We have two fur babies in our home who are just two toddlers really. They give us so much joy, and at the same time, keep us on our toes. Every day is not perfect, but we truly could not imagine a life without them. Diesel was born roughly September of 2016 and Luna since February of 2017. They met through our close friendship and budding romance, and they have been just as crazy about one another as we have since day one.

I had Diesel before I met TJ, and I wasn’t the best about making sure he was getting the best nutrition, but a large part of that was financially being completely unable to get him better dog food. She was learning more herself, after getting a dog for the first time in 5 years, and wanting to be careful about food choices due to her breed. When we got together, we both had two very hyper and large puppies, who thankfully got along great. We were both working on training them on our own and watched tons of Cesar Milan videos free online. He brought up nutrition as well which spurred us to make those choices for the dogs, same as we had for ourselves.

 

Luna in June 2017, 4 months old
Diesel Winter 2016, with maybe a few extra photo-shopped heads.

As a puppy, I fed him this Purina Puppy Chow, and though it wasn’t the greatest dog food out there, I knew it was better than Gravy Train, which is a terribly unhealthy brand. It was affordable, he seemed to enjoy it as he gobbled it down.

Don’t get a dog if you’re just going to leave it malnourished. It really does matter what we put into our bodies, and it really does matter for them too.

Anyway, When TJ  and I got together, she fed Luna Eukanuba Large Breed Formula, since Luna is a large breed (Mastiff/Saint Bernard mix). Same as with me, Luna had seemed to like it, ate it fast and always wanted more. Now they were both growing puppies, so we have to take that into consideration, but it was still a pretty voracious appetite these two had.

Diesel and Luna April 2018 wearing their Gentle Leaders, more on that here.

A few months into our relationship, we began feeding them Pure Balance Grain-Free dog food. This choice was a combo of trying to get them on a better food and to be cost-effective. We did not want to risk choosing one we could not regularly afford. This led to some pretty significant improvements, I’d say more so among Diesel. He had some skin sensitivities before that I think were caused by diet, even though we were feeding him what most review sites recommended we still saw a massive benefit from switching.

They both gained a bit of weight and their fur got a bit thicker, their attention and mood improved. All around it was a good switch for them.

Then, TJ began researching about organic dog foods. Due to our goal of getting off the grid, we were looking into raw based diets and transitioning. More and more she found information that was alarming in the dog food industry, which like ours, is riddled with false information and nutritionally bankrupt foods. She was able to inform me of many atrocious things found in many dog foods, and really we learned more about how most dog foods actually are built up nutritionally.

We found a brand called Precise Pet Products and now would highly recommend this one. It is a clean dog food with chelated minerals and probiotic to make it highly digestible and nutritionally dense.
Their coats improved significantly, their moods and emotions seem more controllable for them. Which could be attributed to growing up, but the timelines fall pretty close to the switch. We found the easiest place to purchase the brand was American Pine Acre Kennels in Muncie since that is local for us. We love that they use this brand in their holistic based training and doggy daycare. We recently kept the pups there for a weekend trip and they had a great time. I will be writing a big review on that later on after we have had some training sessions there as well.

While Precise Holistic is not USDA Organic, it is a clean dog food we can afford for now. We scoured the internet for unbiased dog food reviews and found it to always be high on the list. I would recommend dogfoodadvisor.com if you are looking into this. It had tons of information and was easy to navigate through to make a more informed choice. We do hope to someday raise meat and switch them to a raw diet once we are off the grid. However, for now, our dogs eat much less on this without a drop in weight and seem happier with the diet.

We actually ended up spending less in the long run. A 44 lb bag costs us $60, but it lasts us nearly 3 weeks. With Luna coming in at 90lbs and Diesel at around 70lbs they eat about 4 cups a day each, total. Previously they were eating 4 1/2 to 6 cups a day, that’s a lot of money saved.

Another thing we noticed was that just as with our switch to organic foods, their stomach had some stuff to move out. So if you decide to switch up dog foods, be aware. You will have to give them extra water and patience with needing to go more frequently while transitioning. You need to switch dog foods carefully and slowly adding the new food to old, phasing out the old food over a week or so.

After their stomachs cleared, their poop has stayed consistently healthy looking. It’s not weird to examine feces if it’s for children or fur children, although it still makes us laugh daily.

But this is a good indication of our dog’s health and it has improved significantly. We have also noticed further improvements in behavior and temper, which again could be contributed to the fact they are getting a bit older. Diesel has always been an anxious, sort of fearful/dominant pup. He has come so far with that, I have to believe his diet helped. Luna has her issues mostly with excitement, in new situations and we have also seen her improve her self-control when she’s excited.

Our plans for the future are not set in stone but some of the ideas we are tossing around are raising meat rabbits for them, as well as fishing playing a large role. We hope to train them better over the next year in order to let them be guardian dogs to our future farm animals, while still being our family. We long for the day when they get to run our property, howl at the moon or roll across the warm grass at will. It is as much a part of our dream, for them to live fully and closer to nature. We believe this is the root of happiness and want to give that to our best friends, who give so much of themselves to us daily. There is no love like that of a four-legged friend.

Branden and Tj

 

 

 

 

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