Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Fur Children

I used to say I liked dogs more than people and on some days that is true. Dogs always greet you when you walk in the door, wag their tail and are happy to see you; people not so much. Dog are appreciative to have a home and be fed and played with; people not so much. Dogs are always there to listen and not give their opinion; people not so much! I have been a dog lover since I was about 7 and I got my first dog Dryphus. I don't think any dog can reach the status Dryphus did in my heart. He was a HUGE dog, but so loving and protective. Dryphus lived 13 years, a very long time for a Boxer and when he died it was one of the most emotionally devastating times of my life. Dryphus was a rock in our lives always there and I still miss him.

About 2 years after Dryphus died I was in college, Frank and I had been dating about a year and we got Duncan. He was our first Fur baby. Don't get me wrong things were not always rosy. Duncan peed on my bed almost every day, cried when we left him in his kennel and was difficult to potty train. But after we got through the first year he was a GREAT dog. We have so many memories with him, like when Frank let him fall out of the cart at Petsmart and trying to get "family" photos taken with him, taking Duncan camping and to the park. Everyone loves Duncan, partly because he is a Boxer and people love Boxers, but also he has this sweet dumbness about him!

When I say Duncan has been a great dog I mean truly a great dog. One night when lily was about 18months, Frank and I had gone to bed for the night and closed the door. Duncan was crying at the door, after telling him to go away for about 5 minutes Frank got up to see what he wanted. When Frank opened our bedroom door he was meet with a wall of smoke. Our dishwasher had caught on fire. I ran up to get Lily, thankfully everyone was fine and there was minimal damage to the house, but I always wonder what would have been if it wasn't for Duncan. In the past few years Duncan has been company to me when I am home with the kids, he always alerts me when the kids are doing something that is not safe. He really is a great dog.

About a year ago Duncan started having problems eating. Every time he would eat he would regurgitate his food. He lost a lot of weight and we decided a trip to the vet was needed. They did xrays to find he has Mega esophagus. This means his Esophagus (the tube that carries food to his tummy) does not constrict and take the food from his mouth to his tummy, it just sits in his esophagus. We found a homemade diet that sort of worked, but it was better than anything we had tried. Last week Duncan found some raisins (which are toxic to dogs) and began vomiting, when this was happening he aspirated some of the vomit into his lungs and developed Pneumonia. He was in the hospital for the weekend on nebulizer treatments, oxygen and antibiotics as well as IV fluids. He come home on Saturday night and was still very sick. Frank and I discussed at what point do we say this is enough and let him go. Over the next few days Duncan improved, we have found a food that is working great. He gets spoon fed 3 times a day and then has to be held upright for 20 minutes following being fed. We are working up to 20 minutes (he is not crazy about this) we are at 10 minutes now. He is on 5 different meds and hopefully when we go back to the vet next week his lungs will be clear. Life with a dog with Mega esophagus is very difficult, they could aspirate at any time, Duncan has problems with water so I make him gelatin out of chicken broth and water. This is similar to what a stroke patient would get so they don't aspirate. We have already decided that we will give Duncan the best care he can get at home, but we are not putting him though further testing, treatment or hospitalization. Some dogs live their whole lives with this disorder, some don't make it through their first bout with Pneumonia.

We have prayed that we will not have to make the decision to put him to sleep, I know it would be very difficult and I would carry a lot of guilt from it. We hope when the time comes Duncan can go peacefully and not in any discomfort. He has been such a great dog to our family and I know we Will never be able to replace him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homemade Doggy Food

When most people find out I make my own dog food they think I am nuts and that my dogs are spoiled, the first is not completely true, but the latter is! I started this journey of making dog food about 6 months ago and it has been a journey. Duncan was diagnosed with a fairly rare problem with his esophagus that causes him to regurgitate all storebought food. The truth is he ate a hobenaro plant when he was a puppy and it permanently scared his esophagus...I know hes not the sharpest tool in the shed! So we started experimenting with different recipes and this is the one we have finally after 6 months perfected.

3 cups rice - you can use all white all brown or mix. brown rice is better for them, but mine will not eat all brown rice so I mix it half and half with white rice

27 eggs

4-12 oz cans of chicken packed in water

2-16 oz bags of frozen peas and carrots


10 cups of puppy food (more on this later)

In one large pan put all 27 eggs and cover with water boil for 12 minutes. while the eggs are boiling put 3 cups of rice, 6 cups of water, 2 TBS of butter and some salt in another large pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling cover and turn down to low for 18 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE TOP!!! While the rice and eggs are cooking I take the chicken and shred it, be sure to save the water it is packed in, you don't necessarily have to shred it but Duncan has a hard time with chunks so I do. When the eggs finish boiling transfer them to an ice bath immediately. The begin peeling, this is the most time consuming part of this recipe. When the rice finishes, turn the burner off and put both bags of veggies and the water from the chicken in and stir well. Once you are finished peeling eggs you can just slice or chop them up and throw them in the pan with the rice and veggies. At this point I have to take 1/2 the mixture and put it in the pan I boiled the eggs in. Then add 1/2 of the chicken to each of the pans and mix well. At this point your dog food is done.

Recently Duncan has been losing weight so we have started adding some puppy food to the mixture to get some weight on him, so I consider this the bulk up recipe! You would just add the 10 cups of puppy food and then 5 cups of water to the recipe. The water helps to soften the dog food. That might not be necessary for your dog unless they have problems with dry food. Another reason you might add the dog food is if you are transitioning your dog from regular food to homemade, you could slowly add less and less dog food in until they had straight homemade food. It upsets their tummy less.

So here is the cost breakdown, keep in mind I buy most of the ingredients from Costco so your cost might be a little different

Regular recipe

Rice - $1.00

Eggs - $3.00

Chicken - $6.67

Veggies - $2.00


TOTAL $12.67 and makes approx 24 cups of food. This feeds my 2 boxers for 3.5 days

Bulk Up Recipe

Rice - $1.00

Eggs - $3.00

Chicken - $6.67

Veggies - $2.00

Puppy Food - $4.50


TOTAL $17.17 and makes approx 31 cups of food. This feeds my 2 boxers for 4.5 days

Most of the experimenting stage came from determining how much food they should eat a day. There is lots of information out there, but my vet told me without having the food tested for nutritional content there was not for sure answer, you just have to experiment. The guidelines say approx 1 cup a day for every 20lb your dog weighs. This is just a guideline it also depends on activity level and the stage of life they are in.

Some things I have learned along the way:

Onions, Garlic, Grapes, Raisins, Chocolate and Caffeine are all fatal to dogs

Dogs do not like cold food, you have to nuke this for a few seconds

It is easiest to put this mixture into Ziploc sandwich baggies in serving size portions

You look really silly walking out of Costco with 12-18ct cartons of eggs every month!

Sometimes your hubby gets a little upset when they he is having a sandwich for dinner because you are making dog food!

Let me know if you have any questions; there is lots of recipes out there, this is just what works for us. We also add a multivitamin to their food just to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need. SO at a cost of a little more than $110.00 a month; this is probably not a cost effective way to feed your dogs if you have large dogs, but this beats the heck out of cleaning up dog throw up all the time! :)