Kibble vs fresh? Raw vs. dehydrated? What should you feed your dog?

Like all dogs, I love to eat. When my mom first brought me home, I happily tucked into the kibble she bought me, something called Fish for Dogs. It smelled pretty good to me (meaning stinky) and I happily ate it for a while. They say that poodles can be very finicky when it comes to food, and I’m no exception. I must admit that while I was younger, I didn’t mind the kibble I was fed, but over time, I found that it was more of the “same old, same old”. Mom tried to entice with some new kibble, but even that  wasn’t so appetizing.

Mom did tell her friends that she only intended feeding me kibble. She said she didn’t understand all the fuss dog owners made over their dog’s food, cooking this, that and the other. In fact, that was what Uncle W, her dog trainer brother, advised her. “Kibble has all the nutrients a dog needs. Just make sure it’s a good quality product. Always read the ingredient list,” he said. He has had many dogs over the years and he only feeds them kibble. “In fact,” he added, “when I gave Tar a bone, he didn’t know what to do with it.” Poor Tar.

“What if she goes off her food and doesn’t eat?” Mom asked. “Just leave her food in her bowl. If she eats it, fine. If she doesn’t eat it, leave it there for no more than 15 minutes, then take it away. Try feeding her again at the next meal time. You can do this even over a few mealtimes if she’s stubborn. Soon enough, when she’s hungry, she’ll eat it. Don’t spoil her,” he repeated.

So she tried to take Uncle W’s advice when feeding me the kibble. Little did she know that I can be very stubborn, especially when it comes to food. When I didn’t touch the kibble for one, and then two or three meals, she relented and started adding some other food to make it more appetizing. Like I said, Mom can’t resist my puppy dog eyes.

First, it was a little bit of yogurt smeared on the kibble. Yogurt is great for dogs, especially their digestion, but make sure it’s plain and if possible, Greek yogurt without any added sugar. I love yogurt, but after a while, even that didn’t turn me onto the kibble.

When she asked the pet shop for advice, they recommended freeze dried raw meat. So she got some freeze dried beef, which is raw beef but freeze dried, which you can then rehydrate with some warm water. I loved it, and happily chomped everything down, but even that began to pall. I still like it though, when sprinkled over my regular food. Like I said, the stinkier, the better.(Sunday Pets Raw – Pet Lovers’ Centre)

So Mom had to eat her words (Eat, hehe, get it?) and buy some fresh meat and vegetables to cook them for me. First she mixed it with some kibble and I entertained that notion for a while, but then I would just eat the freshly cooked food and leave the kibble in the bowl. I just wore Mom down with my stubbornness and she waved the white flag.

She cooks different meats for me, alternating between beef, lamb and pork, because, as she’s discovered, I like variety. She fries the meat in a little coconut oil, because she knows that adds to the flavor, and coconut oil is good for me.  To these, she adds a variety of vegetables, incuding carrots, broccoli and beans, as well as sweet potato and pumpkin. She now remembers that I like a bit of variety, and the stinkier the food, the better. So she’s experimented with different additions, like liver and eggs. I love them all. Lately, I’ve been into fresh salmon.

Mealtimes are still a battle to get me to eat. On some days, I’ll happily go to my bowl and slurp up everything, to Mom’s delight. Other days, I pick at the food while Mom tries everything in her repertoire to entice me to eat. Don’t tell anyone, but she has followed me around the house with the food bowl, cajoling me to take a bite. She has also fed me by hand, morsel by morsel, all the while muttering, “Don’t tell Uncle W, okay?”. What can I say, poodles are picky eaters and I’m no exception.

I also like company at mealtimes. Usually at home, it’s just Mom and me and it can get boring (no offense Mom). But when I’m visiting with friends like Kiera, I like to see what she’s having for a meal and on occasion have snuck a bite or two out of her food bowl. What she’s having looks so much tastier than my own food. Mom relented once or twice and just gave me what Kiera was having (boiled chicken with veggies and kibble) and I wolfed everything down. Like I said, food tastes better with company.

When I was little Mom fed me a few meals a day, because my tummy was still small and could only hold so much food before I got hungry again. Now we’ve worked out a routine where I get fed twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. She used to give me the same food both times, but after some training, she now varies the two meals, just to make sure I eat up. There’s a kibble I like that Kiera has, so she keeps a supply of that as well to give me as and when. She’s still a little worried that the cooked food she gives me may not have all the nutrients I need, so she intends to consult with the food nutritionist about that (hehe sucker).

As Mom has discovered, there’s a bewildering array of kibble in the pet shops, ranging from the more affordable that’s probably mostly fillers like wheat and corn and very little in the way of nutritious meat. It doesn’t mean that the more expensive a food that it’s necessarily better. Mom has educated herself to read labels and check online what’s good for dogs. She’s also learned through trial and error what I like and don’t, and has had to give away big tubs of kibble that I turn my nose up at.

In addition to what you should feed your dogs, there’s also a list of foods that you absolutely should avoid for your pooches, but that’s a topic for another day, because I need to take a nap now.

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