Due to my peanut/nut allergy, I didn’t eat much processed food growing up. That taste for real food has grown into a love of creating healthy, wholesome meals for Garrett and I. A few months ago we started thinking about how we were so conscious of what we ate, but we never really thought about what our dog, Whiskey, was eating.
Since I adopted Whiskey in 2009, I’ve always bought him top-of-the-line gluten-free dry dog food, as recommended by the rescue he was from. After doing a little bit of research, I was surprised to read about how even some of the most reputable, expensive brands are still putting not-so-great ingredients into their food.
Since then, I’ve been making him homemade dog food for about 50% of his meals. It’s hard to beat the convenience of dry food when we’re on the road or visiting family and friends. I also think that there are some benefits to eating dry food for the health of his teeth and digestive tract.
Even if we can’t do it all the time, I feel better knowing that we’re giving him healthy whole foods as an alternative for some of his meals. He gets ridiculously excited as soon as he sees his stew being set down. How could you not want to cook for someone who appreciates it, right?
As with any diet changes, please consult your veterinarian before switching your dog’s food. Whiskey is only 11 lbs, so he doesn’t eat very much food, making this cost effective for us, but it may not be for everyone.
If I can buy the meat on sale, a batch will cost about $3 and lasts for 5-6 days. We feed him at breakfast and dinner, but usually leave him half a scoop of dry food in his bowl while we’re at work for a “snack”. He’ll usually graze on that between meals. We always leave him plenty of fresh water too!
I like to change up his stew all the time, depending on what fresh meat and produce we get, but here is a rough guide of what ratios I put into it. You can easily double/triple this for a larger batch.
- 1 lb ground beef, chicken or turkey
- 1 large potato or sweet potato, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- ½ cup frozen peas
- Saute the meat in a large pot until no longer pink. Don't drain the fat because that's good fat for your pooch! If you chose a leaner meat like chicken or turkey, add in couple of tablespoons of coconut oil for some fats.
- Add in the potatoes and carrots.
- Pour in just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.
- Stir in the frozen peas. I also add a little bit of sea salt into it for some flavour.
- Allow to cool before serving. Refrigerate or freeze extra portions.
Pour in just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.
Whiskey just knows when I’m cooking up a batch of stew for him. As soon as I start making it, he’s sitting by the stove, licking his lips. I had just got in from the gym and he could hardly wait for his dinner.
If I make a smaller batch, I just keep it in the pot in the fridge and serve it up to him each meal. When I see large value packs of ground meat on sale, I’ll go ahead and make a mega batch. It takes just as much time as a smaller one, but gives us weeks worth of food for him.
I package up the smaller plastic bags into an extra large freezer bag. This saves space in the freezer and makes them easier to find. When I’m really on top of my game, I like to have more than one flavour frozen, to give him some variety.
As great as I think homemade dog food is for Whiskey, I do worry about it being nutritionally balanced. Commercial dog foods, especially the high end ones we were feeding him, contain many nutrients and vitamins to improve your dog’s health. To compensate for that, we’ve started giving Whiskey BioVites Dog Vitamins. I just sprinkle it into his bowl of stew in the morning, and it combines with the liquid to make a nice little gravy for him.
Whiskey is our best buddy and I want to do everything that we can to give him a long, healthy life. Making your dog homemade food may not be for everyone, but it’s been working for us. It’s easy enough to make it up on a Sunday afternoon while I’m making our dinner, and it gives me peace of mind knowing I’m giving him the best wholesome foods that I can.
And on a final note, I have a funny little story for you:
On nights when I know I’ll be working late or going straight to my part-time job, I tend to leave Garrett dinner already made in the fridge. One evening, I got called into my part-time job last minute and didn’t have anything prepared, so I told him just to scrounge around for something in the fridge or cupboards. When I got home, I asked him what he had managed to come up with and he sheepishly admitted that he’d eaten the dog food stew. I guess he took one look at it and thought, “with a little bit of seasoning, this could be quite good”. I nearly died laughing. He was right, there was nothing wrong with eating the stew (it’s just meat and vegetables), but there was just something about him eating the dog’s dinner that cracked me up. (For the record, I’ve yet to try it myself).