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How to approach what to feed my dog

  • September 25, 2018
  • By MaggieLovesOrbit
  • 2 Comments
How to approach what to feed my dog

This is not going to be your traditional list of brand recommendations as to what to feed your dog. Rather it’s a framework for you to use and then decide how to approach and make your own decisions on what to feed your dog.

I’ll get the disclaimer out of the way. I’m not a vet. I’m not a dog nutritionist. All I am is a dog parent and I approach dog parenthood by asking myself thoughtful questions. And so I share them below with you.

A framework on how to decide what to feed your dog

There is no shortage of information available to dog owners. If you query “Best Dog Food” in Google it will return 2,070,000,000 search results from which to choose from.

I’m a firm believer in asking alternative questions. If the masses ask “What brand dog food should I feed?” I will respond with a different question.

What-is-the-different-ways-I-can-feed-my-dog

How much time do you have to feed your dog?

The ultimate currency isn’t about what or how much you can afford. The currency I’m referring to here is time. We ALL start off with 24 hours in the day; not a second more and not a second less. But how much time each of us has each day differs. And quite honestly some of us have more of those hours to food shop, prepare and eat. It could be you’re a student, or a parent with kids, or a busy executive. Perhaps you have a long commute. Perhaps your free time goes into working out. Each of us are different. Some may have 60 minutes to prepare food each day. Some might have 10 minutes.

Here’s a true story. My sister’s dog Pepper was eating Blue Buffalo for years. She had various small health issues. A UTI that was recurring … some ear issues. Also if the food wasn’t right – she’d throw it up within 20 minutes of eating it.

In any event my sister and her husband decided to switch to home cooking.

But they also live in Los Angeles and have long commutes to Orange County. Their previous food preparation time for Pepper took all of 10 seconds (take out the bag of dog food, scoop out the chow and voila dinner is served).

A few years ago they bought a sous vide. It had a digital timer they could activate from the road.

And so every day they would leave work, activate their sous vide and make the commute home. It was a lifesaver for them because they could make a very delicious yet healthy dinner by starting it ahead of time.

Well guess who part of that dinner was for? It was shared with Pepper.

my-dog-eats-better-than-i-do

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DISCLOSURE:  Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation.  This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I have tried and trust.

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She didn’t have any seasoning in her portion obviously. And they still added the supplements and other items to balance it out. But the point of the story is they looked at their lifestyle and figured out how they could incorporate cooking for Pepper as they did for themselves.

After answering the question about how much time you have to make dog food the next question to ask is:

What healthy choices can I make for my dog’s food

If you buy dog food ask how much fresh food can you incorporate into your dog’s diet?

Irregardless of which brand you go with … I think most pet nutritionists will say adding whole fresh food never hurts your dog.

One of the easiest books I read on this topic was by Rick Woodford – Chow: Simple Ways to Share the Foods You Love with the Dogs You Love

In it – he teaches you how to look at what you’re cooking for yourself and what part of it and how you can modify your dog’s meal to add some of the protein you’re having or even the meal you’re having. It’s a lot easier than you think.

Can you alternate some of the meals for healthier options?

In our home we have “Meatless Monday” and “Seafood Sunday” in essence where two nights a week we are eating a vegetarian and pescatarian meal.

The other nights we might get take out or cook at home. Sometimes it’s cooked from scratch. Sometimes we modify a meal that is pre-made (I.e. processed) but we make healthy options when time allows it. By eating less meat, or eating more vegetables.

In the same vein … perhaps there’s a meal you make for your pup (if they are getting kibble). Or perhaps in the morning they might eat kibble, and in the evening it’s a pre-made healthier option (such as pre-made cooked or pre-made raw, or even less processes such as dehydrated food would be an alterative).

Healthier options could be adding some unseasoned protein to their food. Or even buying single ingredient treats and chews to add as toppers. We’re partial to Real Dog Box which sends you a box of treats and chews every month.

 

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Are there any health issues to consider? Are there diets that are better for dogs with allergies?

A common issue that most dog parents have is food insensitivities or allergies.

My dog’s have had a variety of these type of issues. After trying different diets the one that has worked best for them is for me to cook their own food.

The main reason I do this – is that I know exactly what ingredients they are eating. It does take time and preparation. And if I run out of food they will still get back up pre made food (Taste of the Wild PREY) which we also feed when we’re on the road.

I have a basic formula for how I prepare their dog food which you can read about in the link at the end of this paragraph.  At its core is 80% protein, 10% organ and 10% vegetables. I then add all the supplements needed to balance it out. This approach takes a bit of planning but my cost is about $3/day for two small dogs eating approximately 11oz total per day.  You can read about how I prepare dog food by linking to this article on the Foundational Guideline for Home Made Dog Food.

