Who doesn’t love a nice wholesome chicken stew with all the warmth and yumminess that goes with it? Your dog is certainly no exception. I make this stew about once a month and store extra servings in the freezer.
I vary the vegetables from time to time, so feel free to make modifications, but this will give you a baseline to work from. In each batch, I try to make sure I have an assortment of colors from the vegetables.
I always buy pasture-raised chicken from a local farm and buy organic vegetables whenever possible. Do the best you can with what you can find locally.
1 pasture-raised whole chicken (skin and organs included). I buy the biggest one pasture-raised chicken I can find.
1/2 cup chopped peeled and chopped sweet potato
1/2 cup peeled and chopped butternut squash
1 chopped zucchini
2 chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1/4 cup chopped dandelion
2 small kale leaves, torn
1/2 cup cranberries or blueberries
1 cup oatmeal, quinoa or millet (optional – I rotate grains and add them in the Fall and Winter months. In Spring and Summer our stew is grain-free)
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cover with filtered water. Place on high for one hour and then turn it down to low and cook for about 5 hours. Cooking time will vary depending on your slow cooker. You want the meat to be easy to remove from the bone and make sure the sweet potato is nice and soft. Allow the stew to cool and very carefully and meticulously, debone the chicken, making sure no bones remain. Cooked chicken bones splinter easily and are dangerous for your dog. I wear powder-free food-grade nitrile gloves when I do the deboning. Place the chicken meat back into the stew and add 1/8 cup chopped parsley. You can then puree the mixture with a hand-held blender, or mixer or you can leave it chunky. I generally take my kitchen shears and cut the chicken up a bit so they are bite-size.
Divide the stew into individual servings and place them in glass containers that will store well in the freezer. Make sure about 50% of what is in each container is chicken. Depending on the size of the slow cooker you have and how much water you used, this can vary a bit, so just follow the 50% rule for each storage container. I keep about three days worth of stew in the refrigerator and label, date and freeze the rest.
At Feeding time:
Warm the serving to take the chill off. Your dog can easily burn his mouth and throat, so just warm it a little. Test the temperature by stirring a little with your finger.
Add a little calcium. Dogs need the right balance of calcium and phosphorus for optimal health. The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus is 1:1. An adult dog needs between 800-1000mg of calcium per pound of meat fed.
You have a few choices when it comes to calcium and rotating them is just fine. You can add a small pinch of high-quality bone dust from the butcher, bone meal, seaweed calcium, eggshell powder, goat yogurt or Keifer.
To make eggshell powder, make sure you start with pasture-raised eggs. Many eggs in the United States are sprayed with a waxy chemical to keep them shiny. Try to find a local source for your eggs. I like to make eggshell powder after I use a lot of eggs for omelets or quiche. Just rinse out the shells and remove the membrane. Preheat the oven to 350, place shells on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Allow the shells to cool and then grind then to a very fine powder in a clean coffee grinder that is reserved for nothing but eggshells. Make sure there are no sharp edges at all in the powder. Your dog could suffer from small lacerations if there are sharp points. Grind to a super fine consistency, which also helps with calcium absorption. I keep my eggshell powder in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator and label what date I prepared it. I like to make a fresh batch about every 3 months. One large eggshell provides about a teaspoon of ground eggshell, which contains 2,000 mg of calcium, so add 1/2 teaspoon ground eggshell per pound of food fed.
Some sources advise against using eggshell on a regular basis preferring the calcium source only come from raw meaty bones. My dog cannot eat raw meaty bones anymore due to breaking a few teeth while gnawing on raw meaty bones. She needed a few root canals and once a dog has had root canals, their teeth are more fragile. Hard things (treats included) that do not break easily with your hands are not advised by board-certified canine dentists.
I also add a small pinch of kelp (trace amount) at the time of serving. Seaweed is packed with great minerals including calcium. You don’t need a lot… just a little pinch.
One more thing I add at the time of serving is a little piece of sardine for the omega 3’s and the taurine. I buy sardines packed in water and always add a little to each meal.
Serving size will of course vary depending on your dog’s size, age and activity level. My dog weighs 13 pounds and I feed her about a cup per serving. Here is a general guideline:
Dog’s Weight Total Daily Portion (divided into two servings)
up to 10 lbs 1 – 1 1/2 cups
11-20 lbs 2-3 cups
21-40 lbs 4 cups
For every 20 additional pounds, add 2 additional cups of food per day.
Balance over time is an important thing to remember when preparing your dog’s food. Each meal does not need to have perfect balance, so don’t worry too much if your dog’s dish only had 45% chicken or if it had 60%. If you forgot to add calcium to one meal, it’s not the end of the world, just make sure your dog gets it next time. You and I don’t necessarily eat a perfectly balanced meal every single time, but we should strive for it. Just as you should for your dog. What’s ultimately important is the balance over time and that includes rotation of meats, vegetables and grains if you choose to feed them.
I’ve been making chicken stew for my dog for years. It’s always one of her favorite meals, especially the day I prepare it and she smells all that yumminess for hours before it’s served. I also like having it on hand for “emergency meals” that I can easily pull out of the freezer and have ready to go.