A family favorite, served to three generations of dogs
Substitutions are allowed! For vegetables, try broccoli florets, zucchini, spinach or any of several types of squash. For the protein source, beef cubes, turkey or lamb also work. Use organic ingredients if possible.
For additional recipes for homemade dog food, check out these that feature meat and fish by Barbara Laino.
P.S. A reader let us know that she put the recipe into a nutritional analysis site and using 1 lb boneless skinless thighs, it comes out at 200 calories per 1 cup. Hope this helps in determining how much your dog needs.
Treat them right
Lots of fun in the summer sun makes for hot and hungry dogs. Here are two treat recipes that are sure to be pup-pleasers. Look for organic and/or free-range ingredients and you’ll double the benefit.
An icy treat to be enjoyed from sunrise to sunset.
Total calories: 540; divide by the number of servings for individual calorie count.
A gentle-on-the-tummy treat—grain-free and low in fat.
Bake two hours with the oven door slightly ajar to allow the moisture to escape. Remove from oven and, using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into small, individual-sized portions. Place pieces back in the oven, flipped over, and bake an additional one to two hours, or until the treats are dry and leathery. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Total calories: 794; divide by the number of treats for individual calorie count.
Gobbling Up Turkey
Turkey is becoming more and more available to consumers. It is naturally low in fat without the skin, containing only one gram of fat per ounce of flesh. It is also a good source of B vitamins, potassium and zinc. Cooked with the skin on, the flavor is sealed in without adding additional fat.
From The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook by Jessica Disbrow Talley and Eric Talley © 2008 by Cider Mill Press Book Publishers, LLC.
Rick Woodford, the man behind dogfooddude.com, is back with another highly informative, yet easy-to-use cookbook. His new, aptly titled Chow will enable even absolute beginners to try their hand at whipping up whole meals, or simple nutritious and delectable “toppers” (like the one here), for their dogs. Nothing says loving better.
Greyhound are known to reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest breeds around. They’re perfect for running in a straight line or chasing prey, but as soon as the race is over, the greyhound is ready to take a nap. The Alaskan husky can achieve speeds about half that of the greyhound but can sustain the speed for much longer—all while pulling a sled. Both breeds are remarkable for their achievements, but are hardly interchangeable for the unique requirements needed in each racing environment.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be sourced from either plants or animals, and like the greyhound and husky, the different sources have different purposes and benefits. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can contribute to the fight against cancer and enhance brain function; but what your dog’s body really runs on is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Although your dog can convert some of the ALA into EPA and DHA, it’s not enough to support the body’s entire requirement. Supplying EPA and DHA as part of the diet, by including fish or meat from grass-fed animals, is far better in reducing inflammation and furthering cognitive development. Such foods as mackerel can provide a healthy dose of EPA and DHA when fed as part of your dog’s diet two or three times a week.
Whenever possible, purchase mackerel without such additives as sugar and monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer that overstimulates neurotransmitters in the brain. Mackerel packed in water or tomato sauce is preferable over mackerel packed in oil, because your dog will already be receiving enough fats in his diet.
1 cup of canned mackerel has about 300 calories; equivalent to about ¾ cup of commercial dry food
Replace 10 percent of your dog’s regular meal with the following amounts:10-lb. dog: 2 tablespoons
20-lb. dog: 3 tablespoons
40-lb. dog: ¼ cup
60-lb. dog: ⅓ cup
80-lb. dog: ½ cup
100-lb. dog: ½ cup
KEY NUTRIENTS Calories 6% • Protein 30% • Total fats 15% • Omega-3 (DHA) 225% • Omega-3 (EPA) 123% • B3 (niacin) 46% • B12 (cyanocobalamin) 26% • D3 69% Mackerel Mix-In — Meal Topper Recipe
Mackerel can be used in place of salmon in salmon cakes for your plate, but it’s also beneficial for your dog and easy to prepare. With a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this meal topper is a must for any dog. Using canned mackerel and chopping the vegetables in a food processor enhances digestibility without your having to cook anything. Don’t worry about those tiny mackerel bones; they’re really soft and will break down even further in the food processor.
