Dog food can be expensive. We have two dogs, a 70-ish lb Labrador and a little Jack Russell terrier. Their dog food cost us between $55 and $65 a month, and that was the cheap stuff!
We simply couldn’t afford the healthier dog food, we were barely covering the cheap stuff. Our beloved pets were suffering the effects – oily coat issues, itchy dry skin, dandruff, horrible gas issues…
Plus, during this time we were at the height of a severe flea infestation which was costing us hundreds of dollars with very few results. I had to figure something out.
So, I did what I do best. I got to Googlin’.
It didn’t take long for me to discover that many good pet owners actually cook their own dog food right on their stove tops. The more I researched the benefits of homemade dog food, the more I wanted to try it. I looked at a couple of recipes and designed one specially for my dogs and our situation.
And there I had it. A good, cheap, homemade solution to our dog feeding issues.
There are many benefits to cooking your own dog food.
- It’s incredibly healthy for the dogs. My 11 year old, somewhat chubby lab is now a lean, good looking dog. Plus, the dogs have no more outgassing issues at all!
- It’s cheap. One batch costs us about $4 and lasts about 5 days. That’s makes it $28 a month – half of what we were spending on the cheapest dog food!
- It’s easy. Just throw everything in a pot, bring to a boil, and let it simmer for an hour. Done.
- The dogs absolutely love it.
- And a bonus we didn’t expect, we no longer deal with fleas. Within a month of feeding the dogs the homemade food we noticed that there were no more fleas. We stopped buying flea control all together. In Florida that says a lot.
Here is the recipe we use. It’s been tweaked a bit since we first started cooking dog food, but we think we’ve got it pretty darn perfect now.
1 lbs ground beef (or any other meat except fish and sausage)
2 cups pasta
2 cups rice (any will do)
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups whole grains or lentils (we use barley)
2 cups chopped vegetables like carrots or celery (not onions or garlic though)
1 spoonful peanut butter
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional, but the omega 3′s are good for them)
Put it all together in a large pot. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Then, lower heat to medium and cook for 1 hour, adding more water when necessary, and stirring occasionally. We store our dog food in the fridge in a 2 1/2 gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid because it will be gone in less than a week. If you have a small dog who won’t eat the whole pot in a week you may want to freeze part of it.
We feed our big lab 4 cups every night and our terrier gets 1/2 cup every night.
- Less active dogs eat less, more active dogs will need more. This can be a seasonal change as well.
- Make sure you talk to your vet if your dog has any health issues that concern you.
- Let freshly cooked food cool before feeding it to your dog. If your dog is normal he’ll woof the whole thing down, heat and all, and burn all his insides up.
- Yes, your dog should have no problem eating the veggies. My dogs won’t touch raw carrots, but the veggies in their dog food are eaten up – not a bite left over.
- Any change in dog food is likely to cause a little diarrhea. This can be avoided by mixing your old dog food with the new stuff and gradually decreasing the old stuff. However, we switched our pets cold turkey and didn’t have any noticeable issues.
- Whole grains mean fiber, fiber, fiber. It is perfectly normal for the grain to come out looking just like it did when it went in. This is good.
- Sometimes after a day of being in the fridge the food will get thick and clumpy and will need a little more water. Just add some, mix for a second, and you’re good.
- Do not feed your dog rotten food. Slightly browning veggies are fine, but a general rule is if it wouldn’t be safe for you to eat, don’t try feeding it to your dog.
- Adding any uneaten leftovers into the dog food storage bucket is fine, we do it all the time. However, make sure you know what foods are harmful to dogs. Things like onions, garlic, grapes, cocoa, and a few others can make your dog very sick, either right away or over time. Here is a list of 25 most common dog offending foods. While this isn’t a complete list, it’s a good start.
- This homemade dog food has no added oils in it. This is excellent for your dogs skin and coat, and provides a less-than-desirable feeding ground for fleas.
And as always, if something doesn’t seem right about your pet take him or her to the vet for a checkup. Just like people, one dog can have an adversion to a certain food that most other dogs can eat just fine. Pay attention whenever switching dog foods to ensure your pet is taking to the new food without any problems.