Okay, we don’t have a dog named Fido, but I bet someone reading this does. When we decided to “eat real food” we realized that our dog was hardly eating real food. After the numbers of recalls of pet food and the people we know who lost pets to the toxic additives which had been allowed to get into commercial pet food, I began to rethink how our dog, LJ, was eating.
I had already switched LJ off store-brand dog food to a formula available by a specific company which delivers it to the home. She has always been an itchy dog, but had gotten to the point where she was getting steroid injections every three weeks to keep from tearing her skin off. The new dog food seemed to help somewhat, but she continued to have skin problems.
Early this year (2013), she started to have problems with her hind legs, which is somewhat to be expected in a dog nearing 14 years old. LJ is a small retriever-mix dog. She weighs about 50 pounds. She would slip and her legs would collapse, causing her to trip going up or down stairs. I decided that if our bodies were so much healthier from eating real food, maybe hers would be, too. I started to cook for her every day. I knew that she needed the correct ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fats, but I didn’t understand how precisely I needed to provide that ratio for her. I just mixed raw, ground lamb with cooked brown rice, a dab of yogurt and some chicken broth. Over all that I poured Lick O’Chops, fish oil and then sprinkled the recommended amount of Dinovite, a dog supplement, on top and stirred. She loved it!
LJ began to respond. Her itchy episodes began to be longer apart, and her playful, puppy-like behavior started to once again emerge.
When she actually did the splits one day with her back legs, I took her to our vet for an xray to see what was going on with her hips or spine. Dr. Ken Tudor examined and xrayed her and then brought me into the consultation room to share his conclusions with me. He asked me to tell him a little bit about LJ. We had rescued her at the age of 8 from a family which had brought her home from the pound. She could not adjust to their noisy, boisterous household with small children. She simply cowered behind the couch for hours upon end.
When we brought her to our home, she was nervous and tense, but did not hide. It took about two months for her tail to come out from between her legs, but once she knew she was in a safe, quiet and loving home, she really relaxed. People who saw her then and saw her six months later could not believe she was the same animal. It was obvious she had been abused—she has a scar across her muzzle, one on her rump and she has scars on her paws. She is very frightened by the grooming brush and even has a broken tooth, but I’m told that is not uncommon for retrievers!
Anyway, as I began to share these things with Dr. Tudor, you could see a light going off in his head. “That explains a lot,” he said. “This dog has been shot!” Shot?! Are you kidding me? “She has three pellets lodged in her flesh. But the pellets are not causing any of the degenerative changes I am seeing in her spine and hips,” he assured me.
Then he showed me the xray. I cried. Who could shoot such a sweet, loveable dog?
Dr. Tudor continued explaining to me what was wrong with her spine and hips. She had two vertebrae which had fused and several discs were compressed and pretty much missing. She also had hip dysplasia. When I told him I was trying to feed her in a way to maximize nutrition and minimize damaging ingredients, he was thrilled. His own experience with the improvement in a pet’s life and health which comes from feeding them “real food,” has been very positive and he now only feeds home-cooked food to his pets.
He went so far as to research the premium sources of nutrients in the right balance and has formulated two pet supplement powders to use in addition to a cook book with the exact measurements of a protein source, carbohydrates, and oils. His cook book has recipes like ground chicken with quinoa, tuna and pasta and eggs and rice. I have been cooking for LJ using his cook book and supplement powders with the recommended oil blend (canola and corn oil) and she is doing better than ever.
There is an article from Dr. Tudor in our Classroom Corner to help us understand how to best nourish our pets. Ivan and my pets are like extensions of our family. I suspect it’s the same for you. Why wouldn’t we want to provide the very best for our pets? My morning routine includes cooking breakfast for me and Ivan, preparing lunch for Ivan to take to work and cooking LJ’s breakfast and supper, too. I feed her half the amount I have prepared for breakfast and refrigerate the other half. It’s easy to pull that out in the evening and serve it up for dinner.
Dr. Tudor told me he cooks the whole week’s meals up on the weekend and puts each portion in a ziplock bag for ease of feeding during the week. I do that when we travel, but normally I’m cooking each morning anyway, so I just cook hers up with ours. Often, if we are having rice at lunch, she has rice that day, as well. If we are having quinoa, so is she! It’s quite simple and it only took about a week for this to just be what I do each morning.
I only wonder how much better she would be doing at age 14 if I had done this for her starting at age 8. I know that realistically we don’t have a lot of time left with LJ, but I also know that what time we have left is going to be as good as I can make it be.
Maybe you have a precious pet which is just a pup. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start that pup out on real food in the right proportions with the right nutrients? The energy and effort you pour into him today will only extend his life and increase the quality of his life over time. It’s well worth the effort!