Commercial dog food is too expensive.
More accurately, quality commercial dog food is too expensive.
I have spent a good 15 minutes looking at the ingredient list on many, many commonly available dog foods, and found myself terribly disappointed. Most either list corn as the first ingredient, or have things like “chicken by-products”… what the heck is that, “by-product”?… as the first ingredient.
Now I gather that things like “chicken meal” are ok: it’s real meat, along with other parts that provide things like calcium viba ground bone, and it doesn’t contain a lot more water than protein (thereby providing a whole lot less protein than dogs need).
Then I discovered “Fresh Pet“, a line of truly all natural pet foods that claims to be “real” food. I bought a tube of dog food: nearly $12 for 6 1/2 pounds! But I figured I’d mix it with dry food of lower quality.
When I opened the tube, I found food both my eyes and my nose recognized as “real” food: the meat simply looked and smelled like pâté, and when I sliced into it, I could clearly see rice, carrots, sweet peas… I realized if I absolutely wanted to, I could eat this without adverse effect! Hurray for Fresh Pet.
But $12 for enough food to last my dog a day or two.. dang! I stretched it out to nearly two weeks (which is a no-no, if you keep it in the fridge, the food should be used up within a week, according to their directions), but I resolved to try making her food, only giving her commercial food to either save myself the trouble on busier weeks, or to give her something crunchier to eat.
So today, this is what I did. I choppped up some kale, carrots, and parsnips and cooked them in a little bit of water and chicken stock. I also cleaned up and baked chicken gizzards and hearts (those were mighty cheap at the store!). In a separate cast iron pan, I put in part of a beef steak I had bought just for this purpose. I wanted something easy to cook and tender… and relatively cheap! (From now on, I will try harder to pounce on good meat deals, no matter the cut). Finally, I cooked some medium grain rice on the stovetop.
So, if you’re paying attention, I have, in separate pots: beef, chicken organ meat, rice, and a vegetable medley.
Once everything was cooked, I let it cool down. When I was satisfied I could mix things up without burning my dog once I fed her, or dealing with excessive heat myself, I took two cooking spoonfuls of rice, two of veggies, one of the beef, and pulsed it in my processor in small batches with a little touch of water from the vegetables (my meat was a touch dry by now). The end result didn’t look pretty, but Daisy ate it like there was no tomorrow! I think we’ve got a winner!
Right now, I’m in the process of separating the various elements into freezer bags. That way I can quickly mix and match flavors; I have some chicken breasts I also plan on boiling in a little bit; that will be cooled and frozen in small batches for future use. I have a can or two of salmon somewhere as well. I’ll be able to create a varied diet: beef one day, chicken another, fish yet another, adjust the amount of grains (I can add oatmeal) and veggies or even fruit! I have cherries in the freezer too, it’s just a matter of pitting them. Once in a while, I can throw in some organ meat, too, for better red blood counts. The point is, I have a versatile basis.
Better still, tonight we’re eating beef (the chunk I separated from the doggie food bit) and rice and mixed veggies. This is feeding my dog “human” food done right.
Next time, I will try ground meat (usually among the cheapest cuts around) to keep things going.