I am often asked about what we do at our home / in our BHRR Programs regarding homecooking. We feed all of our dogs (ours and the Rescues) three home cooked meals a week in addition to Kibble.Unfortunately, many a Vet(and I love them dearly as I work at a Vet Hospital myself) does not understand the proper nutritional requirements that a Giant Breed can require and especially in a Rescue situation; this is paramount to proper rehab. of the animal. I also have one of my own Great Danes exclusively on homecooking due to his colitis and tenesmus issues.

I also use Garlic(natural flea repellent too) and the reason why I like not only eggs but including eggshells as they carry a lot of nutrients and calcium including glucosamine. Some people will say ‘NO! DON'T FEED EGGSHELLS' but I have never had a problem in almost 15 years of feeding this way and over 300+ plus dogs have been fed that way. I give one whole egg per dog a couple times a week. Some people feed daily the eggs yet I do not for I know I have a great balance between the Kibble and the home cooking. 🙂

Yogurt is to be plain(Vanilla can be used) and I feed twice a week. I give about a Tablespoon to 2 Tablespoons per dog. Some people feed it daily.

The Rescues do get Ester C tabs for their bones and to help with ‘flat feet' or collapsed pastern issues etc. In addition to yogurt, cottage cheese is very good for promoting proper bacterial balance in the stomach. I love grated cheese to sprinkle on top of their food.

I am also a huge believer in RAW and fed RAW to our beloved RIP Frost 'T'.

I feed meals like Pasta, Beef Stroganoff, Stews, Fish, Lobster, Shrimp, Emu, Rice, Roast Chicken, Roast Beef, Ostrich, Crock Pot recipes with potatoes, some corn, pumpkin, green beans, peas, (NO tomatoes, onions etc.),Turkey etc. I also give raw eggs regularly, OMEGA III Fatty Acids too. I am not a huge fan of liver, lamb or veal and so while I do not eat that myself; I do feed it to my dogs. Bananas, apples too. I use tomato paste, low-sodium beef or chicken bouillon or broth. Cheese, yogurt too.

I feed as much organically grown meat and veggies as possible. Very lean meats for the most part.

To me the added variety in food has done wonders in putting weight on thin dogs slowly, keeping the weight on and adds variety. I LOVE the feel and look of their coats. I have had many people at the shows for example that cannot believe how soft, shiny and wonderful my dogs coats feels/looks.

Here is one thing that I used in the past as a guideline at one time and went from there –

Grains include brown and white rice, oats, millet, quinoa and barley. They constitute anywhere from 20-30% of the diet in most cases and are cooked with meat and vegetables. These grains provide energy, minerals and some protein. White rice is the most commonly used grain for most dogs because it causes the least reactions in dogs with skin problems and is very economical to purchase. However, rice may not be appropriate for overweight or diabetic pets.

Protein Sources
Meat, fish, eggs, soy products, kelp, spirulina, blue-green algae, and dairy products are commonly used in my recipes and provide dogs with fats, essential oils, and protein. In the tropics, dogs (and cats) require less fat and oil, than if they lived in colder or drier climates. Most dogs require about 10-30% animal protein in their diet. Puppies require more and are encouraged to eat some of the meat raw. Older dogs can get enough of the essentials from just boiling meat bones. In the tropics, pork, fish, eggs, chicken are most commonly used in my diets. Organ meats such as liver, kidney and heart are high in nutrients and very economical to buy. Dogs with allergies, skin problems, kidney ailments, and who are over 8 years of age will live longer and stay healthier with little or no meat at all. Cottage cheese, yogurt and eggs are substituted. Meat is cooked with the grains first then the vegetables are added last. And, when appropriate, meat may be fed to the pet raw.

Feeding your dogs the vegetables that grow locally and are in season is an age-old practice that acknowledges the natural cycles of Nature. Vegetables provide many minerals, vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and medicinal substances. These should constitute for 20-40% of the diet by volume (5% -10% raw) and the most commonly used ones are:
turnips, carrots, taro, beets, daikon, garlic, sweet potatoes
beet greens, spinach, chard, celery, taro, sweet potato leaves, cabbage,
parsley, bok choy, watercress, lettuce, cilantro
sazuki beans, lima beans, soybeans, string beans, sweet peas, white beans
Herbs (served raw or cooked)
basil, Chinese parsley, seaweed, rosemary, pepper, dill, tarragon

Bones and/or meat are cooked with garlic and parsley to make a broth. Then the grains are added and when they seem half-cooked, the vegetables are put into the pot and everything is cooked together until the grains are finished. Vegetables and meat should be chopped into small, bite-sized pieces.

– The basic recipe starts with cooked rice. Brown rice is much more nutritional than white, but more expensive; if you are feeding a small number and can afford it, use brown rice.
– The most important component for a carnivore is protein, therefore meat. I alternate the kind of meat with each batch. That includes lean ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey, chicken livers, beef liver, canned mackerel, and sometimes eggs.
– Vegetables, especially green vegetables because of their anti-oxidant vitamins. Organic and fresh is best – green beans, mixed veggies, kale, mustard greens, spinach. If you can't find low-sodium canned vegetables, you can put them in a colander, scald them with boiling water, rinse them, before adding them to the pot and that will reduce the sodium.
– Tomato paste, a generous amount, the highest source of the anti-cancer lycopene (lycopene in tomato paste is four time more bioavailable than it is from fresh tomatoes).
– Canola oil – the least expensive and best source of essential fatty acids, great for coat and skin.
– Apple cider vinegar – naturally anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, good for urinary tract health, and most dog diets are notoriously too basic. Many vitamins, including the anti-oxidants, and joint supplements are best absorbed in an acetic environment. (Start out conservatively, because some animals will object to the taste at first, but then you can increase the amount gradually; check with your vet first regarding the pH of the diet, because in some breeds, such as Dalmatians, that can be critical.)
– Garlic – powdered or chopped. It has many medicinal qualities, including reportedly anti-flea/tick/worm properties, and my dogs don't mind it at all.
– A vitamin/mineral supplement.

Other healthy additives to the food, while cooking, are bone meal (or calcium carbonate or citrate), brewer's yeast, soybeans, lentils, rolled oats, black-eyed peas.

Good additions to the dinner bowl are probiotics/acidophilus, plain yogurt, cottage cheese. Most pet dogs don't need a lot of carbs, which are converted to sugar, but high-energy, working dogs may; the addition of some whole-grain pasta to the diet may be recommended by your veterinarian if you have such a dog. (All dogs tend to love pasta, so I'm not adverse to a dog who is not overweight having a few noodles in their dinner.)

Author: Gwendilin Boers