At Bruno’s second acupuncture session the subject of diet came up with Dr. Yamate. I had yet to take Bruno off commercial dog food and switch him over to meat and vegetables. I admitted to Dr. Yamate that cooking twice a day, or even once a day every day, just was not going to realistically happen. I confessed that commercial dog food was convenient.
Unfortunately, convenient is not always healthy or nutritious. I had always fed my dogs what I thought to be good quality premium dog food. Turns out, the well-known brand I was using contained wheat, preservatives, fillers and other ingredients that I cannot pronounce much less spell. Bad, bad, bad! If I was going to continue to use commercial dog food then there were a handful of brands to look into. These brands had ingredients that consisted of berries, fruits, vegetables, rice, yams, potatoes, salmon, turkey, venison, etc.
Yes, I could continue to use a higher grade commercial dog food but meat and vegetables were still being pushed as the best option. So I decided that I would compromise and do half and half; I would still need the convenience factor to make this work.
After a trial and error process, I now have a system down that works for me. I cook in bulk and prepackage the ingredients. I buy five pounds of turkey, five pounds of red meat, and three pounds of various vegetables. I cook everything up at once and then combine the veggies with the meat. One cup gets scooped into a Ziploc sandwich bag. The bags are labeled and then get placed into the refrigerator and freezer. Every morning Bruno gets one cup of dog food, one bag of warmed up turkey and veggies, warm water, and herbal supplements totaling two cups of total food. This process is again repeated for dinner except for red meat and veggies instead of turkey.
I have the cooking process down to an hour and ten minutes from start to clean up. I average between forty and forty-two baggies which last roughly around three weeks. Bruno supervises the cooking and assembly process and gets rewarded with any leftovers. For a little variation, I will substitute meat and veggies with scrambled eggs, tuna, rice, cottage cheese, chicken, pork, etc. Bruno quickly learned that when the gas grill gets fired up, he is getting something hot off the grill in his evening meal.
A lot of people think I am crazy when they find out that I cook for my dog. I shrug my shoulders and do not let it bother me. I have chosen a path of treatment, herbs, supplements, and diet to better my dog’s quality of life and lifespan. I do not find this to be “crazy” nor do I proclaim this to make me better or smarter than other pet owners.
Bruno’s appetite has never been an issue but I think it is safe to say the big guy now looks forward to mealtime. About every third bag of dog food I switch to a different brand. This is so his system does not become accustomed to the same thing and also for palette variety.
The benefits for Bruno since changing his diet have been a healthier fuller coat, less shedding, and less scratching. The size of his stool also reduced which is a plus on my end of things. I vary his food because I have come to realize our canine companions do not enjoy eating the same thing day after day just as we humans get tired and bored with the same foods.
Since changing Bruno’s diet I have become much more knowledgeable and educated about commercial pet foods and diet. Diet and nutrition play a big role in our domesticated pets health, illnesses and longevity. I think back to a previous shepherd who had skin allergies and I am now convinced it was mostly food related. We live and we learn.
For those who cannot truly understand the time, worry, money, effort and lifestyle changes I have committed to a “dog”, I compare the circumstances to a parent who would be willing to do anything for an ill child. I am no different.
*Originally posted May 7, 2010*