So about a month ago, our dogs had a very unfortunate bacterial infection. Our older dog, Ellie, got hit the hardest with it and we weren’t sure she was going to make it. It was a rough night, with an emergency call to the vet. By the time we got her in, she was not looking great. We weren’t sure that we would see her again. It was very stressful and I couldn’t believe how quickly the poor girl declined.
By the time I got home from dropping Ellie off at the vet, Basil, had started to show the same symptoms. We watched her for a bit to make sure it wasn’t just nerves and stress from watching Ellie struggle so much. In the end we wanted to play it safe and our vet was able to take a look at her as well, determining that the infections must have been from something that they both ate. He had run a bunch of test on Ellie for disease and all of it had come back negative so it was a bacterial issue.
The culprit, we believe, was a smoked dog bone that I had given them out camping. Ellie is now 11 years old and I have given her smoked marrow bones for years. But it was the only thing that they had eaten that was not of their normal day to day diet. The vet pointed out that the safest bones to give dogs are the ones that you get from a butcher, because you know they have been stored properly and have not had a chance to grow any harmful bacteria. To each their own, but from this point forward, I will be avoiding the smoked ones that you can get on the shelves of the grocery store and stick with the ones in the meat department that are frozen. Though, I am not sure if Ellie will be able to eat them in the future. The infection did quite the number on her tummy.
The good news, both are doing great and are pretty much back to their normal selves, with the exception of Ellie who needs to get some weight back on her. It is crazy how quickly she lost weight. Lucky for her, she gets some pretty tasty meals these days and much bigger portions that she is used to.
When Ellie came home from the vet, and when Basil was dealing with the infection at home, the vet had suggested a soft diet of rice and vegetables like carrots, pumpkin or sweet potato all mashed up together. So that is what we did and they really enjoyed it. After a few weeks, we started to wean them back on to their regular food with the new food topping it, along with some meat. Poor Ellie did not do well going back to any sort of kibble, so we stopped supplementing her food with it.
The concern for me was making sure she gets the right vitamins, nutrients and fats to stay healthy, gain some weight and not get disease due to too much of one of the foods, such as pancreatitis, heart issues, and so on. The plan was to make her healthy again. Dog foods are specifically made with the nutrients that they need to stay healthy. Although we are giving her canned dog meat, we decided to put her on some kibble again and so far, the supplement of it with the other food we are making them has been going well. That being said, neither will ever be back on a kibble only diet. They will always have some supplemented homemade food to go with the kibble and dog meat. Spoiled dogs moving forward!
So, as we are planning our garden next year, we are also planning dog friendly harvests to help supplement their meals. Pumpkin will be an addition that we will finally have room to include. I have always wanted to grow sweet potatoes, so we will be adding that to the potato mix. We will see how that goes. It sounds like they are much more finicky to grow than regular potatoes, but I am up for the challenge. I enjoy eating them as well, so we will all get to enjoy that harvest. We will grow green beans for the dogs as Kurt and I aren’t the biggest fans. Peas will once again be added to our garden for all to enjoy. And of course, a large carrot patch, which is by far the dogs favourite garden food.
We have always given the dogs treats from the garden that we know that they can eat, mostly carrots, but have never thought to plan our garden with the dogs in mind. It makes sense, we enjoy all the garden goodies so much during the summer, why not give some to the dogs too. Plus it helps the grocery budget.
For now, I am experimenting with some dog treats for the girls. I dehydrated some sweet potato strips the other day and they loved them. I kept them in the dehydrator a little too long as they went a bit crunchy, so next batch I will keep in for a shorter period of time, or lower the temperature a bit. They have also been enjoying their meals. I just mixed up a batch of rice, sweet potato, pea and spinach mix, which they have gobbled right up. Just a bit of spinach though as that is one of those veggies that can be too much and cause underlying issues.
We already knew that our dogs were pretty spoiled, but now I feel like we are into ridiculously spoiled territory. But I never want to see our dogs as sick as Ellie was. I am happy to spoil them as long as they don’t start acting like spoiled pooches. Luckily we have never had that issue with them and though they will try to push limits sometimes, they know that there is a limit to how spoiled they get to be.
Do any of you feed your dogs homemade meals? If so, how did you start getting into it, and what do you do to ensure proper nutrients for your pooch?