For those that want to home cook but don’t have the time: The easiest way is to purchase a base like the one Honest Kitchen makes and just add protein and you’re ready to go. I purchase all of my ingredients from Amazon. I link to that shopping list HERE. Amazon.com – Cooking for your dog

formula-for-home-made-dog-food

Variety is your friend. What meat is best for your dogs.

I try to feed 4 to 5 different meat proteins throughout the month. The staples are beef, pork, and lamb. They will occasionally get egg and then two different kinds of fish (typically salmon and sardines)

Are there things I should NOT feed my dog?

I personally have some “no’s” on our list

Rendered meat: Food that isn’t fit for human consumption are cycled into pet food as rendered by products. I won’t go into it here but you can read more via this link: Rendered Products In Pet Food – Dogs Naturally Magazine

A more recent article … that talks about the effects of what a hurricane might mean to the pet food supply can be read via this link. Millions of Drowned Decomposing Livestock Animals allowed to be Rendered – Truth about Pet Food

Currently the kibble we feed is Taste of the Wild PREY because they state they use no rendered ingredients. This is our back up food as well as food for the pups when we travel.

Cooked bones: I never feed them cooked bones. Cooking changes the molecular structure which causes bones to splinter. Instead I give them a raw meaty short rib bone (beef) twice a week.

Processed treats and chews: We subscribe to Real Dog Box – a treat and chew subscription service that rotates 40 different treats and chews throughout the year. On occasion we run out and I have to run to the local store to pick up treats to tide us over. I avoid options with ingredients that I cannot pronounce. I look for single ingredient or limited ingredient options.

Chicken: When I had the two tested for allergies they both had an insensitivity to chicken. Currently I don’t give them any dog food or treats with chicken. However they will still get the occasional cooked egg and chicken feet chew from Real Dog Box.

Other than those rules above – asides from staying away from foods that are known to be toxic to dogs, they can eat anything else.

What about raw I heard it was the best diet for dogs?

I know a lot of dogs that are on raw food. There was a time I was making our own raw food, and then I also tried a pre-made raw …. but all dogs are different and my two didn’t seem to do as well on it as I had hoped. Their symptoms didn’t get better so I went back to cooking for them.

There are different levels of raw. You can buy pre-made grinds from your neighborhood Petco. You can also prepare it at home by sourcing all of the ingredients yourself. And then there are base mixes to add to it – to balance it out.

What dog food brands do you recommend?

I turned to the dog parent community to obtain the answers. I first turned to Dog Bloggers whom I have a lot of respect for. Blogging is a very intentional exercise where writers do a lot of research or share stories only on topics they can personally vouch for. So without further ado here are some articles from other dog moms.

Recommendations on Dog Food from Instagram Dog Moms

How to approach what to feed my dog

@naellis: Ziwi Pets

Nicole is a CPDT-KA celebrity dog trainer to her two dog actors Maggie and Rossi.  We’ve known her for two+ years and respect her judgement immensely.  She researches any products she uses and only recommends those she can vouch for.

Find her on her blog: Maggie and Nicole.

How to approach what to feed my dog

@lexithepupski: I And Love And You Nude Food

We’ve known Esther, dog mom to Lexi for a year.  When I asked her for what she feeds Lexi she replied with:

We’ve been feeding her @iandloveandyoupet – “Nude Food” line for a couple years now. Switching to that food fixed stomach issues she had been having with Orijen almost immediately. Her “output” (i.e. nice way of saying “poop”) was back to normal within 2 days or maybe even less. We first heard about @iandloveandyoupet on @loki’s Instagram, did some research, but what sold us – and keeps us buying it – are the results. She’s a happy, healthy dog with regular bowel movements, which makes us happy. #lifeofapetparent

Other brand mentions which came from the Instagram dog community multiple times and also are on the better spectrum of dog food

The Farmers Dog
My Ollie
Fromm
Orijen/Acana
Nutro
Zignature
Merrick
Primal
Small Batch
Honest Kitchen
Answers Pet Food
Carna4

In conclusion: Do your own research and feed what’s best for your lifestyle while making the healthiest options for your dog

Every dog is different. Even in my home between my two dogs, they react differently to different ingredients. So you need to decide what you can realistically feed your dog whilst making the healthiest options for them at the same time.

Stuck on what to feed your dog?  Ask yourself these three important questions: 1) What's my lifestyle 2) What are my health goals for my dog and 3) Does my dog have any allergies?
By MaggieLovesOrbit, September 25, 2018
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