Posted by Bonnie
Before I started making my own dog food this year, I had tried them on a number of store bought formulas. I’m talking, probably 6-8 different kinds. With grain, grain free, mid range price points, the most expensive the store had to offer.
I had actually worked in the pet food industry for a long time, so I considered myself pretty educated on the subject and picked what I thought were the most nutritious choices. While they were all very different, there was a common theme among all of these foods – the dogs didn’t care for them. I mean, sure, they ATE them. But I could tell they didn’t like them – they let it sit there until they knew for sure there wasn’t a better offer coming!
Not only that… They shed all the time (yeah… I know they are part husky!). Their coats weren’t in great shape. They were gaining weight. A LOT of weight, despite calculating calories vs body weight and following the vet recommendations for intake. And after a few years of ‘weight control’ food, and portion control, and stern looks / words from the vet I decided enough was enough. I don’t feed my family the same unappetizing dry ‘people food’ every night so why should the dogs get that treatment? They deserve better.
Just for some background, we have three husky/black lab x pups. Monty, Daphne (born 2011) and Sophie (born 2013). We used to free feed the older two and they were always slim and trim – but this was before they were fixed. We spayed / neutered our dogs around age 2.5 to allow their bodies to develop to maturity with their natural hormones. Once they were fixed the weight packed on. It is hard to see when you live with them every day, but looking back at pictures of how slim they were shocking! They are all currently around 65 lbs…. and if they could each lose 10 lbs, we would be in good shape. Check out the pictures below… The top two were a couple months after spay / neuter, the bottom shows their weight gain.
It is time to keep closer control what they eat for their health, and to enrich their lives with wholesome and delicious meals – not just the same old kibble every night.
The most recent food they were on was a premium grain free pet store brand that was running us about $85 every 9 days, so about $250 +/- every month (not including the 13% sales tax…). They each got about 3/4 cup, twice a day – since kibble is compressed they need a larger volume of fresh food to replace their kibble. Now they are eating about 2.5 cups per day, however by using fruits / berries / veg that is past its prime and would otherwise be headed for the compost pile we are saving waste and money. If we are smart about what meat we use (or better yet, can harvest our own) we are definitely saving money by cooking fresh.
I think it is important to rotate the proteins and recipes I use to give them variety and also to ensure they are getting a good balance of nutrients. I have also read that organ meat is particularly good for them. This recipe doesn’t contain any because I used what I had on hand, but you can easy substitute or add some in. Check out the recipe below for a basic grain free recipe that I made today (dog approved)!
- 6 cups poultry meat, deboned and diced
- 1 head romaine lettuce (or other dark leafy green)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped / shredded carrot
- 1/2 cup raspberries (or blueberries)
- 5 whole eggs (if you use a coffee grinder to grind the shells, you can add these too!)
- 2 apples, cored and diced
- 2-3 cups chicken stock
- 2-3 cups water
- Prepare your ingredients. Chop everything into small, bite sized pieces. If your meat is not precooked, take care of that first.
- Add carrots, eggs and chicken stock to a large pot over medium heat. Simmer until carrots are mostly cooked through. Stir to break the egg into small pieces.
- Add your vegetables, fruit, berried and cooked meat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer. Add some water if the mixture is looking a little dry.
- Continue simmering until the meat becomes tender and starts to fall apart. Remove the mixture from the pot and continue simmering any remaining liquid until it reduces and thickens a bit.
- Add the thickened liquid back into them mixture and stir.
Done! That’s all there is to it! Healthy, fast and easy, and it smells like you’re cooking a Christmas dinner so it’s an all around win.
You can do a few things with it once it’s done… First, make sure to let it cool completely before feeding. Otherwise you can refrigerate it for a couple days, portion and freeze it, or you can even pressure can it and keep it in the pantry until you’re ready to use. For me, with 3 big dogs, it doesn’t last long enough to make canning worthwhile but if I ever had a deer or other large game, I would be SSSOOO tempted to make a big stash of the stuff.
I am really looking forward to seeing improvements in the pups weight and overall health now that we are feeding fresh food. After all, we want them to live long healthy lives so it’s important to feed them like family!