I’m in the process of switching all my dogs over to homemade food with intentions of making enough for 3 days at a time. The more I read, the more I’m convinced there’s not going to be a prepared and packaged food that will be comparable in vitamins and nutrients; not to mention the huge lists of recalled dog foods and treats over the past year.
It’s quite scary!
Before going any further, let me preface my story by saying that I feel like my dogs have always eaten pretty good. I generally stick to a healthydiet and cook accordingly. Making extra “people food” for them is more common than not.
But doing so wasn’t enough to shake that nagging feeling. I want them completely off commercial dog food as much as possible.
My wistful aspirations of sharing the new recipes quickly came to a screeching halt after seeing the abundance of what’s out there. Impressive, to say the least. What I’ve decided is that at the end of the day, it’s all about a good BALANCE of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
The proper nutritional proportions recommended by the experts are:
80% meat with fat
5% fruits and vegetables
5% dairy and supplements
My biggest challenge has been trying to sneak in the vegetables and fruits. Robert, Rudy and Stella are all self-declared carnivores, and old enough to be set in their respective dietary ways. That being said, dietary changes for them is difficult at best! Unfortunately, grinding any vegetable, regardless of how small, doesn’t remove the smell. Thank goodness for butter! They love it and it’s proven to camouflage every vegetable so far.
I haven’t really used a recipe, per say. My method is to find out the basic ingredients of a particular dish and add “a little of this and a little of that”. I like improv; it works for me. Many people say I’m a good cook and that’s fine, just as long as my dogs agree.
Another reason for improvising with the homemade dog food is that it allowed me to use whatever I had available, with the exception of buying additional meat. Along with ease, it seemed the best way to see if the transition would also be any more economical. Expect a “thumbs up” on this if you currently buy quality, grain-free or gluten-free dog food.
Keep in mind that everything is fixed in large quantities. All 3 of my munchkins have hearty appetites!
Also, all the ingredients are fresh unless otherwise specified.
In lieu of the typical recipe, here’s a run-down of a couple of the things that were a big hit:
Chili Burger Mac-n-Cheese
1 1/2 lb. ground beef (80/20) celery carrots broccoli cauliflower (about a cup each-chopped) 2 tbls. butter macaroni (enough to absorb the liquid) 8-10 oz. cheese (shredded) In a large kettle, brown and crumble the ground beef in about 8 cups water; add veges and butter; cook until tender. Sprinkle with a little chili powder and add cheese. (I used cheddar and a little Velvetta) This made a lot but it should freeze just fine. Again, the vegetables were just what I had on hand in the refrigerator.
Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
2-lb boneless chicken celery green beans carrots zucchini tomato (about a cup each-chopped) 2 tbls. butter instant rice Brown chicken in a little olive oil then shred. Add about 3 cups water and vegetables and butter; boil, remove add 3 cups rice. There's an abundance of information on different healthy diets for dogs but from what I've experienced so far, maintaining a healthy diet isn't difficult, time-consuming or expensive. With that being said, I realize that there are dogs with very specific dietary restrictions; such as with canine diabetes, allergies or other medical problems. In these situations, the products at "ONLY NATURAL" might be just what you're looking for---and they auto-ship, too! Check them out if your looking for a healthy, reliable commercial food.
All comments, questions and sharing your own experiences/recipes are welcome!
High Paws and Happy Hoofing!
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As a dog owner, you dedicate plenty of time and thought into giving your dog a healthy and happy life – from routine vet visits to proper feeding and fitness exercises.
But are you looking out for his teeth?
Dental care for dogs is often overlooked, probably because of the belief that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than that of a human. Although dogs are not as likely to have cavities as human beings are, they can still get dental problems that can result in deadly infections if unattended to. These dental diseases are:
Plaque (build-up of bacteria along the gumline)
Tartar or calculus (this is mineralized plaque which irritates the gums and causes gingivitis)
Periodontal disease (this disease results from aggravated tartar, and can lead to loss of teeth, infections in the liver, kidneys, and heart and bone infections.)
