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The Home-Cooked Diet


The information below is for dog parents who are considering switching to a home-cooked diet that incorporates Bingo’s Bounty. However, our products are perfectly suited for feeding along side your current kibble or canned diet, and are designed to help give your dog the good nutrition he deserves. The method described below has worked well for our dogs, but there are many different theories on alternative diets and Bingo’s Bounty will complement those methods as well.

If the numerous pet food recalls over the last few years have begun to make you aware of the fact that the kibble you are feeding might not be as safe as you once thought, you are not alone. People everywhere are beginning to contact manufacturers, read labels and research ingredients. Sadly, they are discovering that those tasty little nuggets aren’t standing up to much scrutiny.

For most dog parents, making the switch to home-cooked foods can be very frightening and confusing. There is a wide range of conflicting advice on the web, myths perpetuated by misinformation, and recipes so complicated that you feel intimidated even attempting them. Worse, there are people out there actually charging money to create a recipe for your dog. Some turn to their veterinarian for advice, yet many of these professionals know so little about home-cooked diets that they most often discourage their clients from attempting them.

So, you may say, what am I to do? No need to worry, help is at hand. We here at Bingo’s Bounty will take the mystery and difficulty out of home-cooking for your dog. What we will teach you is plain, common sense mixed with a solid understanding of basic nutrition. Home-cooking for your dog is truly not as expensive, time consuming, or as difficult as so many try to make it out to be. It is so surprisingly simple that you will wonder why you hadn’t switched years ago.

We have been home-cooking for our seven dogs for several years now, using the principles we are going to teach you, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. Our dogs are happier, healthier and bounding with energy, and we want to share their success with you. Indeed, the reason for creating this company was to help others realize how quick, simple and easy it is to cook for your dog.

Disclaimer


Please note that we are not veterinarians and the diet described below is not designed to prevent or cure any disease. While not required, we strongly suggest that you notify your veterinarian that you are switching to a home-cooked diet so that together you can monitor your dogs health. We also recommend having a complete physical, including blood analysis, performed before you begin. This will give you a baseline profile with which to compare your dog’s health to. The diet below is designed for healthy dogs older than one year of age. For feeding puppies, please read the section specific to puppies below. Please feel free to contact us at anytime if you have questions.

Simple and Easy


Believe it or not, I don’t like to cook. When people hear that I cook for my dogs they automatically assume I must spend hours in my kitchen. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

When I first started investigating home-cooking for dogs all I could find were individual recipes that you had to prepare daily that would make enough to feed a single dog for approximately three meals. With five dogs to feed I thought I would never get out of the kitchen. Each recipe was designed to give a dog “complete nutrition” in every meal. I assume that they were developed that way with the thought of matching the same claim made by dog food manufacturers. Yet the more I thought about this claim, the more it bothered me. As humans we do not eat meals that provide complete nutrition in one serving, yet we continue to thrive and grow because we manage to eat enough of the different food groups over the space of a week to make our diet balanced. If it works for us, why couldn’t it work for dogs? Well, it does, as our six, healthy dogs can attest to.

Once you understand the basic nutritional requirements of dogs, which differs from those for people, you will see that our version of home-cooking is nothing more than preparing a variety of healthy, individual ingredients in advance, and then mixing them together at mealtime to create a nutritious meal. The key component to this system is variety. Through variety, you provide a vast array of different foods that meet various aspects of your dog’s nutritional requirements. The ultimate benefit to this method of feeding is that you will know exactly what your dog is eating and you will have the ability to adjust the individual ingredients to suit your dog’s specific needs. No more “one size fits all” recipes.

Another positive benefit to this system of home-cooking is that you will not be stuck cooking in the kitchen on a daily basis or for long periods of time. The most frequent comment I hear from people is that they don’t have enough time to cook for themselves, much less their dogs. This is a misconception. If you are like most people, you probably watch at least one half-hour television show a week. If you eliminate the commercials, those programs usually run about 20 minutes in length – about the same amount of time it takes to prepare the ingredients for a week’s worth of food for one dog.

