Napping/keeping an eye on everything as we make dinner
Napping on the weekend.
This week was fun. We spent a lot of time outside and the rest well…napping. Mason and I are heading away for a couple of days to do some backpacking. Our very first long trip! We do plenty of camping and hiking, but not a lot of long backpacking trips. Let us know if you have any tips for us! And Happy 4th of July Everyone!
Life has been really awesome lately. Maybe its just the warmer weather, and longer days, but Mason and I have been getting out and enjoying Vermont more then I have in the past. I grew up in VT (as did Mason) and there is something about this summer that feels different…does anyone else feel that way?
Mason and I have been getting into the best routine! We go to camp together everyday Monday-Friday. By Friday Mason is completely wiped out…like walking by my side wiped out! Most afternoons we come home and he enjoys a marrow bone form Boyden Farm (hello local, non gmo, happy cows!). After that Mason takes a nap and is back awake at exactly 4:00pm on the dot and ready for a run. After our run we head down to the river and only come back up to the house for dinner when we are ready.
When I first got Mason I was a full time student and had a job. Needless to say I didn’t have a lot of time for him. I would do my best to make sure he got proper exercise and was looked after (I had 4 roommates so there was always someone home with him), but I never really got to enjoy him and really get to know him.
Now I spend every waking second with him and I have to say I love it. He has such a goofy ridiculous personality. From spending so much time with him I know what he is thinking, I know when he looks at me if that means he is hungry, tired, bored, needs to go outside. I know what makes him happy, nervous, scared, and excited. This is the bond I was always looking for when I got a dog and its all because I get to spend time with him.
Rereading this I’m thinking about how crazy I sound….right? Trust me though the next time you take your dog for a walk, leave your phone behind. Enjoy the time you have with your dog, make a point to be present when you play with them, walk them, or even just take them out. I know sometimes walking your dog or making sure they get enough exercise can feel like a chore, something to cross off your to-do list, but try to make it into something fun for both of you. Don’t feel like going for a walk, go for a bike ride–they make some pretty cool leashes that attach right to your bike. Go for a swim (if you can!), Mason is ALWAYS down to swim and sometimes its nice to just sit on the beach while he exercises himself.
What I am trying to say is be present with your dog! You will enjoy your time with them so much more and they will thank you ten fold for it.
That is why life has been so great, I am able to enjoy Mason’s presence and in doing so take life at a slower pace…at a dogs pace.
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!
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.