I know that I've been totally lagging in posting my DIY posts....and really blogging in general. I thought I'd do the dogfood making post all on it's own so that those of you who either don't have a dog or are not the slightest bit interested in making dogfood, could just skip this post all together. I will only be talking about dogfood in this post, so here is your ticket to just stop reading now if that isn't of interest to you. My next DIY will be about dishwasher detergent, rinse aid, and maybe a few other things thrown in there.
I first got the idea in the back of my head to possibly make my own dogfood a couple months ago when my sister told me that she read that the average life span of a dog is something like 12 years, but dogs fed a completely organic diet had an average life span of 30 years. Wow. Now, while I have done no research whatsoever to try to find out how accurate these statistics actually are, it still got something going in the back of my head. That information from my sister just kinda sat in marinated in my brain for a while until I finally sat down and did some reading about the possiblity of making my own dogfood. First off, I want to make this clear: We love our dogs. They are great pets. They are great with the kids. They help me feel safe when Josh is working nights, yada, yada, yada. But they are just that: dogs. We don't treat our dogs like they our other children or anything like that. I'm not bashing folks who do treat their dogs like that, but we already have 6 young kids, so our dogs are our pets, not our other children. So don't start thinking that just because I now make our dog's dogfood, that they must be spoiled dogs that go around sportting diamond studded collars, ride in doggie carseats, and receive royal treatment...because they don't have/do/receive any of these things.
Now that we've got that out of the way, I'll get back to the dogfood business. So, when I started thinking about how much healthier REAL food must be for dogs, it got me to wondering about the cost effectiveness and effort required to do it. After doing some research and reading I decided to give it a shot. Much to my shock an amazement, it was MUCH easier than I anticipated.
Dogs are primarily carnivors. Dogs are meant to eat a diet composed mainly of raw meat. Domesticated dogs haven't eaten raw meat for so long that they have mostly lost the digestive enzymes to properly digest raw meat, therefore, all meat fed to them should be fully cooked. My dogfood is about 40% meat, 30% grain, 30% veggies. I don't measure these percentages, I just eyeball it. I pretty much make sure it looks like I am serving the dogs equal parts of all three, and then I just add a little more meat. It isn't a science.
I have made my dog food for three weeks now. Every batch I make has lasted right at a week. We have 3 dogs(one small, one large, and one medium sized puppy that will probably be med-slightly largish when full grown). I make all three parts of my food at once and it takes less than an hour.
I use 5lb ground meat
2 cups brown rice(that is 2 cups dry, so it comes out to more than 2 cups when it is cooked)
carrots or potatoes(I make an amount that looks like the same amount of rice. For the carrots that is about 3lbs for the potatoes I just eyeball it. When I am doing carrots I steam them until they are tender, for the potatoes I bake them in the oven until tender and then cut them up, skins and all.)
For the gound meat I either use 73/27 ground beef or gound turkey. I do not drain the fat, I just cook it, let it cool, stir in the grains and veggies, and refrigerate.
You will have to adjust the amount of food you cook based on the size of your dogs. This batch lasts all three of my dogs a week. I am using half dry dogfood and half homemade dogfood. I did this in the beginning to help their digestive systems switch over to the new food. They never seemed to have trouble digesting the new food. In fact, the LOVE it. All three scarf it down in mere minutes and then lick the bowl. I usually put the dry food and homemade food in the bowl and then sprinkle it with some brewer's yeast and diatomaceous earth(2 tsp for the two bigger dogs and 1/2 tsp for the little dog). A couple of times a week I crack an egg in to the two bigger dog's food and then grind up the shell and stir it in. Every other day or so I sprinkle a little wheat germ on their food. I also drizzle a little olive oil on their food about once a week, as a treat. When we steam broccoli for supper, I save the stem and grate in into the dogs food the next morning. I also throw in some spinach stems when I add spinach to our eggs. The only things I know of that you should NOT put in your dog's food is chocolate, onions, grapes, and garlic. Dogs also don't usually digest dairy very well, so stay away from adding that to your dogs food.
In less than two weeks I noticed a BIG difference in how all three of my dogs looked. Our little dog, who was a super skinny very picky eater has filled out to a healthy weight and looks the best she has ever looked. Our part australian shepherd puppy that was a stray found on the side of the road by a friend, has filled out to a healthy weight and her coat looks great. She has shed her unhealthy hair and her new hair is so much softer and shinier. She also had an skin irritation in her armpit that cleared up when we started the new food. Our biggest dog is also our newest dog. She was a dog that we agreed to foster until her owners found a home for her. She turned out to be great with the kids, great with our other dogs, and a great watchdog when Josh works nights. She also became best friends with our puppy, and provided a great outlit for all that puppy energy. We fell in love with her and decided to keep her. She had been well taken care of by her previous owners, so she came to us in great shape. She was used to being fed the "good" dogfood, while our dogs were used to eating Old Roy. I have seen the least amount of changes in her, which is a testament that the good dogfood is really much better than the cheap stuff. That being said, I have seen changes in her, just not to the extent of our other two dogs. Her coat is shinier, her eyes brighter, and she just has a healthy glow to her.
Cost efficiency: Making my own dogfood probably comes out to the same price as buying one of the more expensive brands of dogfood at Wal-Mart, but cheaper than, say, Science Diet from the vet. I plan on continuing to feed them 1/2 dry food and 1/2 homemade food. The reason for this is so that if I am ever not able to feed them the homemade food(emergency, illness, HURRICANE EVACUATION, etc) if won't make them sick to have to just eat they dry food.
Gotta run for tonight, but hopefully I'll get a chance to post my other DIY things I've been experimenting with soon!