How 10% can lead to 100%
Part 1 of feeding fresher food and helping my dogs live longer
A journey to understanding the true cost of kibble and the trade off in making a fresher alternative.
Dog Food: When I was a kid!
I was raised with the standard of scooping dry dog kibble into a bowl. Well, scratch that. As a child, I lived near my aunt and uncle, who lived on a farm. They had dogs, cats, some cows, maybe a horse. I remember there was always a pan outside and my aunt would drop in all the leftovers from every meal, which the dogs and cats ate. There would be milk, pieces of bread, chunks of meat, and vegetables. This sticks out in my memory because I remember thinking as a kid, wow, those dogs got the leftover donuts! So even though the baked goods weren't the healthiest thing to feed them, they were eating far fresher food than we are all feeding our pets now.
The pet food industry created processed, bagged food for the convenience of pet owners and their busy life style. It is brainless and easy. Scoop the amount of food for your size dog, according to the label, and the dog or cat has been fed. Kibble is a processed product with all the natural benefits cooked out of it and then added back in, sometimes in chemical form. Even the most expensive bag of dog food has the same process. I saw it as basically feeding your Dog a Cheeto. It is similar to the microwave TV dinner craze in the 80s. Pop a meal in a plastic tray into the microwave, and dinner is ready in 5 minutes. Here is the difference. You can make those choices for yourself.
Do you want fast food, microwave meals, or fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins? Your dog or cat does not have that choice. They are completely reliant on you and the decisions you make for them.
I have been searching for ways to help my pets live a long, healthy, exciting life. They give me so much; in return, I want to show them that love. I started by looking for ways to eliminate medications causing unpleasant side effects with my old dog, who had some pain
issues. I learned about essential oils and energy work. I had heard about feeding a raw diet and looked up food dogs could eat.
Then Sunny came into our lives, and she ate everything! A pan of brownies, gum, macadamia nuts, bacon, and more (don't judge; she was a food ninja!). I often researched what dogs shouldn't eat because Sunny could find anything that smelled food and learned to open cabinets and draw. We had to put baby-proof locks in the whole kitchen! As I researched what dogs shouldn't eat, I saw interesting anecdotes about what they could eat.
Then, I went to an animal conference and listened to veterinarians and other animal professionals talk about helping pets live long lives. A continuous theme always came back to nutrition.
What we feed them?
One of the speakers was Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib. They wrote a book called The Forever Dog and have several podcasts as well as Tedx and Petx talks. What impacted me the most from their presentation was that adding just 10% fresh food to a dog's diet can add extra years to their life! Imagine what feeding more than 10% can add!
So, I started trying to feed my dogs (and myself) a fresher diet.
It is a scientific fact that animals have tastebuds, so why shouldn't they have variety and enjoy their dining experience? I started with canned food, then very expensive canned food mixed into their dry kibble. Then, dehydrated food. I even tried raw food for a very short time. That was messy and involved chopping turkey necks with a hatchet in the backyard. Then, I couldn't use it all fast enough and was throwing a lot away because I didn't know. I was curious to know if they were getting enough nutrients, the right kind of nutrients, or the right amount. So, I kept feeding kibble in addition. 10%, right? At least I was trying. As Sunny started to age, she had diarrhea and grass-eating that resulted in vomiting (some grass-eating is ok, but not if it is excessive) and was overweight. I started supplementing with probiotics and essential oils to calm the stomach. They helped but were not the source of the issue. My brother's dog was also struggling with digestive issues and constantly trying new kinds of foods.
By this time, I had established my Energy Therapy business, and most of my animal clients suffered from stomach issues. One client said a type of food called Farmer's Dog really
helped her dog lose weight and have a calm digestive tract. I looked it up, and it is real food that is cooked and prepackaged for your dog's needs. The first box was 50% off, so I decided to try it. I could mix it into the kibble I was still feeding my dogs. Well, they loved it, of course. I could actually see the vegetables and chunks of meat without the messiness of raw food. So we became regular customers. My dogs were now eating healthier, and I was spending more on their food than ours. But they looked great! My dogs had shiny coats, were closer to the proper weight, and all stomach issues were resolved. And they were happy. So happy at mealtime with the variety and different flavors. Back to spending more on their food than my own.
It was crazy expensive! Like, what bill might get skipped to keep buying this dog food?
Then, I was late scheduling the next shipment and called them up. They said they would send me a recipe to get me through to my next order. It arrived in my email in moments and didn't look that hard! I thought, I can do this!
I bought the ground turkey and the vegetables and started cooking. I found out it is harder than it looks. It took a long time, dirtied many dishes, and I was curious if they were getting what they needed.
After I prepared their meal, they loved it, which was much cheaper.
In the ballpark of $35 compared to the $100 I was paying. So, I made another batch after they finished the first one. Then another and another. It did get easier. I learned how to calculate the percent protein and fat and how much to feed them. It still sounds daunting if you are just starting to change your pet to a fresher diet, but continue to read about this journey I am still on. You will find some good tips and encouragement.