Homemade Dog Food

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by ditch witch, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    I did a post on some DIY dog food a year or two ago, but am doing things a lot differently now and thought I'd put in an update. For those who never saw my original post, I have an elderly dog with a single tooth in her head who can only eat mush. Tired of buying expensive food I decided to start making it for her.

    My original mix, and I still use this for the small dogs with a slight variation on the storage, is this:
    2 pounds muscle meat
    2 cups organ meat
    2 scrambled eggs
    1/8c olive oil
    1c diced carrot
    1c diced apples or cranberries
    2c diced pumpkin or sweet potato
    10 oz kale or other greens
    1.5 tsp powdered eggshell
    1 tsp ground pumpkin seed
    1 tbsp grated ginger or Ceylon cinnamon
    15#@90 minutes pressure canner

    When I originally posted it, I think Toothless still had some back molars and was able to chew a little bit. Those days are behind her now, and I started running the cooked mix through a food processor to dang near a paste. Packing it in canning jars made a huge mess, plus there's all that processing time, cleaning the jars, etc. So, I started packing it into 1# wild game bags and freezing it. I picked up the bags, tape, and sealer from Butcher & Packer. 100 bags were just $6, WELL below what I'd seen anywhere else. The meat is roasted in the oven, veg and fruit steamed on a steamer. It's still a pain, but she only eats a quarter pound a day so a double batch gives me 10 pounds, enough for 40 days for her. I spent a few hours a couple weekends ago and made her up a 6 month supply for her using some butchered roosters and rabbit guts, so other than the bags it really cost me nothing besides my time.

    The results I saw with feeding my own mix were crazy good plus the cost was cut in half, so I wanted to do the same with the big dogs. But... they eat a LOT. The idea of bagging all that food, plus the freezer space it'd take up, ugh. Canning would be better but they'd need 2 quarts a day, and a pound of meat each if I was gonna keep them on a meat based, predator diet. It'd cost a fortune... tho still less than the expensive kibble they were currently on.

    Then it hit me. I was looking at it all wrong. One of my best jobs as a teenager was working for a high end pet supply store (that would later be bought out by a little company called Petco) and part of my job was knowing pet food inside and out, every brand, every ingredient in them, etc. I knew which company used human grade food and which one swept up a-holes, necks and feet off the floor, and I got quite the elitist attitude about feeding cats and dogs. However, the reality is that dogs lick their butts and eat cat poop and commercial dog food is a fairly modern invention. Mangy strays in Cancun eat roadkill and trash and still do fairly well, and anything I cooked up would be a million times better than Old Frikkin Roy. I just had to stop feeding them like they were people.

    I was deboning. I was removing the skins. I was taking a 10 pound bag of chicken quarters and turning it into 4 pounds. I was scrambling eggs and baking shells and pulverizing them. I was making a LOT more work for myself. I was an idiot. :D

    The pressure canner is running a batch of big dog jars now. The mix is as follows:
    Per quart jar
    2 drumsticks or 1 thigh/back, raw pack
    Jars with thigh/back get 2 whole eggs, shells washed but still on
    Pack all available space with pumpkin or carrot or sweet potato, OR, add 2 TBSP rice and 1/4 cup water
    If I have organs available, I add the equivalent of a couple tablespoons to the quart
    15#@ 1.5+ hours (1.5 hours is the minimum time listed for bone in chicken. I often let it run another 15-20 minutes, just to be on the safe side, since I raw pack cold)

    This is the batch that's in the canner now... that's a green pumpkin. I got smart after this batch and shoved the whole thing through the food processor to shred it rather than sit there and dice all day long.
    2 dogs totaling 175 pounds split 1 quart jar per meal, 2x daily. They get a multi vitamin a few times a week. They eat bones, skin, cartilage, eggshells and all. The pressure canner leaves the chicken bones and eggshells so soft they crumble under my thumb. The eggs basically hard-boil during the process. The dogs have never looked better. They've stopped farting and the arthritic one actually runs now. The amount of gelatin in the jars is crazy, and I toss a half a spoonful of it into Toothless's bowl to mix in with her food.

