When we got our adopted dog, she came with a resealable plastic bag labeled “puppy”. The lady that helped us adopt the dog told us to feed our “puppy” 1/2 cup of food twice daily. I’d watch the dog crunch away at the miniature, dry discs. Soon she’d lap up water from her plastic container* with great thirst. Then, I’d go about my business.
I didn’t have a clue.
What are you feeding her?
I went to a local pet food store to buy a training clicker and dog treats. If I can’t avoid owning a dog, let’s go ahead and train it, right? As I walked in, a sales associate stopped me and asked:
Sir, what are you feeding your dog?
Mind blown. I didn’t know. All I had was a plastic resealable bag labeled “puppy” written in purple magic marker. Couldn’t buy more of it if I wanted to!
That’s when I realized I knew nothing about dog care. I didn’t know what breed of dog I had, what she was eating, or her current stage in life. I never bother to ask myself, “What food should I feed my dog?” As a result, the only answer I could give was:
Um, I don’t know.
The sales associate stood behind table bearing various pet food samples. She told me that I was in luck. I could take some free samples home to my pet. But she warned me to stay away from the cheap dog food. You know– the common “grocery store” brands. “All it does is cause health problems down the road”, she said.
Without warning, I fell into the deep, dark rabbit hole of dog food choices.
So, She’d Rather Eat @#$%!
After a lot of research, I decided to stop feeding my dog kibble that contained wheat and corn. I wasn’t ready for a raw diet, but I wanted to get her closer to a natural one. Which meant no more cheap dog food! But I found that my dog loved the cheap stuff! When I switched her to grain free kibble, she’d walk away from it and then sniff the floor mats. She’d rather pick dirt and grime out of my rugs then eat grain free kibble. When I take her outside, I’d catch my dog trying to eat cat feces, yet she’ll turn down grain free kibble!
What does that say about grain free kibble?!
And what does that say about my dog? Why is she eating cat manure?!
With so many failed attempts, I believed that all grain free kibble brands lied. The more they claimed your dog would love it, the bigger the lie.
Wet Food. Wet Poo.
So, I abandoned kibble altogether and started feeding my dog canned or “wet” food. I noticed some changes:
- Her constant reverse sneezing subsided.
- She started enjoying eating again. For a while.
- She had less thirst.
- She started having diarrhea.
- Then, she stopped eating again.
I ended up putting her on bland diets a few times to clear up the diarrhea. A good tip to control that is to feed your dog canned pumpkin and boiled skinless chicken. That seems to clear up the stomach upset and keeps your dog feed.
We finally discovered the brand of food in the plastic bag that can with our dog. But, it was kibble and I wanted to stay away from that. The lady who introduced us to the dog insisted that small dogs don’t do well with wet foods. She insisted we return to kibble. My wife agreed. But, I wanted to try a few more options first.
Human Grade Foods
My next experiment involved a dehydrated food. You take the powder and mix warm water into it. Once it re-hydrates, you have a wet food. The box advertises the food quality as “human grade”. That means: Safe enough for humans to eat, but only meant for dogs. Also, the food is prepared in a human grade kitchen or food processing plant.
No. I did try any myself. My dog barely did, either.
My quest neared its end; I decided to try one final product. After that, I was going back to the “cheap stuff”.
The makers of a particular wet food brand made an astonishing claim. The developers ate their own dog food for 30 days! They did this to demonstrate how good and wholesome it was. They also claimed your dog will wag his tail every time you feed him.
I bought a sample pack.
What did I notice this time?
- She wolfed down her food.
- No tail wagging, but she’s licking the bowl clean.
- No more diarrhea. Yay!
- No more reverse sneezing
- Consistent results for months now.
Me and my dog are happy now! I went on a long journey during this food quest. But, it finally paid off.
The Take Away
I don’t mean to say that every dog owner must feed human grade food to their dogs. Feed your dog the best that you can afford. If your budget only has room for the so-called cheap dog food, then that’s that; You’re doing the best you can. Besides, sometimes that’s all your dog’s stomach can tolerate. And hey— maybe your dog will love grain free kibble. Regardless– if you can afford higher quality food, try to raise the level of nutrition for your dog. The healthier the dog food, the healthier the dog. And in the long run that translates into lower vet bills.
And, a happier wallet.
Have any dog food stories to share? What are you feeding your dog? Questions? Share in the comments below.
* I finally learned to replace her plastic container with stainless steel bowls. Using Stainless steel is more sanitary for you and your dog.