Interview with a Dog Mom: How Sarah Curates Hershey’s Bowl

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Curating the bowl looks a little different for each dog and cat, and that’s the whole point. 

When you curate the bowl, you aren’t just adding any ingredient. It’s a pet-focused approach to health, an approach centered around them, putting their individual needs at the forefront.

That’s why every single animal benefits, whether you have an allergy dog, a senior cat, a young, vibrant dog– curating the bowl guarantees that you’re giving them exactly what they need to be their best. 

We want to show how others curate the bowl for their dogs and cats, so we reached out to pet parents who curate the bowl with Herbsmith. Hershey and her two-legger were gracious enough to share.

Agenda

Tell us everything about Hershey!

Hershey is my 16-year-old Labrador. She’s been described in so many ways. She’s a tough broad–in her younger days, she would take on anyone because she assumed she was the alpha in the pack. 

She’s a squatter– she came one day and didn’t leave. Once she decided, I had three generations of Labradors– Hershey, the grandmother, Elsie, the mother, and Schmiddy, the grandson. 

Probably my favorite descriptor of Hershey is a mother. Hershey ADORES, Elsie. I would go as far as to say she’s the golden child. I don’t think she values anything or one more than Elsie. That’s her favorite being on earth.

What do you just love and adore about Hershey?

Her devotion to family is probably what I adore most. The way she interacts with them is heartwarming. She still licks Elsie’s ears as though she’s a puppy. 

Seeing them as a family, their dynamics are fascinating. They are such individuals, but I can still see them in each other. I’ll be looking at Elsie, and I will notice things that Hershey would do. 

Mostly though, I love that she is not giving up. It doesn’t cross her mind. She lives every day doing what makes her happiest, basking in the sunshine, taking time to sniff the flowers, and snacking on horse poop. That’s what she lives for, that simple, daily routine with her family.

Does (OR did) Hershey have any health issues?

(Think bad gas, bad breath, etc.) 

Hershey was well cared for, so I just added more to her daily regimen when I got her. Her dementia was well managed, but I would need to keep supporting her brain with nutraceuticals. She had graying to the eyes, and she’s got lipomas and warts. 

She has joint pain and becomes really stiff & achy in the cold. She definitely had bad gas when I got her, and off and on soft stool for a long time.

She also has hind end weakness. When older dogs go in the house– in Hershey’s case, she poops– we assumed it could be because of her dementia, just not being aware that she should go outside anymore. After we had Dr. Bessent observe her, though, it’s that she’s losing feeling in her hind end. If she uses too much force, she just ends up pooping. It’s not intentional, but it is an ongoing issue. One that we can manage, thanks to Dr. Bessent.

How do you curate the bowl with Herbsmith?

(What food do you use?  Do you add anything else to the bowl, like raw eggs or goat’s milk? Which Herbsmith products do you add and why?)

Even as a senior, Hershey has a true labrador appetite. She gobbles down the Simple Food Project recipes and licks the bowl clean before the other labradors can come in search of food. Since Hershey is a chi-depleted senior and it’s winter, she gets an 80/20 or 90/10 blend of warming/neutral recipes. I always add prey temperature water because it’s best for digestion, and it brings out the aroma of food. I really try to focus on guts of steel, so I’ll randomly add in foods like raw eggs, blueberries, or coconut oil, but my focus is on the balance of recipes & the Herbsmith curations added to the bowl. 

I can honestly say that Hershey is making those leaps from the stairs and keeping up with her pack because of Herbsmith.

We added Microflora + GastroCare + Butt Bars to address the bad gas and soft stool, and once we got her symptoms under control, we used this combination proactively. The Microflora supports her gut health and microbiome, and the Gastro Care continues to repair her gut, and we use Scooter’s Butt Bars on occasion for soft stool. Now she has perfect poops, so when she does go in the house, it’s an easy cleanup.

Because of her hind end weakness, Hershey is also taking Morinda Hindend Support. It’s an herbal combination from Herbsmith’s RX line, which has truly helped in the frequency she’s going in the house and the number of spills she’s taken. It is by prescription only, but it’s absolutely something to ask your veterinarian about if Hershey’s story sounds at all familiar.

