Earlier this week I reviewed four cookbooks for pets (they’re listed below in case you missed the blog on Tuesday). Today I’m writing about Dr. Ernie Ward’s concept of the “hybrid menu.” He recognizes that we are all crazy busy, and many of us don’t prepare many meals at home for ourselves, let alone for our pets. The point of the hybrid menu is to introduce fresh whole foods into your pet’s weekly diet, which also includes commercially prepared food. This requires minimal effort on your part but maximizes nutritional benefits for your furry family members.
What is A Hybrid Menu?
To pull this off, you will be preparing fresh food once a week, and either refrigerating or freezing the portions. Then, you offer this food two to three times a week and feed commercially prepared food the rest of the days. Or, you can feed it like I do with Maple most days. I use a high quality food such as The Honest Kitchen or Wysong as a base, then add the freshly prepared food on top.
The 1+1+1 Rule
I made this “rule” up, to help you remember the ingredients you want to use when preparing food. The first part is a high-quality protein source. Wild-caught salmon, hormone-free chicken or turkey, or grass-fed beef fit the bill. Add to this a grain such as quinoa, millet, or brown rice. Top it off with superfoods like sweet potato, spinach, kelp, broccoli, or kale. Voila! Your dog will love you, and if you’re hungry, you can eat this meal too!
Alternate and Rotate
I find with Maple that changing up the ingredients keeps her interested in what’s for dinner (she is a finicky little dog, after all). She doesn’t realize it, but alternating different food sources maximizes nutrition, since each food has its own nutritional strength.
Kelp and Ketchup
Dr. Ward points out in his book that kelp is an excellent source of multiple vitamins and minerals. He suggests adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon daily to your dog’s meal. He also suggests using a dollop of ketchup (preferably one without high fructose corn syrup) on top of your homecooked meal if your dog balks at eating certain ingredients! I hadn’t heard of this before, but I tried it with Maple this week, and she loved it! Other strategies for finicky eaters include finely chopping up veggies (it may be the texture, not the taste), and adjusting the temperature of the food. I know Maple really prefers her food warm (yes, my dog is spoiled).
I’m a lucky dog-mom that Maple doesn’t have any food allergies. It makes implementing the Hybrid Menu super simple. If you suspect your dog has food allergies and would like to define what they are, I recommend talking to your vet about a newer test that uses saliva to check for reactions to food ingredients. Once you know what ingredients are triggers for your pet, you can create a Hybrid Menu to avoid them.
Also, there are certain human foods that you should never feed to your dog. They include chocolate, coffee, alcohol, avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, onions, garlic, chives, xylitol, rhubarb, and the greens from potatoes and tomatoes.
Below are the four cookbooks; the second one on the list is Dr. Ernie Ward’s book. You can visit Dr. Ward’s website here. With the weekend almost here, how many of you will give The Hybrid Menu a try? If you are still uncertain about it, pick up one of these books so you have recipes at your fingertips.