Healthy Pets Need A Healthy Diet

Pet owners have a challenging dilemma as they select from a wide range of pet foods. Some owners come into our practice touting the virtues of the food they buy for their pets, while others look for guidance.

This is the story about Ruby, who needed advice for her favorite pooch.

“Doc, I want to talk to you about what dog food I should buy for my little pal Ralph,” announced Ruby.

I glanced down and smiled at the feisty Jack Russell terrier. “OK, Ruby, ask away.”

Ruby held up her little notebook and said, “What do you think about organic dog food?”

“It’s OK,” I replied. “Hmm,” Ruby licked the tip of her pen and scribbled something. Oddly enough, I hadn’t seen someone lick the tip of a pen in a long while. It must have been more habit than function. “What about all-natural?”

“I guess it’s better than unnatural,” I joked.

Lick … scribble. Ruby jotted notes again while muttering, “Better than unnatural … OK, and any thoughts about grain-free diets?”

“Truthfully, I don’t know if dogs need to be on a grain-free diet …” I began, only to be interrupted by the ceremonious lick … scribble.

“OK, and finally, is gluten-free dog food good for Ralph?”

Looking skyward, I paused for a moment then replied, “I didn’t know there was such a thing as gluten-free dog food.”

Ruby calmly put her notebook away and told me, “Thank you, Doc. You have been very helpful.”

“I have?” I truly didn’t think I said much. Feeling bad, I was about to go into recommending a brand of dog food that I found to be safe and nutritious, but Ruby continued on.

“Basically you’re telling me that there is a lot of marketing that goes into selling dog food. It’s exactly what I thought. I’ve been cooking for Ralph since he was a puppy and he likes my cooking. I was just looking for a healthy store-bought alternative to give me a break once in a while, but oh well.”

I nodded in agreement. “Home-cooked meals are great for Ralph. The problem is that he may get spoiled and not eat commercial dog food. Also, the onus is on you to provide a balanced diet with all the nutrients needed to keep Ralph healthy.”

“Oh, don’t worry about my recipes for Ralph,” said Ruby. “I only use the freshest ingredients and everything is organic. I go to specialty grocery stores and buy only the best. For example, last night Ralph had fresh Copper River salmon, organic vegetables and quinoa.”

“Wow, that sounds awesome. You and Ralph must be very healthy.”

“Actually, that was Ralph’s dinner. I ate leftovers from my beef stew plate lunch. Doc, he eats better than I do,” beamed Ruby.

Like Ruby, many pet owners are putting their pet first. Gone are the days when dogs got scraps from the dinner table and faced the risk of malnutrition.

I learned something very interesting that day. No matter how far we have progressed since the days of yore, some people still lick their pens.