I have blogged previously on the issue of manufactured (preprocessed) dog food and, in particular dog kibble (biscuits get included here also). The rather dubious sources of many of the ingredients has resulted in the deaths and severe illness of pets around the world. In particular I am referring to the melamine scare of March 2007. As a result, many top name brands were included in a recall of certain brands of their foods. I will not dwell on that here but it was sufficient enough alarm for us to investigate this further and look into modifying our own dogs diets by making their food ourselves. Here is one recipe we use. The key to the diet is of course variety with consideration for the beneficial effect of any ingredients. In addition to this ‘base’ recipe we also roast a chicken and feed this to them throughout the week, retaining the carcass (bones and bits) in the freezer. Once we have three chicken carcasses these are pressure cooked to break down the bones and, as can be seen in this particular recipe, these are mashed up and added to the food. Once every three weeks or so we add chicken innards to the mix – liver, heart etc. Here in Spain they are called Higaditos and the local butcher looked at me as if I was crazy when I told him these were being fed to our dogs. They are considered a traditional ‘delicacy’ here and fried with onions and garlic in olive oil – there are some variants to this including using Padron peppers etc – the only recipe I could find was a Mexican one here with chipotle (which I personally, despite being a pepper lover, find overpowering in their flavour).
Dog Food Recipe
Two medium sized potatoes (unpeeled)
Four carrots (the green tops can also be used as in this example)
Two cups (I use a coffee mug) of brown lentils
Three cups of dog rice
4-6 + cloves of garlic (good as a flea/bug repellent)
A teaspoon or so of turmeric
IF your dog/s like it, a teaspoon of Garam Masala powder.
A teaspoon of coriander
A teaspoon of cumin
Water to almost cover the vegetables
NOTE: The vegetable ingredients can vary with consideration of the dietary capabilities of your dog/s. As a little hint in the poop-factory department, it is not a good idea to feed your dog onions. If you have a friendly vegetable seller then they often have things like discoloured cauliflower or broccoli that would normally get thrown away. Stalks and leaves of vegetables are also good (I often find difficulty in giving the dogs the raw cabbage stalk heart as I like its peppery taste), as are some fruits (cored but not peeled), and any stale bread.
1. Chop up the vegetables and add to the pot with the lentils, garlic, and spices. Add the water (if using higaditos instead of bonemeal then add these at this point and skip the bonemeal option later). Bring to boil and then simmer. Stir occasionally.
3. For this particular recipe I am using the pressure cooked chicken carcasses. Three seems to be a practical amount to pressure cook both from a capacity and dietary perspective (too much bonemeal and you get the reverse of the onion effect mentioned above – the indignity a dog has to suffer!!!). Drop the carcasses in (no need to defrost), add water to almost cover, seal, and cook away for about 45 minutes or so. Remove from heat and leave under pressure. I normally do this the night before and leave the container on the stove. It is REALLY important to ensure the bones are properly cooked here so that there are no solid bones. You should be able to crush a leg bone with your fingers easily once the mixture has cooled and the liquid/broth strained off. If they are still hard then add some more water and cook for slightly longer.
As a side note, we occasionally give our dogs raw chicken carcasses or chicken necks. Apart from being good for their diets they are also good for cleaning their teeth. As a substitute for this you can also use raw carrots for them to chew on rather than these.
In the picture below I am mashing them directly in the pressure cooker with the trusty pok-pok palm stalk ‘basher’. The basher can be seen here and is to the right of the top picture.
Incidentally, if you do not have a pressure cooker in your kitchen then I strongly recommend one. We have a Fissler brand which came with two pots (large and small) and one top. In addition there are two steamer inserts and racks. The remainder of our cooking pots are all predominantly stainless steel Fissler. Those that are not Fissler are beginning to show issues like ‘blistering’ on the bottom (from use on a high gas flame) or loose handle problems. Cleaning with a good stainless steel cleaner keeps them looking as good as new (or what you would expect from regular, extensive, use). Thanks Fissler.
(Note this is not an advert for Fissler, just my comments as an extensive user of their products over an extended period and using electric, gas, and halogen cookers. Note also that we have the pots with all metal lids; several of these have been used in gas and electric ovens to no detriment.).
The newer version in the link looks pretty damn good too. While they are expensive, they are also top quality and extremely useful as a cooking aid. Accept no substitute, seriously, they are worth it. Ours is ten years old and is used virtually every week. Only now is the seal looking in need of replacement. Great for soups, stews, cooking meat, curries… and of course dog food ingredients. They are the ONLY way to cook “fast” food. Here are some recipes to give you an idea of how versatile they are. Here is a link for anyone in the USA also.
4. In the meantime, while you are mashing away at the bones, add the rice to the vegetables. Ensure that you stir regularly and have the heat on low or the rice WILL stick and burn (NB: that is a note for the wife).
Here is the end result… enjoy.