Dog Nutrition 101


Good nutrition for your dog is not rocket science. There are three simple rules:

  • Dogs need more protein than people do. While the food pyramid for people recommends that we consume more grains/vegetables/fruit than meat, a similar pyramid for dogs would be exactly the opposite. Protein must always make up the largest portion of the food you feed your dog, at least 60-75%.
  • The calcium to phosphorus ratio MUST be balanced. Meat (both raw and cooked) contains high levels of phosphorus which must be balanced with added calcium or the body will start to leach calcium from the bones. This is not as hard to do as it sounds and we will tell you how below.
  • Variety, Variety, Variety. It is not only the spice of life, it is the best way to ensure that your dog is getting complete, balanced nutrition over time. For example, different sources of proteins contain different amino acids, all necessary for keeping your dog healthy. By feeding one type of meat over and over again, you deny them other amino acids. Oils contain different omega fatty acids, if you only serve one kind, you are limiting your dog’s access to good health. You don’t have to change the oil or protein every day, but you should vary them from week to week.

Equipment Needed


Most of us already have in our kitchen all the equipment needed to cook for our dogs as it is the same equipment we use for our own food. While some of the items listed below are not required, with the exception of the kitchen scale, they do make the job of preparing food much easier.

  • Kitchen scale with tare function
  • Food Processor – medium to large size
  • Tupperware – various sizes
  • Rice Cooker/Steamer
  • Roasting pans, large skillet
  • Crock Pot

Ingredients List


#1 Protein


Protein will make up the largest portion of your dog’s meal, around 75%. Sources of protein include beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork, fish, eggs and diary products. You don’t have to feed each different type, but do choose a variety of options and rotate weekly. Pork should be limited to one or two meals a week maximum. Below are listed the various proteins, the best form in which to buy them, and the easiest way to cook and prepare them. It will take some experimenting on your part to determine how much you will need to prepare at one time to feed your dog for the week as different cuts of meat will provide various amounts due to fluctuating levels of fat.

Beef – Ground (choose fat percentage based on weight/activity level), chuck roast
Cook ground beef in a skillet. The chuck roast can be prepare in either a roasting pan or crock pot. If using a chuck roast, allow meat to cool and then grind up in food processor or cut into bite sized pieces. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator. Freeze remaining portion.

Chicken – Ground, boneless/skinless thighs or breasts, whole chicken
Cook ground chicken in a skillet. The boneless breasts and thighs can be left frozen and then cooked in a roasting pan. Allow meat to cool and then grind up in a food processor or cut into bite sized pieces. A whole chicken cooks best in a crock pot. Once cool, remove all bones (NEVER feed cooked bones), grind or cut into bit sized pieces. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator. Freeze remaining portion.

Lamb – Boneless leg, shank
Cook in roasting pan. Remove any bones if necessary (NEVER feed cooked bones), grind or cut into bite sized pieces. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator. Freeze remaining portion.

Turkey – Ground, boneless breasts, whole turkey
Cook ground turkey in skillet. The boneless breast can be left frozen and then cooked in a roasting pan. Allow meat to cool and then grind up in a food processor or cut into bite sized pieces. The whole turkey can be cooked in a roasting pan. Once cool, remove all bones (NEVER feed cooked bones), grind or cut into bit sized pieces. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator. Freeze remaining portion.

Pork – Boneless loin
Cook in roasting pan. Remove any bones if necessary (NEVER feed cooked bones), grind or cut into bite sized pieces. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator. Freeze remaining portion.

Fish – De-boned fresh, canned varieties with or without bone (tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines)
Broil fresh fish in the oven. Remove any bones if necessary (NEVER feed cooked bones unless they are soft), cut into bite sized pieces. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator. Freeze remaining portion. I personally like to feed canned varieties as they tend to stink up the house less! I recommend feeding fish no more than two to four meals a month due to mercury content.

Eggs
Hard boil or scramble. Scrambled eggs are easy and quick to prepare, so it does not make sense to prepare a large quantity of them in advance. Because you will prepare less than a pound at a time, it is difficult to gauge how much calcium to add. Therefore, I recommend feeding eggs no more than two to three meals a week and serving them with a dairy product such as cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt to add additional calcium.

Dairy – Yogurt, cottage cheeses, shredded cheese
Feed sparingly. Do not feed dairy products as a main protein portion as this can cause diarrhea. I recommend feeding periodically throughout the week and in limited portions. Unless your dog is overweight, there is no need to decrease the amount of protein you are feeding when you add dairy. If your dog is a little on the chunky side, decrease the amount regular protein by the amount of dairy added (ie; if you are feeding 1 cup of chicken and wish to add a 1/4 cup of cottage cheese, decrease the chicken to 3/4 cup).

