for Dr. Harvey’s Sweet Potate’r Chews
We’re nearing the end of our third week since making the transition to homecooked meals. I will say, things are getting much easier. We still haven’t perfected it (we’ve run out of protein on more than one occasion), but progress not perfection, right?
I know I should be happiest that Mauja’s tummy has been normal for almost two weeks now, but I’m most excited about how much the pups like their food. I know that’s a selfish reason – but it gives me the warm and fuzzies to know how happy they are and I won’t hide it 😉
Anyway, back to Mauja’s tummy.
Her stools have been firm and we haven’t had to hose down her hind end after she does her business. Even with a sanitary trim, we were still having that issue because of her upset tummy. Super gross, I know, so we’re glad we haven’t had to do it in awhile!
Mauja is too – she always finds that process degrading.
I don’t blame her.
Unfortunately, Atka is still itchy. However, he is showing improvement! We haven’t experimented with proteins very much since we are just trying to get the hang of things, but that’s next on our list. I’ve actually created a log to track when and where he is itching.
Crazy dog lady or studying efficiently? 😉
Today, I have a question for you: Should your dog try homecooked meals?
Here are a few signs you may want to consider the switch:
Your dog is overweight. It’s really easy to overfeed your dog when he’s looking at you with those sweet eyes, insisting that he is starving. Even though you just fed him, how could you resist that face? Veg-To-Bowl provides a hearty base of vegetables to your dog’s meal so you can fill his tummy without all of the calories.
Your dog is experiencing digestive issues. If, like Mauja, your dog is having a bit of tummy troubles, you may want to try a homecooked meal. We varied brands and proteins with Mauja for several months without any success. She would be completely fine for a week, then would have a bout of really loose stools. We could never trace it to her eating anything. Since making the switch to a homecooked meal, we haven’t had any instances of loose stools (two weeks strong!). It may be helpful for your dog with digestive issues to simplify his diet.
Your dog has kidney problems. If your dog has kidney problems or is experiencing renal failure, a homecooked diet is ideal. You can easily monitor and regulate the amount of protein your dog is getting. No more guesswork about how accurate the back of the bag is!
Your dog has allergies. This is probably the most common reason for switching to a homecooked diet. When you prepare your dog’s food yourself, you have complete control over the type of ingredients used. No more wondering if an ingredient snuck in that you weren’t aware it. This makes it easy to rotate proteins to determine if your dog is sensitive to one of them. We’re still working on things with Atka, but I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction.
After next week, the fluffies will have been on a homecooked meal for almost a month. I’m really excited to continue to track their progress! Do you think your dog would benefit from a homemade diet?
[Did you miss the start of our adventure into homecooked meals with Dr. Harvey’s? Check it out here.]
I’m not going to sugar coat it – switching to a homemade diet is not an easy feat.
Maybe it’s because I’m a paranoid dog mom or maybe it’s because I stress about our budget too much, but this past week has been quite the challenge. Has it been worth it?
Am I still stressed?
Let me take a few steps back and walk you through the past week.
Last Sunday, we were stoked to get Mauja and Atka completely transitioned to a homemade diet. We decided we were going to start with chicken as their first protein and added it to our grocery list. I became completely overwhelmed when in the meat department.
“Howy cwap is that really how much meat costs?!”
I’m a vegetarian so I really don’t notice the cost of meat. Nick does eat meat, but he doesn’t seem to purchase much from the store recently. I was shocked at the cost.
Then we had to decide what kind of chicken to get. I knew that Nick always got boneless, skinless chicken breast when he was eating it more frequently. I knew from my nutrition background that it was one of the healthiest meat proteins for humans. Did that hold true for dogs? Thankfully, I have Google in my pocket and could do a bit of research.
We finally decided on the boneless, skinless chicken breast but still had to determine how much to buy. How much should Mauja and Atka be eating?
Back to the phone.
