Ginny loved crunching on ice cubes, didn’t matter if it was the dead of winter or a sweltering hot day, she loves ice cubes. She’d panic when one would slide beneath the fridge out of her reach even. We always knew if she was starting to feel the summer heat we could give her a few ice cubes to cool down. George on the other hand, hates ice cubes. Has no idea why anyone in their right mind would want to put one in their mouth, it’s just water that’s been frozen…It’s slippery, slimy, and boring.
So one day I saw on TV this nifty dog-cicle maker, had cute little molds and a premade mixture that you just poured into the trays, let it freeze then fed to your dog. I thought about it some more, George loves Popsicle (wooden handle included..yikes). So why can’t I make a dog version?
I get asked alot of the time while at the store, what is my routine for feeding my dogs? And honestly I am not the best example, all my dogs have been free-fed. Meaning there is always food down for them at any given time. This doesn’t always work with all dogs, some dogs devour whatever is put in front of them no matter how much they already have had. When George was a puppy he was that way, eventually though he would leave kibble in his bowl for later on which just turned into us free feeding him. When he was growing up, Ginny was being free fed at the same time, so I kinda have her to thanks for teaching him his laid backness about food. However, there is some sort of routine to his free-feeding, in the morning he gets about 2-3 cups, then at night another cup or so. Ginny taught him that when he asks for food he will get it, but they only ask when they are hungry and the bowl has been empty for awhile or we just got home.
8:30AM-9:30AM I’ve been adding NUPRO Joint and Immunity Support to his morning food. 1 scoop then about 1/2 -3/4 cup of water, mixing it into a sloppy gravy. Then measure out around 3 cups of food into his bowl. Plus 1-2 pumps of salmon oil mixed in too.
After introducing the NUPRO into his feeding, he literally licks the bowl clean which he never did ever ever ever. He must really like it too as it’s gobbled down within a minutes (safely), I’m happy he likes the NUPRO as having a large breed dog comes all the deterioration of joints and other hip problems. The NUPRO helps maintain his joint, connective tissue and muscle health while providing preventative maintenance for later on in his life.
5:30PM-6:30PM We have our dinner than afterwards George always gets kibble then too. Not as much as his morning amount, but roughly 1-2 cups. During this feeding I don’t add any supplements, it is just straight kibble. He’s never as keen to have his dinner as much as he is his breakfast. Sometimes he will get our table scraps, like pizza crust, or half a wiener. But nothing ever elaborate or very much at all.
Every time I am fixing his food he must sit and wait on his mat until I tell him it’s okay. This seemed like an impossible task when he was a puppy, there were some days where it took him over half an hour just to sit and let me set the bowl down. The next was waiting till I said okay. Now he is so good I can leave the room, come back put the dishes away and he still hasnt budged an inch.
There are two different kinds of raw bones. Raw meaty bones which are supplemented for a meal, and marrow bones. Raw meaty bones tend to be softer bones, such as duck necks, many people are concerned that dogs eating bones is bad. Eating bones are okay as long as they are not boiled, or cooked. Cooked bones shatter and splinter easily and can get lodged in the digestive track. I am leery on buying certain smoked bones too, the only time I get them is from our local butcher who I know process them correctly and safely. Because I don’t feed my clan a raw diet, I only feed them marrow bones which are a recreational treat not a meal substitute.
Can You Feed Raw Meaty Bones on a Kibble Diet
Yes and no. If this is something you’d like to try, then I recommend feeding a bigger meal of kibble in the morning (or evening) and then feeding the raw meaty bones in the opposite meal.
The dog’s digestive system processes kibble and raw meet differently, with kibble the stomach needs to create more acid to break down all the additional fillers. Which feeding the two too close together can be taxing on their systems. It can lead to dog’s vomiting or having diarrhea this happened in Ginny a few times, however only when she got knuckle bones. Which I found out why – the knuckles are much richer due to the cartilage and fatty deposits. If I followed the alternative meal times she was completely okay with the knuckle bones. But with George it doesn’t matter he can eat kibble then straight to a bone, each dog is different but it is best to follow the guideline in case your dog is like Ginny.
