Part 1 – You are what you eat

My parents used to have a butcher shop across the street. My Golden Retriever would go over there for snacks. He was big enough that he could get into the trash bins. He was a kind soul, like Goldens are, and was often spotted with a group of neighborhood smaller dogs around him. He would be passing out scraps from the bin to dogs too small to get them themselves. Obviously the butcher didn’t mind because his habits were common knowledge. He was always bringing dead animal pieces home.

When he was about 10 he was going in to have a few small masses removed. I recommended getting his teeth cleaned as long as he was under. I lifted up his lip to see how bad his teeth were. I was shocked. They were shining white. I had never seen a dog his age with such perfect teeth. It had to be all the raw bones that he chewed on.


This is Snowball. I got her when she was 9 in part because of her bad skin allergies.  In the summer she took steroid pills like they were candy.  At times she’d disappear for just a few minutes and come back with blood running down her sides because she had scratched so hard.  I forget what kind of dog food she was eating at the time.

I went to a vet convention and saw a booth for Innova dog food.  I paused to look and the rep there said in a small voice, “Are you going to yell at me?”  I said that I hadn’t been planning on it.  Was there a reason I should?  I guess people had been being mean to her about organic ingredients for some reason.

The next time I went dog food shopping I decided to buy Innova because I felt bad for the rep.  Snowball liked it and I didn’t think much more about it.  A few months later I saw some literature for the food that had case reports of dogs who had had their allergies clear up after eating it.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t given Snowball any steroids in months.  (I’m sometimes a bit slow on the obvious.)  From that day until she died several years later, she took steroids on 2 days.  Before the food change she sometimes took them twice a day.

When I got Freckles I started her on Innova because of Snowball’s good results.  She wasn’t crazy about the food so I ended up switching her to Taste of the Wild.  She has summer allergies and because she’s part spaniel her ears are crap.  But, all I have to do is clean her ears occasionally and sometimes use some steroid drops in them to keep the inflammation down.  She doesn’t have the thickened and nasty ears of some spaniels.  Because this summer has been cold and rainy her summer allergies haven’t kicked in yet.  I think keeping her on a good quality base diet has helped a lot in letting her body handle the allergens in her environment.

Coming up… homemade diets and add-ons