Archive for the ‘conversations’ Category

Review and Giveaway: Wild Meadow Farms Beef Bites

Warning: May cause extreme canine euphoria!

You were warned. Bring one of these packages into your home and open it up, and your dogs just might experience some of the following symptoms: dancing, bouncing, smiling, begging, mischievous glints in the eye, drooling, spontaneous tricks, and general wild hopefulness.

That’s what happened when we opened our sample package of Wild Meadow Farms Beef Bites. Old deaf Charlie, who was out in the yard at the time, scrambled up the stairs and through the dog door at the merest mention of these treats. The middle two boys tried climbing up on each other to get closer to the package. When I placed it into the fridge, Dinah very nearly climbed in there to retrieve it.

If you’re at all into dog training, you’ve probably heard the term “high value rewards.” Unless your dog can’t have beef for some reason, you will hardly find a higher value reward than this one. When the arthritic old 14-year-old dog threatens to do backflips for a piece, you know you have something special in hand. Heck, you could probably eat these yourself and ingest fewer preservatives than you would from trying one of the human jerky treats for sale next to the register at the local gas station.

Wild Meadow Farms is a Pennsylvania-based boutique producer of hand-crafted, one-ingredent, all-beef dog treats that dogs will do just about anything to get. Their motto: “1 Source. 1 Ingredient. 1 Great Dog Treat.”

Just look! Nothing but beef!

If you exhibit at dog shows around the area, you might be lucky enough to have seen them at the shows. If your dog is turning up his nose at the bait you brought with you — or if you’re running short of bait — you should drop over to the Wild Meadow Farms booth and be prepared to make your dog’s day. Even if you’re not local to PA or you don’t do conformation or performance events, you can order these simple, irresistible treats and have them delivered to your door. Just be sure to get to them before your dog knows they’ve been delivered!

I was lucky to be able to ask Justin, the owner of Wild Meadow Farms, a few questions about the treats and the business. Here’s how the conversation went:

Shaggy Dog Stories: What inspired you to create Wild Meadow Farm treats?

Wild Meadow Farms: As a family, we try to eat food that is as close to the source as possible and when we looked at dog treats, we realized that there was a dearth of locally sourced treats available, so we tried to solve that issue. In the process, we also discovered that there were few treats that didn’t have a laundry list of ingredients. We tried to create a treat that was locally sourced (Lancaster, PA USA) and had the minimum number of ingredients, and didn’t fill our dog with unknown and mystery ingredients from unknown places.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Where do you get your beef from? Do you raise your own?

Wild Meadow Farms: We get all of our meat from local farms in Lancaster County, raised on small (read: less than 200 acres) family-owned and operated farms. It’s the same farm that we as a family buy our meat from. We work with the local farmers to get cattle that are raised on a grass-based diet and are fed NO grains, hormones, or antibiotics.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Do you have any helpful hints to keep the treats fresh for the maximum amount of time?

Wild Meadow Farms: We don’t make the treats until the consumer orders them so they are as fresh as possible. We also avoid chemical preservation, instead using only a drying method for preservation. As a result we vacuum-seal our treats and mail them directly to consumers for the freshest possible treat. Because of their freshness, we recommend placing the bag of treats in the refrigerator upon receipt even if it remains unopened for a few days. Many people ask us about freezing the treats. The point of the treats is to make them as fresh as possible, so we encourage people to order them as needed.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Do you keep a schedule of the dog shows and events you’re visiting so people can come to your booth?

Wild Meadow Farms: We are still working on establishing our schedule for the 2012 season. At this point we don’t have an official posting of the shows we will be at, but we are looking into it.

Shaggy Dog Stories: What about your dog(s)? Do you show or do performance events? Do you use your treats as bait in the ring?

Wild Meadow Farms: Our family dog is 15 years old and is past the point of being able to be a show dog. We just enjoy time with him at home and he loves sleeping and eating our treats.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Is there anything else you’d like folks to know?

Wild Meadow Farms: We want people to know that we are passionate about our treats and we really want to provide the best treat we can for all the dogs out there. We wanted to fill in a hole in market that we discovered. We wanted to make locally sourced, all grass-fed meat dog treats. We also make it a point to not put anything extra into the treats, so they are free of grains, salt, soy, fillers, preservatives, organ meats etc. It is just lean meat cuts. What dog wouldn’t want that?

We have had an overwhelmingly positive response and are excited about what the new year holds for Wild Meadow Farms. Although we will attend dog shows, we would really love to connect with consumers online so that we can deal directly with them and provide them with the freshest treat we can.

