Friday, February 27, 2009

L &P's Meatloaf: Gluten Free Canine Comfort Food

Lulu and Phoebe have been eating this recipe with a few variations tossed in since last December. It all started with Phoebe's IBD issues. She had terrible reflux and it just kept getting worse with eat new food we tried. We gave her wet food, dry food, a mixture, frozen raw, freeze dried raw, and nothing helped. She had some expensive testing done to determine if it was something other than IBD, but alas, after several hundreds of dollars, it is IBD.

Some dogs just have a sensitivity to stress and some foods. Like humans, dogs may be better off with a diet designed to help with IBD. Gluten free is usually involved and does wonders for reflux and other IBD issues for both humans and canines.

With help from research, a veterinarian nutritionist, and others who came before us, we designed a homemade diet for Lulu and Phoebe. It is not easy to concoct a fully formed diet for dogs or cats, but not impossible either. We were lucky to receive some stellar help in our efforts and it has paid off substantially.

After a few months, Phoebe rarely has reflux. Her IBD is pretty much under control. Both are at an optimal weight, their coats are shiny and full. They rarely have tears, and have tons of energy and sleep well. The plumbing works just fine and all the systems do what they are intended to without an issue. They don't have as much gas, although some vegetables will do that no matter what.

This is a diet that we designed for Lulu and Phoebe. If you are interested in pursuing it for your dog, please do check with your vet and do some reading too. I might also suggest a consultation with veterinarian nutritionist too. Just remember that every dog is different and what works for one, might not be applicable to another.

Keep these things in mind when feeding your dog a homemade diet:

  • Know your dog's allergic trigger foods
  • Consult with your vet before changing the dog's diet
  • Supplements are not optional - see below
  • Easier to create a slightly varied base diet and add goodies to that
  • Give the diet time - it takes weeks and weeks to see any change
  • Initial reaction to the diet might not be pleasant - be patient
  • Food safety applies even when preparing foods for dogs
  • Larger batches divided into serving portions are easier to use
  • The quality of ingredients matter
  • Gluten Free must mean gluten free
  • This recipe makes about 30 cups or about 6400g of food.
  • For an 11 pound dog, we feed about 110g per day.
  • For a 15 pound dog we feed about 240g per day.

  • 4 pounds organic ground dark chicken meat or 3lbs chicken, 1lb. ground lamb
  • 1 bag frozen organic chopped spinach
  • 1 bag frozen organic broccoli florets
  • 1 bag frozen organic peas and carrots
  • 1 can (15oz) organic pumpkin (not pie mix!)
  • 1 can (15oz) organic pureed butternut squash or 1 can (15oz) organic pureed sweet potato
  • 2 cups organic arborio rice
  • 2 cups organic brown basmati rice
  • 1 cup organic certified gluten free oats or quiona, or teff, or bulgar
  • 1 cup organic olive oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons organic honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped organic parsley
  • 1 container Imagine Organic low sodium chicken broth (4 cups)
  • filtered water


If you make this entire recipe, you will need a 32 cup casserole dish, preferably with a lid. I use a cast iron enameled pot with a lid.

Spray the pan generously with an organic cooking spray (I use an olive oil based spray).

Add the grains, cinnamon, canned items, honey and oil and stir. Mix in the ground meat and stir again. Mix in each frozen vegetable and the parsley. Make sure everything is totally mixed together and add in the the chicken broth. Stir one more time - yes, your arm is getting a good workout! Now add the filtered water to fill the dish just barely covering the food. You should have added about 4-8 more cups of water.

Cover tightly and place in a 325 oven. If you make the full recipe, check it at 2 hours and stir gently. Cover again and remove the casserole after 3 hours or so.

You will know it is done because the edges will be slightly brown and it will look like a meatloaf. The grains and vegetables should be very mushy. Dogs can only absorb the nutrients from well cooked vegetables and grains so overcooking is the way to go.

Let it cool slightly and then scoop into containers that you are able to place in the freezer. We use Ziploc storage containers that easily hold 715g each. Freeze the containers and thaw for a day or so in the refrigerator before using.

Dogs prefer the food slightly warm. We heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds after measuring out their meals. This recipe feed Lulu and Phoebe for about 17 days.

Never cook the supplements with the food. It can destroy any value they have. You have to add them in at serving time. This is the only part that is annoying, but it takes such little effort, believe me! The hard work is finding the right supplements and since we've done that for you - this should be easy!

They need an omega-3, a human grade multivitamin, and calcium. One of the easiest to absorb sources for calcium is bone meal. The human grade vitamin should be without iron and not have more than 100% of an RDA. The Omega-3 should be a deep sea fish oil and not cod liver. Some dogs have sensitivities to cod liver oil so avoid that source.

  • Calcium - NOW brand 100% pure bone meal powder, 454g container
  • Vitamin - Whole Foods 365 Brand Adult Multi one a day, iron free formula
  • Omega 3- Nordic Naturals Omega-3 liquid purified fish oil, 8oz.

Since calcium can hinder absorption of other minerals and vitamins and vice versa, we give them the multi vitamin at one meal and the bone meal/Omega-3 at another. Just a thought.

Each get: 1/2 multivitamin daily, 1/4 teaspoon of Omega-3 daily, and 1/2 teaspoon of bone meal daily.

You might think this is a pretty good diet and it is. But like humans, animals need variety in order to get a full spectrum of nutrients. To their daily meal we will add the following items.

Greek yogurt (has probiotics)
a tiny bit of fruit (never grapes)

a tiny bit of fresh fish, poached
a sprinkle of cheese
extra oatmeal
rice brain
extra cooked veggies
hard boiled egg
peanut butter (not right now)

scrambled egg
dried fruit (never raisins)

Bon Appetit Sweet Puppies!

Please, if you have questions or any feedback about this recipe or the diet in general, use the comment section. Thanks!


  1. Love your blog post on the dog diet!!
    I have the NOW 100% Pure Bone Meal just like your picture and it contains 1mg of Iron. Is this ok?

    Contents:Calcium (1000mg) Iron (1mg) Phosphorous (500mg) Magnesium (25mg)

    Thank you for your time.

  2. Hi Karen. Thanks! Yes, it is fine. There is iron in bone which is why it is listed in there. Just don't add any other iron supplements - you want the iron to come from food sources. Glad you liked the post. Did you find the one on the gluten free dog cookies? Take care - Lisa

  3. Hi Lisa! Thank you for the reply. I thought that may be the case with Iron so thank you so much for confirming it. I won't add any other Iron other than food sources.

    Excellent and informative blog that you have.

    Yes, I saw the recipe for the gluten free dog cookies and I will be giving them a try. I'm sure my furkids will LOVE them!

    I also want to say that I will be trying some of your 'human' recipes as they look very delicious as well. Nice to read about people that enjoy cooking like I do.

    Great pictures too!
    Thanks again! Take care.

  4. Lulu and Phoebe are ADORABLE! I too am the proud owner of a sweet Boston Terrier but he is a "special needs" boy and is epileptic. We are trying to follow the principles of a GARD diet which is gluten free. It has always been my understanding that Rices contain gluten. Is this not correct? Also, do you have an email I can write to you on? Thanks so much!
    Cheryl & her sweet Boston Mozart

  5. Rice does not contain gluten. It is completely safe to eat on a gf diet. You can reach me here anytime. Good luck to you and Mozart with the diet. If you go to some of the earlier posts in February, there is a list of our favorite gluten free items and the websites. Lots of links there with good info. Lisa