I’ve always had dogs. I remember a small white and fluffy one my grandmother had when I was very little. I also remember another one who use to bite me a bit when I visited my other grandparents. When I was in school I had two collies and the last one lived till he was 17 years old. He was a lovely dog, very clever, very kind and I am blessed to have spent a dozen years taking care about him and playing with him. I’ve got one now too – he as been adopted from Battersea Cats and Dogs Home in South London 4 years ago and he has definitely settled in nicely now.
This post is about dogs nutrition and how you can extend your kindness to these wonderful individuals. They are our friends and companions, so why don’t they deserve good nutrition as we do?
I have started my research and collected some data. Here is a quick snapshot:
- My childhood dogs were never fed this dry food that is everywhere now; instead, my mother used to cook a few grains, oats or cornmeal and add fresh vegetable and a few chunks of meat. The latter was never a meal but more of a flavouring to it. I suppose we were quite poor and could not afford proper meat for the dogs, but I treat it now as a happy coincidence. Guess what, we rarely needed to go and see a vet or had any major problems with my doggies. Instead, they have lived a very long life.
- My current dog is quite healthy too. Yet a few years back he started to have some problems with digestion that got me really worried. It coincided with his grooming appointment and I had routinely mentioned this to a lady who owned a salon. She asked me what is he eating these days and I said it was Bake*s meaty chunks (disguising the brand name a bit not to do any direct harm). She had almost jumped and very passionately said I needed to search for issues that were already reported. Apparently people claimed there was so much badness in those meaty chunks (no major concentration of meat, but supposedly antifreeze). It was truly shocking and I quickly emptied the contents of that food into a bin… Got my dog Lucky a new pack that was recommended by that lady and, guess what, he got back to normal on a second day. Lesson number 1: do not buy that nasty mass market dry food in a supermarket. Lesson number 2: when buying his food, look at the ingredients to see what’s inside.
- Since then I have been a customer of another brand that makes your dog a tailored pack of food based on the information you provide to them. It sounded just fine, backed by some nutritionists and worked well for Lucky. I even started buying not only their dry food mixes but also wet food trays as they contain reasonable amount of actually natural ingredients like meat, rice and vegetables. Yet with me going vegan and feeling so much better I kept on wondering whether that old, my mother’s approach to feeding dogs was the best. There was nothing dehydrated in it – just a plan meal made of grains or oats and lots of vegetables. She was adding some meat to it, but if I try and check how my dog reacts to plant-based protein, maybe it would be viable for me to feed Lucky with nutritional vegan food too?
- Dogs are also omnivores, so it means they can easily live on either meat or veggie diet, however as they won’t be able to get back to you with what they need, you need to make sure the balance of vitamins and nutrients is right. Puppies will definitely need more protein, but for adult dogs you can, in most cases, cook a balanced plant-based food at home. My small remark about ‘most cases’ is about dogs who you know are allergic to certain foods. You will still need to provide them with enough protein, so if they do not react well to beans or soya you got yourself a bit of a problem.
- I have also found a few more amazing points of reference in terms of dog food. I loved the documentary (available on Netflix) called Pet Fooled. A few prominent veterinarians are discussing issues with dog food and recommend what’s best. The shocking realisation was that if your dog food is labelled as ‘with chicken’ or ‘with beef’, it can have (by law!) just 3% of such ingredient. Some companies were also reported to be producing dog treats that actually trigger fatal conditions, yet no one is actually pulling these products from supermarkets shelves. It was heart-breaking to see pet owners who lost their beloved ones simply because they at a chicken jerky. Did you know that dry food is designed to last, in many cases, for about 25 years – more than the lifespan of your beloved pet?
It all got me thinking that not only I can be mindful enough to calculate and design a perfect homemade food for Lucky and it also could be vegan!
Here is my own recipe that contains all necessary nutrients from carbohydrates including slow releasing starches, but also a bit of healthy oil and protein.
Just a point of reference to everyone: my dog is 8 years old bichon frisee. I try to exercise him, but it is sometimes very challenging with this wet British weather. He is healthy at 10 kg weight, but can lose a pound to be slimmer I guess.
Please let me know what do you think and let’s share your own creations too!
Lucky's homemade food
This recipe uses various grans and pulses. I cook a large pan full of dog goodness and then just lightly warm a portion when I need to feed him. It not only gives your dog perfect nutrients and natural food, but also saves you time!
Consider using :
- 1 cup of buckwheat
- 1 cup of rice or barley
- 1 cup of red lentils
- 1/2 cup of quinoa
- 1/2 cup of couscous (optional)
- 2 cans of beans (I prefer crushing them prior to mixing to the food)
- 2 large carrots
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 courgettes
- handful of parsley
- soy beans (optional)
- tofu (optional)
Start by boiling water enough to fully cover your grains and pulses. Do not add salt or rich stock to it, your aim to make it quite neutral. Cook your rice, lentils, buckwheat and other grains and pulses if using.
Put a timer to 15 minutes and then add chunks of your veggies. Your aim is to soften them just slightly, so they are crunchy! Raw veggies will add so many essential nutrients and they are actually very healthy for your dog, so always have a pack or several of your dog's favourite veggies. Mine is absolutely head over heals for carrots!
If your dog is not sensitive to soy products, both soy beans and tofu are amazing to add vegan protein source to your dog's meal. I also love adding a pinch of parsley to his bowl and mix all things together. It not only makes it fragrant, but they got a lot of goodness from this herb.
Wait until it's slightly cool to serve a portion (I give about 150-200 g a day for my 10 kg Lucky boy!)
The rest can go to a container and be kept in a fridge. Just take a portion, warm it a bit and his food is ready. Trust me, it would be much better than that unnatural dry food you can get in the supermarket!
Drastic change of dog food might be a bit sudden to your beloved dog. I suggest you either do it gradually over a few days time and/or supplement with a dog vitamin complex. I have been using Higher Nature Dog for his first week and Lucky is super energised and happy!