DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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11 October 2010

Dog food - cooking your way to big savings

It's been a wild and woolly weekend here with a lot of rain and wind. Our rain gauge overflowed so I'm not sure how much we got but Shane told me the TV news reported we got around 250mm, that's about 10 inches. It's been raining non-stop overnight, I reckon the rain gauge would be close to full again. I emptied it on Saturday morning. We just have to watch the creek which has been rising steadily for about a week now. With the rain, the temperatures dropped again so I'm back into winter clothes and rugged up in my cardigan and slippers.

It was good to be able to stay indoors and be productive and relatively busy. I've been sewing and making soap, and on Saturday I made a batch of dog food for Alice. It's a cheap and easy way to feed a dog good wholesome food and if you haven't tried our recipe for dog food and you have a dog, please try it. I'm sure your dog will love you for it.

We buy 1kg/2.2lbs of pet mince from the local butcher and add to it whatever vegetables we're growing or what we have in the fridge, but make sure you never give your dog onions or leeks. You could also use fish or chicken with the bones removed. The only other ingredients are some carbohydrates in the form of rice - 2 cups, and pasta - 2 cups, and I added a tablespoon of Vegemite, but you could replace that with peanut butter. It's just for flavouring so if you have neither the Vegemite nor the peanut butter, leave it out.

This time I used carrots, green beans, zucchini and swiss chard.

Use a large stockpot that will hold around 9 litres/quarts of water. Fill the stockpot to three-quarters full and add the meat. Break up the meat with your spoon and then stir in the Vegemite/peanut butter. Chop up all the vegetables, add them and the rice and pasta and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes. You have to make sure all the vegetables are soft as the dog might have problems digesting vegetables not fully cooked.

I store the food in portion-sized, plastic containers, and freeze them. The containers hold two cups. I make 12 containers, enough for 24 days. Alice eats half of one container a day, but you'd have to gauge the amount you feed your dog. It will depend on their size and weight. Alice is an Airedale, a medium sized dog and she's old. She also has breakfast.

It costs us about four dollars for the meat and maybe two dollars if we were to buy the vegetables, another one dollar for the rice, pasta, Vegemite or peanut butter and we've got a nourishing meal that our dogs love and I'm sure most others would as well. And again, we take control of the ingredients so we're not getting contaminants in the food we give our pets.

The closest I could find our food to do a price comparison was the 680 gram can of Supercoat dog food casserole (chicken vegetables and rice) for $3.18 at Woolworths. My guess is we would get two feeds for Alice from one can. So for 24 days, the canned dog food would cost us $38.16. or $1.59 per day. For 24 days of the home cooked dog food, if costs us $7, or 30 cents per day. One year's supply of the canned dog food would cost us $580.35 per year; one year's supply of the home cooked dog food costs $110. This is a saving of $470.35 per year. Alice is 13 years old so that saving for us in her lifetime, so far, is $6115. I would much rather have that money in my pocket than in the hands of a huge corporation. It proves once again that these small steps, the steps that only take us a bit of time and effort, can help us live well without buying into the convenience food market. You might not have thought of canned dog food as convenience food, but that is what it is. Minor adjustments could have your dog eating home cooking, which will keep him/her healthy and well nourished for many years. I wonder how much we've saved on vet bills in that time. Hmmmmm.

43 comments:

  1. I am in the process of switching our pets, American Eskimo (16), DS cat (12) and two Ragdolls (1) to a raw diet. Hoping this will be a cheaper healthy alternative. Making my own as well. Here they have premade raw food, but twice the price of the canned or kibble.

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  2. Sounds interesting, and I'd be interested if any one makes cat food.

    BTW, what is pet mince? I'm not familiar with that. Is it random extra cuts, or chopped/ground extra meat?

    Thanks, I always find good stuff on your blog, Rhonda.

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  3. Rhonda I have been feeding my Jack Russell terrier your recipe for about 1 year now. He does love it, and has lost some weight (he was overweight). Although I don't use rice and pasta, just brown rice, or barley, not both. I generally put the cooked vegetables through the blender because he sometimes gets ornery and leaves things like peas or carrots in the bowl, or on the floor:) I generally use some plain chicken broth or vegetable broth to use as part of the liquid. I keep frozen one cup portions in the freezer for that reason.
    Our dog, Jack, got fleas this summer and got a skin infection from scratching so much. The vet gave us some Omega 3 fish oil to put in his food. I am thinking I will probably continue adding some to the food from now on.

