Just because a dog will eat anything, doesn’t mean it should. Of course YOU try telling that pup that the juicy smelly gym shoe he just devoured or the expensive fluffy feather pillow she just killed because she was protecting YOU from it, isn’t good for them. Or for you…. But what do you say? I’ve tried those and I know they don’t taste good? I’ve shredded many an old sweater and those strings just get caught in your teeth? Well, helping your dog to know the difference between the toys that are his and the toys that are yours is not the point of this particular blog, although it could be the next one.
This one is about the stuff they eat. And again, I’m not talking about the expensive antique throw rug to the expensive new prada heels, but the food you feed them… or don’t.
In my long life of owning dogs the food issues have been so different with so many schools of thought. We were always told different things by different people. There was the way your parents did it, there was the attitude of the area you live in, north, south, backwoods, city. “He’s just a dog”, “He’s my baby and nothing is good enough for him”. There is the newer thinking of holistic eating and vet care.
When I was a kid, we were poor. The dog got table scraps. If there were any, you shared with him (and what kid wasn’t willing to give up his brusslesprouts or spinach) not so much the meat, (although I was, which was why it was so easy for me to become a vegetarian over 40 years ago, but that’s another story). And the lucky dog got our bones. Rib bones, chicken bones, what ever bone we were done gnawing on, they got. And man did they love it. We eventually were told by a vet that chicken bones would splinter and would puncture something and possibly kill him, so that finally stopped. Lucky for Boots, cause he devoured those bones till he was already a teenager and luckily never had an issue.
I remember him, my first dog ever, Boots, I was a baby and he lived to the ripe old age of 19. My buddy from the time I could remember until I had to help him cross over the rainbow bridge when I was already out of high school. He was a terrier X and small and thin and wiry and protected the kids with all his heart.
My mom told us stories of her and my aunts putting all the kids on the porch in their buggies and playpens, the parents would sit and have their coffee, but if they had to go in or answer a phone or whatever, Boots was at the head of the stairs and no one, and I mean no one was getting on that porch without losing a leg.
Sometimes at night when she would put me in my crib to sleep, he would sneak in sometime during the middle of the night and she would find him sleeping at the foot of the crib by my feet, ever the lover and protector! He slept in all my beds, till his last days. As has every dog I’ve ever owned. Don’t get me started on the right or wrong of that…. yet again another blog.
I have wonderful stories about him as I grew up and that will be in that blog, but this one is about his food. I guess as we got older and there was a little more money in the family, my parents starting buying some dog food too. I really remember Ken-l Ration. I think that was the name of it and of course Alpo. The staples of canned dog food back then. It looked like rotten spam, and smelled like…well, rotten spam. Which I wouldn’t eat ever so I couldn’t tell ya what the heck Spam or rotten Spam tasted like. But the dog food came out of the can whole, (you opened both ends then pushed it out) and it was God Awful looking. Or you spooned some out of the can, and then put a lid on the can to keep the rest of the rotten spam-like crap fresh. Actually that came later, first you just wrapped the can, which never stayed closed. Then some genius made plastic dog food can covers. Wow, no more left overs in the fridge smelling like dog food. YUM!
Well, as we grew up, the doggie powers that be said don’t feed table food to dogs, they would get stomach aches, diarrhea, vomit, get spoiled and not eat their own food, etc. etc. and they said, give them the same thing all the time because change would also upset their tummies. Really? How often can you eat rotten-spam-smelling globulous stuff over and over and over?
Oh and way back when, to be honest, never heard of the whole poisonous onions, raisons, grapes food things. Maybe many a sensitive pooch died of unknown causes back then and it was really because of a food allergy or something they they ate. What did we know! But to be really honest, my dog ate everything. If the meat loaf had onions, he had onions, if the pie had raisons, so did he. I guess we were just lucky.
Even these days, when I still had my two huge Italian dogs, Badabing and Badaboom, (Boom is gone and sadly Bing is very old) but my huge Italian kids would beg for anything we had. Well actually they didn’t beg, they would sit in front of us, point to oour plates and say “Youse gonna eat that?”… and of course we would hand it over! Hey, who needs to get whacked over over a piece of linguine.
Our dogs were always healthy, happy, and willing to eat just about anything we gave them. Seriously, what dog doesn’t want your food? Bing is a huge 120 lb dog and still going at 14. Very old for a large breed dog. So thankfully we did something right and he had some strong garbage can genes. Some were pickier than others. But we just never believed in the one kind of food and only feeding dog food. So I guess we were kinda ahead of our time in that way. Lucky Dog!
