What I Feed My Dog and Why I Feed What I Do

< A version of this article was published in the August 2020 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 11DEC20 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/WhatIFeedAndWhy >

At least once a week, someone asks me, “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Based on experience, they expect me to say, “I feed my dog brand X because it is the best food for all dogs!” Sadly, that is the response they hear far too often from other pet care professionals.

I tell them, “I feed Muppy a variety of different types and brands of foods. Every time I purchase food, I switch the primary protein source. I also mix additional water in with whatever food I am feeding. I do not believe that there is a single brand of food or formula that is or ever will be the “best” for all dogs.”

When I got my first puppy, Trivia, in 1975, I was a teenager. I knew nothing about dogs except that I liked them. I fed her dry food based on the recommendation of her veterinarian. When my wife and could afford our first home in the early ’80s, we continued to feed our dogs kibble.

In 1991 Paula was a vet tech, and we had just purchased our second home and a Cairn Terrier puppy we named Gus. Paula’s boss taught us that not all kibbles were the same, so we started Gus on a premium kibble. However, Gus soon developed health problems that led to his becoming the catalyst for our continuing education on pet nutrition. [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition ].

We learned dry food or kibble was developed during World War 2 when steel for cans and meat for dog food was in short supply. Today kibble is the type of food most commonly fed to dogs. Dog food companies promote kibble as if it is the best source of nutrition for a dog. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Kibble exists because it is cheap to manufacture, convenient to feed, has a long shelf-life and is less expensive for the consumer than higher-quality foods. Kibble meets the minimal nutritional requirements so that your dog will survive. It does not provide optimal nutrition that can help your dog thrive.

In 1998 we learned about the benefits of raw diets. We traveled to San Diego to attend a seminar with Dr. Ian Billinghurst, a veterinarian advocating for the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet for pets. Based on what we learned from Dr. Wysong and Dr. Billinghurst, both veterinarians, we started to explore feeding fresh, whole food to our dogs.

In 2002, we started selling commercially prepared, frozen, raw food in the store. At the time, we had five dogs, so economics dictated that we fed a raw meal once a day and kibble once a day. When we were down to two dogs, we switched to feeding 100% raw. Since then, other options such as freeze-dried, and lightly- cooked diets, have also become available, and they are vastly superior to kibble. While we still sell mostly kibble, we also sell nine different food brands in the non-kibble category.

Just like you, my budget plays a role in what I choose to feed my pets. That’s why we fed a mixture of fresh food and kibble when we had five dogs. We knew that feeding a raw diet only a few times a week would be beneficial. One of the reasons we choose to limit our home to one small dog is so that we can afford to feed her the best.

I believe the best diet for a dog is composed of muscle meat, organ meat, and bone. The food should contain little or no soluble carbohydrates. Such a diet represents what a dog is designed to eat. Even the best kibble contains carbohydrates, and some formulas are over 50% carbs.

As much as possible, ingredients should be human-grade, but that is rare in kibble. When you see chicken on the ingredient list of a bag of dry dog food, you may envision a whole roast chicken, but what is probably in the food is a chicken frame. A chicken frame is the bones and cartilage of a chicken, containing the meat that was not removed for use in human products. Chicken frames are also often used in frozen raw diets. There is nothing inherently wrong with a chicken frame, but it is not what most consumers think is in their pet’s food when they see the word “chicken” on the label.

When Muppy joined us in 2013, we started feeding her various types and brands of food. Today, one meal every day is raw or lightly-cooked food. Her second meal may be the same type of food but is a different brand and protein. It may also be a freeze-dried or canned food, or even a very high quality, low carbohydrate kibble.

In the past 12-months, Muppy has eaten ten different brands of food composed of ten protein sources (beef, bison, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, salmon, sardines, turkey, and whitefish). To learn more about why I believe dietary rotation is so important, go to http://bit.ly/DietRotation1-30JUL19.

You will note that the above image includes a water faucet. That is because I always add water to Muppy’s food. If she were surviving on her own, she would be looking for living food sources, like mice and other rodents, that are mostly water. If kibble, freeze-dried, or dehydrated food were are fed without adding water, they could be dehydrating.

