This is a question I'm asked often, while selling our treats at festivals and events. My 13.5 year old chocolate lab, Candy is often beside me helping to bring in new shoppers, flirting with everyone she has the chance to wag her little buns at. Their first comments are typically something like this, "She's so soft!" or "What is she, about 8 or 9?" and "I can tell she's older but she's in fantastic shape!" all leading to one of the most common questions I'm asked, "What do you feed her?"
CANDY POSES WITH A MOUTHFUL OF FLOWERS ON A PRETTY SUMMER DAY
Of course I'm more than happy to tell them what I feed her - and this conversation often leads into a deeper chat about the various types of food options available for pets today with a sprinkling of "allergies", "bad breath", and "arthritis" thrown in.
In 2018 a customer recommended to me that I watch a documentary called "Pet Fooled". They told me it was right up my alley and that I would love it. Piggyback was still a very young company then, and I was always looking for ways to improve our treat menu, so why not? Turns out this documentary was right in line with what I had been feeling, and the direction I had been leaning toward when choosing foods for my own pets.
I started feeding Candy, along with another dog I had at the time (a Rottweiler named Atlas who was just one week older than her and left with his dad when we broke up) the RAW diet then. In the beginning I bought whatever I could find at pet stores, from frozen to dehydrated to freeze dried and more. I quickly realized the financial cost of feeding two large dogs like this and started digging into any and everything I could get my hands and eyes on, because I was going to learn to make this myself.
One place I found a wealth of information was on DogsNaturallyMagazine.com through their many blogs and articles. I couldn't get enough, but there was one major thing holding me back from preparing my own raw food for my dogs - I was a terrified that I wouldn't get all of the ratios correct. What if my dogs didn't have a fully balanced meal when I started preparing their food? I held back a bit longer and just kept reading anything I could find which might give me a better sense of understanding and the confidence I needed to just start doing it myself.
One article I found gave me just that! I can't remember which it was, but I remember the author said something along these lines, "Think about how you feed yourself. You aren't measuring every single thing you consume in order to ensure that you are getting a perfectly balanced meal. You're making sure that over the course of one or two weeks you're consuming a variety of foods!" That right there settled it for me. I felt a weight lift from my shoulders and I just took the dive!
That was several years back, and Candy is thriving. She has a new brother now, Sullivan, a rescued English Mastiff who we think is about 6 or 7 years old. Both eat raw daily. No kibble, nope, never. A casual day for us might look something like this:
- Candy gets a chicken leg in the morning and a chicken leg in the evening.
- Sully gets 1 or 2 chicken quarters in the morning and 1 or 2 chicken quarters in the evening.
- They each get organ meats throughout the day as treats and training rewards.
- Once or twice a week they'll each get a softer bone to chew on, helping to keep teeth clean and keeping poops firm.
- Throughout the day they'll receive snacks of berries or veggies.
I like to spice things up and at least one or two days a week I'll make sure they're getting fish; salmon heads are a favorite of Candy's.
This simple, "winging it" method has worked so well for them. Once you start to feel comfortable with this, and you become familiar with how your pup is reacting, you can easily make changes - more fiber, more fish/oils, less bone, etc.
When I read that article that told me to consider how I feed myself, it also said to just start now! It urged readers to just take the plunge and go for it, because every meal your pets eat that came out of bag was one less opportunity for you to be giving them the gift of a long, healthy and vibrant life.
Wishing you confidence as you choose what works best for you and your furrmily!