Thursday, March 21, 2013

How I've Changed as a Dog Mom

March 15 will marked our second blogiversary and in less then I week I will turn 35 years old so Ive been feeling somewhat contemplative. I started this blog shortly before Tubby's tenth birthday with this post.  Recently I've been thinking about how my pet care beliefs have changed since I brought Tubby and Norbert home over 10 years ago:

1) Diet-I shudder when I think that I used to feed Iams and that at the time I truly believed it was the best food for my dogs and cats.  I saw the commercials in which it was recommended by vets and saw that it cost more then the supermarket brands and thus felt it would keep my dogs healthy.  I kept feeding it, at my first vet's advice, even though Norbert, Tubby, and Ping were never enthusiastic about eating it and Norbert frequently suffered gastrointestinal distress.   It wasn't until three years into pet ownership that I started reading more about dog nutrition and realized that Iams was not a good quality food.  I started reading about grain free food options and got a subscription to the whole dog journal.  I know read ingredients lists carefully and rotate my dogs kibble with a wide variety of grain free options and make sure to change protein sources between chicken, fish, and beef.  I've learned to always store my dogs food in the bag, keeps it fresher and locks in nutrients, and I read up on each new food at dog food advisor.   I'd love to feed raw but with so many dogs I find it a big beyond me.   

 2) Treats-I know this is pretty much the same as diet but I've changed a lot in this regard too.  I used to think nothing of feeding Tubby and Norbert Pupperoni and other treats made in China and filled with chemicals and other garbage, however based on my first vets advice I was very leery of feeding them "people food."  I know realize that healthy so called people food like lean meats, healthy fruits and veggies, sardines, cottage cheese, yogurt, and eggs are the best treats I can give my dogs.  I regularly add such  foods to my dogs kibble. 

3) Vaccines-When I first got Tubby and Baby the cat I felt that more vaccines was probably better.  I said nothing when Tubby's vet gave him every vaccine bordatella, lyme, parvo, rabies, at once and was horrified when he had an allergic reaction.   I now am very minimal with vaccines and do titer testing on my dogs every three years.  I made sure that Bob and Weasley had their puppy vaccines spaced apart and luckily there have been no reactions.

4) Training-I can't say I really changed on this, more like I found others who validated my way of thinking.   When I first got Tubby someone gave me the Monks of New Skete's How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend, first addition.  I read the book and liked plenty of their advice but I was uncomfortable when they mentioned adversives.  However I figured they knew best and that a balance of rewards and aversives was probably the most successful way to train.  Most dog owners I met 12 years ago agreed and the training advice I got from experienced owners I met at the dog park involved a fair amount of punishment and lots of pack leader talk.  I never used punishment, but at the same time I never really looked down on it.  Now I know that positive reinforcement is really the only effective way to train a dog and I'm so happy that it seems that most training facilities and owners agree.   These days when I hear someone use the term "pack leader" or "submissive" I shudder internally, or if I know them advice them to read Patricia McConnell.

5) Vets-I used to never question my vet.  I figured they knew best in all situations and never considered researching something my self.   Now while I still respect my vet, I actually totally love my vet, I research everything and always ask a ton of questions.  What I love most about my current vet is even though he is a standards vet rather then a Holistic practioner, he is willing to research thing that I am a curious about and never minds my research into certain topics or the questions I ask.  I also would never hesitate now to get a second opinion or see a specialist in an emergency.  In fact Id see a specialist in any emergency.

How have your pet care standards changed since your first days of pet ownership?


  1. No not really but one thing has changed is the vet. Since we introduced insurance here they seem to think they can get away with unwanted and not needed treatment to get the bill up. We find the old fashioned vet has gone and been replaced by big business. Sad. We are cautious. A real pity.
    Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Watching Katy grow I think we've mellowed some in the ten years we've had Bailey. My DH had never had a dog, so we needed more rules and structure for him to get used to things with Bailey. He has been much more relaxed with Katy. We took Bailey to training, he's trained Katy.

    I love our Vet and I am thrilled her kids look to be training to take over the business.

  3. I'm definitely more conscious about food & treats.

  4. Happy birthday!!! I am pretty sure that I question more as you do too. I wish I could do the natural food thing all the time. I do give them carrots and beans as treats, but that's about it.

  5. Oh my gosh yes and all for the better, the things you said reminded me alot of what i also thought....we used to feed a specific dog food cos that is what the vet sold and i just THOUGHT it must be the best! Now, I am also trying to be more aware of their treats, although with stellie not feeling well, I am doubting my ability in that area.
    Happy Birthday!!!
    stella rose's and mags mom

  6. What food are you guys eating now? This reminds me a lot of our own struggles with Bunk. We have been a dog owner for only two years and have had to change food like 3 times. Our vet told us Blue was good, then she told us Bunk has too much crystals in his belly and that Blue is doing that. Now I'm just plain confused.

  7. Sometimes I'm ashamed of the way I treated previous pets ... like the food we fed them and even some of the treats we gave them. And none of them ever slept in our bed!

  8. we have gone through the same changes. We have gone from grocery store food to grain free dog food, our vet no longer vaccinates every year. Twenty years ago when I started going to training classes it was mostly pack leadership and leash pops. Now it is positive reinforcement which is how I always have preferred to train. I sometimes still have to defend myself a little because although I want my pugs to do well, I mostly want them to enjoy what they are doing and have fun. I don't train for "perfection". Crooked Sit - Oh well!
    Bailey, Hazel & Greta

  9. I could pretty much have written this same post! My poor first Cardigan spent a lifetime eating Purina and Iams and Milk Bones....Uggghhhhh! (I do have to say he lived to just short of 17, so he must have had great genes!) I feed mainly raw, but when needed Great Life kibble mixed with organic canned. All the treats are natural/USA sourced, but I do have to confess to the occasional hot dog as a training treat. Titers instead of just giving the vaccines....

