July 8, 2011

Homemade Dog Food Tip - Sneaking Veggies Into Their Diet

I've already posted about homemade dog food recipes (here) so I won't go into recipes here ... though from the number of hits that post has received since it was published, it's clear that a whole lotta people prefer to make their own dog food rather than buy the stuff in cans or bags at the local store (no matter how organic or natural or nutritious it claims to be).

I prepare homemade dog food for these reasons:  
  1. I know exactly what my dogs are getting in their food,  no corn byproducts or rancid meat that the producers okay for pets but would not legally be allowed to serve to humans;
  2. I can combat against the bad food allergies for one of my pets, keeping my pup happier and healthier and lessening those trips to the vet; and 
  3. I pay less for dog food this way - a lot less.
Of course, this all sounds great until you deal with the reality of the Picky Pup.  I have one.  I've seen Mr. Finicky Eater turn his nose up to white chicken breast just as much as avocado or green peas.  Very, very frustrating.

However, I've found the secret to getting all the good things that he wants to avoid into his bowl and down the hatch, so to speak.

It's the Food Processor.  

Yes, call my dogs spoiled if you want - I don't care.  I think I have healthier dogs for it, and I know I'm paying less in food costs and vet bills.  You cannot imagine unless you've been there how fast vet bills can climb when your dog has severe allergies.

Rant over.

Here's what I do.  I take the fiber left from the juicer (carrots, apples, beets, spinach) and I freeze it until Dog Food Day.  If I don't have this readily available, or I want to add veggies that I haven't juiced - say green beans or peas - then I just use fresh.  Whatever is at the Farmer's Market - I just get a couple more handfuls while I'm there, thinking of the Dog Mash.

Once I have my veggies collected, I grab a huge pot (some might call it a cauldron of sorts) and throw those raw veggies in there with what I like to call "stinky meat."  These are cheap meats at the grocery - our local store serves a pretty big Asian community as well as an Hispanic one, so browsing around the meat department, I can find interesting meat -- Chicken Hearts, Beef Liver, Sweetmeats  -- that's going to be tough and strong.  With big flavor and aroma, this is key.

Not for every human palate, these choices, and something that needs to cook for awhile at a low heat to get tender.  (I saw chicken feet last week, but I couldn't go that far.  Too VooDoo-ey for me, and besides - not much meat there, right?)

Whatever looks good and has a good price, that's what I go with - and usually this stuff is free range, organic to boot.  (Reading that last phrase, fine.  At this point, I'm not going to be offended if you tell me that my dogs are spoiled.  LOL.  I love them, and I'm making no excuses here.  I think what I'm doing here is wise, not silly.)

This stuff goes into the pot with the fresh veggies.  No salt.  No pepper.  No spices.  Slow, slow boil.  Covered.  (No to the slow cooker, unless you like this meaty aroma wafting through your home.)

Once it's done, you're not.

Next step:  let it cool (or not, it's just easier on your hands if it's cooled off), and then throw this stuff into the Food Processor.  Let it rumble until you've got a puree that looks similar in consistency to the dog food they sell in cans.  You may need to do several batches, depends upon the size of the machine.

Store this stuff in an airtight container in the fridge -- it's really convenient for feeding the dogs during the week, and they don't know all those veggies are in there.

Extra tip:  if your finicky dog doesn't fall for this, then here's your secret weapon:  bacon.  Not a lot - but take a couple of strips and bake them till the bacon is soft, not crispy.  You want some of that fat on there.  Then, cut it into little bits and stir it thru the Dog Mash.  That ought to do it - and yes, it is a balance of bad old bacon versus good veggies....
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