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Please note date change!


Want the nuts and bolts of why and how to transition your dog to a natural diet? Then join us Saturday, January 11, and get your dog on the path to health in 2014!





Starting Your Dog on a Natural Diet

The recipe for health!

January 11, 2014 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM




You might think that feeding a “premium”, “holistic” or “natural” dry dog food is the very best you can do for your dog. But, do you really know what’s in all those foods? Where the ingredients come from and how they’re processed? Why there have been so many recent recalls? Why so many people are turning to natural diets?

Dr. Laurie Coger and dog trainer and behaviorist Mary Ferentino will expose the truth about dog foods and show you a healthier way to feed your dog.

This hands-on workshop will take the mystery out of natural feeding. Come and discover how easy it is to get started. Take home notes and gifts. Snacks provided; bring your coffee and a comfortable chair.

Cost: $55   Early bird registration by December 21: $45

Where: Good Dog Training Center, 30 Kraft Avenue, Albany, NY, 12205


Click here for a registration form (PDF).

I’m really curious about how much people spend on their dog’s food. And I wonder if they actually know. One of the most common objections I run into when I talk about natural, raw diets is cost. Everyone thinks feeding raw is expensive. Yet I think it’s actually cheaper.

5 cubic foot freezer

5 cubic foot freezer

Now I do make the assumption that you have a freezer. I don’t mean the one that’s part of your refrigerator, I mean the one in your basement, garage, or other area. It doesn’t have to be huge, but has to be big enough to allow you to buy in bulk. Doing so saves money on both dog and human food. (And since all my dog food is human quality, I have no concerns over sharing freezer space with my dogs.)

I have done some preliminary research. Here are the costs per pound of some popular premium dog foods — some of the ones owners, pet store staff, and vets consider “the best”.  You can see the prices vary from $2.92 per pound and up.

$3.08 per pound

$3.08 per pound

$3.19 per pound

$3.19 per pound

$2.92 per pound

$2.92 per pound

There certainly are cheaper and more expensive products out there, but I chose these as the minimum quality that seems acceptable. Not that I endorse or recommend the  feeding of kibble or products that contain meat meals — but I wanted to compare the cost of human quality meats to something better than say Kibbles ‘n Bits or Beneful. Speaking of those foods, I have found prices for them online starting at $1.14 a pound. Other brands such as Alpo’s Come & Get It are as cheap as $0.57 per pound. I cannot even guess at ingredient quality in a food that costs so little…

So you are probably wondering what it costs to feed a natural raw diet. My meat costs average $1.00 per pound. Yes, $1.00 a pound for human quality food for my dogs. Buying in bulk and taking advantage of sales makes this possible. The other parts of the diet plan, including supplements and the plastic bags I use when repackaging cases of frozen foods like chicken leg quarters, duck necks, or turkey hearts or livers, add a bit more, likely bringing cost to a high of $1.50 a pound. That’s a savings of about $1.50 per pound from the examples here. And remember, the commercial foods do not contain human quality ingredients, while the foods my dogs eat are all human quality.

Beyond the lower cost of the food, there are savings as your dog becomes healthier when eating a natural, raw diet. Imagine the savings if you don’t have to go to the veterinarian for an ear infection, or bout of gastrointestinal upset? Let’s say you save two veterinary visits per year — that’s easily $100 – $200, depending on your location. There’s the cost of your freezer! And the bonus is you can save money on your food by using the freezer your dog’s savings bought! And who can place a dollar value on a dog living longer? What would it mean to you to have your best friend with you for an extra year or more?

Are you ready to cut your dog food costs while increasing the quality of what you put in your dog’s bowl? It’s not that difficult, certainly not that costly, and only requires a willingness to consider new feeding options. If you can, join us at the Feeding Fido Workshop April 13 in Albany, NY. If you live too far away to come, please keep checking back here. Exciting things are in the works!


The AVMA recently published another article on the debate over their anti-raw food policy. In the most recent Journal of the AVMA several veterinarians, including myself, expressed varying viewpoints on the policy. You can read the full article here.

