By Mark Rochell from Man About A Dog Blog
You’re reading this on the Internet. That means I can pretty much guarantee that today you’ve already seen approximately 15 million pictures of super-healthy avocado laden breakfasts prepared by an army of smugsters on Instagram. It’s almost enough to put you off your bacon and egg sarnie. It now seems impossible to enter the world of social media without being taken for a walk down guilt street by a group of perfect healthy people, telling you how you could be a perfect healthy person too, if only you’d put down that kebab and eat this perfect healthy food.
And now comes a new way to make you feel guilty, and it’s not even concerned with what you’re putting in your own mouth. They’ve now moved on to the foodstuffs that you’re providing for your pooch!
Natural food brands such as Wonderboo, with their Swedish Ox and Cod range, and Honey’s, who preach a raw feeding programme, have been around for a while now. The new fad on the block though is ‘Clean Eating for Dogs’, and the charge is being led by two black cocker spaniels called the Houndsley Brothers (think Hemsley + Hemsley but with even glossier hair and wetter noses). They have been working with the Devon based natural pet food producer Forthglade to come up with an expert guide to clean eating for dogs, which launches today. To be honest I’m not sure how much of it was actually written directly by the Houndsley Brothers, but at the very least they look great in the pictures.
In reality, my miniature schnauzer Grenson and I are already pretty much down with this clean eating vibe. Back when he was a pup I experimented by trying him out with a tin of off-the-shelf dog food. I was shocked when I read the ingredients. The meal was meant to be chicken and turkey but the ingredients stated that it contained ‘meat and animal derivatives 60% including 4% chicken, 4% turkey’. So in this so-called chicken and turkey meal, only 8% was chicken and turkey. Another 52% was some sort of mystery meat and the remaining 40% was anyone’s guess. I decided there and then that cooking up fresh food myself would be the best way forward. So at mealtime we occasionally add rice, scrambled egg, broccoli, or kale to his dry dog food. More generally we add liver or, his favourite, roast chicken thighs (also my favourite as it means I get to eat the crispy skin, whilst ignoring his dirty looks that suggest ‘oh right it’s too unhealthy for me, but it’s not stopping you wolfing it down in front of me is it? Wipe that grease off of your chin for goodness sake!’).
However, reading the Houndlsey Brothers’ guide made me realise that whilst Grenson’s diet may include plenty of fresh ingredients it was somewhat lacking in variety. Apparently dogs only have 1,700 taste buds compared to our 9,000, so a different meal every night isn’t necessary, but as with us, a wider base of foods gives you a better chance of getting everything you need. There are so many varieties of food groups that dogs can eat - from sweet potato to salmon - that provide vital protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals. So, I suppose the only thing for it was for me to put on my pinny and get cooking.
I decided to try out one of the more accessible recipes, one that didn’t require a visit to a health food shop for iodine, zinc/iron citrate, selenium etc. ‘Oaty Flaxseed Bites’ - flaxseed, oat flour, parsley (good to settle stomachs and freshen breath), egg and chicken stock, all mixed up into a dough and rolled out. Simple as that. If you want to do it properly though you’ll need some bone shaped cookie cutters; anyone who is serious needs bone shaped cookie cutters. You then lay the biscuits out on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes (although mine took more like an hour for some reason). Warning, they will make you hungry. They smell absolutely delicious and look even better. But of course, it’s not Paul and Mary judging my bakes here, the final verdict has to come from the true expert, Grenson.
Once they’d cooled I picked out my best looking one and nervously carried it over to the judge. Grenson (somewhat un-Mary Berry like) immediately sat up on his back legs and begged. I think the baking smell had been sending him wild too. He downed the biscuit in two bites and was ready and waiting for the next one. I’m sure he would have eaten the whole batch if I had let him. He absolutely loved them.
Obviously, it seems that clean living is something Grenson is very keen on. I think I need to move on to the next recipes - ‘Super Surf & Turf’ or ‘Omega-rich Fruity Lamb’. I’m considering drawing up a menu for sir to peruse! Luckily, Forthglade also make nutritionally balanced ready meals made with all natural ingredients, so on the days when I don’t feel like letting out my inner Delia I can just crack open one of those and be sure that he’s still getting all the good stuff. Either way it looks like clean eating is here to stay with us. Which can mean only one thing - get ready for Grenson posting endless pictures of his trendy nutritious meals on Instagram.
4 places to get your hands on healthy food for your dog
The Houndsley Brothers recipes
You can download your Houndsley Brothers’ recipe pack from the Forthglade website from Monday August 22nd. Forthglade has over 40 years experience making 100% natural dog food.
This is Grenson's new favourite; a range of holistic, all-natural products (there are certified organic ranges too). He's particularly fond of the Breakfast Crunch and Cheese and Apple Training Treats. They also do a range of cat food.
A touch of Swedish cool for your pupper. We love the minimal packaging and handy sized portions – brilliant for travelling (and as you can see, Grenson really likes it!).
Don’t confuse this with the raw vegan trend – Honey’s is a family run company that believes your dog should eat what it would in the wild, and that’s raw meat, bones and vegetables.
Read more of Mark and Grenson’s adventures in finding the best places to eat, drink, stay and play with your four-legged friend over at ManAboutADogBlog.com