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Our Journey with Food
Old 12-13-2012, 01:49 AM   #1
emichel
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Our Journey with Food

It is hard to believe I've only had Benjamin for 6 months. I can't believe how much I love him. Jeesh, you'd think we were newlyweds or something, ha ha. In case it might be helpful to anyone, I will try to capture all of the ins and outs of a new puppy owner trying to come up with the right diet for him. It has been quite a journey, but at least for now knock on wood it seems stable.

At first I was feeding him Blue Buffalo lamb and rice puppy formula and Eukanuba puppy, which is what he was on with the breeder. He had a voracious appetite, and I thought it was a fluke because so many Havanese owners talked about their picky eaters. When I got him he was 9 weeks old, and a week later we started puppy training classes. As part of his training he was getting some treats, mostly dried lamb lung and freeze dried liver, both of which he became ecstatic over. He was still eating his regular food well. Then when we started learning the recall command and told to use "high value" treats, I fell upon the Natural Balance beef logs. He became even more ecstatic! Man, that is one enthusiastic puppy!

Training was going well, but towards the end of our second 6 week series, I noticed that he seemed to be figuring out that he liked the treats better than his kibble. I remember I particularly noticed it when we were on our Wallace Falls hike in August, when he was 4 1/2 months old. I foolishly did not bring enough of the beef treats, but had plenty of kibble. He still needed the treat reinforcement in order to walk well on the leash, and at one point when I tried to lure him with the kibble, he literally tossed his head as if to say "you think I am going to work for that??!" He was definitely holding out for something better. Even so, he would still eat his kibble at home, though with less enthusiasm than before.

Meanwhile I had been reading up on food and decided to supplement his dry food with some canned. I mixed some Natural Balance canned food in with his kibble, but soon noticed that he would pick out some of the pieces of kibble and lay them out on the floor surrounding his bowl. I would pick up the gloppy pieces and put them back in the bowl, and mix in a little more wet food, and he would eat them. This was frustrating in the morning when I was trying to get ready for work. CONTINUED IN NEXT POST
-- Eileen
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:16 AM   #2
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So anyway... then I tried giving him just the wet food, but waiting until we got to work. He didn't seem all that interested in food first thing in the morning. Like his mom, he is a night owl! This plan didn't work out all that well. I would put some wet food in his bowl when we got to work, but then I would often get busy with phone calls or whatever, and if he didn't eat all of his food right away, which was often the case, it would sit there too long and I was afraid it was spoiled and have to throw it away. I also would end up with lots of empty cans sitting in the sink at home waiting to be washed out for recycling. Gross! True confession, Homemaker of the Year I am not. On top of it all, he was starting to get picky about the canned food, too, and I briefly fell into the trap of trying different flavors. He loved the liver for a few days, than lost interest and I would try the beef, etc etc.

Then the clincher. He became violently ill, the vet and I both thinking probably from some tree berries that he must have eaten on one of our walks. This was in September, and it seemed like there were a hundred varieties of trees around, half of which were dropping some kind of berries off of them. I watched him like a hawk when we were walking, but he always walks with his nose to the ground sniffing, and sometimes he would scarf something up before I could stop him. Anyway, I was horrified when he starting spewing bloody diahrea (sp?) out his butt, and for a couple of nights I hardly slept at all. Poor little guy. The vet told me to give him boiled chicken breast and rice, along with antibiotics and probiotics, which I did. (He also explained why it made sense to do both the anti and pro biotics, but I'm not sure I get that). Anyway... I only had brown basmatti rice, and I figured that was mild and better for him anyway. After he started feeling better, he seemed to have decided that he quite liked that chicken, and was certainly not going to eat any canned dog food any more, thank you very much. Aargh, buddy, you scared the cr*p out of me and I took good care of you, and this is the thanks I get? He was also having problems with intermittent runny stools, and it was a bit of a struggle to get it stabilized.

