No table scraps?

Lucy licks the plate of yesterday’s Chinese dinner.

I was seriously bummed out a couple of weeks ago when it was widely reported that Zantac, a popular over the counter anti-acid medication, was being pulled from drugstore shelves.

I’ve been taking Zantac nearly every day for about a year after having been given the diagnoses of GERT, or gastroesophageal reflux. I went online to research alternative remedies, which is how I fell down the rabbit hole of reading about high-end dog foods, the very brands in fact, I’ve been feeding my dogs for four years, that have recently been targeted as foods not to feed.

Last week the FDA chimed in to say my expensive, grain-free dog food choices could cause serious, even fatal, canine heart disease.

This might be a good time to say that I’m relatively new to the high-end dog food scene. Dolly, a Pekingese I had as a preteen, ate a steady diet of chicken livers sautéed in butter. Peaches and Stasha, a Lhasa apso and a shih tzu I had in my 20s, ate what I ate at the time, which was pizza, souvlaki, and hummus. I offered them a more-well rounded diet of Purina O.N.E., but they would never eat it unless it was dressed in human food. They were what you might call picky.

Subsequent dogs — a couple of Lhasas apsos, Maisie and Gigi, and a Chihuahua named Rinaldo who we adopted when he was a senior, ate a mix of commercial dog food and human food I cooked.

In recent years for my current dogs, I’ve caved to the allure of premium brand dog foods featuring limited ingredients, in particular grain-free. The min-pin has serious food allergies (no poultry of any sort for her). It was tough to find a commercial food that met her requirements. So I was dismayed to see my primary choice listed as the No. 2 food to avoid.

Since 2018, the FDA has been investigating more than 500 reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy that appears to be linked to dog foods marketed as grain free.

But for the majority of dogs, it’s not yet clear what is causing the heart disease, experts say. Some believe it could be the grain-free element, or possibly the new proteins being offered, exotic fare including alligator, venison, kangaroo, and ostrich.

Not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater, I am still feeding my dogs this particular brand of food. (The main ingredient is salmon and maybe I should be concerned how much mercury is in it.) What I’ve been doing is cooking for them and adding what I’ve cooked to their commercial brand of food.

What I cook for them is liver. Beef liver, organic beef liver, cooked sans seasoning in a cast iron skillet in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes. I mix this with cooked basmati rice and add some frozen peas. A scoop of this is added to their scoop of high end kibble. I would probably go for a less expensive brand of kibble except most brands list some chicken as an ingredient if you read the label closely.

So far, both my dogs seem thrilled with this arrangement. The young one who is prone to gaining weight hasn’t gained any, and the very old one who needs to gain weight has gained some, incredibly.

Only time will tell if this is the right diet to feed my dogs.

Meanwhile I will say Peaches and Stasha lived pretty well on pizza crust. Pizza, sad to say for me, triggers my acid reflux.

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