Homemade dog food

Recently I revised my recipe for Gracie's meals. I've never fed her canned dog food because I want her to stay healthy and I doubt the claims of healthy ingredients in most store-bought canned food. Homemade dog food is easy to make and I make a big pot full, keep one container of it in the fridge, and put the rest in the freezer.  Generally I cook the food up once a month.


I used to add rice to her food but since I read about arsenic in rice, I've moved on to oats, barley, lentils and, occasionally, beans. Read that link about rice, it's interesting and basically it recommends you soak rice for 24 hours prior to cooking, wash the rice after soaking and cook it in clean water.  That reduces the level of arsenic quite a bit.  However, as Gracie is such a small dog, and this is the food she eats most of the time (with a few days of chicken necks, tuna and sardines along the way), I thought it best to remove it from her food and find something else.


I'm glad I chose rolled oats.  It's a very healthy substitute, contains protein, fibre, B vitamins, zinc and iron.  And it smells wonderful when it's cooking, just like a casserole.

In a large 3 litre/quart pot I start off with meat, usually 1½ kg beef. Cooked dog food should always contain a high proportion of meat/chicken/fish. I add 1½ cups oats or barley or lentils and sometimes a handful of beans.  Then 2 cups chopped up vegetables, these are the same vegetables we eat - carrots, cabbage, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin or whatever is in the fridge. Please read this link about foods dogs should never eat. Add one tablespoon of Vegemite and fill the pot with water. Cook on high until it boils, then turn it down to simmer for one hour.  Cool it completely, add one container to the fridge for eating in the following days and put the rest in containers and freeze. Gracie eats about a cup full every day and what's in the containers keep her going for a month.  She also has a handful of Black Hawk biscuits in the morning and she scans the floor for any fallen food. 


I've not worked out the cost of this food but the beef costs about $12 and the rest about $5 - $7, let's say $20.  It lasts for about 30 days so it's about 70 cents a day. Of course it would cost much more to feed a large dog. I just checked my local Woolworths prices and cans of dog food range from 29 cents per 100 grams to $1.73 per 100 grams.  I hate to think what's in those cheaper brands.


Not everyone has the time to cook food for their pets but if you buy pet food from the supermarket, in light of recent news about dogs dying after eating certain brands of food, it's wise to make sure you're buying the healthy stuff. 

17 comments

  1. Our dog is raw fed but yours sounds delicious. I think calcium and phosphorus are essential, certainly raw fed. I am not too keen on her chomping on raw bones so her bones are already ground in the food. I read that egg shells, washed, air dried then ground are a good substitute. Might be a useful addition for her, about I heaped teaspoon on non bone days.

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    1. Calcium is in the bones of salmon and sardines, and the chicken necks we give Gracie. Whenever I make soup and have bones here for the stock, I give her one of them to chew on. She LOVES bones but her beard is pretty smelly afterwards.

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  2. Hi Rhonda. I’ve been making Ruby’s food for some time now. She’s 12 and has had a couple of bouts of pancreatitis in the last couple of years so she has to avoid fat. I use chicken breasts cooked up with all sorts of veggies and rice and lentils. I hadn’t heard about arsenic in rice so I might revisit that and look at oats. What sort of beef do you use? I cook up a couple of weeks worth at a time. I also add turmeric and pepper as advised by the doggy physio after her hip operation a few years ago. I’ve no idea if it helps but she’s a very active 12 year old who gets two walks a day and runs around like a mad thing. Occasionally I just give her very lean raw beef mince but I find she’s a lot more ‘regular’ with her veggie stew. If I ever get around to buying a dehydrator I’m going to try making liver or chicken treats as she loves those. I too hate to think what must go into commercial pet food.

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    1. I buy the regular beef mince from the supermarket, and occasionally beef that I chop up.

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    2. I've often contemplated doing the same with a dehydrator, but have read that it is quite odorous and you might want to only use it for the liver treats, so a cheap one would be best ( if you can find one!)👍

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  3. Hi Rhonda,

    I have recently changed my dog's diet to a more natural one after she put on a lot of weight (in spite of not being over-fed) and developed fluid on the lungs (the result of a heart murmer). We were feeding her high quality (and high price) dried food primarily, along with some raw veg.

