We humans know that to get the most out of our diet, we need to eat a variety of whole, nutritious foods on a daily basis. We try to stay away from overly processed foods, and we make sure to take daily vitamins that meet our own personal health needs. We know that the more a food is cooked, canned, extruded, or otherwise processed, the less natural vitamins it contains. So why do we feed our pets the same over-processed kibble or canned food day after day after day and expect them to be healthy?
Don't get me wrong - my own dogs and cats eat kibble. I stick with the highest quality all-natural brands, and I switch varieties all the time (more on this in a future blog...), but I'm not one of those people who grills organic chicken for their pet on a daily basis. (Not that there's anything wrong with grilled organic chicken, or feeding home-prepared diets, but that method of feeding just doesn't fit in my lifestyle.) But I don't stop with kibble.
My pets are all unique. Ramona, the Jack Russell mix, is a picky old lady, and will turn up her nose at plain kibble unless she is VERY hungry. Auggie, the Cairn mix, has a sensitive tummy and is prone to urinary tract issues. Maka, the tabby cat, will eat everything and anything put in front of him, and he gets very vocal when he doesn't feel he's had enough to eat. Lily, the stripey kitty, isn't very interested in dry food at all. It's hard to balance meeting their individual needs with my own busy lifestyle, but there are a few tricks I've learned over the years.
I try to find a happy medium between my pets' kibble and a Whole Food, home-prepared diet. I barely have time to cook for myself most nights, so I know that I won't consistently do it for my pets. But I do want them to have the benefit of Whole Foods in their diet. Luckily, there are products out there to make this possible!
Honest Kitchen, Sojos, and Stella and Chewy's all produce Whole Food diets. All 3 of them contain high-quality, Whole Foods that are either freeze-dried or dehydrated, and should be mixed with water when feeding. All 3 are easy to prepare and easy to store. All 3 of them are complete diets, that can be fed on their own and meet your pet's nutritional needs (and then some!). However, all 3 are somewhat pricier than kibble.
The thing is, I think a lot of people don't realize that ANY amount of nutritious Whole Foods in a pet's diet is better than NO Whole Foods! So if you are adding chicken breast, or hamburger, or baby carrots, or WHATEVER to your dog's kibble diet, great job! Since I'm not a cook (and I'm a vegetarian...), my personal solution is to add one of our commercial Whole Food diets to my pet's kibble. My pets LOVE all varieties of all 3 brands.
Here's how dinnertime usually goes at my house: Both dogs get 3/4 of the recommended amount of dry kibble in their bowl. They also get 1/4 of the recommended amount of a Whole Food diet (we are using Honest Kitchen Embark right now, but have used Sojos and Stella & Chewys in the past as well). On top of that, they get a bit of salmon oil and warm water. Auggie gets a little extra water and a scoop of Naturvet Cranberry Relief to help keep his urine diluted and prevent urinary issues. I let their bowls sit for a few minutes to let the food rehydrate, and then (after asking them to "sit" or "down", of course) they DIG IN. After dinner they get their "vitamins" (I use Pet Natural's Daily Best for both of them, Ramona also gets Pet Natural's Hip + Joint, and Auggie also gets Pet Natural's Daily Digest). To my dogs, the vitamin soft-chews are delicious treats, so they know they must earn them by performing one of their tricks - great reminder to keep up with the training daily! Lastly, they get their "after-dinner mints" - some kind of dental treat or chew. (We are currently using Zuke's Z-Bones, but we switch it up a lot.)
My cats' dinner diets are very similar - 75% kibble, 25% Whole Foods, a bit of salmon oil, a bit of water. I feed Maka his dinner in a special Slow-Feed bowl, and in two batches, because he tends to gulp his food and vomit. I also put a small amount of dry kibble in the bowl in the morning so that he has something to snack on throughout the day. (He tends to vomit when he has a completely empty stomach.)
My animals love their food. They are excited to eat every day, and none of them has ever had a major illness or food sensitivity. I am able to keep their genetic issues (such as Auggie's urinary issues and Maka's vomiting issues) under control through their diet and without medication. And best of all, it's so EASY! It only takes me a few minutes longer than throwing a cup of kibble in a bowl.
Anyway, the point of this (over) sharing is to let you know - you, too, can add Whole Foods to your pet's dry kibble diet in a quick, easy, inexpensive way. The benefits are HUGE, and the drawbacks are almost non-existent.
Want a sample of Sojos, Honest Kitchen, or Stella & Chewys? Stop by the shop and we'd be happy to hook you up! We'd be happy to answer any questions you have about adding Whole Foods and supplements to your pet's diet, simply stop by or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make the change today. I promise, you will notice the difference.