Why I Feed My Dog Homemade Meals

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 0 ,

Homemade dog meals do save money. 

However, that’s NOT the only reason that I choose to supplement my dogs meals. “Real” whole foods for dogs, in my opinion, are healthier.

If you follow this blog, you know that I recently lost my dog to cancer. After his diagnosis I researched causes of dog cancer and my research reinforced my suspicion that much like it can occur in people, foods can be the direct cause of cancer in dogs.

And it made me think and reflect about the nutrition that I’d been providing for my dogs. Is it healthy? Do I really know what I’m feeding my pet? The answer is no.   

I’m by no means a veterinary expert. What I do know is that whole foods rather than processed foods are the healthier option. So, I, as a pet owner, have made the personal decision to supplement my dogs diet with homemade dog food.

And here is why:


1) Homemade Dog Foods Save Money

Dog foods are expensive. I try to stay away from most foods sold in grocery stores that are highly processed and if you are like me, you know that dog food can get pricey. According to The Bark, a 15 lb bag of high-quality dog food can cost on average $42. Mix that daily with wet dog food and feeding a medium size dog will cost approximately $5 per day!

Since I supplement my dogs diet with fresh foods, the kibble bag I have at home will last me a very long time. And that’s because I use the fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats that I already purchased for my home.


2) Homemade Dog Foods are healthier

Think about it. If fresh foods are healthier for humans, then why wouldn’t fresh foods be healthier for our pets? In humans, fresh foods have less fat, more vitamins, less additives and preservatives. Fresh foods can prevent disease such as cancers and maintain a healthier body weight. Research shows that these health benefits can be seen in pets also. 

The ingredient list on the Kibble bag claims to include meats, vegetables and fruits. And in that case, I’ll just add those ingredients myself. Of course, the ingredients I add must be plain without seasonings. Leftovers human dishes are not recommend. Simply cook meats without seasoning or add fresh chopped fruits and vegetables, those are the best. Foods can also be pureed if you prefer. 


Fruits and veggies for Dog

Spinach, Cooked Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple


Why I Choose to Supplement Instead of Replacing Entirely 

I am not a nutrition expert for pets. I don’t want to feed an unbalanced diet lacking certain minerals or vitamins.  It’s that simple.

I start with a high-quality grain-free product and supplement.  

If you are considering supplementing your dogs diet, I do encourage you to do your own research and question your vet so that you can make the best decision. Also, before feeding ANY vegetable, fruit or meat, do your research to make sure it is safe for your dog. There are some highly toxic foods that must be avoided. 

Stay tuned! Soon I’ll post some of my dog food “recipes”. 

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Saying Goodbye

Sunday, December 6, 2015 0 ,

Nothing in the entire world can ever prepare you for that dreadful day that you have to say goodbye. 

I was so hopeful. So optimistic. I thought that if I could care for my dog well then his life would somehow be lengthened, spared or he would be magically healed. 

But that day came. The day I had to say goodbye. 

It come much too soon.

Austin didn’t make is much longer than my original post when I shared his tumor diagnosis. It has actually been a little over one month since I was forced to let him go. Today, I am finally writing about it because in this past month I just had not found the guts, the energy, or the strength to talk about it much. The thought of it. The thought of him still brings tears to my eyes. Every time. 

I last shared with you in the previous post that Austin was taking a human antidepressant to stimulate his appetite. As I stated in that blog post, it didn’t work for long. I tried the medicine. I tried every single human food possible. I even tried McDonalds and Taco Cabana in hopes that those would entice him to eat. But no. My Austin was done. I could tell, although I didn’t want to admit it, that he knew he was at the end of his life and no longer had any use for nutrition. 

Austin had 10o percent completely stopped eating. Not a taste on this earth would bring his appetite back.

If you know me, you know that I’m persistent. I’m the type of person that will never give up. I syringe fed him. I picked up a prescription dog food for him. He ate it. Not necessarily because he wanted it, but because he knew that I, his mommy, really wanted him to eat. He was still drinking water all on his own which his veterinarian said was good. 

