Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Dog Food

I know, I know.  That title alone is enough to make some of you want to hurl.  Well, for those of you who are still with me, I need to share up front that MY FIRST ATTEMPT at making dog food was today, so I have not yet seen the results.

But having just gotten our precious little Ziggy, I want to try to feed him in healthy, natural, less expensive ways.  And he seems to GREATLY prefer Cesar-style wet food to the dry kibble.   So I'm going to try my hand at some varieties like the ones I share below, and make it like baby food (freezing it in muffin trays for perfect-sized portions).  I think it will be much cheaper and much healthier for him, with less fillers and better quality foods.  We'll see.

As I've reviewed a variety of websites & recipes, here are some tips I've found helpful (even if you don't feed a raw diet, the percentages in this one are helpful:
"I usually use raw meat, each recipe contains about 40-50% meat, fairly lean chicken/turkey/beef/heart-liver-gizzard, or salmon (with bones). The next ingredient in volume, about 20-30%, would be an orange cooked vegetable, pumpkin/yams/carrots/or a winter-type squash. Then about 20% is cooked oats/beans/barley/brown rice/quinoa or red potato with skin. Next in volume would be apple/banana or pear. Sometimes a bit of blueberry or cranberry too. Then hard boiled eggs & ground egg shell. Also a green veggie.. cooked and minced; kale, spinach, peas, green beans, broccoli, parsley, or asparagus. Sometimes I'll add PLAIN cooked, diced beets. Then trace amounts (relatively small amount in the entire batch) plain yogurt, a bit of cheese, garlic, flaxseed, Flaxseed or Fish oil, &/or apple cider vinegar."  ~One dog owner, Denise

According to one website, raw meat diets are preferable for dogs:

Raw dog food advocates maintain that all grains should be eliminated from our dogs' diets. They also cite that grains have been blamed as culprits for pancreatic stress and tooth calculus, that our dogs were not designed to process these items, and that asking them to thrive on grains is like asking a human to thrive on a red meat diet - most experts would advise against it.
Let's start by discussing what a raw-food dog's diet should consist of. All meat should, obviously, be uncooked, and may include: Eggs (with shell), beef, buffalo, venison, elk, chicken, turkey, emu, ostrich, rabbit, and fish. Small animals, like rabbits and fish, may be fed whole - dogs love it this way.
At least 60-80% of your dog's raw food diet should consist of raw meat. Further broken down, that meat allowance should be roughly 20% organs, 20% skin and fat, and 35% muscle meat.
Vegetables may be combined with meat, to account for 20-40% of your dog's diet. Appropriate ones include: Broccoli, squash, Romaine lettuce, carrots, cabbage, celery, and asparagus

This recipe sounds extremely simple:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower combination

One commenter suggests an alteration:
I've substituted ground beef for the turkey, and oats for the rice, and she likes both combos. I add 3 eggs, one egg shell very finely ground then strained (for calcium) and 3 Omega 3 tablets. I sometimes use peas and carrots, sometimes a large squirt of catsup and a very tiny sprinkle of garlic.  
Tips from other commenters:
I will sometimes add one or two of the following: yogourt, cottage cheese, sardines, lentils and fruits, such as pears, apples, peaches, bluberries and local beef hearts and liver, in small quantities. 
 A key to success I believe is adding variety during the week: My husband asks if I've "Snacked" the dogs today. They get an extra nutritious something every day: Cottage cheese, canned tuna or mackerel, scrambled eggs, some cheese, yogurt, etc.
I cook fresh ground turkey, add brown rice, cooked chopped carrots and a 1 TBS of plain yogurt and 2 TBS of cottage cheese. My vet told me that cottage cheese and yogurt are great for dogs with upset stomachs. Also adding a touch of canned plain pumpkin (not the kind with spices) to their diet is very good too. Canned pumpkin also helps with constipation! 
 One natural dog feeder raises some important points:
Also important to note many nutrients, minerals and vitamins come from different sources, therefore ensuring you alternate between ground and root vegetables, adding ground/powdered egg shells for calcium and different oils for the omega fatty acids is a must. Our dogs may look great now, but it is when they hit their older years we will see the affects of what we fed now. Also, soft foods will not promote healthy gums and teeth. Therefore, feeding RAW (and I stress RAW) meating bones are also mandatory. 
This website provides information about dog's nutritional requirements.

IMPORTANT NOTE: ALWAYS avoid these foods, as they can be harmful, and even lethal, for dogs: grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, garlic (sometimes debated), artificial flavorings, and some organizations advise against raw meat.

This homemade dog food recipe sounds great, and has a ton of "likes" on all

I just used that recipe as a foundation for the wet dog food I just made.  He just scarfed it down, mixed 1/2 and 1/2 with dry kibble.  Here's my recipe, made with items I had on hand in my fridge, freezer, and pantry:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 large can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • handful soy nuts
  • handful frozen blueberries
  • 2-3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 c. cooked carrots
  • 2 c. cooked broccoli
  • 3 c. cooked quinoa
  • small mix of leftover pork roast, potatoes w/ skin, and juice left in that pan.

This mixture filled 4 muffin trays, and I still have a large mixing bowl full of it, ready to refill the muffin tins once the others freeze.  Like baby food, I will freeze these in muffin tins, and then heat up before each meal, or let them thaw 1-2 at a time in the refrigerator a day before he'll eat them.

Given his reaction today, it's a tasty mix.  Given what I've read on the internet, it's a healthy mix.  The only remaining factor is how it will do in his digestive system.  If everything goes well, I'll just let the post stand.  If we have any problems at all, I will come back and post/remove the recipe.

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