We wanted to start with grass-fed beef treats, but we anticipate eventually making treats from lamb, goat, and bison meat that also meet our high standards of quality.

The treat is a softer treat that is easy to tear into smaller pieces. Since our dog is older, he is missing many teeth. We wanted a treat that he could also enjoy, so our treat is made for young and old dogs alike.

It is important to us that the animal from which we get the meat leads a quality life as well. That is one of the many reasons we choose the meat that we do. The animals spend their lives on open pastures and are free to roam, not being confined in feed lots and cramped quarters.

We’ve also found our treat is great replacement for handlers, trainers, and owners who end up having to make treats week after week to ensure their dog’s happiness, health, and attention when it really matters.

We believe that our tag line “1 Source 1 Ingredient 1 Great Dog Treat” really helps sum up our thoughts and vision as succinctly as possible.

Sounds Good to You?

You know your dog wants to try these amazing treats! How about a giveaway? The lucky winnah will receive a package of Beef Bites, prepared and shipped absolutely fresh from Wild Meadow Farms. All you have to do is follow the usual Wicked Simple Rules…

Wicked Simple Rules

  1. Leave a comment here on the blog and tell me what you think your dog would do for a Wild Meadow Farms treat. Responses on Facebook, while always appreciated, just don’t count.
  2. Visit Wild Meadow Farms’ website. (They don’t have a Facebook page yet.)
  3. If you’re on Twitter, follow Justin and crew at @wildmeadowfarms.
  4. If you’re not already a fan of Shaggy Dog Stories on Facebook, come on over and show us some love.

The drawing will take place on Monday, January 9. As usual, the winnah will be drawn at random by our fancy-dancy number picker.

So… what are you waiting for? Your dog wants you to enter this giveaway!

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Follow-Up: A Conversation With Author Carol Quinn

Carol Quinn


A short while ago, I reviewed Carol Quinn’s Follow My Lead and gave away a copy to a lucky winnah who will also review the book.

Carol and I had a great conversation about dogs, dog sports, and a zillion other subjects. In addition, she graciously agreed to an email interview. Here’s what we discussed…

Shaggy Dog Stories: APDT (the Association of Pet Dog Trainers) has just created the Valor Project — basically a non-competitive agility league for special needs dogs and handlers, and for anyone else who might not want to compete in AKC/USDAA/NADAC, but who would like to benefit from the advice and camaraderie to be found in an agility club. Have you checked this out yet? If you have, what do you think?

Carol Quinn: I didn’t know about this project until now, and wow — what a great idea! Many dogs can’t handle the stress or physicality of competition, but they can fully enjoy the sport with their handlers.

My focus has always been to learn and have fun, and this league seems as if it’s focused on that. The sport is also so great for dogs. It keeps their minds active, their bodies strong, and deepens the relationship with the handler. It’s also pretty good exercise for owners!

Shaggy Dog Stories: How are you training now that your time with Irina has drawn to a close? Are you working independently, or have you found another trainer?

Carol Quinn: At the moment, we aren’t training in agility. Nairobi is getting older and I think I’m retiring him. I’m ready to start training again with Sheila. I found a new trainer and as soon as the weather is cooler, we’re ready to begin again.

Lately my focus has been obedience training, believe it or not. Ridgebacks aren’t the most obedient dogs, but it is fun to work with them. We train about a half-hour a day. Ridgebacks get bored quickly, and if the “cookies” aren’t good, they completely lose interest. As long as the treats remain tasty, the training sessions are productive.



Shaggy Dog Stories: What are your next goals related to agility training? Do you think trialing will ever be in your future?

Carol Quinn: I’m open to trials, and my next ridgeback (yes, I have my eye on a puppy) will definitely compete. I’ve never enjoyed competition, but I think I’m ready to go out and try my hand at it.



Shaggy Dog Stories: Do you think you’ll try other dog sports, or will you stick with agility since it’s had such a profound effect on you?


Carol Quinn: I want to try lure coursing with Sheila because she has such a strong prey instinct, and she loves to run. You can also muzzle your dogs in coursing, so I won’t worry about Sheila going after one of the other dogs!

Competition isn’t in the cards for these dogs, but I will definitely compete with future dogs. There’s a wonderful ridgeback community in California, and the all-ridgeback agility competitions are really quite funny. Ridgebacks are quite playful — and serious — and their owners appear to have exactly the same qualities. It’s priceless.




