An introduction to home-cooking
At first glance, the idea of home-cooking for our dogs seems like a wonderful one – what’s not to like about the idea of feeding our canine companions a diet of fresh food, lovingly made with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients?
However, when starting to think about feeding a freshly homemade diet for the first time, the reality can seem more daunting than expected. Most first-time home-cookers face two main obstacles to introducing fresh food to their dog’s diet – finding suitable recipes and finding the time to cook them.
In this first module, we’ll show you how both of these challenges can be overcome, and help you cook up a quick, easy, and nutritious meal for your dog.
Nutritionally balanced recipes
When starting to introduce home-cooked food for the first time alongside your dog’s usual diet of complete dry (kibble) or wet food, the exact make up of the recipes is much less important than it becomes when feeding a completely home-cooked diet. Your dog will still be getting a good balance of all the essential minerals and vitamins they need from their everyday food, so the fresh meals you introduce to their diet don’t need to be nutritionally complete at this stage.
The first meals you introduce to your dog’s diet should be quick and easy to prepare and made with simple ingredients that are unlikely to upset your dog’s digestion. Dogs that have spent their lives eating a mainly processed diet need some time for their digestive systems to acclimatise to fresh food, so it’s important to take things gradually and start with simple, relatively bland recipes, and to feed them alongside their usual food.
Fresher food, quicker!
If you’re used to feeding your dog a scoop of dry food, or a tin of wet food, the ideal of preparing a fresh meal from scratch for them can seem quite a challenge, especially if you have a busy life. However, cooking for your dog can be surprisingly quick and easy, and something you can do while you are preparing a meal for the rest of the family, or getting on with chores around the kitchen.
Many recipes for dogs are ‘one pot’ dishes which means they are really easy to prepare, with all the ingredients being cooked together in one pot, making it much less time-consuming than you might think.
Getting ready to cook
Before getting started with your first cook, it’s worth checking that you have everything you need to hand, including all the ingredients for the recipe. You’ll also need a suitably sized pan with a lid, some scales to weigh out the ingredients, and a measuring jug for the water. Make sure you cook well in advance of your dog’s dinner time to give the food plenty of time to cool down before serving.
Your dog’s first home-cooked meal!
With everything ready, it’s time to cook up your
dog’s first fresh recipe, and we’ve got
a couple of ideal dishes for you to start with.
Chicken & rice
with spinach & peas
This is a super-simple dish that is easy to digest and suitable for almost any dog, with good protein levels, energy from rice and micro-nutrients from spinach.
The quantities below will make enough for one meal for each size of dog (or half a day’s worth).
To cook, simply add all the ingredients together in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently
for around 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice is cooked and most of the water has
been absorbed (add a little more water during cooking if the mixture becomes too dry).
Pork with sweet potato and spinach
This is another easy dish, and it’s ideal for dogs who need to avoid rice in their diet. It combines tender protein from pork, with energy from sweet potato, vitamins and minerals from spinach, and a healthy boost of flavour from sage.
For this dish, you’ll need to chop up the sweet potato into small chunks – wash them first but there‘s no need to peel them. Then add all the ingredients together in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for around 25-30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sweet potato is soft.