for a while, and our dogs loved 'em. Hard to think of anything more nutritious.

We also give our dogs pork rinds, which they love. Just plain pork rinds.

Expert advice

I was reading a monthly flyer from the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine and they warned dog owners of feeding dogs too much fat, since it might lead to pancreatitis. To treat the pancreatits, they recommended feeding the dog (I'm not making this up) rice and pasta.

Pet WebMD states that dogs with high serum lipid levels (determined by your veterinarian) should be placed on a fat-restricted diet.

In the future, I'll be sure to ignore any nutritional advice from either my or my dogs doctor.

Healthy Dogs

That's great to hear! I thought they must be very healthy given what you feed them.
My dachshund used to sneak up on the table too, but only when he thought no one was home. One day, when only one of us left the house, he thought we both were gone and immediately jumped up on the post-dinner table for an all-you-can-eat buffet bonanza. As soon he noticed his mistake, he froze for an instant as the realization that he was being watched sunk in, and then he was off the table in a nano second! What a rascal and smarty pants he was!
Re: BARF, I've always been curious about food-borne pathogens when dogs are given raw meat. Have your dogs ever gotten sick from salmonella or E. coli?

Badger diet

A couple of years ago, I was temp employed as a 'creative' for a market research company - and their client was effectively seeking sound-bites for dry cat food. Admittedly, part of the process is argument, but I think I took it a bit too far for their taste. My argument: meat-eating mammals have better dentition. Their argument: badgers don't.

Certainly, English badgers have terrible teeth and thus have a reduced life because their main source of food is earthworms - and earthworms eat soil. As the gut of the average earthworm is gritty soil, anything eating them is going to need superior dentition - which badgers apparently do not have.

Cats and dogs don't generally eat worms - garden soil encased in a meaty sausage!

The utterly annoying thing about this discussion was when I next had cause to take one of my cats to my vet I was told that domestic cats and dogs have better dentition compared with badgers and so live longer because of their cereal-based diet! Clearly, all meat-eating pets are now compared to badgers. I've never even seen one of my cats tormenting an earthworm, let alone attempt to eat one - or eat a slice of bread.

Badger Diet

That is just genuinely bizarre. Wow.