Home & Style — 07 July 2011

 I recently upgraded my dogs canned food to a holistic, organic brand. My finicky Titan and I were impressed when simply opening the can made us both salivate. The chunks of meat, recognizable vegetables, hearty sauce and yummy scent made me want to toss it in some pasta and go to town. I was really tempted to try it. I had to remind myself that it was dog food. 
    
While Titan indulged, I stood at my kitchen counter, reluctantly spooning non-fat Greek yogurt into my mouth and wondering why my dogs dinner was more flavorful and nutritious than my own.
    
Since the change, Titan is very happy with his higher quality food. He eats it right up and never lets his best friend, Sox, steal it like he used to. Titan had better not find out what other dogs are eating, though, because hed be back to his critical ways and Id be back to the drawing board or worse, in the kitchen.
    
I have a friend who is married to a chef. Their dog, Russell, was on regular kibble for a very long time until he started to show signs of food intolerance. With the advice of their veterinarian, they decided that Russell needed a healthy, homemade meal to sooth his sensitive belly.  Before long, Russells food upgrade became permanent.
    
That lucky dog now eats food specially made for him with lean meats, fresh eggs, seasonal veggies, whole grains and love. Russell gets so excited at feeding time that he hops around on his hind feet. 
    
Do you blame him? Ive had meals that made me want to jump for joy too just not on a daily basis.
    
Many of us are trying to improve the way we live and our focus on nutrition is making its way into the choices we make for our pets. We are going out of our way to indulge them with healthy feasts because we know a well-fed pet is a happier, healthier pet. Most of us, however, are not chefs and either dont have the time or the desire to prepare homemade meals for anybody, including our fur-friends. 
    
Do not fret, my fellow lazy humans! You dont have to make food from scratch to be a good pet parent. More healthy and affordable retail pet food options exist today than ever before. Pet supply super stores and local shops carry what seems like a million specialty brands that cater to many nutritional needs. All we have to do is spend some time doing our research to determine what brand and diet is going to give us the biggest bang for our buck.
    
Get on the Internet, find a shop with knowledgeable staff and ask your veterinarian, friends and colleagues what they are feeding their pets and why. Dont just assume that the most common brands are where its at; many popular lines offer mediocre quality when compared to other similarly priced products but continue to make their way into our homes merely out of familiarity. Feeding your pet quality food doesnt have to break the bank if you consider all your options.
    
A word to the wise: changing your pets food should not be done when youve run out of their usual grub; it takes planning and time.  Animals bellies have to adjust to new food. Most products will recommend that you incorporate the new stuff into the existing food over a certain period of time. Rushing the process can cause upset stomach, bloating, gas and general discomfort for all involved.  
Doing my homework when it comes to my dogs food really has paid off. My pups are healthy inside and out; their digestive systems are in tip-top shape, their coats are shiny and their teeth are strong. I guess that just leaves the question of what Im having for dinner tonight. 
You know youve hit rock bottom when youre the one begging at feeding time. 

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