Can we discuss cooking our own dog food

carla17(Z7 NC)April 1, 2007

If anyone knows what dogs are supposed to have, i.e. cooking dog food, I would love to know. I read on a site that chicken rice and broccoli are fine. If anyone has good recipes, please post them or send them to me.

Thank you,


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Chicken/rice/broccoli are NOT fine. I assume this is for cooked chicken. Unless you grind the cooked bones and include them, this diet is woefully short in calcium, which eventually will kill your dog.

If you want to feed raw, you can give chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings, necks or backs -- whole and raw and let the dog eat all the bones. If you want to feed vegetables, they need to be pulped or a dog cannot digest them -- they will pass through in chunks. Dogs do not require grain at all.

There are a lot of books out there about feeding natural, homemade raw and cooked diets. If you are going to go this route, you will need to study up on it to make sure you are covering all the nutrients.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 4:54PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Nickelsmumz, I would like more information. Do you have dogs, and do you prepare their food? How do you know so much about what dogs need?

By the way I see that you are new here --- Welcome!

Carla, I have been thinking the same thing, but have no idea where to start. I do use Science Diet for my dogs. One gets the SD for older dogs that tend to put on weight, and the other eats SD Puppy food for large breed dogs. That is what my vet likes and what we have always fed our dogs.

My husband gives them carrots and catalope sometimes, and I scoop it up with the poop. We give them green beans as fillers, but have been told that they have no nutritional value. I think what Nichelsmumz said makes a lot of sense. I simply do not know where to start.

I hope more people repsond to this thread.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 5:10PM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Sammy, I do know that I will not feed my dogs raw meat. To me that is asking for trouble with some type of bacteria and I'm not buying organic for them to eat raw. I have heard that raw bones are safe because they are not brittle which makes sense.
My dentist gives his Newfes raw bones.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 5:48PM
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elaine_mi(z5 Michigan)

I have two cats who have been fed Iams since they were kittens. I have to say I am pretty mad at Iams and Eukanuba right now - to save money they sourced out products for the food to China, which does not have the same standards, apparently, as the US does.

I went to a specialty pet food store the other day and purchased some new brands of food (Wellness and Breeders Choice) which are made according to California standards (higher than most) and SINGLE SOURCE anything they do not produce at their factory in Kansas (or somewhere in the midwest). It is a bit more expensive than buying Iams at PetSmart where they have fairly good sales, but that is my plan for now.

My cats loved the pouch style food, I think I will get both of them tested, but for now they seem fine.

I would be worried about getting all the essential nutrients in the food if I cooked it myself -- even though most people fed their pets table scraps til the 1950s or so.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 5:51PM
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aprille(z9 CA bay area)

I'd be very interested in what people have to say about cooking for dogs too - we are getting a puppy soon (7 weeks and counting till she can come home with us) and she's going to be BIG - after all the stuff on the news about the pet food we are concerned naturally. Our cats get Wellness right now and are happy with it. Back home we used to cook for our pets (there were no pet stores back then - still not many) it used to be rice and meat bones, fresh fish with small bones and the odd and end of vegetables left over from our meal all cooked togeter - I don't know/don't think if that covered everything they needed. Guess I'll read up more about it and also speak with our breeder and see what she has to say on the subject as well.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 8:01PM
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Sammy, I am a professional dog trainer. Personally, I mostly feed raw. Dogs have a much more acidic stomach and a much shorter digestive tract than humans, which means that they can kill most bacteria and the bacteria pass through much faster and don't have time to breed to the point of making the dogs sick. I have been a vegetarian for 30 years so the meat yucks me out, but I have never gotten sick from handling it. It is not for everyone, but on the other hand, it is easy to tell raw fed dogs on the street many times because they have shinier hair and a more appropriate weight. Plus, their poop is way less bulky and less stinky -- it's (relatively speaking) a dream.

The hardest thing about switching over to a homemade diet is not bacteria but nutritional balance. I do what works for my dogs but I am not a vet nor a nutritionist, so I cannot advise on that. However there are some good books out there.

Vets like Science Diet partly because Hills (the mfr of SD) typically provides the experts who teach the rather limited nutrition education at vet schools -- so vets feel very safe understanding that the SD formulas match with what they were taught. When I do feed kibble I go with super premium branks that contain NO GRAIN and real meat, among other things. Right now, Evo, Canidae, Wellness, California Naturals, and Nature's Variety are all brands that do not contain any grain (i.e. no wheat germ) and so should be safe to feed with the current scare. Although they cost more per bag, they also contain much less filler (grain) and do not cost more to actually feed because you feed a smaller volume.