So that is how I answer the question, “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” What I recommend for your dog will depend on their nutritional needs, your concerns, and your budget.

FMI – On a recent Woof Meow Show podcast, Kate and I talk about what we feed our pets with animal nutritionist and author Linda Case. – https://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatWeFeed-11JUL20

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets – – WWM-MAR2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – Maine Dog Magazine – Winter 2017 http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

Pet Nutrition – What Should I Feed My Pet? http://bit.ly/What-Should-I-Feed-My-Pet

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog? – WWM-JUN2016 – http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourDog

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? http://bit.ly/ShouldIFeedMyPetARawDiet

Pet Nutrition – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton with link to 1 hour video http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

Pet Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense http://bit.ly/DietRotation

Pet Nutrition – The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 1 http://bit.ly/DietRotation1-30JUL19

Pet Nutrition – The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 2 http://bit.ly/DietRotation2

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

Podcast – What We Feed Our Pets and Why, with – Don Hanson, Kate Dutra, and Linda Casehttps://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatWeFeed-11JUL20

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

Green Acres Pet Nutrition Resources Page
( http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Home )

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

Pet Foods We Offer At Green Acres Kennel Shop http://bit.ly/GAKS_PetFood_Brands

Pet Nutrition – Which Companies Are Behind Your Pet’s Food?  – http://bit.ly/PetFoodComp

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©11DEC20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Podcast – Listener Questions No. 31

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from May 5th, 2018, Kate and Don address the following questions; 1) Why is it important for cats to have wet or canned food in their diet?, 2.) Would you elect to ship your pet via air cargo?, 3) We have three Chihuahuas. Two of them fight terrible several times a day and then act like best friends. The third growls whenever she gets picked up. Help!, 4) I want to rescue a cat. What age cat and what sex will adjust the easiest to my home?, 5.) What do you think of weight management foods?, and 6.) My dog steals and guards things like socks and then growls when we try to take them away. She does this with anything she is not supposed to have. What do we do?

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog ( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

Book Review – Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health by Kymythy Schultzehttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/07/31/book-review-natural-nutrition-for-cats-the-path-to-purrfect-health-by-kymythy-schultze/

Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do?https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/03/help-my-dog-is-aggressive-reactive-fearful-anxious-etc-what-do-i-do/

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful?http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

What Should I Do When My Dog Growls?https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/18/canine-behavior-what-should-i-do-when-my-dog-growls/

What Should I Do When My Dog Does Not Let Me Take Something They Have Stolen and Snaps or Tries to Bite Me?https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/08/20/what-should-i-do-when-my-dog-does-not-let-me-take-something-they-have-stolen-and-snaps-or-tries-to-bite-me/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show ( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Kymythy Schultze Author of Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Healthhttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/07/31/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-kymythy-schultze-author-of-natural-nutrition-for-cats-the-path-to-purrfect-health/

 

©06MAY18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog?

<Updated 11DEC20>

< A version of this article was published in the June 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< An updated version of this article was published in the August 2020 issue of Down East Dog News and at https://bit.ly/WhatIFeedAndWhy >

<This topic was also discussed on The Woof Meow Show on 4JUN16 – click to listen>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1Most of you know that I own Green Acres Kennel Shop and that we sell pet food. As such, it is not uncommon for someone to walk into the store and ask me, “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Based on experience, I find that many people expect me to say “I feed my dog brand X because it is the best food for all dogs!” Sadly, when asked the same question, this is often the answer they hear from pet stores, breeders, shelters, and even veterinarians. Since that is not what they will here from me, and since my response will not be that simple, I thought I would answer it here.

If someone sells or even gives away pet food, he or she has a financial interest in which food they recommend. Green Acres’ sells pet food, and we gain financially when you purchase pet food from us. However, one of the things that I believe makes us different from many purveyors of pet food, is that once people get to know us they understand that all of us in the store care greatly about nutrition and want to help you find the food that will be the best for your dog and your budget. In fact, because we all have different dogs, with different needs, if you ask each staff member what they feed their dog you will discover you will get different answers. There is no single food that is the best choice for all dogs and all situations.

