Noticable Changes On Real Foods Diet

Avery in the backyardI talked previously about switching Avery over from a kibble based diet to a real foods diet.  Our previous dog, Rocky, I switched over to real foods within the first couple months that we adopted him.

He then was on this diet the rest of his life so it’s been awhile since I’ve been with a dog who was on kibble.  The two things I noticed right away with Avery was gosh he pooped a lot.  I mean a lot.  Upwards of 7 times a day and the stools were gigantic!  And this was when he was eating “good quality” kibble.

He also drank a great deal which when you’re trying to teach a dog bladder control, trust me when I say that huge water intake doesn’t help with training.

Once I made the switch those two things decreased dramatically.

He probably has a bowel movement twice to three times a day which is completely normal on a real foods diet.  And the stools are small and don’t usually have too much of an odor to them.  I say “usually” because if a dog is anxious or nervous about anything, chances are that’s going to reflect in their stools, causing them to have more odor.

When dogs are on a real foods diet, they are able to absorb and utilize the nutrients much easier and efficiently, resulting in the body producing less waste.

If you saw how small his stools are, you probably wouldn’t believe me when I told you they came from a boxer.

His water intake is also down because his food now contains a lot of moisture.  He only drinks if he’s been playing hard, he was out in the sun, or when he gets out of his crate.

It’s not unusual for him to not need a drink all day.  I realize that probably doesn’t sound like it’s okay but I promise you that is totally normal for a dog on a real foods based diet.

His coat is also very smooth and shiny.  Dogs with a dry brittle coat aren’t getting enough good nutrients in their diet nor are they getting enough good fat.  With a real foods diet, he benefits from better absorption of nutrients along with getting healthy fats.

This is reflected in his shiny soft coat.

Avery also doesn’t have an “odor” or smell “like a dog”.  In fact, Avery doesn’t smell at all.  He’s able to go months without needing a bath.  Dogs who smell or need baths often, their skin and coat is exhibiting distress.  This can be greatly reduced once a dog is switched over to a real foods based diet.

This might come as a shocker to you, but Avery also doesn’t pass gas.  Oh sure, on occasion he’ll toot or if he needs to go out to the bathroom he might toot but for the most part, no gas.

Even on good quality kibble he had gas.  Boxers are said to be notorious for stomach problems and issues with gas.

Dogs shouldn’t have gas all the time.  And they certainly shouldn’t be “clearing a room” or “causing tears” because their gas is so strong.  That’s a problem and means that they are not digesting the food they are given very well.

Real foods diet ended the issue of passing gas and tummy gurgles.

Avery mid-run

A couple of other things I noticed were that Avery has more energy now and he’s also mellowed out a great deal.  He’s not as anxious in the house any longer.  Oh, I’m sure some of that has to do with him getting more comfortable living here and more comfortable with us, but I also think it has a lot to do with him being more satisfied with his meals and his body responding to them in a positive way.

I highly recommend at least providing your dog with some fresh fruits and vegetables so that they are getting some fresh whole foods in their diet.  Even if you just give them some apple slices on occasion and some veggie mix in with their kibble.

I have a Resources page that can help you get started with your nutrition research.

I know that a real foods diet can be intimidating at first!  But if you are at all interested in it, I highly suggest talking with someone who feeds their dogs that way and ask as many questions as you can.  Always research as much as possible to make the right decision for you and your dog.


From Kibble To Real Foods

The Honest Kitchen SamplesI’m not much of a fan of kibble.  I personally feel dogs do better with real foods and a variety of foods.  Rocky was on a raw and homemade diet pretty much his entire life and it did wonders for him.

I knew that I would be switching over Avery to a real foods diet at some point but wasn’t sure of the time frame.  I wanted him to get adjusted and used to his new life first before I started throwing out new foods to him.

I did introduce him to veggies right away though.  He was underweight and not looking too good so I wanted to introduce some fresh foods to him quickly.

Veggies are a great way to add in fresh foods because they are pretty easy on the stomach and a great source of vitamins and minerals (just like for humans!).  They can get mixed with kibble without causing too much stomach distress.

My next step was to then start to wean him off kibble and move to a dehydrated food. This got accelerated thanks to his dental issues. After his surgery, he wasn’t allowed to chew anything for a week.  Dehydrated food worked great because it’s soft and easy to eat.

I got some samples from The Honest Kitchen and tested them out with him to see what he preferred.  I’ve been a customer of theirs for years and love their products.  I ordered three grain-free samples and one that had quinoa in it.

He really enjoyed their Love (beef, grain free) and Thrive (chicken with quinoa) varieties.  I got the 4lb boxes of each and those were his meals post surgery.

Dehydrated food dryThis is what the dehydrated food looks like before you add water to it.

dehydrated food wetThis is what it looks like once water has been added and it has time to reconstitute.

You can make the food thicker or thinner by the amount of water you add.

I still mixed in fresh veggies and I also mixed in some canned dog food.  So he wasn’t off dog food entirely at that point but getting close.

Then I switched out the canned food and added in some cooked chicken along with the dehydrated food.  After a week of that, I switched to cubes of raw chicken in with the dehydrated food.

He handled that really well so after a week of that I put him on pre-made raw food.  Right now he’s eating the Stella and Chewy’s variety which I can buy at my local pet food store.