Then… a respiratory tract infection. His nose was stuffed. He had green mucous coming from his nasal passages which was something I have never experienced with him or any other dog. He breathing became labored. I thought he got over it. During the day he sounded normal, but once night rolled around, he became stuffy again. 

On Halloween morning, I awoke early to tend to his needs as I always did. That night before was miserable for both of us. He slept in my bed so I could keep a close eye. His breathing was worse than ever. In the morning, I took him out for his morning walk and one close look at him told me that today was the day he needed to see the veterinarian. His breathing had become so labored that I could physically see his little cheeks filling with air like little balloons then contracting into his face as he tried to breath.  

“Wake up”, I told my my husband. “We need to go to the vet”.

And off we went. He took his very last car ride. He asked for the window to be rolled down to stick his little head out that window as he loved to do just one last time. He curled in my lap, crying. Never once have I heard a dog cry. It wasn’t the normal dog whine or whimper. It sounded much like a human sobbing.

The vet completed the exam. She said she’d give him a third round of antibiotic if I wanted, but also gave me her honest opinion that this was it. She strongly believed that Austin’s disease had effected his immune system so deeply, so harshly that there was really no remedy. His immune system was too weak that he could no longer fight off disease. If he managed to fight off the respiratory infection with the help of the antibiotic, then it would just be a matter of days before another infection appeared. 

And that’s the point where I was forced to say goodbye. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. As I write this post, I’m in tears. 

The only thing I can say is that no one can ever prepare enough to say goodbye. It hurts. And I expect that it will continue to hurt for a while. He is missed everyday.

I will never forget my little boy. He has forever changed me and my heart. 

Never once did I image I’d be the owner of a pit bull. However, I am proud to say that it is because of him that I have gained a great understanding and deep love for the pit bull breed. And in the future it will be because of Austin that once I am ready to adopt again, I will save another pit bull’s life. Because of Austin, I am committed to saving and adopting pit bulls. A breed of dog that is greatly misunderstood. 

A piece of my heart is in heaven, or at the rainbow bridge, should I say. There he patiently awaits my arrival. And when I too pass, we will be together again. Forever. 


Rainbow Bridge Dog Cancer blog post


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Previous Posts:

Post 1: How I Found Out My Dog Has a Tumor

Post 2: A Human Antidepressant Prescribed to my Dog



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A Human Antidepressant Prescribed to my Dog

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 0 ,

Yes, you heard that correctly. My dog is taking Mirtazapine, a human antidepressant that apparently benefits dogs suffering from a lack of appetite due to cancer or chemotherapy. 

I shared last week that my dog has a tumor and that he also had an episode of  bloody diarrhea which has since then fortunately ended. I treated him with a supplement called Slippery Elm and it worked. He was over the diarrhea but still had absolutely no appetite whatsoever. We went to the vet. 

A blood test was taken as well as a fecal test. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) was ruled out due to the results of Austin’s blood test. Parvo was ruled out since he is vaccinated. Giardia was ruled out because the the fecal test came back negative. A second round of antibiotics was prescribed for a possible case of colitis. 

Still he had no appetite. Mirtazapine is a human anti-depressant that can be prescribed to dogs and cats to stimulate an appetite. I felt desperate. Watching my dog turn down food constantly was affecting me and I was willing to try anything.

To my surprise, it worked. Austin had an appetite within an hour. The effect of one dose lasted 2-3 days and when his appetite started to decreased, I’d give me another dose. The medicine worked great and it was such a relief. 

The good news didn’t last for long though. I wish that I could say that we are still in a good place and that the Mirtazapine is still working for him, but it’s not. The vet increase his dosage, but still nothing. The only effect it seems to have on him now is to make him anxious and restless. 

And just like that, I’m at square one again. I’m left desperate and researching possible solutions. Lack of appetite and weight loss is a common occurrence in dogs suffering from cancer. It’s a battle that dog owners struggle with day in and day out. 

My dog no longer eats dog food. 

