Hi. We’ve been making our own dog food for many years and I feel like it’s selfish not to share with others the way we make it economically. I realize the majority of people don’t have access to the same resources that we have but some people might benefit from this information and it really saves a lot of money while being very good for the dogs.
The #1 most important item we have to make this possible is our large pressure cooker. The reason it is so important is that when you pressure cook a chicken the bones become very soft and crumbly like chalk. You can literally take the leg bone of a pressure cooked chicken and pinch it into pieces between your thumb and forefinger. No splinters – and LOTS of calcium and other minerals. This only works with chicken. The bones of turkey, beef, pork etc. will not crumble this way. We have not tried it with fish and we do intend to, at some point. The pressure cooker is well worth the expense because keeping the bones really makes a chicken go a lot further and provides the dogs with a lot of nutrition.
We live on a farm and raise chickens for our friends and family and process them here. All we ask for, in exchange for the work we do raising the chickens, is the cost of feed and all of the “byproducts”, which we use in our homemade dog food. So basically we raise chickens and get paid with dog food. I’m not sure if our definition of “byproducts” is the same as the definition on the dog food bags but, if it is, “byproducts” are definitely not a bad thing. We keep all of the backs, necks, bones and organs (but not the stomach or intestines or feathers or heads/beaks). We would keep the feet because, believe it or not, there is a LOT of meat on feet and they are full of glucosamine etc. In many cultures, people eat the feet after the scales and toenails are removed. Unfortunately my husband is so grossed out by the appearance of the feet that he insists we throw them away and won’t even allow us to give them to the dogs.
I realize others don’t have access to the byproducts that we do but you can just use whole chickens and get the same results. When you cook a chicken for your family you wind up throwing over half of it away. Don’t throw away any part of your store-bought whole chicken, not the giblets or the skin or the necks or bones. If you want to keep the breasts for yourselves and give the rest of the chicken to the dogs you’re getting a very economical meal or two for yourself and the dogs.
So – just throw your whole chickens into your pressure cooker with some water and pressure cook them for 45 minutes to an hour. We think garlic is good for dogs and add a lot of it to the chicken but some people feel like garlic is bad for dogs because it comes from the same family as onions. As far as I know, no studies have been done. It depends on your altitude and what weight you use on the pressure cooker and it might take some trial and error – but cook them until the bones just crumble between your fingers. For us that’s 45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Keep the broth to add to the water you cook your grains in.
Next, cook up an equal amount of rice or oatmeal, wheat berries, amaranth – whatever grains you have cheap and easy access to. We’ll use anything except for corn meal because we don’t want to feed anything GMO to our dogs. Oatmeal and rice are very cheap. There’s some controversy over potatoes but a lot of people feel potatoes are fine to feed to dogs instead of or in addition to grains.
Next, an equal amount of veggies. There’s some controversy as to whether or not the dogs actually need the veggies but they’re a good filler, they’re cheap, and they’re probably good for the dogs. We use stuff from our garden and also go to GFS and get the huge cans of green beans, carrots, and peas.
Just mix everything together and package it up – 1/3 meat, 1/3 carbs and 1/3 veggies. We currently feed our dogs 50% homemade dog food and 50% kibble just to make sure they get a lot of variety, but kibble makes us nervous. You never know when your brand is going to be on the recall list. We’d switch to 100% homemade dog food but we’d have to have a lot more chicken that way and we don’t believe in buying meat. We don’t like to eat anything we haven’t raised ourselves so we know for sure there aren’t any hormones etc. and that the animals were raised and butchered humanely and with very good sanitation.
We also feed the dogs other things when they’re available. We raise milk goats and have access to a lot of fresh raw goat milk – we have been careful not to give the dogs too much goat milk because we don’t want them to get diarrhea but we’ve never had any bad results from giving them small amounts of the raw goat milk or goat yogurt. Goat milk is so much more digestible than cow milk, and if you make it into yogurt or kefir the lactose gets removed. Also, kombucha is very good for the dogs and prevents cancer. We make our own and it only costs about 30 cents per gallon to make.
We have always had large breed dogs – shepherds, shepherd mixes. They’ve lived 13-14 years so we must be feeding them right.
I find this to be an excellent guide, regarding a homemade diet for dogs
That homeopathic vet article is the worst guidance I’ve ever read. It recommends a 50% grain based diet with no clinical references. And his references have no clinical references in their book. This is an old post, but didn’t want anyone to follow that link without doing their own research.
I agree. I fell down the homeopathic rabbit hole a few years ago after losing a dog to a rare form of cancer. After a couple of emergency vet visits and other adverse reactions, I stopped listening to homeopathic vets/sites/forums.
I no longer recommend any homeopathic sites.
I recommend http://skeptvet.com/Blog/category/nutrition/
science base veterinary medicine.
Thanks for drawing attention to this.
You are right this just does not make any sense.
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