In answer to Sherry in Georgia….
There are many things to consider when you begin cooking for your dogs. Going beyond the point of just kibble is a big step. You’ll want to make sure you introduce your dog slowly, and with smaller portions when you first begin, allowing their systems to adjust to new foods. I foster off and on for dog rescue, so I’ve had quite a few dogs in our home for over a four year period now, which is great. That enables me to introduce this whole new world of balance and variety into their lives. I actually feel sorry for the dogs once they leave my house to be adopted, because I realize most likely they will not get fed somewhere else like they did here in our household!
Dog food packaging usually gives you guidelines as to how much kibble to feed your dog. A small dog (under 10#), about 1 cup of kibble a day, a medium dog (around 40#), about 2 cups of kibble a day, a large dog (around 60#), about 3 cups of kibble a day, and for a dog over 70#, about 5 cups of kibble a day. Check package guidelines and allow this to be your starting point. You don’t want to overfeed your dog when you add other foods in…you make an allowance for that and adjust the amount of kibble down to the above mentioned measurements in combination with the additional food.
I am an advocate of what I call ‘high end’ dog kibble. The better quality dog foods. I don’t buy my kibble at the grocery store. I buy from the pet store where the variety of the better brands are available. I particularly like Innova, Blue Buffalo, Castor & Pollux brands (and several others). Yes, they cost more, but they are much better for your dog, as the ingredients are of better quality. Meats top the ingredient list instead of grains and what I dub ‘mystery’ ingredients (I.e. ‘animal digest’, ‘meat by-products’ - what animal source is that from?) Keep in mind, if you are going to be supplementing your dog’s diet with additional foods, you will use less kibble, so it’ll last longer…so you can spend a bit more to get a good ‘base’ for your dog’s diet.
Other things to consider when feeding your dog are: age, current weight (is your dog at a healthy weight, overweight, underweight?), activity level (couch potato, moderately active, high strung athletic getting about 30-45 minutes of actual ‘exercise’ every day?). That also will determine according to the above listed guidelines whether you need to increase or decrease the total amount. How often do you feed your dog? I feed mine twice a day, in the morning when I fix breakfast and in the evening after I get home from work. Some people only feed their dog once a day, some three times a day. That tells you how you need to divvy out the amount at each feeding.
I buy as much in organic as I can afford. For me and for my dogs. I purchase hormone free/antibiotic free meats (occasionally I buy organic meat), organic fruits and vegetables, and dairy. I do have a few recipes that are fairly easy that I will share below, but most of the meals just contain a combination of a meat, vegetable and kibble. Meats: round steak, salmon, chicken breast/thighs, ground chicken/turkey, beef liver, occasionally pot roast, and very rarely they get shrimp. (Note: I sprinkle dried parsley over most meats I serve my dogs…very good herb for them!) Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, winter squash, green pepper and green beans are some of their favorites. (Note: with veges, cut small so your dog can digest them easier) Fruits: bananas, apples, applesauce (plain, no sugar), peaches, blueberries, watermelon and cantaloupe. Dairy: cottage cheese (organic, when I can get it) and always organic on milk (whole, I don’t buy reduced fat varieties), whole plain yogurt and kefir, and organic cheese and eggs. If I’m cooking them something that requires oil, I only use organic extra virgin olive oil. It is a highly digestible fat that gives satiety in the diet. I do not suggest corn, as many dogs have an allergy to it, and it does not digest well. And never give your dog a corn cob to eat…that can pose a dangerous health risk.
I’ve managed to put together a fairly consistent routine with feeding. Monday morning is egg morning, over easy…doggies love the runny yolk. (Note: do not feed raw eggs to your dog) I cook it, then break it up with a fork. Thursday morning is oatmeal morning (check my blog for this post), and Sunday morning is scrambled egg morning. Dogs are blessed in that cholesterol is not an issue for them like it is humans. In the wild, dogs and wolves consume high amounts of cholesterol, due to the amount of meat in their natural diets.
Here are a few recipes my dogs enjoy: Apple Cinnamon Yogurt: Peel and core an (organic) apple, and grate into a bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon (very good spice for dogs), mix in organic plain yogurt. Very yummy for breakfast. You can even add some coconut into it (just soak in water to allow it to get moisture). Banana Peanut Butter Delight: Mash a ripe banana in a bowl. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (organic or natural is best)…mix in plain (organic) yogurt. Doggie Salmon Patties: Drain a large can of salmon, (set juice aside), add ½ to ¾ cup organic quick oats, one organic egg, and 1 to 2 teaspoons dried organic parsley. You will need to add some of the juice you drained back into the mixture so it isn’t dry. Any remaining juice can be drizzled over the patties before serving. Mix ingredients together, form into patties, and fry in a skillet using organic extra virgin olive oil. Cook both sides until browned.
It’s fun to experiment with different food combinations. I tend to feed fruits and yogurt in the morning and vegetables in the evening. Most likely what you will find is your dog won’t eat certain foods the first time. I have experienced that. Most of my dogs didn’t like bananas the first time around. Don’t give up. Keep trying. My dogs act like they’re crazy while I’m fixing their meals, just in anticipation of what‘s to come! It doesn’t take long for new dogs at our house to figure out the food at the ‘Chaplin Doggie Diner’ is really yummy! Thanks for your question, Sherry. I hope this helps. Let me know if I can answer any other questions for you. Check my previous blogs as I mention many other tips for adding food and supplements to your doggie meals.