Shaggy Dog Stories: How is Sheila’s health?

Carol Quinn: Sheila amazes me. She’s strong and funny; still a handful with other dogs, but her health is phenomenal. Her stamina is impressive, and it’s hard for me to imagine her sick. But any sign of illness still panics me.

Sheila is still on her holistic/Chinese herb protocol, but I think the better nutrition really helped her beat the odds with her disease. It was an important lesson for me to learn; healthy, fresh food makes a huge difference for dogs—and for humans.





Shaggy Dog Stories: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

Carol Quinn: I’m revising the novel I mentioned in Follow My Lead. I really love it, but I’m still tweaking it. And I’ve started a second novel — a light, funny, adventure piece.

I’ve set a goal to have the revised novel, and a credible first draft of the second by December. That’s a lot of writing, but other than running with the dogs, writing is my favorite thing on earth.





Shaggy Dog Stories: Is there anything else you’d like mentioned in the blog?

Carol Quinn: If anyone has read the book (and liked it :)) please write an online review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Also, come visit FollowMyLeadTheBook.com and read about our progress. On Facebook, we are http://www.facebook.com/FollowMyLeadBook Come like the page, if you’re so inclined :) On Twitter, you can find us @FollowMyLeadcq.

If you like to get out and do things with your dogs, and if you’re filled with wonder at the depth and transformational power of the human-animal bond, you’ll want to read Follow My Lead. After spending time with Carol, Nairobi, and Sheila, don’t be surprised if your thoughts turn to the life lessons your dogs have taught you.

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Steve Hofstetter’s Latest Gig: Dog Person


Comedian Steve Hofstetter boasts a lengthy resume of television and radio credits, as well as maintaining a punishing traveling and performing schedule as a standup comedian. In addition, he has written reams of articles and three books, released five comedy albums, and keeps up with a massive online following. Steve has been on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and E! True Hollywood Story, Comics Unleashed, Comedy All-Stars, Quite Frankly, White Boyz in the Hood, Countdown, and more. His new album reached number 1 on iTunes’ comedy charts, and he is currently developing two television shows.

As if the guy weren’t prolific enough, he recently started a blog, Adopting Bea Arthur, detailing his adventures as a first-time dog owner. After being frightened by an unruly dog as a child, Steve remained afraid of dogs until his wife Sara, an animal shelter volunteer, and a sweet-faced, stoic little Beagle/Dachshund mix named Bea Arthur began to change his mind. Steve is still overcoming his fear of dogs one day at a time, but his experiences thus far have turned him into an advocate for canine companionship and particularly for rescue adoptions. He maintains that if he can overcome his fears and welcome a dog into his life, then anyone can. Reading over his blog, it’s amazing to note how quickly Steve’s transformation from dog-hater to dog-lover (or at least, dog-liker) has taken place. He and Sara have only had Bea for a few short months, but his immersion into the world of dog-personhood is already profound.

Meet Bea Arthur, star of the blog.


Steve and I recently had a conversation on the subject of life with dogs, and how living with a dog has changed his life and his outlook.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Your fear of dogs stems from an incident in your childhood where a large dog tried to bite you. Did that result in your not being a big fan of pets in general, or just dogs?

Steve Hofstetter: Just dogs, really. I never made the correlation to other pets, since cats (for the most part) don’t chase people. They also don’t come when they’re called, or love anything but themselves. For the most part, of course. I’ve met one or two that will tolerate people. I had a turtle when I was 12 – man, did that suck. I cleaned its tank every two days, so I could watch it sit in a tank and do nothing. Wheeeeee!

Shaggy Dog Stories: Now that you and Sara have been living with Bea Arthur a while, have you noticed changes in her personality? Is the separation anxiety lessening at all, or did you see a recurrence after getting back from Europe? How about the peeing — better, worse, or unchanged?

Steve Hofstetter: The only time she peed indoors was at Petco, so we think that was a fluke. She’s been incredibly housebroken — and we walk her 4 times a day to make sure of it. The separation anxiety, well, we’re still working on it. But the main change is that we get her to run in our hallway. It’s the only time she runs at all, and it’s amazingly fast. I’ll post about it some time — still trying to get it on video.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Do you think you’ll ever take her on tour with you, if your travels include places that accept pets? (W Hotels even have a dog concierge, and the Bark Hotel in SF is exclusively for well-heeled dogs. Even if you don’t bring Bea with you, you should see those places!)

