Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Why home cooking.

From my first days of being responsible for Muffin, this very precious addition to our family , I have been concerned with making sure I get her diet right. She looks to her humans to provide all of her food (not counting elicit foodie finds and ill gotten treats straight from the claws of an unsuspecting bird) no pressure then!

In some ways that is the very reason, I have avoided going down the home cooked route. Instead, I have opted to research as best as I can and then trust the manufacturers, who tell me their food is balanced and complete. This has worked well so far. She started off on cold pressed food as I was concerned about baking and acrylamide. I then progressed to feeding, a mostly raw complete diet with the occasional meal of cold pressed food, when I felt I would like to add more variety.  I have been reluctant to change things since, for fear of getting it wrong. 

After a recent vet visit however, it was a bit of a wake up call to be told that, although Muffin was still a healthy weight, we should not let her gain any more. Not being sure what to do, I continued with her old diet but cut the portions down. I was shocked when I weighed her just a couple of weeks later and the scales showed a slight gain. Clearly something needed to change. Muffin is now 7, according to initial estimations, she is slowing down and not always up for a long walk. This left me wondering what next. As I mentioned in the 'Sweet mornings' post, I had recently overhauled my own diet. I am not following any particular doctrine but I am avoiding highly processed food and trying to keep my carbohydrates unrefined. My carbohydrate sources are mostly, brown rice, quinoa,  potato and  sweet potato. I keep my protein sources fairly simple. We have lots of chicken and fish, some beef and occasionally lentils. I have googled 'Can dogs eat...........' a lot lately and it seems that, for the most part, in terms of what we are now eating, they can! Excellent news. All I have to get right now, is the balance and the nutrient levels. Still no pressure then!

Fortunately the internet is a wonderful source of information. I am also lucky enough to be part of the fabulous All about dog food forum.
This is a site which mostly looks at commercial dog foods and gives them a rating based on the ingredients. The forum is open for any thoughts, opinions and experiences with a view to expanding the public's knowledge of canine nutrition.  

To start our journey, I have decided to carry on feeding half a portion of the raw complete food, mixed with oatmeal made with water, for breakfast and a home cooked meal for tea. One of the biggest concerns about feeding home cooked food, seems to be about getting the calcium levels right. It is not good to have levels either too high or low, especially for puppies.  It appears that calcium is a must to be added to any food which does not contain raw meaty bones. For a detailed explanation see dogaware/calcium. At the moment, raw complete, is making up about one quarter of Muffin's diet. For the rest, it is necessary to add a calcium source. I have opted for the ground egg shell idea. The dogs aware website recommends 1,000mgs per pound of fresh food. That works out at about half a teaspoon of ground eggshell. Muffin's meals usually weigh between 80gs to 100gs depending on how many vegetables she has so that works out at about a 5th of half a spoonful sprinkled on each meal. Half that amount goes on her breakfast due to the raw complete already having adequate levels. It sounds complicated but it becomes clearer as you read up on it.

It can get a bit overwhelming thinking about nutrients and ratios but I try to take the same approach as I do to myself. Keep the meals as varied and fresh as possible and hopefully all major nutrients will be covered. I try to make the meals about a third each of meat, vegetables and grain or potato. In this section I will be sharing meals and treats we have tried and Muffin will be providing the feedback on taste.

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