How to keep your dog’s teeth clean
- Brush your dog’s teeth daily 1
Although your dog may not enjoy this activity, it is a great way to steer clear of any dental problems. You are recommended to use a double-headed canine toothbrush which can clean up to below the gumline. Wean your dog into the activity – start slowly and gently, and make him or her look forward to the activity. It is recommended that you begin teeth cleaning when your dog is still a puppy so that it becomes a habit over time. If your dog is all grown up, don’t worry because with soothing words and treats after the brushing, your dog will enjoy the experience. Do not use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth because it is very poisonous; find pet-specific toothpaste which will guarantee better results.
- Use dry food
If your dog is extremely intolerant to brushing (it ends with bloody gums, tears or sweating), the right dry food will do the job. Crunchy kibble does not stick to the dog’s teeth a much as soft food and will reduce chances of decay.
- Chew toys and chew bones 2
Chew toys will strengthen your dog’s teeth and clean them at the same time. Make sure that the toys are safe to chew, cannot be easily swallowed, and are not so hard as to break the teeth.
- Dental check-up and cleaning by your veterinarian 3
Whether with healthy teeth or not, you should make regular dental checkups for your dog at the vet. Your veterinarian should have a look at your dog’s teeth every 6 to 12 months. You should also see the vet whenever you detect any signs of dental problems in your dog.
Taking care of your dog’s dental hygiene will help your dog live long and happily with strong teeth, and you too will be happy.
For more about dental diseases and care for your dog, click here.
As with humans, the benefits of canine exercise alone are going to be limited without proper nutrition. Of course, there isn’t a “one size fits all” when it comes to finding the right food. A well-balanced diet varies, contingent on size, breed, age of the dog. Other factors, such as allergies or illnesses should also be taken into consideration when choosing a food that will supply the required vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your pet needs.
I’ve looked at multiple “Top 10” lists of dog foods. And honestly, I was surprised at all the variations; however, the common denominator is that they are all grain-free. Many will say they do not contain meat by-products, which is basically just ground up scrap—nothing any of us can imagine ingesting, much less give to our fur-babies!
“ I’m going to start compiling some recipes for homemade dog food to share in the near future. That seems to considerably increase the odds of providing proper nutrients, safety and taste.“
Here are a few that are on most of the veterinarian recommended lists:
- Hill’s Science
- Royal Canin
- Rachael Ray Nutrish
- Natural Balance
- Nutro Ultra
- The Honest Kitchen
- Castor Pollux
- Wellness Natural
A couple of additional things to watch for:
- Is it AAFCO recommended?-The American Association of Food Control Officials is a non-government group who set standard of proper nutrition for pets. The criteria is based on each of the 3 stages of life.
- Sign up for a dog food recall list to get an alert via email.- There are at least a couple in the list above that have had recalls over the past year. Receiving an alert is a simple, effective way to avoid unwarranted illness or death. I use petful.com, and there’s no spam!
THE BOTTOM LINE:
There are no guarantees when it comes to finding a brand of dog food on the market that meets all the nutritional needs with absolute assurance of safety. Therefore, I’m going to start compiling some recipes for homemade dog food to share in the near future. That seems to considerably increase the odds of providing proper nutrients, safety and taste.
Spread the word
Stella’s mother was pregnant when she rescued by a friend of mine. She was one of 3 females, and the last remaining when we brought her into our family. She appears to be a mix of chihuahua and terrier. That seems reasonable enough judging from her size and features—-except for one peculiarity. She has a Mohawk starting mid-way that runs down the center of her back all the way to her tail. I haven’t found this in any of the dog breed categories!
THE EARLY YEARS…
Stella was feisty and rambunctious from the get-go. She didn’t seem to realize that she was smaller than the other dogs. However, this was never really a problem since she has such a “big girl” attitude that’s much larger than her actual 15 lbs. Holding her own and standing up for herself comes naturally and she’s quite good at it too! But overall she adapted quite well and quickly found her place in the family.
“It’s obvious she recognizes her handicap and she’s aware of her limitations, but never appears disabled. She tries her best to overcome whatever the hurdle, however; she also knows when it’s time to ask for help.”
