Apr 11

Link Between Longevity and Our Dog's Diets?

Speaking with Dee Finch, of Peoplefood for Dogs

Recently my dogs had some very tasty treats provided by Dee Finch of Peoplefood for Dogs. When corresponding with her, I was impressed with how long her pets are living since she started cooking for them. I thought my readers would enjoy reading an email interview with Dee, who is the founder and head chef for Peoplefood For Dogs in Bedford, Virginia.

Hi Dee, how did you become interested in making all natural dog food and treats?

Before vets had ultrasound machines and all that, my little Terrier mix was chewing on her side. I took her to the vet and they could not find anything. A month later she died in my arms; cancer had taken my sweetie away from me way too early. I had followed my vet's instructions and this dog had never eaten table food, was never sick, so what caused the cancer? During my search for answers, I started looking into the ingredients in commercial dog food. What I found convinced me it was time to start cooking for my guys.

Since that time, things have gotten better, more pet owners are at least reading the ingredients listed on the bags and supporting the companies who use better ingredients.

Dee, have you fed a lot of dogs through the years?

Yes. I have fostered over 150 dogs. During my years of fostering, there was always at least one that needed chicken and rice because it was sick or recovering. Often I didn't have time to cook for the dogs until late at night. One night I thought about the fact that there were probably other dog owners in the same boat. If I cooked the food and froze it, it would make life easier for folks like myself. That's how it started.

What is your most popular dog food product?

No question about it, the frozen chicken, sweet potato and oatmeal. When defrosted, it can be put on dry food to make it more palatable. It can also be watered down and served as a "soup" to increase the dogs water intake, important for elderly dogs who are not eating or drinking well. It can be used as a Kong stuffer. My vet uses it to entice dogs who don't want to eat for various reasons. This food has even been used for sick puppies, to help them overcome parvo disease.

What treat is most popular?

The dried chicken is everyone's favorite treat!

My dogs really loved the dried sweet potato treats, these little chips looked and smelled so good, I almost tried them myself!

How do most customers hear about your products?

Primarily word of mouth. One person tries it, their dogs love it and they see good results, and they tell other people about it.

What about shipping? How do you make sure the product arrives fresh to your customer's door?

I recycle Styrofoam. In order to keep cost down, I use the flat rate boxes from the post office. The medium box fits 5 lb of food after I line it with Styrofoam. Thus far, this method has insured that the food always arrives  to my customers in good shape.

On your website you recommend using your food as a mixer, along with a high quality commercial food. Do you do this with your own dogs? If yes, would you mind sharing with us the brand names of dry dog food that you recommend?

My  own dogs get my food mixed with a little bit of dry food. Sparky (an eight pound Chihuahua) eats 1/3 cup stew and 1 tablespoon dry food.

As far as name brands, I have been feeding Precise for many, many years. Their Sensicare formula has helped me with dogs who came to me sick with colitis. Once it was cleared up with medication, the Sensicare helped them stay well. The rest of the dogs eat Precise Foundation.

Please feel free to share with our readers anything else that you recommend for keeping their dogs healthy well into their older years. One reason I asked for this interview was because I was impressed to hear how long some of your dogs have lived.

Yes, I have been able to have my babies with me much longer since I changed to this type of diet. I had to put Joy, my precious Shih Tzu, down at almost 21 years of age because she was starting to have seizures. My Sparky is 20 years old and other than an enlarged heart (which he already had when he came to me) there isn't a thing wrong with him. My Buddy (Collie, 100 lbs) lived a long and healthy 17 years.

I believe that good food, exercise and giving glucosamine helps my bunch grow older than most. I have recently also started giving fish oil and L-Lysine to all of them and feel that they are moving better (I have ten dogs, with the youngest being age 8).

I have heard of the benefits of fish oil, and know of people who give cats l-lysine powder to help prevent herpes virus flare-ups in cats, but how does it help dogs? Do you use a powder or the tablets? What would be an average supplement amount of lysine for say, a 50 lb dog?

L-Lysine is  good for joints and cartilage, it helps the body absorb calcium. I started using it for the dogs and myself when I realized that none of my cats ever had arthritis. I've been giving it to the cats for a long, long time to prevent herpes outbreaks.

The big dogs (50 lbs and up) get one pill a day, the Cocker (about 30 lbs) half a pill and Sparky (8lbs) get a sliver - yes, I stand there and cut it in eighths.

If you have trouble giving pills, L-Lysine makes it easy. It dissolves in a few drops of water in about 30 minutes. It is odorless and has no taste either. So I dissolve it and pour the water over the food.

Btw., I use Glucosamine for people. It works just as well as the stuff you can order or buy at the vet. And I can get coupons for it! It dissolves as well, just takes a little longer. I have these tiny Tupperware containers and every night I put the two pills in each, add a little water and next feeding time - all is ready.

You mentioned fostering dogs, what type of volunteer work do you do?

Right now I only help out occasionally by keeping a dog or cat overnight, doing transport or supplying food. Counting dogs, pups, cats and kittens, I have fostered over 300 pets all together over a period of years. The ones living at my house now are the ones that never got adopted. My youngest is 8 years old and the oldest right now 20. There are 10 dogs, 5 cats and the Queen of all she can see - Polly the parrot.

Dee, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. I hope all of my readers will visit your website www.peoplefood4dogs.com,and order something healthy and delicious for their own dogs! Any parting words of wisdom?

I agree with your advice, Melanie, if it works for you and your pet - why change? If the pet is healthy and looks it, and her/his health is good, stick with it.

But if you worry about what is in the food you are feeding, maybe looking at the labels isn't a bad idea. I will not feed anything that has animal digest in it--think about what that means...

My foods are a supplement, not a whole food. Their purpose is to save you time and effort when you need a healthy Kong stuffer or when the dog is sick or refuses to eat. I have known several cats who pushed "their" dogs out of the food bowl and had a share. No harm done.

Wishing all your pets live happy, healthy lives. Dee Finch, www.peoplefood4dogs.com,

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