Food for Fur Babies: From Store-Bought to Homemade

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of Pink Dog Bowl with Brown Dog Bones filled with grilled chicken, brocolli, and baby carrots

I have always been concerned about what dog food and dog treats we are feeding our fur babies.  When we brought Valentine home, we switched him from grocery store kibble to Science Diet.  At the time, we believed it was the best dog food around.  We fed him very few treats, no bones (luckily, he wasn’t a chewer), and absolutely no people food whatsoever.

Then, his little sister came along, and the rules changed a bit…  Prancer loved food and she loved to chew.  She chewed on everything from paper to our carpet.  (It was old, and we were going to replace it anyway.)  So, we had to give her bones to preserve our house!  We still limited the dog treats and the people food, though.  And we switched to Royal Canine dog food because our veterinarian recommended it.

After Prancer (at age 7) and Valentine (at age 13) crossed the rainbow bridge, we adopted Maddie.  As with many parents, the rules have really relaxed with our third kid!  Currently, we have three flavors of bones, four kinds of treats, and homemade food in the fridge…  To say our baby is spoiled is an understatement!

But the types of dog bones, dog treats, and dog food that I give Maddie has changed significantly during her four short years.  I didn’t get enough time with either Prancer (who had major joint issues and numerous surgeries during her short life) or Valentine (who fell ill quickly because of a tumor on his spleen).  Honestly, I want at least 20 years with Maddie, so we are trying to feed her well so that she will stay healthy!

But what does it mean to feed a puppy “well?”  I always thought I fed Prancer and Valentine “well.”  As I’ve researched, here’s what I’ve discovered…

Store-Bought Dog Treats

We started using treats with Maddie when we were training.  She is very food motivated, so dog treat rewards worked nicely.  We’ve always given her a variety of treats that we picked up from PetCo or PetsMart.

Recently, a representative from emailed me with “The Best Dog Treats for 2017.”  Curious, I read through the review.  While we have Zuke’s Mini Naturals in our treat jar, we haven’t tried the other dog treats mentioned in the article.

Maddie’s tummy doesn’t handle jerky treats very well.  And, despite the fact that she LOVES to chew, she doesn’t care for crunchy treats.  The biggest reason that I can’t try any of the “best treats” listed on this review, however, is that Maddie is allergic to grain.  Because of this, I must buy 100% grain-free treats unless I want our baby to have a severely upset tummy.

Store-Bought Dog Bones

Because Maddie loves to chew, we have to keep her stocked in dog bones.  In fact, we’ve had to limit how many bones she gets each day because I don’t want her to get sick.  Over the summer, her favorite dog bone had a recall.  This caused me to do some research, and I learned that Smart Bones (which contain no rawhide) have never had a recall.  Because of this, I switched Maddie to Smart Bones, and she absolutely loves them!  Her favorites are the Smart Sticks in chicken and peanut butter flavors.  Her Daddy recently bought her the “calming” sticks and gives her one every evening.  He calls it Maddie’s “Zen Moment.”

Store-Bought Dog Food

After we discovered Maddie is allergic to grain, my hubby did a lot of research on kibble.  We decided that Wellness Core was the best store-bought dog food and switched Maddie to it.  But I still wasn’t convinced that we were really feeding her THE best…

Homemade Dog Treats

When Maddie started biting at her paws, I discovered that coconut oil can help with dogs’ skin irritations and allergies, plus has digestive benefits.  So, I made her some homemade peanut butter coconut oil dog treats.  (Read the full blog post and find the recipe here.)  While I enjoy making this special treat for my girl, I still wasn’t convinced that I was feeding her a proper diet…

People Food Dog Food

And so, I decided to start feeding Maddie people food instead of dog food.  This is crazy because it is a complete 180 from what I did with Valentine and Prancer.  When they were little, I was convinced that people food was bad for dogs.  And it can be.  We shouldn’t feed our puppies everything that goes on our plates.  Their little systems can’t handle all the seasonings, and they are allergic to some people foods, such as avocados and grapes.  But after much research, I realized that the proper “people food” diet can be a healthy alternative to even the best dog food kibble.

Because of this, I have completely changed what I feed Maddie over the past several weeks. Everything I purchase for her is organic.  (If her Daddy and I eat organic, then Maddie should too.)  But I do not add any seasonings to her food.

So far, Maddie has tried plain grilled chicken, cooked peas, cooked broccoli, baby carrots, apples, pears, and bananas.  I make sure to cut everything into small, bite-size portions and to remove all seeds from fruit.  (I feed Maddie like I’d feed a toddler…  I don’t want her to choke!)  She has absolutely loved all of it!  In fact, she loves baby carrots so much that they have become a regular treat around our house!

This week, we are going to try ground turkey, and I might take a shot at salmon in the future.  After she finishes her broccoli and peas, we are going to see what she thinks about spinach!  While other dog moms feed a raw diet, I’m more comfortable with cooked foods and am enjoying researching and learning more about what people foods are safe for our girl.

It Rocks to be a Dog Mom!

While I know some may think it silly of me to cook my fur baby’s food and even more silly that I only buy organic for her, I disagree.  Maddie is my kid.  I want her to live a long, long, happy, healthy life.  And since I don’t have a two-legged kid at home, I’ll spend my time grilling chicken and researching the best bones and discovering healthy alternatives to kibble.  Because my world is a dog mom world.  And it ROCKS to be a Dog Mom!

Read more about my Dog Mom Life here…

While I’m an expert about Maddie, I don’t know your fur kids.  So, I encourage you to do your own research and/or consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you make the proper nutritional choices for your fur babies.

 This is NOT a sponsored post.  I simply mentioned stores where we have shopped and treats/bones/food that we have used with our fur babies.

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Sherry November 14, 2017 - 4:19 pm

Maddie deserves and gets the best! I think it’s super cool that you cook her food and buy organic. I love watching you and Dane as fur baby parents.❤?
P.S. I miss hearing Dane sing to Maddie.☺

Brandi Lytle November 14, 2017 - 6:13 pm

Her Daddy does love to sing to her, and she sure enjoys listening to him while getting cuddles! We LOVE being dog-parents!


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