For about a year now, I have been supplementing our dogs’ high-quality snacks with homemade turkey burgers (together with whole wheat pasta and cooked vegetables). Our three dogs eat twice a day; At every meal, our largest dog (45 pounds) gets half a burger, while the smaller two (30 and 25 pounds) share roughly the other half.
I developed the recipe myself and while trying to cover the basics of proper dog nutrition I didn’t have a specific agenda in mind – I mostly just wanted to make our dogs’ meals a little more interesting to them. Curious about the nutritional value of the burgers, I turned to Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, RD, a professor at Central Michigan University and hired Akita to find out how my culinary experiment put together.
Makes about 36 3-inch patties, about 3.5 ounces each
Total preparation time: 20 minutes
Total cooking time: 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 400 °
- 6 1/2 lbs. ground turkey with dark meat
- 3 eggs
- 3 tsp. ground dried eggshells
- 3 tsp. Chia
- 1/2 c. Chickpea flour
- 1/3 c. Wheat bran
- 2 TBSP. ground flaxseed
- 1 c. simple organic pumpkin
- 3 c. Organic oatmeal
- 2 TBSP. rehydrated dried shredded seaweed (low sodium variety)
Mix well, making sure all ingredients are fully incorporated. Shape into 3-inch patties, place on lightly oiled (with spray oil) rimmed baking sheet. Optional: Spread some ketchup (about 1/8 teaspoon) on each patty.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. A longer bake time will result in a drier and easier to crumble burger.
Tip: Deglaze the baking sheet with water, which creates a great sauce that can be used to moisten the meal. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of this sauce. This is also an easy way to clean the baking pan.
By Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, RD
There is much controversy in the veterinary nutrition community over commercial pet food and home cooking. And since dog food manufacturing standards are very different from those we use in our own kitchens, it’s difficult to make a comparison between apples. However, with proprietary nutritional software it is possible to determine the relative values of the main food components of Claudia’s recipe with those found in commercially made dog food (in Parens).
Analysis (per patty)
Note: All measurements are given in 100 kilocalories (kcal) based on the measurement standards used by commercial food manufacturers.
Protein: 7.5 grams (8 grams are considered high in protein)
Calories: 5.3 kcal (5 or more kcal are considered high in calories)
Fat: 2 grams (a low fat food contains less than 2 grams, so this is neither high nor low)
Sodium: 30 mg (less than 100 mg per serving is considered low sodium)
Fiber: 0.75 grams (neither high nor low)
One hour moisture loss covered Cooking time is around 10 to 15 percent. High heat and long cooking times destroy 90 percent of the thiamine and up to 50 percent of some of the other B vitamins in burgers. On the positive side, it also kills pathogens so you don’t have to worry about the contamination that is an issue with undercooked meat.
The turkey burger is used as a “topper” to increase palatability and provide calories, protein and other nutrients. It makes a great addition to a complete commercial dog food. Feeding turkey burgers as a topper can also be helpful for older dogs, who frequently have poor appetites, or for dogs that are sick or malnourished. In these cases the turkey burger does not have to replace the commercially available food, but could be fed additionally.
Since the recipe is stated, feeding turkey burgers as the sole source of food is not advisable as they may be too high in calories for some dogs and also lack some of the other nutrients dogs need. Obesity is becoming an epidemic in dogs as in humans. Reducing calories and exercising regularly are important for weight maintenance, especially as a dog ages.
As always, choose the best commercial food you can afford. Try one of the dog food reviewers online to find out about the options and issues. Dogfoodadvisor.com is a good place to start.
The background: dog nutrition
Omnivorous dogs need the same essential nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and vitamins and minerals – as human omnivores, but in different proportions. For example, you absolutely need linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, and the building blocks of protein for nearly a dozen amino acids. These amino acids range from complex (arginine and phenylalanine) to simple (leucine and valine).
We and our four-legged companions get all 22 amino acids from protein sources such as eggs or meat, each of which contains different percentages. Some sources of protein contain most of them and some only a fraction. Meat, eggs, and fish are some of the best sources of complete amino acids, and their proteins are highly digestible. This means that the amino acids are more easily absorbed from the intestines.
Standards for minimum nutritional composition of food for dogs are based on percentages determined by a dog’s physiological status. The percentages are higher in dogs during the growth, reproductive and lactation phases and increase with the weight of the animal. Typically, the amount fed to meet the minimum percentages required to maintain the dog’s normal physiological function is based on dry matter per kilogram of body weight. For this reason, labels indicating the number of cups of food to be fed per day are based on the size of the dog. Companies formulate their foods so that they contain a certain amount of protein, linoleic acid and calcium in addition to phosphorus.
If you want to cook for your dog and do your own analysis there are a number of websites available to do so, but none can be considered foolproof. For example, there is the USDA nutrient database. This is just a grocery calculator and does not provide information on ingredients that could be used in a dog food recipe, such as: B. Eggshells (a free web calculator with eggshells can be found here: dietdata.self.com).