Thursday, November 12, 2009

The feeding ritual

Tinky-Winky will eat pretty much anything she can find on the ground, kill, or steal from another animal.

In the house, though, she's a fussy eater. Go figure.

Once upon a time, I used to feed her commercial kibbles and that evil stuff "Cesar". It's evil in that if you feed the amount they recommend, other than going very broke in very short order, you'll be feeding your dog about four times too many calories. And as for the commercial kibbles, which also recommends overfeeding your dog considerably, it's also not balanced right, therefore my dog gets cravings, therefore she eats more, therefore she gets fat. Commercial dog food is evil, I tells ya.

Anyway, Tinky-Winky never thrived on commercial food, and about two years ago she had gotten an infection and was really, really sick. She looked like a survivor from doggie concentration camp. She blew her coat, what was left of it was rough and brittle, she was thin and lethargic, and she had an abscess in one eye. Horrible. Of course she wasn't eating the commercial crap, so that's when I started cooking for her.

In two years, I've fine-tuned the recipe to something that seems to work perfectly. It's ground beef, eggs, rice, peas and carrots. I freeze it in small reusable container, and then I give her one a day. She likes them thawed in the refrigerator rather than in the microwave, too. And she gets free-fed Iams all day, too, but she doesn't eat a lot of that. It's more for snacks and for something crunchy and tooth-cleaning.

The downside of feeding home-cooked food is that she doesn't always eat it all. And I don't like her wasting food, especially when I can't even afford to eat meat every month myself, let alone every day, so I leave the food until either she eats it, or the smell gets too much for me and I have to throw it out. Gross, eh?

Well, now that we're living with a roommate, I can't do that, plus, Tinky-Winky is scared of the roommate and follows me obsessively around the house, so if I just feed her and walk away, she'll come with me and not eat at all. Thus I've hit on the perfect solution: I watch her eat, and when she's clearly not interested anymore, I put the leftovers back in the container, which goes back in the fridge, and I serve it to her again the next day.

And this is how I spend more time watching my shiba eat than socializing with people.


NannyOgg said...

Interesting. I have a friend who swears by homemade dog food, but I have to admit I am not sure what she puts in it. Her dogs are Very Healthy so it definitely works for her too. It makes sense that commercial dog food would have a lot of crap, since they would want to get rid of all the stuff they can't put into people food.


Mongoose said...

I think the big brands of dog food use quality ingredients and good processes, but just because they're "quality" doesn't mean they're the right ingredients for a dog, let alone the right balance. Soy, for example, isn't normal dog food, even if it's "quality" soy.

Mostly I think the balance of nutrients is wrong, even in the good foods. Iams is one of the most recommended non-veterinary brands but I don't think it has enough fat. Tinky-Winky had such dry skin on Iams, she would scratch herself raw. On my food, she has healthy skin and a much softer coat. I use regular ground beef, not lean, and if all the store has is lean, then I add oil or margarine to make up for the lower fat amount. Her vet told me she "doesn't need any fat" in her diet, but that seems absurd. Everyone needs fat, and she's healthier with fat in her diet than without. And, she's thinner with more fat in her diet, because she's not over-eating to satisfy her fat craving.

I'm sure lots of dogs do well on commercial food, and conversely, I'm sure some dog owners cook some really unbalanced dog food, but for Tinky-Winky, my cooking seems to be the best solution.

jenna said...

I feed my guys similarly (veggies, rice and fish or lamb), but I cook and mix up enough for 4 or 5 days at a time and keep it in the fridge. Then at mealtime, I scoop out enough for each dog and give it to them. My guys GOBBLE their food though, so I never have to put anything back.