So when I am asked this question I typically respond with; “I feed Muppy, a variety of foods from a variety of manufacturers with a goal of rotating the primary protein source every time I purchase food.”

Twenty years ago I predominantly fed my dog’s kibble. Additionally, I have fed; canned food (wet food), homemade diets, frozen raw diets and freeze-dried raw diets. In 2002, we started selling Steve’s Real Food for Pets, a commercially prepared, frozen, raw food in the store. At the time, we had five dogs, so economics dictated that we fed a raw meal once a day and kibble once a day. When we were down to two dogs, we switched to feeding 100% raw. I made this choice after a great deal of research.

My fundamental reason for feeding a raw diet is that it is primarily composed of muscle meat, organ meat, and bone. Depending on the brand there is very little or no soluble carbohydrates in these foods. A diet with little or no carbohydrates is the natural diet of a carnivore like a dog or a cat. Even the best kibble is going to be high in carbohydrates which are not a necessary nutrient for dogs or cats. Our Golden Retriever Tikken lived to be 16, and I attribute that was partially due to the nutritional choices that we made for her.

When Tikken passed, we decided that we would down-size for our next dog. Our target was a dog weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. We did that for two reasons. One, both my wife and I have some back problems and carrying a 50lb dog (Tikken) up and down the stairs the last year of her life was not always easy. However, even more importantly to me, I wanted to make sure that we would always be able to afford to feed our next dog the best diet possible throughout her life. That is easier with a small dog who eats less.

Since the day Muppy joined us, just over three years ago, she has been fed a commercially prepared, frozen raw diet, which we occasionally supplement with canned food or freeze-dried food.  She is fed a variety of frozen raw foods made by Bravo, Steve’s Real Food for Pets, and Vital Essentials. We rotate the primary protein source every time we purchase food and also rotate between brands because each has advantages. Vital Essentials and Steve’s both offer their formulas in small nuggets which make portion control easier. We also keep freeze dried diets from Bravo and Vital Essentials on hand for those occasions when we fail to defrost Muppy’s frozen ration in advance of meal time. We vary protein sources at every purchase, rotating between beef, chicken, pork, turkey, and turducken. Additionally, we supplement her meals with freeze-dried green tripe, coconut oil, a probiotic and Wysong Dentatreat.

So that is how I answer the question; “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Is that what I would suggest you feed your dog? What I recommend will depend on your dog’s nutritional needs and what you are looking for in a dog food because there is and never will be a single brand of food that will be the best food for every dog.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/11/pet-nutrition-should-i-feed-my-pet-a-raw-diet/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2012/05/04/nutrition-why-rotating-diets-makes-sense/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/16/book-review-ruined-by-excess-perfected-by-lack-the-paradox-of-pet-nutrition-by-richard-patton/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

 

What do you feed your pets?http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow2016-06-04-What_do_you_feed_your_pets.mp3

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellottihttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/17/podcast-raw-diets-and-the-carnivore-meat-company-vital-essentials-dee-ferranti-and-jodi-langellotti/

Podcast – The Rationale for Feeding Pets Raw Foods with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/03/podcast-the-rationale-for-feeding-pets-raw-foods-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – Bravo’s Raw Pets Food, Treats, Chewables and Bones with Bette Shuberthttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/10/podcast-bravos-raw-pets-food-treats-chewables-and-bones-with-bette-shubert/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Gary Bursell of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/16/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-gary-bursell-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Nicole Lindsley of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/23/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-nicole-lindsley-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Books

Beginnings – Getting Your Dog and Cat Started on a Raw Diet by Melinda Miller and Honoring Your Cat’s Natural Diet by Terri Grow <Click here for a free download>

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet – Kymythy Schultze

Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – Dr. Richard Patton

See Spot Live Longer – Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

The Truth About Pet Foods – Dr. Randy Wysong

Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet – Steve Brown

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©11DEC20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>