We got Majnu in the June of 2020 and it was my first time getting a pet dog. Now, being a nutritionist and well even before that, being fairly interested in food and health all my life, I started researching about what to feed my new puppy, what is good for this health and what is not. But more than what any google search could teach me, simply observing Majnu taught me what nutrition and health really mean and how, as humans, we have strayed so far away from our true nature and are absolutely not in sync with our animal instincts. But that's a topic for another time...for today, it is all about 'What I feed my dog in a day'.
Mind you, I am NOT a nutrition expert for dogs or any other animal for that matter. I don't claim to guide any of you readers into how to feed your dogs...this is just an account of a doggo mumma feeding her pupper, through 15 of his growing up months and my experiences, including things I learnt from several people and also somethings I learned the hard way.
What Majnu ate as a puppy (months 2 through 6)
To be precise we got Majnu when he was 45 days old, when they get their first vaccine, and I felt like a fish out of water. Like any other Indian mother, I tried to feed him milk, cows' milk! He had a little and then stopped. First lesson learnt - no animal drinks another animal's milk except for humans. The vet suggested we start feeding him Weaning Puppy Food, a kind of Cerelac for puppies, but Majnu wouldn't eat it all. So I started boiling apples, carrots, pumpkin, bottle gourd, beetroot, little spinach and blending it all together into a smooth paste and feeding him, which he very happily ate. Apart from this he would eat a little diluted homemade yoghurt and mashed papayas. We fed him every 3 hours from morning 6am till midnight, for the next two months.
When he turned 4 months old we came down to 5 meals a day, two of which were Royal Canin Puppy food, and also added a little rice in his boiled vegetables. When he turned 5 months old it was 4 meals a day and I started introducing scrambled egg and chicken broth as well. So, to summarise, here's a list of things he ate in his puppy phase -
Royal Canin Puppy feed
One egg a day
Fruits - apples, pears, papayas, guavas (Majnu doesn't like bananas)
Vegetables - cucumbers, carrots, beets, pumpkin, bottle gourd, very little spinach
Supplements - only the best quality Calcium, Omega-3s and Multivitamin
All natural Yak milk chews (the best during teething phase)
What Majnu ate as an adolescent (months 6 through 12)
This was the most difficult time for me personally because Majnu's mood, temperament, tastes kept changing every day. Some days Majnu would very happily eat his Royal Canin and other days he would not even touch it. So during this time, I started mixing homemade yoghurt or scrambled egg or shredded chicken to his kibble feed. Initially he would eat it, but everyday was a new struggle honestly! there was no saying for sure whether he would eat his food. However, a few things that remained his staple love were - grated cucumber in yoghurt, papayas, apples, vegetable khichdi with boiled chicken. I continued with his supplements as well, changing the dosage at the advice of our vet as he grew every month. We were now down to three meals a day.
Those of you who know me and have followed my previous blogs, know how strongly I feel about processed food. When Majnu did not eat his Puppy Weaning food, my conviction was even more affirmed that I would never feed him processed food ever, but I got told over and over again that no homemade food can ever be enough nutrition for dogs and I must always give him dog food, so I continued buying and trying to feed Majnu processed dog food. At about 8 months old, Majnu completely stopped eating his kibble; we would keep him hungry all day, he would still not touch it. This was the hardest thing to do, in a way I felt I wasn't being a responsible mom for not providing him the best nutrition (as per the vet), and on the other hand it would break my heart to see him reluctantly swallow a few mouthfuls of kibble after being hungry for 8-10 hours.
Finally, I've had had enough and put my foot down against processed food and moved completely to homemade food by month 9. Just to keep the vet and my husband happy, I would leave a bowl of kibble out by 11am everyday, which Majnu could choose to eat if he felt like, in addition to the homemade food. It helped me get over my "mom guilt" as well.
It is also during this time when I figured that wheat, corn and soy doesn't agree with Majnu. During a bad wave of Covid, we ran out of broken rice so I started making his khichdi with daliya (broken wheat), and which a couple of days he developed rashes on his skin. We saw the vet and as the conversation progressed I realised that it was the wheat which had caused the rashes on Majnu's body. In India, I find a lot of people feeding their dogs doodh-roti (milk & bread), and maybe that's ok for your dog, but if you notice any health concerns with your dog, the first thing to really do is take them off of wheat, dairy (a little yoghurt is ok), corn & soy.
Now, the worst time of my life was when Majnu got Tick Fever at 10 months old. To those of you who don't know what tick fever is, it is kind of an equivalent of dengue in humans. It started with him losing weight and a symptom of reduced appetite. Post 7 days of this he stopped eating and vomited about 10-11 times the entire night. Guess there wasn't even a drop of water that was left in his body after that. Next morning we rushed him to the vet where he was put on glucose drip and given innumerable injections. The blood test reports showed massively high SGPT and SGOT scores along with significantly dropped platelet count...it's so overwhelming for me that I can't even go on writing about it...cutting short, after 2 days of being on only drip and injections and medicines I started giving him rice water followed by mushed rice along with bone broth and chicken liver for about a couple of weeks into recovery. We continued adding chicken liver to his food for one more month for healing his liver.
What Majnu eats now (months 12 through 15)
After he turned one, we started feeding him twice a day, morning 7am and evening 7pm. His staple meals now are Vegetable Khichri with chicken in portion - for one cup of mixed rice and moong daal, I use three cups of grated vegetables. I mix 2 portions of this Khichdi with 1 portion of shredded chicken+bone broth.
Around 1 pm, Majnu loves to eat - cucumbers with yoghurt, apples or pears with peanut butter, egg and cheese omelette, papayas or watermelon, a mixed fruit plate...mostly these.
We have stopped all of his supplements as well and are completely off of packaged food. I still don't know if I am doing the right thing here, but I find him thriving the most on his current diet
What NOT to feed your dog..like ever!
Salt, sugar, peppers
Ginger, garlic, onions
Coffee, Tea & Chocolates
Cooked bones, human food leftovers
Corn on the cob
Raw eggs or raw chicken (in India)
Processed food for humans - chips, ice cream, noodles etc
I will be happy to hear your experiences with your doggo babies and any suggestions you'd have for me, on how I could take better care of my Majnu. Comment below or leave me a message here!