We get but one chance to grow a puppy in the womb, and those nine very short weeks of pregnancy lay an indelible foundation.  Every single bite their mother eats either supports or suppresses a puppy’s lifetime of health, temperament, and behavior.  To carry it one step further: what a dam eats affects three generations of dogs: 1) herself, 2) her pups, 3) and her grandchildren via the eggs of all the female puppies she carries.

That’s a big deal, and there are no do overs.  With that in mind, we wanted to take another look at Bixby’s diet in order to give her and her future pups the best foundation possible.

We began with Avidog’s Reproductive Nutrition course, which is a wonderful instruction on the nutritional requirements for canine reproduction.

We reconsidered raw – I reallyreallyreally wanted to feed raw – but there are so many moving parts involved in getting it just right, and pregnancy is not the time to take a chance on getting it wrong.

We considered Victor, Purina, and some other kibbles that have been proven successful over the years, though I’m not a huge fan of some ingredients for pregnancy.

In the end, we came back to our favorite food, FarminaFarmina N&D Chicken & Pomegranate Puppy is a super-premium non-gmo food made in Italy with a wish list of prime ingredients.  It also provides two very important properly balanced ratios that are necessary for reproduction: protein:fat and calcium:phosphorus.  Farmina’s line also acknowledges the important role of quality carbohydrates through the addition of whole spelt and oats, which are essential for adequate milk supply (dogs actually can digest carbohydrates – surprise!).  As an added bonus, the animals that provide the meat for these diets are fed non-GMO feeds, so this Farmina food is non-GMO through and through. 

Detour: my main concern with GMO ingredients has always been focused on the individual, not changes to the environment as a whole.  I honestly hadn’t thought of any of the potential downstream effects of GMOs until I read this on Farmina’s website:

“The spread of GMOs may also lead to alterations in the environment by causing a reduction in biodiversity, the transmission of plant pesticide resistance, and the promotion of evolution of more resistant parasites. Changes in our environment pose a risk to the delicate balance of our ecosystem.”

That’s a pretty stunning thought.  My dad was a fish and wildlife biologist, and he taught me how important it was to protect wildlife and its habitat, and I never forgot that.  As a small homestead striving to steward our land and livestock, quality ingredients that maintain nature’s integrity are very important to us.  Without decades of long-term studies to know if genetically modified foods are truly safe, it’s really anyone’s guess.

Back to the dogs.  Bixby is in the process of switching over to Farmina, and not a moment too soon, as her next heat should begin any day now.  She’s thriving with her normal supplement regimen, so we’ll keep that as is, except for the addition of folic acid to protect against neural tube defects.  We’ll also wean her pups onto Farmina, and send them home with it, as well.

The one thing that really gives me pause is the cost, especially when so many people have such real needs; are we really justified in using this food?  I’ve finally come to realize that when breeding dogs, even the little decisions about their care echo for generations.  In that sense, there is no small decision, and suddenly, what seemed expensive becomes essential.

Dogs bring so much to our lives.  They help us farm, they tend to meltdowns with quiet confidence, they encourage reluctant readers, they bring the sparkle back to the eyes of the lonely, they alert to blood sugar issues, give the blind their independence, detect cancer, drugs, and bombs, and bring us so much joy just for being who they are.  What else can we do but to give them our very best before they even exist?  We love your dog already.

A very firm foundation