Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Too many experts

At the moment I'm doing lots of research on home cooking for our two dogs, something I did a couple of years ago (the cooking, not the research) when we just had our one bichon and I didn't want her to eat the junk that constitutes most commercial dog food. Then we got our rescued bichon with the tragic history (kept in a tiny room with 15 other dogs, not enough food, never saw light of day, living amongst poo and wee galore) and I decided to switch to a top quality dog food which we imported here from Holland. The trouble with that was two fold; first the shipping cost was the same as the cost of the food (which was very expensive anyway) and second was the unreliability of the food producing side of things. Sometimes it would be out of stock and I'd have to bring it in from elsewhere or we'd do a trip to the UK and fill up the car with the best food we could find.

So, anyway, I recently switched to a top quality Swedish dog food (they have loads of regulations regarding animal food, far more than the rest of Europe) but the rescued bichon began having lots of itchy hot spots. Which has brought me full circle into deciding to go back to home cooking and I've read much much research online about what is best for dogs. Now some experts say that the canine stomach is not designed for complex carbs such as pasta and brown rice whilst others - including some very big names such as Dr Pitcairn - say that grains and carbs are excellent. It can make your brain hurt a bit, reading lots of conflicting reports. I guess it's like any field of professional expertise. Two people - two opinions.

We had a dog whilst I was growing up and this little dachsy thrived on bowls of raw meat and a daily bone. In fact commercial dog food has only been around since the sixties and - one shocking thing I read but I think it applied to the USA - road kill is regularly put into certain dog food processing places, which means that dogs could be eating their own kind. Mind you that's almost the least of our worries when you read about what else can go into dog food. If you love your pet why would you want them to eat sub-standard rubbish that is picked up off the abattoir floor. Yes, all the sawdust shavings are included in the finished weight that will go into the cans - not to mention the chicken beaks and eyes!

People go on about the stuff that vets sell - Hills and the like - about how good it must be because it is only sold by vets. Don't they realise that the company behind Hills sponsor a lot of vets through college and donate large sums to the various veterinarian colleges worldwide. It's still full of rubbish, only maybe marginally better rubbish than the usual crap.

So our two little bichons are now on chicken, pasta and carrots and their meals look and taste as lovely as ours. I've still got to tweak things and give them various supplements which will not be easy sourcing in our little French town. I tried to get some top quality bonemeal over the net yesterday but the best stuff is in doggy obsessed places like California and the shipping to France is prohibited. But I won't give up until I've found what I want.


maureen said...

Hi -- I just stumbled upon your post about dogfood today -- totally wasn't looking for it, and I love the connections that happen because of the internet. I posted about the homemade dog food we make for our 18 year old flatcoat retriever, on my blog, Raven's Nest last year. You might be interested in reading my article. If you want our recipe, i'd be glad to send it to you.

You are right about the number of EXPERTS on feeding our pets. There are as many opinions as there are people and dogs. Well, I also did a ton of research before switching over to a completely homemade, organic diet for our dog, plus it's mostly raw. the only thing I "cook" are the rice and yams or squash. Oh, and I also lightly poach eggs to add.

One idea I'm sure you ran across in your research, about carbs or no carbs ... is that in the wild, canines do actually eat grains when they eat the stomachs of their prey. They actually eat the stomach and other organs first, soon after taking their prey -- and the animals these wild canines are eating are ruminants (like deer, elk) as well as rabbits, mice, birds, etc. Those prey animals eat grains and forbs (grass leaves, etc) as well as seeds and berries. So it made perfect sense to me to add grains (rice and oats) as well as berries (blueberries) and other fruits like apples. Also lots of veggies: parsley, cabbage, green beans, etc.

One of the hardest things about a homemade diet is making sure your pets are getting a complete balanced diet. We add Vit C in the form of ground rose hips, Calcium (powdered ground egg shells) and other vitamins and minerals with Salmon oil, nutritional yeast, flax seed, etc.

Good luck with your dogs and the diet you're making for them. It is a time commitment, but well worth it in the health of our animal companions whom we love.

maureen said...

i forgot to tell you, since you're looking for a good source of bonemeal. I'm assuming you're using bonemeal for the Calcium. We use eggshells instead of bone meal, mostly because I don't trust what kind of animals the bones are coming from. But also, eggshells are something we have aroundn all the time -- and they only go on the compost pile if our dog doesn't eat them. We buy organic eggs. I save our eggshells for a week or so, in a bowl on the counter. They dry out on their own or you can bake them in the oven. Then I use a little coffee-grinder (that's dedicated to non-coffee stuff) to powder the dried eggshells. It's easy and imho, a good thing to do with leftover eggshells. Hope that helps.

French Fancy said...

maureen, thanks so much for your interest. Great idea about the eggshells. Dr Pitcairn also uses them in his supplement recipe. At the moment I'm waiting for a vitamin pill with added calcium and cod liver oil to arrive. I'll try them out for the first month, see how I (and the dogs) get on.

Off to see your blog now.........

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