Personally, I believe that the risk of feeding dogs ingredients that they have never really evolved to eat (lots of grain, for example) is worse in the long term than the risk of feeding raw meat which may contain bacteria that dogs DID evolve to digest! Dogs are scavengers and wild canids not only eat raw meat, but often days-old raw animal leftovers. That doesn't mean we should overload them with salmonella but it does put that risk into perspective.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 10:22PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

You seem to know what you are talking about, and it is something for us to consider. Right now, I don't know what I want to do. I do hope you continue to post, and adivse us on these animal issues. Many many of us have our pets as well as our roses.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 11:08PM
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My vet is a holistic practitioner and he said so many vets have little or no nutitional training. I have cats and only cook for them 3 days out of the week using recipes their breeder gave me. There are a lot of online sites with both dog and cat food recipes with cats they become addicted to the tuna loaded into a lot of cat foods and tend reject anything new. My vet said this was stressful to the owner " that cat will eat to save its life just a matter of time."
I don't think cats or dogs were great grain eaters in the wild and so many commercial foods are loade with grains and beet pulp as fillers so much so that tests had to be done to see how much flatulence it caused.

Here is a link that might be useful: Some recipes

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 11:32PM
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General vets have to know soooooo much -- for dozens of species, unlike doctors who just have to know all the medicine for one species! It is no surprise that their education in two very important areas affecting daily life, nutrition and behavior, are pretty thin. Unfortunately, I have heard a lot of really scary, bad training advice given by well-meaning vets and yet vets tend to be pretty distrustful of us trainers in many cases, so the poor pet owners are left not knowing who to believe and trust. I would love to see a truly authoritative pet-feeding book written by a doctoral animal nutritionist which gives clear guidelines about how to choose a prepared food, how to prepare a cooked diet, and how to prepare a raw diet. I don't think such a book exists. I have seen some really bad advice in dog training books (including a recommendation to feed cooked chicken, potatoes and broccoli -- that involves a major calcium deficit, just to start with). Please be careful about which advice you take. There's so much bad information out there, unfortunately.

Labrea, cats are trickier than dogs. With dogs, almost always you can safely wait them out until they decide to eat what they are given for their meals. Cats are not scavengers like dogs and aren't meant to go so long between meals. If we try to wait out a cat who really does not want to change foods, we can end up throwing the cat into liver failure (even to the point of death). It is often harder to switch an adult cat to a raw diet and for many people it is easier to find some really good dry foods that the cat will eat and to switch around.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 12:18AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

That is interesting. I have always wondered why people work so hard to get a cat to eat.

What kind of dogs do you train, Nickelsmumz?


    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 6:36AM
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Cats also have different nutritional needs than dogs and humans as they must have taurine and there are some other trace elements too. I have seen several well balanced cat recipes but finding all the vitamin/mineral ingredients is next to impossible unless you live in a large city. Also make sure to keep the onions and garlic out of any foods you give your cats these are toxic. Chocolate is a no no as well. Sorry to hijack the dog food thread but saw some cat people asking as well.

With that my threesome dislike fish, give them chicken, turkey, duck or beef anyday.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:29AM
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There's a book written by a Vet from Australia called "Give your dog a bone" it gives lots of information about kibble, feeding raw and dog illness from feeding kibble.

A friend of mine who is a nurse feeds her dogs raw, she's the one who gave me all the information I needed to feed my dog raw.

My dog's Vet also feeds her dogs raw. Feeding raw is no cheaper than feeding a high quality kibble. The savings is with the Vet bills, it's almost non-existant.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 12:41PM
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Sammy, I train all kinds of dogs. I mostly work with behavior problems such as aggression and fear. I also teach flyball, a team sport that is a cross between a relay race and a drag race.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 3:35PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

I have a friend who rescues wolves/wolf-hybrids and she's got a special raw, etc diet for them. I'll get precise details and y'all can all give it a lookover. There is also Zoo food available to consumers, if y'all'd like to go that route. Mail order and not unreasonably expensive! That might just be cats I'm thinking, but I'll see.

I do agree that the different minerals, fatty acids, etc are important, extremely so!, to both cats and dogs. There is one that dogs need that might not come easily, so I'll definitely ask her the details.

[PS my nerve disease came from an inability to digest a certain vitamin... they are not optional, folks, lol... bad bad things happen without them for a while].

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 7:33PM
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Max the Moo is allergic to wheat products, so he gets the expensive stuff from the specialty pet food stores. (the place where I was clobbered by the Killer Column of Death, as a matter of fact!!) I rarely cook for myself (does Lean Cuisine count as cooking?) so I KNOW I wouldn't cook well for his furry little arse! Our vet rec'd green beans as a filler for him, cus he is overweight - (lack of exercise on my part + lack or exercise on his part too!)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:09AM
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Pagan, Lean Cuisine is about my speed too... but I do cook for my dogs. You're lucky Max is allergic to wheat since it spared him exposure to the contaminated products out there right now.

It is much easier to take weight off dogs on a raw diet.