1. Drain and rinse the mackerel.
Yield: 5½ cups
Serve the following amount once per day, replacing one-fifth of your dog’s normal meal.KEY NUTRIENTS 133 calories per cup • Protein 42% • Carbohydrate-to-protein ratio 0.4 to 1 • Total fats 40% • Antioxidants 38%
(In just an hour!)
This great kibble recipe is from the new cookbook, Dinner for Dogs by Henrietta Morrison. She is the founder of Lily’s Kitchen, a popular pet food company in the UK. She believes in proper food for dogs, and Lily, her Border Terrier, is her chief taster. See an interview with Henrietta as well.
Turkey is great as it’s very low in fat and very digestible, which makes it useful for dogs who are allergic to the usual protein sources—lamb, beef and chicken. Turkey is also handy as it’s readily available ground.
This is also a good hypoallergenic recipe that is free of wheat. You’ll notice I haven’t included peas, which always seem to be part of a dog’s menu these days. Peas can be hard to digest for some dogs and therefore can make them gassy.
Put the rice and lentils into a saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes.
Once the rice and lentils are cooked, add the chopped carrots, sweet potato and apple to the saucepan. Stir in the oats and chopped herbs and gently simmer for 20 minutes more. Add an extra cup of water if the mixture is too dry. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey in a separate frying pan. You will need to keep stirring it while it is cooking to prevent it from sticking to the pan as it is very low in fat. It will take about 10 minutes to cook through.
Put half the cooked vegetable and grain mixture into a food processor with half the cooked turkey, add half the oil and pulse until the mixture resembles a thick purée.
Grease 2 cookie sheets and spread the mixture onto one of the sheets so that it is about ¼ inch (5 mm) thick. The mixture will spread slightly so leave a bit of room for this. It is important that the mixture is not too thick because it will prohibit the kibble from cooking through.
Repeat as above using the second cookie sheet and the remaining ingredients.
Place both cookie sheets into the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Turn the kibble over so that it dries through, and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes. You should have what looks like two very large cookies. Make sure the kibble is completely cooked through, as any moist bits will get moldy after a couple of days. If it is not fully dried out, leave it in the oven for 20 minutes more.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F/160°C. Remove the “kibble cookies” from the oven, cool slightly and cut them into small pieces. Place the pieces back onto the cookie sheets and bake for an additional hour, or until the kibble is completely dried (but not burnt).
Remove the kibble from the oven and let cool completely. It should resemble pieces of broken pita bread.
It will keep in the fridge for 10 days.
Valentine Liver Nibbles
This delicious recipe is nutritious and tasty, and the loaf can be sliced up into any size. What better way to make your pup feel truly special this Valentine’s Day than with homemade treats richly infused with love. The added bonus is that Valentine Liver Nibbles are completely wheat-free, making them ideal for sensitive pets.
What to Do
Note: We've omitted the garlic originally in this recipe.
These delectable cookies are simple to make, and can be broken into smaller pieces perfect for training bits.
Mix the flour, oats, whole grains, parsley, dried milk and salt.
Add the eggs, peanut butter and honey and stir into dry ingredients to combine; the mixture will be crumbly.
Add enough water to bring the dough together. Mix with a spoon, or if using a stand mixer, use a dough hook.
Drop (or form by hand) the dough into walnutsized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten them to about 1/4".
Bake for about 45 minutes. When finished, the cookies will be dark golden brown, and will be dry and crisp all the way through.
Cool right on the pans.
Yield: 60 small (round) cookies.
A simple home-prepared meal that incorporates healthy ingredients that not only improves our animals’ health but is also easier on our budgets.
Combine all ingredients, mix well. Serve.
Hint: Powdered calcium sticks to wet ingredients, sprinkle evenly over wet food.
Protein: 36 grams Fat: 28 grams Calories: 436
Daily serving for a 30 lb dog, can be divided into 2 feedings.
