Category Archives: Homemade Dog Food

March Madness!

ERIN GO BRAGH! (We’re O’Dwyers over here)

It’s been a bit quiet here on The Organic Dog…

I could sit here and lament how mommy duties and surgeries and sick kiddos and home remodels and… oh wait, I’m lamenting… I’ll stop. I could make excuses, but I won’t. I made a promise to bring as much info as as possible on canine (and feline now, too!) nutrition and health & wellness when I started this blog (and a resolution if you’re keeping track. oy.) and haven’t quite followed through with that. Well, that’s about to change. I’ve taken this time to really read up on different topics and trends, study, experience, try out, and discuss amongst friends and professionals about this venture and I’ve now decided on the direction in which I’d like to head. I’m excited about what’s to come and I hope everyone who joins me is, too! We’re all about moving forward and learning new things so let’s get started 🙂

Here’s what’s on deck for the month of March:

* RECIPES, PLEASE! One recipe a week for all who are interested in incorporating this nutrition journey into you and your pet’s lifestyle!

* Tips, How To’s, and Q & A for general Health, Training, and Behavior!

* Guest Posts from fellow Canine/Feline Nutritionists, Vets, Massage/Acupuncture -pressure Specialists, Trainers, and more!

* Canine/Feline Health 101 – Will focus on different health topics such as Diabetes, Auto Immune Disease, Allergies, etc (give us some suggestions if you have any in mind)!

* Lifestyle, Trends, Travel, and Fun Stuff (contests, too!)

I’m really looking forward to pumping this into full gear and would love to hear comments, critiques, questions, or suggestions (keep the hating to a minimum, please) so we can all benefit and learn more about our canine and feline friends.

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BABY GETTIN’ JIGGY

Brace yourselves! This is exclusive never before seen footage… of Baby PLAYING!

It’s true… Miss Prissy Pants herself actually engaged in some toy play with uber goober Ellie. Is it the cooler Fall weather? Is it the changed and improved diet? I like to think the healthy diet has a large part to do with it, but I’m sure the fact that it’s below 129.9 degrees might have a little something to do with it 🙂

Her legs and shoulders aren’t bothering her as much! Her eyes are brighter! I’ve noticed her teeth are cleaner and gums are looking better! Remember, this is my foster who came from the shelter as an “owner surrender”. She was seriously overweight, her teeth were horrible, and her joints looked creeky and painful (which I’m sure had something to do with the extra poundage).

Who knows what she’d been eating before, but when she first came here I had them both eating Diamond brand Lamb & Rice dry dog food. Not the best, but about a kajillion times better than anything you get at Walmart or your neighborhood store. Thank God for Canine Commissary right around the corner 🙂 It’s honestly what got me started on this journey when I first found Ellie back in Jan/Feb. I started reading labels and researching ingredients… and I started to become utterly disgusted with the one and only bag I bought of Pedigree Puppy on a desperate whim when I first found Ellie the day before an ice storm (the ice storm from hell!). Yuck. Never again. Not even in desperation.

So here I give you Baby at play 🙂 Now, I realize my voice sounds hideous and there’s a giant shop vac in the way, but let’s get over these annoyances and focus on little Miss Spring In Her Step, Baby!

Also… I think in every video I have with Ellie in it… she jumps on me and nearly pushes me over.

 

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FALL, BEAUTIFUL FALL!

We’re working on some new Fall recipes over here! The one that’s currently filling my house with yummy smells is a combo of Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Apples boiling down with some Chamomile and a dash of Cinnamon. All are excellent for tummy and digestive health (as well as skin and coat issues!).

We’ll cook the pureed form with some ground beef or turkey… er, actually, we’ll go for that reall homecooked feel and bake some chicken and peas. YUM! The girls are eatin’ good tonight…

sooooo… what are the rest of us gonna eat?

