The answer is an eager, slobbery "Yes!" Properly balanced and supplemented, these ingredients can form the basis for first-rate dog food that meets all your dog's nutritional needs and appeals to his tastes. Whether you buy commercial or make it yourself, turkey, carrots and rice are a good start.
The key to home-made dog food is balance: correct proportions of protein, fat, vegetables and starch, plus any supplements needed. Many vets recommend a diet of 40 percent protein in the form of meat (turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, venison, lean pork, dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt), eggs and occasional fish -- all of which are mix-and-match -- and 50 percent vegetables, with only 10 percent grains. All forms of protein can be fed cooked or raw.
Turkey is available and affordable whether you buy it ground, in parts or whole. Pick up extra birds around Thanksgiving and Christmas when prices are low and stock the freezer. Ground turkey in chubs gives you convenient portions and the correct proportion of fat-to-lean (15 percent), but whole birds are easy to deconstruct, and you can let your food processor do the chopping. If you follow a BARF diet -- bones and raw food -- though, you'll need a real meat grinder. Don't forget bones -- raw beef marrow bones and turkey necks are highly recommended by some experts for their cleansing effect on dental hygiene as well as their nutritional value. Working with raw meats requires careful hygiene to avoid health risks for you and your dog, so have separate utensils and equipment for this, or even a separate prep area.
Veggies should make up about half of your homemade dog food, since dogs can digest them nicely if they are shredded or chopped. They provide vitamins and minerals, as well as carbs and fiber. Carrots are among the best vegetables for dogs, along with sweet potato, squash, green beans, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower. Leave out tomatoes, bell peppers and leafy greens like spinach, and for pity's sake, hold the onions and all their relatives -- garlic, leeks and so on -- they can be toxic to dogs. Try raw baby carrots as a treat.
Dogs don't do grains well, but rice is the most easily and fully digested of grains. Brown rice is better for dogs -- and people -- because it provides natural B vitamins in the bran coating. Even in a raw food diet, it must be cooked and it cooks differently from white rice, so read and follow the package directions. before adding it to your homemade dog food. Oatmeal -- plain rolled oats, not the instant, flavored or sweetened kind) -- is just as good, has more protein than rice and makes a nice change of taste and texture occasionally.
Flax seed oil, also called linseed oil, like soybean and canola oil, provides a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and it can also be added in dry form as ground linseed. Either way, sprinkle a daily tablespoon for dogs less than 20 pounds, or two tablespoons, for larger dogs, over your homemade dog food for clear skin and a shiny coat. To ensure your dog gets enough calcium, rinse and air-dry eggshells overnight. When you have a dozen or so, toss them in the blender and pulverize them. Add 1/8 teaspoon to each meal of your homemade dog food.
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