Here is a typical meal that I feed my dogs- well, typical as it gets since they get something different every day. I make their food fresh, “from scratch” each evening. But, it’s really, really easy. This is because, I believe, dogs are evolved scavengers and can live, and thrive, off of almost anything (the fact that most commercial kibble is so full of junk, but so many dogs do OK on it is the ultimate testament to that). So, I follow no recipes, I don’t worry about what AAFCO defines as the daily minimum for niacin or phosphorous; and I don’t really even worry much about the raw versus cooked debate.
Instead, I just feed them whole foods, and shoot for as wide of variety as possible. Because I’ve read that dogs don’t break down fiber well, I do cook their grains, and mostly steam their vegetables. I feed their meat raw most of the time, but they certainly get cooked meat too, and I’ve recently switched the most elderly dog to mostly cooked. I don’t avoid much of anything, except I minimize onions and grape products (recent evidence indicates they’re toxic to dogs in large quantities) and the nightshade family plants (tomato, eggplant, potato) because those contribute to inflammation.
This particular meal has bananas, some leftover bits from a salad, some leftover waffles, duck eggs, and beef liver. The meat I use most is ground turkey, because I can get it the cheapest. But I try to have them eat red meat at least once a week, as well as organ meat once a week, and canned fish once a week.
I feed them a small piece of meat in the morning (a chicken drumstick or back, usually) and their evening meal is about 1/3 veggies, 1/3 meat and 1/3 grains and legumes. These are very rough proportions. I do add some supplements– glucosamine for the old dogs, and vitamin C, vegetable and fish oil for all. For three of the dogs, I add a supplement powder mixture of lecithin, alfalfa, kelp and nutritional yeast (my 4th dog seems to be allergic to one of these things, so she doesn’t get this). I try to give them raw meaty bones from the butcher once a week too.
Often-very often-they get leftovers. That’s the best part about all this homemade feeding thing! If we make a recipe that doesn’t turn out so well, or forget to eat some leftovers, or buy too much of something, I never throw it away. It all goes in the dog food. So, pretty much nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. Refrigerator cleanouts go straight into their bowls. They don’t mind things that are a little “off” with too much enzyme activity for our tastes- in fact, I think they digest things better when they are already headed down the path of decomposition!
The results: super healthy dogs that veterinarians always compliment. Their teeth stay healthy and clean without any brushing or anaesthesia -cleanings. Their coats look great. They heal from wounds fast, they have loads of energy for working, rarely injure, and stay robustly healthy, despite frequent exposure to other dogs at shows and trials. I rarely have to vist the vet. They tolerate fleas (yes- tolerate, like a normal animal should!). Their “output” is small and less offensive than kibble-fed dogs: more like coyote scat. They aren’t perpetually hungry like they were when they ate kibble, and they maintain good weights naturally and easily. And, my old dogs are old: 12+ and 15, and they still look good!
I have been feeding my dogs this way for about 9 years and am so pleased with the results. Once, I did the math, and convinced myself it costs about the same as kibble. For all the people out there who are struggling with disease, dental problems, allergies, infections, behavior problems and other chronic illness in their dogs, I really think this is the way to go. Diet is probably the foremost contributor to all disease in the world, and for us in this country, it’s so easily changed! Plus, I just enjoy making it for them and seeing how much they love eating it. Bon appetite! 🙂