Fall Harvest - Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Apples... with Chamomile and Cinnamon

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BSD:: Breed Specific Diets

another Delicious Dog Dish

With all the research I’ve been doing regarding ingredients, content ratio (fat-to-protein-to-vegetable, etc), benefits of certain foods and which foods to avoid, combinations of each, etc… the list goes on, I’ve noticed a rather prominent common factor when it comes to appropriate diets and menu creation: all dogs are not created equal; all breeds are different, as are their natural dietary needs. If you’re not already aware of breed specific diets, is it something you’d ever considered before? I’ll be honest, it was maybe a fleeting thought in my history of dog rearing and rescuing. Does that make me naive? Possibly. Ignorant? Mmmmmeeehhh that’s not such a nice way to put it, but I’d definitely say I was grossly uneducated on the subject of pet food and labeling. Growing up, we always bought bags of kibble for our little menagerie of dogs and breeds without so much as a second thought as to whether or not it mattered. It was dog food. It seems so strange now, especially with all the recalls and knowing what randomly horrible “ingredients” they throw in there. But in the 80s and 90s when I was still a kid, I automatically assumed dog food was dog food was dog food was dog food, and why in the world would these people lie or not have my pets’ best interests at heart. Right? Well, I’ve since learned that MANY of these companies (not all!) do not, in fact, have our pets’ best interests at heart. In fact, most of these foods are not only bad for their heart, but their liver, kidneys, skin, brain… should I go on? Of course, not all dog foods are created equal… and thank God for that! There are many brands that aren’t mainstream (or cheap for that matter) who actually DO put our pets’ health at the forefront. With that in mind, one dog food does not fit all. Did you know Chihuahuas shouldn’t be eating the same things as a Boxer mix, or a Bichon Frise, or a Pug? Because before this year… I did not.

I hope I’m building a strong case against those nasty store brand bags of kibble, and for introducing your fur kids to the wonderful, and healthful, benefits of homemade meals designed to fit their specific needs. Making the switch will mean a world of difference not only to pet’s mind, body, and soul, but to your pocketbook when you save on vet visits for pesky issues like hot spots or… I dunno… cancer.

It all makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Now that my eyes have been widely opened (is widely a word?) on the questionable intentions of these dog food companies, I’ve thought good and hard on what I will feed my own two not-so-little mutts; and here’s where my Breed Specific Diet plans come into play. I’m lucky, though, in this instance. Both of my dogs are “northern” breeds, meaning they both hail from the far northern hemisphere and have adapted to and been bred for work, cold environments, scarce and varied food supplies including both land and sea plants and animals. And while I don’t have a steady flow of whale meat, kelp, or caribou, I can focus on and substitute other readily available proteins, grains, and vegetables with ingredients I can find locally or order at a reasonable cost; as well as supplement vitamins and minerals as needed. In looking at my girls, a Husky mix and a Labrador mix (these are their very dominant breed traits I’m going on), I can narrow the field and look where these particular breeds come from and what their “ancestors” ate and how they’d adapted as a breed and why.

Baby - Husky mix foster

Let’s start with Baby, my foster Husky mix. I can muster an educated guess she’s also mixed with Pitbull, but I’m going with her obvious breed here. Huskies and other sled dogs were bred over generations to be workhorses in cold northern regions along the Arctic Circle; think Siberia, Scandinavia, and Alaska where conditions are harsh and food sources scarce. Both domesticated and “wild” huskies adapted to and learned to thrive on limited food and thus have a very efficient metabolism and require less food than other breeds (and also developed a strong natural prey drive so watch out kitty owners- I learned the hard, scary way). They absorb a higher level of energy and vital nutrients from their food and are able to survive on smaller amounts of food in times of scarcity when other animals requiring more food would have struggled to do so (note: do NOT starve a Husky intentionally because of this! It’s simply key point to note when considering a healthy, sufficient, and appropriate diet). Let’s then consider what their natural diet would have consisted of: fish (oily fish like Salmon), whale and seal meat, perhaps scavenge the occasional caribou, birds, small game, and, by default through the stomach contents of their prey (or meals) kelp, grasses, berries, and roots. Huskies are also quite hyper and active and require lots of excercise and can expend lots of energy for a long time. Are you getting a good idea of what some of their meals should consist of in your house? Allow me to cover the other mutt’s breed before I get into what dinner was today.

