Not to be a downer, but my dog has bone cancer. I’m going all out to give him the longest, best life possible — surgery, chemo, the works — and it got me thinking about the craziness of feeding our beloved pets some stuff from a bag that’s had all the nutrients processed right out of it and then synthetic vitamins sprinkled back on.
So, since Hoover’s surgery to have the leg with the tumor removed, I’ve been making his dog food and continuing my research about what dogs really should eat.
Dogs need mostly meat. And for about 10,000 years, that’s meant raw meat. Commercial dog food is mostly grain and what meat there is is not really worthy of being called meat. (Incidentally, commercial dog food has only been around about 70 years, about as long as junk food for humans.)
Because Hoover is undergoing chemotherapy, I haven’t gone the raw route yet. I may, once his chemo is over, and I certainly will for my next dog. For now, I’m cooking his meat.
In terms of portion size, the general rule of thumb is to feed 1-3 percent of your dog’s body weight, the low end for older or inactive dogs. Hoover weighs about 57 pounds, so he gets just over a pound of food a day.
Here’s my basic recipe for a day’s worth of food. I usually make enough for 4-5 days and keep a container of it in the fridge. You could certainly make a bigger batch, portion it, and throw it in the freezer. Just remember to keep it about 60 percent meat.
3/4 lb cooked meat (boneless chicken thighs, ground beef, etc. I use organic because I’m trying to save his damn life. Not a time to cheap out.)
1 zucchini, shredded or chopped
1 carrot, shredded or chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 fish oil capsules
1 ground up egg shell (for calcium)
1 raw egg – or – 2 T yogurt or cottage cheese (the good kind with probiotics)
Briefly sauté the vegetables in olive oil. Mix everything together. Serve at room temperature.
You can certainly substitute other veggies you have on hand such as green beans, broccoli, brussell sprouts, spinach, kale, squash, cabbage and cauliflower.
Hoover has no objections to this new diet — indeed he relishes meal time — and we haven’t had any digestive issues as we had when we switched to a new brand of kibble a few years back. He healed from his surgery very quickly and his energy is great.
Overall, making dog food is much less trouble than I thought it would be I feel better about what I’m putting in his body.
I’m planning to make Hoover’s food for the rest of his life, and I’m hoping that extends well past the usual prognosis.
Here are some online sources that I found valuable during my research. All these folks are veterinarians with a holistic bent:
Dr. Charles Loops, a conventional vet turned homeopathic vet talks nuts and bolts of feeding a more natural diet.
Dr. Doug calls himself the Holistic Vet and discusses why he feeds raw.
A video post from Dr. Karen Becker dispels the myths around raw food diets.
So, what are you feeding your pets? Would you ever consider making pet food from scratch?