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Dog Food - it's big business

Labrador Kelpie 1970s

All those years ago, when I was 10, I was lucky enough to get a dog. Well, my family got a dog but he became mine. We named him Dhoby, and he was a Kelpie/Labrador (these days he'd be a Kelador?). See the picture to the left - yes it was in the 1970's!

We lived in the country where dogs were allowed to roam and they ate Pal. Scraps from the table and a tin of smelly, fart inducing Pal. Shocking stuff.

Gorgeous Dhoby had a great life and lived to the age of 15. Throughout his time here, he ate things like the cooked lamb roast bone, chop bones you name it - everything from the table really. We didn't know any better.

Then, when I was 30 years old, Kiah came into our life. She was a Kelpie/German Shepherd (Kelpherd??) and she also lived to just over 15. No Pal for her - just dry kibble because, oh yes, I was so up with the times! Kibble and a marrowbone once a week. Plus table scraps but no cooked bones - no sireee! The photo below was taken just a few days before she died.

Now we have Finn - a Samoyed/Golden Retriever (and yes these are known as Samrievers, or Golden Sammy's but I lovingly call him a Retoyed!). Lucky Finn, born into the age of knowledge and education of food. Born into the era of an abundance of pet stores, pet food conglomerates, pet accessory dynasties - you get the drift.

Samoyed Golden Retriever Dog holding toy

With the internet, and therefore, knowledge at our fingertips, there is so much choice out there it is crazy. So many people adamant that their approach to their dog and its food is the correct approach and the only approach.

The Melbourne Dog Lover's Show, held this month, is a prime example. It was predominately an expo for product - ie the best food, the best accessory, the best bed - you get the idea. Oh and upstairs a few rescue groups thrown in - I know that isn't 100% true but at times, during my visit - it felt like it.

Back to the food now available. When we first got Finn six years ago - I just fed him dry food and a supermarket one at that (shock! horror!). Supercoat. For BIG dogs. Oh how darn uneducated of me! And, we fed him at night like most people feed their dogs. Most early mornings - generally around 2am - he would wake us up with retching sounds. He would rush outside and vomit. A lot.

My first step was to change his main meal (still Supercoat) to the mornings. My theory was that the food was sitting in his stomach overnight and was not getting digested. This change in feed times sure helped with the vomiting. He rarely would do it so all was good. Then I started to notice his poo (it was I who would retch picking it up) and I thought surely, this is not how it is meant to be - lucky for you I won't go into detail on this but there is a picture below....just kidding!

Once I started to think of the above, I started to think about what I was feeding him. Afterall, the vet said he should be around 32kgs (and he was 35!) Of course, it was his fluffy coat that made him big (wasn't it?). Anyway, this made me think....what could I be doing for him so that his life could be as good as possible. So that his health was kept at its peak. So that his hips, his knees, his joints didn't suffer prematurely or other nasty health issues could be kept at bay?

I started to look at the RAW diet and really liked the concept but for those of you that know me - you know that I am inherently lazy and it seemed too much work. PLUS I am squeamish and hearts and livers and the like just turn my stomach. (Yep - it's all about me in the end!)

A new doggy friend put me on to what she feeds her food obsessed Labrador - it's called Vets All Natural Complete Mix. It is all natural based on the RAW diet but the yuckiness and preparation is taken away. Devised here in Australia by a Vet, Dr Bruce Syme - this is not a sponsored ad by the way - it is an air dried product that you reconstitute with water and add a set amount of protein - ie we use the Weightloss Mix and add human grade kangaroo - either minced or diced. I also give him frozen Turkey necks twice a week and he gets table scraps. More vegies too.

He loves it. His health is amazing - and just last week he weighed in at 32.3kgs. His poops are wonderful, no vomiting and he has a pep in his step.

I'd like to say that I feed him RAW only but I don't. One or two days a week he will get a cup of dry kibble (I told you I was lazy!) and initially I was giving him Black Hawk but have just swapped him to a new kibble made here in Australia called SavourLife. Besides being a good option, they also give 50% of their profits to pet rescue associations. I am not sure which pet rescues or even how much they donate - but I love the idea. So, over the years our knowledge evolves. Moves with the research. Our animals are our family and we want the very best for them. As an affluent society, many of us have the disposable income to support our loves in this way. Lucky us and lucky them.

If you want to know if the food you are giving your dog (and cat) is of acceptable or amazing or even crappy quality - go to this fantastic website called Pet Food Reviews.

"This is an independent collection of reviews for cat and dog foods available in Australia. The reviews focus on ingredients and guaranteed analysis, with an indication of whether a food is good or bad. Many are surprised about the real truth of what goes into most supermarket and main brand pet foods. It’s worth reading the comments to see what experiences others have had with a particular brand of food."

Look up what you feed your dog and/or cat. Are you surprised at the content? At the review? So, what do you think? Do you feed RAW? Kibble? A bit of both? Other things like canned food?

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