Cookin’ Has Gone to the Dogs

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Pictured: Mille & Phoebe

I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me a few years ago, that I’d be making casseroles for my dogs. I thought I was feeding them the most nutritious of dog foods. In fact, it was a brand sold in whole foods stores.

I mused about it in my book, Baby Bites, “There’s something out of whack when our pets eat better than our children. The other day, I was in the whole foods store purchasing dog food for my two little mixed breed pooches, Phoebe and Mille. Mille is short for millennium, as she came to us at the new millennium. Picking up a bag of dog food, I realized my little pups eat more nutritious meals than , most children.

Their dog food is loaded with wholesome nutrients, like brown rice, lamb, chicken, avocado, wheat germ and to top it all off, I drizzle a few drops of olive oil or flax seed oil on top their food. My dogs are healthy eaters, their favorite snacks are slices of apple, cheese, and carrots. For them a treat is a piece of popcorn tossed into the air. I realized kids today don’t eat as well as Phoebe and Mille!”

So you see, I thought they were safe. The recent dog food contamination didn’t motivate me to make my own dog food. I still believed the pet food I was giving them was superior and I was consoled when the brand I regularly purchased never appeared on the contaminated list.

I finally had to face the music. Okay, so my dogs weren’t eating better than most kids, although their food had healthful ingredients, it was highly processed. That’s not so good. I was forced to reevaluate their food when little Mille got so sick she needed an operation. She had stones in her bladder, which were caused by a long-term low-grade infection. Who knew? It was then that I had to admit that even though the food had nutritious ingredients, it was still highly processed.

After the trauma and expense of Mille’s operation, I was told she needed to be on special canned food. At least my pooches are little, each about 12 pounds, so they don’t eat too much.

The canned dog food was going to cost me about $2 per day per dog. That’s not cheap. It’s eight times more what I was spending. Okay, we have an emotional connection to our dogs. After all, Mille’s operation wasn’t cheap either. I want to keep her healthy and to avoid another operation. If I’m going to spend more on dog food, I want it to be the best food for the money.

Canned dog food is expensive and it’s loaded with fillers. The ingredients on the pet food recommended by my vet, the first ingredient is water. The second ingredient, animal by-products…that means it’s not fit for human consumption. Third: corn. Yet, it would still cost me $4 a day for water, animal by-products, and corn. Unappetizing to me and not nutritious even for dogs.

So, I did a little Internet research. I could make my own dog food for less than the canned variety and it would be more nutritious. I’ll admit, not everyone will take the time to cook for their dogs. But, the alternative wouldn’t be as healthful and it would cost me more. After all my writing and Podcasting about healthy families, I could do my best to keep my dogs healthy, as well.

Once a week I make a doggie casserole. Now, I know for sure that my dogs eat better than most children! In fact, they eat better than most people. Their casserole has 3 pounds meat, that’s about 8 cups either cooked ground chicken, turkey, or beef, mixed with 3 cups complex carbs (brown rice or oatmeal), and 3 cups of chopped veggies and fruit. It takes me about 30 minutes start to finish. First, I chop the veggies and fruit, brown the meat and cook the rice or oatmeal, and then I mix it all together in the largest bowl I own. Phoebe and Mille eagerly supervise the entire procedure. I then bag up the casserole in individual portions and freeze it for the week.

I’ll say this much, it smells yummy and my dogs love it. They let me know if I’m a little late serving their food and they always lick their plates clean as a whistle.

If I can put that much effort into healthful meals for my dogs, you can do it for your kids! Like most things, it just takes a little planning. Once you get into a routine, the cooking goes just like clockwork.

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