Cooking for your dog

 

When we recently acquired a cat (a stray we’ve named Ruckus), I started feeding it dry kibble because I feed my dog dry kibble. Then it occurred to me to go online and research cat diets. As it turns out, dry kibble is NOT a great diet for cats. Generally, it’s too high in carbohydrate and contributes to obesity, but more importantly, cats don’t have a high thirst drive. On a dry diet, they really ought to be drinking a lot more than they probably are, which can lead to kidney and all manner of other problems. So I started buying commercial canned cat food for my cat.

 

 

 

While I was online researching  cat diets, I checked out dog diets, expecting to find confirmation that I was doing the right thing, feeding my dog a high quality, meat-first dry kibble. Whoops. Turns out the only good argument for dry kibble is my convenience.

 

I actually used to cook for my beloved dog Bandicoot (below with my daughter)  in his geriatric years, after he had most of his teeth extracted, so cooking for a dog is not a foreign concept.

 

 

But after we lost Bandy and acquired a youthful Rotti/Lab cross, I went back to feeding dry kibble. I had always heard dry food was better for your pet’s teeth. After all of Bandy’s tooth trouble, I wanted to do everything I could for Chloe. Um…turns out that that’s a complete myth. Dry dog food does nothing to clean their teeth anymore than eating biscotti is going to clean yours. Also, what I read suggested it often contains too much corn and wheat and soy and other filler, is cooked at high heat which destroys a lot of nutrient, and is jam-packed with preservatives. The collective wisdom seemed to be to either feed canned food (which doesn’t need all that preservative) or prepare my own. After pricing good quality commercial canned food for a 38 kg dog, making my own was a no brainer.

 

From what I gather, the recipe should be 50% meat, 30% carb (ie, rice, potato or pasta) and 20% vegetable. The vegetables have to be pretty much pureed to improve digestion. There are ways to supplement the food to ensure it meets all your dogs vitamin and mineral requirements (e.g., adding dulse powder, crushed egg shells, etc.), but I bought a liquid supplement that I just toss on Chloe’s morning meal. I also give her two capsules of fish oil with her nightly meal and sometimes toss on a few sardines. You can also give them a dollop of plain live-culture yogurt.

 

I make the dog food with either a whole chicken, stewed, de-boned and chopped up, or ground beef. I sometimes use whole wheat pasta for the carb just to change things up for Chloe, but I’m really not that keen on feeding wheat. Thus the carb source is almost always brown rice.  The recipe pictured below uses ground beef, brown rice (I throw a clove or garlic into the rice for the last 20 minutes), sweet potato and broccoli.

 

 

Chloe loves her new diet. And I’m hoping it will help her shed a few pounds, by cutting out all that corn and soy and other stuff that’s not good for her.

 

I’m also making her walk longer. It helps that I feed her first. We used to walk before breakfast and supper, and I think that’s one of the reasons she always wanted to turn around and go home before the walk was done! Here’s Chloe dressed up for our ramble in the woods and fields. (Wardrobe by Remington.)

 

 

A caution: if you’re going to cook for your pet, I urge you to educate yourself. There are quite a few things you must NOT feed your dog (onions, grapes, fruit with pips or seeds still in them, raisins, excessive amounts of broccoli, walnuts, chocolate, etc.).

 

So, anyone else out there cooking for a pet? Got a favorite recipe you’d like to share? I’m all ears!

 

 

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