Headines screaming pet food recalls seem to be an everyday day occurrence, of late. Many result in serious and or fatal consequences. Let’s face it, for most of us, our pets are beloved members of the family. And the thought of causing harm to our four-legged friends is gut-wrenching.
I have three dogs, two Labs and one small poodle cross. The older Lab has many health issues and the poodle cross is just finicky. Last year, I switched all my dogs to grain -free products after experiencing stomach sensitivity issues in the Labs. I know that animal protein is a integral part of a dogs diet, so, when I started paying attention to the ingredient deck on most traditional keeble, I realized the first ingredient was usually some type of corn or wheat product, a key cause of many canine allergies.
Grain-free dog food has become mainstream and a popular alternative amongst many pet owners. But, pet food products with the number one ingredient as meat protein can be a pricey choice. Dogs, unlike cats are omivores and although they can survive on a non-protein based diet, it eventually wreaks havoc on their health. In order for a dog to thrive, he needs animal protein. Dogs need meat!
The ideal diet for a dog food would contain 50-60% protein, 25-30% fat and 14% carb. In contrast, most popular bargain brand dog foods contain as little as 18-32% protein and 25-30% fat with anywhere from 45-75% carbohydrates. All hat and no cattle, as my mama would say.
My dogs love meat. especially wild game meats like venison. My husband is a hunter and we usually keep venison stew meat to cook for the dogs. After purchasing high-quality wet dog food to mix medications in for my older Lab, I decided enough was enough. I would make my own organic, gluten-free wet dog food using all-natural ingredients. Canning via water-bath is a great way to preserve the food for future use. Here is how I made some seriously great organic dog food.
- I stewed about 2.5 lbs of venison meat cut up into medium size chunks. Once cooked, I reserved the broth to cook my brown rice.
- Process the meat in the food processor until ground and set aside.
- Prepare 2 cups(dry) gluten-free, organic brown rice. It takes about 45 minutes to cook in 3.5 cups of water and or broth. I used both venison broth and added water.
- While the rice was cooking, I chopped up 5 organic carrots, 3 stalks of organic celery and a moderate of yellow squash and zucchini, I had put up from the garden. You can sauteed or steam. Steaming keeps the vegetables from losing the least amounts of nutrients.
- Once cooled, add the steamed vegetables to the brown rice and process lightly. I added a bit off dried herbs like rosemary and majoram for flavor.
- I did some research online to find out what nutritional supplement was missing from homemade dog food and the answer was calcium. Calcium plays an important role in the bone strength of both dogs and humans. You can add bone meal but I used what I had on hand which was farm fresh eggs shells. Each shell contains about 1900 mg of Calcium which is a whopping dose contained in about one teaspoon of finely ground shell.
- To prepare, place your egg shells in a 300 degree oven for about ten minutes to dry and then use a spice or coffee bean grinder to make a fine powder. I added the egg yolks to my brown rice mixture knowing I would be processing the mixture in a water bath and the yolks would cook. Raw eggs can be harmful to dogs.
- Mix the egg shell powder into the brown rice mixture and lightly pulse.
- I added three 1000 mg capsules of Vitamin E and 3 Tbsp of organic coconut oil to the mixture for healthy skin and coat. Puncture the capsules with a pin and squirt contents into mixture. Coconut oil is a healthy source of saturated fat necessary to a dogs’s healthy diet.
- Mix the ground meat and the rice mixture together in a large bowl and process in food processor in portions until you achieve the consistency of canned dog food..
- Pack into sterile, 1 qt size wide-mouthed Mason jars and process in water bath following your canner’s directions. I processed my jars for 20 minutes and then left in the hot water for an hour until sealed.
- Each 32 oz jar is equal to 2.5 standard cans and contains no fillers or artificial preservatives. Refrigerate after the seal is broken.
Some foods you should NOT feed your dog
- Fat trimmings
- Canned, raw or cooked fish. Salmon is the exception.
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Onions and excessive garlic
- Raw eggs
- Yeast dough
You can make the mixture with other meats like chicken or beef. Liver and or organ meats are another good source of muscle protein. Gluten-free lentils are another healthy alternative to brown rice.
So, have fun. Be creative and feed your dog well. After all, they are man’s best friend!
Bee the Change!