Homemade dog food

27 November 2017
I've had quite a few readers ask about Gracie's food. What we feed our animals is important to me because I want them to have a good life and be in good health all through their lives. I've never fed our dogs supermarket food. If you look at the labels you'll see that it's full of rubbish and it's expensive. I prefer to give homemade food.  I know what's in it, it smells good and it's value for money.  We had Airedale Terriers before Gracie and I made them a meat-based stew with rice. The dogs grew well on that food and my vet said they were the healthiest Airedales he'd seen.  There are a number of recipes for dog food here and here is my recipe for what I used to cook for Rosie and Alice.

From baby Gracie to today's Gracie, I've always done my best to feed her healthy food.

Gracie is a Scottish Terrier and she's half the size of Alice and Rosie so it made me think again about how we'd feed her. When she was a puppy, she had ½ cup Black Hawk biscuits for breakfast followed by a small amount of beef mince or chicken for lunch and dinner. When she was 12 months old, we cut her back to two small meals a day. Now she's 18 months old, the vet advised me to take her off the biscuits and have one meal. She has it around 2pm every day.  That gives her time to run around in the afternoon to aid digestion but not be hungry overnight.

This is our beautiful girl, Alice.

I thought a lot about that one meal. I have one chance to give Gracie something she'll enjoy eating, and help keep her healthy. It needed to be within our budget, easy to prepare, and give us value for money.  This is what I came up with:

Day 1. Chicken and vegetables in chicken jelly stock
Day 2. 125 grams raw beef mince
Day 3. 1 raw chicken drumstick - dogs should never have cooked bones
Day 4. 1 tin of sardines OR tuna in springwater

After day 4, we start with day 1 again.

This is how I prepare the chicken and vegetables in chicken jelly stock. Add 5 chicken drumsticks to a pot and just cover the chicken with water. Don't add salt, pepper or any other additive.  During the cooking process, the chicken, bones and connective tissue start breaking down, collagen is released, and when it's cold, jelly forms. I think it gives Gracie the feeling that she's eating a bigger meal. 

Cook the chicken gently for about 45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 15 minutes. I generally use about a cup of sweet potato and carrots, cut into chunks, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Never give your dog onion or leeks. Allow this to cool, remove all the bones, then divide up into 5 even portions. I use zip lock bags and freeze them flat so they don't take up too much space in the freezer.  Of course you could cook up batches of 25 drumsticks so you only have to cook it once a month. When its defrosted, don't let it go to room temperature. Feed the dog when the liquid is still jelly. It will go back to a water consistency if you leave it sit for too long but even if you do, the nutrition is still the same.

Feeding this 4 day menu rotation gives Gracie variety and different textures as well as bones to crunch for healthy gums and teeth. I think she's enjoying her food and it takes almost no time at all.  For those in Australia, I buy the 3 star beef mince from Aldi and the chicken drumsticks from Woolworths - in the deli section, not the meat section. Last week the RSPCA-approved ones were on special for $3 a kilo, generally I pay about $5 a kilo for them.  Using the drumsticks, I don't have to cut up any chicken, the portions are easy and clean to deal with and they have the nutritional value I'm looking for. BTW, Gracie weighs 10kg and these amounts suit her size. Make sure you work out how much food your dog needs per day so you give the correct amount.

Food is such a personal thing. I don't expect everyone to change how they feed their dogs but I hope if you're looking for new ideas, this might might work for you and your dog.