Visitors who have read my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden are well aware that it’s far less “a gardening book” and far more a book about applying 52 lessons learned in the garden to everyday life. For so many gardeners our lives include our fur babies, our companion animals, who are part of our families, and tending to them and enjoying their love and personalities are part of what brings us joy. On occasion I have dedicated a post on this blog to one of my special doggie loves, but it’s been awhile, and so today I turn to something I’ve wanted to share for quite awhile–what I feed the doggies. Specifically I’m speaking of the diet I offer Ruby and Conner daily.
I have a couple of friends who have informed others, “She cooks for her dogs. Warm food.” [Insert eye roll.] And it’s true. I do. And I’m glad I have this practice.
Having been a hippy in the 60’s my life included a year in the woods eating mostly rice and vegetables, followed by three years in Amsterdam where my diet was primarily macrobiotic. In both environs herbs played a big role in eating and in healing. We drank chamomile to sleep well. We drank peppermint for digestion. We turned to slippery elm for throat problems and we drank raspberry leaf tea when we were having babies. So food as science, as chemistry, as energy, was integral to our lifestyles. And I’ve only built on that in the subsequent years.
Naturally this extended to What to Feed the Dogs. I’m certain I’m not alone in searching for the Perfect Kibble, or at least one that has not been recalled once or twice. Good grief! And then there was the China fiasco and that’s all I’m going to say about that, except to say I won’t buy any pet toy or food made in China.
So, eventually, and more recently, I’ve settled in on Paul Newman kibble in the mornings. And this is when I add all the supplements I count on, as well as a single pill for Conner as he’s a twelve year old now, and I call him My Boy but he’s really My Dear Old Man, and his back hips were giving him quite a spell.
So let’s talk about that for a moment, as I know for sure I’m not alone in dealing with the back hips and legs of an aging dog. Here’s what I found works for him, at least for now. Working meaning, he’s better. I turned to Katy Sommers’ book The Complete Holistic Dog Book. She’s a local vet. She recommended for arthritis including both green lipped mussel and boswellia. Fat chance finding the mussel and I found the boswellia, but Katy neglects to say how much. So wasn’t I so grateful when I found a product at the local feed store called ArthiSoothe by NaturVet, which has both glucosamine and chondroitin, but also the two elusive remedies! All measured out! So that little pill you see in the center of Conner’s dish, is that. I just add one a day. I also, depending on how he seems, day to day, am giving him one pellet of 6x arnica at night, because I contacted Boiron (who makes it) and they told me 6x for localized ailments, 30x for all over ailments. Bingo. This is a good combo and I can really tell the difference. So that happened. And maybe it’s useful to you.
Now. Back to the supplements they each get just to stay healthy. I add to kibble: bone meal, cod liver oil, kelp, turmeric, fresh rosemary, brewer’s yeast, and, critically, and I can’t believe this isn’t common knowledge and practice, about 2-3 T. of warm water, stirring it up. They are so happy I started adding the water. It makes such a difference. Understandably.
So that’s how we start the day, after they have exercised out of doors, of course.
Now, I want to mention two other books which have very much influenced what I feed the dogs. First strong influence was Dr. Richard Pitcairn. Here’s his old book which is dogeared now. Pretty sure he has a newer edition. Get it!
Then I discovered Andi Brown’s book The Whole Pet Diet, and while I’m not following it to the letter of the law, it expanded what I was already doing and encouraged me to experiment more. So essentially, at noon(ish) the dogs get:
a grain (or two), protein, and a vegetable–all cooked. Grains include one or more of the following: basmati rice, or sticky rice, or quinoa, or millet or barley. Sometimes I add oats, but rarely. Protein is usually free range chicken or fish or chicken livers (only organic from the health food store; you would not believe the difference!), or ground beef (locally grazed and butchered cows), or organic free range eggs, though less often, and sometimes cottage cheese.
Veggies in winter are often squash. I usually bake something like kabocha or spaghetti squash or butternut squash once a week and they get most of it. If I’m cooking chicken, I do it in water so I can heat their food with broth (my preference) and in the broth I’m simultaneously cooking celery and carrots, which they get. I love to give them pumpkin puree, and there are years when I focus in fall on cooking a lot of them and storing puree in the freezer. This year I bought a lot of pumpkin cans during the holidays (on sale, organic with healthy cans) and stored, so I can open one of those if need be. Baked sweet potato is another excellent choice. Here’s a typical meal:
I love cooking basmati rice and red quinoa together. So easy. (You do have to remember to rinse it off first to eliminate any arsenic.) So there’s always something available and I’m simply heating up whatever is on hand at noon. Simple and makes for very happy healthy dogs!
If you’ve ever had Border Collies you know they can create little routines you had no intention as establishing as daily! So I have to say that these two have roped me into giving them a piece of fruit or a raw carrot (or whatever–peanut butter, from the health food store with no sugar, is a fave) at dusk. When I’ve extra time (haha) I sometimes bake them dog cookies.
I hope this post serves you. I look forward to your comments!
Love and doggie blessings,
Footnote: Folks have been privately emailing me concerned about peanut butter for various reasons. I say this: very small spoonfuls now and then, maybe on a piece of apple or pear, I think are fine, as long as you’re not buying commercial big box store peanut butter ladened with xylitol and sugar and heaven only knows what else! Salt, maybe. As with everything, the less a food has been “messed with” the better off you are and your doggies are.
Book News: Two new articles have appeared this last week, happily! One is in DIG-IT Magazine, the second on Flora’s Forum, where I have agreed to be an ongoing contributor. My thanks to the editors for the opportunity to share my voice. ~ Lastly, I would love to share that if you’ve read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy and you have an account at Amazon and are so inclined, a review on Amazon goes a long way in the Marketing Department and does this writer’s heart so much good to hear how you loved the book. Thank you for considering! xoxo