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Oink, Oink – Feeding Sullie

I thought it would be interesting to do a post on what Sullie eats. I know that many of you are pet owners and I wanted to share my experience with finding a food that works for Sullie as well as the extra treats and supplements.

I grew up with dogs and they were always treated like part of the family. But when it came to food, my dad always fed them a generic lamb and rice. There was nothing wrong with this and the dogs were perfectly healthy and happy but when I got Sullie I did a little more research on what I wanted to feed her. I had read so much about the scary things they put into low-grade dog food. My thought was that if I care so much about what I put into my body and how I fuel it, I should also be vigilant about what I feed my pet.

It took some trial and error and patience but I finally found a food that works for Sullie. I did a lot of research on the Dog Food Analysis website and talked to friends as well as my vet about different food choices. There are so many great foods out there and what works for one dog may not work for another so I am not going to share what I feed her but I do want to share a story about the importance of finding the right food for your pet.

I was feeding Sullie a great food but it seemed we were constantly at the vet for ear infections. Her ears were constantly inflamed and full of discharge. It was clear that the infections were very painful for her and it broke my heart to have her at the doctor all the time having her ears messed with.

This went on for about two years until moving to Charlotte and our new vet suggesting that I try switching her food and trying a “novelty protein source” to see if it had an impact on the ear infections. Apparently, it’s normal for some dogs to have allergies to common protein sources like chicken and beef and they can benefit from foods based on proteins like venison, fish, duck, etc. I read up on different proteins and decided to give a duck and sweet potato formula a try. The food is also free of corn and wheat which are also common allergens/fillers.

I was thrilled to find that within a month of switching her food that the ear infections totally cleared up. We’ve been infection-free for almost three years now. If that isn’t a testament to the importance of what you feed your dog, then I don’t know what is. I also have to share that my dad, who always preached that he’d never feed his dogs anything other than generic lamb and rice, is now feeding their rescue golden a premium dog food due to skin allergies. Sam (with me in the photo above) is much happier and less itchy now and my dad doesn’t even bat an eye at buying the food after questioning me for years. 😉

Now, let’s get to the fun part of this post. I do supplement Sullie’s food with different things regularly. Her favorites are plain Greek yogurt (probiotics are good for your pet’s digestion too!), vegetable broth, brown rice, fresh fruit and peanut flour (I have some in a shaker). I try to refrain from giving her table leftovers but I do like to add these types of things to her food. I also sometimes add fish oil or glucosamine tablets to her food to help with her coat and joints.

You’ll notice in the photo above that Sullie is patiently waiting to eat her Greek yogurt kibbles. That is because she was trained when she was a puppy to wait for a certain command to eat her food. She’s so sweet and will sit there and look at her food forever waiting for you to say it.

I made a video for you! Oink, oink. 🙂

Share your experiences with feeding your pet. Do they require a special food? Do you supplement their food?

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • erin August 28, 2012, 9:42 am

    so sweet!! love the oink oink!! sullie is just such a sweetheart.

  • Sarah August 28, 2012, 9:47 am

    Oh my gosh. Sullie is so adorable. How did you train her to eat on command?! She is so patient!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 9:54 pm

      started when she was a baby puppy with her sit command and then added in the word. we also always interrupted her when she was eating and messed with her so she didn’t have any food aggression. she’s so sweet.

  • Erica { EricaDHouse.com } August 28, 2012, 9:48 am

    I love this post! I don’t have a pup but I’m sure many readers will enjoy reading how you picked the right food. I used to work as a vet tech so I understand the importance of quality nutrition for pets!

    I have one kitty at present who is FIV + (Feline AIDS) so he eats Natural Balance Weight Control formula (he’s a porker … about 16 pounds). I also supplement that with canned food since he had a bad bout with idiopathic cystitis (bladder inflammation) a few months ago and needs to be as hydrated as possible.

