Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Part Three: Homemade Dog Food

Here's the final part of the three-part series about the importance of food for our dogs' health. I told you the stories of Annya and Tessie, how the poor quality of their food was affecting their health. Now I'll talk a bit about the alternative to store bought, processed foods: Homemade Dog Food!

Now, I'm not going to lie. There is a lot to take into consideration when making food for your dog. First, and often the most simple choice, is whether to make wet food or dry. I chose to make wet food, because less processed food is the main goal for Annya.

After that, there's all kinds of complicated things like calorie requirements, rations of fat, protein, and carbs, how often to feed your pet(s), etcetera, etcetera. So the easiest way to go, is step by step. Obviously, I'll be using my own information about Annya as the basis for this post.

Calories: There's a fancy complicated formula for working out how many calories your pet needs, but it's all based off of the weight and activity level of each animal. To simplify the process, I've provided a calorie requirement chart for you to check with. For Annya, there is a calorie range for her between 800-1100 calories per day. This will vary depending on her activity level, and whether or not she needs to lose or gain any weight. It is a constantly changing variable, so typically I just give her as much food as she'll eat, and let her decide how much she needs to eat in a day.

Protein, Carbs and Fats: According to my research, most people say that appropriate dog food should contain 45% Protein, 30% Carbs and 25% Fat. Personally I think dogs should have much more protein than that, so I try to make Annya's food with at least 50% protein.

Frequency: I used to feed Annya in the morning, just filling her bowl up with her dry food, and letting her nibble on it throughout the day. Now that her food is made fresh, it shouldn't sit out for long, so instead I feed her once in the morning, and once in the evening. If she seems particularly interested in my meals, I'll feed her another smaller portion in the middle of the day. The whole process is about trial and error, so just test things out, and see what works for your animals.

So now that we have all of the complicated stuff out of the way, we can get to the fun part: Making the food! This is actually a lot easier than it might seem, especially since I've taken quite a bit of the leg work out of the whole process. All you really need to do is pick and choose which foods you want to use, figure out how much you need for your dog(s), and then voila! Homemade dog food!

Tips: I'd recommend keeping as much food raw as possible, to make sure the nutrients of the ingredients are intact. Of course, this will depend on your dog's taste preferences. Annya won't eat raw carrots, but if I cook them she will. If you can get away with the raw ingredients, do it. Also, if your dog has any dietary restrictions, keep those in mind when making the food. And don't be afraid of switching things up. You dogs, like you, appreciate new flavors.

So go on then! Pick some ingredients, fix them up, and let your dog tell you what they think about it!

Sources of carbs:
Sweet potato*
Banana (Not too often, it can upset the stomach a bit)
Rice (Like the banana, some dogs tend to have a hard time digesting too much rice.)
Apples* (Remove cores and all of the seeds.)

Sources of Protein (All cooked):

Sources of Fat:
Coconut (Dried flakes, milk, or just the oil are all good options)
Flax (Seeds or ground meal)
Olive oil
Hemp seed

*These foods have have 100mg or more of Zinc in portions of 100 grams. For Annya, these are the foods I need to make sure she eats regularly.

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