When it comes to doggy dinners we all want to give our furry friends the best, most nutritious and natural diet we can. There is so much choice on the market that it can be a minefield when deciding which route to go.
Kibble, tinned food, home-cooked or raw? At the end of the day it comes down to three things; personal choice, allergies or intolerances and cost.
In recent times, there has been a surge in raw and home cooked diets with many dog food companies offering these as an alternative to what’s available on the shelves of your nearest pet shop. From Nurtriment to Mille’s Wolfheart and Different Dog, raw feeding is big business and there are loads of Facebook groups dedicated to the subject such as BARF UK and Home Cooking for Dogs.
If you’re more adventurous and have the time, why not try making your own dog food.
Debora Robertson of the Daily Telegraph is something of a star where dog cuisine is concerned. She started making her own dog food after she trotted along to a puppy class with her tiny new border terrier, Barney. There she heard about the benefits of DIY canine cuisine and she’s never looked back, with her book Dinner for Dogs becoming a bestseller!
Before feeding your dog anything, be sure it’s safe. Many foods that are fine for humans can be toxic to dogs. Familiarise yourself with what’s good for dogs to eat, and what’s not.
Parsley, contains limonene which kills bacteria, for sweet breath and digestion
Cheese, which contains protein, calcium and vitamins, and in moderation is a great training reward
Vegetables such as broccoli, celery, sweet potato and carrots
Fruit such as apples, pears and bananas make good snacks
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic
Grapes, raisins and other vine fruits can cause kidney failure
Onions, leeks and other alliums can cause gastrointestinal problems and red blood cell damage.
Peanut butter is a favourite treat for many dogs, but watch out for brands containing the sweetener Xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.
Popular for pets
Henrietta Morrison set up her natural pet food company, Lily’s Kitchen, after feeding her dog home-cooked food to combat her itchy skin. ‘At first, I was embarrassed to admit I cooked for my dog,’ she says, ‘then I was amazed to find lots of friends were doing it.’ Her book, Dinner for Dogs, is on its sixth reprint and has recipes and information about feeding dogs to alleviate all kinds of ailments.
Louise Glazebrook, dog behaviourist and author of Dog About Town: How to Raise a Happy Dog in the City, says: “Owners are becoming more interested in what they feed their dogs. The realisation that what goes into them can affect their health and behaviour is huge.”
DIY homemade dog food
Keep your dog healthy and fit with this easy peasy homemade recipe from Damn Delicious – it’s cheaper than store-bought and chockfull of fresh veggies!
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.5kg minced turkey
- 3 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 courgette, shredded
- 1/2 cup peas, tinned or frozen
- In a large saucepan of 3 cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over a medium heat. Add the turkey and cook until browned (about 3-5 minutes) making sure to crumble the turkey as it cooks.
- Stir in spinach, carrots, courgette, peas and brown rice until the spinach has wilted and the mixture is heated through (about 3-5 minutes).
- Let cool completely and serve to your lucky doggy!
And finally, yes, we know it’s not Christmas, but why confine such tasty treats to just one month a year!
Battersea Dogs Home Christmas Biscuits for Dogs
Spoil your four-legged friend with these homemade Christmas biscuits. They’re super simple to make and are a delicious treat for your dog!
150g plain or wholemeal flour
85g xylitol-free peanut butter*
1 medium banana
4 tablespoons hot water
* It’s important to make sure the peanut butter does not contain xylitol as it is toxic to dogs.
Not suitable for those with nut allergies.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Add the xylitol-free peanut butter and hot water to a bowl, and give it a good mix.
Add the banana to the bowl and blend until smooth using a hand blender.
Add the flour to the bowl and bring together with your hands to form a dough.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 1cm thick. Cut out the biscuits using whatever shape you like.
Place the biscuits on a lined baking tray and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. When they are thoroughly cooked through, remove them from the oven and leave to cool completely.
Once cool, you can treat your dog! The treats can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
These are a treat for your dog, so you should ensure they’re fed to them in small amounts alongside a well-balanced diet that’s appropriate for their age and lifestyle. They’re not suitable for dogs with nut allergies or other special dietary requirements.
If raw and home-cooked is not for you, then we recommend you visit https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/ where you’ll find most brands that are available in shops, along with a rating for nutrition and information on how natural the food is, the percentage of meat content, whether it’s suitable for allergies or intolerances, and if it has been certified nutritionally complete. We all want what’s best for our fur babies, so before you reach for the Pedigree Chum, do a little research and choose the most nutritious food you can get for your budget. Your bundle of fluff will thank you for it!