Let me start by saying: I am not a vet. I am not a nutritionist. My background qualifies me to correct grammar. That’s about it.
I am, however, an obsessive researcher, and I’m neurotic about solving problems. I’ve gotten many messages about home cooking for Cooper since I mentioned it a few weeks ago. I’ll try to address them the best I can, but if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!
If you’re interested in home cooking for your dog, I’m going to share our journey over a few posts. Today is all about how we got started.
Cooper suffers from a range of allergies and intolerances. His fur has fallen out. He’s broken out into pimples, and he’s developed hives. He’s had head tremors. And he’s had constant diarrhea (like, five or six days a week) that had recently become bloody. Over four years, we spoke with several vets and strove to manage or treat each symptom as it arose. We put him on limited ingredient and prescription diets, which didn’t work. We did an elimination diet, which showed us that he couldn’t have chicken (the main ingredient in those prescription diets…) or beef. After we eliminated those proteins, we settled on fish as his main protein and chalked up the rest of his symptoms to seasonal allergies.
I do think the drastic change in climate – from Indiana to Louisiana to Indiana again – messed with his system, too, because the bloody stools started only after we got back. So, we talked to our vet, and she suggested that he had maybe developed an intolerance to fish. We switched him to lamb. He did okay for a couple days, then back to an upset stomach. Then pork. Same thing. Meanwhile, we had been noticing that his training treats weren’t working for his stomach either. Cooper goes to doggy daycare on Mondays, and one Monday a few weeks ago, they had a note for us at pickup: Cooper has bloody stool.
That was the last straw for us.
We looked at his ream of vet records tracking four years of symptoms. We looked at all the foods he could no longer eat, including treats. Looking at all the data at once, I started to suspect that it isn’t one particular thing that upsets his system, but rather processed food in general or some sort of additive that’s aggravating his system. This is sort of happening in human health right now with all the developing digestive disorders that might be linked to GMOs and processed food. It seemed likely that could be the case for Coop, too.
Once we came to that realization/decision, we immediately stopped feeding him kibble and started cooking his meals. (There are a range of reasons we’re not considering raw an option, so this has been the perfect solution for us so far!)
For the first couple days, we were winging it, then I dove into the research, and we took him in to chat with his vet. We have a rough outline of a plan that we’re refining. This is getting pretty long already – thanks for sticking with me this far! – so tomorrow I’ll share what we’re feeding, including treats and supplements, plus some helpful resources!
Have you tried home cooking for your dog? Any favorite resources or recipes? I’ll have more to share in the coming days, but I’d love to hear your experiences or your questions in the comments!