Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feeding Our Dog - or - Dozer Deserves an A!

Now that Dozer is a member of the family, I've stepped up my research and learning about all things dog. Prior to bringing him home, I became a fan of "It's Me or The Dog" on TV, learning about proper socialization and training. I lurked all over the AKC and other websites learning the major differences in temperament and breed standards for the large working breed dogs. But when Dozer came home, I started researching Bull Mastiffs and Boxers in particular (he is a mix of the two), and paying particular attention to the best foods for him.

At the website GoliathMastiffs.com, I found a page that gave TONS of information about the ingredients in commercial, vet, and holistic dog foods. Some of the information turned my stomach, to be honest. I learned that almost all commercial dog foods are made of ingredients that I don't want my dog to eat!

At the end of the page, the author provided a way to grade your dog's food from A to F. I found out that Dozer's food is only a C or C- and may possibly be contributing to skin issues and a probable reason for his stinkiness. Since then I've found a food that we'll be starting him on this week - it grade an A+ and doesn't have any corn or wheat - common allergens for dogs. Who knows - maybe cats, too.

Because I've learned so much from this, I give to you the Dog Food Grader. I encourage you to check out the web page where I found it, and then grab your dog's bag of food and check out the ingredients against the score card. Who knows? You may find yourself heading to the local feed store sooner than you think!

How to grade your dog's food

Start with a grade of 100:

1. For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
2. For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
3. If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
4. For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
5. If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewer's rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
6. If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
7. If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
8. If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points
9. If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10. If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
11. If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12. If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13. If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
14. If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
15. If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:

1. If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2. If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
3. If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4. If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
5. If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6. If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
7. If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
8. If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9. If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
10. If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11. If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12. For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13. If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14. If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D
69 = F

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The newest member of the family

Family Expansion on a Weeknight

Champs has wanted a dog pretty much since the day we got married almost 11 years ago. Due to varying circumstances - most of them revolving around rental agreements or long employment hours, it just couldn't happen.

However, when we bought our home in March, the door opened for us to finally get a dog. We determined that we wanted a large dog; a Great Dane, preferably, or a mastiff.

We were lined up to adopt a Great Dane in we found in Indiana on Petfinder, but that fell through, breaking our hearts. After that, we tried to adopt a bull dog and then a Great Dane on Craig's List, but the owners were not upright in their business dealings. It was beginning to look like we may never find a dog for our family. Until this last Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, Champs was looking on Petfinder again when he saw these sad eyes looking out from the screen. He immediately wrote to the woman, who responded a few minutes later, giving us the go ahead to call her the next day after noon and discuss meeting the dog. Champs had Wednesday off, so he anxiously awaited noon and then gave Kristine at Eye on the Sparrow Dog Rescue a call. He explained our situation and asked about the dog. Then he agreed to come that evening - if she promised that she wasn't going to back out at the last minute. He explained that we couldn't handle that kind of pain again.

After hearing our story, she promised that the only way we would leave without the dog was if it was our choice. After I got off work, we drove 2.5 hours to northern IL and met the dog she called Andre. He was such a quiet, gentle love. Being a special needs rescue, we knew he may have some issues. He is about 5 years old and is already showing the beginnings of hip displaysia. But even when he was obviously uncomfortable, he was gentle, loving, obedient and calm - exactly the kind of dog I wanted for my introduction back into dog owning, and just what we needed for our daughter and my work-at-home-on-the-phone job. So we brought him home. We didn't get home until after 10:30 on Wednesday, and John needed to be up by 3:45 the next morning. Champs didn't think about the lost sleep; he only thought about the dog.

Bringing a new dog home at 10:30 the night before you have to work, the kid has to go to school, and the cats are expecting another average day is, to say the least, a possibly foolhardy proposition. It worked well though. Well, other than the cats. They were unimpressed, to say the least. Now, four days later, they are beginning to calm down.

By Thursday evening, we had to bathe our new Bull Mastiff, and we were still working on a name for him. When we tried to get him in the tub, he would have none of it - living up to the bull part of his breed, and we couldn't budge him, living up to the mastiff part of his breed. We finally threw up our hands in defeat and took him outside and bathed him on the sidewalk.

By Friday, after entertaining a lot of name options (Chief, Apollo, Fred, Ed, Duncan, Duke, etc.), we decided on his new name: Dozer. As in bulldozer. As in dozes all day (and he DOES!), as in "wow, that's a doozie of the dog!"). It fits him. We've been giving him treats and saying his name to socialize him to it. We've been taking him on walks and teaching him to heal. We've been talking about getting him to the vet to look at his hips and elbows (from laying on a concrete shelter floor). We've been feeding, walking, and teaching the cats to accept him.

And somehow I've gotten past the slobber and the dog stink to the heart of this beautiful, gentle giant. When the other adoptions fell through, I kept telling Champs that we just had to have faith that God knew the desires of his heart and would bring us the right dog at the right time. Dozer may not be a young puppy, and he may need extra support from us sooner rather then later, but he is family now, and we will do what is needed.

Because I love my husband. And when I saw him laying on the floor next to his dog, asleep and content, I fell in love with Dozer. The newest member of our family.

Here are the comments from this post:

Jean-Luc Picard said...
A large dog can'r be easy to look after, yet Dozer seems a very calm, gentle giant, as you say.
NetChick sent me here.

bellamocha said...
Hello, NetChick sent me!!
Your new dog is beautiful...wow! I have been a dog lover and owner all my life and can't imagine being without one. We have a golden lab right now...we thought he was big until I saw yours!
Keep posting the pictures, we'd love to see them! I'm glad that after the previous one fell through, you have brought Dozer home. I wish you much joy with your gentle giant!
Bella :)

David said...
so glad you found such a LARGE love