Monday, May 26, 2014

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

I noticed a few weeks ago that Holly was less interested in her dry food. While my mom guessed that she was merely changing her mindset from "I don't know when my next meal will be" to "I have a happy home and this will still be here later," I was still concerned about a possible underlying issue. I tried switching to a new brand to see if perhaps she had grown sick of the taste, and even added wet food and chicken broth as an incentive (all transitioning slowly of course so as not to upset her tummy).  Then, a week ago, she started to show symptoms of an upset stomach. When nothing changed after two days of chicken and rice, we decided it was time to visit the vet.

After taking her sample and looking her over, the vet remarked how unlike with issues such as Giardia (which can be a huge problem back here, since it lives in puddles and other unmentionables on the street and in the soil that pups love to lick and dig in), she seemed alert, energetic, and otherwise healthy. He asked what kind of dry food I had been feeding her and suggested that it was possible that rather than a specific illness, Holly might have fiber reactive colitis, a condition which reacts to low levels of fiber in dog food. After the sample confirmed that she did not have a parasite or other issue, he suggested either looking for a dry food that offered at least 5% dietary fiber (but cautioned that these levels can change often and I would need to be an obsessive label reader), supplementing the food we liked with canned pumpkin, or taking the step to transition Holly fully on to a home cooked diet.

I had been considering home cooking for Holly for a while, particularly when looking at the less than appetizing wet food I was trying to tempt her with. I like the idea of knowing exactly which ingredients are going into every meal for her, and that I can monitor that they are all natural, pesticide free, and prepared properly. The vet's suggestion was all I needed to push me fully into the home-cooking camp! That evening I went on to Amazon and purchased Home Cooking For Your Dog and started researching what meals I could start cooking up for Holly!

Our new answer to "dog food!"
What Holly seems to enjoy most is the variety in taste and texture provided by her home cooked meals. She loves hard boiled egg with mashed yams & plain yogurt, ground beef with peas, and grilled chicken with brown rice and beets (tonight I subbed in no salt added albacore tuna for the chicken and she went crazy!). I vary my ingredients based on store availability (she loves canned pumpkin, but it can be tricky to find), which allows her taste buds to try new things and keeps her interested! 

even though it's tough to find, canned pumpkin is a great source of natural fiber and can help with tummy issues! Make sure it is 100% pumpkin (not pie filling), and I like to make sure mine is organic and the can is BPA free.
I was surprised by how much Holly loved beets, she practically inhaled them! I bought a frozen bag of organic sliced beets from Whole Foods and microwaved them for a few minutes (then made sure to let them cool completely before serving).
I will not post the amounts of each food item I provide for Holly, since my expertise is a far cry from that of a Veterinary professional. However, in the week that we have moved from traditional "dog food" to home cooking, her tummy problems have vanished and she has begun begging a bit less at the dinner table and picking up fewer things on the street (not everything, of course, there is no miracle cure to keep Holly from her beloved disgusting things on the street/whatever is on mommy's plate!). My vet warned me in advance that now Holly is on a home cooked diet, dog food is not going to appeal to her refined palate, so we are in this for the long haul :). We are ready to take the plunge, though, and I am excited to try more meals for her and inspired to incorporate more healthy & whole foods into my own diet as well. 

Unfortunately for Little Holly, macaroons are not included in the home cooked diet :)
If you are thinking about transitioning your pup to a home cooked diet, speak to your vet to see if it is a good idea. Though the time and money are more of an investment, I look at them as an investment into Holly's health, and I hope a savings in future vet bills for mysterious tummy troubles!

Happy & healthy Holly joined my friend and I on a 6 mile hike through Manhattan yesterday! Good thing she had all those yummy whole foods to keep her energized!
What do you think about cooking meals for your pet? Is it something you would ever consider committing to?

Until Next Time, Darlings!


  1. We've been home cooking all of our dogs food for 4 years. (We have three) They are all healthy as can be and their coats are much nicer with the home cooked food.

    1. That's great! I'd love to know some of your favorite tricks/recipes if you are willing to share! We are newbies to the whole Home Cooking thing and love any advice we can get!

  2. Chihuahua Mommy, we make up a big batch every few days and keep it in the fridge. For our dogs our standard recipe is rice as the base, then we add ground up boiled chicken breasts, shredded zucchini, carrots, green beans and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to keep their coats soft. Since we've switched to this they all seem healthier, more alert and we haven't had any vet visits other than the yearly. There are lot of good sites online with lists of what is good for dogs and what to not allow in their food.

    1. Olive oil, what a great idea! She loves chicken breasts and carrots, I'll have to add in some zucchini and green beans next :) thanks for the tips!