Annabel Lam is a freelance writer for Third Culture. She is the co-founder of Furry Kitchen, a business dedicated to promoting “fresh dog food”, a whole food diet for dogs that is prepared with fresh ingredients, low temperature cooking technique that is free of chemicals and additives. You can contact her via her Facebook page.

I grew up with dogs, my father was a chef and we never fed our dogs kibble. My dad fed our dogs the best fresh meats, veg and rice we got from our suppliers then back in the 80s. We once had our first small dog, a Shih Tau puppy and decided to listen to our vet; we fed her kibble and the vet-recommended colourful snacks ONLY. She had 3 bladder stones operations, renal problem, digestive problems and skin allergies all her life and died at the age of 10. We then decided to never feed our dogs any commercial processed food again.

I started to help my friends and neighbours to prepare fresh frozen dog food part-time based on the various books and research I read, while I worked full time in an office. People then who didn’t work with me came to know me as:

“Oh, that’s Annabel. Her dog eats better than me…”

Later I studied canine nutrition out of curiosity and because I wanted to be very educated on this matter for my dogs. My business didn’t happen until I formed my own team with my vet and canine nutritionists’ friends who could help me. We all had our sad stories with our pet and determined to be the change we want to see in the city.

When I first learn to look at pet food labels I was shocked, and my team looked at me just nodded, and said “YUP”. I’ll never forget that moment.

Recently, quit my job and began my full-time focus on spreading the message of the benefits of whole food diet combined with slow cook method for dogs. I think a dog’s diet should matter just as much, as the owner’s does. I have received so much positive feedback from owners that I’ve laughed and cried myself to sleep at the same time the first time in my life. It’s nice to know that people support your dream and encouraging to know that there are so many people recognised the power of whole food diet for dogs.

I think it’s very important that we can easily access to all the information regarding pet nutrition. Vets here can tell you the health problems they see in the dogs and cats in Hong Kong and in other cities: obesity, renal issues and digestive problems are the big ones. One thing a vet will never tell you- is not to buy kibble. Why? Because what else is readily available to you…

Most of the time we have convinced ourselves, even in vet schools that balancing a diet is rocket science and that there is no way anyone can make it happen but the big kibble companies. It is true that the measurement of nutrients have to be precise, we definitely need to be working with the vet and canine nutritionist for that.

If dog is man’s best friend… Doesn’t he deserve the best we can give him?

The reality is if you are working with whole fresh food, with canine nutritionists and vets, you do not need an extra team of doctors with PHD to balance a diet of your pet. Unless you are working with bad quality “meat by-products” with chemical stabilizers, “crude fiber” of all kinds, “meat meal”, then a team of scientists is needed.

What They Don’t Tell You About Labels On Mass Market Pet Food:

  • There are currently no laws protecting the well being of animals when it comes to what goes in their food. This lack of protection led to many food scandals around the world.
  • The use of “5D” meats means Dead, Diseased, Dying, Disable & Drugged animal’s meat? And often their carcasses have cancerous tumors or infested organs in it.
  • Basically, ANY parts that unfit to be sold to human meat chains is used in pet food.
  • Any GOOD ingredient is processed to an unrecognizable extend and has little natural nutrient values left. Artificial supplements must be added. Those little kibble bites become tiny pills rather than food.

Keeping a dog, in a big city like Hong Kong, can be expensive, yet we are willing to spend on vet bills to keep our dogs with us. I think we should change our perspective to believe in prevention by making an option that could change your dog’s health condition through food choices.

Many owners try to cook for their dog and I strongly suggest owners to learn about canine nutrition and pathology before hand. Dogs have a whole different set of needs when comes to nutrition than people do. An imbalance in a homemade diet is the worse thing you can give to your dogs.

Every dog deserves a healthy diet. Doesn’t this look better than kibble?

I wish for owners would learn how to read pet food labels to start with and understand what they are actually feeding their fur babies. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs and Cats is a great book to start with and one I highly recommend. Make sure any books or internet articles you use as a guide for making food for your dog are verified sources.

Dogs can not decide what is best for them. It is our job as owners to choose what to put in their body. Commercially processed pet food might smell delicious and don’t easily expire for a reason. The most important things in a dog’s life is a loving owner and a good diet.