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Hey all, we took our almost-13 year old Newfoundland into the vet yesterday for a checkup/urine test/bloodwork (we think she may have a UTI). While we were there the vet found some kind of cyst on her gums which most likely resulted from a broken tooth. The cyst had already worked its way out not far away, so there's no danger of it going into a more dangerous area. However, we've decided not to get surgery for it (pulling the tooth, sewing up the area) due mostly to its cost, the danger of her not surviving the anesthesia, and the simple fact that she's very old and most likely doesn't have that much time left anyway. The vet says it doesn't pose any real threat to her and put her on the same anti-biotic that's being used to treat her UTI.

We're going to start her on a diet of our own homemade food to make it easier for her to chew. She's eaten dry food for her entire life as it's better for dogs and wet food has never agreed with her. The food we're making for her is a combination of white rice, peas, 85% lean ground turkey (the fattiest they had in the store), and some unsalted chicken stock mixed in for good measure. There's no sauce, salt, or seasoning being added to keep it gentle on her.

My question is this; how much homemade food equates to one cup of dry food? She's about 92 pounds (at her healthiest she was 110, but her muscles have naturally atrophied) and has always eaten just under 2 cups of dry food per meal. We want to keep that amount and will be continuing to feed her dry food mixed in, but need a ratio to know how much to feed her. Thanks!
 

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Honestly, that diet sounds like it's lacking in some important nutrients. Did the vet recommend this? I would worry about deficiencies feeding that for any more than a couple of days. Why don't you just wet her normal kibble down with warm water to soften it up for her?
 

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That's one of the things we will do on certain days (wet/soak her dry food in water or broth). She won't get the homemade food at every meal; probably once every day or two.

But in terms of the homemade food, we're still going to mix it with the dry food to keep her teeth relatively healthy and make sure that she gets the nutrients from that as well. The homemade stuff has enough fat, protein, calories, and anything else that the meat and broth offer (and she always gets a glucosamine pill with each meal).
 

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I would plug the ingredients into a calorie calculator and figure out how many calories are in her usual serving of dry food, then try to make the calories for the homemade food match.
 

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That's one of the things we will do on certain days (wet/soak her dry food in water or broth). She won't get the homemade food at every meal; probably once every day or two.

But in terms of the homemade food, we're still going to mix it with the dry food to keep her teeth relatively healthy and make sure that she gets the nutrients from that as well. The homemade stuff has enough fat, protein, calories, and anything else that the meat and broth offer (and she always gets a glucosamine pill with each meal).
Dry food doesn't actually do much for teeth, it does about the same for their teeth as crackers and cookies do for human teeth.
 

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Have you considered doing raw? Really easy to eat as it's mostly water!
http://www.kaossiberians.com/rawfeeding.html

To answer your original question, 2-3% of the dog's *ideal* weight per day is the guideline for how much to feed. Large/giant breeds typically need closer to the 2% end, as do less active dogs. I think feeding 2% of her weight per day would be a good starting point. Feed more if she starts getting too thin, less if she's getting chunky.
 

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If you let me know the exact amount of the ingredients I can make up a recipe on nutritiondata.com so you can substitute calorie for calorie but kibbles can be 200-500 calories per cup and a turkey and rice cooked diet might be a similar range of calories. And it isn't just calories, the extra fat can upset the tummy.

I guess you might figure 8 ounces of ground turkey to be 2-3 ounces by dry weight so 8 ounces of turkey plus 2 ounces of raw rice to be equivalent to 4-5 ounces of kibble but that is really a reach. 2% of her weight is actually quite a good estimate if the food is fatty. Sassy needed about 3% of her weight in food daily as she didn't get much fat.

Add some bone meal to the food, 900 mg of calcium per pound of meat should do it. An ounce of beef liver per pound of meat is really a good thing too and if you could feed beef more than poultry there would be a better balance of minerals.

Sassy's teeth were far cleaner on home cooked chicken and rice than they were on kibble. I was amazed. You could try letting her chew on a raw meaty bone every so often after her mouth is healed as well. I wish my dogs would work on pig feet but they won't so I gave them BBQ or back beef ribs and during her last year I was forced to buy beef ribs whenever we went to a BBQ joint and bring the bones home for Sassy as she didn't care for raw any longer. She could still pull off the soft stuff just fine, I think she liked the salt and sugar of the sauce so was holding out.

Consider using lots of meat in that cooked food. On 28% protein cooked food Sassy got stronger. Until she was 16 years old she was walking a mile daily in spite of suspected degenerative myelopathy. I don't know that her muscle mass actually increased like Max's did on a raw diet but it is so important for dogs to stay on their feet as long as possible.
 
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