The Most Convenient Food Ever

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Food science is wonderful, and this is truly amazing. Did you know you can purchase 100% nutritionally complete, healthy food, all in a single bag? There are age-appropriate formulas for all life stages, from infant to senior, and you can’t beat the convenience. Just measure out the appropriate amount of bite-sized nuggets and munch away! It’s full of protein, fruits, vegetables, has grain-free formulas for those with gluten intolerance, and even has essential vitamins and minerals added, and a tasty coating to enhance its natural flavor. Doesn’t that sound great?

What? No? It doesn’t?

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Of course, it doesn’t. But that’s exactly what the majority of people feed their dogs. You wouldn’t feed your child or yourself this way, because you’re not an idiot. You understand that a diet consisting solely of highly-processed ingredients, cooked at high heat and dried, is not healthy. You need fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, all in as wide a variety as possible to be truly healthy.

Even the cheapest, most crap-and-filler-laden commercial food carries the “seal of imagesapproval” from the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) as “100% nutritionally complete.” But AAFCO is not the FDA–or a government agency at all. It’s a private corporation, basically the fox watching the hen house. All their “approval” means is the bag contains what it says it contains, and if a pet is fed this particular food exclusively…it isn’t likely to die of starvation or malnutrition. It in no way certifies the ingredients are of any sort of quality.

If you (or your child) ate nothing but dried cereal, ramen, and hot dogs every day, you probably wouldn’t die. But would you be healthy? How much healthier would you be if you ate those things, but also added fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables?

I see it all the time in various dog groups. “What kind of food is best for my (insert breed here)?” They get a range of replies from the most expensive, organic, grain-free brands with exotic proteins like kangaroo or pheasant, to “I feed Crap-In-A-Bag from Costco, and my dogs have always done fine on it.” They choose a brand and buy that same bag, same variety, month after month, year after year.

At the very least, they should change the protein each time. Get beef, then the next time the chicken and turkey, then the lamb, then the salmon. The only variety some dogs get is the occasional pizza crust or tidbit from their people’s plates or what they manage to scavenge from the trash. No wonder they’re garbage-hounds. They’re starving for real food.

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I’m not anti-kibble. I feed about 50% grain-free dry food, because the tree that fell across my fence last year didn’t have $100 bills for leaves and I have two large-breed dogs who like to eat a couple of times a day.

You don’t have to go all-out with a totally raw diet. It’s not for everybody. But no matter which commercial brand you buy, you can make it healthier. At the very least, you can mix in a raw egg, or plain yogurt, or ground beef or turkey, some raw liver, or shredded and lightly steamed leafy greens or sweet potato, or a handful of fresh blueberries. Any or all of these once a day will go a long way to add high-quality nutrition and natural enzymes and probiotics to your dog’s diet.

There are complete frozen raw diets available at most pet supply stores. Not so much the “big box” stores, but your local or regional shops. These contain a range of proteins, bone, vegetables, and fruits, and can be used to supplement kibble. There are freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. I’m currently buying Sojos freeze-dried. I mix that up, then stir in the dry food.

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If raw grosses you out, cook it–but don’t over-cook it. There are all kinds of “stew” recipes out there for dogs. Put it in your slow cooker and add some to your dog’s food every day.

You don’t have to be a food chemist or a chef. Simply put a little thought into what you feed your dog. Just as you eat some processed convenience foods but also recognize the value of whole, healthy, natural foods, do the same for your dog. Convenience is…convenient. But the dog you love deserves more.

PS: While writing this post, I encountered THIS article taking a similar look at “dog food for people.” It was an April Fool’s story, and…It. Is. Hilarious.

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Brain Vacation

I’ve had a stressful, busy week, so other than some light editing, I’m giving my brain the day off. There will be knitting, TV, time with the Direwolves, and Tom has suggested pizza and movie night. When he gets home, he’s bringing pizza from a place with wood-burning ovens we’ve been meaning to try. Right now, I think the movie will be Three Billboards.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos of my day, as always, featuring Mozzie and Oliver.

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Oliver is a standard poodle, which means a trip to the groomer every 6-8 weeks. Mozzie is a golden retriever, which would usually mean grooming also, because I’m old and brittle and out of shape and lazy and happily pay someone to blow out all that dense golden undercoat, but Mozzie has a very light coat for a golden. I take him for a nail trim and bathe and brush him at home. Which is good, because he’s an anxious, twitchy dog, and being left for 5-6 hours in a busy pet resort would freak him out.

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Not Mozzie, obviously, because my bathroom is purple, not pink, and my tub is much bigger. Also, Mozzie would probably be afraid of the rubber ducky.

All I want is to get Nutball 1 and Nutball 2 into the car and to Jill’s Pet Resort with a minimum of chaos, but it never works out that way. The moment I begin laying out my clothes, they know. Bra, jeans, shoes. All things they never see unless there’s an outing in my immediate future.

I get the leashes out while they’re outside, but they still know. I get my purse out of the kitchen drawer…dead giveaway. Putting a harness and leash on two panting, whirling, over-excited, highly suspicious 60ish-pound puppies is challenging, to say the least.

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A couple of groomings ago, I didn’t realize I’d hooked Oliver’s leash through his tag ring instead of the leash ring on his collar. Trying to get two insane dogs from the car to the groomer resulted in ring-failure. I had to grab his collar, while Mozzie was in full fight-or-flight mode, trying to slip his collar and depart for the nearest horizon at speed. Luckily, the staff at Jill’s saw what was happening and came to our rescue.

Which is why they now always wear their harnesses when we go out, and why I schedule grooming for Tom’s day off so he can assist with dog-wrangling. Even with his help today, though, while I was bent over putting on Oliver’s harness, Mozzie came cannonballing through the kitchen and head-butted me at full speed. I don’t know how neither of us is unconscious.

As you know if you’ve followed my dog posts, Oliver and Mozzie are great brothers. They get along better than any two dogs I’ve ever had, and have been raised together since they were four and six months old. They very rarely fight. With one exception. When Oliver comes home from grooming, he’s either over-stimulated or annoyed, and he immediately wants to fight. We’ve been working on sorting this out. Today, Oliver started growling the second he came in the door. They’ll keep their distance for a while, and I’m trying to keep things low-key.

Tom and I disagree about Oliver’s grooming. Neither of us wants a “fussy looking” poodle with poms and rosettes and topknots. But I still want him to clearly be a poodle. So he gets a moderate head-puff, short-trimmed feet and face, natural tail, and short clip on the body.

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This will never happen. EVER.

Tom sort of likes Oliver right before grooming, when he looks like a homeless Muppet. He’s cute, regardless, but eventually you have to clip them back into poodle-shape. Never fear, he’ll be Muppety again in no time.

But what you really want to see is before and after photos, right? Yeah, me too.

Okay, Oliver before. Still mind-bogglingly cute, but getting a bit disheveled-looking, and starting to want to tangle.

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And now after. I’m not totally nuts about the full-on, freshly-groomed poodle clip, but you have to reset the poodlemeter from time to time. I’ll like his look best in about two weeks. I’ll like that for a couple of weeks, then start whining that he needs to be groomed again.

Mozzie got a nail trim and a good brushing, which was all he needed. So no before…but when I was taking pictures of Oliver, he didn’t want to be left out. That golden smile!

Freshly groomed or shaggy and rumply, they’re adorable and totally our boys. Just don’t tell Oliver that Mozzie got to go for a walk in the park and play ball with Dad in the back yard while he was gone.

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