When feeding meat to a dog is just not an option

A vet that I respect a lot is Dr. Jean Dodds. I find her views to be balanced, logical, reasonable and non-biased by commercial interests. Her approach is holistic and yet well researched. That sits well with me.

I often run into clients who are the most loving of people towards their dogs. But their situation, for several different reasons forces a vegetarian diet. For such clients, here is an excerpt from Dr. Dodds blogs.

Some days it’s veg at home. I nom nom it. 

Indian clients need to remember that we don’t have all the ingredients she recommends. And I am not an expert in nutrition to know what is the right replacement. If anyone does have suggestions on local replacements, I would love to know.

I have found that highly intolerant dogs may benefit from a vegetarian-based diet. Although the question of whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores continues, research clearly demonstrates that a properly-balanced vegetarian diet can provide all of the essential amino acids and other nutrients necessary for optimum health. Excellent plant-based sources of protein, in descending order of their protein, include:
  • Hemp seeds 33 g/100g (shelled) 
  • Lentils 9.02 g/100g (cooked)
  • Chickpeas 8.86 g/100g (cooked)
  • Kidney beans 8.7 g/100g (cooked)
  • Split peas         8.3 g/100g (cooked)
  • Lima beans 6.8 g/100g (cooked)
  • Quinoa 4.4 g/100g (cooked)
  • Millet 3.5 g/100g (cooked)
  • Buckwheat groats (kasha) 3.4 g/100g (roasted)
  • Kale         3.3 g/100g (raw)
  • Black eyed peas             3.2 g/100g (cooked)
  • Spinach 3 g/100g (cooked)
  • Brown rice    (long grain) 2.6 g/100g (cooked)            
  • Green beans                   1.9 g/100g (cooked)
  • Sweet potatoes                1.4 g/100g (cooked without skin)
To pump up the protein of a plant-based diet, you can include eggs (preferably organic) and some goat or sheep’s milk cheese or yogurt – if your dog tolerates these foods.
Note that cats’ requirements are different. Cats should NOT be fed a vegetarian diet, as they are true carnivores that require meat.

However this is a vice caveat that she provides to all pet parents who like to cook for their dogs. Her advice seems sound and reasonable to me. Though she does warn against substitutions, I don’t think we in India have a choice but to replace with some more easily available local ingredients. That apart, the rest seems quite doable.

Doing it right
The biggest concern with homemade diets is that, unless properly formulated and followed, the diet may not be nutritionally balanced. For this reason, I strongly advise that you obtain your recipe from a reputable source, such as a book published by a holistic or holistically minded veterinarian, board-certified veterinary nutritionist, or canine/feline nutritionist where the recipes have been tested and verified as nutritionally balanced.  If you are able, you can also consult with a reputable animal nutritionist to design the diet. 

When preparing a homemade diet for your dog or cat, it’s essential to stick to the ingredients listed. Substituting ingredients can result in a diet that is no longer nutritionally balanced. Also, be sure to add all vitamin/mineral and any other supplements as directed; these supplements are essential to ensuring that the diet is properly balanced.

In addition to providing fresh, wholesome nutrition and limiting exposure to reactive ingredients, home prepared diets offer your pet an interesting mealtime experience, further enriching the bond you share. Bon appetite!

Reference: http://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/29902997962/homemade-diets-for-pets#.VN5JEGjLdMg

Disclaimer: Nishi is wearing a choke collar in the picture. That was used only ornamentally on her to carry her name tag. We no more use it ornamentally either and I do not recommend use of this product in any form.   


Channa Nut Torte

In India, not all of us are comfortable cooking non-vegetarian food at home. So, I have been on a quest to identify vegetarian alternatives to essential nutrients in a dog’s diet like for example, chicken. As most people are aware, chicken is a rich source of protein. But just replacing one form of protein with another is not sufficient. We need to delve a little deeper. When we say protein we use the term loosely to refer to several amino acids. The brain converts one such amino acid, tryptophan, into the snooze-chemical, serotonin. It is this chemical that kicks in after that heavy feast and makes us full, happy and sleepy. So if you are looking for your dog to be a bit less hyper and settle into a happy siesta after a meal then you need to replace chicken with ingredients that are rich in tryptophan.

The Channa nut torte is rich in this specific type of protein. Make a few batches of it and store it in the fridge. You can feed your dog some torte half an hour before a meal rich in carbohydrates — raagi or rice. Then sit back and watch your dog drift into blissful slumber.

This recipe makes a dense cake, hence I am calling it a torte. My doggies love it and beg for it even as the tortes are being baked.