For about a year, I’ve been supplementing our dogs’ quality kibble with homemade turkey burgers (along with whole-wheat pasta and cooked vegetables). Our three dogs eat twice a day; at each meal, our largest dog (45 pounds) gets half a burger, while the two smaller ones (30 and 25 pounds) roughly share the other half.
I developed the recipe myself, and while I tried to cover the bases in terms of appropriate canine nutrition, I had no particular agenda in mind—I mostly just wanted to make our dogs’ meals a little more interesting for them. Curious about the burgers’ nutritional value, I turned to Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, RD, professor at Central Michigan University and devoted Akita person, to find out how my culinary experiment stacked up.The Recipe
Makes approx. 36 3-inch patties, each about 3.5 ounces
Total prep time: 20 minutes
Total cooking time: 1 hour
Preheat oven to 400°
Mix well, making sure all the ingredients are completely incorporated. Shape into 3-inch patties, place on lightly oiled (with spray oil), rimmed baking sheet(s). Optional: Spread little ketchup (about 1/8 tsp.) on top of each patty.
Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. A longer baking time will produce a drier and easier-to-crumble burger.
Tip: Deglaze the baking sheet with water, which makes a great gravy that can be used to moisten the meal. This recipe makes around 1 1/2 to 2 cups of this gravy. It’s also an easy way to help clean the baking pan.The Analysis
By Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, RD
There is much controversy within the veterinary nutritionist community about commercial pet food and home cooking. And, since manufacturing standards for canine food are so much different than those we apply in our own kitchens, it’s difficult to make an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Nonetheless, using proprietary nutrition software, it’s possible to determine the relative values of the major food components of Claudia’s recipe with those found in commercially produced dog food (in parens).
Analysis (per patty)
Note: All measurements are given in terms of 100 kilocalories (kcals) against measurement standards used by commercial food manufacturers.
Protein: 7.5 grams (8 grams is considered high protein)
Calories: 5.3 kcals (5 or more kcals is considered high calorie)
Fat: 2 grams (a low-fat food contains less than 2 grams, so this is neither high nor low)
Sodium: 30 mg (anything less than 100 mg per serving is considered low-sodium)
Fiber: 0.75 grams (neither high nor low)
Moisture loss with one hour covered cooking time is approximately 10 to 15 percent. High heat and long cooking time will destroy 90 percent of the thiamin and up to 50 percent of some of the other B vitamins in the burgers. On the bright side, it will also kill pathogens, so you don’t have to worry about the contamination that’s a concern when it comes to undercooked meats.
Used as a “topper” to both to increase palatability and provide calories, protein and other nutrients, the turkey burger is a great addition to a complete commercial dog food. Feeding turkey burgers as toppers may also be helpful for older dogs, who often have poor appetites, or dogs who have been ill or malnourished. In those cases, the turkey burger need not replace the commercial food, but rather, could be fed in addition to it.
As the recipe is given, it would not be advisable to feed turkey burgers as the sole source of nutrition because they may be too high-calorie for some dogs, and also because they’re missing some of the other nutrients dogs need. Obesity is becoming an epidemic among dogs, as it is in humans. Caloric restriction and regular exercise are important for weight maintenance, particularly as a dog ages.
As always, choose the best commercial food you can afford. To educate yourself on the options and issues, try out one of the online dog food evaluators; Dogfoodadvisor.com is a good place to start.
The Background: Canine Nutrition
Dogs, who are omnivorous, require the same sorts of major nutrients—proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and vitamins and minerals—as human omnivores, but in different ratios. For example, they have an absolute requirement for linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, and for nearly a dozen amino acids, the building blocks of protein. These amino acids range from the complex (arginine and phenylalanine) to simple (leucine and valine).
We and our four-legged companions get all 22 amino acids from protein sources such as eggs or meats, which contain varying percentages of each one. Some protein sources contain most of them, others only a fraction. Meats, eggs and fish are among the best sources of complete amino acids, and their proteins are highly digestible; this means that the amino acids are absorbed more readily from the gut.
