Our beloved pet Nicky has battled hot spots and skin infections his whole life. I've watched our family's diet so carefully over the years that it was just instinctual to watch Nicky's too. I noticed he would get more scratchy and inflamed with certain commercial dog foods over others. Eventually he seemed allergic to all of them. Our vet recommended keeping him on Benadryl. Nicky hates Benadryl! I started researching homemade dog food about a year ago, but to be quite honest, it intimidated me. I am even hesitant to share my recipes, because I know how delicate a dog's system can be and know how some foods are even toxic to dogs. I've learned that giving your dog commercial food is like you living on a diet of Doritos and Eggo waffles. If you wouldn't be healthy on highly processed food, why would your pet!
I encourage you to:
READ...A LOT! And from many sources.
AVOID at all costs:
Cooked bones of any kind
Candy and gum
Be cautious of:
Grapes (some say they are safe, some say no)
Bananas (again some say yes, some say no)
Dairy (can cause diarrhea, yet they need calcium....more on that in a minute)
Here are some good reputable links to begin your reading:
Be aware of a dog's dietary needs. A general rule is 1/2 meat, 1/4 puréed vegetables, 1/4 rice or other starch carbohydrate. Check out multiple recipes and sites that recommend a dogs's dietary needs.
Here is where there is a big debate....carnivore or omnivore? Depends on who you read. Paleo type people really push all meat and bone diets. I'm balanced more evenly in my own family's diet so I prefer (as well as my doggie) a more varied approach.
I read so many different opinions my head was spinning. One thing everyone seems to agree on is commercial dog food is overall bad bad bad. It's chock full of fillers, by products and super high in salt. Mealtime for my (used to be overweight) Nicky was dull and boring. Now he chases his tail in circles whenever I go near the fridge.
So what does it cost and how much time is this going to take, I'm sure your thinking. Well, anything I do homemade has to make sense for me to keep doing it and I believe this does. Cost wise, it is about the same, because I use high quality ingredients. Time wise, it takes me about an hour, tops (fit inBetween our family dinner time and clean up) ONCE per month.
Here is the recipe I currently feed our dog:
5lbs browned ground beef (or mixture of ground beef, turkey, chicken and pork of your choice)
2-3 cups brown rice, after steamed or boiled it's more like 4-5 cups
5 cups steamed and puréed veggies, mostly greens (I steam carrots, peas, celery, and tons of Kale in the top of my steamer and the rice in the bottom of my steamer at the same time).* I purée them in my ninja blender with some beef or chicken broth and add them to the browned meat. Then, add the cooked rice and 1 can puréed pumpkin.
*It's important to finely chop or purée the fruit and veggies you give your pet to help them digest and absorb the nutrients.
This makes approximately 30, 1-1.5 cup servings. I store them plastic containers in the freezer holding about one week's worth in each container. I keep one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer, pulling out one container at a time as he is ready for it. He gets a chopped apple or pear for lunch and 1-1.5 cups of homemade dog food with a raw egg (crushed shell and all) for dinner. The shell provides needed calcium as well as the Kale. I vary his lunch snack depending on what we have available and is safe.
His skin is looking so much better, he's at a healthy weight, finally, and he is one happy dog!
So don't be afraid! Educate yourself, talk to your vet and get in that kitchen. Remember, a zoo doesn't order wolf, monkey, lion or giraffe food! Our animals can eat real food too!