As I sit down to write this, both fond and sorrowful memories bubble up inside me. I was the extremely proud owner of two adorable chocolate labs, Java and Ouzo, who both succumbed to cancer in their later years. When I look back on those final months with each pet, I can't help but wonder how many other people are and have been in my shoes, trying everything they can to keep their most loyal, loving companion comfortable and alive when a diagnosis of cancer was delivered by their vet? Since November is Pet Cancer Awareness month, it only seemed fitting to discuss a recipe that has changed the quality and quantity of life for the dogs who have eaten it.
I was fortunate enough to work with a very skilled holistic vet in my area on what I now call Life Stew. When my second lab, Ouzo, developed hind leg weakness at an early age, I wanted to know why. At the time, I was feeding her Taste of the Wild, thinking this was one of the best foods on the market. Never once did it occur to me that feeding a dry food would be a concern. It was complete and balanced after all: Didn't this mean it was good for her? When discussing the symptoms with my vet, she mentioned that my dog could be chronically dehydrated and that her cells were not delivering enough lubrication to her joints, hence the hind leg weakness. So began the long road of learning about animal nutrition and the evolution of the Life Stew recipe.
This concoction has helped many animals over the years with ailments like arthritis, hind leg weakness, and dry skin, in addition to different types of cancers. This is not a cure all, nor a complete and balanced meal so I recommend adding a vitamin and mineral supplement for home cookers such as Carna4, Canine Everyday Essentials, or Nature's Logic All Food Fortifier to be sure their pet is getting everything they need in their diet. However, it is my recommendation that one always work with a vet skilled in nutrition that can modify the recipe based on an individual pet's needs. Each pet will be different in how they react to the recipe. Some may go through what is called a "healing crisis" when switched over to this food, especially if the pet has been fed a dry diet its entire life. (A healing crisis is the body's initial purge of toxins which makes one feel worse for a brief period before getting better.) This can take on the form of general malaise, diarrhea, upset stomach, excess dandruff, or gummy ears. In most cases, a healing crisis goes away after a few days to a week, depending on how ill the animal was to begin with. Then the real magic should begin. You may start to notice that your pet is hungrier or climbs the stairs with renewed vigor. Perhaps they simply look better. If you get any signs that lead you to believe your pet is feeling better, keep it up! If, however, after the healing crisis period has passed, you are not seeing any positive results, then this might not be the right recipe. At that point, it will be up to you and your vet to either modify the recipe or go another route.
I am always happy to share this recipe and encourage people to alter it however works best with your lifestyle, availability, and budget. A friend of mine, whose chihuahua mix, Kaia, was diagnosed with cancer and given a prognosis of five months, began making this recipe but only made the slow cooker section without the add ins or the Budwig mix. Happily, her dog lived another four years! Who is to say it was the food or a misdiagnosis? However, her dog was not only eating again, but eating with excitement and even regained some of the energy she had lost over the years.
If you decide to embark on this recipe, please do not stress about every detail. The goal is not to add more anxiety into you or your pet's life. Through trial and error, you will find what works for you and your pet. My only hope is that it keeps the family happy and as healthy as possible. With that, relax and enjoy every minute you have with your beloved pet!
Interested in learning more about pet nutrition? Watch the Pet Fooled documentary here: PET FOOLED
DELICIOUS LIFE SAVER STEW
This recipe is for dogs that have been diagnosed with cancer or any other type of illness that makes them feel under the weather for extended periods of time. It will give your dog a renewed sense of vigor and supports their immune system.
RULE TO REMEMBER: IT’S ABOUT LOW OR NO CARBS AND IMMUNE BOOSTING SO DO NOT MAKE SUBSTITUTES THAT COMPROMISE THIS RULE (IE CARROTS OR PEAS).
