Catering To A Gourmet Pooch

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - February 03, 2010
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Veterinarians get asked a wide variety of questions. How often should I bathe my dog? Do I need to trim my bird’s wings? Should I allow my cat outside of the house?

But by and large the most common questions deal with food. With all of the commercial diets on the market, pet owners must have more than a hundred options at their disposal. What is the best choice? Is there a best choice?

The following is a true story (try as I may, I can’t make up stuff this good).

Melissa came into our hospital with her dog Bubbie, a 3-year-old miniature dachshund, for a semi-annual exam. We call it a “semi-annual” exam because we like to see our patients twice a year. Bubbie’s physical exam revealed no abnormalities, but we did take a blood sample to evaluate vital organs such as the kidneys and liver. After completing the appointment with a nail trim, I asked Melissa if she had any questions.

“Well, Doc,” Melissa replied. “I did have a question about diet. What is the best diet to feed Bubbie? I mean, there are so many types of food available I don’t know where to begin. There’s food labeled all-natural, food made for specific breeds and even fresh-frozen homemade diets. I’m confused.”

“Choosing the right diet is very important,” I replied. “Not all dogs do well on the same diet, which is why there are so many options. You need to find one that Bubbie does well on. Some of the parameters that I use to evaluate how an animal is doing on a diet include activity level, volume of stool, hair coat, weight maintenance and absence of signs indicating an upset stomach like soft stool, vomiting or passing lots of gas.”

With a defeated expression Melissa admitted, “Doc, here’s my problem. I must have tried more than a dozen dog foods and Bubbie won’t eat any of them. He just sniffs and walks away. I’ve tried ‘tough love,’ but he will basically starve himself. He once went three days without eating. On the fourth day I caved in and gave him what he wanted.”

“On physical exam, he seems to be getting enough nutrition,” I replied. “Bubbie is by no means emaciated. What is he currently eating?”

“Well ...” Melissa shyly responded. “I cook for him every day since he won’t eat leftovers.”

Won’t eat leftovers? My curious expression verging on disbelief prompted Melissa to continue with her story.

“If I feed him steak on Monday,” Melissa went on, “then on Tuesday I would have to cook something like chicken. He won’t eat the same thing two days in a row. I’m running out of ideas and, for that matter, recipes.”

I jokingly asked if I could come over for dinner. I’m not that particular and I’d gladly eat leftovers. The joke did not go over very well.

Oftentimes we talk about proper training when it comes to pets, but, in this case, Bubbie the dachshund did a good job of training Melissa.

Cooking for your pet is the best thing you can do for them, but it involves a lot of effort. The meals need to be nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of your furry friend. That’s a lot of pressure for an owner, not to mention the time commitment. For most owners, a well-formulated commercial diet is the best way to go.

Will Bubbie ever eat “dog food”?

Who knows, but for now he’s living large on The Wild Side.

Pet Tip: Seek the advice of your veterinarian when choosing a diet for your pet. If you decide to cook for them, do your research and make sure the meal is filled with essential nutrients as well as love.

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