While Mango explores her supermodel destiny, showing off our custom dog collars and bead bracelets for Boho Mango.com, she is also a fast growing pup - and former street puppy with no regular feedings - in need of nutrition and some kind of dietary routine. We aimed to show her she can now count on receiving good food regularly in her life.
But wow! Were we stunned to discover how many more choices there are on the dog food shelves since we last looked years ago. Then we journeyed online and waded into a galaxy of debate and advice about what’s best to feed your dog. Grain-free kibble? All raw diets?, Bones or no bones? Pre and Pro-biotics? There is also a lot of good information about healthy diets for overweight dogs. But Mango is slim, sleek and trim, and we aim to keep her that way.
So what to do?
EXPLOSION OF KIBBLE CHOICE
Mango's first meal with us was a standard bowl of kibble, and she inhaled it as if it was her last meal. Had she ever had a bowl of kibble before? Being a street dog, probably not. So we thought, great, we’ll just buy a giant bag of kibble and call it a day. Easy peasy!
But not so fast! After a couple of forays into the dog food sections of stores, the number of choices began to seem a little crazy. The old stand-bys like Purina and Science Diet and the like filled one aisle, while a slew of new brands with cute hip branding pushed “grain-free” choices based on the premise that grain was never part of wild dog diets in the past.
Our initial research said grain-free was healthier, so we went with that. But then the FDA got involved, began a study and early reports suggested grain-free might be bad for dogs. Great.
Others, particularly in the raw food world, believe kibble of any kind is bad for dogs. C'mon now! What's the truth here?
RAW & NATURAL DIETS
There is a growing trend toward feeding dogs a raw diet, because before there was kibble this was how dogs ate. Raw meat, raw vegetables, raw bones, all sorts of organ meat.
While we have not yet gone to 100% raw, we have started mixing in some raw foods into Mango’s diet, particularly after she had a few bouts of funny tummy (which may or may not have been kibble related, or just due to the stress of constant change and transition our nomad life requires).
Raw food proponents recommend a diet that includes a careful mix of,
- Organs (a little) for nutrients
- Bones for calcium & phosphorus.
- Muscle meat for protein
- A little veggies & fruit
We're mixing and matching a bit of each of those as we go, sort of testing to see what happens. So far (surprise) Mango loves all of it.
We're big eaters of probiotics like yogurt in pursuit of the "happy gut" but only recently learned (duh!) that dogs can benefit as well. Mango gets some of that from plant fibers, and we also now feed her these probiotic dog treats twice a day. Hard to know what she's getting out of it health wise, but she likes the treats!
MANGO'S EVOLVING DOG DIET
So far Mango's diet has been an evolving series of trials and sometimes messy errors. We've found that a mix of kibble and raw seems to work well. We also offer the occasional marrow bone, which she loves, and she's crazy for raw organ meat. She also likes shredded carrot, a bit of brocoli, some apple, and scarfs up blueberries like a bear. Maybe we'll eventually nix the kibble, but the jury remains out on that. And when her tummy gets a little nervous from all the travel and transition our lives demand, we make this turkey pumpkin mix and it usually tightens things right up.
Organ treats have also proven to be great for training sessions and just getting Mango's attention in general (like when she escapes off leash and chases birds and squirrels down the road). We're now making our own chicken liver treats and keeping a stash handy at all times.