2 years ago, I was looking for a healthier alternative to the dog food we were feeding our pups. Nubi was overweight and refused to eat anything other than Purina Moist and Meaty. True to chihuahuas, he has bad teeth, so it had to be soft. Meanwhile, Scooby was on Purina Puppy Chow. He was underweight. No matter what I fed him, he just would not put on weight. It was frustrating. I felt like they weren’t getting the proper nutrients. Coupled with all the recalls on food and treats, I knew I had to figure out something quick. Clearly, I could not trust the dog food off the shelf. Not only that, but we couldn’t afford the “organic” brands they sell at big name pet stores.
I began reading about people making their own dog food, but had a hard time convincing Mr. Cozy Cottage. It took me posing the question to their vet at a regular checkup for him to change his mind. Our vet told us that the homemade dog food movement was becoming much more popular because of the same concerns I had. She also said that it would be completely healthy for both of them, but to make sure I had plenty of protein and veggies and to feed them a multivitamin once a day so they didn’t become malnourished. I formulated a plan and ran some numbers. It was going to cost a little more to feed them by cooking it, but I started to think about how it would eliminate the need for extra vet bills by them being unhealthy. We decided it was worth the trouble and extra cost for our fur-kids to be healthy.
The results? We had to go in 6 months later to check on Nubi’s heart murmur. Nubi had lost 2 pounds and was in his target weight! His coat was shiny, his skin no longer itched, and he had more energy throughout the day. We actually caught him playing (he’s a very serious dog and “playing is for babies”). Scooby, on the other hand, gained 2 pounds, and had finally met his target weight. We were elated! Last year when we moved to Serenity Acres, we decided to put Gidget, his mother’s dog, on the food. She was severely overweight and something needed to be done. She lost so much weight that the coats that had been tight on her the winter before were hanging off of her! She actually had a waistline!
I thought I’d share my recipe with other dog owners who are concerned about their dog’s health. Please do not switch you dogs suddenly or without consulting your vet. They know your dog’s medical history and can give you some pointers specific to your dog’s size, breed, and health.
8 cups cooked white or brown rice
6 cups cooked, shredded chicken
24 oz cooked peas and carrots
24 oz cooked cut green beans
This recipe is actually very easy, but it is time consuming. Well worth it in the end. I do the majority of my cooking in the pressure cooker, so your preparation may be a bit different.
I use boneless skinless chicken breast. It’s a bit more costly than leg quarters, but I HATE deboning chicken. The chicken is cooked first in the pressure cooker with a little bit of water (about 1-2 cups) for 20 minutes (25 if it’s frozen). However, without a pressure cooker, you can just as easily boil the chicken, which I did before I was gifted with my pressure cooker. When the chicken is finished, shred it however you like. I have small dogs, so I have to make sure that it’s finely shredded. I pop mine in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment and run it on medium speed until it’s how I like it. You can also use a hand mixer to accomplish the same thing.
Save the water from cooking chicken. It makes a wonderful broth, which is what I cook my rice in. For the rice, I pour 4 cups of rice into my pressure cooker. Then I pour my broth into a big Pyrex measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way with water until it measures 5 cups of liquid. Because rice tends to foam, I also add in a splash of vegetable oil to keep it from sticking and give it a good stir. I lock down the lid and cook it for exactly 5 minutes.
Cook the veggies according to the instructions. I use the steam-in-a-bag veggies from Kroger, and they work wonderfully and cook well.
Once everything is done, mix everything together and let it cool.
For me, this makes three large containers. I put one in the refrigerator and 2 in the freezer. When one is almost finished, I pull another one out and let it thaw on the counter overnight.
Our dogs eat 2/3 cup twice a day, but please talk to your vet about the proper amounts for your dogs.
As you can see, our pups LOVE their food! I won’t go back to regular kibble ever again.