Once a week, she said. OK, once a fortnight. Monthly is a good compromise. And then I disappeared into a puff of smoke. I know, I’ve been absent. In my defence, I have been hosting sold out workshops, consulting with all sorts of exciting clients and packing up my worldly possessions in anticipation of moving my whole life about 1800 kilometres north. But it’s no excuse. I promise to be better.
You’ll be relieved to hear that my writing is not the only thing that has slipped. It’s not personal. After years of making all of my dog’s food myself, carefully formulating each batch to ensure that he meets all of his nutritional goals, I finally…well… I just got sick of it. I’m too busy! I don’t even have time to feed myself properly! So until they invent uberEATS for doggos, something has got to give.
Since I started consulting and talking to people at workshops, two issues have consistently come up as areas of concern: nutritional balance, and time. And I’m bloody stoked that people are concerned about nutritional balance, my biggest fear is that you’ll run out and spend all of your hard earned cash on steaks and chicken breasts and call it a day.
It’s just not that simple.
But I also totally understand that time is a genuine constraint. We are busier than ever. I’ve put together a few simple hacks to help you feed your pup a whole food diet without needing to hire an assistant.
Plan plan plan! This is what I did for myself and others for years.If you want to maintain complete control over your pets’ diet (I get it, I really do) in the most efficient way possible, I recommend making food in batches. I used to reserve a few hours once a month to go to the market, buy a little old lady-style shopping trolley full of meat and then bag it up into daily serves. You need freezer space, a few hours each month, a place to make a big mess and an old lady-style shopping trolley. You also need a really firm understanding of your dog’s nutritional needs, so I do not recommend this approach solo unless you are really confident that you can formulate a balanced diet.
Mix it up. In a perfect world, every dog would eat a variety of wild caught, whole prey. Or more realistically, they would eat a balanced, homemade, whole food diet, based around a whole prey model, with a variety of raw proteins. In actual reality, this isn’t always possible. Whether you are bound by time, financial or knowledge based constraints, I fully support anyone who is making an informed effort to add fresh species appropriate foods to their dogs’ diet, however small. This may mean you feed one meal of traditional pet food and one raw meal per day, or just a few raw meals through the week. Great. As you learn the tricks, get the hang, and increase your understanding of feeding a fresh diet, you’ll find it easier and easier to include more and more fresh foods.
Support local business. If you want to feed entirely fresh foods but you don’t fancy getting up to your elbows in offal, there are some great pre-made products out there. Once you’ve found one that you like, you can easily supplement it with whole bones, cheaper cuts of meat and any other bits and pieces that may be lacking. There are also some not so great pre-made raw products out there, and due to some frankly pretty strange regulations in Australia regarding pet food, it’s important to do your research and know the difference. I am yet to find one that I would happily feed exclusive of any other products or dietary additions, but I can help you to choose the best one and teach you how to optimise it.
Invest in a good quality plant based wholefood supplement. One thing I found, when my enthusiasm for what seemed like a lifetime of making Tex’s food was waning, was that veggies and all of the other nutritional supplements I would add to his meals were the first thing to go. Cooking up batches of bones broth, blending leafy greens + herbs, and steaming root vegetables to ensure he ate a rainbow of plant matter on the reg added a layer of complexity that exhausted me just thinking about it. I took to primarily slinging him random bits of fruit and veggies left over from my own meals – which is fine, providing you have a firm grasp on what is safe, how much of the key vitamins and minerals they need, and how much you are giving them – but it’s not IDEAL. Having a carefully crafted nutritional supplement on hand can make life a whole lot easier and give you a little peace of mind that your dogs are getting all those micro doses of nutrients they require. My pick is Green Tails Wholefood Purée but there are plenty of options to choose from (EDIT: this is no longer available, but there are still other options).
If you have the time and the inclination to hand craft all of your pets’ meals, I salute you. If you’re looking for a way to cut some corners and spend more time at the dog park, I hope this has been of some value.