What should I feed my dog? Dry Kibbles, Home-Cooked, or BARF?

The most common questions we asked ourselves (as dog owners) over and over again and rather much periodically, is my dog eating right? Should I change their diet?

Before making the decision, it’s always good to explore the options in the market and to really know your dog by observing them. Of course, don’t miss out the ‘internet research and reviews’ (it helps). There is no One-Stop solution to your problem and every dog is different. So keep an open-mind when you read reviews and always know your dog first before making any decisions.

How do we know if our dog is eating right and when should we change their diet?

Firstly, check their poop. Does is smell bad, does it have diarrhea?

We were once inexperience dog owners too. And we used to feed Blackwood brand dog kibbles because the person we got our Cloudy boy back home at 6 weeks was consuming that brand. Little did we know there were also other types of dry dog food options in the market. At that time, we only know of Pedigree, Eukanuba, Alpro and Purina (which we heard feedbacks are not so good for dogs). Cloudy was eating OK with the dry kibbles until one day he decided to be very picky with his food. And his poop was extremely smelly. It’s still good poop, but extremely smelly.

Fussy eater or maybe your dog is telling you it’s not right?

We continued the kibbles to our 2nd dog  Terra. And we also feed Chicken fillet mix yogurt mix into their kibbles. We thought they were just being picky and varieties usually help.  We still didn’t know about other dry dog kibbles on the market at that time. Until one day, even Terra gets picky and consuming dry dog kibbles mix with chicken fillet (boiled) and yogurt seems to be getting more and more costly, and we started to notice something odd about our boy Cloudy. Btw, their poop is extremely bad smell. LOL.

Observe your dog’s fur coat, and skin condition.

Our Cloudy was looking rather weak (as a husky) compared to other huskies in the park. He always have pieces of fur sticking out no matter how much I brushed him. He’s rather skinny looking (not underweight but just doesn’t look healthy). We were still eating the same brand, I mean not that it gives any major impact we thought.

And one fine day I decided to ‘hey, maybe Cloudy fur coat can improve with natural ingredients’ and this is when we started exploring different types of food. Cloud and Terra taste bud had the best time of their life! Our food journey, trials, errors started before we decided on which to stick on….

Home RAW Meat. Yes, the market was good and I have a little bit of time to spare on the weekend. It’s also a lot more cost saving. RAW chicken fillet and liver aren’t that costly we thought.  But am I equipped with the knowledge and information about feeding them this? Nope! How many gram a day to have sufficient protein? Mainly just based on estimation and what other people on the internet mentions.  And it turned out, Cloudy has a BIG BAD D!! It was so bad it lasted for 3 days straight and he vomited so bad, we had to take him to the vet. And we realized we made a mistake and here’s the reason why.. (based on our assumptions)

  1. We don’t know how market processed the meat cutting. Handling of RAW meat has to be really précised and hygienic.
  2. We don’t exactly know how much protein the raw chicken is giving and obviously we didn’t let him chew bones. (At that time, we know nothing about dog’s nutrient)

After that incident, we said goodbye to raw meat ,.. well at least for Cloudy.

Steam rice with meat (either lamb, chicken or liver)

The next feed we did was homecooked. Almost everyone on the net encourage it. Its more cost saving, natural and yes I will know exactly what I’m feeding my dog. We feed specifically brown rice. It was a trend one time that brown rice was said to be good.

And we were happy to feed them that.No complains. Every night we’d just steam the rice and chicken together. Perfect for a busy working dog owner like us! And Cloudy was fat. His stomach is round LOL. And Terra is happy eating her meals. None of them was being picky.

Until one fine day (again)… Terra developed red rashes in the mouth area, elbow area and near the eyes. She also scratches a lot! She just keep scratching most of the day. I thought then dog scratching is normal. You know maybe she’s just feeling hot, and maybe its shedding. Until it gets redder and we had to take her to the vet.

And the assumption from the vet we all hate to hear is the word ‘possibly Demodex’ – is very common on large breed dogs like husky. Or it could be yeast infection. Both are not able to be cured easily and it has to be on meds most of the time and I hate consuming long terms meds! Think about what it’d do to their kidney.

So she needs to do blood test and it cost a bomb. Turned out, it wasn’t demodex, it wasn’t yeast, it may be allergies but it can be also caused by the environment. Vet recommended to go back to eating dog’s kibbles because they would have sufficient protein formulated for them. I agree! But did he mentioned which type then?

BARF – Biological appropriate raw food diet.