Organ Meat – Chicken/Turkey gizzards, chicken/turkey liver, beef heart, beef liver
Organ meat is very nutrient dense and is an important part of your dog’s diet. However, the amount you feed should be small, no more than 5% of the total diet. Over-feeding organ meat can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. We recommend feeding organ meat every other day.


#2 Vegetables


Vegetables are not only a good way to help hungry dogs feel full, but also, ounce for ounce, are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. Cruciferous vegetables, while sometimes can make certain dogs “gassy” are full of nutrients that are know for fighting disease. They include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and cabbage. Green beans and peas are full of fiber. Carrots are high in vitamin A as is zucchini. Sweet potatoes are a nutritious alternate to the starchy white potato and winter squashes such as pumpkin, butternut, acorn, fairy and spaghetti are a great way to add nutrition and calories to your dog’s diet. Canned pumpkin (not the pie mix) is easy to find and is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. All of these squashes, especially pumpkin, are ideal for dogs with diarrhea and provides healthy fiber that helps return bowl movements back to normal. They are also an excellent source of calories for dogs with renal failure as they are all low in phosphorus.

#3 Grains and Legumes (Optional)


Grains have received an unwarranted bad reputation among dog owners. Contrary to popular belief, cooked grains are 100% digestible by dogs and are often used to improve energy, maintain or increase weight, and help with digestive issues. For those on a tight budget, legumes are an inexpensive way to keep the protein levels up without having to feed large portions of meat. However, it is important to remember that the legume or grain portion should NEVER be greater than the amount of meat fed.

Obviously, if your dog has a known sensitivity to certain grains, you should avoid feeding them. Also, if your dog is a couch potato with weight issues, it is a good idea not to feed them grains or legumes as they do not have need of the added calories. Below is a list of the best grains and legumes to feed and how to cook them.

Quinoa
Steam or boil. Do not overcook. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator.

Oats
Boil or microwave. Do not overcook. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator.

Brown Rice
Steam or boil. Do not overcook. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator.

Pasta
Boil. Do not overcook. There are several different types of packaged pastas available in the market. Wheat is most common, but if your dog is allergic to wheat, there are rice, spinach, vegetable, and quinoa based pastas as well. As the phosphorus content of these products can vary from brand to brand, we do not have a recommended level of calcium to add – which is why we recommend only occasionally feeding pasta.

Lentils
Boil. Do not overcook. Balance calcium to phosphorus ratio (see below). Store 3-4 days worth in airtight container in refrigerator.

Black/Navy/Pinto/Garbanzo Beans
We recommend buying the low sodium canned varieties of these beans as they take so long to prepare. Do not feed these canned varieties on a regular basis as even the low sodium varieties contain a lot of salt. As the phosphorus content of these products can vary from brand to brand, we do not have a recommended level of calcium to add – another reason why only periodic feeding of these beans is suggested.

#4 Fruits (Optional)


While not a requirement for dogs, the occasional addition of fruit to their diet is a welcome and healthy treat. We recommend adding fruit no more than three times a week to your dog’s diet and adding 1/8 cup or less per day. Do not adjust the amount of Bingo’s Bounty or grain you are feeding. Simply add the fruit in. Because of the limited and small portion of fruit you are feeding, there is no reason to balance the calcium to phosphorus ratio. Be careful not to feed any pits as these are poisonous.

We have found that dogs enjoy the following fruits: apples (and applesauce), peaches, pears, pineapple, mango, papaya, bananas, apricots, cantaloupe and plums.

#5 Oils


Oils are a vital ingredient to your dog’s diet. They not only supply extra calories for energy and stamina, but also provide the essential omega fatty acids needed to strengthen the immune system, regulate organ function, improve brain function, increase bone strength, and produce healthy skin and hair.

The most common types of oils used in a dog’s diet are fish or krill. Other types are flax, safflower, hemp, sesame, and coconut. There has been some debate as to whether vegetable based oils, such as flax, can be synthesized by dogs, so it is really up to you if you want to try them. They will not hurt your dog. I do recommend giving coconut oil at least one to two times a week as it is a phenomenal oil that is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.

One word of caution regarding fish oil; we recommend that you do NOT feed fish oil products developed for dogs simply because no effort has been made to remove the mercury. Mercury poisoning is a serious concern for those who feed fish oil on a regular basis, and we encourage people to purchase human-quality, certified mercury-free fish oil. There is some debate as to the safety of krill oil as it too can contain mercury and other dangerous chemicals. If you decide to use krill oil, please make sure you purchase it from a reputable manufacturer.

