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 oatmeal, rice or barley in their diet than they are with legumes, but for other dogs, chickpeas and lentils offer health benefits and can be a useful carb source for grain-sensitive dogs. Some dogs don’t do well with either legumes or grains, even glutenfree ones – so it makes sense to look at a special recipe as something that takes those factors into consideration. One of my dogs does very well with legumes but not oatmeal; the other two are fine with oatmeal but not legumes. All three do well with sweet potato but one is sensitive to the amount I use. This probably sounds more complicated that is – so here’s what I’ve done.
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:
12 ounces ground turkey, raw
3 whole large raw eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cooked weight, 164 grams) peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potato
1 cup regular oatmeal, not instant
1 Tablespoon tomato sauce (I use salt free)
1 – 2 teaspoons dried herb, I use thyme and oregano usually
…and then all you do is beat the raw eggs, and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Place the mixture in a baking dish(I use a standard Pyrex 9 x 5 loafpan) and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool, slice and serve.
This recipe provides 1170 calories for the whole thing, 96 grams of protein with 48.2 grams total fat and 1350 mgs phosphorus. That’s the whole thing. Sliced into 12 servings, which works well for a treat or kibble topper, you get 97.5 calories, 4 grams fat, and 113 mgs phosphorus.
I like the tomato paste to get lycopene into my guys, who don’t eat a lot of food sources regularly, and the herbs, depending on which ones I go with provide anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory actions as well.
But mostly I love how excited my three are when this comes out of the oven…they adore and never tire of “Mom’s concoctions”.
So, a few variations. To make this recipe grainfree, you can substitute either 1 cup cooked quinoa, or well cooked and mashed chickpeas. Or you can use all sweet potato. To make it lower fat, you can omit the 3 eggs and use eggwhite only. Ground turkey, may come in a range of fat content, so be sure to check that too (I used 93% lean for my recipe) . 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. Even the additions of calcium – you could use a level teaspoon of NOW carbonate, for example, to add 1200 mgs – and beef liver (just 2 ounces, please, pureed) will help fill in missing nutrients,but doesn’t make this a fully balanced recipe for regular use.
It does, however, totally rock as a special meal. At Christmas, I use 1/3 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and substitute 1/2 teaspoon each dried powdered ginger and cinnamon, for the thyme etc.
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!