Ellie is my giant 10 month old black Labrador puppy who wants to be a teeny lap dog. Don’t they all? Anyway, for her case, I’m going with her dominant breed, the obvious breed, when researching her natural diet. Now, to keep things kosher with the millions of Lab people out there, we’ll keep this simple and assume Ellie is more American Lab than English. She’s longer, taller, and leaner than the shorter, stockier “work” lab. Labrador Retrievers, as with Huskies, come from way up north around Newfoundland and theLabrador Sea. They are believed to be directly related to the St. John’s Dog (or lesser Newfoundland) and cross-bred with other English and European breeds such as spaniels and possibly terriers to hone in and create the highly trainable working dogs they were bred to be. Used on fishing boats in icy waters to retreive loose fish and nets, and brought along on hunting trips to (here’s that word again) retreive water fowl, Labradors have adapted to a variety of foods similar to Huskies. One thing worth mentioning with Labs, however, is that they are almost predisposed to be overweight regardless of their activity level. Simply put, they are walking stomachs. They will eat almost anything if left to their own devices so it is important to monitor their intake. Having said all that, let’s consider where these pups are orginally from: Newfoundland and points north and west (and east for those English bred Labs). And what sources of food were readily available up there? Why, whale meat, fish, caribou, and small game and fowl, of course.

Ellie - black Lab mix

What luck! They can share and benefit from the same foods!

Now, just to clarify, I know these girls each have their own issues and needs according to their breeds and individual doggy pasts, so I will generally include supplements based on their individual needs with their meals. I yet decided on a brand or exact combo, but I will report back when I finish researching the best recommendations and balance for my dogs. This, I hope, will add years and bounce to the girls’ lives and, in return, add love and affection into my family’s.

So what are they having for dinner tonight? Ground Turkey cooked in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Garlic with Grated Carrots, Blueberries, and Spinach on top of Brown Rice cooked with Whole Oats. YUM! I’ve also added a preventative joint wear supplement with Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

*Just a note: I’m not a veterinarian nor am I claiming anyone should forego seeking the advice and wisdom of your pets’ doctor. I’m simply providing information based on personal research and consultations with select few holistic veterinarians.

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A treat that packs a punch:: {Sweet Potato Molasses Biscotti}

Sweet Potato Molasses Biscotti

Talk about DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY PUP TREATS!

This one will knock you AND your pup’s socks off!

In my quest to find delicious, nutritious treats and eats for The Furry Gourmands, I started thinking about what I was craving today. Something crunchy, and something sweet (but not too sweet). What in the world could that possibly be? I didn’t really want anything chocolate (to my utter disbelief!) so I raided my pantry. Nothing really struck my fancy and I was entirely too lazy to go anywhere. And since I couldn’t even nail down what I wanted in the first place it probably would have turned into an hour long maze of aimless driving anyway.

Sigh. What’s a girl to do…

Turn on the TV, says me 😉

And there it was… in all of it’s crunchy glory: a Biscotti <queue angels singing>

Who says TV is bad for you? C’mon! Law & Order marathon, a little Rachel Zoe Project, baking, blogging, cleaning muddy paw prints and chasing after endless amounts of runaway fur clusters… good times.

