Last Updated on 2022-03-16 by Admin
After our ordeal with feeding Annie kibble, we started feeding her home cooked food. You can view the Kibble article here.
My wife had cooked for her prior Boxers; they reached the ages of twelve and fourteen. For a Boxer, life expectancy is about ten years, so my wife must have done something right. To cook for Annie was the most logical next step to take for us.
I ordered some books on home cooked food for dogs to make sure we had enough facts for providing Annie with nutritious food.
Success with Simple food
Annie liked her home cooked oatmeal, meat or fish, vegetables, mashed up peas or other beans. The Liver she would get in small amounts. Tripe she wanted a lot, other internal organ meat was given to her as well.
By alternating the ingredients, we guaranteed that Annie would get a variety of foods. Once in a while, my wife added some sardines or raw egg as a treat, Annie loved it.
The biggest mistake made home cooked food for dogs is not adding calcium. For that reason, I bought some calcium powder. Another essential ingredient to add is a good Omega 3 fish oil.
On days where we cooked Annie’s food, she was laying in front of the kitchen entrance and watch. My wife nicknamed her inspector. Annie would sit up and hope for some meat to fall on the floor.
Feeding home cooked food – Why so complicated?
I read several books on how to cook for dogs to get insight into how much of each food to give, for a balanced diet. Something simple, practical and useful. Many books start with listing each vitamin and mineral and explaining what it is suitable for; somewhere near the end, there are some recipes. I wanted something more practical. One book I found to be reasonably practical became my guide. In it, I found a recipe for a homemade supplement, almost every meal required it. You can find out about hat book in my book review section.
I had to wonder. Dogs survived for thousands of years with Humans and without requiring supplements. Is this needed? It just seemed over-complicated. Reluctantly I made the supplement and added it to Annie’s food.
How do others cook for there dog?
By talking to other dog owners that also home cooked for their dogs, it became clear that most did not supplement the food with calcium. Even without supplements, the dogs were doing well. I noticed they all changed the ingredients, different meat, and vegetables, mostly buying what was on sale and seasonal. My wife did much of the same for her prior dogs, with one exception, her dogs got lots of raw bones to chew. She added fresh chopped parsley, cooked vegetables, meat and rice. They got way older than most Boxers. One was 13 years old and the other 14 years old when they died. I don’t know of anybody else that had a Boxer reaching that kind of age.
Is it not possible to feed a dog with just regular home cooked food? Maybe adding supplements is a reflection on us humans that we then project on our pets. Is the supplement concoction necessary?
Based on all the feedback from others that cooked for dogs, what was the evidence for giving it? I could not find any.
I removed the Supplement concoction. Studying the recipes I concluded that as insurance, they added it to all the recipes. The recipes themselves were not that nutritious.
Instead, we increased the amount of cooked and mashed lentils, kidney beans, black beans, and Lima beans, raw shredded carrots, zucchini and canned Sardines.
Life is Good
Annie’s home cooked food contained most of the ingredients we eat. Yes, it was more work than feeding kibble. What matters, Annie was doing well. I remember thinking she eats like a horse, not like a dog. Her activity level was high. In the morning, Annie would wake me at 5:30 AM, we go for a 1 to 1.5-hour walk, around 8 AM, my wife would take her to the dog park where she ran and played with the other dogs for an hour. Annie came home tired, calm and relaxed. What a life! After supper, she got another long walk or play.
Annie was full of energy and good health. Happy dog, happy owners.
Approximately one Year after feeding Annie home cooked food, she got finicky. Some times she would not eat, whine and sniff around the bowl. We tried to find out if there was something specific she no longer liked.
Then we thought maybe she is just picky, so we took the food bowl away and gave it to her sometime later. She still would not eat. I took the bowl away a second time then waited until the next morning. In the morning Annie went to the food bowl, she was hungry, she just sniffed around the bowl and whined.
I thought maybe there is something wrong with the food and cooked something else for her. She was eating the new meal, but not the next meal. That behaviour continued for a while.
Several people told me that Annie was spoiled. Convinced that Annie was not picky or spoiled, I ignored those comments. I know my dog. She was not satisfied with her food. My wife often told me she never experienced anything like this with here other Boxers. Yes, Annie is independent, can be stubborn, not eating is not like here. Previous times when she whined or behaved this way; there were reasons. We had to address this issue and not let it drag out.
Switch to Raw meat
It was clear that there was only one thing to try, give here raw meat.
Interestingly, the books related to cooking for dogs had a familiar argument about raw meat. Raw meat may have salmonella, and dogs could choke on raw bone splinters. I find it interesting that this somehow always comes up.
Of course, salmonella is real. We are talking about giving Your dog the same meat You eat and the same hygiene practices You use for Your food.
Giving raw bones was a concern for me, but not for my wife. She used to get boxes of all kinds of bones from a neighbour. Her dogs chewed on lots of bones without incident.
We slowly substituted raw meat for the cooked meat; she was eating raw meat daily within five days; most of the other ingredients stayed the same. You can read the article on how Annie did with raw food here.
I found feeding home cooked food rewarding, seeing her do so well made me and my wife feel good. Watching her develop into a healthy, active and beautiful young dog brought Joy.
The most disappointing part of our journey is the lack of straight forward scientific information on feeding dogs. What should be a natural thing to do becomes intimidating and confusing. It can’t be that hard to feed a dog, dogs live with humans for thousands of years, eating raw and home cooked food.
In the end, my guide is, change the meat, vegetables or fruits and grains\rice often. It provides a more diverse nutritional diet. Feeding a dog home cooked food is not as complicated as most people make it out be. Get a couple of good books on the topic and get familiar what dogs can and like to eat. After Annie was switched to home cooked food her body odour also changed. She smells much nicer since being fed cooked food.
Update Feb 7 2021
Better Gut Health with Food, Prebiotics & Probiotics is a new article that might be of interested to readers who have dogs with digestive issues.
Update Mar 2022
Due to the increasing costs of feeding a dog I wrote a post on how to keep dog food cost in check during inflationary times. Feeding a dog home cooked food is more costly than feeding kibble.
Fresh and raw diets for dogs may have health benefits, study says https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180823171030.htm
Similarity of the dog and human gut microbiomes in gene content and response to diet https://microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-018-0450-3
Diet Shaped Dog Domestication https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/01/diet-shaped-dog-domestication