|Smokey cracks me up... he rests his chin on the bottom shelf of the coffee table while he |
observes the action in the kitchen.
When I buy a whole chicken to use in making chicken salad or chicken and dumplings, I have, in the past, simply thrown out the little "bag" of "innards"... we don't eat necks, gizzards, hearts and livers. I got to thinking about this waste, and seeing as we have a new canine member of the family (our 7 year old rescue German Shepherd, Smokey), I started reading up on the nutritional needs of the dog... it seems most (if not all) commercial dog foods contain a LOT more filler ingredients than is really healthy for dogs.
Now, I'm NOT fanatic about this, our Smokey still eats his store-bought kibble and commercially canned dog food... but after my reading, I thought instead of throwing out chicken parts and the skin and bits I have left after cooking a chicken, I'd save it up and try my hand at a balanced, canned dog food of my own.
I learned from my research that a dog's digestive system is shorter than humans and has different needs... they don't need to eat just like we do. Here's the basic "formula" I came up with...
Protein... a dog should have at least half (preferably more) animal proteins... such as muscle meat, heart, liver, kidney, eggs, dairy (e.g. yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese), fish (like salmon, mackerel, sardines)
Carbohydrates... dogs really have no nutritional need for carbohydrates, they are added as filler and additional calories (no more than half should include carbohydrates, preferably much less).
Fat... Unlike humans, dogs have no cholesterol issues and need fats in their diets to keep their joints lubricated. Fats also provide palatability of food, and are needed for even-tempered energy levels, healthy skin and coat, digestion, and a stable body temperature. Fats are an important part of a dog's diet... and should comprise 15-20% of their food.
Fruits and Veggies... Can be fed in fairly small amounts to add variety and vitamins.
Calcium... Necessary for bone and tooth health.
Now... after saying all that... here's what I did to mix up my first dog food concoction...
I cooked up all my saved chicken parts... livers, hearts, gizzards, muscle meat bits, skins, etc. I ended up with about 3 cups of chicken parts.
To this I added 2 cups of cooked rice (rice is a fairly easily digested grain for canines)
2 cooked carrots... for flavor and vitamins
Next I added a whole boiled egg for and additional bit of protein and fat... with the shell left on for calcium
I ran this mixture through my meat grinder attachment (coarse grind blade) to my KitchenAid mixer... it was pretty gross looking but honestly smelled delicious... DH kept coming in and asking what I was cooking that smelled so good... "Dog Food" I replied... "Oh." I think he was disappointed!
After all the grinding, the mixture looked like this...
In a saucepan with the meat mixture... I added a few more ingredients...
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (good for joint health, our middle-aged pooch is already getting a little stiff in the leg joints, the cider helps)
One Tablespoon of garlic powder (helps guard against fleas and ticks)
2 cups of chicken broth (the liquid from cooking all those chicken parts)... for added flavor, fat, and to help get the consistency desired
I heated the mixture up and began ladling it into my prepared pint jars (heat jars, lids, and rings in boiling water, keeping hot until time to use them)
I got rid of any air bubbles...
Wiped the jar rims, and tightened the lids on to fingertip tightness...
I processed the jars in my pressure canner (follow directions that come with your own brand of pressure canner)
... at 10 pounds of pressure for 70 minutes...
After the process was complete, I removed the canner from the heat and let the pressure drop to ZERO before removing the lid and taking out the jars...
... and setting them on a folded dish towel on the counter to wait for the PING of each successfully sealed jar... of DOG FOOD!!!
I wonder if Smokey will savor the gourmet delight I cooked up just for him? or will he inhale it without even chewing like he does most other foods? I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that question!