If you would not eat it, why should they?!?!? Think about this statement for a minute. Really think about. Take it in. Do you know what you are feeding your dogs? We do. We both know it and fully understand it, but we didn’t always make the best nutrition decisions for our dogs. It was not until 2004, when I lost 4 dogs to cancer and illness back-to-back that I started to educate myself, join forums and topic lists, attend workshops, READ LABELS, etc. We encourage anyone with pets to go through this same “soul-searching” of sorts and truly challenge themselves to learn about canine nutrition and wellness.
Back in October, we posted a blog entry about canine nutrition and specifics about how we feed our dogs. Since then, there have been some major changes in our feeding regimen at home and some new articles have been released. Since we are pretty big into nutrition, for not just ourselves, but also our furkids, we thought we would repost the entry with some updates. It’s amazing how many times per week we get questions about what we feed our dogs, so we feel this repost is long overdue.
While struggling with finding the right food for Luna, Mouse and Orso the last few months, we bounced around quite a bit. We went from Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed to Fromm Family Gold Large Breed to Precise Holistic Complete Large Breed to Red Barn Rolls to where we are today with Orijen Adult Dog Food. All of these foods are excellent and contain human grade ingredients, but none of them were working out for us until we switched to Orijen. We seriously considered transitioning everyone to a RAW diet but decided against it since we travel with (and without) Orso way too often to feed RAW. RAW diets are not easy on the road and creates a mission for our dogsitter. Instead, we decided on a food that is the closest we can come to RAW without the mission of feeding RAW. We are now feeding Orijen Adult to all of the dogs and are THRILLED with the results. No one is leaving food behind, we are seeing enthusiasm at feeding time, stools are reduced in size and are firmer and all the dogs look amazing!
According to Orijen’s website, this is what they had to say about the food we selected for Luna, Mouse & Orso: “BY NATURE, DOGS OF ALL BREEDS AND SIZES ARE EVOLVED AS CARNIVORES — BIOLOGICALLY ADAPTED FOR A DIET RICH AND VARIED IN FRESH MEATS, WITH SMALLER AMOUNTS OF FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND GRASSES. Formulated to match your dog’s natural diet, ORIJEN ADULT is loaded with the protein-packed meat ingredients (80%) that Mother Nature intended all dogs to eat — including free-run chicken and turkey, whole eggs and wild-caught fish that are farmed or fished within our region by people we know and trust. Passed ‘fit for human consumption’ ORIJEN’s regional ingredients are delivered FRESH EACH DAY, so they’re never frozen, preservative-free, and bursting with unprocessed, biologically appropriate proteins and fats to nourish your dog completely. Carbohydrate-limited and grain-free to replicate the natural diet, ORIJEN supplies a full 20% of regional fruits, vegetables and botanicals — including kelp, juniper berries and marigold flowers — that are naturally rich in phytonutrients, B-vitamins and essential trace minerals. Made with pride in our award-winning factory here in Alberta, Canada, ORIJEN ADULT keeps your dog healthy, happy and strong.”
Basically, it comes down to this – if WE wouldn’t eat it, why should our dogs eat it? With regard to supplementation, only Orso is given additional supplements with his food. Orso travels a lot with us and he is under more stress than the other dogs, so he gets some extra stuff in his food to help him stay strong and healthy. He gets 6000mg of fish oil daily, which works out to 3 softgels with breakfast and 3 softgels with dinner. This helps with cardiac and vascular health and helps keep his coat shiny and healthy. He also gets his recommended daily servings – split between breakfast and dinner – of 3 different products that Nature’s Farmacy makes: Dogzymes Ultimate, Dogzymes Digestive Enhancer and Dogzymes Phyto-Flex. Dogzymes Ultimate is a supplement that contains necessary vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and essential amino acids with no preservatives or additives, no added sodium or sugar. Dogzymes Digestive Enhancer is an egg based digestive bacteria and enzyme product that contains the highest levels of 5 beneficial bacteria types and 6 enzymes, making it the most complete digestive product on the market. Dogzymes Phyto-Flex is a bone & joint formula that contains an exclusive herb package for maximum nutritional support of bones, joints and connective tissue, making it ideal for the geriatric dog, agility dog or puppies.
Every once in a while, we add egg yolks, canned pumpkin, plain yogurt or cottage cheese to their food. We also often substitute an entire meal with RAW food, whether its chicken backs, necks, quarter legs, meaty bones, anything with substance that would be a suitable replacement for a meal. It’s important to remember that this is served RAW! Don’t cook it! We also give fruit and raw veggies every once in a while.
For treats, we also try to buy snacks for them that are in line with our feeding philosophy – all natural, human grade ingredients, grain free, etc. In the show ring, we bait Orso with either sliced Natural Balance Rolls or plain baked chicken breast meat.
Although Luna, Mouse & Orso’s diets may have changed, there are still some basic things that haven’t changed around here. We still rely heavily on the The Whole Dog Journal, an online resource and publication that is very informative with regard to proper care for pets, including annual recommendations of human grade dog food. As an example of the great stuff The Whole Dog Journal publishes, click here to read to read an article from February 2010 about how to pick the right food for your dog and click here for their 2010 list of recommended dry dog food.
If dog nutrition and holistic wellness are topics that seriously interest you, you can get a realistic and unbiased glimpse of what really goes into commercial pet food, including “4D” meat, which means the animals used in the food are dying, dead, diseased or disabled (this also includes the use of household euthanized pets), by reading this book: Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food, by Ann N. Martin.
I have made decisions about our dogs’ wellness routine, which includes nutrition, vaccination and supplementation, based on research and help from professionals well-versed in canine nutrition and wellness, such as veterinarians and licensed experts on this topic. Vaccines and disease have been linked. Traditional commercial pet food and disease have been linked. Low quality supplements and disease have been linked. All of our decisions are driven by research. There is a plethora of information on the internet, which makes educating yourself very difficult and confusing. Also, the marketing dollars spent by most of the big-name commercial dog food companies, such as Iams, Purina & Science Diet, make it very attractive to believe that your pet is receiving top quality pet food – research and investigative reporting strongly indicate otherwise. You owe it to your most loyal friends – your dogs – to educate yourself and make a feeding decision for your dogs that will help them live long and healthy lives. Happy learning!
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