5 lbs BONE IN, SKIN ON chicken* or turkey thighs or use 2-3 whole birds (There will be less meat and more bone to contend with for a whole bird. Watch out for the very small thoracic bones of the spine. They are difficult to see)
16oz (minimum) cottage cheese;
4 eggs whisked
1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil
2 cups vegetables (fresh or frozen)- green beans, brussel sprouts or combo (broccoli will increase gas)
2 cups fruit (fresh or frozen) - Apples, cherries, berries or combo
16 oz fresh or frozen chopped spinach or kale
½ cup Ground Flax seeds OR whole Chia seeds (Note: Flax seed must be ground, Chia seeds (whole or ground)
1/4 cup basil – dry or fresh chopped
1/4 cup rosemary – dry or fresh chopped
1/8 cup turmeric/pepper blend (lightly cook this combo to activate the turmeric - 1/8c turmeric to ½ TBS pepper)
1/4 cup sage – dry or fresh chopped;
Step 1 – Add meat to pot or slow cooker
Step 2 – Add just enough water or starter broth to cover the meat – might be 6-8 cups
Step 3 – Simmer on lowest possible heat until fully cooked or slow cook in a crock pot. (Cooking meat above 200 degrees Fahrenheit increases the amount of carcinogenic chemicals that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures.); Should be at least a six hour process.
Step 4 – Remove a portion of the “broth” (or hopefully gelatin - 2-3 cups) to use as starter for next batch
Step 5 – Remove skin (save for a delicious treat for later!) and discard all bones (they splinter after cooked)
Step 6 – Return boneless skinless meat to pot and add remaining ingredients
Step 7 – Cook for an additional hour on simmer
Step 8 – Add all ingredients to a food processor (if stew still seems too liquid, you can remove more to add for your next batch before processing)
Step 9 – Store in the refrigerator or freeze as desired
Step 10 – Add toppings at mealtime as directed at the end of the recipe below under WHEN YOU ARE READY TO FEED.
WHEN YOU ARE READY TO FEED - Do NOT add these into the cooking batch above:
Sprinkle/add/mix the following on top of the food when ready to serve in bowl
- A small piece of fatty fish such as sardine OR use Answers Fermented fish stock. If you use the fermented fish stock, you can omit everything highlighted in RED (including what is in the cooked portion above).
- 1/2 tsp dry, powdered eggshell– just grind in a coffee bean grinder (it adds vital calcium)
- Nutritional brewer’s yeast (not baker’s yeast) - 1 tsp for every 30 pounds of body weight
- A ground vitamin C tablet(500mg – like Ester C) AT EACH MEAL. Use 1/4 tablet for pets under 15lbs and a 1/2 tablet for pets 15 - 30lbs. Excess Vitamin C can cause loose stools so adjust accordingly if this continues after a week of feeding.
- A tablespoon of any supportive organ or glandular meat (ie if your animal has organ issues, choose organ. If glandular, like adrenal, thyroid, lymph, choose glands)
- Unpasteurized fermented raw goat’s milk – packed full of good belly bacteria that aids in digestion & builds immunity 1-8 TBS, depending on weight.
-Budwig Diet supplement (see recipe below or google “Budwig Diet Truth about Pet Food”)
AMOUNT TO FEED:
DOGS 15 lbs and under – ½ cup per meal; 15-30 lbs – 1 cup per meal; 30 – 50lbs – 1.5 cups per meal; 50 – 80lbs – 2 cups per meal; 80 – 100lbs: 2.5 cups per meal; 100+ lbs – 3 cups per meal
THE LARGER THE DOG, THE MORE YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE THE FOOD FROM SCRATCH. IF YOU HAVE THE FREEZER SPACE, CONSIDER DOUBLING OR EVEN TRIPLING THE RECIPE.
*Chicken tends to be a known allergen for many dogs. If you find that your dog has itchy skin, paws or ears and/or rashes and/or diarrhea before you start the recipe, this could be a sign of allergy. Use turkey instead.
Budwig Recipe for animals with cancer - this helps produce an oxygen rich environment for the cells:
USE A 2:1 RATIO of Cottage Cheese to Flaxseed
2 parts cottage cheese to one part flaxseed oil (i.e. 4 Tablespoons Cottage Cheese to 2 Tablespoons flaxseed oil)
EMULSIFY so that the cottage cheese is no longer oily. If it is still oily, add more cottage cheese.
Feed this mixture to your pet two or three times a day every day on an empty stomach. Wait one hour to feed a regular meal.
AMOUNT: Feed 1-2 teaspoons for cats, up to ½ cup twice a day for large breed dogs.
Make mixture just before feeding if possible. Flax seeds can be used but should be ground fresh then mixed into cottage cheese.