Did you know that dry “dog food” has only been around the last 100 years?
I’m pretty sure we can agree that dogs have been around much longer than that. And what do you think dogs ate before dry “dog food” came out? Yup, real food.
Josie and Leda are my second pair of pups. Before them, were my lovable lab mixes, Shelby and Wrangell.
Both Shelby and Wrangell lived their lives on dry dog food. At the age of 6, Wrangell developed food allergies and I began buying “basic” dog food made primarily of turkey and potatoes. While Shelby didn’t have food allergies, she did have other types of allergies. Wrangell had a chronic lip infection that was a constant battle. Both Shelby and Wrangell suffered from various ailments. Wrangell left us at 10 years old from cancer of the lymph nodes and Shelby at the age of 14 from Cushing’s disease.
I share this with you, because I feel it’s important to share how and why I came to a very important decision for my pups. After the devastating loss of both Shelby and Wrangell, I started to research. I was determined to find a way to keep the next dogs who came into my life healthier, and for longer. There is no denying the impact diet has on health, so that’s where I focused.
Trying to determine which brand of dog food was the most healthy proved to be quite a challenge. It seems there are constantly more recalls. And the more I looked into it, the more I discovered the ingredients were just unthinkable. I wanted to know what my dogs were eating.
Everywhere I looked there were recommendations to talk to your veterinarian. I agree, this is a good idea. However, I caution you, most veterinarians are not educated in food and diet for animals. At least not much past what is provided to them by dog food salesmen. Chances are your veterinarian will recommend a particular brand, and that is the brand they carry at the clinic.
My point is – do your own research.
And so I began feeding my pups real food. The biggest challenge was understanding the balance between animal protein, vegetables, and healthy grains. I also give my dogs a daily vitamin called NuVet, which is of human-consumption quality. And just in case you’re curious, it all costs less than dry commercial dog food.
Have you ever heard “Don’t feed your dog table scraps”?
Well, I must agree with this statement. But it’s not what you’re thinking. Table scraps are not good because they include all kinds of salt, spices, and additives we people put on our food that is not good for dogs. It’s not because feeding your dogs real food is bad. Actually, when I was doing research I discovered that this phrase was actually coined as a campaign ad when dog food first came out, as companies were struggling to get people to buy it.
If you head to the local dog park, chances are you will come across a dog that is overweight. This seems to be a common problem for dogs. Josie and Leda both were quite chunky for their frame when I first brought them home. And both dropped weight after months of eating real food. Of course, at first my vet was concerned. I was not, because I knew they were eating plenty of good food and were getting plenty of exercise.
Feeding Leda real food turned out to be a real life saver for her. She came to us with a mouth full of damaged teeth, due to years of her literally chewing herself out of plastic and wire kennels. Often when I give her a regular dog biscuit, she throws it to her back teeth to chew it, even when I break it into smaller pieces for her.
By the time we went in for health certificates to hit the road, our vet was thrilled with both Josie and Leda. They were both at an ideal weight for their frame. And everything else checked out great too.
Turns out, feeding Josie and Leda real food was a blessing for travel. Particularly when traveling through Canada. When crossing the border, you are only allowed to transport 40lbs of dog food. 40lbs would have lasted my two dogs maybe 10 days. We spent a month traveling through Canada and finding dry dog food would have been difficult.
I try to alternate the animal protein (chicken, beef, fish, eggs), veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, peas), and grains (rice, oats, pasta, potatoes).
It’s easy enough to throw some veggies into the bowl along with cooked grain and then scoop out the meat. Typically when we purchase meat, we cook it up in a big batch and store it in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator.
After a month or so on the road, I discovered a newer dog food company called Fresh Pet. It includes the animal protein and vegetables along with brown rice. It comes in a tube and is kept in the refrigerator. After more research, it seemed to be a reputable deal, so we tried it.
Now we feed Fresh Pet and supplement with a freshly cooked grain. Although it brought our cost up slightly, we felt it was worth the convenience of not having to cook it.
We have found Fresh Pet at Target, Safeway, Kroger, Mejiers, and Albertson’s – in the dog food isle within its own small fridge. And if we can’t find any, we just pick up some meat and veggies at a regular grocery store.
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