What I find most interesting are the comments by Dr. David Chico, chair of the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine and NY State Agriculture and Markets Veterinarian. Dr. Chico states that the council began considering a raw food policy when the Delta Society, now called Pet Partners (a service/therapy animal group), asked if any policies existed against feeding pets raw foods. Dr. Chico states that this policy was developed without contact with pet food companies. But if the Delta Society/Pet Partners’ question was the inspiration for the development of the policy, there is a bit more to the story.

What is not mentioned in the AVMA article is that the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Pet Partners is Brenda Bax, Marketing Director of Purina (see for yourself here). Back in 2010, when Pet Partners was the Delta Society, a policy was passed banning any service or therapy animal that consumed raw food from participating in their program. Prior to that, in 2008, Purina gave the Delta Society the largest donation it had ever received, in the form of a two year pledge. And just two years later, the ban of raw fed service and therapy animals was instituted. Hmm, does anyone else see a long term connection between Purina and the Delta Society/Pet Partners? And, although the AVMA Council may not have talked to any pet food industry people directly, how can anyone deny the influence of one of largest pet food companies in the chain of events leading to AVMA’s anti-raw food policy?

So why, you may be wondering, am I spending so much time on this topic? Simply put, it’s because I care about the health of animals. I have seen the improvements in animals when their diet was switched from processed commercial foods made from ingredients of unknown quality to a well planned diet compatible with their biology and consisting of fresh, fit for human consumption, ingredients.

Perhaps I shouldn’t care so much, and shouldn’t be writing this. Much of my paycheck, so to speak, comes from treating sick animals. Ear infections, skin problems, dental disease, vomiting and diarrhea all put money in the bank for me. Yet my own, raw fed dogs, over the course of over 19 years, rarely or never suffered from these problems. It is not uncommon for me to see a dog at the hospital for ear infections three times a year. In all the years I have fed a natural diet, I have never done a dental cleaning on one of my own dogs. Yet many of my patients have multiple cleanings, beginning before they are six years old! At somewhere between $400 and $800, this is a big expense for my clients, and income for me. But I’ll let you in on a secret — if I never had to treat another ear infection, or pull another infected tooth, I would be one happy veterinarian! If I could teach owners how to optimize health in their pets, instead of treating disease, I would be truly fulfilling the spirit of the Veterinarian’s Oath I shared with you in the previous blog.

A friend and I often joke about the curse of knowledge. In short, the curse means that the person who is more knowledgeable about a subject has difficulty seeing the subject from a position of lesser knowledge. Or in short, once you know more, you can’t go back. Once you know what commercial foods are made from? Well, you decide:

This? Is this food?

Kibble with water
The type of meat that goes into commercial meat meal. How many flies and rats are visiting this pile of carcasses and body parts? Are maggots food?

Or this? Does this look like food?

Turkey necks, fresh beef, egg, vegetables
Meat that goes into a natural diet is fit for human consumption


As you’ve seen in the previous post, we’re having a Raw Diet Workshop on December 1. I’ve had the chance to talk about natural diets with many owners, and they immediately understand why feeding this way is healthier for their dog. Once they know what’s in commercial dog food and how it’s made, they don’t want to feed it! The next question raised is usually, “So what exactly do I feed my dog?” And that’s what you’ll learn at this workshop — what and how to feed your dog in a way that meets his biological needs the way Mother Nature intended. This video will give you an idea of what we’ll be talking about:

Click here for a registration form.

Please note — couples registering together receive a 50% discount on the second registration. Bring your spouse, friend, or relative and save!



Susan Thixton, of has put together a great video response to the FDA promotion of pet food safety. Watch both, and share your opinion in the comments.

The FDA video can be viewed here.

And the reply:



Welcome to the Canine Culinary Academy! The CCA is the resource for learning about natural diet and health for dogs. Our motto is Canis Nutrimens Veritas. Dog Food Truth. Through our free introductory information, online courses, publications, and personal telephone consultations, we will guide you in providing the best food and care for your best friend. And have some fun along the way!