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It's amazing seeing the images of empty shelters around the country. As people are forced to shelter in place, they're finding that they have more time and they're adding the love of a dog to their daily routine. As someone who lives with five dogs, I know what an exciting time this is for everyone and I'm once again convinced that the upside of COVID-19 is that it is forcing us to slow down and re-examine our lives. It's definitely been an eye-opener for me.
If you came across this blog post because you have a new dog in your life, I hope that my experience helps to make this time easier and answers a few questions that I had when I first became a pet parent. And, if you're a foster pet parent, I have an exciting offer for you too.
New Dogs Need Time to Adjust
Four of our dogs have been with us since they were small puppies. Our fifth dog, Apollo, has been with us since he was seven months old (about nine months). I learned first hand that it takes a couple of months (sometimes more) for a dog to acclimate to his or her new surroundings. They don't know if this move is permanent, they don't know the rules, and dogs don't speak human. So don't be surprised if your quiet, mellow dog one day turns into a wild extrovert once it becomes clear that your home is now their home.
Give your dog time to adjust and, if you need help, there are many dog trainers who are sheltering in place and offering training consultations via Skype or Zoom. And if you would like fun things to do with your dog, check out Home School the Dog offered by renowned dog trainer, Susan Garrett.
Choosing the Right Toys for Dogs
My dogs have loads of toys and it's interesting how they love some and completely ignore others. I have many favorites that I can share, but what works for my dogs may not work for your new dog. Everything is trial and error. But don't worry about wasting money on toys. If a toy flops with our dogs, I donate it to our local rescue for another foster to enjoy.
I also recommend monitoring playtime at first; this will give you a good idea of how your dog plays with toys. For instance, some dogs will tear a toy apart to find and swallow the squeaker or they'll just eat the entire toy. Both bring the risk of a blockage, which may require an expensive surgery to correct – a friend recently paid $10,000 because her dog ate his dog bed.
We have rough chewers in our house and the toys they love include:
- West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Toy
- Fluff & Tuff Shark * Fluff & Tuff Georgia Alligator *Fluff & Tuff Trout
- KONG Wubba Weaves with Rope Dog Toy
- Jax and Bones Elton the Octopus Rope Dog Toy
- Jax and Bones Celtic Knot Dog Toy
Great dog toys to inspire exercise…
We also have some active dogs and while long walks are great, a game of fetch is equally enjoyed and we try to shake it up and add variety to their exercise regime to avoid boredom and injury caused by repetitive movement.
Choosing the Right Food for Your Dog
I read somewhere that some kibble companies are experiencing record sales as people look for the best food for their dogs. Of course, I'm biased and if you ask me which food is best, I'm going to tell you to feed a raw diet. Of course, if you're fostering a dog, then you may not think feeding raw is appropriate because this is a temporary situation. But, guess what, this doesn't mean that you can feed your foster a diet of fresh food and I want to share a few things to convince you that this is the way to go.
1 – Feeding raw is a great way to improve the health of your foster. Many dogs don't get adopted or are returned due to health issues. Why not reduce the chance of this by feeding a dog a diet that supports a healthy digestive system, boosts the immune system, and reduces inflammation? More details below.
2 – Dogs THRIVE on a diet of fresh food. We're raising five dogs that are fed a raw food diet daily and they are thriving. One of our dogs, Rodrigo, was expected to live three years, he and his sister celebrated their 10th birthday a few weeks ago. Our dogs are happy, active, healthy, and thriving.
3 – You can get FREE raw dog food for your foster. Yep, you read that right. If you are fostering a dog, Darwin's Natural Pet Food would love to cover the tab for your dog's food. This is their way to encourage responsible cat and dog owners to become foster parents as shelters close during this unprecedented time.
Free Food for Your Foster Dog
I transitioned my dogs to a raw food diet seven years ago. They started with Darwin's Pet, a local company that offers chicken, beef, duck, turkey, and lamb. Ordering is easy – back then, I'd make a phone call. Today, customers can set up an order online and make changes as needed. I credit Darwin's for helping me save Rodrigo's life. As I stated above, a veterinarian predicted that Rodrigo wouldn't live long past his third birthday and he was wrong and I couldn't be happier. Switching to raw was a game-changer for my dogs.
