Saturday, September 17, 2011

In My Opinion

WARNING - This is long and undoubtably boring if you aren't interested in dog diets. Hell, it probably is boring even if you are!  :)

I'm strongly considering switching Coulee and Lacey over to a homemade diet.  I've signed up on a few chat groups, and I've read a few books (and have a few more on the way).  I have both the girls on a high quality kibble at the moment (or rather I did.  Coulee is currently on a "close your eyes and don't read the ingredient list" hypoallergenic diet) and while I think this is probably a decent diet for them, I'd like to provide Coulee with the healthiest option possible.

I don't think kibble is bad (well some kibble is horrible).  If I did, I wouldn't have fed it for all these years. I think kibble is a great choice for dogs with no health issues.  I wouldn't even be considering this if Coulee didn't have an autoimmune problem.

I think of it like this:
Grocery store kibble (food like Kibbles and Bits) is the equivalent to eating at McDonalds every other night.  It keeps you going, but isn't the healthiest lifestyle.

High Quality Kibble (food you usually find in Pet Stores) is the equivalent to most people's diet. Overall your meals are pretty healthy but you aren't super regimented in following the Canadian Food Guide.

Homemade meals, if done right, are the equivalent to following the Food Guide and rarely stepping outside those recommendations.

I'm a scientific minded person.  I don't just believe what I read because someone said it. And I'm struggling with the literature around homemade diets.  I am finding a lot of the information is opinion based and not fact based.  It makes me laugh when in one chapter they will go on and on about how similar dogs are to wolves and therefore they obviously should be eating raw and then 2 chapters later are talking about how we've changed the environmental and physical make-up of dogs so much that we can't treat them like wolves.  Conflicting statements like that make it hard for me to trust anything at all in the book.

My other pet peeve is when they slam the competition.  It reminds me of political campaigns that spend all their time and energy telling us what is so horrible about the other guy, instead on focusing on what makes them so great. It makes me think of conspiracy theories and again, my level of trust plummets.

But despite all that, I'm still considering the switch.  There are many people, whose opinions I trust and respect, that feed homemade diets and intuitively fresh foods should be healthier than processed foods.  I think the reason it isn't done more is the amount of work involved (taking a scoop of kibble and tossing it in a bowl is awfully easy!) and because dogs can have perfectly healthy, long lives eating kibble so why bother.  And I probably wouldn't bother if it wasn't for Coulee.  Lacey is just coming along for the ride as if I'm doing it for one, I might as well do it for two.

I'm uncomfortable with raw at this point and am looking at diets that involve cooked meats.

Jolene lent me a book by Hillary Watson which lays out the recipes just how I want them.  Exact measurements, exact ingredients and you just follow along.  It is perfect - except you need to buy a supplement from her for every meal.  She doesn't tell you how to make your own and that bugs me.  I know, stupid, but I feel it is a money making scheme that keeps me sending her $70 a month for supplements.  But other than that, I loved this book.  There is a scientific base to her recipes and lots of different options.  And frankly it is idiot proof - and I think I need that.  :)

Last night I found an ebook by Lew Olson and I read 90% of it this morning.  There is some competition slamming that is hard to swallow, but she actually has footnotes and a reference section to back up some of the statements she makes and I like that. :) There aren't really any step by step recipes to follow and based on the information in this book alone, I wouldn't be comfortable coming up with my own, but there is good information about what needs to be in a complete diet.

I've read some of the book by Dr. Pitcairn (which appears to be almost a bible for many homemade diet feeders) and it too had lots of good information, but it also had lots of anecdotal tidbits that had to be weeded out (in my opinion anyway!) and while there may be facts behind many of his statements, they weren't always pointed out.  This book is not only on feeding and has a lot of other information on overall health as well. I didn't get into those sections much as I'm already bogged down in information overload.

I've ordered a book by Monica Segal.  It came recommended and from what I could determine from the information I've found online, it seems quite scientifically based.  She also set up a YahooGroup - K9Kitchen which has very active discussions on raw, cooked and combination diets.

I've also ordered a book by Dr. Becker that also promises to be a good information source.  It came recommended by the Whole Dog Journal and it promises to have recipes laid out (I'm hoping it will be similar to Hillary Watson's book but with a way to make your own supplement mix).

My goal is to switch the girls over in a week or two.  Coulee is supposed to be on her current food for 5 weeks and it has been over 3 at this point.  I'm excited and scared all at once.  I really don't want to screw it up and make things worse.

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