For all of you dog owners out there, you know that your four-legged friend is part of the family. You want the best for your kids, your mom, your partner and yourself, right? Why would you treat your dog any differently? With so much negative publicity surrounding conventional dog food brands, many owners are rethinking what they put in their dog’s bowl.
Unfortunately, many dog owners can only afford lower quality food, as premium formulas can cost hundreds of dollars per month. If you want to feed your dog better without the high price tag, you can — that’s the beauty of nutrient-dense “human food” recipes.
Why make the switch?
When I first started feeding Moe, my nine-year-old pug, natural “people” food, I dramatically saw a difference in terms of his arthritis. Not only did he lose excess weight, but he began to have more energy too. To be honest, I felt like he was a puppy again. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight, but there’s no denying the connection between his improved health and diet.
There have been some horror stories that have circulated over the past few years — as many “secrets” have been uncovered. For example, commercial dog food can legally contain what’s known as “4-D meat”— as in, the meat taken from a dead, dying, disabled or diseased animal.
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To keep the cost down for manufacturers, they pack conventional kibble with grain and corn that’s often contaminated with high levels of pesticides. These concerns don’t even include the number of recalls that have occurred based on contaminated food. As you can imagine, the cheaper the food, the worse the ingredients and overall nutritional value.
Incredibly, dogs and humans share around 84 percent of the same DNA. This is why dogs are often studied in terms of human diseases — yes, your dog can get cancer, diabetes and even epilepsy. In fact, dogs have been shown to suffer from more than 350 genetic disorders — many which resemble conditions we experience as humans.
When you look at premium dog foods, there’s a reason why you recognize the ingredients — you eat them too. From salmon to chicken, blueberries to sweet potatoes, these ingredients provide your dog with the types of nutrients their body needs in order to live a full and healthy life.
How do I switch my dog’s food?
When I first started making meals for Moe, I was fixated on everything — protein, fat, calcium, and the list goes on and on. After a few months, I realized that it’s common sense, paying more attention to what Moe needed, focusing less on strict guidelines and increments. After all, if you have a golden retriever, their dietary needs will differ from a poodle’s.
At the end of the day, just like us, your dog’s diet needs to offer a range of foods — this will ensure balance. Since Moe eats such a wide variety of ingredients, not each and every meal needs to be balanced. Throughout the week, he consumes nutrient-dense snacks that offer unique benefits, so everything balances out in terms of complete nutrition.
Although the recipe below is vegetarian, Moe does NOT follow a vegetarian diet. He eats plenty of chicken, grass-fed beef and fish. In fact, meat should account for at least half of your dog’s diet, simply based on their high protein needs. Regardless of your dietary choices, dogs have evolved as scavenging carnivores. This means they can “survive” on plant-based foods, but that doesn’t mean they’ll thrive. Dogs require 22 amino acids in order to build healthy cells, support organ function, build muscle, produce hormones and much more. Since their bodies can only make 12, they require 10 essential amino acids from their diet — of course, meat is a rich source of these “building blocks.”
When switching to human food, you shouldn’t do so suddenly. If you switch them from a kibble-based diet to strictly human food overnight, you could really upset their digestive system. To start, feed your dogs little bits and pieces — when you’re cooking ground chicken, for instance, take some out BEFORE it’s seasoned and give it to your dog.
The same is true for raw vegetable and fruit snacks — carrots, peas, apples, berries, you name it. Start incorporating small increments into their dry food, gradually adding more and more. Please be aware that some foods are toxic or hard to digest — onions, garlic, black pepper, grapes, raisins and avocado. If you’re unsure about a food, ask your vet or seek information from a trusted source.
All-Natural Homemade Dog Food
As mentioned, there is no meat in this recipe, simply because Moe has had plenty of meat this week and will be having salmon tonight. This is a quick and easy recipe when you need to whip up a quick batch of food. Remember: variety is the spice of life — both for you and your pooch.
Switch up ingredients and boost their health today! Please note, since Moe is a pug, his portion sizes will be smaller than larger breed dogs — please adjust accordingly.
- 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/4 cup cooked oatmeal
- 2 tbsp shredded carrot
- 2 tbsp cooked peas
- 1 tbsp blueberries
- 1 tsp flax seeds
- 2 mint leaves, finely chopped
1. Simply combine all ingredients. Done!
The oatmeal, brown rice and flax do provide some protein, however, if you have not supplemented your dog’s diet with meat (either throughout other meals or from daily snacks), add some ground chicken, beef, tuna, etc.
— Krista Hillis