According to the feeding instructions for Dr. Harvey’s, Mauja and Atka should be getting approximately 32-39 ounces of protein per day. That’s at least 2 pounds EACH per day. After a mild freak out, I realized that can’t possibly be right. Pyrs have very slow metabolisms for their size and don’t eat nearly as much as expected.
Okay, but how to I figure out how much protein they really need?
I don’t know why I felt that this was the most logical solution at the time, but I decided to look up the feeding requirements for the dry food they were previously eating.
According to the feeding instructions for their dry food, they should be eating at least 5 cups of food per day. They each only eat 2-3 cups per day and are maintaining their weight. That’s only half of what they are “supposed” to eat. I thought that maybe I should cut these feeding requirements in half.
Mauja and Atka self-regulate their eating with dry food, but I knew they weren’t going to do that with fresh food. They were going to eat it up!
We decided to try and feed the amount suggested for 51-70 pound dogs and just watch their weight and energy levels. Atka’s still growing and more active, so he gets a bit more than Mauja, but still not the suggested amount for his weight.
Even with all our planning, we still made an error. We forgot to consider the difference in protein weight before and after it’s cooked. At a healthy cooking class I recently helped teach, we demonstrated just how different the weight of cooked vs raw protein is. Should I be weighing their meat cooked or raw?
We had been weighing it cooked and ran out of chicken. Twice.
We’re one week in and they’re both doing great, but we’ll continue to closely monitor them as we figure out how much food they really need.
Yesterday, we did our weekly grocery run and I was a bit more confident with purchasing their protein. We left with some extra lean ground beef and plans to cook it all in our crockpot [note to self – get a bigger crockpot. It took two rounds to cook it all!].
I know that week by week the process is going to get easier, but I won’t lie and say it was all sunshine and roses at first. As far as the actual feeding process, it is really easy. Grab a few scoops of Veg-To-Bowl, throw in some protein and oil, and serve. So incredibly simple. If your dog typically strays extremely far from average feeding amounts, there’s a bit of a learning curve.
The greatest part about feeding Veg-To-Bowl is that you can contact Dr. Harvey and get advice directly from him. To me, that really shows how much he cares about the success of every pet.
At this point, I don’t know if we’ve hit the proper amount of food for them. We may need to increase, we may need to decrease. For now, we are just going to closely monitor their weight and energy levels and take it week by week.
Do I have any regrets about making the switch or am I starting to second guess? Absolutely not. While we haven’t seen progress with Atka yet (I know we will need several weeks for him), Mauja’s tummy is already improving. Plus, it makes me happy to actually see them excited about their food 🙂
For those of you that have switched to a homemade diet, did you struggle with determining the appropriate feeding amount? Any advice?
For the past few months, we’ve been having two issues: upset tummy and itchy skin. Mauja has had really inconsistent stools – some loose and some firm. We haven’t been able to find an exact correlation to her diet, but my first instinct tells me that’s the issue. Atka’s tummy has been fine, but boy has he been itchy.
Atka has had itchy skin issues since he was about 10 months old. The first issue occurred around his eye. The area around his right eye became inflamed and the fur actually began to fall out. Thankfully, it never seemed to bother him. After Benadryl, several rounds of antibiotics, and a few types of ointments, it eventually went away. Unfortunately, after a few months it returned.
The second time we didn’t pursue any medication because we couldn’t say that one approach was actually effective. He wasn’t itching or rubbing his eye, so after a discussion with the vet, we decided to simply monitor it for a few weeks. Eventually, it went away again. This seems to happen every few months.
Currently, he’s not showing any symptoms with his eye, but his skin is quite itchy. We constantly see him scratching the back of his front legs and chewing on his back legs. Benadryl seems to help the symptoms, but it doesn’t get to the root cause of the issue.
We’ve been experimenting with different proteins and a variety of high-quality foods, but we haven’t found one that improves either of their issues. After awhile, I began to seriously contemplate feeding them home-cooked meals.
That thought terrified me.
