Have you always wanted to learn how to make dog food but thought it was too difficult?
During our RV days, we'd been feeding Comet mostly kibble, supplemented with
bones and veggie treats. However, after a switch to a type of Walmart kibble
someone recommended, we found that his coat had become rather dull and greasy and he was shedding a lot.
My conscience had been pricking me for some time to try a raw food diet with Comet. I decided to follow the one on this PetsTouch.com video for how to make dog food from scratch. Somehow seeing someone else mixing the ingredients was more helpful than reading about it!
The instructions are for making a week's supply of food for an 80-lb dog. Comet is just under 70 lbs so I figured I only needed to modify things slightly. Since we shop for groceries once a week, this seemed like a good recipe to start with.
The ingredients I used the first few weeks are as follows:
I did not use any goat cheese or milk.
I divided the patties we made into smaller ones (about 1/4 lb) for breakfast and larger ones (1/2 lb) for dinner.
As suggested, I gave Comet a daily capsule of flax seed oil (1000 mg),
mixed in with his breakfast patty. I also gave him about 3/4 of a Brazil
nut (if you don't have something to grind the nut up with you can chew
it yourself first then spit it out into your dog's bowl).
I tried to give him a marrow bone a few times a week, and some beef liver or beef heart about every third day, instead of a breakfast patty.
Much to my surprise, Comet took to eating the raw patties right away. After a few weeks, we saw a major improvement in his coat and the shedding decreased significantly.
His coat became almost silky soft and was shinier. This happened
despite the fact that neither the meats nor the vegetables were organic.
Best of all, he was pooping less frequently and the amount was a fraction of what he had been producing before - the inferior kibble we bought had had him depositing loose stools at least twice a day, which were a real challenge to clean up.
However, I was concerned about the fat content of the hamburger and decided to do one week of raw chicken and then one week of hamburger.
Chicken had become rather expensive, especially ground, and it was difficult to find any at Walmart, (where we were shopping for food at the time) that didn't have some kind of "solution" added to it.
So I started buying two whole "natural" chickens and
then would spend at least half an hour or more cutting it into parts,
cutting out some of the bones. Since we didn't have a food processor or
blender and didn't want to acquire one, the grating of the vegetables
took a lot of effort, and I kept overcooking or burning the yams!
I also ended up using individual zip-lock bags for each meal, since I had trouble getting the plastic wrap to work. This meant that my environmental conscience kicked in, so I started washing the plastic bags to reuse them - there went another half hour, at least.
In addition, I was having trouble finding marrow bones and organ meats. These were only available at two different stores, difficult to get to, with one of them in an unsavory neighborhood. So I started leaving more of the chicken bones in so he would be chewing on something. (Only the cooked bones are said to be dangerous).
I was also having to add the vegetables
separately, as well as the eggs and yogurt and getting confused about
which day to add what. The final straw in my experiment with how to make
dog food came when Comet started turning his nose up at the chicken.
Since Stan has always been fond of slipping Comet treats, I suggested he take over Comet's feeding for a while. So we went back to kibble (although a better brand which had worked with Comet before - we finally found a specialty pet food store that carried it), and Stan supplemented that with people food, often leftovers from dinner or little bits of grated salad.
Note: If I cooked food for us containing onions, I kept them on the
side so Comet could have an onion-free share.
(See Dangerous foods for dogs
for people foods to avoid feeding your dog). He was still getting the
flax seed oil and Brazil nuts as well as a raw egg three times a week. His overall health and coat appeared to suffer no ill effects.
Although this page might be more about the wrong way of going about how to make dog food, we do not mean to discourage anyone from trying it.
First of all, have the right tools handy - a food processor or
blender and perhaps wax paper rather than plastic wrap at a minimum.
Also, Dr. Andrew Jones, a vet we admire from Nelson, B.C., says even
feeding your dog a homemade dog food diet once a week is beneficial. Concerned about bacteria? See his Myths about Raw Food (scroll to near the bottom of the Canine Raw Diet page).
If nothing else, cooked food gives your dog variety. So if you are just starting out, perhaps aim at once or twice a week, or just feed the fresh foods in the mornings. Just be aware that, unlike Comet, some dogs have trouble switching, so you'll need to introduce new foods slowly...