Saturday, December 4, 2010

Notes from the Munchkin Nutrition Center

Today we’ll discuss la cuisine pour Ivan, leaving Dasa’s régime diététique for another day.

After Ivan’s bowel surgery in 2009, finding a food he could thrive on was paramount. We found a brand of dog food that worked for over a year until they changed the formula, and then his little body didn’t tolerate it as well. When we discovered the new formula didn’t work, I contacted all the area vet offices that sold this brand, and bought as much original formula as possible to give us time to look for another food. I rejected commercial prescription foods made in Thailand, those that contained corn, and the ones from companies who would not confirm the source of ingredients.

Our vet suggested cooking for Ivan, which seemed like the best plan. We went to Mizzou (University of Missouri) vet school to consult a veterinary nutritionist to make sure we give Ivan a nutritionally complete diet he can digest and thrive on. Mizzou is in Columbia, MO, about a three hour trek west of Ivan’s house. We parked in the appropriate lot, which had handy poop bag dispensers all around it, and let Ivan pee on a few trees before we headed in. We were assigned to Jennifer, a vet student who weighed Ivan, did an initial exam, and asked us about his medical history while Ivan curled up on my lap, looking impossibly innocent.

We were then ushered into a room with couches so we could all be comfortable while we talked to the veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Datz. I was impressed with how thorough he was. He spent over an hour with us, gathering data and giving us a lot of good information about dog nutrition. We learned a lot. Then Dr. Datz said if we had another 45 minutes or so, they could develop diets right then. He also suggested they put Ivan in a kennel while Eric and I went to lunch. I said “I don’t think he’d like that, plus, we have his lunch in a cooler in the car.” I figured Ivan’s humans could eat later.

So off the three of us went to feed the boy and walk around campus. Eric said if he were a young single student at Mizzou, he’d really like walking around campus with Ivan. Ivan is so alert and interested in what’s happening around him and he looks right at people, so they say hello and smile at him because he’s so cute in his little blue sweater. (Translation, Ivan is a chick magnet.)

When we returned, Dr. Datz presented us with two diets for Ivan, one version with chicken, one with beef. He and Jennifer carefully calculated how many calories Ivan needs and the percentage of fat, fiber, protein, and carbs that his compromised digestive system can process. We ordered the supplement needed to make Ivan’s diet nutritionally complete, shopped for the other ingredients, and mixed up a batch of the sweet potato chicken version.

My first attempt at this project was a substance the consistency of paté and the color of pumpkin mousse or perhaps a very light-hearted adobe. I switched from the food processor to the mixer so there would be more pleasing textures. It took a little fine tuning, but we can now efficiently assemble the Sweet Potato Chicken Cuisine. We decided it needed a more glamorous, appetizing name than glop to signify its lofty status.

We’ve been gradually incorporating the Sweet Potato Chicken Cuisine into Ivan’s diet for about a month now. We started mixing in a tablespoon with each of his three daily meals. After about a week when nothing horrible happened, digestively speaking, we gradually increased the amount of cuisine versus canned dog food. Now he is eating mostly cuisine with just a little canned food, and he’s full of energy and seems to be doing well. We’ll continue to work toward 100% cuisine for all three meals each day. At some point, we’ll try the beef recipe as well.

My sweet boy will eat anything, so it’s our responsibility to feed him the best food we can produce in the Munchkin Nutrition Center.

1 comment:

  1. I love your dedication to Ivan. Basenjis seem to inspire that, don't they?