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 9:55 pm

      how did you like working as a vet tech? i imagine that could be difficult.

  • jennyv August 28, 2012, 10:05 am

    We also trained our german shepherd to wait for our command (you can have it!) — I love when dogs have ‘manners’! 🙂

    She gets fed a formula containing NO grains — sweet potato and chicken in our case. She used to be SO itchy and occasionally would get an upset stomach on the cheaper food containing grains. The only treats she gets is a lick or two of almond butter once or twice a week. We used to give her egg yolks as we heard it was good for their coats but she definitely doesn’t feel well after that. I’m in the camp of NOT feeding dogs/pets human food. I have a friend who does the ‘doggie latte’ at Starbucks and their is just no way I’d give my dog whipped cream — it just wouldn’t settle well nor does she need that sugar.

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 9:56 pm

      i have never heard of a starbucks dog latte. that is terrible! who would do that!?

  • Heather August 28, 2012, 10:09 am

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE the video. My pup (Hermione) is a bottomless pit. We have to sling her food across the floor, because when we put it in her bowl she eats so fast she gets sick. She also eats everything in sight. The other day she gave us quite a scare when she ate an entire pan of brownies…

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 9:57 pm

      oh my gosh – that is crazy! i’ve heard you can add balls or something to the dish that they have to work around to make them eat slower. have you tried that? a whole pan of brownies, OMG!

    • Katie August 29, 2012, 8:20 am

      My dog is like this, so someone recommended the omega paw tricky treat ball. I put her kibble in it in at mealtimes, and then she spends the next 15-20 minutes pushing it around the floor until all the food is out. I love it because it keeps her from swallowing her food whole and also keeps her mind busy (bonus: it distracts her as I’m leaving in the morning!)

  • Novella @ A Healthy Medium August 28, 2012, 10:31 am

    neat, I didn’t know greek yogurt was good for dogs! I’ll try giving it to Watson soon. I wish he was as polite as Sullie!

  • Christina August 28, 2012, 10:37 am

    Oh my gosh! That video is adorable!

  • Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep August 28, 2012, 10:38 am

    I’m also very cautious about what I give my dog, too. She’s old, and the smallest things will affect her. Unfortunately, she no longer likes the food I’ve been giving to her for almost a year. What’s the brand you give your dog?

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 9:58 pm

      have you tried to make her food homemade or do a raw diet? or have you tried wet food? maybe she just can’t chew as well?

  • Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) August 28, 2012, 10:50 am

    ohhhhhhhhhhhhh my gosh, that’s adorable!!! I wonder if I could teach that to Koda. Doubt it, she dives right in, but that is a GREAT trick! Good dog, Sullie.

    Koda eats a lamb and rice bland and doesn’t seem to have problems, so I guess we will stick with it for now. I had a friend with a lab with a ton of allergies and they had to feed her KANGAROO. Seriously. It was ridiculously expensive, but pets are family too 🙂

  • kat August 28, 2012, 11:00 am

    I started Sadie off on a food that I did a lot of research on (no corn meal/beet pulp/other fillers), and Joe did question the additional expense, but when I suggested he try Corin on it to help w/ her itchiness, it cleared right up and he hasn’t looked back. It comes in several formulas, and as they’ve aged, I changed to the one for large breeds that has glucosomine in it and it seems to have really helped with Sadie’s arthritic leg (from an old injury). People also continuously comment on her coat and how soft and shiny it is. Ours is actually the best priced I could find for premium dog food – we pay about a dollar per pound, which is cheaper than some of the “premium” grocery store brands like Iams, Eukanuba, etc. So we are happy and have stuck with this food for years because it really makes a difference!

    • cary August 28, 2012, 1:33 pm

      curious what brands you guys went with, Jen & Kat. I’ve got a lab mix with sensitive skin who’s prone to ear infections, but also would like something w/ glucosomine in it for both my old girls. Have tried several over the past year, no luck. Let me know which ones are worth the money.

      • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:01 pm

        cary – i will email you with what i am feeding but it doesn’t come with glucosamine. i add a couple of tablets to her food.

        kat – i’m so happy that you found a food that works so well for your pups! and one that’s economical. that’s awesome!

  • morgan August 28, 2012, 11:03 am

    Wow! what a good girl! My dogs are all over me while I get their food haha. It’s true about the good quality food though- my oldest dog was losing chunks of fur and really tired- so our vet had us try a premium brand- and wow what a difference- she’s like a puppy again!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:01 pm

      awww! so glad you found something that works!

  • Miriam @ Bellaspire August 28, 2012, 11:06 am

    Oh my gosh, I love that!! I can’t believe she will listen to commands in the middle of eating!! Baker also has to wait before she eats. We clap twice which is her cue to eat. I might change it to “oink oink” because that’s so much cuter!!

    Baker eats Royal Canine which is what her breeders suggested. She doesn’t seem to have any problems yet but I’ll definitely keep her food source in mind if she does in the future. As for treats, I’ll have to start getting more creative. The only people food she’s ever had is tiny pieces of meat which we only used to help give her medicine 🙂

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:02 pm

      she’s so patient, it kills me! i like the clap. that is fun too!

      you’re so good with not giving her people food! 🙂

  • Kristy@RunTheLongRoad August 28, 2012, 11:23 am

    what a LOVE! she is too cute! we don’t supplement hawk’s food and we use eukanuba 🙁 i may have to start doing some research. thanks for this post!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:03 pm

      don’t feel bad. stick with what’s working!

  • Lainey August 28, 2012, 11:24 am

    Gatsby has to wait for a command from me before she eats as well. I might have to try switching her food. She gets ear infections as well regardless of how diligent I am about cleaning and treating them. I always feel so bad when she does the pathetic moaning and paw to ear motion.
    Gatty’s favorite treats are sweet potato based. She loves getting extras like soy milk, greek yogurt, & nut butters in her food. She also gets a daily fish oil. Have you heard of Bark Box? It is kind of like Burch Box but for dogs. Gatsby loves her monthly surprise of new treats and toys! https://barkbox.com/r/afSB3qReoE/

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 2:16 pm

      Just have to say, I love Gatsby for a dog name!

      • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:04 pm

        yes – try switching the food for the ear infections. it can’t hurt. worth a try!

        i have never heard of the bark box. that is so awesome!

  • Addy August 28, 2012, 12:02 pm

    OMG, Jen, how did you train her to wait for your “oink,oink” before eating?? My two badly misbehaved terriers would have a hard time with that….recently my sister has been experimenting with her little dog. He’s pretty young and seems to be unable to eat ‘big-dog’ kibble, but everything else seems to leave his stomach upset! So she’s still experimenting, and has us all on the lookout for new options….

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:05 pm

      we started when she was a puppy so it was a little easier! we started with the sit command and then worked into the word. we also messed with her while she was eating so that she wouldn’t have any food aggression.

  • Joanna August 28, 2012, 12:10 pm

    YAY for Sullie! I loved the video! If only my little nugget could take some lessons from Sullie! Goldens make me SMILE 🙂

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:06 pm

      yes, they’re so sweet! 🙂

  • Katie August 28, 2012, 1:12 pm

    The oink oink is just about the cutest thing ever! She’s such a good girl!! 🙂

  • Jen August 28, 2012, 2:14 pm

    I had a golden retriever and she had frequent ear infections, every fall; it was so sad to see her digging at her ears all the time. Our vet never mentioned her diet, but I’m thinking of adopting a dog sometime in the next year (sadly, my golden passed away in May 2011), so food is definitely something I’ll research!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:06 pm

      i’m so sorry for the loss of your golden. i love that you’re looking into adopting a dog.

