I consider myself a good dog mom — nay, a great dog mom — and yet there are times when I feel like I’m not doing the absolute best for my baby boy, specifically with my decision to feed Riggins store-bought kibble.
I realize the last few of my Pet Parenting columns have revolved around food. What can I say? My 10-year-old German Shorthair Pointer mix has a one-track mind. His eating habits take up a good portion of our time.
When Riggins was a puppy, I didn’t know much about good-quality dog food. When it was time to purchase more kibble, I just added it to my grocery list and grabbed whatever bag at the store. It didn’t bother me at all that I was buying junk food for my baby boy. Honestly, I didn’t think twice about it — I didn’t know any better — and Riggins would happily gobble it up. (That’s not saying much, as Riggins will eat anything.)
At around 2 years old, Riggins got a skin rash that made him itchy all the time. The vet suggested to change his food. It wasn’t OK anymore for me to buy just anything for my four-legged garbage disposal. I did some research and headed to a specialty pet store. After a few tries, we settled on a fish-based kibble. That’s now what I scoop into his dish two times a day.
I can see you through the computer cringing, judging, shaking your head. That’s what I was afraid of! I live in terror that when I tell other dog lovers that Riggins is on a store-bought kibble diet, they are silently (or not so silently) judging me. “She must not love her dog that much if she doesn’t care enough to cook his food for him,” they mutter, in my mind.
I have dog food guilt and lots of it.
My good friends cook their adorable dogs dinner. One couple takes time each week to whip up fresh-bought ingredients from Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious. I know this because I also eat at their house and sometimes the human food is too spicy for my liking, so I just go into the fridge, pull out the dogs’ Tupperware, and warm up some of Morgan and Jack Jack’s chow. I don’t know what the pups think, but add some salt and put it over rice and it makes a pretty yummy human dinner.
I like to pretend that I don’t have enough time to make Riggins’ food, but I have another friend who is a salesperson and on the road a ton. Even with her hectic schedule, she manages to make her pup’s food. She actually goes a step further and doesn’t just make her Golden Retriever’s food, but mixes her homemade concoction with kibble, just so that she can guarantee Cooper and Riley are getting all the right nutrients.
There was a brief amount of time — a very brief amount of time — that I felt so guilty about feeding Riggins store-bought kibble that I upgraded to a brand of human-grade dehydrated dog food. At the time I was volunteering at a pet store with their cat adoptions and was able to get a sizable discount on the very expensive grub. Preparing dehydrated food is as easy as one, two, three. You take a scoop of food dust, add water, stir, and wait for it to plump up. Riggins loved it; of course, he loves everything. But I didn’t love the concrete-like substance that glued itself to my mixing bowl if I didn’t take the time to rinse it out right away. I also was in sticker shock, even with my volunteer discount!
Despite my second-guessing, oppressive guilt, and heartfelt need to do the best thing for my pup, I STILL don’t make his food from scratch. Heck, I rarely make my own food from scratch. That’s part of the issue. I’m allergic to the kitchen. It is boring in there, and I usually end up with some sort of injury. I recently cut a chunk out of my thumb while cutting a roll to make a sandwich. Imagine the damage I could cause if fire is involved.
Then there is the necessary weekly trip to the grocery store. You know what’s more boring than the kitchen? The grocery store! Snooze fest. If it isn’t the wine aisle, I’m not interested. They have everything I need at BevMo, a specialty store that sells mostly beverages but also has a small cheese, cracker, and snack selection. I hit the real grocery store every other week, if that.
Finally, and most importantly, I’m lazy. Making food is one thing, but there is food to prep, and then after you cook it, you have to clean a pan or two and some instruments. Gah! Overwhelming. I’d much rather spend my time cuddling with Riggins while we watch TV.
Based on that information, you can safely conclude that I, much like Riggins, could be eating better. I like buttered popcorn and cabernet, Riggins likes his crunchy kibble, and to get our health on, we sometimes share some green beans or watermelon.
It’s just who we are. Easy like Sunday morning. I’ll just have to learn to live with kibble guilt, at least for right now.
What do you think? Is feeding your dog homemade food healthier and worth the time? What do you do? Let us know in the comments.