food and wineIssue 6

Thinking Outside the Kibble

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by Dana Koster

M&M-8Did you know that humans have had canine companions for 30,000 years? That’s over six times longer than we’ve had the written word! The dry, processed kibble that we feed our pets on a daily basis, on the other hand? That’s only existed since the 1950s.

Considering the cultural shift towards organic, non-processed human food, it’s no wonder pet owners have started to rethink dog food, as well. After all, our furry friends are partof the family – don’t they deserve a healthy diet, too?

Margaret Hurley, dog owner and maker of M&M Brittany Homemade Gourmet Dog Treats, wholeheartedly agrees. Beneath the awning of her white tablecloth-clad booth at the Modesto Certified Farmer’s Market, she and her husband Matt sell delectable meat and vegetable treats made from local ingredients.

M&M-9Her cooking process couldn’t be simpler: she either bakes or dehydrates all of the treats at home. “Everything here is local – this one is just local chicken breast,” she says, gesturing to a bag of thinly-sliced golden jerky. “There’s no salt, no brine. We don’t use any preservatives. It’s all natural.”

Omnivorous Diets

Makers like Hurley also recognize that a healthy omnivorous diet should include vegetables, whether you walk on two legs or four. Pumpkin is one of the key ingredients in Hurley’s biscuits, which come packaged in neat little stacks of bone-shaped treats, and it’s a vegetable that’s particularly well-suited to homemade dog delicacies. Pureed pumpkin – the kind you can buy in a can at the grocery store – is a great source of fiber, which is proven to help upset stomachs in humans and dogs alike.

Apples, oatmeal and sweet potatoes are also safe and healthy sources of dietary fiber for our canine friends, and can be a much better option than kibble, which often lists corn as the first ingredient and “poultry by-product meal” as the second.

Due to its high calcium, protein and probiotic content, yogurt is a healthy and popular snack for dogs, too. In fact, many of the foods we already keep in our kitchens are perfectly safe for canine consumption, and they often provide more vitamins and minerals than processed kibble. Baby carrots, for example, are high in vitamin A, and gnawing on them can even help keep doggy teeth clean.

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Omnivorous as they are, dogs do need a certain amount of meat, so cooked fish and poultry are great meal options for the active pooch. Salmon, in particular, is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can give coats a nice, glossy sheen.

Ultimately, though, it's about the health of your companion. And for that reason, thinking outside the kibble has become a much more popular option. In fact, that’s exactly how Hurley got started in the homemade dog treat business in the first place. She wanted something healthier and more natural for her dog Brittany, so she made it herself.

Years later, she now finds herself at the heart of a nationwide revolution in which dog owners everywhere are joining her in thinking outside the kibble.

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