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Dog Food

Poor Wily got fat. I felt so bad about it. She slowed down as she got older, and then an injury further restricted her activity, and then it got hot so she started staying inside more. I didn't have the sense to anticipate that I needed to change her diet. Then I thought she was panting too much at night. I panicked. I thought, "She's got heart disease! She's dying!" Then I Googled "excessive panting." The good news was, she wasn't dying. The bad news was, she was fat.

So I started making her a homemade fresh dog food and limited her treats severely. It was awful. I couldn't go near the kitchen. I was starving! Craig was out of town the first couple of days, and I was at wit's end. Wily kept demanding more food and her customary treats. A couple of times, I had to get out the vacuum cleaner to distract her. But then she adjusted, and since then she has lost weight steadily. I can tell she feels much better. I wish I were doing as well!

Anyway, she lo-o-o-oves her new dog food. I feed her just one cup of this food plus 3/4 cup of Beneful (that nice new Purina dog food) at dinnertime, and she looks great. If she really seems hungry in the morning, I sometimes give her 1/4 cup each of her dog food and Beneful. It takes only a little while to cook up a batch that lasts a week (which is the quantity given below).

Wily eating

1 lb. ground chuck
1 cup rice (dry measure)
1 pound frozen mixed vegetables
2 1/2 cups water

Put the rice and water in a sauce pan, turn the heat up, and stir to make sure the rice won't stick. Crumble the ground beef on top of the raw ice, but don't stir! The rice needs to stay on the bottom. Add the vegetables on top, and again, don't stir. Cover. When the water comes to a boil, cut the heat back to low. You still haven't stirred since adding the meat. Cover. So you are proceeding just as if cooking rice, but the meat and vegetables are stacked on top of the rice.

After 10 or 15 minutes, the meat and vegetables will have thrown enough liquid so you can stir without exposing the rice (the rice has to be submerged or it won't cook). At this point, mix well, making sure the meat is well broken up into small pieces. Cover and cook until the rice is done. As always, when cooking rice, you can turn off the heat entirely toward the end and coast in.

The idea is to thoroughly imbue the vegetables and rice with the flavors and fats from the meat. Wily, who has never cared for rice or vegetables, eats every last bit. I wouldn't ever cheat and mix the rice and vegetables with the meat after cooking them separately. If I did, I would expect Wily to pick out the meat and never be fooled into eating rice and vegetables again. Of course, some dogs like rice and vegetables, so these precautions wouldn't be needed for them.

Chuck is good because it has about 20 percent fat content. I sometimes use other ground meats, such as pork, turkey (you may need to add some oil), or lamb. The vegetables are a mixture of corn kernels, peas, little pieces of carrot, and little pieces of green beans. Again, I would avoid ever using a mixture with larger pieces, because I wouldn't want her to ever get the idea of picking around the vegetables. They add low-calorie bulk.

Even the best commercial dog foods are highly processed, and a glance at the label will tell you they are full of additives, too. Fresh food like this is easy on a dog's kidneys and liver (says our vet). Cost-wise, this food is a little more expensive than the cheapest dog food you can find, but it is not expensive compared to better brands. Well worth it, I would say.


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