Steve Hofstetter: That’d be incredible if it could work out. I think having Bea as our little mascot would be adorable, and there are so many wonderful parks out there. I’m in Boston this weekend, and I would have LOVED to have brought her to Boston Common last night.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Has life with Bea started to spill over into your comedy act?

Steve Hofstetter: Not quite yet, but it’s a matter of time before I write about dogs in my set. I don’t get too personal on stage (I think there’s some stuff that I should get to keep as a person), but I would love for more people to hear why I love my shelter dog.

Shaggy Dog Stories: Originally, you and Sara had thought about adopting an Italian Greyhound, and you’ve admitted to a fondness for pit bulls. Are there other dog breeds you particularly like?

Steve Hofstetter: A lot are cool in their own ways, but those were the only two other breeds we thought about adopting. But pugs, bulldogs — any brachycephalic dogs, we find pretty funny. We also like any breed that looks like it has a beard — we like those “old man dogs.”

Kind of like this one?


Shaggy Dog Stories: One of the things that I’ve noticed in following your blog is how quickly you’re adapting to thinking like a dog owner. (The sidewalks strewn with chicken bones, for example.) Do you ever catch yourself worrying about these things and then wonder what’s become of you? How about your encounters with “dog people”? Have they changed since you became a member of the “club”?

Steve Hofstetter: Nah — I’ve always been okay with change. I think having Bea has matured me. Sometimes Sara and I try to remember when we didn’t have a dog and we can’t even remember those days. Our lives have been consumed — dog stuff everywhere, my formerly clean car no longer has a usable back seat, and I have to apologize for the smell when I pick up other comics. But we love it.

I find I’m a lot nicer to dog people now — except the ones who have dogs that go after Bea — I immediately think they suck.

Adopting Bea Arthur is filled with anecdotes about life with dogs that will have you chuckling, nodding, and saying, “I’ve been there.” The titles of some of the blog posts are crack-up-out-loud funny. Steve’s style of observational humor informs the blog, and it contains plenty of my favorite type of humor writing: the story or phrase that just goes along in a completely expected manner, until a sudden twist at the end drops you and the narrative into a new and unexpectedly hilarious place. Go read, laugh, identify — and wish Steve all the best on his latest undertaking.

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Follow-Up: A Conversation with Anthony Holloway

A short while back, I reviewed my experiences with k9cuisine.com. Anthony Holloway, founder of the business, took some time out of his busy schedule to respond to some questions by email. As you might have guessed by now, most of the conversation centers around one of our favorite topics: dog food.

  1. I’ve been following your discussions about Natura Pet Products and what will happen to the foods after P&G gets hold of them. The reps from Natura mentioned that they were going to put a lot of money into marketing. What else did they say?
  2. Natura reps have tried to assure us that “nothing has changed and nothing will change. If anything does change it will be communicated well in advance.” This seems to be a very tight corporate message. I personally find it difficult to accept.

    Common sense tells us that when large corporations purchase smaller companies, the smaller companies are always in for real change. It only makes sense that a company consumed by P & G will be subject to converting to P & G’s business model. P & G will likely work toward moving the Natura product through their existing distribution channels. In order to do this they may need to look at reducing the price point of the current Natura products to be in closer alignment with other lower quality pet food products within their current distribution model. Ultimately, P & G management will likely be looking at methods – such as altering the pet food formulas to cheaper ingredients — to reduce manufacturing costs and increase their overall profitability.

    P & G will likely continue their practice of spending more money on marketing the product and less money on ensuring the quality and safety of the ingredients in their products. This method has been good for them from a corporate profitability standpoint. Quality pet food companies like Natura were established and flourished on the premise of being a high quality, safe, nutritious alternative to P & G and other low quality grocery and big box store foods. If P & G alters the ingredient content to include the low quality, low nutrition fillers in all of their existing pet food lines, Natura will become just another Alpo / Old Roy food producing obese and lethargic pets.

  3. Are you going to continue to carry their products? I’ve heard from some people that their suppliers are ceasing to carry the Natura foods, but I’m wondering how much of this is just self-induced panic.
  4. At k9Cuisine.com we have a very strict selection criteria for all foods contained in our product offerings. We will continue to monitor the Natura line as we do all products we carry. If at any point we detect a reduction in quality, we will eliminate Natura products from our inventory. There are so many great nutrition options available. We carry over 4,000 products which do meet our strict selection criteria. We will only include Natura if it continues to offer quality nutrition. If I would not feed a food to my own pets — I cannot in good faith sell that food to others!

