I love canine nutrition and I have been studying it on my own for the past 15+ years. My passion for nutrition started with my heart dog, Chance, when she was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma and I was told I had maybe a month, if I was lucky.
I spent that day and the entire night researching everything I could about canine cancer, which led a deep dive into canine nutrition. I hired a nutritionist the next day to formulate a cancer diet for her and my passion for helping my dogs through food hasn’t stopped since. Chance lived for four months after her diagnosis. While it was not nearly enough time, I truly believe that her diet and supplements helped her live past the couple weeks that was originally predicted.
From there my interest in canine nutrition only grew. I have fed just about every variety of diet to my dogs throughout the years
- Freeze Dried
- Cooked and Raw
- Prey Model Raw
- And everything in-between
With all the varieties of food I have fed, the most important lesson I have learned is, feed the dog in front of you; do what’s best for you and your dog.
I fed different types of commercial, from kibble to commercial raw and commercial cooked. I have had great experiences with some and terrible experiences with others, kibble and raw alike.
Currently, I feed my dogs a rotation of commercial dehydrated and freeze dried with mostly cooked fresh food added and minimal raw.
I am extremely flexible in what I feed and I judge no one when it comes to what they feed their dogs. I am a firm believer in doing what works best for you and your dog.
Why I don’t feed much raw anymore
I want to make this very, very clear. I am NOT against raw, at all! Unfortunately, though, I have not had the best of luck feeding raw, whether it is DIY (with recipes formulated through a nutritionist or formulated myself) or commercial.
I fed my dogs (at the time, Try, Nargles, and Ally) a full raw diet for about a year or a little more. I started with a meal plan formulated from a canine nutritionist and my dogs did “okay”. They held a good weight and their coats looked fine but they were just, okay. I moved to feeding them a diet I designed and again, just okay. From there, I went to a commercial raw, then to feeding the Honest Kitchen base mix with raw added. For most of the year I dealt with random upset stomachs. Their hair coat would look great, then kind of blah. Also, I didn’t notice it until later, but their stamina was not as good as it should have been.
After a weekend at an agility trial, dealing with Nargles’ HORRIBLE upset stomach that led her to the vet and a month later Try almost dying from salmonella poisoning, I threw in the towel on feeding a raw diet.
I switched my dogs over to a kibble and never looked back. The allergies that I fought with Nargles began to improve (and are almost non-existent now thanks to Herbsmith Allergy supplement). No more upset tummies, random diarrhea, or nausea episodes. By far, the biggest improvement was their stamina while competing; I never realized how tired they were. Also, while they were at a “good” weight, they were always thin and I always felt like I was feeding a truckload just to keep them at that “decent” weight.
When I made the switch to kibble, I decided to always add a variety of fresh foods, such as:
- Eggs (raw and cooked)
- Canned Sardines (and fresh when I could get them)
- Cottage Cheese
- Cooked Meats (Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish)
- Fresh veggies and fruits
I varied between a few different brands of kibble, ultimately, in search of a couple of brands I liked/trusted and switch between then from month to month. (sometimes one brand for a couple months and then switch). I liked my dogs on kibble, they did well, and I was very happy with it.
Then, I went to SuperZoo 2019, a HUGE pet convention with everything under the sun, including lots of different brands and types of dog food. I was able to meet owners of various dog food brands, get to know them, ask questions, and I learned more than I ever thought I would. My biggest take away from the event though, Trust. I wanted to trust the food I gave my dogs and after I met the owner of a kibble I was feeding, I lost that trust, but I gained trust in other brands.
Currently, I am feeding a rotation of Honest Kitchen and Grandma Lucy’s with Simple Food Project as a topper. These are all brands that had already gained my trust from feeding them off and on over the years, either as toppers or while traveling. Meeting the owners of Honest Kitchen, Grandma Lucys, and Simple Food project only solidified that trust and made them a concrete part of my rotation.
I rotate between the brands and their flavors, and I love all three of them equally. I still add fresh toppers to their food, just as I did with kibble. And I have also started in the last month, using Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated toppers and Vital Essentials freeze dried toppers as well.
My dogs still get raw every now and then. I have a great source of chicken and beef hearts here that I add to their food 1-2 times a week, as well as raw eggs. I sometimes buy them ground chicken, turkey, or beef, but I always cook it. Pretty much the only thing I feed raw anymore is eggs, chicken/beef hearts, and some sardines when I can get a hold of them.
It breaks my heart to see posts on social media screaming that raw is the only way to feed, and all dogs should have raw, or that kibble should only be fed, or cooked, etc, etc. Every dog is different and should be fed that way, not every dog will thrive on raw. And not every dog will do well on kibble.
The only thing I will suggest to just about everyone, if you are feeding a commercial diet, add some fresh food, even a small amount. Even just adding an egg every other day will do wonders for your dog!
Cook too much chicken for dinner and have some leftovers? Give it to your dog! (no seasoning)
Grab some yogurt! or canned sardines!
It doesn’t have to be every day, but even just 1-2 times a week is fantastic!
I think rotation and variety is HUGE when feeding your dog (and yourself!) I try to vary what they get quite a bit, not only for their health, but to keep them excited about dinner time!