I am a great lover of animals of all sorts, but I have a special place in my heart for dogs. My little dog, Aengus McKee, is a Lakeland Terrier. He is intelligent, funny and very sweet. He is my hiking companion, gleefully rides shotgun with me any time he is invited to do so, and guards my gardens from… well… everything. He is a Hunter of Snakes, a Stalker of Mice, a Banisher of Bunnies and an alarm system against deer. He is a delightful greeter of guests, and an empassioned escort when guests are ready to leave. I am not at all embarassed to say that I love the little guy with all my heart.
I am an herbalist and shamanic practitioner. I work with the Plant Nation to help bring healing to the physical and energetic bodies of my clients. I have a deep interest in the relationship between plants and animals of all sorts. My work has really opened my eyes to the importance of consuming phytonutrients from plants in the most direct, least processed way possible.
Commercially prepared “dog food”, for example, confounds me. At some point that first wolf shared the scraps of a person’s meal. Or, perhaps a starving person was allowed to share the scraps of a wolf pack’s hunt. However the great friendship began, we have been sharing our food with our canine friends for as long as 15,000 years. I cannot for the life of me figure out how we have been convinced that a bowl of dry brown lumps are better for our dogs than fresh food. Chalk it up to magnificent marketing, I suppose…
Now, having pointed out that humans and dogs have been dining together for 15,000 years, it is still important to note the differences in our respective digestive systems. Dogs clearly have the teeth of carnivores (eaters of flesh) , while we have the teeth of omnivores (eaters of… whatever). Dogs also lack an enzyme in their saliva that breaks down starches & carbohydrates. They do, however, have very powerful stomach acids that kill bacteria and help to break down bone and connective tissue. A dog’s meal stays in his stomach a lot longer than a meal stays in ours. This gives the dog’s stomach time to break down all that flesh and bone. It also explains why dogs do not need to eat as frequently as we do. Finally, dogs only have about 5% of the amount of intestines that people have. Undigested food passes very quickly through their intestines… and into your back yard.
When the habits of wild dogs, wolves and feral dogs are studied, we see that 70-85% of their preferred diet is flesh. They also love to eat the partially digested vegetation in the stomachs of their prey. Dogs, as you may have noticed with some disgust, will happily munch on the poop pellets of deer, goats and rabbits- which is also mostly digested vegetation. When meat is scarce, wild canids will eat berries, fruit and anything else thay can find.
How does this translate into a modern day, domesticated dog diet? You be the judge. In this day and age of litigation over every little thing, I am not going to suggest how you should feed your fur-friends. Additionally, the SAD (Standard American Diet) is so unhealthy, it would be cruel to share our modern day meals with our dogs! Better to stick with a high quality protein based kibble than to share the processed muck so many people eat today. And what about convenince? Heck, many of us cannot find time to cook dinner for our 2 legged families, right?
I will share with you how I feed my guy. My dog is 6 years old and in magnificent health. I have been cooking for my dogs for many years, and if you have read my blog on natural flea control, you know I raised and showed pure breed dogs as well. Here are some of my personal observations. 1. Dogs do not do well on a diet that is primarily starch or grain- of any kind- period. 2. Dogs that are overweight often lose weight rapidly with a high protein/very low carb diet 3. Dogs with skin issues, itching, hot spots, allergies often recover quickly on a home cooked diet when environmental toxins are also removed 4. Cravings, poop eating, intense begging, inhaling food, vomiting are often relieved or greatly reduced when a proper diet is fed.
So, I cannot go out and hunt deer for my guy. I cannot keep large amounts of raw meat around for him. The raw diet for dogs has fantastic results for many dogs, but my dog doesnt like raw. I cook for him once a month and freeze it in 2 to 3 day portions. I also free feed him an organic, protein based, wheat and corn free dry kibble. He nibbles on it when he has been particularly active, but never overeats any food- not even his home cooked meals. He is lean, shiny & bright eyed.I use two primary dog food recipes utilizing seasonal vegetables and fruits which I try to vary each time. My dog seems sensitive to beef, so I generally use chicken & turkey (including liver, gizzards, necks and backs) beans and eggs as his protein sources. Pork and lamb are too expensive for me- please feel free to experiment.
If you would also like my recipe for Roasted Meat and Rice, please read my Blog at the Frederick News Post
- 3 lbs ground meat (beef, venison, turkey, chicken, mutton, lamb, pork… or a mix)
- 2 cans of beans, pureed
- 4 cups of seasonal vegetables, pureed (I use raw carrots, raw broccoli, raw spinach, raw wild greens from the yard, cooked sweet or white potatoes, cooked green beans. Avoid onions and raw potatoes)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 eggs, raw, reserve the shells
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup rolled oats uncooked
- 2 tblsp Bragg’s aminos
- 1/2 cup organic catsup or tomato sauce
- any optional supplements based on need: glucosamine, herbal supplement, probiotics, etc. I add 1/4 cup of Herbal Blend from my apothecary that combines mineralizing & vermifuge (de-worming) herbs.
Start the rice cooking. Mix ground meat and pureed beans in a large bowl. Crack eggs into mix and reserve shells. Put raw and/or cooked veggies in your blender or processor, add peeled garlic and egg shells. Puree, adding small amounts of water or broth as needed. Add the resulting puree to meat-bean mix. In another large bowl, mix your cooked rice, rolled oats, and any supplements or herbs you are using. Add rice mix to meat and mix well- hands work great for this. Add Bragg’s aminos & catsup and mix. The mix should be moist without being really wet- it is usually wetter than meatloaf I make for people-dinner, though. If your mix is too wet, add rolled oats in small amounts to dry it out a bit. Spoon into loaf pans and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 40 to 60 minutes until just firming up. Cool, slice in the pan, cover well and freeze. Makes 4 to 5 loaves depending on pan size. I serve my active 15lb adult dog a slice daily- roughly 1 cup. He also has access to a high quality, grain free, organic dry kibble.