Wow, what a wild time we are living through. Everyone doing OK out there? Or should I say, in there?
Testament to the love we have for our pets, one of the first things I and many of my friends, colleagues and clients worried about was how we would continue to feed our pets a fresh diet. We are currently all facing limitations on movement, finances and supply, which affects our ability to feed our families, and that of course includes our pets.
I’ve been uploading tips to my Instagram and Facebook, but I thought I would consolidate some of them here as well.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Ideally we want to feed our pets as much variety and as many different proteins as possible, but I completely understand this is challenging when we don’t have the same resources that we may have had a few weeks ago. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have had no trouble getting beef mince, lamb liver and chicken drumsticks or wings from the supermarket. My butcher has also had chicken frames and my pet store has had kangaroo. Four proteins is the minimum I recommend rotating and if this is all you can access, your dog or cat will be ok, especially if you follow some of my other tips to add nutritional variety. My supermarket has also had lamb heart, lamb bones and lamb offcuts, turkey mince, and a variety of fish and seafood in the deli. Many will also have chicken hearts and gizzards. These are all thing that are fine to feed to your pets. I highly recommend including heart in your cat’s diet (for taurine) if at all possible.
CHECK YOUR PANTRY
One of the easiest ways to add nutritional variety, especially if you have limited access to a variety of proteins, is through adding whole food supplements to your pet’s food. When I say “whole food supplements”, I don’t mean expensive powders and potions. I mean whole foods like the ones you probably already have in your pantry, or that you can purchase inexpensively at the supermarket. I recently went through my pantry and found a huge collection of things that I can add to my dog’s food, which gave me a lot of comfort in terms of the nutrients I am able to provide him.
Some of the things you can include are eggs, coconut oil, other healthy plant oils in small amounts (such as olive, sunflower, wheatgerm, avocado, rice bran), peanut butter, other nut butters (not macadamia), tahini, raw honey, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, oats, brown rice (in small amounts), quinoa, tinned sardines, tinned oysters, tinned mussels, tinned salmon, small amounts of tinned legumes, garlic (in small amounts) and dried herbs including cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. If you’re a bit of a health freak you may also have things like spirulina, krill, kelp powder, dried seaweeds or other greens powders. These are also really great nutritional supplements in very small amounts.
AND THE FRIDGE
You’ll also find ways to add nutritional variety in the fridge (your own or the supermarket), which will mostly come from fruits and veggies - and I hope you’re eating lots of those to keep our own immune system firing! These include sweet potato, pumpkin, leafy greens and kale, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, beetroot + beet greens, green beans, carrots + carrot tops, celery, cucumber, banana, berries (frozen is fine), mango, papaya, avocado (in small amounts), apples (seeds removed), pears, nectarines, peaches and plums, pineapple, watermelon, fresh herbs like parsley, mint + coriander, plain tofu, unsweetened probiotic yogurt, kefir and goat milk.
This isn’t really cheating, but don’t feel like you can’t give yourself a pass to take shortcuts if 100% homemade DIY fresh feeding is too hard. Either because you can’t get access to ingredients or because you just don’t have the energy. I will be the first to admit that when this all started to get heavy I bought a box of pre-made raw food for my freezer. Padded out with chicken frames and other extras this is about 2 week of food for my medium sized dog. This is really more than I need to have in the freezer (because I am still buying fresh meat) and I definitely don’t want to encourage hoarding because that serves absolutely no one, but if having a bit of pre-made raw (or even more traditionally processed food) makes you feel more comfortable at this incredibly weird, scary, new and unpredictable time, then do it.