  • Joanna Stebing August 28, 2012, 2:48 pm

    I switched my cats over to a duck/sweet potato diet as well, and they LOVED it! it’s encouraging to see the benefits that a good, well-rounded diet has on people AND pets. thanks for sharing, Jenn!

  • russg August 28, 2012, 2:55 pm

    My golden has ear infections and my vet gave me drops for a yeast infection. The vet said it was because I take her swimming a few times a week. I have packed her (Brandi) into a UPS Crate and I am shipping her to you today, when you have her trained so that she will listen to me, you can ship her back. I will pay for shipping in both directions. I am going to try a diet change for her to see if her ears improve.

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:07 pm

      hahaha – love it! sullie is selectively trained. you don’t want to leash walk her! 😉

  • Katie @ running4cupcakes.com August 28, 2012, 3:36 pm

    so adorable. my goodness. 🙂 my pup loves carrots and apple cores. crazy but true!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:09 pm

      sullie will eat just about anything but she chews up and spits out carrots!

  • Alaina August 28, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Awww, Sullie is just too cute for words. 🙂

  • Kimberly August 28, 2012, 5:02 pm

    Holy crap, that dog is AMAZING.

  • Alexis August 28, 2012, 5:29 pm

    I love this because I’m super crazy about my dogs’ diets as well! As a dietitian, I figured that if crazy stuff was going into human food, who knew what they could be putting into dog food. Once researching it, I was horrified. As puppies, I want just a bitttt overboard (in my opinion) on the premium dog food by getting the most expensive one there was (a lady at the holistic pet store told me it was “the next best thing to feeding raw”). At $79 a bag (and two huge dogs), after the first year we knew we had to change! I did a ton of research on the Dog Food Analysis site, we tried another food for awhile, and now we have settled on the PERFECT food for us. Like you said, just because its perfect for us doesn’t mean it is for anyone else! We feed Blue Buffalo Wilderness (high protein made a huge difference!) salmon and sweet potato. Its expensive, but so is eating healthy for humans, but the rewards are in lower doctor/vet bills:) Our vet raves about the health of our dogs every time he sees them! We get comments regularly on our dogs’ gorgeous coats, and we really attribute it, and their health, to good food.

    We also give them no table food, but often add treats like plain yogurt, pureed pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bananas (our doberman will come running from anywhere in the house when he hears a banana break off the bunch! Put a steak and a banana in front of him, I swear he’ll grab the banana), carrots, kale stems (they’re OBSESSED with these! I yell “kale time” and they come running!), and any other raw veggies (no tomatoes or onions of course:). They also were trained to sit and wait until we say “go get it!” and it’s so funny to watch them sit there, drooling, giving the “pleaaaaaaaaaase” eyes haha.

    Love dogs:)

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:11 pm

      it is really scary if you do the research. it is easy to go overboard…especially if you are feeding more than one dog but i think there is a happy medium. i’ve heard great things about blue buffalo. and i agree about healthy eating being worth the added cost for humans and pets. sullie loves pumpkin too. love the story about the banana! 🙂

  • Trish August 28, 2012, 6:07 pm

    one of my dogs is so funny – he seems to really love fruit! I have seen him foraging in the strawberry patch, I feed him apricots from the tree (pit removed), he pulls tomatoes off the plants in the garden, and also apples off the trees.

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:11 pm

      that is so cute!!!

  • Laura August 28, 2012, 6:26 pm

    I did so much research on food when I got my dog. I rotate the types of proteins he gets and love to give him various fruits and veggies as treats – carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, and occasionally cantaloupe, bananas and watermelon. I should give him Greek yogurt sometimes. He likes it but I never think to give it to him.

