Thursday, September 1, 2011

Healthy Mommy, Healthy Baby, Healthy DOGGY!

 My first baby was my dog Ogum, a Malteeskipoo (Maltese-Eskimo-Poodle mix), or a mutt as my mom says. I fondly remember the day I got him, just 2 days before Christmas; he was the best gift ever :) I never had a dog growing up because my parents aren’t dog people and they didn’t think I was ready for the responsibility of taking care of a pup anyway (they were probably right). So, I had to wait until I met my then boyfriend Paul, who’s now my husband, who was willing to take my puppy in as leverage for getting me to move in with him (you probably already guessed that it worked!).

I quickly found out that it is a big responsibility to take care of a dog- this was no goldfish. I also found out that taking care of them isn’t cheap once I saw vet bills and the price of puppy gear and dog food brands that actually contained edible ingredients. You’d think more people would make their own dog food, seeing as how the only important ingredients are protein (meat), grains and vitamins. I’d read the labels on the bags and cans and try to decipher the language- potassium chloride? Water sufficient for processing? Copper sulfate? They didn’t sound like edible things to me, and the food certainly didn’t look edible. But, I just figured it was dog food and that’s how it was supposed to be, and Ogum ate it without any fuss so whatever.

A few years later when I got on my healthy kick and started to understand the dynamics of what you put in your body matters, I started thinking the same should be applied to animals. I started looking into how to make my own dog food, and while making crunchy food was a bit beyond my expertise at the time (and still is, although I am working on some things I will post about once a recipe has been perfected!), I did come up with a simple and low-cost recipe for wet dog food, and Ogum is happier than ever!

Homemade Dogfood

*Please note that portions should be fed according to your dog’s size. See here for more info on why

1 lb chop meat
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup peas
1 cup water + ¼ cup set aside
¼ cup ground flax seed
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in pan wide enough for the chop meat and rice. Sautee the garlic in the olive oil, then add the meat and brown it. Add the peas and water; bring to a boil. Make a paste with the cornstarch by adding it to the extra ¼ cup of water, then mix it into the meat and peas mix until it thickens to your desired consistency. Add more cornstarch paste if you want it thicker. Toss in the ground flaxseed and mix in well. Add the rice last, also mixing it in, then remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving, or serve at whatever temperature your pup enjoys.

You can use other vegetables or a mix of vegetables, although I don’t think that that’s really necessary. A lot of people seem to think that dogs need vegetables in their meals like humans due, but this is not the case. They could care less honestly, and I only add something green for the nutritional value. Dogs are carnivores- you can tell just by looking at their teeth. The grains are for easing digestion and acting as a filler so there is more food to have on hand. DO NOT USE WHITE RICE! Too much starch can cause diabetes in a dog, especially small dogs. Brown rice actually helps to prevent diabetes due to its high levels of magnesium. In addition, brown rice contains other nutritional benefits for your animal, although it is not entirely necessary. Holistic vet David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A. of Chaparral Animal Health Center in Colorado, says that, “Dogs thrive on diets made up almost entirely of meat, as long as we feed some organ meat, bones, grains and vegetables.” I add the ground flax for the brain-boosting omegas and olive oil for healthy coat, and garlic for a healthy heart and cholesterol.

Don’t be afraid to experiment! It’s ridiculous that we are expected to buy canned dog food that contains tons of toxins and preservatives and unnecessary fillers when we can easily make it ourselves for often less than the cost of what you’d pay for commercial. If you know what your dog likes and know that it’s good for him/her, then add it to chop meat of any kind along with this recipe. They aren’t too picky when it comes to mixing different foods together (at least I know Ogum isn’t!).

Please note that although garlic is purely beneficial to humans, in large quantities it can be dangerous for dogs to eat. It can cause damage to red blood cells and create anemia in a dog or possibly kill a dog that is already anemic. Given in the proper amount according to weight, it can support cardiovascular health, boost immunity, and enhance live function, to name a few. For example, Ogum is a medium-small breed weighing around 17 pounds last time I checked, so he is fed less than a clove at a time. If you’d rather not even risk your dog’s health when it comes to feeding them garlic, you can simply leave it out of their diet; otherwise, see here for more information on how much garlic to give your pet, and here for more information on other foods you may not have known could be toxic to your pup.

I hope that this post will inspire to try your hand at making your own dog food. Just setting about 30 minutes out of your day once a week to make your companion a healthy meal will prove to be more then worth it when you see the visible difference between homemade and canned. Check back for baked dog treats in the near future!

My handsome boy

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