Tick Tock: 132 Days of Homemade Dog Food

My countup timer provides a nice reminder of important events.  None has been more important than my switch to homemade dog food-now at 4.5 months.  I am really seeing the difference in each of my dogs.  Angel Marie has shown the most important difference in her allergy management (no more bloody, swollen front paws), coat condition and energy level. 

Learnings have been important:
  1. Finding trusted information sources.  (Drs. Pitcairn and Strombeck are my two most trusted sources), with Steve Brown, Monica Segal and Mary Strauss as valued resources.
  2. Separating fact from myth/opinion with respect to 
    1. raw v cooked
    2. carbs/starches v none
    3. variability in protein sources
    4. carnivore v. omnivore (no vegetables v. vegetables)
  3. Steering clear of zealots with strong opinions and specious facts.
While I read widely, I quickly realized that I was ill equipped to separate fact from myth/opinion.  Once I discovered Dr. Strombeck and Pitcairn, I felt that I had a trusted source for understanding dog nutritional needs.  Only until I immersed myself and came up for air, did I feel more confident in my choices.

I'm squarely in my groove, and my dogs moved to a level of what I all optimal health.  My mantra in starting out was to do no harm, and I did not.   I wished I had found Strombeck/Pitcairn earlier.  I didn't find Strombeck until the end.  His website continues to be what I consider the most authoritative source on dog/cat nutrition available to lay people.

For our household, and my current understanding and willingness to adjust if my dogs' health was compromised, I settled on the following:
  • Raw v. cooked:  I feed raw meat; and I have a grinder for poultry bones.  I adjust bone meal in my recipes for whether or not my meat is bone in.  I do not feed my dogs who parts of chicken, except I will cut up a chicken back or feed them the neck whole. I understand the benefits of chewing, but I'd rather depend on my grinder to get the bones in manageable pieces. Beware of zealots.
  • Carbs:  My dogs do well on starches.  I did not add them until recently as I had a 'grain-free' dog, Angel the Am Bulldog. Introducing carbs was probably one of the BEST things that I did.  Not only did it help with the food bill, my dogs genuinely enjoy their food more.  No problems with digestibility. Even Angel, who was 'grain free' has had no problems. Beware of zealots.
  • Variability of proteins:  I vary among turkey, chicken and beef.  I'm not going to source and feed designer proteins.  I would add pork to the mix in the future.  I truly believe the admonishments to feed your dog so many different protein sources is bunk and it disabuses many of the notion that they would be able to feed their dogs easily. Further, why go through more trouble and expense to feed your dog than you would to feed your family?  Beware of zealots.
  • Carnivore v. omnivore:  Why this is so hotly debated by any is a mystery to me.  I believe it is a city-folk diatribe.  Country folk who have a garden will tell you that dogs are omnivores.  I provide, and my dogs enjoy vegetables (ground up or steamed for digestion and absorption, or whole for chewing fun)  in their food.  Beware if zealots.
The theme of beware of zealots is an important one.  Also steer clear of 'cooks' who want to offer dog food recipes (Gourmet Sleuth and Allrecipes.com are two such places) that are not based on the science of feeding dogs.  Gourmet Sleuth had a recipe which included scallions, a no-no in the dog's diet, and Allrecipes had a contribution that had NO calcium. 

For those wanting to start, I would recommend this as a starter recipe from Dr. Strombeck. It is a mainstay at my house. To get started, get some potassium chloride and KAL Bone Meal and use the grocery store to source the rest.  Based on your dog's and your preferences, you can leave the meat raw or cook it.  Strombeck cooks it.  You can omit the sardines if using the recipe for periodic feeding.

 Poultry Meat and Boiled Rice Diet
1/3 pound (weight before cooking) poultry meat (152 grams)
2 cups rice, long-grain, cooked (320 grams)
2 tablespoon sardines, canned, tomato sauce (38 grams)
1 tablespoons vegetable (canola) oil (14 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt substitute-potassium chloride
1/10 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon bone meal powder (3 grams)
1 multiple vitamin-mineral tablet

provides 879 kcalories, 43.1 g protein, 37.3 g fat
supports caloric needs of 29 to 30 pound dog
Omission of sardines reduces caloric content by 68 kcalories, protein by 6.2 g and fat by 4.6 g.


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