Forget babies, let's talk dogs.

Bored with all the baby talk? Me, too! So I wanted to share a little about how we take care of our FIRST baby. Our labrador retriever, Indy! His name is short for Indiana Jones, but he is nothing short of adventurous. Keeps us on our toes, makes us clean the house a little more, and loves to lick our faces & feet. We adore him.

I never really gave it much thought before we got a dog, but now I'm such a believer in giving our sweet little pup the best stuff out there. My husband and I are literally seeing first hand how our dog's diet is a positive influence on his health and appearance.

We try to eat healthy. We buy processed snacks and indulge in desserts now and then, but the majority of our diet is made up of whole foods and I make homemade meals almost every night. We buy organic when we can, avoid added sugars and preservatives and also supplement with vitamins. In my mind, human or animal, any member of our family is going to be treated the same.

We got Indy from a reputable breeder when he was 8 weeks old. From the time he was eating solids, she fed him (and his brothers and sisters) Purina Puppy Chow. While researching dog breeds, my Mom sent me a few articles about typical dog food (like Purina) and what goes into it. Ugh, let's just say it was pretty disturbing.

Here are the first 5 ingredients in Purina Puppy Chow: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, animal fat.

It doesn't sound terrible, until you realize that animals are like people. What happens when you load them up with processed grains (especially corn) and animal byproducts? They gain weight. They are more likely to develop diseases. They are unhealthy. They have digestive problems. The only healthy things in entire ingredient list are dried carrots and dried peas and they are pretty far down, which means there isn't much in there. Ironic that Purina's motto is "Long Live Your Dog".

So, we decided we were going to switch Indy away from Purina and try one of the newer holistic dog foods on the market. There are more and more available now, which is exciting! I had heard about Blue Buffalo brand and we decided to give it a try. After slowly weaning Indy off of Purina and onto Blue Buffalo, we still weren't impressed. The ingredients were definitely better, but his stools were unpredictable (sometimes loose, sometimes he was constipated) and often times, he didn't even finish the portion we put in his bowl. I'm not saying this dog food is bad, it just didn't agree with Indy so we were ready to try something else.
Indy loved these treats during Puppy Kindergarten & when we were housebreaking him!
Around this time, my Mom went to a local street festival and happened upon a Natural Balance pet food stand, where they loaded her up with free samples. She dropped them off at our house and we decided to see if Indy liked it, because we certainly liked what we learned about the products. (We'd never heard of it before, but once we started Puppy Kindergarten, it turned out to be the brand that the trainer recommended, so we figured it was worth a try).

Could Indy have gone any more BONKERS over this dog food? He went insane and gobbled it up so fast. We ended up giving him the rest of the dog food samples for meals & treats until they ran out, and then continued feeding him Blue Buffalo because we still had a whole bag of it left. Guess what? Once he had a taste of Natural Balance, he wanted nothing more to do with his old food. He was so over Blue Buffalo and would barely touch it. The next bag of dog food we bought was Natural Balance and now we're customers for life.

Just for a comparison... here are the first ingredients in a bag of NB: Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Canola Oil, Potato Fiber, Flaxseed

They also carry wet canned food & yummy "food rolls" that are GREAT for treats!
Indy's coat is sooo shiny - he almost glistens in the sun and we constantly get compliments on it. His poops are always normal, which leads to happy anal glands (graphic, but it's a part of our lives) and his stomach is rarely upset. He is also one muscular dude! 7 months old and he looks like he hits the gym twice a day. Sorry ladies, he's neutered. Playful, full of energy, social with other dogs/people/children, protective of us when strangers come to the door... just an all around happy & healthy pup!

Natural Balance is more expensive because of the high quality ingredients (like venison, sweet potatoes, brown rice & real chicken). It's about $15-20 more per bag than other non-holistic brands. But, like I said at the beginning of this post, we knew when we adopted a puppy that we were going to treat him like a member of the family and to me, giving him the best dog food we can afford is one of the ways in which we accomplish that.

Look at that face!
Disclaimer: Neither of us have any affiliation with Natural Balance, except that we feed it to our dog!

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