What the Doggies Eat

Ruby and Conner500
the Border Collies

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:

red quinoa, basmati rice, chicken livers and spaghetti squash in broth

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,
Kathryn xoxo
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

12 Responses to “What the Doggies Eat”

  1. Thanks for sharing, one of my dogs, Lucky is now 15 and her hips are going out. Things are worse for her in the winter months and all she really wants to do is sleep. I put her on PetVi. I get it on amazon and every time I reorder they send along a little coupon. She’s been on it for 2 months now and doing much better. It’s a digestive health supplement with omega 3 and includes glucosamine and Chondrotin sulfate for hip and join support. My other dog who is 10 I’ve already started her on it because she’s a hound and predicted to have a shorter life span than Lucky. It’s hard to watch her slowing down because her spirit is so very strong. I also implement the once a day real food and my dogs love raw farm eggs.Enjoyed and very helpful, your dogs are beautiful.

  2. HI, Carole West and welcome. Thank you for sharing this tip. I will check this product out. You might consider sprinkling a small bit of turmeric on the real food, as it’s used routinely in diets for arthritis. And it’s easy to do and not expensive. It is, indeed, hard to watch them decline. Bless you for taking the extra steps for their well being. Kathryn xoxo

  3. Wow. Great info and lucky doggies! I know those extra supplements for Conner have made a big difference. So glad you found ways to help his aging hips. <3 -Antonia

  4. I cook for our dogs, too! And people think I’m a little crazy. A mix of vegetables, rice or potatoes, and meat. The dogs are chihuahua mixes. They also enjoy table scraps, in moderation, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Yesterday I scrambled them an egg each (beautiful eggs from a local farmer, deep, rich orange yolks!). After that issue of Chinese poison in the food, I am suspicious of all processed dog food. We had a black lab who ate kibble for years and had terrible problems with allergies and his ears. We didn’t figure it out until years later that it was, I have no doubt, the food he was eating. Maybe related to gmos in the food as well. These guys are little and it’s manageable for me just to make them some food, though I have bought a few cans of Paul Newman’s and other food now and then.

    Have you read Juliette de Baïracli Levy? My first exposure to canine health in relation to their food (it sounds so stupid now, obvious!) was in her film, Juliette of the Herbs. It was fascinating–she went into how all animals self-medicate with herbs in the wild.

  5. Hello Kathryn and everyone,
    I am so happy when I open my email and there is something from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy! It really makes my day!
    I loved all the information and great ideas about feeding and caring for border collies! My dream is to one day have a house with two of them.
    You truly inspire me Kathryn!
    Love and peace,

  6. HI, Antonia! Yes, such a relief to find a combo of things that work for Conner! It really does my heart so much good to see him bouncing around again! Love, Mom xoxo

  7. Hi, Sandra and welcome! It’s kind of fun to figure out what is good for them, right? I’m constantly googling this or that. I also get so tickled when I discover something like Conner likes cucumbers, or Ruby loves apples! It opens up a world of pleasure and communication with our beloved fur friends! Kathryn xoxo

  8. Good morning, Doreen and welcome! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog! And I know you are a fan of my book, which I so appreciate! I hope you get your dream of having a home with dogs you can love and enjoy, dear. Blessings! Kathryn xoxo

  9. I think your dogs eat better than I do!

    Haha, jokes aside, it’s great to see your dogs so happy and knowing that they’re treated so well. Seeing how well you feed them actually makes me kind of reluctant to ever get a dog since I don’t know if I would have the time or energy to prepare great meals for my dog like that. I really want one but I would feel bad not feeding it properly, even if giving them kibble all the time is “acceptable”, it’s just not healthy. It’s basically like feeding your kids junk food all the time.

  10. I will need to PRINT your blog for this topic. So full of like- minded info. We are feeding our two miin-pins dry Taste of the Wild with a dollop of moist Paul Newman natural canned food that I order on line. When the second pup arrived last spring our vet said ti feel him any vegetable or fruit ( no grapes) we like. It is amazing to watch him enjoy raw broccoli, celery, persimmons, carrots, etc. Even the older dog is expanding his tastes when he sees the pup enjoying his treats. I like your idea of quinoa and broth. ( Read in Consumer Reports that CA grown basmati rice has the lowest amount of arsenic…of course it is the most costly.) Good to see your shiny, beautiful companions and thank you for sharing.

  11. HI, David, and welcome! I really do believe there are kibbles out there that are healthy. I think it just requires research and talking to a vet you trust. Notice I give them kibble in the morning and then cook for them at noon, just in case I missed something. And after awhile I think you just end up giving them what you are munching on. An apple. A carrot is an easy go-to. They love to chew them. Don’t let diet be the reason you don’t get a dog! There are so many wonderful dogs in shelters that are loving and need homes. Believe me the alternative to being adoped and being fed kibble is probably not a happy ending. 🙂 GET THE DOG! 🙂
    Kathryn xoxox

  12. HI, Carol, Yes! Isn’t it so fun to see what they like? And their tastes are different not unlike children! Ruby LOVES apples. Conner loves pears and cucumber. It really tickles me to be cooking something for myself and having Conner underfoot curious about what’s being prepared and trying out this or that. Pretty entertaining for us both–and definitely a relationship builder! 😉 So glad there might be a tip here you can use! Kathryn xoxo

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