About a year ago I hit the roommate jackpot. Not just once, but twice. My friend, Janice, needed to rent a room out in her house and asked me if I was interested. I wasn’t happy where I was living so I decided to give it a go.
Turns out it was a great move. Not only is Janice a great roommate but shortly after I moved in she brought in another great roommate as well.
Here’s a pic from the first night I met Lipton.
Yes, Lipton like the tea. Janice said her milky white coat reminded her of the color of the Lipton tea that her recently deceased husband used to drink daily.
Here’s a few more pics of her first few months:
What a cutie, huh?
I grew up with golden retrievers, three of them to be exact so I have a serious soft spot for them. They trigger some child-like quality in me that I sometimes have to remind myself is not inherent in all human beings (which I don’t fully comprehend).
I mean seriously, how can anyone not love a golden retriever? What is it about their gentle and playful nature, their golden coats and big, floppy ears that is not to love? Let’s just say if there were no societal mores, I’d go up to every golden retriever I came across, squish its ears in my hands, bury my head in its furry face and willingly accept whatever big sloppy wet dog kisses it wanted to give me.
For the first few weeks and months, everything was great with Lipton.
Except for one thing.
This is what Lipton was eating. Grain-based, highly processed dried dog food. All three dogs I grew up with ate this sort of stuff.
And all three experienced health problems at an early age.
The first, Taune, had thyroid problems and died at age 9. The second, Misty, lost all her vitality by age 5 and the last, Cody, developed cataracts around age 1. Misty and Cody both died at age 11.
And while I can’t say all of their issues were united by their diet, I suspect there was a strong correlation. Because what did unite them all were two specific things and both of those things I started to see early on in Lipton.
The first was a very dry coat. And the second was a lack of interest in their dry food.
The latter in particular was something I vividly remember at the end of Cody’s life. I’m pretty sure all three of our dogs ate a popular grain-based dried kibble called Science Diet. If there were truth in advertising this crap would’ve been called The-Not-So-Science Diet.
Cody would stand listlessly over his bowl, look disgustedly at his food, and know he had to eat it.
One night on a hunch I mixed in some canned beef broth as an experiment. Probably not the best quality broth but those were in my pre-real food days.
Boy did he light up. He slurped that broth down with all the enthusiasm of a ravenous young puppy.
But I wasn’t going to convince my father to change his diet nor do I blame him. It’s just what the vet recommended. Heck I wasn’t completely convinced myself. My beef broth experiment was just a brief, sneaking suspicion, one that passed as quickly as my trips home from college in those days.
The Eerie Parallels
Since I’ve started living with Lipton, I’ve been doing some research on dog food. Not surprisingly, the parallels between modern-day processed dog food and modern-day processed human food are eerily similar.
Much like modern humans abandoned their traditional diets, so did they abandon their pets’ natural diets in favor of processed pet food. And just like with human food, clever marketing by the highly profitable pet food industry has convinced us that cheap, dried kibble is a suitable diet for our pets. And just like most doctors are uninformed when it comes to human nutrition, most vets are woefully uninformed about pet nutrition. And just like modern humans, pets are experiencing higher and higher rates of chronic, degenerative disease.
The best analogy I can think of is to think of dried dog food as the equivalent of dried human cereal. Imagine if you were forced to eat dried cereal every day for the rest of your life. I imagine you’d wind up with some serious nutritional deficiencies and some serious health problems.
Try the BARF Diet
When I expressed my concern about Lipton’s diet to my friend Eric, who is also a great dog trainer, he suggested I read The BARF Diet. No, it’s not what you think. BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It’s kind of like Nourishing Traditions for pets. When you read it, little light bulbs start going on. Because as much as it’s grounded in science, it’s also grounded in COMMON SENSE.
It’s a great book and even better, it’s only around one hundred pages as well. You can find it here on Amazon.
The premise is that dogs are supposed to eat what they would eat in Nature which is raw foods – meat, bones and even some fruits and vegetables.
Not exactly rocket science.
And one thing you would definitely not find any dog ever eating in Nature is grains. Grains make up a large percentage of dried dog food. Why? The same reason grains make up a large portion of human junk food – because they’re cheap.
Nor would you ever find a dog eating canola or soybean oil. Or propylene glycol. Or corn syrup. Or artificial colors.
Yup, they put the same crap in dog food that they put in human food.
Feed Your Dog Human Food
I’m not talking about pizza and pop tarts but rather the food you eat that a dog would eat in Nature. Turns out, there’s quite a bit in common. And it turns out that this is supremely better for dogs than the dried kibble that passes as dog food to the majority of dog-owning Americans.
In fact, human food is exactly what my friend Eric feeds his dog. Whatever he and his wife eat, the dog eats.
The Most Unscientific Experiment Ever Done
Take away everything you think you know about food. And just tune it to your taste buds. Now imagine you’re in a fancy restaurant. The waiter gives you two dishes. One, a dried bowl of cereal. The next, a porterhouse steak in a red wine demi-glace over a bed of goat cheese mash potatoes topped with grilled asparagus (or whatever floats your taste buds boat).
Which would you choose?
So when I found out you could buy commercially prepared raw dog food at the store, I decided to do a similar experiment with Lipton.
And I actually took a video with my iPhone when Lipton was 5 months old.
I gave her a bowl of her dried food next to the raw food to see which she would eat first. Now I know this is not a very scientific experiment. In fact, I would say it’s one of the most unscientific experiments ever done. But perhaps there’s some common sense-visual value to it. And I guarantee your dog would have the same reaction if he/she was given a choice.
Here’s what Lipton chose:
Now as much as I’d love to say that Lipton is now eating raw food, unfortunately, she’s not. She’s actually still eating dried food.
Next time, I’ll tell you why and give you some tips what to do when a raw food diet is just not possible.
To read part II, click here.
In the meantime, share your experience in the comments below. What do you feed your dog and why?