#6 Supplements


Multi-Vitamin
Multi-Vitamins often help to fill in any nutritional gaps that might have occurred. There are several good products available on the market and we recommend using a multi-vitamin that is based on whole foods as this is a more natural form that is readily digested and more easily absorbed. Please note that if your dog suffers from kidney stones, we do not recommend a multi-vitamin that contains vitamin C or vitamin D as these can increase the likelihood of stones forming. If you feed a non-whole food vitamin, be sure that it does not contain high levels of calcium or magnesium as you will be adding these to your dogs diet separately.

Vitamin E - If not feeding a multi-vitamin
1-2 IU’s per pound of body weight daily.

Vitamin B-50 Complex - If not feeding a multi vitamin
One capsule daily.

Vitamin C - If not feeding a multi-vitamin
500-1000 mg daily.

Digestive Enzymes/Probiotics
We do recommend digestive enzymes, especially for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts. They help your dog get the most out of the food he is eating while preventing things like excessive gas and large stools. There are several great brands available on the market.

Cranberry
While not a requirement, many people find that a cranberry supplement is essential for keeping the kidneys functioning properly. There are several brands available on the market.

Magnesium
Magnesium is a very important mineral because it is required in order for the body to synthesize calcium. Without it, most calcium is simply eliminated as waste product. The appropriate amount to feed is 4-5 mg per pound of body weight daily. Divide this amount up between meals.

Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio


No matter how you put your diet together, the most important factor that must not be skipped or forgotten is balancing the calcium to phosphorus ratio. While a dog can survive for a short time without calcium, over time the effects of ingesting foods that are higher in phosphorus than calcium will begin to weaken bone (osteoporosis) and cause other health problems. Too much calcium can cause calcium oxalate kidney stones. The optimum range for a calcium to phosphorus ratio is anywhere between 1.2 to 1 and 2 to 1.

There are many calcium products out there that you can use, but we personally prefer the kind that is only calcium with no phosphorus. As the majority of foods in a home cooked diet already have ample phosphorus, adding more just seems like a potential problem. We recommend either calcium citrate, calcium carbonate or seaweed calcium. Calcium citrate is best to use if you have a dog that is prone to kidney stones and can be found in local health food stores. Calcium carbonate, most readily found in ground up eggshells is an inexpensive alternative. You can make your own by washing and drying eggshells and crushing them into a fine powder; or you can find it online. Seaweed calcium is another option and this type of calcium also provides your dog with certain minerals such as magnesium, iodine and selenium. I do not recommend bone meal as bones store many toxins, among them lead and fluoride, that are dangerous to your dog.

The NRC recommended daily dosage of calcium for dogs is 800 to 1000 mg per pound of food served (cooked weight). Simply sprinkle the appropriate amount into your dogs bowl at meal times. If you feed your dog more than one meal a day, divide the amount of calcium up so that they are receiving some with every meal.

Always remember that adding dairy products to your dogs meal will NOT balance the calcium-phosphorus ratio for the whole meal. Dairy products have just enough calcium to balance their own levels of phosphorus, no more. If you are feeding raw bones or canned fish with bones, there is no need to add additional calcium to the meal.


Foods To Avoid


There are certain foods you should never feed your dog as they can have a toxic affect.

  • Onions – can cause Heinz body anemia. The severity of the anemia is directly related to the quantity and frequency that they are eaten.
  • Raisins and Grapes – some dogs have developed renal failure as a result of eating these.
  • Nuts – dogs have difficulty digesting nuts and macadamia nuts in particular are toxic.
  • Xylitol – is an artificial sweetener found in most gums and is fatal to dogs.
  • Chocolate – contains a substance called theobromine which is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean and is known to be harmful to dogs.
  • Alcohol – can be fatal to dogs.
  • Honey – should never be fed to puppies as it can contain a type of botulism that can make them very sick. Honey can be fed to adult dogs.

All Together Now


Below, we have provided two charts to help you put the ingredients together for a meal. With all the ingredients pre-prepared and ready to go in your refrigerator, you will find that putting a meal together for your dog will take less than five minutes.

The first chart shows a typical week for our dogs, both AM and PM meals. It does not show how much I feed them, as they vary in size from 20 lbs to over 60 lbs. What it does show is how you can add variety during the week while maintaining an inventory of simple, pre-prepared ingredients.

