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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have an 18 month old male Boarder / Healer. He weighs about 37 lbs and is lean but muscular. When we first got him from the breeder he ate Annamaet Ultra. A few month later I left him with my father for a several days. Altho I asked him not to, he gave him table food in addition to the kibble. When I got the dog back he wouldn't eat the kibble any longer unless I mixed it with table food. He would normally be getting about 2.5 cups of kibble per day. Now I give him 1.5 cups of Annamaet Ultra 32/20, i.e., 32% protein and 20% fat, plus two chopped up mozzarella string chesse sticks and 1.5 roasted chicken leg & thigh combinations. He gets 2/3rds of this during the day and 1/3rd at night. When we have beef, pork or fish, typically salmon, we try to make extra and substitute that for all or part of the chicken. In total he's getting 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day given this regimen. Sometimes, I add an egg or add some of the chicken skin to his diet, especially if he's had a particularly active day or if the chicken leg & thigh pieces happen to be smaller that day. I have several questions:
1. Is it ok to give him 2 string cheese sticks per day?
2. Is the dog getting sufficient nutrients, in terms of vitamins,
minerals,etc?
3. Should I be adding vegetables to the food mix?
4. Should I go to an entirely homemade diet for the dog?*
5. If so does anyone have recipes for balanced home made dog food
mixtures?
I am also open to any other suggestions.

*Note: I have been concerned that it would be more difficult to make sure he's getting the proper mix of nutrients, protein, fat and carbs without including kibble.

Thank you for your input!
 

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I have an 18 month old male Boarder / Healer. He weighs about 37 lbs and is lean but muscular. When we first got him from the breeder he ate Annamaet Ultra. A few month later I left him with my father for a several days. Altho I asked him not to, he gave him table food in addition to the kibble. When I got the dog back he wouldn't eat the kibble any longer unless I mixed it with table food. He would normally be getting about 2.5 cups of kibble per day. Now I give him 1.5 cups of Annamaet Ultra 32/20, i.e., 32% protein and 20% fat, plus two chopped up mozzarella string chesse sticks and 1.5 roasted chicken leg & thigh combinations. He gets 2/3rds of this during the day and 1/3rd at night. When we have beef, pork or fish, typically salmon, we try to make extra and substitute that for all or part of the chicken. In total he's getting 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day given this regimen. Sometimes, I add an egg or add some of the chicken skin to his diet. Especially if he's had a particularly active day or if the chicken leg & thigh pieces happen to be smaller that day. I have several questions:
1. Is it ok to give him 2 string cheese sticks per day?
2. Is the dog getting sufficient nutrients, in terms of vitamins,
minerals,etc?
3. Should I be adding vegetables to the food mix?
4. Should I go to an entirely homemade diet for the dog?*
5. If so does anyone have recipes for balanced home made dog food
mixtures?
I am also open to any other suggestions.

*Note: I have been concerned that it would be more difficult to make sure he's getting the proper mix of nutrients, protein, fat and carbs without including kibble.

Thank you for your input!
I'm not familiar with the food brand but the protein and fat looks good. I would not fret over table scraps if it was meat or a little bit of carbs (potatoes, rice, small amount of veggies, etc.). The cheese will go right through him, dogs don't process it very well. Same with veggies for the most part, they have very short intestines. I give mine a very small amount on occasion but it's just a filler, I'll be picking it up soon enough.

I wouldn't give up on the kibble if it's quality stuff, they will eat it if they're hungry.
 

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When giving the chicken pieces, do you give them whole, including bones, and after having been cooked? My first reaction is that two mozzarella sticks per day is too much. I tend to think of cheese sticks as treats rather than an actual food supplement. Also, it's typically not good to give your dogs cooked chicken bones as they splinter, though I've seen plenty of people feed wings to their dogs without incident. Doesn't mean I'd recommend it. FWIW, this is what I do... Any time we cook chicken on the bone, I save the scraps in a ziplock that I keep in the freezer. Once my gallon ziplock is full of various scraps from different meals, I dump them all into a crock pot, cover with water, and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Then I just cook that sucker on low for about three days until the bones completely crumble. After that depending on how lazy I'm feeling that day, I'll either put that all into a blender and blend together or just hand-mash the bones in the crock pot. In either case, I pour the cooked (sometimes blended) broth into ice cube trays, and freeze them. I give the bone broth ice cubes as treats, or I'll zap one in the microwave and pour over her food. Healthy, great for them, and tasty. Not to mention easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Waggintails and TVR.

Wagintails. Do you think the nutrition level is good enough when I use about 2/3rds of the recommended kibble and supplement the rest of his calories with table food, i.e., chicken or other meat and some cheese? I guess my question is he getting enough kibble to keep his diet balanced and get his vitamins, etc.?

TVR, the chicken I give the dog is roasted and without the bones. I might consider saving and cooking the bones down tho as you do. He loves cheese and I've been using it to keep his caloric intake up since he doesn't want to eat more kibble. I guess I could add more chicken instead.
 