But how do you get free food for your foster dog?
Why Feed Raw to a Foster Dog or Puppy?
Again, it feeding a foster a raw diet may seem like a bad idea because this is a temporary situation and the dog's forever home may not continue the diet and I get it. I used to wonder about this too. However, over the years, I've chatted with many foster pet parents about what they feed their fosters and the ones who feed raw (or a high quality pet food) do so to give the dog the best shot at finding a forever home. A dog that is healthy, has a gorgeous coat, and a happy demeanor has a better shot of finding a happy home.
Raw Feeding Can Lead to a Healthier Dog
A raw fed dog is eating a diet that is easier to digest, supports a healthier gut, and boosts the immune system. Unlike kibble, raw feeding doesn't lead to inflammation and, from personal experience, I can attest that a dog that is living with constant inflammation isn't a happy dog. Rodrigo suffered from joint pain, digestive issues, skin issues, and more when he was fed a kibble diet. Switching to raw cleared up most of his health issues, the rest were cleared up by tailoring his diet to his specific needs.
Raw Feeding Can Lead to a Gorgeous Coat
My dogs have a gorgeous coat and clean white teeth because their nutritional needs are being fully met with their fresh food diet. On top of that, the Omega-3 fatty acids and coconut oil that I add to my dogs' diet (for healthy fats) not only help me raise healthier dogs, but they also boost my dogs' skin and coat health. Plus, I use coconut oil to brush my dogs' teeth. The coconut oil kills the bacteria along the gum line, reducing plaque and improving their periodontal health. Having our dogs' teeth cleaned professionally is expensive and dealing with chronic skin issues adds to the bill. Wouldn't it be nice to feed a diet that covers all of that with no vet visits required?
Our dogs also enjoy raw meaty bones and recreational bones. These satisfy their chew drive while keeping their teeth clean. I love the days when our dogs get bones. It's an easy meal, I get to relax and read a book as they chew, and the dogs zone out and remain mellow for at least an hour.
Raw Feeding Can Lead to a Happier Demeanor
Aggression in some dogs can be linked to a poor diet. Think about it, how do you feel when you're dealing with a chronic headache? Personally, migraines, PMS, or chronic back pain pushes me into a cranky mood. Is it so hard to believe that the same can be attributed to our dogs? Highly processed diets can lead to chronic gut issues – the gut works with the immune system and when the gut isn't healthy, the immune system isn't at it's best either. Highly processed diets are also high in Omega 6 fatty acids which contribute to inflammation. That inflammation can be seen in the gut, the joints, and more – it's not a fun way to live.
Switching a dog to a diet of fresh food is a great first step towards raising a healthy, happy dog.
What if The New Family Doesn't Feed Raw?
Raw isn't for everyone. My hope is that when a family sees who well a dog is doing on raw, they'll want to continue feeding fresh food. But if for whatever reason, this isn't possible then I would recommend adding as much fresh food to the diet as possible and this can be done by feeding a hybrid diet of raw and commercial dog food.
When Rodrigo and Sydney were initially transitioned to raw, I fed them Darwin's Pet raw food in the morning and kibble in the evening. This one change cleared up most of Rodrigo's health issues. Just one change.
Learn More About Raw Feeding for Dogs
If you're interested in learning more about raw feeding for dogs, please check out my book on raw feeding that shares my experience as well as other books on raw feeding and dog nutrition that I've enjoyed. I also have a RESOURCES PAGE that lists the people I follow, Facebook groups I recommend, courses to take, and more.
Read More About Raw Feeding
- A Dog Mom's Takeaway from the 2020 Central Park Incident
- How I Clean Up After My Raw Fed Dogs
- 7 Ways Your Dog Can Be Exposed to Salmonella
- Transitioning Foster Dogs to Raw Dog Food for FREE
- Raw Feeding Starter Kit for Your New Dog
This is a sponsored post. I wrote this post in partnership with Darwin's Natural Pet Food to promote the benefits of raw feeding and share information about their support of pet foster programs. I was paid to share my true thoughts and experience as a raw feeder and a board member of a local rescue group that works with foster pet parents. This blog post only shares my honest thoughts and experience.