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Dog Food for Thought

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By Natasha Shon

In the United States alone, there are approximately 63 million dog owners and over 70 million dogs!  Now that’s a lot of kibble!  So just what are all of these dogs eating?  I’m sure you’ve been to the grocery store and seen the overwhelming number of varieties of dog food.  They even have pet supermarkets where you can find everything from canned to kibble to toys to treats.  We all want to do right by our dogs so just what IS right?  Well, I’m no expert but I sure have done a lot of research on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the dog food market.  All I can tell you is what I feed my 2 dogs, Nestle, my precious 9-year-old jack russell terrier (no—not "jack russell terrorist"—he’s pure sweetness…that is unless you touch his feet), and Lacy, my two year old lovable golden retriever.

I choose their food based on two principals: first and foremost, health and nutritional value and second, where I can buy it.  I choose a brand I feel good about feeding AND that I can get at all of the large pet supermarkets (but not at a human grocery store).  It’s a holistic food with no preservatives, no chemicals, no by-products, corn, wheat or soy.  (Yes, my dogs probably eat healthier than my husband and I.)

To treat or not to treat….. Now what would life be without a yummy treat now and then.  Unfortunately, here in the good ol’ US of A it seems that pet obesity is right up there with human obesity.  With this in mind, I try to be very thoughtful about what “extras” I give.  The favorite of my two buddies are baby carrots.  They ABSOLUTELY LOVE-LOVE-LOVE them!  And, because they are so healthy and virtually calorie-less they can have as many as I care to give them.  Typically, they each have about 6-8 each day.  They also get dog treats, again, holistic only, (sometimes with a dollop of peanut butter) and other varieties of raw fruits and veggies and occasionally ground turkey or chicken mixed in with their kibble.  Of course, there are those very dangerous and sometimes deadly foods that you should NEVER feed.  Some of the more common ones: NEVER give your dog grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts or, of course, chocolate (sweets in any form should not be given to your dog).  For a complete list you can look on the internet.
So, those are my thoughts on feeding our very special canine families, without whom I truly believe life would not be quite complete! So to all of them I say….live, love, be happy and, of course, BON(E) APPETITE!

Natasha Shon is a graduate of the University of South Florida and taught French for more than 6 years. She has volunteered at Humane Societies across the US and has been a proud “foster” pet parent to countless dogs and cats. She currently resides in NY with her husband, Mark, and dog’s Nestle and Lacy.