Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How To: Home Cooked Dog Food

Whatever made my two dogs sick was something they ate, and the only thing I had personally seen any of them eat was their dog food and treats. The dog food I thought was good quality. It was not the 60 bucks a bag that the Blue brand was, but it was 40 bucks a bag and it was grain free. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. Little dogs like my Chihuahuas have such a delicate constitution.

So ... I decided to make my own. Years ago there was a big dog food scare in the media and we made our own, until we eventually got lazy. But we had bigger dogs back then, and more money for vet care if something went wrong.

The pack has been eating the recipe below for a couple weeks now, and it should go without saying that dinner time is orders of magnitude more fun for this pack of chow hounds. It took some experimentation to figure it out, but I think I have it dialed in and thought I would share:

Above, You want it moist but not "goopy" and this is a decent batch


Spot's Hearty Chicken & Rice


Ingredients
(Makes 12-14 little dog meals)

1 Cup Long Grain Rice
1 Large Boneless Chicken Breast
1 Bag Frozen Veggies
1 Pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil "EVOO"

Directions

Cook the rice per instructions on the box--probably 2 cups water, bringing to a boil and covering and then simmering 20 minutes. Take the rice off the stove and put off to the side.

Chop the raw chicken, and heat a large skillet with the olive oil on medium heat. When the oil starts to get thinner, then put the chicken pieces in the pan. Stir the pan to even out the chicken, then add the pinch of salt. Keep stirring to make it cook evenly.

When the chicken is almost done cooking, add the frozen vegetables. Leave any fat in there--ideally there will be a little. Keep stirring. When they start to look thawed, you can reduce the heat a little. You want to turn off the heat before they get soggy. Turn the heat off.

Stir in the rice, which should already be warm and not sticky or gooey. Even cooked all the way, the rice will soak up the fat and flavor of the chicken and vegetables. If necessary, add just a little water.

I think the bag above was about $4.50 at Winco, and of course no sales tax in Oregon!

Serving

I serve this with a drop of the liquid vitamin supplement I ordered from Amazon. I serve up about a cup for each dog, and then just drop a drop on top of the food. They don't seem to mind the smell, so I don't have to hide it. Just a drop on top.

For treats the dogs get plain meat; either chicken from this recipe or bacon, and occasionally leftover breakfast sausage.

Results

A few years ago when we switched to a store bought, grain free dog food, the dogs got noticeably healthier looking. Our vet said our dogs were in better health than hers. But this food has not only made them a little healthier over the grain free food, but the doggies are more active, too.

Is it the food or the supplement, or both? I don't want to mess around with their health, so I'm going to stay the course and continue giving them this recipe plus the supplement.

Notes

  • The key to making this recipe in a way where Spot won't turn her nose up at the rice and the vegetables is to make sure the rice soaks up lots of the chicken flavor. It's a little hard to work with a whole batch of this in one skillet, but it's that or give Spot plain meat.
  • Add a little more olive oil if needed to keep the fat content up. Boneless chicken breast is a lean meat but this dish needs at least a little fat. 
  • The above recipe is cheaper than the 40 bucks a month I was spending! Though it's obviously more work...
  • I wash their bowls with the other dishes now every night, too. Smokey licks his dish down to bare metal, but the other's don't, so I just throw them all in with the dishes every night. 

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