Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Difference Does Food Make - Part 2

In April, I posted a blog entry about "What Difference Does Food Make?" and I promised I'd follow-up to let everyone know how my experiment with moving to a supposedly higher-quality (more expensive!) dog food is going. Well, here it is!

We started on the Innova back at the end of April, and right away the dogs loved it. I gradually phased out their old food by mixing the Innova into the last 1/4 of the bin, and the dogs transitioned nicely. About halfway through the giant bag of Innova I started to notice that the dogs were looking a bit chunkier than usual, so I quit free-feeding them throughout the day and moved to only 1 bowl per dog at 6pm daily, with a little bit of water mixed in so they would eat it up right away. I also started being more mindful of the amount of exercise that they were getting, and tried to make sure they always came with me for the first 3 miles of my daily run.

By the time we were nearly done with the giant bag of Innova, my dogs had each put on two pounds. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but on my sleek little hounds, both of whom typically hover around a healthy 20lbs since they're on the petite side for basenjis, that 2lbs makes a big difference! Now they both look rather stocky, and when they sit upright I can see a bit of belly bulge. Plus, they both just don't have the endurance for runs like they used to.... in short, I think I made my dogs overweight!

So, I decided to make another food switch. Nearing the end of the bag of Innova, I decided to try Blue Buffalo next because it is also made from high-quality ingredients and it is advertised as "healthy weight, low-calorie" food. I've heard a lot of great reviews about this food, so I bought a big bag and gradually transitioned my dogs to that.

It's only been about a week now since we've been fully on the Blue Buffalo, so I can't tell yet if it's making a difference. I'm looking for them to slim down to their regular weight, get shinier, softer coats, and just look healthy in general. Both Reef and Biko seem to like the Blue Buffalo just as much as the Innova and they would gobble up ten bowls if they had the chance, so I'm still regulating the amount of food they each receive (1 small bowl apiece at 6pm daily). I also now have a foster pup, Pippa (posted on the BRAT website as Talley), who is a skinny little girl at only 17 lbs, so I actually do let her have a bit more than the others because she really needs to put on some weight. Since she has arrived at my house I have actually seen a huge improvement in her weight and her coat (she's put on a pound, and her coat is softer and shinier already), but I'm not sure if that's because of the high quality of the Blue Buffalo or because she's just eating better/more food than she ever got prior to coming into rescue. So, the jury's still out on the Blue Buffalo, but I have high hopes! In the meanwhile, if anyone has any suggestions on slimming down my now pudgy little pups Reef and Biko, I'd love to hear them :)


  1. Hi Kristen,

    I never free feed. I regulate specific amounts of food for each of my dogs. When I fed my pack high quality dry kibble they ate, depending on the dog, between 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups a day.
    Now I feed the raw food diet and my 22# males receive 8 oz of veggie glop/muscle meat/organ mix in the morning and 8 oz of raw meaty bones in the evening. They look great and are healthy.But we definitely don't run miles a day. The dogs play and assist me while I garden and clean.
    Good luck! - Lori

  2. My B Boys gained weight when I fed them Innova Evo. It turns out it was very high in calories

  3. Kiya and Dixie are on Blue Buffalo and they look great and they seem to love it. It helped Kiya slim down and Dixie has filled out nicely. They like the fish and brown rice flavor.

  4. @Lori, wow! My 23 pound female B gets about 8 oz. a whole day! Then again, she sleeps for the majority of the day... lucky dog.

    I've heard quite a range of feeding amounts for other B's that are similar weight. It's interesting how individualized diets can be. I wonder sometimes if this is even *moreso* for sighthounds, given the general differences in their physique.

    Our B gets just a little less than 1/2 cup high quality grain-free kibble in the morning (no experience with Blue Buffalo, though), and about 4 oz. of something else in the evening -- raw, home-cooked, "glops" of dehydrated mix or veggies (Lori's description is very apt) + raw. Both dogs get extra supplements. The B's fur is suuuuper soft and her weight is good.

    With commercial pet food, I've found that when I go by the recommended amounts on the packaging, it usually tends to be *too much* for my Basenji, but just enough for my Shiba. I can tell within a week or two that I'm overfeeding her, so I simply cut back. Our kibble container comes with a measuring scoop, and I also have a food scale for the raw/other stuff, so I dole out portions rather precisely. And I stick to it. Because we have another, bigger dog, the amount that I give to the B often seems pathetically small, but I just have to be firm, for her sake.

    If your Bs will eat them, you can also substitute more fresh fruits and veggies as snacks. Our B is picky about her fruits and veggies, but the Shiba LOVES these -- green beans, honeydew, cantaloupe, apples, fresh baked sweet potatoes, carrots (cooked and raw), butternut squash, canned pumpkin, bananas, etc. -- so these helped him with his figure even after he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

  5. How much of a high quality food should a basenji eat every day? I've been giving mine a cup of the Blue Buffalo once a day. They've quit gaining weight since the Innova, but they're not really losing it, either. Should I cut back?

  6. i give kiya and dixie a little less than a cup each and kiya has lost alot of weight- shes not pudgy looking anymore and shes not "unhealthy" skinny looking, she just looks very lean..same with dixie. i give them the dry food, sometimes a little bit of EVO wet food and then i also give them peas. they also get a ton of exercise/ theyre very active so that probably is helping also