I was still skeptical about feeding dog kibbles. I mean … anything processed couldn’t be good for her I thought! So we wanted to try BARF,.. well its different from the RAW I feed , this one is formulated just right for their diet. And we couldn’t expect that Terra specifically just hate anything uncooked! And Cloudy, (could be due to the raw scare incident) – he never touches anything raw except chicken feet. Even so he think twice taking it. LOL.

I then steamed the BARF then.  They were just being picky I know!

And Terra didn’t really get any better!  YOU SHOULD NEVER COOK OR STEAM BARF because then, it spoils everything and you’d get the opposite effect.

I researched about it more on dog’s diet. Keywords like what is the caused of demodex, yeast and what do they feed on. And the golden word was grain, starch, carbs and SUGAR!  I’m like OMG… it’s dog nutrition 101.

The parasites (or whatever you call it) is in every dog’s genes. This can be due to ancestral over breeding and of course, Terra wasn’t from a breeder. It was a petshop dog (we don’t know who are her real parents.. ) Some dogs developed it because the parasites was awaken and caused the reaction. Otherwise it could be remain dormant in their body. Dog’s immune system can counter them if they’re strong – that’s  why some dogs have no reaction at all. (Lucky for those dogs who can eat almost everything!)

So what wakes them (the parasites.. is SUGAR. They feed on sugar, and when they get to feed they get stronger and causes the reaction to your dog’s body which can result into yeast infection, allergies and potential demodex. And when it feeds, it breeds until to the extend your dog’s immunity can’t counter it anymore.

So the answer to us is stop feeding sugar. Any food that can develop sugar amount, we refrain. Anything with starch like grain, potatoes (sweet potatoes too), corn. Anything with carbohydrates (because it breakdowns into natural sugar amount) like chicken fillet. Anything that contains amount of natural sugar like honey, carrots. And processed dry dog kibbles and treats that uses corn flour to produce. We say NO to all of those.

Grain-free dry dog kibbles.

We’ve tried many grain free brands (there’s just so many) Believe me, we spent a  costly amount trying on ‘grain-free’ dry dog kibbles because we aren’t good cooks. And we’re also busy working dog owners. Some grain free kibbles we fed them, which they refuse to take .. (the taste …the smell really not to their liking). Some grain free kibble brands have corn flour to produce into dry kibbles – though very little amount, but still grain. Some grain free brand has brown rice which is also grain to me. So yes, I’ve read about it online over and over again.

And I also found out that some dogs can’t take too much protein too! So it’s really crazy. WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY DOG THEN?!!!

 

To a point I was frustrated!

The simple answer was to always look into the ingredients and read about the premium brands in store. You’ll never find a solution to your question. Once you found a potential food you think (based on guts, instinct and common sense) then you can explore for a week. Usually good or bad, it takes about a week to a month of intake, and your dog don’t lie.

We did found out about Acana Pacifica which is said to be grain free. We look through the ingredient. As long as there’s no potato, corn and honey in the ingredient,.. it’s worth a try!

And it did wonders to Terra! In two weeks, she completely healed from her red  rashes.

And Cloudy… well he lost his stomach fats. Was eating one meal a day. But his poop was great. And even vet said he’s an ideal weight!

Both eats 1 cup (about 150g -200g) a day and only ONE meal. They’re active dogs, walks a lot and sleep a lot too. Terra was gaining all the kibble weights. LOL. But it was OK because she’s free from the red rashes.

We stick to that ever since. And because they love fish so much.. We gave them salmon oil too! (That’s for when they get picky on food)

Occasionally, now we do feed them honey mix treats, pears, apples, chicken as snacks. We don’t give them as a meal but only as snacks whenever we have it. We realised that they’re strong enough to counter it. And we would know if it has any reaction. Terra is especially sensitive to food!

Due to Terra’s allergies, we learnt so much about the dog’s diet. LOL.

Should we change their diet then? Maybe when there’s another round of weird reaction.. (you know how as we age, we need different nutrients) but if your dog isn’t developing any issues or reactions to their meal intake, I would say just stick to what you have for now.

And if you think you’d need a little change in their diet, just make sure its premium kibble brands (for dry dog food) and you may try BARF – the specially formulated kind. I do also think home-cooked is good, but we aren’t really dog experts or breeders nor nutritionist, so when we do home-cook it needs to be specially crafted or experiment with the ingredients.

 

This is written based on our experience with two of our husky dog. We are not sponsored or promoting any brand or products. All opinions are my own.

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