Joyce Flowers, a pet nutrition coach, of Good Goods for Dogs, shared her wisdom and guidance about providing pet food to keep our pets healthy.
Watch the whole interview here.
Our discussion has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Pets become family members
Our pets have a whole different meaning from back in the day, when pets were just pets. You left the dog in the backyard and fed ’em whatever. Now they’re valued members of the family. Today people dive into the care of their pets wholeheartedly. They care about the health of their animals.
Plus, folks with senior animals spend thousands of dollars on their pet’s healthcare. Some of this could have been avoided if they fed them healthy food from the start. That might save a lot of money as our pets age.
Maribeth: I once heard: “Pay me now or pay me later!” In other words, spend money on good food now or pay the vet bills later.
Using a Pet Nutrition Coach
I recommend that you see a coach when you first get your pet. Don’t wait until there’s a health issue. Discover the best nutrition and the amount of food to feed your pet from the beginning. Like we mentioned earlier, it’ll save you money and some vet visits.
And extend the life of your pet. A woman I know had to euthanize her five-year-old dog. When I heard the cause, this early death probably could have been avoided through nutrition.
How Joyce works
I work with both dogs and cats. And most of the coaching is over the phone or on Zoom. Since most people wait until there’s a dire need, they’ve already seen their vet. So, I already have the information that we’re going to use for the consultation.
What conditions can pet nutritionists help with?
The main ones are
- skin allergies
- urinary stones
- gastrointestinal disease
- eating disorders
- chronic kidney disease
- pancreatic cancer
Along with their prescribed medicine from the veterinarian comes a special diet. People can either buy commercial food. Alternately, I can create a specific diet for the diagnosis or provide people with the recipe to make it themselves. It’s usually cheaper than purchasing the food the doctor recommends. And it’s very similar to the ingredients in the prescribed pet food.
Biggest pet nutrition mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes is assuming that what is nutritionally good (or not good) for us is good for our pet. Or the dietary habits we create for ourselves are good for our pet. They can’t always eat the things we can.
For example, a vegan or gluten-free diet may not be good for your pet. Check with your vet or a pet nutritionist. To restrict your dog based on what you’re restricting for yourselves is one of the biggest mistakes.
Another big mistake is to connect or bond through food. We give the dog table food, or comfort food. Especially from holiday meals. Some ingredients can be dangerous for your pet – there are certain fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices; too much sugar or fat.
Maribeth: I Google, “Can my dog/cat eat this?”
Obesity in animals can cause diabetes, ruptured ligaments, difficulties breathing, neuroskeletal problems.
So start with good nutrition when you first get your pet. It’s just like our children. If you start feeding them sugary snacks, and juices, and not enough vegetables, then try to introduce healthy food later, they don’t want it.
Suggestions for decent pet food
Don’t just look at the ingredients or the language. If you think you’re buying something nutritious for your pet because the bag says all-natural, it’s not.
Maribeth: “All Natural” is just advertising. It doesn’t mean anything.
Don’t give a puppy adult food, because it may be too rich, or just too much for their growing body.
In most cases, make sure that the AAFCO is on the can (Note from Maribeth: Or look for human grade food). It’ll state on the can or the bag of food that the food is guided by those standards.
Stay away from foods that say meal. There’s a lot of filler products inside of the food, like corn and wheat products. These can make an unhealthy gut, which can trigger allergies or other health issues.
This is just my opinion, but the worst food is kibble. Kibble is cooked at such high heat that all the nutrients are cooked out. And then manufacturers add a lot of preservatives, additives, and fillers. If you’re going to buy commercial food, I would recommend feeding them canned.
Make your own pet food
If you have the time, make your own pet food. All you need is a crockpot. Choose a protein and a starch. Think, sweet potato, butternut squash, quinoa or brown rice.
Next, add one or two vegetables. One vegetable should be green. They can be green beans, spinach, kale, zucchini, butternut squash.
Maybe include apples, blueberries or strawberries.
Finally, dump everything in your crockpot, and let it cook for about four to six hours. All of the nutrients will be in there.
I add my dog’s portion to mason jars, label them and stick them in the freezer. When it’s time to feed your dog, pop the jar in the microwave.
If you decide to do this, make sure your dog takes a multivitamin and probiotic.
It’s cheaper than buying food from the market, and it can save your dog’s life.
When her dog Faith developed allergies, Joyce became obsessed with pet nutrition. That’s when her holistic veterinarian said food was probably causing Faith’s allergies. The veterinarian recommended she stop feeding Faith commercial food. Instead, cook her meals and treats herself.
Joyce received her pet nutrition education from the North American Veterinary Community with a Pet Nutrition Certification and Therapeutic Pet Nutrition Certification. She’s also attended the Academy of Natural Health and Science Training Center and has a certification in Clinical Pet Nutrition.
Joyce wants people to be able to have pets who can sustain a healthy and long life and decrease their pet bills.
Good Goods For Dogs Website: https://goodgoodsfordogs.com/
(Check out her Picky Puppy Dust and Sweet Potato & Spinach Pizza; yes it’s good for dogs)
Farmers Markets and Events in Maryland where Joyce can be found