If you're looking to replace the animal-based protein in your dog's diet, you can't do much better than lentils. Lentils are packed with protein and are highly digestible legumes, meaning no unpleasant gassy sounds and smells in the night. Making your own dog food from lentils is a snap.
Lentils and Rice
Rice and beans are a powerhouse combo packed with protein. Lentils can be added to a recipe calling for brown rice in a ratio of two parts cooked rice to one part lentils. Any time you are using rice for other reasons, such as to treat an upset tummy or loose stool, adding some lentils to the recipe will not only add much-needed fiber, but will also give your dog some protein. Cooking the rice in a low-sodium beef, chicken or vegetable stock adds flavor.
Canine Cakes and More
To make a birthday or holiday cake for your dog that is sure to please, try making it with lentils as a main ingredient. Simply mix a cup of dry lentils together with 2 cups of rolled oats. Bring the mixture to a boil in 3 cups of stock. Add in a beaten egg and press into a well-oiled cake pan. If the mixture is too watery, simply add more oats. Pour a little tomato sauce on top and pop it in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool inside the oven. This will give it that nice crunchy consistency your dog loves. For icing, use cream cheese or carob icing.
Lentils and Canned Food
Lentils also lend themselves to being combined with your dog's regular canned food to help stretch that food dollar. You don't have to make your own dog food to reap the benefits of lentils. Adding a bit of cooked lentils to your dog's regular canned dog food will not only help make the can last a little longer, but will add omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as iron, magnesium and potassium. Fatty acids help to keep your dog's skin and coat healthy, and many commercial dog foods do not contain enough to meet a dog's daily requirements.
Smoothies are great for people but dogs love them too. Make a smoothie for your dog and freeze it in the summer for a cool treat, or use it as a gravy over his kibble. Using a blender, mix together cooked lentils, low-sodium canned tomatoes, cooked veggies and a little broth. You can use just about any kind of vegetable, but avoid onions, garlic and avocados. Also avoid adding spices, as many of them have been found to be harmful to dogs. For the liquid, use broth, soy milk or rice milk. Avoid dairy unless you want to add a little yogurt for consistency, but use plain yogurt as flavored ones are too sugary for your dog.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.