How to get your dog to eat a little (or a lot) healthier

We all know your dog needs to eat as much fresh food as we do, but sometimes it can be hard, expensive, and time consuming. Recently I have gone down the rabbit hole of dog nutrition. Researching everything from raw diets to vegan diets and EVERYTHING in between. Mason was recently diagnosed with endocardiosis. Which essentially means his mitral valve isn’t working properly and is leaking.  The good news is that that hasn’t slowed him down one bit and with a healthy diet can live a totally normal life! Yay!

Masons “I’m hungry” look

So that leads me to why I have been doing nothing, but scouring all the information I can on dog nutrition! The dog nutrition world is just as complex as the human nutrition world with experts constantly contradicting each other. After doing a lot of research I have found a few things that I am trying to stay away from for Masons sake– Grains (oats and wheat,  soy, starches (potatoes, white rice, corn), and non-human grade food.

Grains– The two grains that I try to stay away from at all cost are oats and wheat. I am a firm believer that dogs need to eat a species appropriate diet. Dogs and wolves have 99.9% of the same DNA so I like to get my cues from what a wolf eats. Dogs were not meant to eat grains. For the most part it makes them overweight, itchy, gassy, bloated and often times dogs who eat grain have diarrhea. Not to mention most grains in commercial pet foods are GMO…(which is a topic for another blog post.) There is a lot of evidence, however, that GMO-free diets have been reverse many chronic conditions in pets according to Dr. Richard Pitcairn.

Soy– In the US most soy (all?) is GMO. Soy is also highly processed and highly allergenic for most dogs, especially when it comes in kibble form. With that said, if I am preparing tofu for myself, (local, organic and non-gmo) I will give Mason a taste.

Starches– Again most starches are highly allergenic for most dogs, they promote weight gain, and are highly processed. Not to mention corn is more then likely GMO.

Non-human grade–This is a weird one and I didn’t realize how truly important it was until recently. There is little to no regulation on the pet food industry. “There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA.” –straight from the FDA’s website. There is a body called AAFCO which is a non-profit that sets standards for animal feed and pet food in the U.S. They have no means of enforcement and preform no testing. Scary right?! Even worse AAFCO approved food is a completely voluntary approval process. So really it means nothing other then the food has met the basic nutritional guidelines for dogs, but it doesn’t matter how it gets there, through corn, soy-protein, rendered animals etc. Feeding your dog a human-grade diet ensure that all the food in your pets diet is safe for human consumption–you can eat it too! “Human Grade means ‘food grade’, ‘edible’, or fit for human consumption.”-Honest Kitchen website. Human grade pet food also has to go through the same process of approval as human food by the FDA.This process of becoming human grade is also voluntary, but makes me feel a little bit better when trying out new brands.

I told you, researching dog food is a never ending process with so much disheartening information you feel like just saying “eff it” and continue feeding your dog whatever they are eating right now. (I feel that way about my own diet a lot of the time…sigh) Not to mention raw diets and food that is better for your dog is EXPENSIVE!

Thats why Mason’s diet has been evolving ever since I got him and I learn new information. Like I said before recently with his diagnosis I have been doing even more research to ensure he lives a happy healthy life!

That is my (very) long winded way of telling you that for the research I have done I realized that Mason needs more fresh foods in his diet. This includes healthy fresh fruits (in moderation, you don’t want to give your dog a lot of sugar), veggies, fats, and probiotics. For a while I was just chopping up a little extra of whatever I was making for dinner (veggie wise) and throwing it in his food, but this took forever and I rarely did it because it was so inconvenient. Thats when I figured out the best way to add a little something fresh.

Its super easy and guaranteed you can do it for your dog right now. At the beginning of the week I open my refrigerator and check out what I have in there that would be healthy for Mason and would add a boost to his food. This week I had kale, romaine lettuce, green beans, carrots, flax seed, and chia seed. I put all of this is a blender in no particular order (or amount) with a little bit of water (enough to blend) and thats it! Now I have a weeks worth of fresh veggies to add to Masons food! If you have a dog that is picky and doesn’t like veggies you can also add a little bit of plain greek yogurt, keifer, broth or even some peanut butter (stick with a natural kind whose only ingredient is peanuts!) this will help with the flavor.

Its important to blend the ingredients and not just chop them up and add them in. Have you ever watched a dog eat its dinner? Then you know that (most) inhale it like a vacuum and you wonder if they even chewed any of it/tasted it? Most of them don’t, especially if you are feeding kibble.

By blending all the ingredients you ensure that they can digest and get all the nutrients out of the food you just fed them.

You are essentially doing the work of their teeth.

When all of this is made I add it to his dinner every night. The mixture is mostly low calorie veggies so I don’t tend to worry about the amount I am adding, but usually around 1/2 cup and he is 60 pounds. In his breakfast he also gets a tablespoon or so of coconut oil (to help with a nice coat and healthy skin) and a 1/4 cup of goats milk keifer, I like Does Leap because its local to me.

The keifer adds a good amount of probiotics and Mason LOVES the taste!

I will stick the whole thing in a container in the fridge or if you are really organized you can portion outthe amount you will need each day (I am not this organized) OR you can even make a extra large batch and freeze some so you have enough for the month.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get fresh food into your dogs diet, especially if you feed yourdog kibble! I also highly recommend watching the documentary Pet Fooled its on Netflix and is very informative.

What are you guys feeding your dogs?