Honestly, I don't even remember exactly how we got from there to here, but this is what we are doing now. For the past month I have been feeding him the same thing, he loves it, and there have been no loose stools. In the morning at work I put some kibble in both of his "kibble balls", and he has to work a little to get his food. Once a week I cook up a batch of ground turkey mixed with chopped carrots and various other veggies, with about 2/3 turkey to 1/3 veggies, and freeze single servings of it in snack sized bags. I saute the turkey and simmer the finely chopped veggies, then mix them together. When we get home I defrost one in the microwave, mix in some kibble, and feed it to him. I also give him a little winter squash or sweet potato on the side several times a week, whenever I am having it, and he loves that, too. I believe he is getting a balanced diet, trusting that the good quality kibble i am giving him has the needed nutrients. I am open to tweaking it later, but for now I think I should leave well enough alone. I have also discovered that the subject of what to feed your dog is at least as controversial as politics or religion, and have several doggie friends who are convinced that raw is the only way to go, but I am not on board with it, for various reasons. I will continue to read and learn and think about it, but for now, all I know is that he loves his food, his poop looks wonderful -- you know what i mean! -- and it's working for us.

Sorry this is so long, I should have been posting all along, but all I want to say to any new puppy people who are struggling with this -- just keep at it, you will figure it out! Thanks for reading.
-- Eileen

Last edited by emichel; 12-13-2012 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:36 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by emichel View Post
Once a week I cook up a batch of ground turkey mixed with chopped carrots and various other veggies, with about 2/3 turkey to 1/3 veggies, and freeze single servings of it in snack sized bags. I saute the turkey and simmer the finely chopped veggies, then mix them together. When we get home I defrost one in the microwave, mix in some kibble, and feed it to him. I also give him a little winter squash or sweet potato on the side several times a week, whenever I am having it, and he loves that, too. I believe he is getting a balanced diet, trusting that the good quality kibble i am giving him has the needed nutrients. I am open to tweaking it later, but for now I think I should leave well enough alone. I have also discovered that the subject of what to feed your dog is at least as controversial as politics or religion, and have several doggie friends who are convinced that raw is the only way to go, but I am not on board with it, for various reasons. I will continue to read and learn and think about it, but for now, all I know is that he loves his food, his poop looks wonderful -- you know what i mean! -- and it's working for us.
-- Eileen
Certainly sounds like he trained you!

Of course, home cooking is a great way to feed your dog, but you have to be very careful that they are really getting all the nutrients they need, and in the right ratios. If you are feeding a significant amount of home cooked, I would strongly urge you to consult with a good canine nutrition expert. Dave has one, Sabine, who has helped many people on this forum. Hopefully someone else can give you her e-mail or web site... I don't have them.

Particularly where your pup is still young and growing, it is vitally important that he get the right nutrients in the right balance. It's not something you should be guessing at.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:46 AM   #4
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The vet told me to give him boiled chicken breast and rice, along with antibiotics and probiotics, which I did. (He also explained why it made sense to do both the anti and pro biotics, but I'm not sure I get that).
Wow Eileen, what a journey it has been for the both of you! I'm glad you've found a regime that works.

Just to respond to the comment about anti- and probiotics, antibiotics would have helped to get rid of any bacterial infection he might have had, but also work to diminish the healthy bacteria that live in the intestines (helping with digestion and immunity). The probiotics contain cultures of those healthy bacteria to try and replace what is killed by the antibiotics.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:19 AM   #5
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I was wondering what your using for training now? I found one that mine love its called Zukes very berry and the sister love them but it has to be the very berry Zoey is my Havanese with a sensitive stomach. We started with bluebuffallo chicken small bite. They both got picky and didn't want it much. So for about 6 mo I bought chicken breasts on sale and boiled them skinless. I added about 1/8 cup sodium free chicken broth along with enough water to cover the chicken. I saved the broth, cut up the chicken and put it it ice cub trays with the chicken broth. It was very easy at feeding time I just put one cube in each bowl and microwaved it. I mixed in their kibble and they gobbled it down.
Zoey with her stomach problems doesn't do as well on turkey, liver , or beef.
I used chicken for or conformation training. And the other for potty and just special treats. Someone gave me liver but she had bad diarrhea . I tried some stew meat once and have never given beef again. Turkey gives her the farts.
Now we just started a new kibble called earthborn and its lamb braced. My friend was suppose to pick up the chicken one . I was worried they might have a reaction because I had never introduced lamb into the diet. I'm still mixing with a large bag of wellness .( one that has a lot of smelly fish) The guy at the store said the formulas are similar. They loved wellness but I'm tired of all the recalls. Anyway everything is great here no but baths and they only poop about twice a day. Oh and I just one day stopped adding the chicken and let them wait tell they were hungry enough to eat with out all the extras. I waited until they were done growing.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:13 AM   #6
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I think Karen's suggestion of a dog nutritionist consult is a good one just to make sure all nutritional bases are covered. I believe this is the web site: http://www.betterdogcare.com/?page=contact

