[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?