    Thanks for posting this. It helps to keep spreading the word!

  10. I'm a bit of a read freak, I want to know what's in Mollies food and treats.. When I was young we had a dog and gave it what food was available, now we have so much to choose from and the amount of treats..Wow an old bone use to do LOL xx00xx
    Ps agree with Molly..

    Mollie and Alfie

  11. My standards have changed, too! I started with high quality grain-free food thanks to my cat expert friend's advise. But I was not aware dry food is not the best option for kitties. I used to serve dry and wet food at 50/50 amount but later changed to 100% wet food. I am with you about the vet. I respect my vet but I have to do research myself, too!

  12. What a great post! I think about our earlier pets and the garbage that we purchased to feed them. Now, like you we are very selective in our foods, I cook chicken in the crockpot to spoon over their breakfast and dinner, and bake our own dog biscuits. Our girls love apples, green beans, and eggs. Vaccinations are limited to every 3 years (rabies) and like you titers are drawn.
    Re: Second Opinions
    We just had a excruciating December and January getting medical treatment for our cat's eye. Finally, after 5 vets I found one (older) who helped us make an informed decision together that it was best to remove the eye and we did.
    Everyone else expected us to go with "their plan" of treatment no matter what the risks or successful outcome would be for our cat.

    I am so thankful for you and other bloggers that share information because it keeps us informed.

    Nina, Myshka, Sasha, Betsy, Phoebe, Lily, Punkin, Paris, Annabelle, and Lucy

  13. We are definitely more dog savvy than when we got married. We know lots more about diet, medication and how to keep them happy now.
    Lynne x

  14. Well Happy Birthday and congratulations on your blogiversary! It is a great accomplishment. :-)

    You really could have been writing my story when you wrote this (although I never fed Iams, I fed California Natural) everything else is pretty much the same.

    I changed vet's and love the one I'm going, she leans towards Holistic and is very comfortable with the vaccine protocol I choose. We discuss this twice a year (the dogs are about 6 months apart in annual visits.)

    I'm so glad I followed my instincts and not the advice of those pack leader types.

    Great post!

  15. Really interesting post and debate. What I have learned is not to panic so much as dogs can be right old drama queens. Both of mine have tended to act as if they were at death's door one minute and then a short while later have been full of bounce once more. So I don't rush down to the vet quite so precipitously as I once did!
    I have to say, regarding food, that many people suggested, and I tried, all sorts of natural diets and remedies for my old Westie Hamish's itchy skin problems, but none of them made any difference at all that I could tell (except to my wallet) and the only thing that definitely worked was the bad old steroids. Bertie, to date, has been robustly healthy.
    On behaviour, I have been a bit stricter and more consistent with Bertie, but it's hard to compare as he's the only dog I've had since a puppy, and of course the breed characteristics are different. (Of course one thing that won't change is my perhaps too analytical and rationalist approach to dogs and life!)
    Cheers, Gail.

  16. I think you've gone through an evolution the way many of us have...I see myself in your food of choice was Pro Plan, I trained with a prong collar and an ear pinch and believed everything my vet told me...The good thing is that we've been willing to read learn and make changes for the better and our dogs appreciate that I'm sure

  17. Great post, I can relate. I'm still learning and evolving. I feel the worst about the dog food. Our little terrier years ago had terrible skin issues in her old age that made her smelly so it wasn't pleasant to pet her...if only I had thought or the vet had suggested improving her diet - but it wasn't even on the radar 25 years ago. As for training, I'm still learning there too. I like the all-positive approach and I'm appalled that Cesar Millan is still teaching the "dominance" theory. Unfortunately I haven't found a trainer yet that was both all-positive AND effective. We trained Toby with a trainer whose approach was 90% positive and 10% correction (quick jerk on choke collar). He spent a LOT of time teaching us NOT to hurt or choke our dogs. Well, bottom line is, when I took classes with all-positive trainers later, even their own dogs wouldn't listen to them, and Toby was the star of every class. So I'm still reading and trying to figure it out.
    Sorry this is so long, obviously you struck a chord!

  18. What a great read...I'm still learning even after having many dogs in my lifetime but glad to have this as such a helpful way to help me make the right decisions for us. I do have a question, me and a coworker have talked about Max (9.6 Lb Chihuahua Mix) eating chicken and rice...she swears it gives dogs cancer but that's news to me...anyone have any thoughts on that?

  19. Ahh, I've been nodding my head while reading your post on this mom. I've learned so much once I begun taking care of our dogs seriously. My sister keeps laughing at me because I don't have kids but I worry like a mom who's got 10 (since I'm taking care of both my sister and my entire pack).

    Huggies and Cheese,


  20. Keep going moma :-) x x x beautiful post x

  21. Great post!
    We are still in the early stages of our journey and already have learned so much. Sometimes it feels like a minefield though

  22. I think it's great how much more accessible information is to help us be better parents and how there are so many more quality options out there.

  23. Oh my Norbert!!!!! He's so cute!!!! He's still beautiful and I would not guess by his photos that he is 10. You have taken great care of him.