Adele McConnell is the founder of Vegie Head, a website that was born after being constantly fed up and bored with seeing bland and uninspiring vegan recipes online. Adele is also a passionate dog owner and is a firm believer in the importance of creating healthy whole food doggy dishes for your furry pal.
Below Adele shares with us her journey that led her to be inspired to whip up special dishes for her dogs. She also shares a quick and easy recipe to get you started and a special discount code to her doggy recipe ebooks.
My love affair with dogs began when I was very young. My first dog, Chip, was a Pomeranian x Chihuahua, and had a wonky ear. Then came Saffy, a smart and beautiful Jack Russell, Timmy, a mutt who we found and looked after for a few weeks, Toby, a Pomeranian with severe skin problems, and then Marley. These were all family dogs, small, friendly and low maintenance.
I love a challenge however- so when I first moved out of home, I adopted Charlie. Charlie changed my life. She was a Labrador x German Shorthair Pointer, jet black with severe anxiety. She’d been beaten, abused and neglected. I worked with her solidly for months- getting her confidence up, her training up to scratch, and feeding her what I thought was high quality dry dog food.
She suffered from bad breath, an upset stomach, diarrhoea, and generally had a ‘dog’ smell. She wasn’t healthy. Her coat was lack lustre and she just looked flat.
A chance meeting at our local dog park introduced us to another person as crazy about his dogs as we were- Phivo and Augustine. Phivo was, at the time, working on a dog supplement. It was a booster powder, used with the dogs food, to ensure they were getting maximum nutrients. I started giving it to Charlie, along with the instructions for making food from scratch.
Before I knew it, I was spending more time cooking her dinner than I was my own!
Soups, stews, big pots of steaming vegies, healthy fats and no dry food. Immediately, her breath stopped smelling. Her stomach was no longer upset. Her poo was always beautifully formed. Her coat became sleek and shiny, and we were stopped by people everywhere who commented on how beautiful she looked.
A few years later, Hank came along. He’s the most beautiful 3 year old Golden Retriever in the World.He has super sensitive skin, and had some very sore and itchy ‘hot spots’ (like an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria on the skin, similar to eczema). We had to experiment with his diet a little bit, and give him different things than Charlie was getting.
When Charlie was diagnosed with an advanced form of liver cancer, we were devastated. We were told she didn’t have long, and her mass, which was slow growing was going to get very aggressive, very fast. 11 days after she was diagnosed, we lovingly said goodbye, and she crossed that rainbow bridge to dog heaven.
It was and still is a very painful time; but we found solace in the knowledge that we gave her a great life, as short as it was, and her life was prolonged from good, organic food, clean filtered water, and lots of walks and love
We adopted Holly a month or so later. She’s an Irish Wolfhound cross, and is completely deaf. She was going to be shot on the farm she was born on, as she would be no use to the farmers who bred her. Luckily, she was surrendered, and found her way to us. Flea infested, miserable, underfed and ignored, this little darling was crying out for someone to love her.
When she first arrived, her appetite was insatiable. She would eat so quickly, as though she’d never eat again, or would miss out if she hesitated too long. This told me very quickly that she’d either missed out on meals before to other dogs, or hadn’t been given enough/or the right foods to fill her up.
Packet food and dry ‘biscuits’ or ‘kibble’ is like junk food for dogs. Filled with preservatives, additives, colours, flavours, fillers (wheat and gluten, mostly) and goodness knows what else, it would be like us humans eating overly processed packets of chips all day. Not good.
Once Holly became accustomed to our way of eating, her appetite changed. She began to get fuller, quicker. She ate more slowly, as if savouring every mouthful. She flourished right before our eyes. It wasn’t a surprise to us. We knew that by ensuring she was eating a wide variety of healthy foods, just like we’ve done with our other fur-children, that she would be in better health and better spirits.This way of dog-parenting isn’t unique; but it’s definitely under-utilised.
Not enough people are cooking their dogs quality meals, instead opting for cheap and convenient ‘fast food’. It’s the equivalent of highly processed junk food that humans often eat. I’ve heard all of the excuses:
“I don’t have time”
“It’s too expensive”
“My dog is a fussy eater”
And I’ve got an answer for all of them.
Make the time.
It’s cheaper than vets bills! And your dog is fussy because he’s used to junk food. As with humans, it’s a matter of ‘re-training’ their taste buds. It can be done quickly, relatively inexpensively, and done so that your dog loves it.
Here’s a recipe to help get you started…
THE BIG BREAKFAST BOWL
Take those leftovers and make them into a big bowl of goodies your pooch will love. Serves 1 large dog, or 2 small dogs. Can easily be doubled or tripled.
1/2 cup cooked qunioa
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1 cup leftover vegetables (steamed, blanched, roasted) 1 hardboiled egg, lightly mashed
1 carrot, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Arrange all of the ingredients in your dogs bowl, and sprinkle with the parsley. You can also add other leftover foods, like soups, stews and salads- providing they are all dog friendly.