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That's what Xoco says when she gets hungry and her bowl is empty.

With all the many pet food recalls, I decided I wouldn't worry about it.  I would just make the food Itzl and Xoco and any other short term rescues who may wander through my house would eat.

I know people will be all, "But how do you know it's good for your dogs?"

And I'll be all, "My dogs won't die from the food I feed them. That's pretty good in my opinion. And my vet is always impressed by how healthy and energetic and happy my dogs are."

I did work with my vet in developing the foods I feed Itzl and Xoco, and other critters as needed.

One interesting side effect of feeding them food I make them is that the don't seem to pick up fleas and parasites as easily. It's been 6 years that I've been making their food (well, Xoco's only 3 years old, but Itzl's 8 years old).  The vet credits Xoco's diet for her major health improvement and brain development - she came in with dislocated hips and spine, hydrocephalus, and some brain damage.  Now, except for her very bad short term memory and er inability to jump or climb, she's very healthy.

Xoco is not shy about letting me know her needs.

She will hunt her food dish and flop onto her back when she can't find it.  The message is clear:  "Feed mah belly!"

My Tummy's Right Here

Making treats is easy, but so is making kibble.  Have you read the ingredient list on store bought kibble?  Do you know what those ingredients really are? "Beets", for example, isn't the beets we eat for dinner, the beets in kibble come from the leftover pulp of processing sugar beets into sugar. The only way to know your pet is getting real food, healthy food, is to make it yourself.

Kibble is flexible.  You can make it in lots of ways, without artificial coloring, without weird parts or using the leftovers from processing other foods.

8 cups cooked meat (cooked without any seasoning)
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 cup chopped cooked spinach
1 cup rolled or steel cut oats, cooked
1/2 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup cooked carrots
1/2 cup dry non-fat milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup English peas, shelled
1/4 cup rendered chicken fat
2 tablespoons salmon or cod liver oil
1 tablespoon tomato powder
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 tablespoon dried kelp
1 tablespoon beets, cooked
1 teaspoon each sage and rosemary extracts

All of this needs to be pureed and mixed together into a thick paste.  More meat can be added to make a thicker paste.  Itzl and Xoco love poultry, venison, buffalo, ostrich.  When I make their kibble, I will only use one kind of meat, and sometimes vary up the fruit and vegetables.

To vary it, you can use any combination of the following vegetables and fruits (about half the amount of the meat you use):

sweet potatoes
dried kelp
chicory root
black-eyed peas
pineapple stem
Rosemary and sage extracts provide probiotic support to the kibble.  I prefer to use tomato powder to fresh tomatoes because it adds less moisture.  Kibble is meant to be dry and crunchy, tomato powder is one less liquid ingredient so the kibble dries better.

Now, once you've pureed this all to a thick paste, roll it out into long, skinny ropes.  Threads, more like.  My dogs are tiny and they have tiny mouths, so I generally make my ropes 1/4" thick.  Half inch is absolutely the largest I would make mine.  Make your ropes the right thickness for your dogs, 1 1/2" is really about the largest you should go in order to dry the kibble out right.

After I roll the paste out, I wrap it in plastic wrap in ropes about 2 feet long and shape it - triangles for venison, round for chicken, "flower" shaped for squirrel, square for buffalo, oval for ostrich.

Then I freeze it until it's really firm.  Working quickly, I slice the ropes in 1/8" slices for Itzl and Xoco - you can slice the ropes as large as 3/4" so it dries out well when baked.

I lay these out on parchment paper and bake three sheets at a time in the oven at 200*F for 2 - 3 hours - until the kibble is baked through.  Leave it in the closed oven for another 2 - 3 hours to crunch it up more.

Once they are cooled, I divide this up into quarters and vacuum seal 3 sections and stick them in the refrigerator. Each quarter is a week's worth of kibble for both Itzl and Xoco. Kept in a jar that seals tightly, it stays good a week without refrigeration and a month when refrigerated.

Meaty Strips

Most of the chicken jerkies for dogs are made in China under questionable conditions.  It's easy to make your own.  One chicken breast makes a dozen jerky treats.

I shape the breast into a triangle, with the end of the widest part flattened so the breast will stand up, and then freeze the chicken breast until it is very firm.  Since I froze it so it stands up, it's easy to slice it the right way, so you get thin long triangles of chicken meat.

Because Itzl needs glucosamine now for his knee and Xoco for her hips, I take the strips of chicken breast and lightly coat them with a mix of olive oil, glucosamine capsules, vitamin E, and a little bit of powdered garlic.  Then I lay them out on quick release foil and slide them into the oven at 200*F and leave them there for 3 hours.  Then I turn the oven off and let them stay in until the oven is cold.  This makes about a dozen strips which is a week's worth of snacks fr the both of them.

Other Treats

Itzl and Xoco love fresh veggies

Brussels sprout chips

10 fresh Brussels sprouts will make plenty of chips for you and the dogs, cut off the stem, the outer leaves will fall off, slice the stem again for more leaves, and do this until it's hard to separate out the leaves - reserve the tender inners for your own food. Spritz the leaves that you got lightly with oil, sprinkle on a little garlic powder, spread out on parchment paper and bake at 350*F for 10 minutes.  Remove any that are crisp and maybe slightly browned on the edges.  Roast the rest for 5 minutes and check and remove crispy leaves.  Do this until all the leaves are crisped.  Don't let any leaves turn completely brown - they get bitter.  A little browning on the edges is OK.

They also like getting a steamed Brussels sprout each.

Steamed carrots.

Steamed or baked pumpkin, sliced into thin strips, then baked until dry and leathery is another treat they love.

Sweet potatoes, cut into "chips", brushed lightly with oil and baked until crisp please them, too. They love baked sweet potatoes with a brush of melted butter - a tablespoon of sweet potato with their kibble makes them happy.

Steamed asparagus, broccoli, and cabbage also please them.  Itzl likes his asparagus with a squeeze of lemon. Xoco doesn't care - it's asparagus!

They like a little dollop of steamed or baked apple, too, kind of a like coarse applesauce.

When I make them fresh meals, I steam or boil a little meat (usually poultry), then add a dollop of sweet potato and apple and a Brussels sprout.

Itzl gets gas now and then, or gets off his feed for some reason.  When he does that, I give him a mix of boiled chicken, cottage cheese, and steamed rice - equal parts.  Xoco gets some, too, because she loves this beyond anything. The vet actually gave me this recipe, saying when small dogs would eat nothing else, they generally ate this.  Now, as to why it works for Itzl's gas, I have no clue, but it does.

Fido and Wine is one of my favorite sites for finding recipes for Itzl and Xoco. I disagree with their Toxic Food List - they say avocado and tomato are bad for dogs.  I've done a lot of research on this - and the avocado claim seems to come from dogs who ate the Guatemalan avocado leaves, not the Mexican fruit.  The leaves, peel, and pit of the avocado are toxic, but the meat of the fruit is fine.  Tomato issues also seems to be related to the leaves and seeds.  Tomato paste and powder avoid that problem altogether.  

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