Seems that everywhere I look, people are baking and starting shopping lists for holiday food – and many are asking me what’s safe to give their dogs, for  a special meal, too. Everyone knows I’m a great supporter of feeding a fresh food diet, whether raw or cooked; at the same time I always stress the importance of getting the nutrient content right. I also believe we can bend our rules a wee bit from time to time, as long as we A) don’t overdo it and b) pay attention to a  few key aspects of  feeding “extras”.  Those aspects are, simply, to be aware of the fat content of a special meal, and any food intolerances  or special needs our dogs may have. The fat issue is pretty straightforward – any significant change in the fat content of a diet can cause some loose stool and gastric distress, and nobody wants that – plus of course, dogs with pancreatitis or IBD  shouldn’t have fatty treats at all. As for ingredients, most healthy dogs can have a treat with gluten once in a while – it’s the chronic overfeeding of it that becomes a problem. Some dogs are actually better with a little oatmeal, rice or barley in their diet than they are with very low fiber, but for other dogs, grains don’t seem to work well, and we look to sweet potato, assorted veggies for the carb portion ( yes, I believe in a small amount of healthy carb).  My own dog does very well with oatmeal but not quinoa; he can also have white potato but not sweet potato, so I use butternut squash for his version – and your own dog has his or her unique response to foods as well. Hence in this recipe, use whatever carbohydrate your dog enjoys and has done well with in past.

To make a basic turkeyloaf – a favorite of mine throughout the year made with all kinds of ground meat – I simply combine the following and mix well:

2 pounds ground turkey, raw

3 whole large raw eggs, beaten

1/2 cup cooked weight, (100 grams) peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potato

1 cup regular oatmeal, not instant

2 teaspoons tomato sauce

1 – 2 teaspoons dried herb, I use thyme and oregano usually

1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries, chopped

2 teaspoons plain NOW calcium carbonate


…and then all you do is beat the raw eggs, and mix in the rest of the ingredients, blending well.  Place the mixture in a baking dish (I use a standard Pyrex 9 x 5 loaf pan) and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool, slice and serve.

This recipe provides 2005 calories for the whole thing, 202 grams of protein with 95 grams total fat, 1210 mgs sodium, and 2450 mgs phosphorus. That’s the whole thing. Sliced into 12 servings, which works well for a treat or kibble topper;  you get about 165 calories,  16.8 grams of protein, just under 8 grams fat,  100 grams sodium, and 204 mgs phosphorus per serving.  I like the tomato paste to get lycopene into the batch and add flavour, and the herbs, depending on which ones I go with provide a little  anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory actions as well as adding taste.  At Christmas, I  often add 1/2 teaspoon each dried powdered ginger and cinnamon, and leave out the oregano.

I  love how excited my dog is when this comes out of the oven…he never tires of “Mom’s concoctions”.

To make this recipe grainfree, you can substitute either 1 cup cooked quinoa, or just use all sweet or mashed white potato ( 1 1/2 cups). To make it lower fat, you can omit the 3 eggs and use eggwhite only., or look for fatfree ground turkey.  Ground turkey, may come in a range of fat content, so be sure to check that too (I used 7% fat for my recipe, you can get both higher and lower) . All of these changes, affect the nutrient composition, but this is a recipe to use occasionally as a meal, or you can use it more regularly, as a treat or topper, so we’re not seeking perfection in terms of nutrient balance. Additions of organ meats such as beef or chicken liver, will help fill in missing nutrients, but doesn’t make this a fully balanced recipe for regular use. I have left them out of this recipe, assuming your regular meals provide the iron, copper, zinc, selenium and more that is low in his recipe.

At Christmas, I  often add 1/2 teaspoon each dried powdered ginger and cinnamon, and leave out the oregano.
A very customizable and healthy meal for your fourlegged friends,  whatever Holiday you celebrate. Let me know what you tried, and how it turned out.

Oh yeah – my cats all love it too, especially without the cranberries. Don’t forget the felines!
Happy Holidays!