    I get 10# bags of chicken quarters for $5... on sale the other day for .47 a pound. .47 a pound is basically all I'm paying because everything else came out of our garden or the chicken house, and if we can score a few deer this year, I'll use that and drop that $$ cost to nothing. Even adding the multi-vitamins only adds about $5 a month since I got them in bulk and on sale, and now the only real time involved is the time I spend working on something else while the canner runs. At last I can afford to put up a good supply of dog food for the big boys.

    The one thing I gotta get is Tattler lids.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  2. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    Super-great post, ditch witch. I wish everyone would put their pets on real-food diets instead of feeding them that modified cow chow that comes out of the factories. You've proved it doesn't have to cost a lot or even take a lot of time to keep up with healthy appetites.

    One other thing I noticed: Those same recipes would be right fine eatin' fer peoples, too. Meat and veggies in a hearty sauce. Yum! Add dash of pepper and it would be Heaven on a Plate.
  3. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    That was one of the motivating factors on doing it this way. It's basically just chicken 'n potato or chicken 'n pumpkin stew, and it's stuff I'd eat. I don't really think the day will ever come when I fight the dogs for their food, but if it does I'd rather steal this than a bowl of crappy kibble. Plus, since I raise chickens and rabbits, it's something I could still do if one day there weren't dog food easily available. And the boys freaking love it. I gotta video the crazyfest that goes on when it's dinner time around here now. They never got excited over their kibble.

    I should add I also save the bones from the chicken I debone for us, and toss them into the freezer drawer I keep the frozen dog food in. There's also a bunch of chicken feet in there from our last rooster killin session, and I give the boys a bone or chicken foot a few times a week to have something hard to crunch on since their canned stuff is on the mushy side.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
    Joe13, Georgia_Boy, Kingfish and 5 others like this.
  4. pearlselby

    pearlselby Monkey++

    Wow this is amazing post. Thank you, ditch witch!!!
  5. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    @chelloveck I think I remember you asking about feeding cats on the old post, and I remembered they have specific needs involving taurine and ash but didn't remember the details. There's a pretty good article here about feeding raw to cats... and towards the end they bring up just feeding them whole mice, which goes back to my mouse-in-a-can joke. Interestingly it addresses that cats get addicted to commercial food because of the carbs and additives in it... same as humans.... and I remember a cat vet telling me once that the reason dogs liked to eat cat poop was because commercial cat food was very sweet compared to dog food, and it rendered their poop on the sugary side. Which explained why my dog thought the cat box was a Chinese buffet...

    What About Cats?
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  6. cschattner

    cschattner Monkey

    This is exactly what I need for next year so I can stop spending so much money on grain free dog food.
    Joe13, Kingfish, ditch witch and 3 others like this.
  7. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    I've been making soup from bones for a few days, bones in the slow cooker for 24 hours then skimming the liquid off, adding more and running for another 24 hours. Beef bones have been in for 3 runs, pork bones for 2. The bones crumble easily between my thumb and forefinger, so will be adding them and the meat that fell off them in the cooker to their food this week. Which is pretty cool because now I have 0 waste from making my soup. :)

    If the slow cooker can do that to the beef and pork bones then I'm positive they'll go soft in the pressure canner as well, although it may need an extra 20 minutes. Though I can't say I ever see bone in beef or pork on sale as cheap as my extra arsnic laced CAFO chicken quarters. :D And the company I get their multi-vitamins from is having a 2 for 1 Black Friday sale so I picked up another 2 bags, and am now set for almost a year on that score.
  8. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Nice post :) I plan on feeding mine blue gills. Ground fish meal. Im also learning how to make bone meal out of my deer, Chicken and rabbit bones.
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  9. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    I have a feeling bluegill is on their menu as soon as our 300 gallon fish tank thaws out this week. :/
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  10. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    This is so very important, more so than food preps when you think about it. I think all the time about how to feed the chickens and rabbits and my watch dogs if shtf. They are so important. My dogs bark when strangers approach. Ill be keeping them. Fish, geese legs and backs, turtle, squirrel backs, frogs, Lots of things I can make meat meal out of for the dogs but hell one medium Bluegill would be enough protein for one of my small dogs.
  11. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    I think I would also stock up on extra rice, Vets are always recommending that for dogs with upset tummy's.

