It can be tricky and may take some time, but it pays to prepare and cook our own pets’ meals. We can’t compromise on their health.
If it sounds daunting, that’s because it is – especially if you’re not really used to working in the kitchen (like me). There are ingredients to check out, methods to try and experiment with, standards to meet, and our own dogs’ preferences to consider. They have to like it above all else.
That’s why I’m happy I came across Feed My Paws and its founder and owner, Crystle Tan. Feed My Paws is a shop in Singapore that specialises in pet snacks and treats that are nutritious, preservative-free, and freshly made with human-grade ingredients. So if there’s someone who knows the intricacies of creating hearty, quality food for dogs and cats, it’s her.
“I finally opened my brick and mortar store last year, after running Feed My Paws for over five years,” Crystle narrates.
“It was tough running the business by myself for so many years, so to finally find the perfect business partner (Clarissa) and have a solid team on board is so thrilling. It’s an exciting time to see the business grow!”
She wears many hats
Crystle actually used to be a professional dog sitter who fed her furry wards delicious, homemade meals that suited their tastes, needs and diets. She’s also the author of four pet cookbooks.
But most important of all, she’s a proud “mum” to two dogs (16-year-old Skotch the chihuahua and 11-year-old Hoovy the Pomeranian-German Spitz), two cats (three-year-old Boo Boo the munchkin and one-year-old Bubbles the tabby), and seven hamsters!
“Bubbles was the most recent addition to our family last year,” Crystle recounts.
“I started fostering her under the Causes for Animals foster programme when she was approximately a month old. She had a severe case of cat flu that resulted in cornea damage, and having very poor vision as well as chronic cat flu made it difficult for her to find a forever home. So we decided to adopt her.”
“I’ve always felt strongly about giving back to our local shelters, and I’ve worked closely with them since the beginning,” she explains.
“Being able to grow the business means being able to give back more, which is extremely exciting! I’m lucky to have the support of my family, and of course my business partner and amazing team members who work so hard every day so we can continue to make a positive difference in the pet community.”
Let’s start prepping
Now for the exciting part: figuring out what should go into our dogs’ food. Here are Crystle’s five tips for dog owners who are thinking of creating healthy bites for their own furbabies at home.
#1 Feed the right amount for your dog’s weight and energy level
“The average healthy dog consumes approximately two to three per cent of their body weight in food per day. When measured out, this might look like a really small portion; but don’t worry – it’s enough! Of course, if your dog is extremely active, you can increase this amount, or if they’re not so active, you can reduce it.”
#2 Don’t be afraid of offal (organ meat)
“What may seem unappetising to you is extremely beneficial and necessary to your dog’s diet! Organs such as liver, lungs and kidneys provide enzymes, vitamins and minerals that muscle meat doesn’t contain. If you prefer not to handle raw organs, consider purchasing offal treats to substitute instead. (Just ensure that it’s 100 per cent organs without any added nasties!)”
#3 Variety is key
“While your pup might be totally okay with eating the same delicious meals you prepare every day, variety is extremely important. It’s not for your pup’s palate; instead, it’s to ensure that they receive the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals.
“For example, different meats are made up of different amino acids. Additions such as egg contain vitamin D and healthy fat. Sardine is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Mussels contain necessary trace minerals. Yoghurt (kefir yoghurt or plain yoghurt) is a great natural probiotic.
“Different fruits and vegetables have their own benefits; for example, blueberries and apples are rich in antioxidants, broccoli and pumpkin help fight cancer, cranberries are great for the urinary tract, and turmeric is anti-inflammatory. It’s impossible to get everything into one meal, so you can balance it out over a week.” 😊
#4 Veggies are great, but they’re better cooked and blended
“The best way to prepare vegetables is to steam them, then blend or purée them. Puréed vegetables make it easier for your pup to digest them, and absorb the nutrients.”
#5 Look into food ratios and supplements
“Both my pups are on different ratios. My senior dog, Skotch, has meals that are 50 per cent protein, 30 per cent vegetables, and 20 per cent carbs. My younger dog, Hoovy (who’s 11, but has the energy level of a five-year-old), consumes a diet that’s 70 per cent protein and 30 per cent vegetables. Both of them take probiotics and calcium with every meal, and various other supplements to suit their needs. (Skotch has a liver tumour, so he’s on milk thistle and golden paste as well.)”
You can refer to Crystle’s cookbooks for ideas and instructions. But I also asked her to share her top three favourite dog recipes so far – which she admits is pretty hard!
#1 Salmon Tart
“I created this recipe because I wanted pet owners to have the opportunity to make a delicious birthday treat at home – enough for just one to two pups or kitties! Like most of my recipes, this one is very flexible, and you can swap the ingredients with their favourite protein or veggies instead.” 😊
#2 Sweet Potato Pizza
“I love how delicious this is for everyone! Being a grain-free and potato-free treat, this is a perfect snack for most pups. It can be prepared in advance, and is delicious both warm and cold. The humans will love it too. It cuts the prep time in half because you’ll be feeding both pups and humans, haha!”
#3 Milk & Honey Cookies
“I love this recipe because it’s an easy base for you to include all of your favourite ingredients! I wanted to create a grain-free cookie base that required very few ingredients, that would be tasty on its own but also not too overpowering when other delicious ingredients are added in. Add a little fresh strawberry for a sweet treat, or cheese for a savoury cookie! The possibilities are endless!”
Last but not the least
There are a few more things we should take note of when it comes to feeding our pets.
“The number one thing we should never forget for homecooked meals is calcium! Calcium isn’t naturally found in the food we prepare for our dogs (certainly not in the amount that’s required), and in the long run, without enough calcium, your pup runs a high risk of suffering from a plethora of health issues (such as osteoporosis) that can easily be prevented,” Crystle emphasises.
“Calcium supplements for pets can be found online, or you can even make your own ground-up eggshells. You can get supplements from a lot of different foods (like what was mentioned above), but I find that calcium is the one thing that can’t be found in a high-enough quantity in the daily foods that we prepare.”
Talk to your vet for options and for more information. In the meantime, we bet your pets will love a special treat (or two, or more) from Feed My Paws. 😊