“Tell us about your favourite pet.”
Ah, my boys. The one on the left is Hóng Lóng, Red Dragon. The one on the right is Hēi Fèng, Black Phoenix. He’s a rescue dog–risen from the ashes–and we call him Ash. In Chinese culture, Dragon and Phoenix represent an eternal pair, the Emperor and the Empress. Yes, they’re both boys. No matter, we’re cool with that.
What more can I tell you about them, other than they are awesome, and they eat better than I do.
I’ve written about home-cooked dog food before and I’ve learned a few things since then. When Ash came to live with us, his digestive system was still in recovery from the neglect of his former life. And as it happened, Red had recently eaten a Kong and was experiencing some intestinal difficulties himself. So our vet recommended a simplified diet: chicken and white rice (no organ meat and no salt).
Chicken and white rice was easy. Skin and roughly quarter 2-1.5kg chickens and blast them in a pressure cooker with water. Chill, debone, chop and mix with rice.
Our vet also recommended giving them a multivitamin and a calcium supplement. I’m not a fan of supplements, so I pureed 500g of chicken livers and added 60ml of apple cider vinegar to the pressure cooker to draw the calcium out of the chicken bones. Our trainer recommended fish oil, which we did for a while, but now I’m just using sardines packed in olive oil–calcium and omega-3s.
It went pretty well, until Red started eating sand at the local playground and both boys started grazing on our walks. Salt and veg went back in the mix.
Finally, I got paranoid about the boys developing a chicken allergy, so when they seemed healthy enough, I switched them to mutton. And now that I’m apprenticing with a butcher, they’re switching to beef.
So here it is, the revised Home Cooked Dog Food Formula. This makes about a week-and-a-half of food for us. Yes, it takes some time, mostly unattended, but my Dragon and Phoenix are happy and healthy and totally worth it.
520g white rice (=1500g cooked)
750g greens, finely chopped
60ml apple cider vinegar
500g organ meat
1.3kg ground/minced meat
822g Libby’s 100% pumpkin puree
400g canned sardines in olive oil (4 tins)
- Rinse the rice and put in a large saucepan with 1L of water and the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 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.]
- Place the bones and apple cider vinegar in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Alternately, cook in a pressure cooker on high for one hour and use the natural release method.
- Remove the bones and skim any foam from the surface. Continuing simmering until the broth is reduced by about half.
- Add the organ meat. When almost cooked through, remove and puree or finely chop into bite-size pieces (do not discard the broth).
- Return the organ meat to the pot and add the ground meat. Simmer over medium heat until cooked through.
- Mix the rice, vegetables, pumpkin, and sardines into the meat. 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.