    I currently feed 2 of my dogs some artsy farty oh la la mail order only food, 3/4 cup at night with 1-1/2 eggs scrambled, in the AM wife feeds them 1 cup of same kibble. The other protein problem dog gets her food from the Vet....

    I don't get to eat that well, do I have a problem with that... no dear!

  12. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    The sort of Holy Trinity of ingredients is equal parts meat, fiberous veg, and white rice. After that, it's just a matter of tweaking with additional ingredients. I stock rice for the dogs as if they're 1 additional human in the house. One of the main reasons for me wanting our aquaponics system was to have a steady supply of fish to use for dog food, in addition to the eggs, chicken n rabbit. And I'm looking for a very prolific long bean to grow next season just to use for their food. I can't grow rice, but pumpkins worked out great, so there's my trinity.

    I think a lot of people don't realize how much their dogs consume on a daily basis either. I see threads and articles about Top 10 Dogs For Preppers! and they're all pretty big dogs with big appetites, or I see someone talk about how they have 10 Ovcharkas or half a dozen Mastiffs and all I can think is, I hope you got a lot of food set aside because them's some big dogs to let get hungry. Once you start feeding them real food, chicken, fish, bones, etc, you quickly realize that hey, that's a whole nother person I'm feeding there. My four go through 70 pounds of meat a month right now, plus assorted veg and fruit. Fortunately that meat doesn't have to be expensive, and so far every hunter I know has eagerly agreed to let me have all the parts from their deer they don't want. By the time hunting season is over I'm hoping to have at least 6 months of food canned up and set back for the big boys for the cost of the canning jars, and if things went south I could cut those jars with rice and make it last them a whole lot longer.
    Joe13, chelloveck, oldawg and 2 others like this.
  13. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Again, great and very important post Have you tried pressure canning any deer bones? I want to make bone meal out of my deer bones. Every deer carcass has lots of meat scraps on them. I was just going to boil them in a huge pot until they got soft. then strain the broth to get the meat out and boil the rest down for good dog broth to pour over the food. I like the Idea of using the pressure cooker.
  14. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    Not yet but I'm sure it'll work. I know the chicken bones are soft after 90-100 minutes in the canner, and they crumbled after 24 hours in the crockpot. I never thought to check the pork or beef ones. They were crumbly by 48 hours though so worst case I figure another 20 minutes tacked on should do it for just about any bones.
    chelloveck, oldawg and Ganado like this.
  15. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Cool, Ill never toss another deer bone.
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  16. pearlselby

    pearlselby Monkey++

    Red seeded asparagus bean | Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co We grew these and they get very tall. 10 Foot vines.

    Yardlong Bean (Asparagus Bean, Snake Bean, Chinese Long Bean)
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  17. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    What setting do you have the crockpot on? Low, medium, or high?
    Joe13 likes this.
  18. jlutzcurtis

    jlutzcurtis Monkey

    Looks nice. Hopefully my dog will love this homemade food recipe.
  19. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    I was going to say run any homemade pet foods by a vet to make sure they are balanced. Some home pet food recipes are very poorly balanced. Dogs (and especially cats!) are NOT designed for an all veggie diet.
    Joe13 likes this.
  20. Leeuhhh

    Leeuhhh Monkey

    Great post. I go through one and a half big bags of dog food each week for my three dogs (two are large breeds). Even from the store, you can get organ meat and chicken or other meat for cheap on sale. I have also heard about home made dog foods being unbalanced, ill have to do some research. My dogs are my alarm system and protection in my cruddy neighborhood, and one of them (my shepherd mix) chased a raccoon out of my yard and away from the chickens the other evening, so i want to keep them happy!
    Joe13 and Yard Dart like this.
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