I've been quite lucky with Brody in that he really does like his Orijen kibble. However, he goes bonkers for freeze dried beef liver treats (oddly enough it took several tries with that before he decided he liked it). I hadn't been able to find any here for months so he hasn't had them for quite a while. The pet store just got them in again, so I bought a bag. The first night I made the mistake of leaving a piece of it out on the counter. Brody kept getting up all night and going out into the kitchen and sitting under the counter and crying for it. It quickly got put into a snack bag! Then he decided he was going to try and hold out for the beef liver over his kibble. A couple of nights of missing out on dinner fixed that right up. LOL

He cracks me up though. He knows when I'm going for the "good" bag of treats and he jumps straight up from the ground (on all four legs) in excitement. He jumps pretty high too!
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by emichel View Post
It is hard to believe I've only had Benjamin for 6 months. I can't believe how much I love him. Jeesh, you'd think we were newlyweds or something, ha ha. In case it might be helpful to anyone, I will try to capture all of the ins and outs of a new puppy owner trying to come up with the right diet for him. It has been quite a journey, but at least for now knock on wood it seems stable.

At first I was feeding him Blue Buffalo lamb and rice puppy formula and Eukanuba puppy, which is what he was on with the breeder. He had a voracious appetite, and I thought it was a fluke because so many Havanese owners talked about their picky eaters. When I got him he was 9 weeks old, and a week later we started puppy training classes. As part of his training he was getting some treats, mostly dried lamb lung and freeze dried liver, both of which he became ecstatic over. He was still eating his regular food well. Then when we started learning the recall command and told to use "high value" treats, I fell upon the Natural Balance beef logs. He became even more ecstatic! Man, that is one enthusiastic puppy!

Training was going well, but towards the end of our second 6 week series, I noticed that he seemed to be figuring out that he liked the treats better than his kibble. I remember I particularly noticed it when we were on our Wallace Falls hike in August, when he was 4 1/2 months old. I foolishly did not bring enough of the beef treats, but had plenty of kibble. He still needed the treat reinforcement in order to walk well on the leash, and at one point when I tried to lure him with the kibble, he literally tossed his head as if to say "you think I am going to work for that??!" He was definitely holding out for something better. Even so, he would still eat his kibble at home, though with less enthusiasm than before.

Meanwhile I had been reading up on food and decided to supplement his dry food with some canned. I mixed some Natural Balance canned food in with his kibble, but soon noticed that he would pick out some of the pieces of kibble and lay them out on the floor surrounding his bowl. I would pick up the gloppy pieces and put them back in the bowl, and mix in a little more wet food, and he would eat them. This was frustrating in the morning when I was trying to get ready for work. CONTINUED IN NEXT POST
-- Eileen
Hi! Lola just turned 6months today and I want to transition her to Blue Buffalo from Science Diet. When you were only feeding BB to Benjamin, how much were you giving him? Lola weighs 7.4pounds now, so I was thinking about 1/2 a cup a day because it is higher in protein and calories. Thanks!
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:59 PM   #8
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Lol. Been there eileen. They are really good trainers aren't they? We found with Jasper our finicky boy, we were actually feeding him too much. Fewer treats got him to love his food. Your food plan does sound balanced. But if you continue to home cook I would consult Sabine too.
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:19 PM   #9
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Just wanted to say... of course I am aware of Sabine, from reading these forums, and may consult with her at some point, but I'm not there yet. I have been studying her website, "The Dog Food Project", and reading links from there. I understand the concerns mentioned by several of you about getting a balanced diet, but I am comfortable that he is getting that from the good quality grain free kibble I am feeding him. He gets a full serving of that daily, and only a small amount of turkey and vegetables added to his evening kibble allotment, just to make it more interesting. As I understand it, as long as adequate amounts of all of the needed nutrients are supplied, it is not a danger to feed a little extra of one thing or another if it is in food form. It is primarily when giving supplements willy nilly that large amounts of one thing or another might be given, and especially when it comes to minerals, that can be dangerous. However, as Sabine herself says, in the section of the above mentioned website, under "minerals" and then "macrominerals":

