The picture that is my avatar is my beloved wolf dog named Mango. She was a mutt I got at the Los Angeles county pound when they were having a Christmas special on dogs. Out the door twenty bucks and she was already fixed! Little did I know how much she would end up costing me later, but that is another story. The point at the time was, as much as purebred dogs look cool and have predictable traits, many such as Doberman pinschers, and Dalmatians, have food allergies and skin issues and require homemade food. Others such as German Shepherds have hip dysplasia problems, and the snub nosed dogs such as bulldogs and pugs have trouble breathing. A mutt is here, and at the pound through no fault of their own. Careless people do not fix their dogs, and countless numbers of innocent animals are destroyed each day for lack of homes.
So I went to the pound during the Christmas special because I couldn't in my mind justify getting a breeder or worse a puppy mill, to make me a dog, when anyone at the pound would be happy enough to come home with me. I picked the dog that picked me, and she remained closer to me throughout her life than anyone else. She liked my son well enough, and had a bit of a girlish crush on my former husband, but clearly her affection was for me.
So one day when I came home and Mango didn't come to greet me, I was surprised. I looked around the house for her and found her aching, joints swollen, and feverish. She had pulled all of her hair off of her belly in a vain attempt to cool herself down before the night was over. It was Sunday and too late to call the local vet, her office was already closed. Mango looked so poorly I was afraid I would have to put the dog down. I suspected her problems had something to do with her food. I took away her commercial dog food and fed her cottage cheese and white rice that evening.
It was ironic that the last bag of dog food I bought her before her problems began was the first bag I bought with glucosamine for older dogs in it. It was on sale, and as Mango WAS getting older, I reasoned it would be good for her. By the time a vet was able to confirm that Mango was suffering from a food allergy, the vet told me I would have a hard time discovering which ingredient Mango was actually allergic to. I tried buying more premium brands, solid gold puppy food, taste of the wild dog food (made with all natural ingredients), venison dog food, even halo, but nothing worked. Each time I took her off of the cottage cheese and rice for a commercial product the symptoms returned. It was clear the she was miserable and in pain. I began to suspect it was the glucosamine she was allergic to.
I found by using a search engine, one can find recipes for healthy homemade cat dog and other pet food, on line. The recipes vary, and they aren't difficult to make. Once every three weeks I would take a huge stock pot and fill it with enough water to cover my ingredients. I used three logs of either ground turkey or ground chicken as her protein source. I suppose I could have used beef, but it was more expensive, and I was never sure if that wasn't what she was allergic to. I boiled the meat with a bevy of vegetables including a sweet potato, a head of celery, a bag of carrots, peas, green beans, and two or three squash, either zucchini or yellow squash. I also added half a cup of oatmeal and half a bag of barley. The original recipe included rosemary, which made it smell nice, sea weed, which I was never able to find, and a clove or two of garlic.
All of these ingredients were blended in a blender when cooked and soft and then separated out into Tupperware's for a three week supply. The food smelled good but look kind of gloppy and unappealing once it had been blended. Thinking a dog would want something to sink her teeth into; I served her this food on top of rice. She did like it, and I never had a problem again with the joints swelling, or her pulling her hair out. I read on the internet that allergies to commercial dog food are relatively common and take years to develop. She had probably been suffering slightly until the cumulative effect became unbearable.
Some of the dog food recipes on line left out the garlic. I think eating the garlic keeps away fleas because fleas and mosquitoes too, dislike the odor. The rosemary may have been to preserve her breath. The vegetables varied from recipe to recipe, I bought whatever looked best at the store. The carrots make it sweet, which is appealing to dogs. I did on occasion substitute Brussels sprouts when there weren't any green beans. Sometimes I used frozen peas, but never canned because canned food is full of salt. There was no evidence that she needed additional salt.
Even with the rice, it seemed her teeth needed more of a work out than the soft homemade food provided, so I supplemented her diet with all natural dog biscuits by Mother Hubbard company, and plain unflavored rawhide chews. The one time once, I forgot and bought her a reddish colored beef flavored chew, she got sick all over again.
I would not recommend making vegetarian dog food. My dog was fond of Avoderm dog food, which includes avocadoes, and is supposed to be good for the skin. But I don't think a dog can get enough protein from a purely vegetarian diet. Late in life my dog developed a habit of stealing avocadoes off of my counter and eating them behind the couch. I would skins and pits later, and one goofy grin on her face. There is a danger of a dog choking on the pit. So I starting storing them on top of my refrigerator where she couldn't reach them.