I read labels, all kinds of labels, on the foods I eat and labels on the food that I feed my dogs. Go ahead and read the labels on your dog food, I'll wait.
Well, could you pronounce half the stuff they put in there?
I can't, and I'm really pretty good at this reading stuff. I don't even know what most of that stuff is. Which brings me to what I do. I make the majority of the food my dogs have eaten over the past 30 or so years. And the end result is, I have had happy, healthy dogs. Their skin is good, their fur is nice, they have energy and very little ill health. I used to just cook up meat, add some veggies and rice and call it a day, but over the years I've refined the recipe and now I make up the same basic meatloaf each time.
|Chimi on left and Mauli on the right with their buddy Sam in the middle.|
Around here we call it Mauli Loaf in honor of our dog Mauli. She was the reason I refined the Mauli Loaf recipe over time.
|Mauli chasing Chimi, she's 14 years old here.|
When we first got Mauli she was a three year old, former breeder and you could tell she needed something extra. She'd just finished weaning her latest and last litter and it showed. So, I started off feeding her canned food along with some dry foods. That was OK, but the stuff in the cans stunk and made her stink as well. (go ahead, give your dogs a good sniff, do they smell a little funky? Yup, it's the food.)
So I started making her some food, and through trial and error, came up with a basic formula. Mauli was more than happy to eat all the different versions, some a little more happily than others, but for the most part she gulped them on down. She thought she was eating people food, giggle. I started off with equal amounts of ground beef, and vegetables, added brown rice and oatmeal along with some eggs, mixed it all together and baked it. Oh and I almost forgot, 1 good tablespoon of garlic powder was mixed in as well. I used to bake it, and then weigh out exactly 11 oz. per meal and she would eat it. Then we got a second dog and I was making meatloaf a couple times a week. Our new dog was also a rescue and she loved to eat Mauli Loaf as well. Then a couple of years ago I started using chicken in place of the ground beef and Mauli liked it even better, umm, did I mention that chicken was her favorite animal protein? Have you checked out the price of ground beef? Yikes, and you can get chicken leg quarters for as low as 49 cents a pound on sale. Need I say more? I've also priced this out and it is comparable with canned food pricewise, and if you have the freezer space you can make it once a month or so and freeze it. That's what I used to do when I had a larger freezer. And yes, it is a hassle to make homemade dog food, but so worth it.
At any rate, for the past couple of years I've cooked up chicken and then added it to the frozen veggies, brown rice, oatmeal and eggs and bake that into a meat loaf style food. I try to cook as much as I can ahead, but still ended up making them food at least once a week. I used to love watching the dogs play for hours, especially when one of them was over 13 yrs old and the other 4 yrs old. (Mauli lived to be 15 1/2 before her age and general health betrayed her and we had to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge) Mauli did have some older dog issues, mainly weak eyesight and her hindquarters were also weak, but her zest for living, and playing with her ball for hours, well, let me put it like this, I continued to make the effort of home made food for them.
My vet also suggested adding some olive oil to the food, a couple of tablespoons a day, so when I heat the food up in the fry pan, I add the oil in there. And even though I am down to one dog at the moment, I still make Mauli Loaf as needed. And Chimi appreciates it. I do want to mention that Chimi was also a rescue dog and was severely underweight when we got her, so it was just as important to make sure she had good food to help build her up again.
Oh and by the way, both my dogs had a healthy weight when checked out by the vet, and neither one seemed to crave more food than the Mauli Loaf with some dry dog food as a side. Their breath was not as rancid as when they ate commercial foods either.
Mauli Loaf Recipe
2 lbs, chicken, cooked and taken off the bone ( I either cook them in the crock pot or on top of the stove til the meat is ready to fall off of the bone)
2 lbs. Frozen Vegetables ( I prefer Peas and Carrots, they seem to be more digestible)
4 cups cooked brown rice (you can use instant brown rice as well)
4 cups oatmeal
2 cloves of garlic cooked with the chicken or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Water or the chicken stock you cooked the chicken in. Enough to moisten the oatmeal thoroughly. I usually add a couple cups of water along with the eggs, I can always add more. Skim the majority of the chicken fat off the top, some fat is good, but it can really do a number on my older dog's digestive system. However, if you are in a cold climate, fat is good. It burns off as energy for the dogs.
Mix all together and place in a pan and bake in the oven for 90 minutes or until the temp reaches 180 deg.
Cut into chunks and serve them to your dog. Refrigerate it for serving over the next couple of days. I have to admit to warming it at this point, either by zapping it in the microwave or in a fry pan. Both dogs liked it better that way. And by warming it in a fry pan, you can add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, good for the dogs.