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I always feed a little something extra with kibble although there are people I respect who think it's a bad idea. That said and without going into detail, I think what you're offering your dog is *so* tasty you're on the road to making him finicky. Among other things I suspect there's a lot of salt in the add-ons which isn't necessarily unhealthy in itself but is probably distorting his taste preferences. Also it's almost impossible to accurately calculate the calories in human food which isn't "labelled." So you run the risk of over-feeding.

Annamaet Ultra is a *very* good food and Robert Downey the owner is very highly regarded as a nutritionist. I would call Annamaet and discuss your situation with them. I think you'd get good advice. Discuss appropriate amounts to feed. Perhaps he would do better with three smaller meals if you are feeding two. Frankly I think the more Ultra you can get into him and the less "random" people food the better he'll do.

My first thoughts are you need to wean him off the cheese before he gets addicted. String cheese is used as a high value training treat and not an everyday food. Bland boiled chicken is probably less addictive than seasoned roast chicken. But I would probably leave out all table food for a while.

Give him an amount just slightly less than Annamaet suggests. Find a canned food he likes. 95% meat foods are good. Dave's is much cheaper than Wellness. But really any brand will do; you aren't going to feed that much. Probably start with chicken or turkey to match the protein in the kibble. Add just a couple of tablespoons. Add a little water. Let it sit for just a minute or two and stir to make it a stew.

Put it down and if he doesn't eat it in 10-15 minutes, pick it up and throw it out (if it's wet you can't reuse it). Repeat when the next meal is scheduled. Again, if he's off the kibble I would probably definitely go to three feedings.

One thing I would not do is keep adding different people foods or change the kibble. He should be fine on the Ultra. There's nothing wrong with people food in moderation but it should be bland and not seasoned or fatty and most of the dog's nutrition should come from his kibble. If you can't get him back on a primarily "commercial" diet, then you can add small amounts of cottage cheese, sardines, an egg cooked or raw, plain yogurt. Again, you are not really feeding these to supplement the kibble so much as you are trying to jump start his appetite if kibble is no longer appealing.
 

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On a dog nutrition list some members find that substituting half a commercial 'complete' diet for half homemade stuff that is pretty good is fine for the dog but I usually suggest keeping the unbalanced additions to 1/4 of the calories of the kibble. He is just about Max's size. Max needed 1000mg of calcium a day, does the kibble provide that? If so you are just fine essential nutrient wise.

Since you are committed to this diet I'd be doing as TGVkr suggests and keep veggie scraps and meaty bones in the freezer to make up soup for him. Don't cook the soup too long, just until the meat and cartilage fall off the bone. Helps out using free scraps for the dog when 'spoiling' him with fresh food.

14 pound Ginger has been getting a string cheese stick a day for 2 years. She digests it fine as have all the other dogs I have here. I am not crazy about all the salt it has is all. If he is doing okay and you are using unsalted meats for the rest of his food then it is fine. You could try fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel or herring or eggs or even save some fat from beef and lamb for him rather than give so much cheese if you want to experiment.
 

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See I cook the bones until they crumble... usually about 3 days on low in the crock pot. This way you get all the marrow and the good stuff from the bones without worrying about them splintering. Worst part about that is smelling chicken soup every day until it's done. (FWIW humans can drink this bone broth too for a nice immunity boost / health benefit) :)
 

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I cooked bones until I could stick a fork through the long bones and pureed them. It is high in protein but also super high in phosphorus and calcium. I wouldn't use it as a supplement for kibble. I used the cooked and pureed bones from a 5 pound chicken along with the meat and skin from the chicken PLUS 10 pounds of boneless pork and beef to make up cooked dog food though.

Spoil away if you can keep it up, fresh food is just as good for dogs as it is humans. I'd want to keep ice cubes of pureed soup or eggs or canned fish around for those times you don't have meat in the house though.
 

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You got great advice from Kathyy; I believe she has studied the NRC guideline handbook and really is on top of this food thing!!! Annamaet is great food, I feed the Extra formula to our dog rotating it with Farmina. Just something to be aware of is that the Ultra is 480 Kcal/cup. I am sure that your dog is in good physical condition but the food is very dense and if for any reason your dog stops exercising for any reason you may find that he will get chubby quickly with the amount of food you are feeding. I have a 33 lb dog and feed 1 cup of Annamaet along with treats during the day but my dog is a couch potato. Actually I am starting to feed her 1 1/2 cups of Farmina with less treats as I am thinking more nutrition and less fluff, Farmina has less calories than Annamaet so that makes up for the extra calories somewhat.
 

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Thanks Waggintails and TVR.

Wagintails. Do you think the nutrition level is good enough when I use about 2/3rds of the recommended kibble and supplement the rest of his calories with table food, i.e., chicken or other meat and some cheese? I guess my question is he getting enough kibble to keep his diet balanced and get his vitamins, etc.?

TVR, the chicken I give the dog is roasted and without the bones. I might consider saving and cooking the bones down tho as you do. He loves cheese and I've been using it to keep his caloric intake up since he doesn't want to eat more kibble. I guess I could add more chicken instead.
I think chicken bones are too small and thereby dangerous. As far as I know no dogs process cheese too well. They love to eat it but you'll see the results the next day.