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  4. Rachael, pet mince is random off cuts of lamb, beef and pork, ground up. This is not suitable as a cat food. Cats are true carnivores, dogs aren't. Cat's need more protein and fat in their diets.

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  5. Hi Terry, yes, you've been very sensible and modified the food to suit your dog. We add emu oil to Alice's food, it's Omega 3, 6 and 9. It's good stuff.

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  6. wonderful to be following you now, makes it so much easier .. love and hugs to you and yours.
    great post, never thought to make the dogs food

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  7. Alice is one lucky Airedale :) :) :) I think that is a wonderful way to take care of a pet..and I'll bet that keeps them healthier, too!!! You are so good to everyone...human and animal alike :) :) :)

    Oh, this is off the subject. I was in my local Barnes & Noble bookstore today and I found an Australian magazine that is absolutely a complete delight...from front cover to back cover. It's called "Australian Homespun"..and all of the sewing/stitching projects are wonderful. I thought of you...and I was wondering if you have ever heard of it?

    Have a lovely week, Rhonda. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

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  8. We learned about making our own dog food from a friend with a lot of expertise with animals. We will never go bck to storebought!

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  9. Heather, yes I know of Homespun, I used to buy it many years ago. I think my DIL Cathy may have had a project of hers in there at one point. It's a great mag with a lot of good projects.

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  10. Wow! What a great idea to save some money. My dog has allergies we haven't identified yet. This may really help her.

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  11. Hi Rhonda. You are an early bird.We are about to kill a couple of sheep so will use your recipe with the sheep flaps etc for the meat portion . Thanks again Affussa

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  12. Well I gave my dog some mince/veges etc cooked in stock with rice and came back after she'd eaten to find that she'd politely picked out the veges, licked them clean and put them outside her bowl!

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  13. Vivienne, mash the vegies up and mix them in with the meat.

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  14. We do something similar here. We were cooking the mince, but now we just cook the carbs (eg rice, pasta or oats) and veges, then we mix in the raw mince later. It sounds revolting, but our cat and two dogs love it

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  15. 250mm in a few days??? That's more than we get all year!!! Crazy weather here, we had 34.4c a day ago and today at 6.30am it was 3c! So dry they wheat farmers are harvesting early to get up what crop they have.

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  16. Always something interesting going on at your place,If I had a dog I'd try that recipe, it sounds very good for their health.
    ginny

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  17. Yep this is basically what I do for my pets, but I don't cook any of it (oh except the barley which I use). I just whizz it up in the food processor.

    I based my recipe on this http://greenpet.com.au/pet-shop/cart.php?page=fast_food

    The greenpet site is just wonderful and I use the supplements, herbs and homeopathics for my animals too :o)

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  18. I have been making this for years, thanks to you, Rhonda! I feed my dog mostly raw food, with this yummy cooked meal every so often as well, and she loves it! We've had a little dog staying with us for about eighteen months and her owners (family) tell us she's been a bit fussy since returning to them and their new home. All this lovely food she's been used to, with not a can of dog food in sight, has apparently made her rather particular. :)

    X Ree

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  19. Big Bill thrives on a very similar recipe. I'm so over canned pet food, the smell is enough to make it clear that it's rubbish.

    We've been thinking about you in the rain Rhonda, we heard it had been full on up your way. Take care.

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  20. Vivienne my dog is also quite adept at licking vegetables clean and leaving them in the otherwise spotless dish! Now I put the veggies in the blender before adding them to the pot to cook.

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  21. I was looking over your older posts and started making our own dog food too, last week! :)

    It turns out that feeding a small dog is now cheaper than feeding a cat. Cat's a very fussy and ours didn't want to eat any cooked food that was prepared earlier. It had to be made fresh. Even gently warmed through, he'd turn his nose up! It could just be our cat though. As I said ... VERY FUSSY!!!

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  22. I've been cooking for my two Mini-Australian Shepherds for 3 years now, ever since we had the contaminated dog food scare here in the States. My recipe is similar to yours. I use ground beef or ground turkey with whole wheat pasta or brown rice and then use frozen vegetables as I don't have a large garden. I've found peas and green beans work best. During the summer if I have an extra zucchini they are thrilled. I also give them a daily vitamin and mix in flax oil. On the weekends I make them eggs and toast. My vet has finally gotten on board too and agrees they are doing great and look great too. I also make big batches and freeze them in 8 cup containers. These last 4 days and I usually make enough for a month. I feel much better knowing exactly what my beloved dogs are getting instead of some unknown additive or by-product. Although I have to admit, when I tell people I cook for my dogs they think I'm crazy! Oh well, at least I know my dogs will live long, healthy lives because of my efforts.