    I’ve been vey lucky though that my dog has been healthy and hang had any allergies. He always gets compliments on his coat and health. Hopefully he stays in great shape!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:12 pm

      oh, i like the idea of rotating the protein sources. so happy to hear you have a healthy pet! 🙂

  • Paula August 28, 2012, 7:04 pm

    That video is adorable 🙂
    Could you do a post sometime on doggy obedience/how you trained Sullie?
    I’m getting a pup soon and would love the feedback 🙂

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:13 pm

      haha – i don’t know if you want an obedience post from me…some things she does really well but others we failed on. like leash walking! 🙂

  • Diana August 28, 2012, 7:18 pm

    Love this post! Sullie is my favorite “blog dog” and I’m excited to hear you feed her a premium food! When I got my first Yorkie Franklin, I poured myself into forums/blogs/articles/you name it about EVERYTHING dog. One of the things I focused most on was food. I have a degree in zoology and I knew that even though they may not look remotely alike, dogs are 98% genetically similar to wolves – the other few percentage points account for their differences in size/appearance. I knew that was an important thing to consider when choosing their food. We eventually settled on raw – and not just pre-made raw but prey-model raw, meaning I sourced and balanced the food myself. I even went as far as to buy a deep freezer so that I could buy their food in bulk. After a year or so of doing that, I realized it was a lot for a college student to keep up, so I switched back to kibble. We feed Acana, a food produced by Champion Pet Foods. I stand behind this company wholeheartedly and their White Paper on pet food is one of the best sources of information out there. I still feed raw occasionally and would like to go back to prey-model eventually, but for now, kibble works best for us. Acana is a grain free, high protein diet. Champion sources all of their meat locally and support ethically raised farm animals. All of their meat is fit for human consumption and meets the Canadian standards for such. It really is an amazing company! You find a list of their source farms on their website.

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:16 pm

      sullie feels honored to be your favorite blog dog! thank you!

      that is so cool that you have a degree in zoology and i do recognize the similarities. i am so impressed that you took on preparing the food yourself at first but i’m happy to hear you found a happy medium with acana. i will definitely check it out!

  • meg August 28, 2012, 8:10 pm

    What a cute dog. I know for my dog she eats anything she can get to.

  • Emily August 28, 2012, 9:33 pm

    We had A TIME finding a food that our golden retriever, Nova, wasn’t either allergic to, got sick from, or just wouldn’t eat. We tried EVERYTHING. Wet, dry, organic, canned, you name it. We have finally found luck with Natural Balance sweet potato & venison and sweet potato & bison. The unique protein source really does work wonders!

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:17 pm

      oh wow – sounds like it was an intense process for you. i’m so happy that you finally found something that works for you and your pup!

  • April August 28, 2012, 9:55 pm

    So cute! I have 3 labs so I had to teach them very early to sit and wait too…or it would be a disaster! I prepare all 3 dishes then say “ok” and they all dive in. Now I’m wishing I had tried a better cue :-). One of my guys has terrible allergies too and is prone to ear infections – I never gave the unique protein source a thought. I will definitely look into that tomorrow.

    • Jen August 28, 2012, 10:18 pm

      i cannot imagine trying to feed three labs! i believe that you would have to make them wait or you’d get knocked over!

      look into the protein source for your one pup. it’s worth a try!

  • Anita August 28, 2012, 10:46 pm

    My rescued chihuahua also had allergy issue when I first got him and after I switched to fish based dry food, his allergy got much much better. I’ve been feeding him Orijen , it’s pricey but it takes less to get him full than other brands. I also supplement with fish oil and glucosamine tablets. What brand of the dry food and supplements do you feed Sullie?

  • Caryln @ carylnrambles August 28, 2012, 10:52 pm

    I had a goldie also who used to have ear problems, the vet never mentioned diet though I wish he would have. At least I know for the future now. Love all the pics of Sullie!

