As a pet parent, one of the most important decisions we make is what we feed our little guys. The options are really unlimited. We can choose from the high-end organic specialty canned varieties featuring exotic meats like kangaroo and venison to the jumbo bag of Ol’ Roy kibble at Wal-Mart. Each of these bags make claims that it is the healthiest or tastiest or most balanced for your dog. But here’s a warning, advertisers are liars and some of the best liars are trying to sell you pet food. It’s no surprise. The pet food industry tops 10 billion dollars every year. $10 billion! That’s enough kibble to choke Cerberus on his hungriest of days. But really, what are you buying? Whether you shell out for the top of the line or scour the bargain basement, there is a lot you should know about dog food.
Pay close attention to the name. There are a lot of tricky ways manufacturers try to get around FDA mandated guidelines. A product that says “(meat) for dogs” has to meet the 95% rule. Example, “Beef for Dogs” has to be 95 percent beef. Much more common is the “dinner” variety. Beef Dinner for Dogs would have to have just 25% of the meat product in the food.
Look out for “with”. That means there is just 3 percent of that in the bag. Example, Beef formula with cheese would have just 3 percent cheese. And that word formula means NOTHING. There are no rules about how much of that product needs to be in there other than a “detectable amount” according to government regulations.
So we start with a trip to Cash & Carry, but any bulk grocer should do and keep your price down.
The main ingredients in our Cujo casserole are 5pounds ground turkey, a 32 oz can of condensed tomato soup, 3 cups lentils, a 5 pound bag of peas and carrots, 2 cups shredded cheese, and assorted fruits and veggies that are doggie safe.
We microwave the veggies and leave the meat raw. Sound backwards? Actually, according to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, dogs can digest the meat, but need a little help with the vegetables, so a quick microwave to start the breakdown process helps our pups get the most out of them.
We mix these major ingredients then dump in our add-ons: wheat germ, bone meal, flax seed, and a little vegetable oil.
The final add-on is a big batch of dried, smashed, crushed egg shells. These help provide more calcium and minerals for strong teeth and bones. Lay them out on a cookie tray and bake them for about ten minutes. Smash them up as fine as you can and mix them in.
This batch makes enough to last three large and one medium dog for a week. We also add Trader Joe’s kibble to keep their teeth clean. About three times a week we give them raw eggs (that’s where we get the shells) to help keep their coats healthy and shiny.
One last tip, if you find yourself making this for the dogs and it is also supper time for you, set aside about three cups of it BEFORE adding the egg shells and bone meal, add 1 tsp garlic salt, 3 shakes of Lawry’s seasoning salt, and a few shakes of rough ground black pepper, bake in an oven-safe dish for about 30 minutes, and you will have a delicious casserole. Bon Appétit!