I am sold on using only healthy dog food and treats for my dogs. I am done feeding them kibble, except as an occasional snack. After having one dog die of liver cancer at 8 years old and another dog spend her life in and out of vets’ offices and pet hospitals with unknown stomach disorders, I decided to take my dog’s nutrition seriously. In fact, after I switched my last mini-schnauzer from kibble, when she was almost dying and refusing to eat, to Frenchie’s Kitchen human-grade cooked food, she went from being a slow old lady to acting like a puppy again at 9 years old. I also worked with a holistic vet and added supplements to her food.
I have read so many horror stories about treats and food causing sickness and death in dogs. I have also read dozens of stories about dogs that had been diagnosed by their vets to die within a few weeks or months, but then go on to live several more years on a healthier diet. Many of the people who saved their own dogs’ lives through healthy nutrition started their own healthy treat or food companies to help other pet owners, and I always support them. (Do not attempt to cook for your dog without working with your vet and a canine nutritionist. You will need to add supplements to ensure your dog gets all the vitamins and minerals he or she needs in his or her diet.)
I strongly advise you to do some reading and consult a nutritionist. It is definitely worth your time to understand healthy dog food and treats, since switching your dog’s diet can save you dozens of trips to the vet with a sick, suffering animal, as well as give you several more years with your dog.
Here is some quick advice on healthy dog food and treats, and my choice for food:
Here is a simple, clear example of how to pick treats: Look at the ingredients. They should simply list the meat and vegetables ingredients. When there is a long list, or extraneous ingredients, do not buy them. Quick tip: Do not buy treats or food in your drugstore or grocery chain. I saw some treats in a drugstore that claimed to be both nutritious and human grade. The ingredients included molasses and vinegar. This sugar hooks your dog onto the treat, and your dog does not need sugar in their diet.
Treats sometimes claim to be 100 percent “real” and all natural, yet include ingredients, such as wheat flour, wheat gluten, soy protein, sugar, propylene glycol, caramel color, sodium nitrate, potato starch, or salt. Get plain treats with few ingredients. Keep it simple.
Below are some resources to understand better your dog’s food.
For years, I have been telling my clients to use the Dog Food Advisor, an unbiased rating site for hundreds of brands. I recently learned about Dog Food Review, with whose reviews I mostly agree. Lastly, a new documentary, Pet Fooled, has caused many people to switch to raw feeding. The documentary found that Mars and Nestle own about 75 percent of the pet food market, and supply nutritional info for vet schools to increase profit margins, not keep our pets healthy. The documentary also references TruthAboutPetFood.com, at which you can learn more about the horrifying lack of regulation in the pet food industry, recalls, and much more.
I hope these references will help you make better choices for healthy dog food and treats for your pup. My last puppy, Laff, who died in a botched heart surgery, chose her own favorite foods. I weaned her off the kibble to freeze-dried raw foods. I still use that to supplement the diet of my new puppy, Musik, when we are traveling, since carrying refrigerated food everywhere you go is not easy, and even unsafe, sometimes.
I tried Kompis’ old frozen food on Laff, who was less than thrilled. The Farmer’s Dog contacted me and asked me to try out their food, which is of the same human grade, cooked meat and veggies style that I prefer. This company is one of the types I mentioned that got its start by a pet owner trying to help their own dog. Laff loved it. I ran it by my holistic vet, and she asked a few clarifying questions, and then gave it a thumbs up. I offered it to Musik as well, and she is head over heels for this food. She has been pretty healthy for a puppy so far, with only a couple vomiting episodes, pretty healthy stools, and lots and lots of energy.
This company creates food packages for your dog. The ingredients and proportions are based on the information you give them about your pup. The other thing I love about The Farmer’s Dog’s food is it gets delivered to your house as needed in a freezer pack. You do not have to run to the store with your own freezer pack in tow, like I did for Kompis’ previous food. It was hard planning a trip across town only to grab her food and then rush home to get it into the freezer. The Farmer’s Dog is the food I am going with for my new pup.
Beverly Ulbrich, “The Pooch Coach,” has been providing expert private dog training and behavioral modification to the San Francisco Bay Area for many years. Seen frequently on TV for her expertise in all things dog related, she also works behind the scenes with dogs for TV, advertising, and movies. Her specialties include dog aggression, fear and anxiety. Her motto is “Any Dog. Any Problem.” Find out more at PoochCoach.com. You can also find The Pooch Coach videos on YouTube.