If Max feels the need for more of an eating experience than he gets because of low food volume, there are ways to make it last a lot longer and be more satisfying. Stuffed Kongs are great. Mushed, stuffed, frozen, plugged Kongs are REALLY great. There are food puzzle toys that make the dog work to get kibble out and these are wonderful as well. There's a new one called the Tug-A-Jug that is getting rave reviews as it's VERY tough (destruction resistant), and very easy to clean and refill. Max probably wouldn't need the green beans if he could spend more time just getting to his mealtime kibble. These gizmos are the busy dog owner's best friend. Most dogs love the food puzzles and would prefer to eat that way than out of a bowl. Check it out.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 3:21PM
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The brands of dog food that nickelsmumz8 are the ones I have heard are good too. I will be switching my own dogs soon. They currently eat Science Diet but I have been reading more about dog foods with the scare and I am now convinced that they should switch to a better brand. Here is the list of brands that I found as recommended: Wellness, Dick van Patten's Natural Choice, Merrick, Fromm's, Canidae, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul, Evo, Solid Gold. I don't think I would enjoy a raw food diet as I can barely cook for myself but there are raw dog foods sold in several pet food stores as frozen dog food. You might be able to find those and save some trouble on trying to cook something yourself.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pet food reviews

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 3:46PM
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Nickelsmum - thanks for the tips! I have tried a Kong with Max - he was bored and didn't bother to get the treats out. Then we tried a big ball deal, where you put the food in the ball and he has to roll it and stuff falls out of various holes - Max was afraid of it and ran and hid when I tried to interest him in it. I'll check out the Tug-a-Jug. If it doesn't make noise he might go for it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 6:03PM
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twohuskies(z4A Mpls, MN)

When I looked into switching to a better food several years ago the links on the Tails of the Tundra Siberian rescue website had some great info. I've included a link below.

Also, on a different forum I came across a "food grading system". . Its a method of analyzing the ingredients of the food you feed and determining whether its a high quality/healthy kibble.

You will need your kibble's list of ingredients, as found on the bag (or oftentimes their website). Please note, however, this is for ingredients ONLY.... so before feeding a pup be sure to look at the protein and fat and calcium and calories in the Guaranteed Analysis.
Start with a grade of 100:
For every listing of "by-product", subtract 15 points
For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
If there are no specific meats or meat meals, subtract 25 points
For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, or grain "middlings", subtract 10 points
If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 15 points
If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewers rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points for each occurrence
If the protein sources are not (specific) meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 5 points
If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points (subtract 5 if corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients)
If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 3 points
If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 5 points
If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isnÂt allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isnÂt allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
If it contains salt, subtract 3 points
If it contains corn syrup, molasses, or other added sweetener, subtract 10 points
Extra Credit:
For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "turkey" as 2 different sources - do not count egg, cheese, or other similar ingredients), add 1 point
If the food contains 3 or less different mentions of grains (or other high-carb plant-based foods like potatoes), add 5 points
If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points (if the number 1 ingredient is organic meat, add 10 points)
If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 3 points
If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
If the food contains fruit or vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point
If the food contains barley or oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
If it contains sunflower, hemp, flaxseed, or other polyunsaturated vegetable oils, add 3 points (add 5 if it is the #1 fat)
If the vitamin and mineral sources are chelated, add 5 points
94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D

If this info helps even one person find a better quality food then it was worth the time I spent digging it up again.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 3:38PM
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Pagan, you can skip the Tug-A-Jug with Max if he finds the bumping noises frightening. It bumps. With the Kong, try smearing a little peanut butter just inside the rim and letting him work on that. Make it super easy at first and see if you can build up interest.

If he's hungry and not being overfed, that will help. :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 6:55PM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Thank you twohuskies


    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:37PM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

Carla, I was really upset with this poisoned pet food. I read an article, in the daily news and it stated that the safest thing to do now was to feed our pets food with no wheat gluten. One of the brands recommended with Innova EVO. It is not available in most pet stores, but rather in specialty stores. I found one a mile from my home and my cat and dog eat this brand now. My cat gets the dry food for cats and my dog gets the dry in the am and canned in the evening. It is very high protein and contains no wheat gluten. My dog and cat love the food. It is 2x the price of Iams and Friskies, but I couldn't stand the thought of one of my loveable pets being poisoned. I was at the vet (my dog ate 2 socks!!) and a woman had her sick cat there. The cat had been eating the poisoned food and hadn't eaten in a week. It was heartwrenching. Sorry I don't have any recipes to share, just wanted to let you know what my dog and cat are eating.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:50PM
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Irish, it is twice the price of the cheap stuff... but you also feed half the volume! Generally, you want to feed only about 60% of what it says on the bag -- all dog food instructions would have you overfeeding. The Evo bag specifies smaller volumes than the Iams or Friskies. Cut way back or your pets are going to gain weight.

Grain is a great way to put weight on your dog. Take away the grain and (a) less volume of food, (b) less volume of poop, and (c) less volume of pet (if you feed an appropriate amount.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:58PM
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twohuskies(z4A Mpls, MN)

Yep, you absolutely feed less on the high quality kibble. My dogs get 1.5 cups per day of the Innova Evo + a very limited amount of treats. That is for 42, 58, and 64 lb dogs. Sometimes I even feed less than that. Doesn't seem like much but huskies don't need quite as much food as the average dog. Like nikelsmumz said cut way back when switching over and keep a real close eye on their weight to make sure they don't gain or for that matter lose weight.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 3:51PM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

Nicklesmumz abd twohuskies - thanks for the info. This is very interesting and good to know.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 5:39PM
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