How we serve raw Marrow bones to our dogs…
Blankets and Beach Towels – If i have to feed the bones inside versus outside in the grass, I lay down the dog’s blankets or towels. They both know, ‘on your blanket’ or ‘take it to the blanket’, which helps when they want to bring you their yummy prize. What helped get them to accustomed to eating on their blanket/towel is only use this towel or blanket during bone feeding time. They will soon associate it to this time and will always go to their blanket, another tip is to always lay it out in the same spot every time.
Feed Outside – The most ideal situation to feeding them their bones is on a nice dry day. I lay both their bones outside and sit out there with them enjoying the sunshine catching up on social media. Having them eat them outside leads to know bloodied messes and no slimey drooly messes too, it is a win win situation.
What About Marrow Bones?
Marrow bones are not raw meaty bones, they’re recreational bones. Many raw and kibble feeders give their dogs raw marrow bones, but there are some risks. Here are a few guidelines I’ve learned about feeding dogs marrow bones:
don’t boil the bone – cooking/heat hardens the bones and causes a risk of tooth breakage and/or ruptured intestines.
always feed under supervision – if you notice your dog trying to chew up the marrow bones, take it away. Although it’s raw, there is still a risk of tooth breakage or bone splintering. Our dogs chew the meat off the outside (great for flossing) and then chew/lick the marrow out (lots of nutrients). When they start eating the bone, I trade them for a treat and toss the bones.
don’t let the bones sit out – I’ve been told that bones harden over time, becoming a risk to teeth. I don’t know how true this is, but I’ve heard it from several people so why take a risk? The cost of tooth repair is high; replacing a used marrow bone is affordable.
The other day in the store, a couple came in with their new puppy. They had several valid questions about the different kinds of dog food, feeding science based formulas or the holistic approach. They were quite mixed up on canned food only being a treat instead a main food staple. I gather that their trainer had influenced their opinions in saying that it does not contain the nutrients like kibble does and people only use it to entice picky eaters – which is not true at all. Canned food in combination feeding with dry food has sooo many added benefits, however feeding canned food alone for long periods of time can lead to major plaque build up. The reason for this is the crunch of kibble actually helps scrap off the plaque as it accumulates, where as the soft texture of canned food leaves the build up around the gums.
Anyways, there a three added benefits I can think of right away,
Moisture content – canned food on average has a moisture content greater than 70%. What does this really mean? It means your pet is ingesting more water!!This is a HUGE added bonus with older male cats, they need the added moisture to stave off kidney failure or disease. I lost one of my childhood cats due to this, looking back, I know why he developed kidney failure. He never once had canned food and hardly ever drank water… Introducing canned food into your cats diet at any time can help prevent this. However it isn’t just cats that benefit from the added water. All pets, dog, hamsters, rabbits, ferrets, everyone benefits from the added water, after all water is essential to all life and maintaining hydration.
Calorie dilution – the higher moisture content means lower calories compared to the dry kibble equivalent.When would this benefit a cat or dog? During weight loss. You can feed a larger volume of canned compared to dry while actually reducing the calories consumed. However just because you can, does not mean you should. Always check the proper feeding guide and follow it with slight modification depending on the activity of your dog. The increased water content will help increase the feeling of fullness during a meal and aid digestion too.
Soft Texture – the soft texture of canned food helps during times of oral sensitivity.Oral sensitivity can occur during teething as a puppy, or in aging pets when teeth, gums, and jaws become more sensitive, or during recovery from facial trauma. Many smaller dogs are subject to dental issues, and tend to need some of their teeth removed. During the recovery time after oral surgery, canned food can be a great alternative to wetting down your dogs regular kibble.
These three are just some of the added benefits I can think off the top of my head. Like I said, the benefits of canned food do not just affect dogs. It affects all pets, and it really should be incorporated into your pets diet. The next question the couple had was, once we start adding canned food to their diet, does it have to be all dry or all canned?