For a while, he only wanted home cooked meals. 

Now, he’s no longer even interested in even that. 

So, here I am. Just when I thought we had moved a few steps forward, we step back again. Left to start all over to solve the problem. 

I can’t help but feel alone. I ask people and veterinary professionals for guidance yet never receive any real solutions. Last night, was one of the roughest ones yet. I don’t believe anyone in my home, not my husband, other dog, or myself even slept. Austin was agitated. He was sneezing and seemed to be having some trouble breathing. I thought it was an effect of the Mirtazipine and almost took him at 4 am to the emergency clinic. 

It turned out to be a stuffy nose. He clearly had mucous clogging up his nasal passage ways. Was it an effect of the the Mirtazipine? Was it an allergy? A symptom of the tumor? Is it due to incoming cooler weather or allergens in the air? The answer I don’t know.

What I do know is that with a little patience on my end, I was able to find a solution. He’s no longer stuffy. He can breath.

For me, that’s a reminder. I can’t give up just yet. If he hasn’t given up, then why would I? It’s a reminder that he needs me. He needs my patience, love and care.

And so I continue to fight. We continue to fight, one day at a time. Together.  


If you missed my first post, How I found out my dog has a tumor, you can read it at this link. 

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How I Found Out My Dog Has a Tumor

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 2 ,

How I found out about the tumor


It all started about 6 weeks ago. 

My dog, Austin, started out with what I thought was a urinary tract infection (UTI) or more commonly known as a bladder infection. He was dripping small amounts of urine. Sometimes when he walked or sometimes where he would lay down to rest. Having a nutrition background and knowing that cranberry can help, I tried all the tricks in the book. I bought organic, all natural, sugar free cranberry juice from Whole Foods and tricked him into eating treats soaked in cranberry juice. I purchased cranberry supplements from the pet store. It didn’t help. 

Three days later we were off to the vet. The drips of urine seemed to get worse. Instead of a drip of urine here and there, it turned into a small stream of urine. The vet prescribed a two week course of antibiotics- Clavomax was the name of the antibiotic.

The Clavomax didn’t seem to be helping. We were reaching the end of the two weeks and the dripping was still occurring and so off we were to the vet once more. This time, an X-ray was performed to determine if possibly the dripping was occurring from bladder stones rather than a urinary tract infection. Well, what the X-ray revealed was much more serious.

Austin, my dog, has what the vet describes as an abnormal mass located on his spleen. At that time, the vet was uncertain if the mass was on the spleen or kidney and so she sent me to a specialist- a pet oncologist.  

The pet oncology office found that he does have a tumor on or possibly pressing up near his spleen. The growth is rather large at approximately 10 x 8 centimeters.  

The options for treatment are scary. 

  1. Surgery for removal of the spleen and tumor followed by chemotherapy and/0r radiation as determined after a thorough examination of the mass itself.
  2. Let him live out his life with the tumor while monitoring for pain caused by potential cancer.

To make matters worse, there is another potential health risk involved. If he does in fact survive the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the specialist explained to me that my dog (being a pit bull) is not in the clear. Pit bulls are at high risk of Babesia, an infection that is commonly found in pit bulls once they have had their spleens removed. In other words, if my dogs spleen is removed, there is a very high risk that he will not survive a potential Babesia infection.


What’s next

For now, I’m learning to cope with the stress and sadness of my dog’s health condition. His health is slowing declining. Just last week a strong bout of bloody diarrhea, anorexia, weight loss and general weakness hit him. He lost almost five pounds. I thought for sure I’d lose him last week.

With some care, home remedies, home cooked dog food, prayer, love and determination it looks like he’ll make it through this episode (I hope). I see definate improvements. 

I will not give up this easy. I made a commitment to my dog to be there for him until his last day on this earth. He’s been an easy pet to care for his entire life but now he’s going through hell. I, as his dog mom, am committed to be there for him every step of the way. Cancer might one of these days take him from me but for now I refuse to give up. 


I’ll keep all of you posted here in future posts. Please come back and visit.

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