  5. You carry some Canadian brands I haven’t heard of before. Is it possible for people in the US to easily get these brands shipped to them? (I just came back from a show in Canada where GO! Naturals was a sponsor. I also have an interest in a Canadian line of grooming products called Alexander’s, and would love to have a US source for them.)
  6. At k9cuisine.com we carry several high quality nutrition pet foods. The Canadian waters offer a wonderful natural resource for wild-caught salmon and other fish which are among the highest nutritional ingredient available in pet foods. Horizon and Orijen pet foods source their natural ingredients from within fifty miles of their Canadian manufacturing facilities which ensures freshness and quality. Receiving product from Canada does present its challenges. As an individual, it is cost and time prohibitive to import product from Canada.

    It has been our experience that Orijen continues to have distribution difficulties with regular supply interruptions. As a retailer and consumer, these interruptions can be very frustrating. Horizon, Go! Natural, and other Canadian companies seem to have better distribution execution and fewer supply disruptions. Whether these disruptions are the result of Canadian/US border issues or subject to the local (US) distribution management, I am not sure. But we are happy to offer these quality Canadian products to our customers and work to maintain supply as best we can.

  7. You carry so much more at k9cuisine.com than just food. What plans do you have for the business and its many product lines going forward?
  8. I started K9cuisine.com with only a handful of quality nutrition foods. My goal was to deliver the highest quality pet products with the highest quality customer service available on the web. Like our customer base, our product offerings have grown exponentially. K9cuisine.com offers more than 4,000 products.

    Throughout this growth, we have been fortunate to maintain our quality service. Ninety-eight percent of all orders still ship the same day. We are still able to provide free shipping on orders over fifty dollars. Our customer service folks answer the phone and live chat to provide immediate answers for our customers.

    Anyone can throw up a website and advertise pet foods. But securing the highest quality products, maintaining adequate inventory levels, offering knowledgeable consumer care representatives for immediate customer attention, providing rapid order fulfillment with quality dependable free delivery, and ensuring all purchases meet our customers’ satisfaction secured by our money back guarantee… These are the trademarks that set k9cuisine.com apart.

    My goal going forward is to continue to expand our quality product lines while maintaining and improving the level and availability of service to our valued customer base.

  9. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
  10. Pets are like people… we are what we eat! For our pets’ good health, longevity, and quality of life we need to be vigilant about the ingredients contained in the products we introduce to their systems. Unlike my teenage children — for the most part, I can control my pets’ environment — grooming products, chew toys, foods they ingest… Being aware, reading labels, finding quality outlets for these healthy natural products, engaging in conversation on blogs and other sources where people share information and experiences… These are all great avenues for ensuring your pet’s well being. Engage!!!

  11. What do you feed your dogs these days?
  12. I have two yellow labs and I rotate their foods every few months. They are currently eating Nature’s Variety Frozen Raw Lamb. Most recently they were enjoying Frozen Raw Rabbit. And on travel days, for convenience, we feed Horizon Legacy or Nature’s Variety Instinct. One of my dogs has an allergy to grains, so we keep them both on grain-free diets. Fortunately, the pet food market offers a great selection of healthy grain-free options. We just have to keep a constant eye on “portion control”. Grain-free foods are often nutritionally / calorie dense and highly palatable. And like me, they love to eat. So maintaining healthy portions and exercise is a must for all of us!

Thanks again to Anthony for taking the time to talk about one of our pet subjects (pun intended). I’m happy to discover that the man behind k9cuisine.com, who can choose from among dozens — maybe hundreds — of dog foods, is using the same ones I chose after spending time getting a dog-food education on the k9cuisine website. Even if you’re happy with your current food, the huge spectrum of carefully-chosen products on k9cuisine.com, plus the easy checkout experience and first-class support are very good reasons to pay the company a visit.

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Follow-Up: A Conversation with Tracie Hotchner

Tracie and I talked back in June sometime when I tested the Proportions food on the Gang of Four. Tracie consults with dog food companies about canine nutrition, and she has a passel of vets, nutritionists, and other animal experts on speed-dial in conjunction with her radio show and her seminars. In speaking with her, I discovered that Tracie, like me, believes that logic, reason, balance, and proportion are the best ingredients for a feeding program — as well as for a great deal else. Those seeking nutritional advice for their dogs would be better served by less screaming and less guilt, and more reason. Please don’t scare them back to the 50-pound bags of Ol’Roy. Please.