And seriously, if you gave your kid the same food every day, even a healthy meal with chicken, a potato, some peas, and an apple, you would say, yep, I am a good mom and my child has a healthy nutritious meal (and you would be so right) but….give that same meal to him or her 3 times a day every day for years, and I think they would get bored, not be so thrilled to eat it, and probably would have some nutritional deficiencies to boot.
Now, thankfully for the dogs, there is a whole new holistic approach to the feeding of our pets. (And we already know all this for our kids, but they’re pickier than the dogs) My daughter lived on macaroni and cheese for 2 years one time and still is alive to tell the tale! So maybe I’m wrong, and have no idea what I’m talking about. Wouldn’t be the first time.
Some experts recommend changing the diets at least every three months. (for the dogs, not the kids) Some say to just add something new and healthy to the food they are eating when ever you want to give them a treat. If they eat a manufactured commercial food of high quality that works for them, just add some fresh chicken, turkey, eggs or something that would make their food new and give them the variety they might be craving.
Many vets now tell you that a diversified diet also can help expose him to new foods and possibly help your dog not develop food allergies. Some brands are actually made to rotate so you can stick to high quality products for optimal nutrition and still give them variety. But if you are changing food, like kibble to give them a change, do it gradually, because truly many dogs do get upset stomachs if the change is that abrupt and they are used to eating the same thing all the time. Usually mix a small amount of the new into the old, about 25% new into 75% old and then over a few day gradually blend more of the new until it’s all new. Then do the same with the next change in a few months. And if you have a dog that does have food issues, you may want to ask your vet before you do any changes at all.
So many dogs do have allergies and sensitivities now. (Maybe cause they are so purely bred? I don’t know. Our dogs were 57 heinz varieties, no hint of their background) Hey kid, who was your dad? They had iron clad stomachs cause they lived out of garbage cans before we got them! And I am soooo not kidding. Bing was a street survivor.
Luckily, now there is food without grains, without chicken, without flavor… kidding, there is supposedly a flavor explosion waiting for them…again, should I taste it? If they say this cat food taste just like tuna.. or sparrow… how would I know if they were lying??!
I know you have to pick one and see what works for your pet. And I know some of the foods now are extremely expensive, but thats because they are made of such high quality natural foods, real ingredients, no rendered parts, hand selected cuts of meat, garden vegetables, fresh fruit and tangy yogurt. OMG, just realized, if I ever run out of food, I can certainly just dive into the dog food till I get another pay check. They’re eating better than me!
And some of us nuts, actually cook food for our dogs. This can be a good or a bad thing. The federally regulated commercially prepared foods today (be they frozen, canned, or dry) are supposed to have quality assurance programs that make sure the “nutritional profile” and “bio-availablity” of a food is perfect. These make sure that the dog absorbs what he needs with attention to essential nutrients, amino acids, antioxidants and such. They are supposed to be well balanced and complete.
Not like the meals I make for myself. Hmmm, fresh fruit, good, cheese, good, dairy, good, graham (a form of wheat) good… thus strawberry cheesecake a perfectly good and healthy choice for dinner. And speaking of Healthy Choice… I love that Ice Cream! How much Healthy Choice can you eat before it is no longer a healthy choice?
Anyway, so yes, the dog food you make at home could possibly be incomplete and not as healthy for them. You have to be really creative, careful, and aware to make your own food and not cause deficiencies.
I use chicken, brown rice, fresh vegetables, pumpkin, apples, yams, and eggs. My guy is very old now and basically has kidney problems so I have to keep the protein down cause his kidneys can’t handle it. A kidney diet has to be lower in phosphorous, salt, and higher in fish oil. So if you are going to go the trouble of making their food, talk to your vet or an animal nutritionist first so you help them, not hurt them. And I have to tell you, it is satisfying on the one hand to know exactly what they are getting, but very time consuming and quite an effort to keep up.
But with that all said, all my dogs have eaten from the table, from my plate, taken food right out of my mouth. (Oh, I never said they were well trained) If they had opposable thumbs, they’d open the fridge and help themselves. Maybe I could teach them to serve me… wow, what a concept! LOL!!
So bottom line, high quality commercial food, home made food, mixing it up and giving them variety and healthy treats, oh yeah, lots of treats, that’s the ticket. Luckily, my dogs have lived wholesome healthy long lives and I stand by that. (They’ve had illnesses, they’ve gotten sick and vet bills have soared. It happens. But if you feed them right, it is one more way to try and keep them healthy.
So excuse me, but I have to go now, Bing is waiting for his pizza and I have to pick it up, there’s no delivery from our shop. And yes, I am teaching him to drive. They’re doing it in Australia. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.