    We changed the diet to be roughly equal parts raw kangaroo (human grade), steamed pumpkin and carrots straight from the garden and a few good quality biscuits. Once a week she might have some sardines or an egg with rice - though oats now sound better! After 3 months she has lost 6 kilos and returned to her ideal weight. Her cough has completely vanished and her medication reduced to the minimum. As she is an 11 year old Dalmatian I am thrilled with this because 12 - 14 is the usual lifespan. She has returned to her former playful and happy temperament. The effort is well worth it.

    Madeleine

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  4. You are right to be suspicious of canned dog food Rhonda, A lot of it is mostly water and animal by-product, so not that nutritious and even in some cases detrimental. I give my boy a dog food available only in his veterinarian's office. It contains real chicken and no chicken by-products, barley, and brown rice along with antioxidants and vitamins. I sometimes add a bit of fresh chicken broth and a few bits of poached chicken to make it more special for him. He loves it and maintains a healthy weight and has lots of energy. Carrots contain a lot of sugar, so I avoid them mostly; but sometimes I will give him a bit. Pumpkins and sweet potato are great for doggies.

    Yes, they are our best friends an our family. We have to care for them like we do ourselves. We are stewards of our animal friends, and they deserve the best.

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  5. That sounds amazing and I know ours would love it, but cost would be a concern. We have 4 little dogs and a labrador so 5 total! :-) Big part of our family along with 3 cats, 2 pygmy goats, 6 chickens and 4 ducks :-) We are building a little homestead and I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy the rest of your week.

    Many blessings,
    Jill

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  6. Your dog food sounds delicious. I made my own dog food for a while, but with two German Shepherds, they went through it quickly, and I was very busy working as a dance teacher at the time. They loved it, though. Now I just have one dog, a Labradoodle. She eats high quality dog food from Costco. Thanks for the recipe.

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  7. Hi Rhonda, I think making your own dog food is a wonderful idea. So much of the commercial foods contain things that the animals it's directed at are not supposed to eat, particularly supermarket varieties but even some sold by animal feed stores and pet shops. Gracie's a lucky girl to have such lovely food made for her :) Kate (Tassie) x

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  8. Dogs love hearty stews Rhonda. Over many years I've always cooked big pots of stew for our dogs. I store the containers in the freezer and take one out every couple of days. As we kill our own meat I use up the livers and hearts for the dog stews with pumpkin and rolled oats for thickening. Lately we have made use of two freshly road killed kangaroos, that B skinned and gutted before we cut into smaller pieces to freeze for the dogs, They eat the bones raw and the meat is made into stews.

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    1. Hi Sally, We've been cooking this up, with rice instead of other grains, for over 20 years. Our Airedales loved it and being such big dogs, they ate a lot of it. Freezers make this viable over a long period of time and like you, we defrost about once a week. I find it very satisfying to be able to feed my family and pets good food.

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  9. Just a quick reminder that if you give your animals kangaroo you need to supplement it with some fat. A sardine every day or half to one teaspoon olive oil or 1 teaspoon flaxmeal should do it. My formula is 50 percent veg - i often use frozen spring greens mix which i cook, 30 percent starch (sweet potato, pumpkin and oats or rice), 20 percent meat or chicken. Extras added are 1 sardine in every day's food, quarter to half teaspoon oil, shredded nori leaf from a sushi pack,and about 3 chicken livers and 6 chicken hearts for 14 days' worth of frozen meals. She has a raw brisket or lamb rib or kangaroo tail piece or chicken frame bone afterward. American staffie and coat shiny and she full of beans. I cut back a lot on the rice because her paws became itchy. She gets no wheat or bread at all. Once a week nothing but half a can of natural mackerel.
    It was a lot of work initially but it's become automatic now.

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  10. Some friends were horrified to hear that I often buy a chicken from Aldi for about $5 and cook for my dog, that is until I explained how cheap this was and so much better for my fur baby. She is small and it lasts for several weeks. Must add, I have baked a chicken when the oven has been on for something else and have ended up sharing her food for our dinner too! My dog loves orange vegetables as pumpkin, kumara & carrots.

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  11. Do you feed the food at room temperature or warm up?

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  12. Lately I've been thinking a lot about my dog's diet. This comes in very handy. I'm feeling overwhelmed and very sorry my dog has eaten the cheapest commercially bought food for all of his life (he's a dachshund mix and eats huge amounts of absolutely anything, I've never seen him turn down any food). I will research this more. I have a big freezer. It might work for me and him. Thank you very much for bringing this up.

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