"Excess calcium causes decreased phosphorus absorption (and vice versa!). Lack of magnesium in the diet renders calcium useless, because the body needs magnesium to properly absorb calcium. If adequate amounts of all 3 of these minerals are present in the diet, the body can regulate the balance according to its needs. (Italics mine)

I interpret this to mean that as long as the dog is getting an adequate amount of nutrients overall, without any excessive amounts of any one in particular, especially minerals or certain vitamins that can be toxic in high doses, he will be fine. The same as with a human diet, we are most likely not getting all of the nutrients we need in every meal or maybe even every day, but if we get them over the course of every few days the body will be able to utilize them properly. Huh, I wish I ate as healthily as my dog, but that’s another subject.

I greatly respect what Sabine does, but it is science, not magic, and if I do decide to consult with her I would like to be as informed as possible ahead of time! Benjamin is a healthy young dog with a great appetite and no known allergies, and I am continuing to study up on the nutrient balance issue, so for now, and with agreement from his vet, I feel comfortable with what we are doing. I do understand what everyone is saying about nutrient balance, and I know it is very important. From reading some other websites and forums about home cooking dogfood, it seems that there are a lot of people who are throwing in all kinds of supplements without seeming to know why, other than believing advertising hype, apparently, and that does seem dangerous and scary!

Well anyway… I very much appreciate everyone's feedback, and I am "taking it under advisement". To be continued, I’m sure…
-- Eileen
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Suzi View Post
I was wondering what your using for training now? I found one that mine love its called Zukes very berry and the sister love them but it has to be the very berry Zoey is my Havanese with a sensitive stomach. We started with bluebuffallo chicken small bite. They both got picky and didn't want it much. So for about 6 mo I bought chicken breasts on sale and boiled them skinless. I added about 1/8 cup sodium free chicken broth along with enough water to cover the chicken. I saved the broth, cut up the chicken and put it it ice cub trays with the chicken broth. It was very easy at feeding time I just put one cube in each bowl and microwaved it. I mixed in their kibble and they gobbled it down.
Zoey with her stomach problems doesn't do as well on turkey, liver , or beef.
I used chicken for or conformation training. And the other for potty and just special treats. Someone gave me liver but she had bad diarrhea . I tried some stew meat once and have never given beef again. Turkey gives her the farts.
Now we just started a new kibble called earthborn and its lamb braced. My friend was suppose to pick up the chicken one . I was worried they might have a reaction because I had never introduced lamb into the diet. I'm still mixing with a large bag of wellness .( one that has a lot of smelly fish) The guy at the store said the formulas are similar. They loved wellness but I'm tired of all the recalls. Anyway everything is great here no but baths and they only poop about twice a day. Oh and I just one day stopped adding the chicken and let them wait tell they were hungry enough to eat with out all the extras. I waited until they were done growing.
Suzi, the main training treats I am using are the dried lamb lung and freeze dried beef liver. If Zoey can't tolerate beef or liver, and if she does well on lamb, I would highly recommend the lamb lung. It comes in big pieces and you just break it up into small ones. I really like using it because it is light and convenient, and less fatty and caloric than the liver. I just bought some Ziwipeaks lamb treats, on the recommendation of a friend, and Benjamin really likes those, too. Of course he does, they are expensive! They all are, I guess, but the lamb lung isn't really because a little goes a long way. I have also used fresh chicken breast in little pieces, as you mentioned, but the problem with that it doesn't travel well. If you are just using it for training around the house, though, it sounds like a great idea! I hope that you are finding some things that agree with Zoey's sensitive tummy!
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