Standards for minimal nutritional composition of food for dogs are based on percentages, which are determined by a dog’s physiological status; the percentages are higher for dogs during growth, reproduction and lactation stages, and increase as the weight of the animal increases. Usually, the amount fed to achieve the minimal percentages required for maintenance of normal physiological function in the dog is based on dry matter per kilogram of body weight. That is why labels that show the number of cups of food to be fed per day base the measurement on the size of the dog. Companies formulate their foods to provide a specific amount of protein, linoleic acid, and calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.
If you’re cooking for your dog and want to do your own analysis, a number of websites allow you to do that, but none can be considered foolproof. For example, there’s the USDA Nutrient Database. This is a food calculator only, and doesn’t contain information on ingredients that one might use in a dog-food recipe, such as eggshells (a free web calculator that includes eggshells can be found here: nutritiondata.self.com).
Healthy home-cooked meals for your dogs
In the April/May 2011 issue of The Bark, we interview Barbara Laino about the nutritional benefits of feeding your dog home-cooked meals in addition to, or in lieu of, commercial dog food (see “Home Cooking with Barbara Laino” April/May ’11). Here are two more recipes cooked up at Laino’s Midsummer Farm in Warwick, N.Y., that are sure to please your pup’s taste buds and keep her healthy:
Homemade Dinner Recipe for Dogs
This recipe feeds 2-3 large dogs for 7-10 days.
Grind the following ingredients in a meat grinder. Alternate ingredients so the grinder does the mixing for you. For instance, grind six necks, one carrot, a handful of pumpkin seeds, then six more necks and so on. Mix with a large spoon as you grind.
Add a couple of the following items. Have these ready on hand as you are grinding and add a sprinkle here and there of each so you can thoroughly mix the batch of food.
After grinding and mixing all ingredients thoroughly, keep the food in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Midsummer Farm Homemade Fish-Based Dog Dinner
(The below recipe is for 1 medium dog for 3 days, about 10 1-cup-size meatballs) This recipe can be made in larger batches for efficiency sake. This raw food can easily be frozen in meatball shapes appropriate for the size animals you are feeding.
Serving Sizes of Raw Meatballs:
Keep in a well-sealed container in fridge. Scoop out appropriate amounts for your pet, or if you made a very large batch that is more than can be consumed in about 5 days, roll into meal-sized meatballs and freeze. Then you can just take out whatever number meatballs you need and defrost them a couple days before you need to feed them. Meatballs will last at least 3 months in the freezer.
To learn more about homemade dog food and its many benefits, see our interview with Barbara Laino.
Note: We've omitted the garlic originally in this recipe.
Fast, easy and nutritious turkey feast.
It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to give thanks! Working in animal rescue, I’ve seen a lot of heartbreak, but I’ve also seen and experienced the love that a rescued animal can bring to a human and vice versa. Each one of my rescued dogs gives me so much joy and love every day—cooking for them and making sure they are healthy is the least I can do to say thanks. This recipe is chock-full of nutritious and delicious ingredients that help keep your beloved pup healthy and happy.
Makes 4 servings for a 50-pound dog
2 tbsps. olive oil
1. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the turkey and cook until it is browned. Drain any excess fat and set the turkey aside to cool.
2. Prepare the barley as directed on the package. Set it aside to cool. You should have about 1 cup of cooked barley.
3. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. If using the garlic, add it and sauté until it is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté, stirring frequently until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
4. Once cooled, puree the spinach and garlic mixture in a food processor and set it aside. You should have about a 1⁄4 cup of spinach puree.
To Make One Serving
1 1/3 cups cooked ground turkey
In your dog’s bowl, combine the turkey, barley, spinach puree, with beef heart, pumpkin, salmon oil and parsley. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
For a serving chart of proportions for different size dogs, see bowmeowraw.com
Home Cooking for Your Dog by Christine M. Filardi © Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013
Note: We've omitted the garlic originally in this recipe.
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