At Natural Wellness, we love everything animal. That’s why we leaped at the chance to interview Becky Barkman, owner of Lucky Cat Dog Farm in Gunnison, Colorado. Her dogs aren’t just pets; during the winter, they pull customers and sleds for miles every day. We talked to Becky about her dogs’ unique nutritional needs.
NW: How many dogs do you have? What breeds do you find are best suited to this kind of work?
BB: At the moment, I have 25 dogs. Not all of them are sled dogs; some are retirees. My favorite breed to use for dogsledding is Alaskan Huskies. They’re tough, smart, and easy to handle. Pit bulls can be great pullers, too, and I just adopted a border collie that I have high hopes for. Almost any dog can learn to pull, but huskies are great with the snow.
NW: What do you feed your dogs? Does it vary by season? What about treats?
BB: I feed them Eagle Pack dog food, because I like that it has probiotics in it. During the winter, I buy local meat like deer and elk, and the dogs get that twice a day. Sometimes I give them raw bones as well. In the summer, they just get dog food because there’s no way to store the meat and they aren’t working as hard. We go through about 18 pounds of food a day in the winter.
NW: What would you suggest people look for when buying food for active dogs?
BB: Meat should be the number one ingredient. Stay away from sugars, additives, and preservatives. Look for dog foods that have only a few basic ingredients. A dog’s diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple.
NW: Do you give your dogs any supplements? Do they need any particular vitamins or minerals?
BB: If they have diarrhea, I sometimes give them digestive enzymes. For my older dogs, I make a special treat to fortify their joints and keep them healthy and comfortable. My ‘power bars’ include glucosamine, chondroitin, yucca, and devil’s claw.
Thanks again to Becky for giving us some insight into the day – and diet – of a sled dog! If you’re going to be in the Gunnison or Crested Butte area, be sure to check out Lucky Cat Dog Farm!