Homemade Dog Food
Our vet is a huge proponent of raw food – he recommends raw buffalo or beef. We gave that a try, but quite frankly it didn’t agree with our dogs’ digestive systems and caused them to do one of those totally disgusting dog behaviors – eating their poop. When we returned to cooked food, that behavior disappeared – thank goodness!
We have been making dog food for several years. Over time, we have come up with a recipe that works well and our dogs love it! We feed our dogs three meals a day and do not allow them to have dry food. In addition to the food we make them, we give them treats of carrots, apples, scrambled eggs or other little tidbits of what we are eating.
Since we have been making their food, our dogs’ health has been excellent. One dog has had a tendency toward stomach issues from the time he was a puppy, but no issues on the diet we make him. He also had an allergy to rice, which caused him to have to constantly scratch his ears. Rice is a main ingredient in a lot of prepared dog foods.
While it takes some extra work to make the food, we are committed to giving our dogs the best food we can. We make a huge batch of food, which lasts for about a month, since our dogs are little, 7 and 9 pounds each. We also have an extra freezer where we can store the food.
Besides having space to store the food, the other issue is having cooking vessels big enough to hold all of the ingredients. We use a large stock pot to cook the meat, a second large pot for the potatoes, a third medium pot to cook the barley and dried peas, and roast the sweet potatoes in the oven. We use a huge disposable aluminum roasting pan to mix all of the ingredients together.
Of course, we could make a smaller quantity, but we have a system that works for us now. My husband and I help each other with the whole process and, from start to finish, it takes about two hours. After everything is mashed and blended together, we portion it into plastic containers and then store it in the freezer. We have to be careful not to overfill the containers, because when they are stacked, the weight of the containers has a tendency to cause the lower vessels to leak.
The total cost to make one batch of dog food is about $50. This is about the same as it would cost us to buy the highest quality canned dog food. So, there really isn’t a cost savings, but there is a huge difference in the quality – every ingredient is something we would eat ourselves and we don’t have to question where it came from or how it was processed.
Here is the recipe we use. Feel free to cut the quantity in half to make it more manageable and to also see how your dogs like it – although I don’t think that will be a problem. And, don’t worry about precise measurements, use what works best for you.
6# top quality lean ground beef
Blanched spinach, broccoli, beet greens. Leftover salmon or chicken.
1. Combine the ground beef and turkey in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and skim away the impurities that accumulate as the meat cooks. Reduce to a simmer and cook until it is no longer raw – about 30-40 minutes total.
2. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pierce them with a fork a couple times and bake for 45-60 minutes until tender. Remove the peel and mash.
3. There is no need to peel the potatoes. There are a lot of good nutrients in the peel. We use Yukon Gold potatoes, which have a thin skin. Just cut them in half or quarters, depending on the size and boil until tender. Then break them up into little pieces – don’t over mash, they will get gummy.
4. Combine the pearl barley and dried green peas in a medium saucepan. Rinse them with water until the water is clear. Then cover them with 2”-3” of water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. These will also produce scum as they cook. Skim this off. Allow them to cook until tender, about 45 minutes.
5. We drain the canned green beans and them mash them up in the can with a large spoon or even a spatula.
6. When the beef, potatoes and barley are done cooking, pour off the excess cooking water, but do not drain completely – the moisture will keep the dog food at the right consistency – not too dry.
7. Combine all of the ingredients and stir in the flax oil.
8. Portion into containers and freeze what will not be used within 2-3 days.