  • 4 eggs cups tsp til cooked / seasame channa oil 
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, til 
  • 2 tsp  seasame tsp dried dried thyme or basil even a mix of all)  
  • honey 30 gms to butter taste.


Grind the channa in a mixer adding the oil and eggs slowly. Soften the butter, cube it and add it to the ground channa. Knead well. Fold the nuts, honey and herbs into the mixture. Line a baking dish with butter or oil and then with butter paper. Pour the mixture in, about 3/4 inch deep. Bake at 210 degree C for 35 – 40 mins. Turn off the oven and let the torte rest in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Finally, remove the torte, and let it cool before cutting it into cubes.


Cut the full cake into four big portions; slice each portion in eight cubes. For every four kilo body weight of the dog, serve one cube of torte per day. So if your dog is about 15 kg, then feed around four pieces a day; perhaps two pieces before each meal. If your dog is 20 kg, then feed your dog five cubes a day.

This article was published in Bangalore Mirror; Date: Feb 25, 2014; Section: City; Page: 4

Channa Nut Torte

The doggies loved it and are still begging for more
The doggies loved it and
are still begging for more

This recipe makes a dense cake. Hence I am calling it a torte. 

The doggies loved it and are still begging for more
  • 4 cups cooked Channa
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 tsp  til / seasame oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (Any of these or even a mix of these will work: Penut, Cashew, Almonds, Til/Sesame)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 30 gms butter
  • Honey to taste
  1. Grind the Channa in a mixie. As you do this, add the oil & egg slowly. 
  2. Soften the butter, dice it and add it to channa. Blend in
  3. Add the nuts, hone, herbs and fold in
  4. Spread on butter paper on a baking dish, about 3/4 inch deep
  5. Bake at 210 degree C for 35 – 40 mins (Test by sticking a fork in and when it comes out clean, it’s done). 
  6. Turn off over and let it rest in the hot oven for 10 minutes
  7. Remove, let it cool and cut into cubes
  • Cut the full cake into 4 big portions and cut up each portion into 8 cubes
  • For every 4 kg body weight of the dog, serve 1 cube of the torte per day. So if your dog is about 15 kgs, then feed around 4 pieces a day
  • Ideally feed the torte 30 minutes before a carb heavy meal and watch your baby crash in a happy nap after the meal. 

I heart liver

I walked in last evening and the house was smelling lovely. Something was cooking and I had just finshed a long day of consulting. I looked hopeful and smiled at Uttam. He shook his head, ensuring I did not get my hopes high and said “for the girls”. He frequently bakes this liver bread for the girls and it smells so great that I wish I could eat it. Well, I may not be allowed to eat it. But I sure can share his recipe here. This is a old blog post by him where he put up his recipe. Let me know if your dogs love it as much as mine do. This post is in Uttam’s words, not mine :

Here is a recipe that I just tried and has turned out to be a huge hit – especially with Nishi. Which is saying a LOT. It takes less than a half hour.
I bought some chicken liver to add to Nishi and Tigger’s usual meal (which I will get to later). Then I remembered that Sindhoor keeps complaining about the lack of good quality treats that come in “training sizes”. So, after a quick look at various resources online, I decided to make what I can only describe as my version of liver bread for now.
Caveat emptor – I suck at baking as i prefer cooking by feel rather than by measurement and this has  been my one and only attempt at it.  But, I think I will definitely try it again, given how much the mutts love it. So, unlike to other baking recipes, this will have approximations :) .
  1. 1/2 kg of chicken liver(with its juices if you have it, else some chicken stock)
  2. 1 to 1 and 1/2 cup of whole grain flour(i used atta, but ground oatmeal will be better)
  3. 3/4 to 1 cup of maida
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1/4 to 1/2 cup of oil
  6. Herbs – dried or fresh(I used basil, thyme, oregano – I suggest you experiment)
Cooking method:
  • Pre-heat oven to 180-190 degrees Celsius
  • Put the liver (with liquid), eggs and oil into a blender/food processor and blend till there is an emulsified liquid. This should take 4-5 minutes.
  • Mix 1 cup of whole grain and half a cup of maida with the herbs till it forms a uniform mixture.
  • In a large bowl, mix the wet and dry ingredients till the mixture has the consistency of a slightly runny cake dough. Use whole grain flour to get to that point.
  • Coat a baking tray(ideally an inch deep) generously with fat, pour the mixture into it and bake for 15-20 minutes(the time will depend on the moisture content of your dough and the depth of your tray). You need to watch it raise and cook fully. Let it rest till it completely cools.
  • The resulting consistency will be that of a heavy bread. And very easy to cut into 1 cm x 1 cm cubes.