Tuesday, November 26, 2019

National Make your Pets' Food Day

I’ve been making my dog's food for a couple of months now because of all the talk about grain-free diets being bad for your dog's heart, then all the talk saying that wasn’t true. I’ve been feeding Bogie a grain free salmon diet but thought why not give him both? So I started to experiment.

Ellis Vidler, my talented writer and editor friend, and her husband, have been making their dog’s food for years. My choice to try this became even more a determining factor when I saw all the commercials for a packaged “fresh” dog food that is now the rave. I don’t know how expensive it is, but it couldn’t be fresher than cooking the food myself. I researched the Internet for recipes and came up with a few of my own. I also decided not to give fresh food only, so Bogie gets the homemade food in the morning and dry food in the evening. That way he has the best of both food worlds.

Bogie isn’t one of those dogs who gobbles his food in two seconds, like my son’s dog. No, sometimes he doesn’t touch his food. I’ve tried different kinds of kibble, but he’s never been excited about eating, which was another reason I decided to try the fresh alternative. Needless to say, he loves it, and he’s not so picky about eating the dry food in the evening. (My husband sprinkles a bit of cheese on it, though, when I’m not looking.)

I decided that ground turkey would be the base. I buy 93% lean at the Lidl grocery store, then add a mixture of vegetables. This last time it was three pounds of turkey, a 15 oz. can of pumpkin with nothing else in it, peas, brown rice, spinach, blueberries for anti-oxidants, green beans, and some crushed rosemary. Other times I’ve mixed a package of frozen mixed veggies—carrots, peas, and corn—in with the turkey and rice, adding cooked sweet potato, spinach and whatever else I have that’s on the acceptable list. There are a few things to avoid: onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, avocados, and chocolate. If you have concerns, it’s easy to research.

When I have everything cooked on the stove, I put a solid scoop of the food in a muffin tin, which is the perfect amount for Bogie's size, put it in the freezer long enough to solidify, then pack them in a zip lock bag, and return them to the freezer. The last batch yielded thirty-four days’ worth of breakfast. Every morning I take one out of the bag, defrost, and warm it, and Bogie becomes a gobbler. There are tons of recipes online. I’ve tried ground beef and cooked chicken, and he loves those too, so there are many options to try. Your dog is the best critic.

I do understand those who think this kind of thing is a totally self-absorbed and wasteful indulgence. I get it. There are children who don’t eat as well as my dog in this country, but there’s always an either/or argument that pit pet lovers against others who don’t understand our commitment. To be fair, I fed my kids well every single day that they lived in my house too. If I could feed the world, I would, so I make a point to vote for those who will protect school breakfasts and lunches (sometimes the only good food some children eat on a daily basis), vow to take care of veterans (many do that as lip service only), and care about people—all people, but I won’t get into that argument any more than what I just stated. My dog makes me happy daily just by the way he looks at me, so if I can make him happy by serving him one fresh food meal a day, so be it.

Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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