I read your comments on a site last night, and your point was so eloquently stated and so sincere that I want you to know you’ve been heard. Maybe not by thousands of people (yet), but you made me stop and reevaluate some aspects of the human condition. Thank you for that.
In reply to an article about seeing a holistic vet and feeding the diets they suggest (organic chicken, wild rice, mixing meats with those premixed packages of veggies, grains et al), and articles about kefir, organic yogurt…all of these being luxury items for many, many people – you mentioned the vitriol displayed toward people who can barely afford pasta and canned tuna for themselves and their families.
Your wisdom made me hang my head in shame. I apologize to you and anyone else who has been dealt an unfair hand by those of us who work within the dog community as regards health. Loving an animal is not for the privileged. Rather, all of us with animals are privileged to have them. I know of many people who have gone into debt to help their pet, many who are doing all they can with whatever means they have, and I respect every single one of them.
It’s an unfortunate fact that all of us have bills to pay, so we need to charge for our services, products, expertise, what-have-you. And I’m not aware of anyone expecting to receive any of it for free. But this attitude of being a better, smarter, or more loving dog owner simply because someone feeds a fresh-food diet needs to stop, I agree. Looking down on someone who doesn’t feed in a certain way is simply unkind and unfair. So, let me try to help.
For anyone on a tight budget feeding a commercial diet, there are some fairly inexpensive ways to add freshness to your dog’s diet.
1.Scrub carrots well. Cook and mash the peels and add just a bit to the dog’s food. Keep in mind that uninitiated dogs need time for the GI tract to adjust to the fiber content, so a bit of veg goes a long way.
2. Cabbage, cauliflower and cantaloupe are are on the “clean 15” list in so far as not having to worry about the pesticide residue, and some stores have these more, or less regularly on the last-day shelf. Ripe melons are digested well by dogs (never feed the rinds); cabbage and cauliflower can be boiled and mashed unless you happen to own a juicer in which case they can be juiced and the pulp can be fed raw. Again, a little goes a long way.
3. Peel the tough stalks of broccoli, slice and boil them. Mash well. Feed in small amounts as dictated by the dog’s tolerance level (stool quality should remain ok)
4. Once veg has been cooked, freeze extras in ice cube trays to be thawed and fed as needed.
5. Mint is an amazing herb because it grows like a weed even on a window sill. Making mint tea out of the leaves adding a teaspoon of the tea to food can be helpful to some dogs with an achy stomach, and soft stool.
6. Chicken gizzards tend to cost less than many meats, and they provide high-quality protein. The commercial diet you’re feeding has been balanced to provide all vitamins and minerals, and by over feeding meats, unbalancing the diet is possible. But 10% of calories from fresh food is safe and adds a healthy bonus. You can see the caloric value of the diet on the label. Figure out what 10% of that is. One simmered chicken gizzard provides about 34 calories. Chop it finely and add to the commercial diet. Even doing this once weekly is better than not at all, and if you can do it more often, so much the better.
7. Egg suppliers that sell to bakeries often have a class of egg called “cracks”. They’re not really cracked, but these eggs didn’t pass inspection. Maybe the shell wasn’t right, or the size wasn’t what it should be, but they’re still eggs! They cost much less than regular eggs, but you need to buy several dozen. If you can get some friends together and make the purchase, try to include your dog in the egg bounty. They’re the best quality protein and dogs love them. Just one thing – the yolk is almost pure fat and not all dogs tolerate that, so introduce this slowly.
8. Raw food co-ops usually have good prices, and you don’t need to be a raw-feeder to shop there. Some of them have canned goods as well, so this is where you might find canned sardines at an excellent price. The omega 3 fatty acids can benefit your dog (again, a little goes a long way because canned sardines are rich, and high in sodium)
9. There are still some kind people in this world. Don’t be shy about asking a butcher if they have lean scraps of meat they might be able to give you for your dog. Every butcher has scraps that are turned into ground meat. Most people have a soft spot for dogs. It’s ok to ask!
10. Grocery store managers are often willing to give you a deal if you buy cases of something. After all, they want to move product and see a profit asap! I knew of one man who bought cases of canned fish at an amazing price.
Dear Anonymous, please don’t be shamed into feeling you’re not doing enough. I know you’re doing everything you can. People who really can afford to do more and don’t do it…they might want to reconsider their actions. But, you’re not one of them. You work hard every single day, take care of your family and consider your dog to be a part it. I respect all that you do and all that you are.