Ah, the title sounds like I’ve made a pie out of Zeph and Zsa Zsa – nope, I’ve just been cooking for them. I am adamant that my dogs are not going to be fed processed crap food pushed on us by commercial pet food companies and, sadly, most veterinarians. I was reading the other day how dogs in the “olden days” used to be fed scraps from the family table: bones, offal and so on. But along with the rise in obesity, due to processed foods for humans, our animals are also suffering. There’s a rise in chronic (and preventable) diseases in pets – diabetes, cancer, obesity, kidney problems – and this may be traceable to the commercial pet food industry and also our tendency to make our pets a part of the family (the very family that is also eating too much processed food).

The commercial pet food industry started in 1860 when James Spratt (in the UK) invented the first dog biscuits made from vegetables, beef blood, wheat and beetroot. It was really after WWII that the pet industry as we know it expanded and dry processed food was marketed as a complete, (so-called) nutritious food. Around this time, dire warnings about feeding your dog bones or raw meat started to be heard.

Think about it though – prior to the canned, processed pet food industry dogs were eating table scraps, bones, raw meat, offal and so on. But with the advent of commercial pet foods, it seems we find the issue of dog or cat nutrition far too difficult and so we buy our pet’s food from supermarkets and vets. It’s like we have no confidence in our ability to look after our pets, so we hand over to mega companies.

But I’ve found a tiny bit of research can provide a wealth of information about pet nutrition. Dogs, for example, require animal protein aka meat. Dog ancestors, wolves, didn’t drop into their local pet shop for a supply of dry kibble (which is usually grain-based). They ate wild game and chomped on bones. Basically, whatever they could hunt down or forage was their food.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa are on a raw food regime, which means the majority of their diet is uncooked stuff – raw chicken, beef, venison, rabbit, turkey, livers, hearts, fish. And they get bones: raw meaty bones and chicken necks. Raw meat poses problems for humans but the canine digestive system is different and can handle bacteria. To ensure a balanced diet, they also get organic yoghurt, vegetables (sweet potato being a favourite); fruit, a bit of organic honey, extra virgin coconut oil and organic brown rice and quinoa.

I often make them home-made dog biscuits and the other day, I whipped up a brown rice, vege and egg pie. This was served with their raw meat for dinner. The pie also contained yoghurt, beef broth and goat’s milk. With a bit of imagination and effort, you can provide your pet with good balanced nutrition and not spend a cent on commercial pet food.