Homemade Dog Food

| December 6, 2008 | 4 Comments
  • 4 Comments

luna at the beach

My dog Luna eats better than I do. It’s not to say that I don’t eat well, but she eats Superfood.

Once upon a time, not very long ago, she ate high-quality kibble. She hated it. Mealtime was spent coaxing, pleading, and trying any means necessary to get her to eat. It was a battle of wills, a struggle of stubbornness, and she usually won. Winning meant a scoop of cottage cheese or a bit of chicken mixed into her kibble. She’s really not a stupid dog, and knew if she held out, we’d eventually give in. Even so, she’d still poke around and begrudgingly eat it.

Then, earlier this year my other dog was diagnosed with cancer. We tried just about everything we could to cure him and make him comfortable and happy. And one of the best things we did was to take him to see a holistic vet, who suggested that we put him on a natural, homemade diet (he had a lot of intestinal issues).

Well, naturally we put both dogs on the diet. They both immediately loved it. It didn’t save his life, but it certainly made him damn happy for the rest of it. And Luna embraced it. Wholeheartedly. She went from a dog that practically refused to eat, to one that asks to be fed. She can’t wait for me to set the bowl on the floor.

It took some time, research, and effort to come up with a recipe that we felt would give her all the nutrients she needs. And we are still experimenting, learning what she can and can’t eat, what she loves, and what she will tolerate or pick through to get to the good stuff.

It’s not for every dog. And it requires getting out the pots and pans twice a week (or less if you make an even bigger batch of food and freeze it). But, she’s healthier (she no longer farts us out of the room) and much much happier for it.

If you do decide to try it, and your dog has been eating commercial kibble for a while, you should ease him or her into it by mixing the kibble into the homemade food. Try to use the best quality ingredients you can find, although I admit, this is not the cheap way to feed your pet. But when my holistic vet pointed out that eating kibble would be like us eating dry saltines for the rest of our lives (albeit very healthy saltines), the inner foodie in me was horrified. Why doesn’t my dog deserve to eat delicious food?

Luna’s Superfood
This makes enough to feed my 70-lb dog for about 4 to 5 days; you’ll have to figure out how much to feed your own dog based upon their weight, age, and activity level

Ingredients:
1 cup steel cut oats
1 small bunch kale, finely chopped
3 lbs chicken or turkey breast
3–4 medium yams and/or sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil

Preparation:
1) Add the oats plus 4 cups water to a large saucepan and set aside to soak for a few hours or up to overnight. Add the kale to the oats and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir often, and cook until the oats and kale are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.

2) Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, add the chicken or turkey and enough water to just cover. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer just until the meat is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, remove the meat to a cutting board to cool. Leave the water in the stockpot.

3) Add the chopped yams to the water in the stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and add to the mixing bowl with the oats.

4) When the chicken is cool enough to handle, chop it very finely and add it to the oat and yam mixture. Add the olive oil and stir everything together thoroughly. Let cool then store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you want to store the food longer, freeze it for up to 1 month. Make sure to thaw it completely in the refrigerator before serving it up to your pooch.

Note: If you don’t have the time to make food yourself, Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Food in San Francisco makes delicious all-natural food. They also have a great feeding guidelines chart to help you figure out how much to feed your dog based on weight.

In order to make sure Luna gets all her nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, I often make this healthy powder, which you can find in Dr. Pitcairn’s book, an excellent resource for feeding your pet naturally.

Dr. Pitcairn’s Healthy Powder
2 cups nutritional yeast
1 cup lecithin granules
1/4 cup kelp powder
1/4 cup bone meal (or 9.000 milligrams calcium or 5 teaspoons eggshell powder)
1,000 milligrams vitamin C (ground) or 1/4 teaspoon sodium ascorbate

Stir together ingredients and store in an airtight container. Stir a few teaspoons into the food each day.

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About the Author ()

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen. Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013. She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their toddler, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at http://www.kimlaidlaw.com.
  • Diane

    Well, I don’t have a dog – but my cat refuses to eat anything BUT kibble. Wet cat food, tuna, quail, salmon, roasted chicken…doesn’t matter. He licks around the edges of it for a bit with some degree of interest, but won’t eat it. Then looks at me in a puzzled manner as if to ask “where’s the food?” and goes looking for his kibble.

    You have lucky dogs though – I’m glad this was/is a good regime for them.

  • Shirley

    I was reading about your homemade dog food. I would like to try it on my 3 dogs. Every thing I read on the homemade dog kibble none have real meat. (crazy) Yours does. My question is. Do you feed this to your dog everyday? Does it have all the nutrients she needs. Or do you add other things sometimes like peas or carrots?

  • http://www.kqed.org/bayareabites Kim Laidlaw

    I have to say ever since I started making her food, I’m sold. She’s at her optimum weight and is very healthy. But every dog is different, and I highly recommend that you read up on making homemade food from different sources to figure out what the best recipe might be for your dogs. I also think it’s a good idea to talk to your vet so they are aware of the new diet (some vet’s are all for it, and some against).

    I use the recipe I posted here as my basic recipe, which I feed my dog twice a day, but it’s good to add some dairy (cottage cheese or yogurt) and to mix up the protein source (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb) occasionally. There are lots of veggies besides kale that you can also add, such as carrots, spinach, zucchini, and peas. Make sure you read up on what is good for dogs and what isn’t as there are some veggies they have trouble with (such as onions).

    Good luck!

  • Carissa

    Help! I have a mini schnauzer w/ skin allergies. It has gotten so bad I have her on expensive allergy pills. I happen to run out of food & the pet store was out too. I gave her people food & accidentally forgot her allergy pill too. She doesn’t seem itchy! I don’t want to be cooking her food everday. Do you use the above recipe all the time? Is it your base & then you add other things? Is the above supplement what you use all the time? She is 17 lbs any recommendation on how much to feed? Thanks!