She gets Sound Dog Viscosity and Soothe Joints daily for her arthritic joints. With the combination of Sound Dog Viscosity, Soothe Joints, and Morinda Hind End Support, she can keep up with the others. 

 She occasionally falls because a certain 5-year-old Labrador can be a bulldozer, so she gets Comfort Aches those days. 

She has dementia, so we give her Senior Dog Wisdom. It nourishes her brain and provides her a higher quality of life. We also add Spector because she has graying to the eyes. They are crystal clear and a beautiful rich brown color now. That transformation was amazing to see.  

She gets Glimmer in her bowl for her skin and coat health because winters are incredibly dry in Wisconsin.

I include Pure Krill for daily antioxidants, plus the Omega 3/ astaxanthin combination has taken her coat to the next level. She has this beautiful rich red coat now. It gave her dull brown fur a red sheen like a puppy. And I feel incredible that I can support her immune system and slow oxidative damage.

I give her Milk Thistle every day to help her body process the normal toxins we all encounter daily. Dog Breath keeps her teeth clean, and the high levels of iodine are preventing more lipomas.

Nutrients has got to be the unsung hero here, though. I started it for her graying hair and the oxidative stress (aka aging– we are pushing for 20+ years old). I swear that has been a game-changer.

How has Hershey’s life changed since you started curating the bowl?

A true 180. When I got her two years ago, she was on death’s door. She wasn’t expected to live another 6 months. 

But 2 years later, she is a different dog. She chases her ball every morning. She can keep up with our 5-year-old labrador twice her size. Just 6 months ago, she came running to me and leaped off the top of the 4th stair.  At the time, I was certain it was going to end in a near disaster, and instead, she landed gracefully and kept running to me.

And I know that she can do all of that because I curate the bowl for her.

She’s keeping up with her family and enjoying every aspect of her life. I feel like if we stopped curating, she wouldn’t be able to do the things she loves the most. 

Some things are a quick fix, but the biggest impact on her health, happened over time. I just got into a routine of curating her bowl every single day, and all of a sudden, a year passes, and you’re giving kisses, and it hits you. Like, WOW, what a beautiful senior girl!  Look at that rich brown coat!  And her shedding is significantly less!  And her eyes are clear!  Remember when we doubted? When we weren’t sure how long she’d be with us, and now look at her.  

Seeing that impact is why I’m such a believer in curating the bowl with Herbsmith.

Which Herbsmith product can you not live without?

I couldn’t let go of any of them, really. But I know Hershey could not live without Nutrients. For a senior dog like her, Nutrients is the most important and underrated addition to the bowl. 

When Hershey was younger, her endogenous antioxidant production was highest, but her body’s production slowed with age. That’s why adding concentrated antioxidants like Nutrients play such a pivotal role in aging. Antioxidants fight off free radicals. Without them, oxidative damage goes unchecked, causing more issues in her body. 

That being said, she has so many ailments that it would be hard to give up Sound Dog and Soothe Joints that keep her trekking and Morinda Hindend Support… Plus, Senior Dog Wisdom– it’s so, so huge for managing her dementia.

What would you say to someone thinking about curating their pet’s bowl? Or maybe advice that you wish others knew about Herbsmith?

I know Hershey is a senior. She’s almost entirely deaf. She has managed doggie dementia. She’s speckled with gray hairs, especially in her eyebrows. But at 16 years old, Hershey is living her best life. So, I’d urge you to start today.  If you have a senior, it’s not too late.  In fact, you’ll see the biggest changes in a senior!  You can have such a HUGE impact on their life for the better! And if you have a puppy, there is NO better time than now. Just do it, and the benefits really will speak for themselves.

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Kayla Behling

Kayla Behling

Kayla is the Content Writer for Herbsmith, Inc. She has a cat named Professor Cat-Faced Meowmers, who goes by Kitty, and a goof of a dog, named Duck. She stays busy biking trails, losing at board games, and searching for the next best craft beer.

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