Nelson helps Aunty Pen in the kitchen

I love good food as much, if not a teensy bit more than the next person and I try to eat really well; I always make sure I get at least three vegetables and two fruits in to my diet every day and rarely eat fried food. I gave up chocolate [I was eating rather a lot of it!] back in February and try to eat as little refined sugar in any form as I can. Before we start polishing my halo, I have to tell you that my manin weakness is bread. I love it. I drive to Wholefoods on occasion [45 minutes] just to get a loaf of their provincial french style bread and at night I dream of toast with cream cheese and marmite for breakfast.
The problem is, bread absolutely kills me. When I eat it, my joints hurt, the  backs of my knees feel like Ive run a marathon, my body swells up like a balloon and my fingers look like pork sausages any German burgermeister would be proud to serve! As a child, I used to be able to eat all the bread I wanted and it never affected me, but those days are gone.
My sister, who does almost exactly the same job as me over in England, eats about fifteen loaves a day, consumes all the cake she wants and yet still is a size 4 and never gets joint pain from eating wheat.
Where is this going, Pen? You might ask….do we really need to know about your wheat allergy?
Well, I wanted to make the point that what suits one person doesn’t suit another, and the same goes for your dog. Every day I hear people say…” I don’t know why Fido is scratching/has loose stool/has a dull coat etc, I feed him a really good food, its organic”, or ” The guy at the pet food store said this is great for dogs with allergies”.
The real question must be, “Is this food good for MY dog?”
Every dog, every breed ,has unique needs nutritionally as well as behaviourally, what suits one doesnt necessarily suit another. I have two dogs in at the moment who are slightly nervous, I would normally be feeding them turkey as it is a wonderful calming food and increases the levels of L-tryptophan in the brain, but neither of them can stomach turkey, one doesn’t like it, the other gets a very loose stool from it. Thus, we are serving other forms of protein to these two dogs, one is eating organic free range eggs and cottage cheese, fish and some beef; the other is eating wild caught cod, cheese, salmon and free range chicken breast. Its of absolute importance that both of these dogs get a meat, fish or dairy protein every day as these foods promote the production of the hormone serotonin, which acts as a neurotransmitter between the brain and the digestive system, helping to increase calm, narrow blood vessels and improve sleep.
When I have clients calling me telling me that their dog is off their food and they are concerned, I look first at the breed, next at the dog’s energy output and also at the breed ‘practices’ of the dogs in recent years. While that may sound ridiculous, I have come across more coeliac German Shepherds than any other breed and its a problem that has become more and more prevalent in recent years due to inbreeding, which has not only messed up in some cases the hips of this fine breed, but the digestive process as well. [Im not a vet, but I honestly don’t need to be one to know what I experience with these dogs, day in, day out, year after year]. I have also found some German shepherds to be less tolerant of larger quantities of leafy greens, which we love to include in the food here as part of our commitment to increase levels of freshly derived Vitamin C where possible. But not all of them……so we just can’t generalise. I know huskies who adore oily fish as the mainstay of their food, but others who cant tolerate it and it gives them diahorrea.
Two of my dogs, Noodle and Ava, are both highly allergic to fish; one scratches like a mad thing if she eats it, the other has a very painful bowel movement 24 hours after ingesting fish. I like them to get their Omega 3’s because of the cardiovascular and cognitive function benefits, so in both cases for them we use flax seed.
A very regular client of mine who stays with us months out of every year, does very well with larger amounts of carbs…the general rule of thumb is that dogs should not eat a lot of carbs as their bodies are designed to metabolise protein more efficiently, but in his case, he gets more energy, less stress and more fluidity of movement if he has rice in his food bowl. It goes against the grain, but it works for him…
The general message here is to think about food as not just something that you dump in your dogs bowl every day, let it be a life giving, energy whizzing, calm promoting, tasty experience that acts as the medecine it should be for your dogs body. Really think about your dogs’ reaction to their food…does it give them freedom of movement? Does it make them lethargic? Does it make their stool loose? Does it help strengthen their immune system?
One mans’ food is another man’s poison, so dont take the word of someone who doesn’t know your dog or understand your lifestyle; watch your dogs’ reaction to the food and base your choices on that. I enjoy cooking for my dogs, and for my clients, it epitomizes the family and ‘relationship first’ ethos we have here at Desperate Dogs and makes me feel warm and nurturing, and makes the dogs happy.
Pay a little attention, be your dogs’ best advocate and reap the rewards every time.