Again, since he does have teeth issues and can’t chew hard things, giving him something like chicken backs is out of the question (that used to be Rocky’s breakfast, a bowl full of backs. Which he loved!).  Avery needs something where the bone is ground up with the meat.

Veggie Mush for Avery

Currently Avery is now fully switched over to a real foods diet.  I make veggie mush for him every week and that gets mixed up with the ground raw food.  He’s a great veggie eater which allows me to rotate the veggies around and provide him with some variety.

His coat is so shiny and soft now that he’s fully off kibble.  I do give some supplements as well which I’ll talk about in another post!

Do you feed kibble? Have you considered a fresh foods diet for you dog?

Unsweetened Applesauce

unsweetened applesauceUnsweetened applesauce is a great thing to have on hand for your pup.  It can be mixed with yogurt and peanut butter (Avery’s current favorite flavor), stuffed in a kong and frozen.  Perfect for a special treat during crate time or just as a nice brain game to wear your doggie out.

It’s also bland enough that it can be used when your dog isn’t feeling well or perhaps has an upset stomach.

If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, possible dehydration is an unwanted side effect.  Unsweetened applesauce is gentle enough that it won’t irritate the stomach and also has a lot of liquid with it so that it can help aid in hydration (this applies for humans too!).

Most stores carry unsweetened applesauce and that is exactly how it will be labeled on the jar.  Dogs don’t need added sugars in their diets and they don’t need extra chunky cinnamon flavored either.  Regular applesauce will do the trick just fine!

Unsweetened applesauce is also super simple to make, all you need is a few apples and some water.

Andrea’s Unsweetened Applesauce

  • 4-5 Apples, peeled and cubed
  • 1C Water

In a medium sized pan add in the apples and water.  Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add apples and water either to a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container.

This recipe is simple enough that you can adjust the amount to fit what you need. You want just enough water in the pot to help the apples simmer along.  They don’t have to be covered or submerged in water, just enough that they can cook and then be blended.

I use red apples and tend to avoid the more tart apples.  If your doggie likes tart applesauce then go for it!

The applesauce will keep for a week or two in the fridge but I have a feeling it will get used up a lot quicker than that.

Hillbilly Raised Dog Feeder

Avery, waiting for food to appearHillbilly might not be the right term here.  Perhaps, “Boozey Suburbanite” would be better?

Either way, Avery is currently using a “raised feeder” for his meals and his water.

My personal opinion for the moment is that larger dogs who can drink and eat out of a raised feeder are more comfortable.  Seeing a larger dog bend and crouch way down just to take a drink, to me, looks awkward and uncomfortable for the dog.

I’m currently researching the benefits of raised feeders and whether it’s a good thing or not.   For now we are using one with Avery.

Well sort of.

You wouldn’t think that I would have a problem finding a raised feeder but, well, I am.

For whatever reason, feeders have become super expensive.  A basic wire feeder that is the height and size that I need is close to $80.

Maybe I’m overreacting but dang, that seems like a really high price for something so basic.

I mean, I’m not looking for anything fancy like a wood stand stained in cherry with his name etched on the side.

He’s too messy for that.

I just want a simple wire stand that is about 11.5 inches high and can hold a 2 quart stainless steel bowl.

Avery Side viewWhat we are using right now is an upside down wine box.  This is where the “Boozey Suburbanite” comes in.

Hey, it works!

It’s 11.5 inches high so it’s the perfect height.  Scott traced one of Avery’s dog bowls on the bottom of the box and then cut a hole out.

Flip the box over so the bottom is on top, and that’s where the bowl goes.

The bowls get placed down on the box and they are stable enough that Avery can’t tip them over when he’s rooting around for more food.

The top is sealed up with packing tape so that it’s “waterproof” and we can wipe it off with out risk of ruining the box.

Avery doesn’t care. That’s where the food and water go so to him it’s perfect.

Meanwhile, we’ll just use this contraption for now and I’ll keep shopping and looking for that elusive feeder.

Healthy Weight

AveryWhen we adopted Avery, he came to us pretty skinny.  Not completely emaciated but close.  You could see all his ribs, his spine, and his hip bones.

In the picture on the left, you can get an idea of how skinny he was.

I thought, “Oh no problem! We can get him fattened up!”

It took us longer than I expected! Avery wasn’t big on eating.  When we first brought him home, he had no interest with eating in the mornings at all and only wanted food starting around 1pm in the afternoon.

Then he would eat dinner and we would give him another small meal (snack) before bed.

It seemed like he only ate when he “had” too, meaning, when he was super hungry.  And more often than not, he didn’t finish a full meal.

We switched kibbles and tried new things. I started adding a veggie mush to the kibble as well.  This guy was never excited about food.

I suspect that had something in part to do with his dental troubles.

However we were able to help him gain weight and now he’s at his healthy weight of about 55 pounds!

Avery, day of adoptionHere’s a “before” picture of him.  You can just make out his spin and hip bones in the picture.

Now an “after”.

Avery_sideviewHe’s starting to fill out nicely and look much more like a proper boxer!

Avery, standingPretty boy!

He has a healthy appetite now and is looking for food as soon as he wakes up in the mornings.  I’ve taken him off of kibble and am slowing switching him to a fresh foods diet.

He’s happy, on the road to being fully healthy, and at a good weight.  Hooray!