Kibble & Alternatives + Fajitas & Lasagna!
As always, thanks for all your sweet comments and support. I upgraded our filming equipment recently, and it’s been a pretty steep learning curve. You can probably see (some weird) differences in the camera settings as we work to improve our cinematography…if you can even call it that…yet. :) I also set up a little studio space for the dogs and will start to elevate that over time. Stay tuned…
This week’s recipes are lasagna and fajitas! The lasagna is a bit of an effort to make, but it is so much fun. If you want to use store bought noodles, go for it. It’s supposed to be a treat anyway. You could even get fancy and use a high-quality pasta made from semolina and eggs. Semolina is basically the same thing as couscous and is higher in protein and fiber than refined flour. As long as your dogs aren’t gluten intolerant, they can safely enjoy it as well as other store bought pastas.
Fajitas, on the other hand, are so simple to make. All you need is your dog’s favorite meat and some bell peppers, plus an egg for the “tortillas”.
Kibble and Alternatives
Today, I wanted to share some thoughts on kibble and commercially available foods. You might think that I hate kibble or judge those who feed it to their dogs, but that’s not the case.
Vets still continue to tell people kibble is the healthiest option, and I know pup parents just want what’s best for their babies! It’s hard to go against what your vet, or any authority figure, is telling you. Here’s what I think.
KIBBLE (cheap, convenient BUT safety concerns, long term health concerns) Kibble will always have a place as budget friendly, quick food. For example, shelters need it to feed hundreds of dogs a day. In a pinch or emergency, it just works. It’s kind of like MREs (emergency meals) for dogs. However, long term it’s probably not the best option as 1) It’s not well regulated, 2) Kibble is made up of mostly processed carbohydrates, and 3) Sometimes diseased meat and other toxins make their way into the supply chain. See previous post here.
FRESH / FROZEN FOOD PLANS (nicer ingredients BUT expensive, slimy mush, and not eco friendly) I’ve watched friends scrape out slop from these EXPENSIVE fresh food companies and plop it into a dog bowl. It’s gross to use and a pain to store. On top of that, when you buy it, you are shipping around mostly water, and water is heavy. It’s probably the least eco-friendly version of food you can buy.
AIR DRIED / FREEZE DRIED (nicer ingredients, convenient BUT expensive) I like using human-grade air dried food as treats for the dogs. The ingredients are better, and they are way less processed than traditional kibble. Human grade also assures no diseased meat or toxins are in there. I think this is the best option if convenience is a priority for you.
What do these dog food companies have in common? They want you to be reliant on them. They want you to think you CAN’T make food for your dogs at home because it’s a complex science. In my opinion, that’s the big fat scam that is the whole dog food industry. Even though these newer brands use better ingredients, they’re still incentivized for you to believe anything other than what they make is bad. That bothers me. Bobi, the longest EVER lived dog, ate only real food. His owner lived on a farm and definitely wasn’t a vet or canine nutritionist.
HOME COOKNG (human grade, fresh+whole ingredients, enriches you & your dog’s lives BUT takes time+effort) Because there’s so much confusion around dog nutritional needs (just like for people, dogs can live on almost anything), people hesitate when it comes to home cooking. I totally understand that fear. When I first decided to feed Cedric real food at 9 weeks old, I was scared to give him a simple boiled egg. That egg transformed both of our lives.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. If you buy ingredients in bulk, many of our recipes can be made for less than a premium dry food and WAY cheaper than fresh food plans. Veggie-free Fricassee can be made for less than $1.30 a day for Cedric (he’s 14 lbs.) and about $0.75 for Edith (she’s 7 lbs.). I made the recipe free for everyone now.
For those short on time, or those who want more of hand in home cooking, we created Pup Pot Meals to help you out. They provide all the nutrients required by AAFCO with only whole-food ingredients, and no synthetic additives.
These days Pup Pot Meals are my go to food for the dogs. I don’t have to look at any recipes or use any thought. I just dump everything into a pot and 30 min later they have a meal they LOVE. Cedric will lick the empty bowl and then the floor for a good 5 minutes after dinner. My guess is that aside from making sure no crumb gets left behind, he’s trying to savor every last bit of the aroma.
If you feed kibble, supplementing with an occasional whole food meal is a great way to go. But beware, your dogs might reject kibble once they get a taste of real food.
Nutrient Focus: Selenium
I was surprised to learn that selenium is a semi-conductor similar to silicon used in microprocessors. It also has photovoltaic properties (the ability to change light into energy like solar panels). Selenium is an essential nutrient in people and in dogs where it helps to regulate energy metabolism, thyroid function and immune function. It also serves a critical role in the production of antioxidants in the body, which may help to reduce the risk of cancer. See this literature review of selenium for dogs here.
If you’re reading this, chances are that both you and your dog are getting enough just through your regular diets. All commercially produced dog foods are supplemented with a mineral form of selenium. Despite mineral forms being less digestible, most contain adequate amounts. If your pups are being fed a whole food diet, natural forms of selenium in organ meat more than covers their needs. Canned dog foods appeared to have the lowest amount of available selenium, suggesting that high heat treatment of canned foods destroys some selenium compared to kibble and home cooked foods.
Some researchers suggest that recommendations of selenium should be doubled and that subclinical deficiency can result in compromised immune systems and a higher incident of cancer. In dogs with cancer there are significantly lower levels of selenium in the blood. However, over supplementing with selenium can also inhibit immune function and should be administered with caution.
Even more so than in human nutrition, there’s so much we still don’t know about dogs. AAFCO makes the rules, but I question how on point their guidelines are, considering they don’t have an upper limit for sodium, and don’t have guidelines for Omega-3s AND they lowered protein requirements so that most kibble is now 70% or more carbohydrates. Hmm. Hopefully a new nutritional system based on better research, and with more accountability will come along soon and take over. :)
Wishing you a tasty week!
Joelle, Cedric and Edith