This past winter was a rough one for our youngest Shih Tzu, Car-Li, she developed pneumonia and bronchitis and was quite sick for four months. The poor little dog was taking 11 pills a day, coughing and wheezing, unable to sleep much because of her difficulty breathing. It was a tough time for all of us, feeling helpless that you hope your dog understands you're trying to help her, not make her feel worse. Not getting sleep ourselves because of her coughing fits and trying to comfort her enough so she could rest.
What was probably hardest, for my little foodie dog, was when she lost her appetite. When she didn't want dog food, and stopped taking medicine with peanut butter or cheese, we spent a lot of money on all kinds of foods just trying to find something she could eat so her stomach wasn't digesting medicine empty. The good news is we've got our happy-go-lucky Car-Li back! She had a lung-wash surgery in January that helped clear a lot of her lung congestion, and let us know the antibiotics had done their work and we could start treating her chronic bronchitis (which is like asthma in humans). I can't thank our vet's office enough for the weekly care they gave her, and concern they had for her. Once she started a round of steroids she became herself again, and just like a lot of steroids with humans, her appetite returned in full force. She'll be on an inhaler and throat medicine the rest of her life, but her breathing has returned to normal, she can run and play with her big sis Bay-Li, exercise on the treadmill (https://www.instructables.com/id/Teaching-dogs-to-walkrun-on-treadmill/), and she's back to sleeping all she wants.
During much of her illness, I made homemade chicken soup many times, it was virtually the only thing she'd eat during the really bad days. When she started feeling a little better, but wasn't ready for kibble, I started making them this brown rice with meat meal. It's simple, lasts up to five days, and full of easy-to-digest meat and veggies with plenty of nutrients that helped get her energy back. It's also gluten-free if you find that important in your dog's diet.
I found this recipe in the cookbook Dinner for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for a Happy, Healthy Dog by Henrietta Morrison. The cookbook is full of great recipes and a wealth of information on dog nutrition, I highly recommend it. I used ground turkey, carrots, and spinach, along with brown rice, but you can certainly play around with the meat and veggies to suit your dog's appetite. Some other options are broccoli, green beans, peas, butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, etc. etc. Ground lamb, chicken, pork, or lean ground beef can be used for the meat instead of ground turkey.
I continue to feed this to my pooches once or twice a month, even now that Car-Li is back on her feet, as an addition to their dry dog food because they like it so much. It's easy to make, healthy, and it's probably cheaper than their Merrick canned food per serving. This recipe makes 5-6 cups food, which feeds our dogs each a 1/2 cup portion for five days, please feed the amount appropriate for your dog's size.
I hope you treat your best friend(s) with this healthy, delicious meal soon! Enjoy!
Recipe from: Dinner for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for a Happy, Healthy Dog by Henrietta Morrison
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
1/2 tsp. vegetable, sunflower, or coconut oil
2 cups ground beef, about 16 oz. (I used ground turkey)
1 1/4 cups brown rice
3 cups fresh spinach
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated (if using local/organic carrots you can leave the peels on, just scrub well and grate)
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional)
Step 2: Cook and Feed Your Pooches
In a large saucepan or dutch oven with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. Brown the meat, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through. (Since I used lean ground turkey I did not drain the small amount of fat off, if I had used ground beef, I would.)
Add the rice, spinach, grated carrots, parsley, and water, bring to a boil. Stir, then cover, reduce heat and cook on a gentle simmer until the rice absorbs the water, about 30 minutes. I taste the rice to make sure it's tender.
Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let cool. Store, in a covered container, in the fridge for up to five days (we microwave their portions a little to warm them up). Before serving, you can stir in the yogurt for some extra probiotic goodness, if you wish. Since Car-Li was on antibiotics, and yogurt helps Bay-Li's acid reflux, I do add the yogurt.
Serve your dogs and watch them gobble up their tasty, hearty meal.