What should they be eating? How much protein? How many fruits and vegetables? How would they get all of their essential vitamins and minerals? How do I determine their macro-nutrient needs?
So many questions and so few answers.
After dancing around the idea for a few weeks, I remembered a product we were able to try at BlogPaws last year. The fluffies had received a sample of Dr. Harvey’s Veg-To-Bowl and absolutely loved it.
Veg-To-Bowl is a grain-free premix of nine different vegetables and herbs. You simply add your choice of protein and oil to create a complete, well-rounded meal. It makes feeding your dog homed-cooked meals extremely simple. At least, that’s the way it sounds.
I was still really nervous about making the switch to home-cooked meals, but thankfully, it was very easy to get my questions answered. After a phone call with Dr. Harvey himself, I felt much more at ease with my ability to adequately feed Mauja and Atka. I was really impressed that Dr. Harvey was so willing to take time out of his day to answer my long list of questions.
Last week, we slowly began to transition Mauja and Atka to the Veg-To-Bowl food so today begins the first day of their journey. I’m really hoping that switching them to a fresh-food diet will solve the issues we’ve been having. After reading so many of the testimonials, I’m pretty confident we will see success.
Each week, I’m going to write an update on their progress. Hopefully, these posts will assist any of you that have been considering making your dog his own meals. We also have a few other products from Dr. Harvey’s that we’ll be trying and telling you all about soon.
Stay tuned for more of Mauja and Atka’s journey to home-cooked meals!
Disclaimer: Dr. Harvey’s provided Veg-To-Bowl in order for It’s Dog or Nothing to try home-cooked meals. Don’t worry – an advertiser will never influence the content of this blog.
First, let me say I am SO EXCITED to be a part of this fantastic giveaway hop! Big, fluffy shout out to Jessica and Luna at Beagles & Bargains and Jodi, Kolchak, and Felix at Kol’s Notes for putting this fabulous event together!
The Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop is a sponsored by Lionel Trains, the Art of AJ, pawTree, Dr. Harveys, Jones Natural Chews, Puppy Style Treats, Clear Conscience Pet, Whimseez, Loving Pets and Weruva. It’s Dog or Nothing only shares information we believe in and feel you would enjoy.
How Does it Work?
From October 19th – 31st, some amazing dog bloggers will be sharing their favorite trick and hold a treat giveaway! Get it? Trick or treat! Well, maybe trick AND treat? See what I did there? 😉 Here’s an awesome list so you know where to go and when!
Make sure you hop from blogger to blogger to learn all of the fun tricks and enter each giveaway. Best part, every time you enter you will also receive an entry for one of the Three (3) Grand Prizes. These include a Peanuts Halloween Train & Trick or Treat Gondola from Lionel Trains, $300 in dog treats from each of the Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop sponsors, and a Custom Halloween Pet Portrait from The Art of AJ!
Guys, I’m not going to lie. I had totally planned on doing “speak” for this video. I taught this to Mauja when she was a puppy and it’s hilarious. She whines and yips – you really have to hear it. However, being a typical Great Pyrenees, Mauja was not into speak when I was trying to record. She absolutely refused. If I moved the camera away, she did it. When I brought the camera back out, she stopped.
So instead, we’re teaching “crawl” today! Mauja and Atka used to be really good at this trick, but it’s been awhile since we’ve worked on it so they needed a bit of a refresher. Check out the video below to see the fluffies crawling and see just how ridiculous training a Great Pyrenees can be.
Guard Dog + Trick Training + Noises = Distracted Fluffy
Mauja and Atka LOVE so many of the products from Dr. Harvey’s, so we’re thrilled to be hosting a giveaway for Dr. Harvey’s treats! Enter below for a chance to win the Coconut Smiles and Sweet Potate’r Chews (giveaway open to US only). Two great treats as you teach your pup to crawl! Don’t forget to follow Dr. Harvey’s on Facebook and Twitter.
What trick do you want to teach your dog?