Deciding to feed our dogs naturally was a tough choice. There are a few things to consider before making this commitment.
Fifteen years ago, if someone would have told me I would eventually cook for my dogs, I would have laughed at them. Seriously! It was not until we lost a dog to cancer that I started questioning what was in dog food.
It gives me peace of mind to know our dogs are eating natural foods that are free of preservatives, sugar, artificial coloring and flavors.
Is feeding naturally the right choice for you? It’s not for everyone and it involves more cost, more time, and more space in your fridge, freezer and pantry. I cook every four days for our Great Dane and Golden Retriever. It’s a decision we made to improve our pets’ health, and to give them the most active and pain-free years possible.
3 Things To Consider When Deciding To Feed Your Dog A Natural Diet
- Cost. A natural diet is more expensive than bagged kibble. But if your dog is healthier on natural food you can save money overall on vet bills and medication like we have with our 11-year-old Great Dane. A vet visit cost us a minimum of $50 and Rimadyl alone cost us $75 each month (medication she no longer needs).
- Food Availability. What can you get at (a reasonable price) where you live? It varies from place to place. In Montana, from a supermarket butcher, we could buy ground beef labeled, “For dogs” about 40% cheaper than regular ground beef. Where we are now, “For dogs” ground beef is not even available. I feed them ground turkey instead. Vegetables, fruit and rice (if you decide to cook with grains) are usually plentiful and easy to find. I order ground turkey, green beans, carrots, and pumpkin, by the case from a supermarket in the city. Talk to your local butchers about what meats you can get and find out from the store managers if you can order by the case.
- Time. It takes me about three hours per week preparing our dog’s food. This does not include the two and a half hours of drive time once a month driving to the city to pick up the ingredients to make their food.
- Do you have storage space in your refrigerator for the food?
- Do you have freezer space to store a case of meat or dog bones?
- Do you travel?
- If you do travel, who cares for your dog? Would that person be willing to feed a natural diet?
Choosing to feed your dog naturally is not a decision to be made on a whim. It takes a lot of time and work to prepare their food. You always need a back up plan if you lose your meat source. (This has happened to me more than once.) It was such a relief when I finally found a reliable food source.
If you are considering feeding raw, be sure to check out Rebekah at My Rotten Dogs for some great tips.
Feeding naturally may not be the right decision for you and your pooch and it is okay! As mentioned above, it’s really not for everyone. When we were living in our motor home while re-building our house, I didn’t have the food storage space or the food prep space to feed naturally, so we went back to a grain-free dog food for about a year. (Yes, they almost immediately had bloating from eating processed foods. However, all we can do is the best we can at that time!)
Add Fresh Foods To Their Current Diet
You can feed kibble and still give your dog healthy foods on occasion. Here’s three great ways to add fresh food to their current diet:
- Use small bite size pieces of fruits and vegetables for training treats. Be sure to feed only safe foods for dogs.
- Crack an egg (with the shell) over their food once a day to once a week. The shell is a great source of calcium and their coats will be shiny and soft.
- Instead of buying raw hides or ropes buy femur bones from your local butcher. Have them cut the bones according to the size of your dog.
Deciding to feed our dogs naturally was a huge decision. Their health was the deciding factor and the rewards have by far outweighed the cons.
If you’re still not sure about feeding raw or natural, it’s all right. Take your time. Think about it. Research, research and research. Feeding naturally is not a decision be made lightly. The good news is if you need to, you can always go back to bagged kibble.
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