My husband and I recently celebrated our 1-year dog-iversary (we’re very into anniversaries here, if you couldn’t tell) and with that came lots of reminiscing over the last year of all our new adventures with our favorite pup, Melba. It reminded me that about six months ago we made a change to Melba’s diet. We feed her kibble from Costco (the cheapest option for us, but also corn-free and relatively healthy) but I had learned from a friend that she sometimes supplements or fully replaces her dog’s food with a thing she called “whole foods.” From what it sounded like, this was an easy to make mixture of a grain, some veggies, and maybe a meat. So simple! I immediately started feeling like a guilty dog mom for feeding our “poor” pup only kibbles… how boring! Since pretty much that day, Melba has been fed a mix of 2/3 kibbles and 1/3 whole foods, and I’m here to tell you it’s very easy to do!
My best recommendation is to set aside a couple of hours on the weekend and whip up a giant batch, then freeze some to thaw and take out as necessary. I try to keep ~2 weeks worth in a tupperware so it doesn’t go bad before she eats it all, and lately have been doing either 4-week or 6-week batches, putting one finished container in the fridge and freezing an additional container or two.
The biggest question on “whole foods” is what is dog-friendly to eat. Our dear Melba is sometimes lacking in the fiber department, so I try to choose fiber-heavy options. I use this tool to create a suggested menu if I’m feeling stuck or peruse this list of recipes, but mostly cycle through the same ingredients that I’ve found assist correctly in her diet (don’t worry, you’ll for sure know asap if things aren’t working) and are the most cost-efficient for us. Here’s a rundown of what usually goes into Melba’s whole foods:
- Sweet potatoes (cubed, steamed)
- Carrots (cubed, steamed)
- Spinach (steamed)
- Chicken (boiled, torn)
- Oatmeal or barley
And some other ingredients we’ve tried and could definitely come back to in the future if I’m feeling adventurous, they’re on sale, etc.:
- Ground turkey
- Scrambled eggs
- Brown rice
Some helpful tips I’ve come across that might not be intuitive if this is your first time feeding your dog non-kibble:
- Use very little amounts of oil to cook. I start with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (for 3-5 cubed potatoes) and then add water and a lid to steam cook the rest. The best alternative is actually walnut oil but I have yet to try it.
- Do not add seasonings, salt, or pepper. While it may seem boring and bland, that’s definitely what pups enjoy the most!
- Overcooking is ok. Especially with the potatoes and carrots, it’s ok to let them get a bit mushy: easier to scoop and scarf down 🙂
Anyone else experimenting with their dog’s diet? What do you feed your pets? Have any questions on process, ingredients, or methodology?? Let us know in the comments!