A few years ago my furry friend Stella (a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix) started developing arthritis in her back hip area, (which is common for German Shepherds,) but also in her front right leg area, where she had impaled herself on a stick a few years ago, chasing a critter in the brush during a park reserve hike. It was a very traumatic moment for all parties, but she healed nicely, except for a little bit of a limp when she’s immobile for a period of time, or when she overdoes it, (thinking she is a puppy again and chasing squirrels or playing with puppies.)
Daily walks are the best thing to alleviate the arthritis (flowing water never goes bad Bruce Lee remarked, and sitting/stagnation is the worst thing for anyone or any dog’s health,) and also makes her feel like her day is accomplished (the difference in her demeanor before a hike, and then for the rest of the day after a hike is night and day.)
Anyway a few years ago when she started to develop the arthritis, she started taking dog arthritis medication daily, and that seemed to help a little, but what really seemed to alleviate the arthritis as much as the medication was adding this quality fish oil and turmeric to her dog food, along with a tbs of coconut oil, and organic bone broth that doesn’t contain onion or onion concentrate, as onions are very bad for dogs. I started doing this after researching healthy homemade dog food online and found a great website with a ton of great information, some of which I’ve used that has made a hugely positive difference in the quality of Stella’s life.
Mainly what I did was look at “the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer’s” dog food recipes, and took her suggestion to gradually with a small amount of the magic mash, then started gradually adding in more of the homemade dog food into her regular dog food, which was also upgraded. I also started to look at the ingredients label on really high end dog food to decide which foods to add in, and decided on a “magic mash” of sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas, along with a generous tablespoon of turmeric into the mix, (when the turmeric was started it was about a teaspon added in, before gradually adding more in.) After cooking the veggies until they’re soft and have soaked up the water, it’s mashed with a potato masher for easier doggy digestion. Along with water to cook the mash, it’s enough to fill up a large mason jar, and usually lasts about four days (kept in the fridge).
I started out adding a tablespoon of the mash per meal, (as she suggested when adding in any new type of diet for your dog,) and then gradually worked up to 1/4 cup of the mix, which she eats twice daily now.
There are a lot of suggestions on what to add to dog food to make it healthier, but I went with the ingredients that were considered on the safer side for most dogs, and also they were shared ingredients commonly seen on expensive dog food ingredient lists. They also happen to be foods I regularly eat, and personally attain great energy from consuming as a result, so buying the ingredients doesn’t entail a special shopping trip. Plus, the ingredients are extremely cheap, $.89 cents for a pound of organic carrots, only $1.69 for 3# of sweet potatoes.
Besides the mash, a generous splash of chicken broth is added into the mash and the dog food, along with the arthritis medication, the fish oil, and vitamin E, (sometimes a little coconut oil too) then mixed together. She always eats the mash first and absolutely loves it, and licks every bit of it out of the dog bowl, which she didn’t always do with the regular dog food, which sometimes she would sniff, and then look at you like, “what the hell is this.”
Although she enjoys the dog food now, the reason is that it is now of good quality. I say now, because the dog food is what inspired all of the above taking place.
When working at the co-op about a year and a half ago, I started noticing Stella was really tired all the time, it seemed like she just got old really quick. She all ready had the arthritis for a while, and though she would often let out a groan when bedding down or stretching out (still does that) she was still always a super happy pup, lacking any hint of lethargy.
Well for a few weeks she mostly just sat on the couch and wasn’t showing her usual spirited reaction for a hike, or even her favorite foods (fresh cooked eggs, asparagus). Most concerning was that she wasn’t doing her usual sassy routine of antagonizing people with a tennis ball by tossing it in the air with her mouth, before quickly retreating in an attempt to entice the person to chase her. I thought maybe she had Lyme’s disease or maybe just a doggy flu.
Well one day I was finishing a shift at the co-op on a lovely fall Sunday afternoon, and the sun was shining through the glass doors and illuminating the small shelf of high quality cat and dog food.
Seeing one of the bags was heavily discounted (it was like half off) and having my 10% of member coupon it was purchased it on a whim for a treat.
When this much better quality dog food was put in her dish (this was before the mash, turmeric, etc.) she gingerly got off the couch, but with a curious pep in her paws, sniffing all the while, and made a beeline for the food bowl, before treating dinner like a pie eating contest (the bowl was moving all over the floor, the chewing was spirited).
Even then though the connection wasn’t immediately made that is was the dog food making such a difference. Maybe the old dog food had gone bad I thought. Or maybe (comparing the ingredients between the old and new dog food) it was complete crap all along!
The old dog food had wheat as a first ingredient, followed by more crap filler; the improved stuff had protein as the first ingredient, followed by vegetables, then a healthier carbohydrate further down the ingredient list. I would later learn how worthless (and even detrimental) a lot of the ingredients in cheap dog food are.
In the days after, as she was eating this food, it was like she was a puppy again, and it was then that the lightbulb clicked and I knew it had to be the food!
That’s what led me to researching online and finding the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer’s suggestions, which I started to implement, along with starting to look at the ingredients of high quality dog foods. Also when working at the co-op, my manager, the amazing Becki (who rescues dogs, and is super passionate about human wellness, canines, and canine wellness gave me a ton of tips for optimal dog health (the coconut oil, turmeric, ear wash recipes, I could go on and on).
Now, well over a year later of making this mash for Stella she is going as strong as ever, and is seemingly healthier and more full of life than she was years ago. A few years ago I didn’t think there was much of a chance she had even three years left, now I think she’s got at least three more!
I was ruminating about her diet a few months back, and how fortunate it was to happen upon buying that dog food that one day, and what a difference it’s made for Stella, but then I also admonished myself for the obvious..
When we humans eat better food, we have more energy and feel much better, there is no denying there is a direct connection between the foods we eat and the energy we feel, so why in the world, would I not think that would be the same for a dog?
I gues it’s not something one would normally think about, as most people (like myself) would assume just about any old dog food would do, and also we trust that the dog food manufactures are going to make a product that won’t diminish a dogs life, but then again, look at how most of the food out there for human consumption is more bad than good for you, and it’s not hard to see why the cheapest, most readily available ingredients wouldn’t be similarily used to feed dogs, (just as those same cheap, readily available ingredients make up a majority of the processed food humans eat.)
So if your dog seems to be suffering from lack of energy that seems to be recently acquired, or is aging and lacking energy/mobility, try the better dog food test, and buy a better dog food and see if it makes a difference (ALDI had a bag of dog food for under 10$ I spotted last time I was there a week ago, and ingredients were the same that you would find in a premium dog food bag that cost 4x a much in my estimation.)
Disclaimer: I am not recommending to the reader of this article (or their dog) any diet plans or to follow what I do, just showing an example of what has worked wonderfully for Stella. Also you should always research any food before giving it to your dog as their diet doesn’t allow certain human foods to be consumed without negative, possibly fatal side effects.