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  23. We kill our own meat so our dogs/cats receive a lot of bones and raw home grown pet meat. They still have cooked meals like your recipe though to keep them healthy with some olive oil mixed through the cats' portion to help prevent furballs. Being practical means a turnover of old hens and ducks as well but these still have to be plucked even if they're not cooked as to feed a farm dog a hen/duck with the feathers still on can encourage them to be a killer of your egg suppliers. The cats' treat is scrambled eggs because raw ones give them diarrhea.

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  24. Rhonda what exactly is pet mince? I live in Canada so what would be our equivalent? Sounds like something I would enjoy making for my dog and the savings would be amazing.
    Love your blog!!!

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  25. I have been feeding my two Yorkies homemade dog food for a year now after one of them became ill from commercial canned dog food. Here in the northern part of the USA, I don't have access to the type of meat product you do, but instead buy ground beef or turkey on sale, boil it to get rid of excess fat, add cooked rice and veggies, and freeze it in packets big enough for one days feeding. It is still much more economical than buying commercial food for them, and they are thriving. My vet is impressed! He tells me that their diet is way more healthy now. And they like it.

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  26. Sounds like you have had a peaceful weekend.
    Got me thinking about the dog food.
    We just went from 38. a month to 25. we found an equivalent. My dogs are large so it would perhaps be a real job to do this. It is a wonderful recipe for the days I run out of food and do not want to go to the pet store.

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  27. Does anyone know how the price to make homemade compare to dry dog food? We always add a few scraps to it but I can purchase 40 pounds for $16.00.

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  28. I just found your blog today and this is a timely post for me.
    Been thinking about whether it would be better for our dog, and whether it would me more/less expensive. I've been buying "Chicken Soup For The Dog's Soul" dry food and he eats it but he much prefers to eat leftovers from our meals. I didn't know that about onions. I use a lot of onions in my cooking and he's probably consumed some during his life. He loves vegetables. In fact, he loves anything that is "people food" so he would be an easy (and delighted) convert.
    I'll be going back and reading some of your older posts, looks like you and I have a lot in common and I bet there's some good reading there. --Ilene in Oklahoma, USA

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  29. Now this is a first...I have read about making lots of things but never dogfood. Congratulations! I learn so much from this blog!

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  30. I have always wanted to try this, but have been skeptical about the amount of work it would take, and storage space, versus just buying dog food. We do try to purchase 'healthy' food and right now, it runs us $40 per bag that last about a month or so.

    Your post has given me renewed me renewed motivation to give this a try....but I still worry about the freezer space!

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  31. I've been doing this for a while now, and I'm sure my dog Sweetie Pie feels so much better. I am wondering about homemade unsweetened applesauce?She loves bananas!

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  32. I raw feed based on the whole prey model but with some mince in there too. I've fed whole prey model and unless I can get some really weird and wonderful body parts (and get my dog to eat them) I don't seem to get the full benefits, so I compromise with some pet mince. I buy the stuff from a local farm shop so it's locally produced and well raised. Or so it tastes with the body parts we eat.

    I don't personally think it right to feed carbs to carnivores (which dogs are) but know many dogs do just fine with some in their diets. Btw, its not the change in fats/protein that affect cats when their meat is minced - it's taurine loss. Which can be replaced with powdered taurine. There are menus out there for raw fed cats, including ones which include mince.

    -Henry

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  33. I also add in a few eggs at the very end - the heat of the food cooks the scrambled eggs. Also - parsley helps with breath and digestion smells, carrots are good and believe it or not, my dogs love broccoli (chopped well). Alice is a lucky girl! Instead of your lamb "mince" I have used ground pork. One of my dogs has skin allergies (esp to barley) so I use brown rice or white or sweet potatoes. And I always add in Omega 3s too! My next dog )tho I hate to think of being without these two old men I have), will be a female Airedale. I have only known wonderful Airedales!

