If you have picky eaters, are helping a pet rebuild strength or are simply tired of all the food recalls on dog food, consider cooking a healthy diet for your pet! Feeding pets a healthy diet is so important and I have found that the best diet is a home-made diet!
You may remember my blog post from last spring sharing the story of Minni and MooMii, the mother and daughter Japanese Chin I adopted from the JCCARE and Rescue Effort.
Before they were rescued, they had a rough life in a ghetto with drug dealers who sold Minni’s puppies so they’d have drug money. The people did not feed the dogs or take care of them in any way — just bred them. By the time they were rescued, they were in terrible shape – emaciated, filled with worms, infections, fleas and ticks and had never seen a vet. Despite all that, their spirits had not been broken!
They ended up with a foster mom in Vermont who got them the vet care they needed. She believed in a very nutritious homemade diet for dogs. She has a total of 10 dogs she cares for — some rescues, some her own.
She happily volunteered her recipe for “Healthy Homemade Mush” since this is what the girls we were adopting were accustomed to eating. I have always cooked for my dogs, so I figured I would go ahead and give her recipe a try. I was not prepared for the lengthy list of ingredients and the amount of time that went into making the mixture. The good thing is one batch lasted for several months.
When the girls came to live with us, their foster mom sent along a few jars of the formula so I could see how much they enjoyed it. Of course, I felt obligated to give it a try. Every ingredient is human grade.
Recipe for “Healthy Homemade Mush” for Dogs
Sweet potatoes — about 8 large ones, cut into 1/2 inch slices with skin on
Carrots — a giant bunch, cut ends off and sliced into small pieces, skin on
Frozen Green Beans — 3 packages. Follow microwave instructions to cook
Lentils, Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans – 2 cups each
Unsweetened Applesauce — 1 large jar
2 packages Frozen Blueberries, 1 package Frozen Cranberries. Cook and rinse.
Baking Soda — about 2 Tablespoons (to cut the effect of the beans)
Salmon Oil — about 1/2 bottle (available at a health or pet store)
Chicken Thighs — skinless, boneless — about 4 packages with about 10 in each
(You can also substitute skinless, boneless chicken breasts — get 4 packages with 5-6 pieces in each)
You can use any other kind of vegetable you want except corn, onion or tomatoes — all bad for dogs
The Fun Part!
You will need two giant pots to cook everything in. First, cover the chicken thighs with fair amount of water (you will use this for other cooking). Cook the thighs about 40 minutes, remove from liquid. You can refrigerate thighs while cooking the other items.
While chicken is cooking, cut up the veggies, cook frozen veggies and fruit and then place all in pot with half the liquid from the chicken. This will cook for about 45 minutes or till carrots, blueberries and cranberries are very tender.
In the other pot, put the remaining half of the broth from cooking the chicken and add the beans. Cook them according to the package label. For us, it’s been about an hour. Then add the baking soda slowly. It will fizz up as it releases the gasses.
Take a potato mashing utensil and mush away on the contents of the pot with the sweet potatoes, carrots, fruit other veggies and applesauce. It really mushes up quite nicely.
Now, get your cooked chicken thighs. I put them into a gallon plastic storage bag which makes it easy to separate the meat into pieces by hand keeping the meat contained inside the bag.
At this point, we have the two big pots full – one with beans and the other with the veggie/fruit mix. It’s time to put half of the beans into the veggie/fruit pot and half of the veggie/fruit concoction into the bean pot.
Then put half of the chicken to each pot and split up the salmon oil and add equal portions to each pot. Be forewarned: Salmon oil does not have the greatest smell, but it disappears into the mixture. We use salmon oil because it is known to boost the immune system and help the heart and eyes function better.
Almost Done …
At this point, you have two pots filled with this horrid looking mush, but you also have every dog in the house sitting around you waiting for some to fall on the floor!
The foster mom canned her mixture. Being a city girl, that is way beyond my level of expertise, so we settled on quart-size freezer bags. My husband holds the bag open and I spoonthe mixture into the bag. Then, flatten it so it lies on top of the next one in a larger storage bag in the freezer.
We ended up with around 60 bags which hold enough in every bag to serve 4 small dogs! All you need to do is take a bag out of the freezer in the morning and let it thaw. I’ll cook some pasta to add to the mix and I always toss in a little more chicken or beef or fish or whatever protein I happen to have handy, just to add some variety. Then, I heat in the microwave for a very brief period of time to knock the chill off.
You can make any amount you want and add other ingredients, just be sure to check that animals can safely eat what you are adding. We have made this twice since April and each time it got a little easier.
Always have plenty of fresh water for your pet to drink and at our house, we can leave out a little dry food — Earthborn Grain Free. That gives them the choice of something to nibble on (or not) during the day. I realize all dogs don’t do well with that arrangement, but it’s nice when it works.
Feeding your pet does not have to be just opening a can or bag. Turn it into a healthy experience your pets will enjoy!
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.