Balance for Bella

I am not yet blessed with a human baby. And while, because of this, I know absolutely nothing about raising a child, I do know that all moms want the same thing for their children – and that is their health.

It is no different for me and my own fur child.

And since I have resolved to make this a better, healthier, and happier year for myself, it only makes sense that I would include Bella as well.

When it comes to taking care of my dog, I have the same state of mind that homeless people have with their dogs – if I’m down to my lest penny with not a speck of food in the fridge, I will starve myself for a week before I let my dog die of hunger. Some may call that crazy – I call it love. Fur baby first.

When researching the proper diet for Bella, I started with the basics: her breed. Dobermans in general are an extremely active breed of dogs. They are high energy and therefore high metabolism. And so of course everything I found suggests foods high in protein to feed their active lifestyles. This is the perfect diet for my other Doberman, Roca, who fits the mold of Dobermans to a “T.” For Bella, however, the high protein diet just doesn’t work.

The reason I decided I wanted to look into a more proper food choice for Bella is because she is not like other Dobermans. She is extremely food motivated, to the point where if she didn’t have caramel brown socks and a cropped tail, she would no doubt be mistaken for a Chocolate Labrador. She is also lazy. My alarm goes off at 5:30 every morning and I literally have to drag her out of bed at that hour. A high protein diet for a dog that doesn’t meet the physical activity requirement is an obesity problem waiting to happen. Before I became Bella’s mom full-time (when I was still with my ex), I could never have her on the diet I wanted because she was shared. She ate the same food as Roca (who was also a puppy at the time), so she was on an extremely high fat and high protein diet (puppy foods, as a whole, are all designed this way to provide these babies with the proper nutrition for their rapidly growing bodies). My ex also liked having a “bulky” dog that looked mean and intimidating. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if the dog is healthy. Bella wasn’t healthy, though. At anywhere from 90-95 pounds, she was carrying at least ten extra pounds of weight on her, which on a human is generally not the hugest deal, but on a dog whose frame is not built for that – you’re basically setting them up for major arthritis problems as well as doggy Diabetes, thyroid problems, etc. etc. The list goes on.

So while Bella may not be your a-typical Doberman, she still exhibits some of the standard skin issues. As a red color, she is not the “au naturale” black tone, which, if you know anything about dog breeding, the nonstandard varietals of breeds tend to have more health issues. Because Bella is red, she is more prone to allergies, whether they be caused by food, pollen, or even environment. For this very reason (and after many a trial-and-error with different kibble brands), I have kept Bella on a salmon formula. The omega-3’s in the fish-based food help keep her coat looking beautiful and the grain-free quality keeps her from getting horrible dandruff. Unfortunately, the salmon formula also happens to be high in proteins and has very little food variation, which I am finding is not the best diet for my girl.

Obviously, every single dog is different and they are all going to require a different diet. I have tried the raw diet, and if I could afford to keep Bella on that, I would. No questions asked. It is hands down the best remedy I have found for any and all health problems. However, since I am on a budget, I will have to find a suitable kibble substitute.

After realizing that the standard Doberman diet is not going to be the best choice for Bella, I moved on to my next phase of research: finding a food that contains all the food groups (aside from grains) necessary for a healthy diet. While I love the salmon formula because it keeps her coat healthy, it does not escape my notice that it has absolutely no other nutritional value. Bella eats grass like it’s burning up in flames before her very eyes.

If you’ve done any research on why dogs eat grass, every article you find will tell you – nobody has any idea why. And then they’ll give you a list of possible reasons: boredom, gastric and bowel inflammation, stomach relief (vomiting), supplementing, needing fiber – whatever the case is, the bottom line is we don’t actually know why.

When it comes to finding the right food for your dog, it really just comes down to trial-and-error. Because Bella is my only “child,” I am very in tune to her activities and what she is doing. We spend a lot of time with my parents and their Yellow Lab, who is on a very similar diet and who also happens to eat a lot of grass. Even though all of my research on grass-eating has gotten me nowhere, I’d have to be an idiot not to follow my instincts as to why Bella and Riley (my parents’ Lab) have such an affinity for such a tasteless and nutrition-less green. In their case, they are clearly supplementing for something that is missing in their diet. Hence why I am on the hunt for a well-balanced kibble.

As with my own health, I don’t want to jump into anything unless I’m absolutely sure that this is going to be the right next step for my dog. I am still researching and narrowing down brands that I feel will be suitable to Bella. If you’re having any hesitancies about your own dog’s diet, be sure you do your research and pay close attention to their activity level and whether or not they have food allergies. I also recommend breed-specific forum – people have lots of suggestions and there is a lot more personal research to go off of. It is definitely worth taking the time to make sure your dog is happy and healthy.

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