Everything was good until one Saturday morning about 6 years ago when she made a jump that was too much for her. Initially there was a significant limp and shortly thereafter she lost use of her back legs completely. An emergency veterinary visit with x-rays concluded a fractured spine. Surgery was an option with a 50-50 probability. The alternative was to keep her crated with minimal movement for 2-3 weeks. Since the surgery was going to cost several thousand dollars and the odds didn’t exactly swing in our favor, we opted for option two—the dog crate.
I’ve never crated a dog before but I’ve read that once they adjust it becomes comfortable and provides a sense of security so I was hoping for the best. Nope, it didn’t happen. Maybe it was because Stella was already 4 years old and had never been restrained. Who knows? All I can say is it wasn’t pretty. She tried her hardest to escape and definitely wasn’t staying still. This continued for a couple of days until I finally conceded and set her free. We’d both endured more than our share of suffering. I opened the door, she pulled herself out and never looked back.
I’m sure there are those who might disagree; however, I firmly believe I made the best decision for her.
SHE NEEDS A FEW SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS
And as it goes— diapers, puppy pads and baby wipes have been a part of everyday life since then. It’s similar to making the same accommodations you’d have for an infant. It seems from day one she knew instinctively to sit still while her diaper is changed. In fact, I think she rather enjoys the extra attention. It is time consuming, I’ll be the first to admit that, but one of necessity. Since the paralysis starts mid-back, she has no control over her bladder or bowels; therefore, house-training her is out completely out of the equation. Relief comes as nature intended, and sometimes that’s 8-9 times a day.
I had a doggy-cart made for her but she really prefers to do things on her own. And besides, it’s nearly impossible to catch her when she’s in it! Stella has never seemed to recognize her so-called “handicap”. She still shoots down the steps like a bullet and simply barks for assistance for the return trip.
If she’s going to be playing in the yard for a while, I wrap her with gauze and medical adhesive tape to prevent scrapes on the tops of her feet. The time outdoors is one of her greatest pleasures; running and barking at anything and everything. Fortunately, I have hardwood floors so that’s not a concern indoors. She slides right along maneuvering with her front legs. Clean-up is easier too, if by chance there’s been a diaper malfunction.
Regular baths are required a minimum of once a week. Adding a little Epsom salt and baking soda to the water and letting her soak helps keep everything down below nice and clean. She likes this too and is ready for a long nap afterward.
I know some people wonder “WHY??”. Well, the flip side of all the work that’s required is the love and appreciation she shows every single day. Yeah, it’s easily worth all the time, effort and expense.
I believe we can learn a valuable lesson from Stella. It’s obvious she recognizes her handicap and she’s aware of her limitations, but never appears disabled. She tries her best to overcome whatever the hurdle, however; she also knows when it’s time to ask for help.
For me, that speaks volumes.
If you’re a self-proclaimed couch potato, having a dog is probably not the ideal pet for you. On the other hand, if you already have a dog and DON’T walk him/her regularly, it’s likely you’re having some behavioral problems as a result. There is a direct correlation between inadequate exercise and many behavioral issues. Here’s a list of a few:
- excessive barking
- ignoring commands
When you consider that walking your dog a couple of times a day can potentially alleviate any or all of these, it seems like a pretty good trade-off to take that jaunt around the block!
Here’s a few of the consequences if a good walking routine isn’t implemented.
- hip and joint dysplagia
- heart disease
- respiratory disease
- increased risk of diabetes
Not only does your beloved family member suffer needlessly, but you could have saved mega-bucks in vet expenses!
NOTE: PLAYING IN THE YARD DOES NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF WALKING!!!
**DOGS NEED MENTAL AND PHYSICAL STIMULATION FOR GOOD HEALTH**
That’s right, all that sniffing and exploring is for a VERY GOOD REASON—so take your time and let him enjoy all the new-found “sniff-able” treasures!
How much exercise your dog needs naturally varies, but the standard is 5 miles per week; or 30-60 minutes per day for optimal benefits. A good way to judge is to watch him. If he starts slowing down on the return trip, then that should be sufficient exercise for him.
**YOUR DOG’S QUALITY OF LIFE DEPENDS ON YOU!**