Feeding a combination of dry and canned food can provide the benefits of both. The best way to achieve an appropriate balance of wet to dry is to start by determining the dry food equivalents of the canned food. For example, let’s say the calories in one can of wet food is equal to the calories in one cup of dry food. If you wanted to feed a diet of 1:1 and have been feeding a cup of dry food per day the equivalent including canned would be ½ a can and ½ a cup of dry.
Make sure you choose a canned food that compliments the dry food you are feeding. I try to keep the same protein in the canned as in the kibble. For example, if the main protein in the kibble is turkey, I try to keep the canned protein a fowl too. Or if kibble is salmon, try to stick with a fish in the canned. A lot of dry food brands manufacture a wet version of the foods, I know Natural Balance carries a canned version of each recipe.
On a side note, never purchase canned food that has been dented or damaged. Even though they may be on clearance or tempting. The damage could have a caused a break in the can, or its seal which has let air get in and the contents have started to rot or mold. Unfortunately working in pet retail I have seen this all too often, one of the worse offenders was the pedigree canned food.
Often when we are in the grocery store we pick up an item, and read the label on the back. Normally you should know all the ingredients that are healthy and that are not. When was the last time you visited the pet store and read the label on your dogs treats and food? Were you able to recognize the harmful vs healthy ingredients? We’ve already talked about how to understand pet food labels, but do you know the ingredients that raise red flags? If not, bookmark this page for future reference to check the ingredients within your dog’s food. We’re going to break down five ingredients that if found on the label, you should avoid purchasing:
Ethoxyquin Unfortunately ethoxyquin is commonly found in most dog foods, it is a preservative. But this product was actually produced to be used as a herbicide! As awareness has increased around increasing quality care for our dogs, veterinarians began noticing that ethoxyquin is often associated with the development of kidney and liver damage, cancer (liver, spleen, stomach, skin), immune deficiency syndrome, blindness, and leukemia.
Propylene Glycol If you know anything about auto care products, you may have immediately recognized this. And yes, it is found in anti-freeze! It is placed in dog food and cat food to help reduce moisture and prevent bacteria growth in wet/canned food. Your dog needs intestinal bacteria to help absorb and digest the food. Since propylene glycol reduces bacteria growth, it reduces the “good” bacteria as well. As a result, some dogs can develop cancerous masses within their intestines or develop inestinal blockages.
Butylated-hydroxyanisole (BHA) or Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) Both are equally potent and dangerous for your pet. In fact, these two are often found in our food too. BHA is another preservative and is often responsible for kidney damage. BHT, even more potent than BHA, is used to help reduce food spoiling. BHT has been directly linked with cancer for both dogs and humans.
Corn Syrup/Corn is often used to help “sweeten” your dog’s palate. Too much sugar over time will lead to weight gain, diabetes, hyperactivity, build up of plaque and tartar, as well it can even change mental behavior. Over time it may develop mold or fungus; in turn, may result in death. Corn is a very inexpensive filler, and commonly found in lower grade foods.
“By Product” This could be either chicken, lamb, beef, fish, turkey and so on (any form of protein). “By product” are the internal remains of an animal, not muscle meat. Often times, this will include diseased tissues, lower intestines and tumors.
If cost is inhibiting you from buying higher quality, natural dog food, the higher quality of food the less the dog will need to eat. How does that work? Like mentioned above, corn is a major filler in the lower end brands. The more filler, the more the dog is going to need to eat in order to get the minimum nutrients they require. In quality dog food there will not be corn. So with no filler, the dog is getting all the nutrients they need but consuming less kibble.
There are so many more ingredients that you need to keep an eye out while reading the list, it can be exhaustive. As a concerned pet parent what can you do? Start researching and reading your dog’s food labels, did you find any of the five ingredients listed above on their bag? Also do not think that this list just applies to their food, treats are often overlooked but they can be just as filled with chemicals, if not more so.