First, let me start by saying that I love my dad. When asked who I admire most, my dad is the first person who comes to mind.  However, sometimes my dad forgets I am not his little girl anymore and doesn’t always listen to my advice, especially about what to feed a dog. He thinks honey nut cereal rings are the perfect dog treat and never goes anywhere without a bag of them in his pocket.  All the dogs sit under him at the dinner table giving him sad begging eyes. He slips them food, then firmly says “don’t you ever beg again!” I still have not completely forgiven him for taking the advice of his MD friend (who is a non-practicing doctor who does research in Croatia) who told him to feed the dog dry toast and oatmeal for a week after she threw up once.

My parents have a little schnauzer, Miss Molly, who commonly gets skin infections. A couple of years ago, I finally convinced my parents to feed a higher quality sensitive skin dog food with of fatty acids. The dog did well on the food and did not have any more skin problems.  However, about a year ago, they were driving to their winter home in Florida and ran out of dog food on the way. The gas station they stopped at only had a lower quality brand with lots of colors and fillers, let’s call it Grocery Store Brand X, which they purchased for her. The next time I talked to my dad he asked what I thought of continuing to feed Miss Molly on Grocery Store Brand X because it’s less expensive and she really likes it. I told him I did not recommend it because of her skin problems and that the other food I had recommended would be better for her.

Fast forward ten months. My parents took the train to visit my brother for Thanksgiving and left Miss Mollie at my house for two weeks. I mentally rolled my eyes but didn’t say anything when my dad handed me her food – an open bag of Grocery Store Brand X. Once again, my dad doesn’t listen to me, I thought. There was no point in arguing so I fed her the food he brought and she happily gobbled it up.

The dog did well during her stay with me and did not have any skin problems so I thought maybe it was ok she was getting Grocery Store Brand X. After about a week at my house, she was starting to run out of food. I now had a dilemma – do I go out and purchase more of Grocery Store Brand X, even though I don’t recommend it, or do I buy her the sensitive skin food I recommend, knowing that a sudden diet change may give her diarrhea. I thought about this for a couple of days and tried to stretch out her food, but when her food was almost gone, I knew I had to make a decision.

Although I love Miss Molly, she was quickly wearing out her welcome with my husband. I realized my husband would not appreciate it if she developed diarrhea from a sudden food change so I decided to buy her a bag of Grocery Store Brand X. I went to Target and slipped the bag into my cart, hoping I wouldn’t run into any clients at the store. That night, I finished the old bag, threw it in the garbage and opened the new bag of dog food to top off her dish. The kibbles I added didn’t look anything like what was in the dish. Hmmmm , maybe I bought the wrong flavor?

I dug the old bag out of the garbage. It was the same brand and same flavor. I searched the new bag for any sign of “new shapes” or “new formula” but there wasn’t any. The two bags were identical. They even had pictures of the kibble on the front. Then I realized, the kibble pictured on both bags was in a variety of shapes and colors, Miss Molly’s food was just brown cylinders, nothing like the kibble pictured.

I sent my dad a text: “what kind of food do you feed Miss Molly?” He rapidly responded “The sensitive skin formula diet, just like you told me I should!”. “Then why do we have a bag of Grocery Store Brand X?” “Oh, we bought that last year on our way to Florida and used it all up a long time ago. I just use that bag to put the food in when we travel.”

I realized two things that day: that my dad actually does listen to me and I have the perfect Christmas gift for him – a small plastic dog food container for traveling.


Dr-pic-1-604x917ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Jennifer Shepherd received her DVM from Colorado State University in 2000. She is currently the owner and head veterinarian at Cloquet Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Cloquet, MN.

When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband Paul, three children, and her dog Coal.

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