Friday, August 13, 2010

On da grain again....

Just can't wait to get on the grain again...The carbs I love are the noodles in my bowl - I can't wait to get on the grains again....{end cheesy Willie Nelson song parody}

So I did it. After six months of (mostly) grain and gluten free living my boys are regularly eating grains and grainy carbohydrates again. I've been most recently feeding a combination of Bravo, Honest Kitchen's Embark and Sojo's Complete supplemented with whatever additional proteins I could get my paws on - ground turkey, raw eggs, fish filets and all of the fresh in-season veggies I could carry home from the farmers' market. I was also adding a dab of coconut oil to the morning meal for both dogs - one of our favorite summer supplements actually.

The problem was Teller - with all of his swimming, training, exuberance and Teller-isms I just couldn't keep weight on him - I'd bump him up some more and he'd look really good for a few days - and by really good I mean he was lean, heavily muscled, I could feel his ribs but couldn't see his ribs...in other words he was really fit at an agility weight (which does seem to translate to "pet" emaciated most of the time). Just a few days later he'd  be looking and feeling skinny again (Starvin' Marvin) so I'd increase his food a bit more.

On an average day in July when he wasn't trialing or training (but still got out for a couple of swims and a run) he was eating  three or four meals a day spread out around all of his daily activities (I don't feed them for 2 hours prior to exercise or an hour afterwards). Each meal about 2lbs of either the Bravo (Turkey formula), Embark (Honest Kitchen) or the Sojo Complete (also Turkey formula). Teller was eating me out of house and home and he was still having skinny days and weeks. I couldn't up his food any more for many reasons - mostly because more food made a VERY sick Teller-Woo.

So out of desperation I cooked up a huge pot of elbow macaroni (don't worry folks it was the healthy Barilla PLUS+ elbows) and started carbo-loading him once a day. I tossed the pasta in coconut oil to keep it moist in the fridge (one box of macaroni feeds Murphy and Teller for about 5 days).

Within a week Teller's weight stabilized! The next week I was able to cut him back to two smaller meals a day and now (a few weeks later) he's eating a much more reasonable 2lbs of raw/dehydrated raw a day (plus eggs, veggies, etc) and maintaining. He's still Mr. "Zero Percent Body Fat" though.

Murphy generally eats what Teller eats - so while he's not thrilled about being "down" to 2 meals a day right now, he is happy with his share of the carbs too - Murphy's food seeking behavior has decreased significantly... I shall not soon forget the morning I pull out of the driveway at 4am on the way to a dog show, get on the highway, reach into my bag for breakfast only to discover that SOMEONE ate my blueberry muffin without even disturbing the paper wrapping. Ahhh-hem.

I don't think that all dogs need grains - but I think that some dogs do feel better on some amount of carbohydrate loaded grains in proportion to the proteins that they're eating - and I don't think it has to be pasta - there are lots of good and healthy grain options to supplement with - oatmeal, qinoa, barley, etc.

Let me add a caveat: I'm not advocating feeding commercial (or otherwise) kibbles with grains - I wouldn't feed any dog a food that contained corn filler or corn by-products and I'm not at all encouraged by the increasing amounts of wheat as a binder and filler in the bags of dog food sold by the big guys. However, I can say that I really tried to feed gluten and grain free this summer and I couldn't do it any more...maybe if Teller wasn't intact, maybe if he wasn't as active as he is, maybe if he was a little less fit right now. Murphy maintained beautifully grain and gluten free - both dogs have absolutely fantastic coats right now and even Murphy has been pretty peppy even with our hot and humid summer. Its all a balancing act for sure!

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