Through Tracie’s collaboration with Massachusetts-based SmartPak, the Proportions meals were developed to enable people to serve high-quality food to their dogs in a way that suits both the dogs’ needs and the humans’ lifestyle. (I would feed this stuff to the Gang of Four every day, if only I could afford to. It’s practically the perfect food for someone with my crazy lifestyle, and my dogs love it.)

When asked about how she came to be involved with Proportions and her work with SmartPak, Tracie had this to say:

“I went to the owner of SmartPak to get good food to people — fruits and vegetables, very good kibble, and smart protein. (By “smart,” she means bio-available to canines.) The chicken they use is cage-free, hormone-and antibiotic-free. It’s real muscle meat, not the carcass after everything usable has been removed from it. No feet, beaks, or feathers! They did an incredible job developing this food — they went above and beyond what I expected. For instance, I didn’t expect blueberries. Blueberries are expensive, but they contain antioxidants. They’re in the Proportions meals.”

Tracie herself used to feed a quality canned food and vats of home-cooked vegetables in addition to Honest Kitchen and Halo kibble (two products she still advocates). She switched her three dogs to Proportions, and provides her own kibble (only 1/4 cup for a 105-pound Weimaraner), plus a cup of Honest Kitchen. “With three dogs, I thought I couldn’t afford it,” she said. “Feeding Proportions has been a pleasure and a joy. Dogs know the difference, even if you already feed them the best stuff.” Her dogs had been on Proportions for 10 days when we spoke — “Not enough to see any changes, but they’ve had the best food already.” She does add supplements to the mix: Nordic Naturals omega-3 fish oil capsules, and Platinum Performance Plus joint supplement (which they’ve been getting since puppyhood).

She pointed out another interesting effect that feeding Proportions and other high-quality foods has produced: “People started getting better nutrition for themselves once they tried good food on their dogs.”

When asked about gas and digestive issues, she replied, “Smart-Pak carries The Wholistic Pet’s Digest-All Plus, and giving yogurt to your dog can also help.” I can personally vouch for The Wholistic Pet‘s products, since I use the Sea-Blend in my own dogs’ food.

Here’s what Tracie had to say about her theories of canine nutrition:

“A high-quality commercial dog food does make sense for some people, since not everyone can feed an all home-cooked diet. You really have to make sure to satisfy all of the dogs’ daily nutrition requirements, though. It’s counter-intuitive to feed just carbs to meat-eaters. A kibble that is 30% protein might not actually have 30% protein that is bio-available to dogs, and cheap kibble uses ‘corn protein.’ The body packs these carbs on as fat. Read your labels.

“Dogs like kibble and they like carbs, but  kibble really should make up only half of their diets. Even grain-free kibble contains carbs, just not grain. Potatoes are carbs, too, remember. Think of kibble as a good side dish, just not always the main course.  You lose food value when your food becomes fried brown triangles, so add some vegetables or fruits to your dog’s dish.

“As for the meat part, fresh is still best, but raw dehydrated or frozen work too — or canned. BARF exclusively is not the answer, though. Dogs are not wolves, and neither species eats only meat.

“Dogs are omnivores, not vegetarians. They need animal protein, not vegetable protein. Vegetarians who can’t bear to feed meat to their dogs can still feed protein in the form of eggs and some dairy products — but not soy. Of course you can give ‘people food’ to your dog if you want to, but give the dog quality food, not a Big Mac.

“A nice balance makes the most sense. A dog who is getting high-quality protein won’t get fat if fed in the right proportions, but will burn fat. Overweight dogs should not be fed ‘lite’ or diet food, though. The reason those foods have fewer calories is because they contain more indigestible content — and more carbs.”

If you already use a food you like but are considering branching out a little, Tracie suggests other ways to make your dog’s diet more varied, and yet keep it balanced:

“You could top the food up with your own kibble, if you want to, or add Honest Kitchen, fish, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, or yogurt. It’s a myth that too much protein makes your dog aggressive. If your dog seems unbalanced on a high-protein diet, maybe you need to balance the diet more. The four things you need to keep in mind for any diet to succeed are Balance, Proportion, Moderation, and Variety.”

No matter what you decide to do about feeding your dog, Tracie’s four words should serve as useful guides. Do your homework, know your dog, and be observant. Most of all, don’t let yourself be shouted at, or guilted, into riding on one bandwagon or another. Your dog doesn’t care whose blog said what, or how many exclamation points or capitalized words were used. Your dog just wants dinner.

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