The second chart shows the recommended daily amounts for you to feed your own dog based on weight. Remember that this chart shows the amount for the day, so if you are feeding multiple meals, divide up the portion appropriately. If you are planning on feeding your dog grains, decrease the amount of vegetables proportionately. If you are feeding legumes, you can drop the amount of protein by half the amount of legume being fed (ie: if you are feeding 1/2 cup of lentils, you can decrease your meat portion by 1/4 cup).

Once you have established your dog’s diet, it is a good idea to monitor their weight after they have been on the new diet for two weeks. If your dog has lost weight, and you did not intend for him to do so, increase the amount of food by 25%. If your dog has gained weight, reduce the quantity you feed by no more than 20%. If your dog still acts hungry after you have reduced the quantity, add more vegetables to his meal. Vegetables have very few calories and will help him to feel satisfied.

Example Feeding Program


AM Schedule

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Chicken/Organ Meat
Chicken
Scrambled Eggs/Organ Meat
Beef or Turkey
Beef or Turkey/Organ Meat
Beef or Turkey
Scrambled Eggs/Organ Meat
Oats
Brown Rice
Oats
Quinoa
Quinoa
Brown Rice
Oats
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Yogurt
Applesauce
Cot. Cheese
Bananas
Yogurt
Peaches
Grated Cheese
Fish Oil
Fish Oil
Coconut Oil
Fish Oil
Fish Oil
Fish Oil
Coconut Oil



PM Schedule

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Chicken
Chicken
Chicken
Chicken
Beef or Turkey
Beef or Turkey
Baked Fish
Quinoa
Oats
Quinoa
Brown Rice
Oats
Quinoa
Quinoa
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Vegetables
Fish Oil
Coconut Oil
Fish Oil
Fish Oil
Fish Oil
Coconut Oil
Fish Oil


How Much to Feed Per Day


Dog’s Weight
Vegetables
Grains (optional)
Oil
Protein
2-8 lbs
1/8 cup

2 tsp
1/2 to 2/3 cup
9-16 lbs
1/4 cup
1/4 cup
3 tsp
3/4 to 1 cup
17-25 lbs
1/3 to 1/2 cup
1/4 cup
4 tsp
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups
26-50 lbs
1/2 cup
1/4 cup
5 tsp
1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups
51-80 lbs
2/3 cup
1/2 cup
6 tsp
2 to 2 1/4 cups
81-120 lbs
3/4 cup
1/2 cup
7 tsp
2 1/2 - 3 cups


We hope that this information has been helpful in getting you started with feeding a home-cooked diet. If at any time you have questions, please feel free to contact us.

As Julia Child used to say, “Bon apppetit!”

Feeding Puppies


In my years of research I have read literally hundreds of suggestions on how much to feed a puppy. What I have learned is that there is no exact science for how much to feed. Suggestions are simply that – suggestions. Whether you base how much you feed on how big your puppy is going to be when he is grown, or attempt to calculate his calorie requirements based on his activity, it is important to remind yourself that these are simply baselines that you can start from. There are no absolutes when feeding puppies; you need to monitor your puppy’s weight and energy level on a daily basis to determine how he is doing.

Introduce home-cooked foods slowly by adding small amounts of meat to his meals while reducing the amount of kibble proportionately. Make the change over several days, first adding meat, then Bingo’s Bounty EZ Digest Formula, then oil and finally grains. Decrease the amount of kibble as you go along and, if at any time your puppy has a digestive upset, stop and go back to the previous amount he was able to tolerate and stay there for several days. Eventually you will eliminate the kibble and be feeding him the same amount in home-cooked food.

From that point the nutritional needs of your puppy will change as he continues to grow. He will need more food to accommodate periods of growth, and it is important for you to be flexible with the amount you feed him, as well as monitor his weight on a daily basis. There may be times when you give him more, followed by a short period of leveling off, before you have to give him more again. To ensure proper nutrition, maintain a balance of 60-75% of the meal as high quality protein, with the remaining portion made up of grains and vegetables.

When feeding a wide variety of home-cooked food you will find that your puppy, just like a human child, will have both intolerances and preferences for certain foods. While you will want to avoid those foods that your puppy cannot tolerate, do not be tempted to feed him only those foods he loves. It is important to remember that you want your puppy to learn to eat the same variety of foods while he is young that he will eat as an adult.

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