Friday, October 14, 2011

0 My dog Raider and Home Made Dog Food vs Beneful Beef Stew

Raider at 91 pounds
Raider at 65 Pounds
A few months ago my “new” dog, Raider, was diagnosed with diabetes and thyroid disease. I say “new” because she is relatively new to me, at the point in time when she was diagnosed I had only had her for about two months, she's actually about four years old.

Since I have a very tight budget I couldn't afford to buy “diabetic” dog food. I used to make my own dog food years ago (when I had a little more free time), as well as dog treats, so I thought I would go that route. To insure I didn't feed her anything that she shouldn't have I did some research online and found that the food recipes that I used in the past to make my dog's food was fine for a diabetic dog.

While doing this research I discovered that those expensive “diabetic” dog foods that the veterinarians want to sell you aren't all that good for diabetic dogs, they are high in carbs and often contain corn by-products. I also discovered that a lot of people think they are doing well for their diabetic dogs by making their own food but they are putting in too many high carb ingredients and their dog's glucose levels are still relatively high. I wish there was a way to reach those people, maybe one of them will read this article and revise their dog food recipe.

In just over 3 1/2 months of being on thyroid medication and home made dog food Raider lost 34 pounds (she now weighs 57 pounds), her mid day glucose level went from over 400 to 80 and her insulin shots went from 15 units twice a day to 3 units twice a day. It's really easy to make (as long as you have a food processor) and only takes about 20 minutes.

Home made dog food
½ c barley
1 c water
1 carrot
2 c cabbage*
1 zucchini*
1 yellow squash*
2 c green beans*
2 c broccoli*
3 lbs 85% lean (or better) ground beef
2 Tbl vegetable oil
1 c yogurt
3 Tbl flax seeds
3 Tbl sunflower seeds

*Amounts and vegetable type are approximate, you want to end up with about 7 cups of chopped vegetables to 6 cups of beef and about 1 ½ cup barley.

In a small pot over medium heat put the water and barley. Cook for about 20 minutes – watch that the pot doesn't boil over.

In a large pot brown the ground beef.

A little at a time chop all of the vegetables in the food processor – you don't want any of the pieces to be bigger than the size of a pea, but you don't want them chopped so small that they're liquified either. I usually try to do about 2 cups chopped each time.

When the beef and the barley are done cooking, mix them together, add the flax & sunflower seeds. Add the yogurt, stir, add the chopped veggies and mix well. Store in resealable containers. I usually store about 3 cups in each container. This recipe makes about 13-14 cups.

I know it sounds a little gross, but the idea is to simulate what a wild dog would eat if they killed an animal like a rabbit and ate it (with the exception that we cook the meat). The beef in our recipe is a substitute for the rabbit, the grain and vegetables being what would be in the rabbits stomach.

You can also use boneless chicken breasts or thighs, and organ meats like liver, kidneys and heart (but don't use them every week, eating too much organ meat is not good for the dog).  You can vary the vegetables to what's in season or on sale, some other vegetables/fruits you can use are spinach, turnip greens, acorn squash, brussels sprouts, pumpkin or an apple.  You can also add a hard boiled egg (or two) and you can use brown rice instead of barley.

If your dog is diabetic, don't decrease the ratio of vegetables/meat to barley and don't use more than one carrot.

Most people know not to feed dogs chocolate, but you also shouldn't give them grapes, onions, tomatoes, potatoes or raw garlic (it's fine to put a little garlic in with the meat and cook it).

If your dog is having a problem with loose bowels, try giving them a mixture of cooked (or canned) pumpkin or cooked acorn squash and yogurt – about 1 cup of pumpkin to ½ yogurt.  Give them about ½ cup of the mixture at a time. I add a squash or can of pumpkin to my regular recipe about once a month just for a little variety.

Raider (she's a pretty big dog) gets about 1 c of this food twice a day – that's it, nothing more. Well, if she wants or deserves a treat, I give her a frozen green bean, and she loves them! My other dogs get about 2 Tbl of this food on top of about ½ c of dry dog food twice a day, so that they don't feel left out. I originally wasn't going to do a comparison on this, but I'll compare it to a high end processed wet dog food instead of a diabetic dog food.

Price of home made dog food: About .77 cents per 6 oz cup, or .13 cents an ounce
Price of Beneful Beef Stew Prepared Meals: $2.39 per 10 oz., or .24 cents an ounce

Ingredients in home made dog food: Ground beef, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, yellow squash, zucchini, carrot, yogurt, barley, flax seed, water, vegetable oil

Ingredients in Beneful Beef Stew Prepared Meal: Water, beef, wheat gluten, liver, meat by-products, corn starch, peas, carrots, rice, pearled barley, artificial and natural flavors, salt, tricalcium phosphate, soy flour, potassium chloride, added color, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, calcium phosphate, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, vitamin A supplement, manganese sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide, folic acid, sodium selenite, biotin.

Time to prepare home made dog food: About 20-25 minutes
Time to prepare Beneful Beef Stew Prepared Meal: None

Okay, so Beneful is almost twice as expensive as home made! And it's got bad fillers in it that the company tries to make you think are good for your dog like, meat by-products and rice (assuming that it's white rice). As for vegetables, it has two of the vegetables with the most sugar content, peas and carrots (yes, I use 1 carrot in my food but that's not a lot in 13 cups of food). Maybe if they put some healthier vegetables, flax and sunflower seeds in they wouldn't need to add all of those vitamins... And why is there wheat gluten, cornstarch, salt and soy flour in there?

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