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  34. I'm so happy to see that others make their own dog food. We started it with my beloved Tessa when she was about 2 yrs old after being introduced to it through a friend. We saw an amazing change in her and will never go back to chemicals in a bag. It's more work but it's totally worth it!

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  35. This sounds dumb, but do you season the dog food? I see one of the commenters mentioned parsley to reduce "odors", but wondered if you or anyone else had any guidance on seasoning - especially salt - should it be avoided?

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  36. I also cook mince and veg for my two small dogs I vary it by using lamb mince as well as beef. I wonder if you had a recipe for my cat too? it would be nice to have a great saving on that as well, thanks for all you tips and advise here's hoping you reply take care kind Regards Nicole(UK)

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  37. I strongly believe in cooking for my Dog which he enjoys, My recipie is cornmeal with veggies and split peas or lentil peas no salt and mint/garlic. he eats nuts and raw veggies and is very healthy, I do not give him meat but fish with out bones

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  38. I have this bubbling away on the stove top now. We also give our dogs raw meat as we do kill sheep every so often. I was also interested to see that someone cooks up everything except the mince then mixes this into it when it's been fed out. Will probably mush up the vegies etc as I think it will make it easier as it's a different food for the kelpie. Will be interested to see how the older kelpie goes with this, anything worth a try anyway

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  39. And a wonderful success, made up and put the containers into the freezer, just fed the young pup a cup full of it, she's still licking the long empty container, just absolutely loved it. Don't know if the older dog will like it, but he doesn't come into town very often anyway. These are both working dogs for the trucks, the pup is in town because she has a large hole in her foot and needs to be rested while it heals, she also belongs to my daugher so she does visit a fair bit anyway

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  40. Kind of late weighing in on this, but here goes....
    While I would consider feeding your recipe to a dog occasionally, I certainly wouldn't feed it all the time, unless I absolutely couldn't afford anything else. Like a vet mentioned in an earlier post, calcium would be an issue with that recipe.
    I have now switched to raw food, no cooking involved. The dogs love it, there is no bad breath, their teeth are cleaner, they poop less, the poops are much smaller and barely smell. Switching over to a raw diet may have to be done very gradually, depending on the dog, and it is usually recommended you start with chicken.
    Dogs generally are not meant to eat pasta, or grains.
    I would suggest that anyone do some research on appropriate diets for dogs before fully switching to this.
    Just because a dog seems to be doing well on something doesn't mean it is the best thing for it. Yes, some dogs seem to do well on the crappiest of commercial foods. Quite a bit of it may be genetics. You know, just like the 100 year old man that is interviewed and says he has been drinking and smoking since he was a teenager:)

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  41. Karen, green leafy vegetables are a rich source of iron and calcium. We also feed Alice a couple of raw chicken carcass every week, mainly because she likes them but also for her teeth. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and can easily adapt to various diets. They do not need meat specific protein to live and can live healthy lives eating grains and other non-meat protein.

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  42. My dogs have been easy converts to recipes like this. They are both older, and each has his/her own health issues. Since removing wheat and corn (in all forms) from their diet, they have been dramatically healthier and happier. It appears dogs do not process corn and grains very well. I use seasonal vegetables, with an abundance of celery (good for inflammation), sweet potato and pumpkin. They like cabbage and broccoli too. I avoid onion, corn and rarely use white potato. I regularly use kangaroo and beef mince, and vary the menu with tuna, sardines and/or chicken. I do add seasoning, including a small amount of garlic in summer (fleas hate it), some curry powder (my guys love curry), oregano and black pepper. Generally I avoid adding salt. I use white rice (easier to digest) or rice noodles instead of pasta. My guys refuse to eat any tinned food now and I refuse to give them kibble because it is predominantly wheat or corn maize based. They get raw meaty bones and chicken wings or necks, several times a week. I haven't needed to wash a dog bowl for a very long time!
    When I started preparing their food, I priced it out for comparison with tinned food (remember, we don't use kibble, so I couldn't compare with that). Four days worth of cooked food and bones costs us around $14. Good quality tinned food for the same period would cost around $23. Even adding in my time and the cost of electricity to cook this, I am still miles in front financially and my beautiful dogs (Charlie aged 6, 55kgs and Molly aged 10+, 29kgs)are happy and healthier than ever.

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  43. A dog’s food is just as important to them as a human’s food is to us. It gives them all the sustenance, nourishment and energy that they need to keep bounding around and wagging that tail.It is great to be friend of pets.Thanks for sharing.

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