My head is spinning.
I decided that I am going to try switching Chester and Gretel to grain-free food. I have become more conscious about what they eat over the last year since watching a lot of my Dachshund friends switch to feeding raw and having to go wheatless myself.
The biggest reason I was intrigued with raw is that it is supposed to naturally get rid of the plaque on their teeth. I have thought about it for months and I don’t think I am ready to take the raw leap. For me it seems to take too much preparation – cooking, mixing, blanching, freezing, refrigerating or any combination of the above.
However, just because I don’t want to go raw doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement in Gretel and Chester’s diet.
In the VPI Pet Insurance article titled Raw Food Diet for Pets: Benefits Versus Risks, Carrie Hyde, the co-owner of The Organic Paw and former veterinary technician, says to people like me who aren’t ready to switch to a raw diet:
“The benefits of a grain-free food are positive for pets who may have allergies to fillers, or for owners who want to feed their pets a higher quality food with a few simple ingredients.”
I plan to attempt climbing Mount Adams, the second highest peak in Washington State (12,281 ft), with Chester and Gretel this summer so I am definitely interested in feeding them a higher-quality food with more muscle-building protein.
I currently feed them Avoderm – a top of the line kibble – but it is made with grain. Grain is really just a filler and contains a lot of carbohydrates. Being an athlete myself, I figured that if more carbs were good for me then they were good for the dogs too.
It turns out that dogs don’t work like us.
According to Dog Food Advisor, dogs nutritionally require ZERO carbohydrates to sustain life. The article goes on to state, “according to the National Research Council and compared to the other two major nutrients —protein and fat — no[t] carbs are considered essential for a healthy canine diet. Dogs don’t need corn. And they don’t need wheat, barley rice or potatoes, either.”
A HealthyPets.com article by Dr. Karen Becker states, ” Your very active, athletic dog needs a nutrient-dense diet that provides optimum energy in a small quantity of food. The protein source should be good quality and animal-based, and the food should be relatively high in dietary fat, including supplementation with raw organic coconut oil. The main components of a raw diet for an athletic dog with no health problems include raw meaty bones, muscle and organ meats, a few dark green vegetables, a constant supply of fresh clean water, and appropriate supplementation as needed.”
Based on this information, grain-free seems the best choice for small active dogs because it has the least carbohydrates, and highest protein and fat, of all kibbles.
I actually did try grain-free kibble for a couple of weeks when I got a bunch of free samples from the WA State Pet Expo and didn’t see a difference. However, I mixed the grain-free food with their regular stuff so it wasn’t totally grain-free. Also, my friend Jenn at Health Mutt told me that I need to try them on the diet for three months to really see the difference.
So my first step in this plan is to research the grain-free kibble options out there. That is why my head is spinning. There are so many different ones. I have already started my research and have a couple of brands I am leaning towards but I need to look into them more.
In the next two posts, I will share my basic and detailed grain-free research with you. After that I will keep you posted on how eating grain-free food is working for Chester and Gretel.