Home cooked dog food (with recipe)

How learning to cook for my dog got me back to the basics: eat a wide variety of whole foods.

My husband and dog looking for dinner in the fridge

Let me introduce you to our dog. We got him here in Singapore just before Lunar New Year 2012, so we named him 红龙 “red dragon,” but we just call him Red.

Red was in sad shape when we brought him home. We think he had only been eating newspaper and mealtime has always been a struggle. Even though I am a trained health-supportive chef, I somehow got convinced that I could not properly feed a puppy, so I bought the best food I could find and spent day after day trying to convince Red to eat it. What was I thinking? I don’t trust processed food, so why would I feed it to my dog?

I’ve since scoured the internet, browsed the bookstores, and interviewed our trainer and our vet. This is what I’ve learned:

  • Consider the whole food. Call it the fallacy of metonymy: a steak is not the whole cow, a plant has many edible parts.
  • Variety is important. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and I think that may be true for our bodies as well.
  • My dog may be cute, but his food doesn’t need to be. “Señor Poochie’s Beefy Burrito” is meaningless to us both.
  • I’m not ready to go raw. I’m just a bit too paranoid about food safety.

Bringing it all together, this is what we’re trying:

The Home Cooked Dog Food Formula

Quantity: 2-5% of your dog’s body weight per day (the bigger the breed, the lower the %)

Basic Ratio: 50% meat, 25% whole grain, 25% veg

Detailed Ratio: 40% muscle meat, 10% organ meat, 25% grain, 12.5% vegetable, 12.5% leafy greens

Supplements: fish oil, plain yogurt

Example: My pup is 6kg. 6kg x 4% = 240g, so twice a day he gets 60g meat, 30g cooked brown rice, 15g veg and 15g greens.

Recipe

Note: I developed this recipe for a small dog. He can tackle larger pieces of food but not without dragging them all over the kitchen.

Ingredients

260g brown rice (=750g cooked)
375g vegetable, finely chopped
375g greens, finely chopped
200g organ meat
1.3kg ground/minced meat

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice and put in a large saucepan with 560ml of water. Layer the chopped vegetables on top. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chopped greens. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes. [Note: if using a rice cooker, add the greens halfway through cooking.]
  2. In a large pot, steam the organ meat in a small amount of water. When almost cooked through, puree or finely chop into bite-size pieces.
  3. Return the organ meat to the pot and add the ground meat. Saute over medium heat until cooked through.
  4. Mix the brown rice and vegetables into the meat. Let stand, or chill in the fridge, until the mixture is cool enough to handle. Portion into single servings in individual resealable storage bags. Freeze flat and defrost as needed.

Variations

It’s a mix-and-match kind of thing. For meats, we rotate through beef, mutton and pork, and occasionally a free range chicken. For veg, we’ve done a combo of carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, bai cai (bok choy) and, my favorite, sweet potato and sweet potato greens.
…..

It’s working well so far. Red’s coat is soft and shiny. He has good muscle tone and a nice little doxie waist. He’s actually excited at mealtime and hasn’t skipped a one.

Plus, I was so pleased with the first attempt that I decided to make it for dinner: mini steaks (about 3oz/85g each) of ribeye and beef heart with mashed sweet potato and sweet potato greens. [I also learned that I left my stick blender and ring molds back in the U.S. but it’s still fun to play with plating.]

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