Dogfood: its worth talking about

In the spirit of counting calories for Yuuki’s weight loss program, I recently started researching some alternative dry dog foods to the one that I’ve been using. I’m a huge Orijen fan, but the calories are quite costly- on Yuuki’s waist as well as my wallet. Eventually I settled on the idea of switching the Chihuahuas to Acana Light and Fit. It’s also a brand of Champion Petfoods, which is the company that produces Orijen, so it seems pretty safe. This means I can “easily” drop Yuuki from a 395 kcal/cup diet to 360 kcal/cup. Certainly, that’s way above the recommended caloric density for dieting animals– don’t judge me. I’ve come not to trust vets with their ideas of what makes for healthy weight loss. I’ve tried the Hills prescription diets and Yuuki became itchy, his coat was awful (the weight loss line is mostly corn) and he would cry for hours because he was so hungry. It was painful for all of us. I’ve been happy with Orijen, but I need to shave off a few more calories in a day. In my determination to switch, my dog food provider reinforced my committment to his little business. I was wondering where, exactly, can I buy the Light & Fit line of Acana? I wrote to the Two Brothers Dog Wash and got a reply less that 24 hours later. In fact, they do carry it now. The long-time supporter of Orijen for his own dogs has now switched his Pitty to Light & Fit. We are totally on the same doggy nutritional page. I love that!

Using the borrowed kitchen and Vitamix to experiment with dog food recipes

So, Yuuki has made the switch. I have to say, he does seem a little hungrier. But, given his general lack of energy over this last summer, it’s nice to see him eager to eat again. I know I’ll regret saying that later! In addition to the change in diet though, and after many years of tough consideration, I’ve also made the committment (to myself) to become a partial dog food chef. Hardcore dog-people cook food for their dogs. I’d like to think I’m hardcore, but I’m not. But the other day, I was reading my bible for doggy weight losswhen I realized just how much Yuuki would save in calories if I cooked his food. Holy cow! Generally I’m pretty lazy. I don’t want to cook for myself, much less my dogs. In fact, I’ve always been a little jealous of their nutritionally balanced kibble with no menu planning or grocery store visits required.

The sardine, blueberry, veggies and lowfat cottage cheese concoction that Yuuki didn’t appreciate

Here’s the reality: Dr. Ernie Ward’s recipe for chicken and rice would allow Yuuki to eat nearly double the volume (less density) for halfthe calories. That’s worth cooking at least one meal a day for! Now if I could just figure out how to make it in the slow cooker. Really, it doesn’t take that long. But, by the time I’m finished cooking his food (I freeze some for later, so it’s not like I cook it every day– more like once a week), I’m too tired to cook my own, so I eat cereal. I suppose I could just serve myself up a bowl of his food (plus some salt and pepper!), but I’m not that interested in chicken and rice that’s green. Yes, green. The little bit of spinach or kale or kelp that is required to keep it balanced pretty much turns the whole thing green. He likes it, but it looks pretty gross.

Side note though: while we were housesitting, I had access to a really nice food processor, so I tried to make the sardine recipe from the book. Not a sucessful run, I’d say. Yuuki looked down at his bowl and sniffed the fishy mess, looked back up at me and telepathically shouted “Are you kidding me?!” That will be off the lists for future doggy menus! Now I’m going to work on incorporating some heart-healthy vitamin mix that a friend gave me. Healthier every day!

After some hesitation, Yuuki decided it was okay to eat