pet dog indy laying in the grass

The most common question my wife and I hear from friends and co-workers isn’t “How are you?” or “Did you see ‘The Walking Dead’ last night?”, it’s “When are you guys going to have kids?” We’re both approaching 30, we’ve been married for 5 years and we don’t have any children. Aren’t really interested in that prospect. Not because we think kids aren’t adorable and amazing, but we’ve found something else to fill that void in our married life. We have a “fur-baby.” We have a dog.

Back when we were newly-weds in a brand new city, we considered having children. It’s what everyone does, right? But, for whatever reason, it just didn’t appeal to us. Then, one day, we decided to “go look at puppies.” We had no idea how our lives were about to change. We ended up with the cutest little fur ball anyone could hope for. We called him Indy.

We care for this dog like he IS our child. We love him the way people typically make fun of other people for loving their animals. Yeah…we’re “those people.” I have more pictures on my desk at work of Indy than I do my friends and family. Every picture of my wife that I carry around with me…she’s holding Indy. Of course, he’s the background image for both of our phones. We spoil him. We check our high-tech life-feed camera during the day to make sure his routine of naps and barking at the door is going undisturbed. We love this dog. It’s weird, sometimes, when we think about it. But we wouldn’t change it for the world.

So, it comes as no surprise that we obsess over what kind of food we are allowing him to eat. We started off with the same thing every new-dog owner starts with. The kibble “puppy food.” We soaked it. We mashed it up to make it easier for his little puppy teeth and…yes…we inspected his poop to make sure everything was being processed properly. He never acted TOO excited about his kibble, but he ate it nonetheless.

Then, we noticed some odd behavior. He began licking his feet. All. The. Time. We thought maybe it was nervous energy, so his daily walks were extended from 30 minutes to at least an hour. The feet licking continued. Ultimately, we asked our vet. “He’s probably allergic to sweet potatoes.”

Wait, his food has sweet potatoes in it? That’s weird. I can’t imagine a wolf in the wild eating sweet potatoes …but I trusted my vet. We switched to a non-sweet potato food. The paw licking continued.

Recently (February 2016) I traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida for work. I met a carnivore nutritionist and we began telling your typical “dog-owner stories.” Then the topic of dog nutrition came up. I was embarrassed by how much I did NOT know about the product that I had been feeding to my dog. Do you know all the things that go into your most common of dog foods? Do you know the temperatures at which they cook this “mash” of ingredients in order to get those hard little pieces? Do you know how taxing it is for the tiny wolves you let sleep on your couch to digest and get ANY nutrition out of their meals? It was astonishing to me.

The brand “Vital Essentials” came up. It’s organ meat. Your dog shares the exact same digestive tract of all other dogs and wild canines. They may have stubbed noses, long fur, short hair, 10 or 100 pounds…but they all look the same as far as stomachs and intestines. What wolf have you ever seen eating sweet potatoes? Their teeth are proof enough that they aren’t meant to be eating vegetables.

I ended up doing the research (don’t take my word for ANYTHING, this is your dog … do your own research) and Vital Essentials kept coming up. We began the transition (which we spread out over about a month because we didn’t want this new high-protein food that is so much easier to digest to upset his stomach… you know…because they are going to have a LOT of stomach acid left over) in late February and we started seeing a noticeably different dog.

He’s happier. He’s more vibrant. He gets genuinely EXCITED about his food. He acts like he is being given a treat every single time we fill his bowl. I’m confident in the food I give Indy and it helps me to sleep better at night. I know I will out-live this dog, unfortunately, but I want to put off that harsh reality for as long as possible. Vital Essentials is helping me do that.

I’m not going to try and tell you what is right for your dog. They are your babies and I wouldn’t even begin to think that I know more or even as much about them as you do, but give it a shot. Read. Ask questions, heck …shoot me a message on Twitter (@CJWoliver) and I’ll help you in any way I can. I believe in this product, my dog loves this product and I will tell every dog owner I know about it until we stop feeding our animals…crap.