My name is Max, and I make my own dog food.
I know. I sound like a crazed Dog-Mum with too much time on her hands, but believe me when I tell you that I'm not! I don’t let our dogs sleep on the bed. I don’t buy my dogs cute “outfits” (not even for Halloween), and I don't push them around in a Doggy Pram (although I think that would be hilarious as a prank for Mr Handsome). He would definitely think I’ve lost my marbles.
But I do make dog food at home. Hear me out. We have two Whippets: Zeus and Domino. We got them as puppies from a reliable breeder after a friend nearly lost a thumb to a rescue dog. Judge me if you must, but I'm OK with that decision.
We fed our Whippet puppies on a Vet-recommended, kibble-and-canned-food combo they liked for a while. Until they didn't. Maybe they got sick of the same food every day, or their appetites changed as they got older. The more likely scenario is that they developed a taste for people's food because we fed them table scraps instead of throwing them away. But, again, I'm OK with that, so judge away if you must!
We tried everything. We bought different types of canned and dry foods, but they hated it all and would let their dog food get dry and gross until we caved and gave them table scraps with their kibble again. It was a problem.
One day, I was researching dog food (I know, but I was desperate), and I came across a dog food brand developed by a Vet. Of course, they loved it, but it cost us over USD$160 a week (or USD$22 a day) to feed them, even when we mixed it with their store-bought kibble. I don’t spend that on my lunch!
Back to the Internet. I kept getting ads for fresh dog food, which was crazy expensive. But, when I looked closely, the ingredients weren't that special: Ground beef, ground turkey, brown rice, carrots, leafy greens, etc. That's when it hit me. I can make that!
I started with cheap minced beef + turkey from my local supermarket and whatever I had in the fridge: wilted kale and some baby spinach. Then, I added brown rice and a can of organic pumpkin from Thanksgiving. It smelled like real food (because it IS real food). THEY LOVED IT. Depending on the ingredients, it costs less than $2.50 per serving. Plus, I love using old veggies that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Over time, I’ve refined my recipes depending on what’s in season/on sale/leftover, so they get a little variety, and I don't have to feel guilty about throwing out old blueberries or Swiss Chard. Win-Win!
IMPORTANT: Some foods are big no-nos for dogs. Don’t be tempted to give them that leftover Eggplant Parmesan.
This is my basic recipe, but feel free to use whatever veggies or carbs you have handy. I keep a 50/50 ratio of meat to veggies/carbs but adjust depending on your dog's digestive system. Go slowly, at first, to see how they tolerate it. Then, I recommend mixing it with their regular food until their stomachs adjust.
- 3lbs Minced Beef
- 3lbs MInced Turkey
- 4 lbs. Potatoes (any kind: Russet, Yukon, Sweet, or even Purple Potatoes or a mix of all above! If you‘re not using potatoes, you can substitute four 4 cups of brown or white rice)
- 4 cups of mixed veggies. I use whatever is around, but some ideas are cabbage, spinach, swiss chard, kale, carrots, Brussels sprouts, etc. No onions! No tomatoes!
- 3 cans of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just 100% pumpkin)
- Sometimes, I throw in fruit like pulpy apples, squishy blueberries, or over-ripe bananas. NO grapes!
- If I’m using rice, I throw it into a rice cooker. If you don’t have one, get one! It makes everything easier.
- If you're using potatoes, throw them into a pot to boil
- Onto the veggies: You can cut them by hand, but a Food Processor makes this step much easier! The good ones are pricey, but I've had mine for ten years and use it almost daily. Pulse your veggies (and potatoes) into small pieces. Do NOT over-process them. You want it to have a little bit of texture.
- Mix the processed veggies, meat, and rice/potatoes together in a large mixing bowl, keeping in mind the ratio of approximately 50% veggies + starch to 50% meat. Use all the meat fat!
- Pour Pumpkin puree over each batch until it looks moist but not "wet."
- Now, fill portions (I do double portions) into a freezer and microwave-friendly, airtight food storage. BTW: I'm using up old poly bags I have lying around, but when they are done, I'm switching back to these.
- BTW: I use freezer labels to identify them from our Human food!
- Store in the freezer. When ready to use them, defrost + heat them in the microwave.
- REMEMBER: This food is nutrient-dense and far richer than store bought dog food, so you don't need to feed them as much. I give my dogs a half portion each and mix it with a scoop of store-bought kibble.