Create healthy dog food in your own kitchen

Create healthy dog food in your own kitchen
A new puppy might be tiring, but cooking for it can be an easy task
Dog Biscuits

A recipe for homemade dog biscuits, if you'd like to treat your dog to a little home cooking:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup powdered milk

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon wheat germ

1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules

1/3 cup bacon grease

1 egg

1/2 cup ice water (approximate)

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.

STIR together flour, powdered milk, garlic powder, wheat germ and bouillon. STIR in bacon grease and egg. ADD ice water one tablespoon at a time until a dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, ROLL dough out to half-inch thickness. CUT with cookie cutter. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

BAKE 25-30 minutes, until firm. Cool completely before serving. In case anyone has noticed a change in my writing the past few weeks, let me tell you that three weeks ago Wednesday, my children brought home a 6-week-old puppy. Like all 6-week-olds, she doesn't sleep through the night and I feel like a new mom again -- exhausted!

I also find that I'm spending more time cooking for the puppy than for people, so I thought I'd share what I've learned about cooking for a dog.

Commercial pet food was first marketed in 1860, but it didn't come into widespread use until after World War II. Before that pets were fed leftovers, scraps or inexpensive cuts of meat from the butcher. Mary Phillips Gettys tells me that when she was growing up in Chester, her mother cooked a pan of cornbread every day for the hunting dogs.

Commercial dog food created a use for mill and slaughterhouse byproducts that could not be used for human consumption. Even when food-grade products are used, pet food is processed for shelf life and economy. The food is cooked for long periods of time to kill bacteria and diseases. Long cooking destroys nutrients, so they are added back as supplements.

I have resisted having a dog because the smell of pet food nauseates me. I knew I would have to cook if I was going to feed my puppy.

A healthy dog diet consists of a great deal more protein and fat than humans need. My puppy gets 50 percent to 75 percent of her diet from meat, including organ meat such as liver and kidneys. The meat can be chopped or ground, raw or cooked. I cook any meat I don't trust to serve raw.

If the meat is lean, I add a teaspoon of olive oil per serving to her food.

She also gets dairy in the form of plain yogurt and cottage cheese (the only forms of milk that some dogs, including mine, tolerate) and eggs. The remaining portion of her diet is vegetables and grains. She gets cooked brown rice, barley, corn or oats and broccoli, carrots, spinach, squash, green beans and asparagus. I haven't tried sweet potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, beets or kale with her yet, but I will. I add a few tablespoons of flaxseed meal to her vegetables as they cook for the omega-3 fats.

Puppies need a great deal of calcium, about 1,500 milligrams per pound of food. This can be added as a supplement, or three quarters of a teaspoon of ground eggshell may be added per pound of food. Just wash and dry the shells overnight, then grind them in a coffee grinder. Adult dogs need about 900 milligrams of calcium per pound of food (half a teaspoon ground eggshell).

I prepare batches of cooked-meat-and-vegetable dog food and freeze individual servings in plastic containers. In one afternoon, I can prepare enough food to last for about two weeks. I simply take out enough food for the next day and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. When serving, I add dairy or egg and olive oil, if needed.