  • Jenny August 29, 2012, 8:56 am

    Oink oink! So cute! I use “ok!” in a high voice. Stella has been changing diet due to ear infections too! I was told the same thing, that chicken and such are regular allergens for them. She was on a holistic brand before and still is, just different brand 🙂
    She LOVES coconut oil, pumpkin, sweet potato, and honey. I read that local honey can be good for their allergies, just like humans! Coconut oil helps her sometimes itchy skin too. And if your dog ever has that stinky fish butt smell (Stella dealt with that a lot) adding dried apricots to their diet is great. Works perfectly!

  • Karlee August 29, 2012, 11:57 am

    I have a flat coat retriever olive. She loves cottage cheese, plain yogurt, eggs, frozen peas, blueberries, apples- baked and fresh, pineapple, and pumpkin. I also make homemade treats, mostly with oat flour or brown rice flour base. She’s my spoiled furry child 🙂

  • Madison @ Pilates Makes You Happy August 29, 2012, 8:09 pm

    So I just discovered this blog… LOVE it!

  • Jenna September 5, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Thank you for this. We’re new dog owners (9wk-old German Shepherd) and this struck a chord with me!

    • Jen September 5, 2012, 6:02 pm

      awesome! happy to hear that you enjoyed!

  • wanda lee September 6, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Great article and advice, thank you. Sullie is totally adorable 🙂 oink-oink, I laughed out loud, made everybody look.
    Reactivity to food ingredients has become a common complaint amongst my friends and their dogs, it causes much misery, and added expence. To the cheapo’s amongst them I say, it’s better to pay a few dollars more for a quality food than fund your vets lost week-end in Vegas with a continuous stream of triple digit vet bills. Most get it, they’re still my friends. Some still like to argue, I stop talking and send them articles like this.
    My Lhasa x has an severe intolerance to chicken, beef, wheat, and potato. She’d suffered the effects of cheap food and been chewing herself bald and raw for 5 or 6 years before I found her (abandoned/lost in woods and rescued). Her back end was bald and looked burned there was so much scarring and damage, I figured her fur would never regrow. Happily it did, eventually. I fed her the best quality kibble I could afford at the time, added yogurt and bits of fruit, much the same as you do, and now, a few years later, she looks like a million bucks, prettiest dog in the dog park.. Best of all, because I can’t imagine how she coped with the pain and suffering she went through for all those years, she now has a life free from constant itching and raw skin. Such a simple solution to what was, for her, a painful, chronic and debilitating condition.
    Ps. Before Buddy, I had a dog the size of Sullie and I found he had an easier time eating/drinking and digesting when I moved his dishes up off the floor around 10″ or so. Sullie doesn’t look uncomfortable, I just thought I’d pass it along anyway.

  • abbi September 6, 2012, 2:06 pm

    Great post and I think it’s very important for dog owners to research food as well. I did a ton of research after getting our first dog as well and it was eye opening, especially when you discover that what is expensive (or vet recommended) is often not the best. None of my dogs have had any issues so I’ve kept them on Canidae for several years as we’ve continued to add dogs to the pack! 🙂

  • Marie October 16, 2012, 7:40 pm

    Jen! This is the first time I am commenting ever, although, I’ve been reading your blog since early 2011! I just want to say: I’m a huge fan. You’re an amazing inspiration to me and I love Sullie! The oink-oink command is too cute! With my dog, it’s just “okay.” I love that you did this post. And I love you and Sullie! Keep doing what you’re doing and stay strong! =)

    • Jen October 17, 2012, 8:29 am

      marie – thank you so much for being a long-time reader AND for taking the time to comment! it means so much to me to connect!

  • Holly March 8, 2013, 8:23 am

    Just re-reading this as now we have a dog and I actually can relate! We bought a high-quality food for Lulu from day one but she was having allergy problems. We think because it was the basic chicken/grain type. So now she is on salmon-grain free and she isn’t scratching or sneezing hardly at all!

    I would like to rotate her food to other protein sources and the brand we chose has that option. I like your idea of supplementing in her food bowl as I also don’t feed her from the table. I need to get better at this. I’m sure she would enjoy the change. 🙂

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