Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homemade Dog Food

Homemade Dog Food--not a subject I thought I'd ever blog about, much less do myself. Why bother when you can get a plethora of choices at the store? We typically give our 92 pound lab mix a higher grade dog food geared to large breeds trying to shed a few pounds. Helping her lose weight is a bit of a losing battle with Ms. Brooke tossing her left-overs to an attentive and patient Jessie.

Health reasons weren't really the driving force for me exploring how to make my own dog food wet blend--though claims that switching from commercial food can give your pooch another 8 years is compelling! Neither were the safety concerns--though the list of brands recalled in 2007 is astounding; who knows if that could happen again! No, my primary reason was frugality and being good stewards of what we're given. We buy 1/4 of a cow twice a year and that includes some organ meats we wouldn't otherwise eat: liver, heart, even the tongue! Yuck!

Since a lot of dog food consists of these and heaven knows what else they can scavenge from a cow, I figured I might as well use what I have taking up freezer space and make something I know is good for my dog. Important note here: I have no veterinary training and you shouldn't take my advice for what's "best for your dog." Ask your vet.

I started with some basic research on the web and found more recipes than I could sift through. There were those who believed meat should stay raw and those who said it should be cooked. There were those interested only in dog biscuits and then the vegetarian voices. One fact seemed consistent however: you should aim for the dog food to be 25% protein and 75% carbs and vegetables. Now we're getting somewhere.

Some common ingredients suggested were lots of water, ground beef or turkey, liver, hard boiled eggs, brown rice, oats, green beans, carrots, and leafy vegetables (many used frozen veggie blends). I found this site simplified the process and made it seem less complicated. The most important ingredients to know are what NOT to put in dog food: onions, garlic, grapes, raisons, sugary foods or sweeteners, salt, and macadamia nuts among others. Got it!

The biggest tip was not using too much liver, which can cause vitamin A toxicity--which affects muscles and bones. She's already having joint discomfort; so that's a concern. But how mush is too much? Again, consult a vet for your size and breed. Since we're only adding 3-4 tablespoons of this a day to her kibble, we used other meat besides liver, and we went heavy on the carbs and veggies, I think we're good.

The hardest step for me was chopping up the meat to boil. The liver was incredibly slimy, and the tongue was downright intimidating. I'm not usually a squeamish girl, but I confess I delegated this to my hubby while I cooked the rice and blended beans and spinach. Dump
ing it all into one pot to cook like soup was simple and there were no foul smells. Once cool, I dished it into 13 small containers to freeze.

So what did our dog Jessie think? She ate it just like every other food put in front of her. "Eat, lunch, snack, and dinner" are all in her vocabulary (the tail wags) but "picky" is not. We know the meat was a healthier, local alternative, and we save $ because we won't have to buy canned food for a few months. I suppose you could consider this another way to "go green, save green."

Have you made your own dog food? What did you use? Do you think I've lost my mind? ;-)


  1. I had asked someone before about making cat food. This person has a LOT of knowledge about cats, the best foods to feed them, etc and I somehow assumed they had used homemade food. She told me that it actually was not worth it, that store bought food is actually better. So I never persued it. However, I have made dog biscuits for family members (who own dogs) at Christmas time. They were easy, inexpensive and a big hit.

  2. I give my dogs some food twice a week if I can--some cooked oatmeal, boiled eggs, things like that. I would love to afford excellent dog food, but can't and am not one of those people who would make my own.

    You're definitely not crazy!