Mine get kibbles in the morning and usually Northwest Naturals raw meal in the evening, or Natural Balance. Meats have nutrition too. I would just watch the carbs, especially empty ones.
 

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@Waggin, the point of cooking the bones down is precisely to break them down entirely thus avoiding the dangers of bones that have been just cooked with the chicken as normal. They literally just crumble to a paste. It's very very healthy stuff, for animals and people alike.

Also, for those that want to try it, it doesn't always take three days. I have some going now and it has only been cooking for two days and they are completely soft - looks like I'll be freezing some broth cubes tonight! Sometimes if you blend it, it ends up almost as a pate.
 

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@Waggin, the point of cooking the bones down is precisely to break them down entirely thus avoiding the dangers of bones that have been just cooked with the chicken as normal. They literally just crumble to a paste. It's very very healthy stuff, for animals and people alike.

Also, for those that want to try it, it doesn't always take three days. I have some going now and it has only been cooking for two days and they are completely soft - looks like I'll be freezing some broth cubes tonight! Sometimes if you blend it, it ends up almost as a pate.
Yes, I know it can be done, I just give mine the NW Naturals with the bone meal in it.

I avoid bones in general, especially the baked (brittle) ones.
 

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If you dont want him eating table food, stop giving it, when he gets hungry enough he will eat the kibble. Right now he knows if he does not eat the kibble he will be rewarded with table food. Just give him the kibble and within a day or two he will start eating the kibble without the table food.
 

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Yes... OT (sorry for sidetracking) - he has no motivation to eat dry kibble because he knows it's going to be yummi-fied. I had this happen with my last dog, so with my current one I only add yummy tidbits randomly every now and then so she doesn't expect it and I never have a problem with her not eating her food if it's just plain. I'd agree with the others to just put out his dry food and see what happens. He won't starve... so if he goes a day or two without eating it, I wouldn't freak out. He'll eat eventually when he's hungry enough.
 

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Repeating myself here.
Using fresh food is great idea go for it.
Cheese is fine for dogs but high in sodium.
Do NOT make bone broth and feed the actual bone to add to a kibble diet. Too much calcium and phosphorus is a very bad idea! Make broth and toss the bone.
 

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I think we may have to agree to disagree on the bone broth issue. I see nothing wrong with cooking the bones down until soft, blending and freezing for treats (treats being my primary use for this stuff). Now if you're giving the dog an entire tray of ice cubes of bone broth per day then yeah, that's a problem and it will be too much calcium in their diets. But one ice cube per day is NOT going to be detrimental or harmful to your dog. (My girl usually gets one a day but sometimes goes a day or two without - mostly I just give her the cube to munch on, sometimes I melt it and pour it on her food - that's usually when other dogs are visiting or we're somewhere else where I want her to just eat quickly and be done with it).

I was never suggesting using the bone broth as a supplement for kibble, but I can see how it might have come across that way. I was simply suggesting another method of using/cooking up the chicken he was already feeding the dog in the first place. Most high quality kibbles don't actually need "supplements" anyway.

Ultimately, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with adding tasty toppers to dry kibble for finicky dogs. Fresh meats, veggies, or coconut oil, flax oil, those are all good options.
 

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**PS... I wanted to clarify something so I don't come across as combative and also to warn about certain dangers as alluded to above, lest people here think I'm completely irresponsible. There are two schools of thought on bone broth (clearly! ha!) :) One camp strains all the softened bones out and uses only the broth. The other camp blends the whole shebang together. I've done this both ways, and I think it depends on what your intent is with the broth. Do you want to use as treats, or as supplements, or as an immunity boost, or what? Also how you prepare the broth is key. If you aren't blending the mixture, then yes - definitely straining the bones out is the way to go. If you plan to blend the mixture, then make sure ALL bones are completely and utterly soft prior to blending (any that aren't should be removed).

Once fully softened and blended smooth, there is no danger from bone shards. It's usually why I'll go three days instead of two if I'm blending just as an added measure of security. If I don't have that much time or don't want to mess with it, I'll strain it all out and freeze the broth only. Remember the biggest danger of cooked bones has to do with the internal damage it could cause by splintering, etc. - eliminate that issue, and the bone itself is not the problem. Adjust for higher calcium content, as Kathyy has pointed out.

I just wanted to show that including the bones in bone broth is not inherently wrong if you go about it the right way to ensure the safety of your pet. But I'm glad that Kathyy has brought this up because I neglected to be very clear about the dangers and proper cooking of bone broth when including all the bones, and I definitely can see how my first post missed some of the more important details. I know there is a lot of stuff out there on the internet in both camps, most of which though advise straining out the bones, but if done correctly it results in zero waste and makes a tasty treat.
 

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I imagine it would depend on the size of the dog and what's in the rest of their diet. 1 teaspoon of bonemeal (I assume a blended bone would be the same?) has 800 mg of calcium, so, depending on how much bone is in the broth, for some dogs you could be jacking up their calcium intake to inadvisable levels. Just a thing to be aware of.
 
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