Moving on to the baking part of that scenario (paw prints add character, right?), I again raided the pantry and fridge for ideas, keeping in mind it’s ultimately for the girls, and come up with a few key ingredients to get started. My first thoughts were, of course, nutrition and how to make this treat a true double whammy on both taste and substance. How do I make it sweet and still keep the nutritional value intact? The answer: Sweet Potatoes! If you haven’t already discovered the benefits of this delectable tuber, it packs quite a punch. Naturally low in sodium and saturated fats, the Sweet Potato is a good source of Antioxidants, Dietary Fiber, Beta Carotene, Vitamins A, C, B6, Potassium,  and Manganese just to name a few. Oh, and it’s naturally on the sweet side, so there’s that nice little added bonus, too! But this treat needed more than just one main ingredient with a punch… enter: Molasses, a sweetener that is actually good for you (or your dog, for this here baking intent and purpose). Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup, which are stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates, molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals, such as Iron, Calcium, and Potassium, that promote health.

Also, I think I just discovered a good Holiday treat! I’m trying to come up with a good drizzle or dip-worthy topping. A carrott or cream cheese frosting, perhaps? We shall see what evolves from this effort.

Ding!

Biscotti, Madam.

We’ll let it cool and give the girls a go. Until then, I’ll munch on the scraps… er, the absolutely intended mess-ups while cutting the biscotti. Ssshhhhh… don’t tell.

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The Delicious Dog Dish: Molasses Ground Beef!

First time making this organic recipe and, I must say, it might be a fan favorite with

The Furry Gourmands!

YUM!

It’s almost like they knew I was cooking this meal just for them. Maybe I was giving off that “this is for you” vibe? Or perhaps I goo goo’ed the whole time about how much they were going to LOVE it. I had them licking their chops for sure 😉

This recipe is simple and will last my 2 large breed dogs 2 healthy portioned meals each (tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast with some left over).

Here’s what I used::

1 lb Lean Ground Beef (grass fed, no hormones, etc)

2 cups Brown Rice (uncooked)

1/2 cup Flax Seed

1 large-ish Sweet Potatoe

4 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or cold pressed Flaxseed Oil)

1 clove Garlic

2 tbs Molasses

sprinkle of Cinnamon

Cottage Cheese OR Plain Yogurt

Brown Rice w/ Flax Seed

While I was waiting for the rice to finish cooking (brown rice takes considerably longer than white rice), I’d placed the steamed sweet potatoe in the same pan as the ground beef and noticed 2 pairs of begging… BEGGING… eyes. I knew they’d insist on a taste… or 3. Their first ever (as far as I know) tast of sweet potatoe and they totally wanted more!

Once done, be sure to let everything cool COMPLETELY! I actually put their bowls in the fridge for about 15 minutes with intermittent stirring to hasten the cool down. I think this was the hardest part for both the girls and me. HA! I couldn’t wait to see how well they ate and they, of course, couldn’t wait to chow down.

As soon as I put their bowls down it was game on! Baby, my Husky mix foster, is a scarfer and she, well, scarfed it. Ellie, on the other hand, is a slower eater and barely let me drag the empty bowl away when she was done.

This meal is chalk full of healthy benefits. Follow the links to read more about some of the ingredients:: Holy Protein, Batman! Beef, Sweet Potatoe, and Cottage Cheese provide the main protein sources for this meal. Add to that Molasses, Brown Rice, and Flax Seed, and you’ve got a completely balanced meal for the average pup.

ENJOY!

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Peanut Butter, Honey, and Oatmeal Dog Biscuits!

Peanut Butter, Honey, and Oatmeal Dog Biscuits!

After searching high and low for amazing dog food and doggy treat recipes, tweaking them, burning them a little (oops!), tasting myself, and having the Furry Gourmands scoff and, ultimately, approve, I’ve finally compiled a list (that I’m sure will continue to grow and evolve) of deliciously healthy pup treats! Last night’s batch of organic homemade dog biscuits turned out to be a hit!

I still want to make a few small adjustments to see how much more of a nutritional punch we can pack, as well as see what consistencies and textures are preferred by our doggy panelists 🙂 before I settle on this particular recipe, but we’ll keep the research going and the recipes growing for more more MORE hand crafted, all natural dog treats!

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