This week is all about food. Etta has been settling in well and we are working on fine tuning her diet. Since bringing her home we have come to learn that she can be quite discerning in her tastes so we have had to up the anti on training treats, to keep her motivated. We have also been rotating in new flavors of food to keep her interested and gaining weight.
When we adopted Etta she had been on a generic puppy chow diet. After some deliberation I chose to switch her to Stella & Chewy’s frozen, raw dinners right away. She took to the raw food without any hesitation. She eats approximately 2.5 8 oz. patties a day. I used the handy feeding calculator on the Stella & Chewy’s website to gauge how much she should be getting (she weighs 18 lbs.). Of course, no dog or cat is alike so I watched her eating and made changes as necessary according to how much she actually ate. Etta did have some loose stool so I added a little Nummy Tum Tum pumpkin into her food. The fibrous pumpkin helps with her digestion and I saw improvement within a day. It is often advised to change a puppy’s food slowly to avoid diarrhea. Had Etta’s poops not improved I would have taken a step back and started mixing in her original puppy food.
Right now Etta is eating the chicken dinner but I think I will change her to the lamb formula. I am noticing that she has very sensitive skin so I want to make sure she isn’t allergic to chicken, a very common allergy for dogs. At meal time I am also adding Grizzly Salmon Oil to her food. This Omega-3 rich oil is terrific for immune support (especially important for puppies and dogs coming from shelters & rescues), joint support and maintaining a healthy skin and coat.
Aside from her regular 3 meals a day (always on a schedule, puppies love schedules!) Etta gets plenty of tiny training treats and a couple of good chew sessions with her Bully stick or a Bison scapula (she loves these!). I have also incorporated a bit of training into meal time; when I am ready to put her food bowl down I tell her to sit. I praise her as she maintains the sit while I slowly lower the bowl. If she moves from her sit I move the bowl back up until she sits down again, I praise some more while I lower the bowl again. The goal is to have her sit quietly, with the full food bowl on the ground, until I say “Okay!” It only took about 2 days for her to be able to do this 98% of the time. We learned about this technique at our puppy class at Tree Frog Farms dog training and agility.
Switching to raw food can seem daunting and a little mysterious but it is actually very simple. I feed both Etta and Ella (the 2 year old Maine Coon mix cat) the same food. I thaw it the night before (or stick it in the microwave if I forgot!) and simply divide it up between then two of them in appropriate portions. Ella eats like a voracious beast so I never worry about her finishing her food, but Etta has proved to be a bit more picky. I leave her food out for 15 minutes. Whatever isn’t eaten gets covered and goes back in the fridge. I put the food back out again at the next meal time.
Thanks for checking in with us again, and as promised, next time I will tell Etta’s rescue story!