A little over 4 years ago my husband and I were thinking about getting dogs. At this time we were also starting our food journey of real food, healthy eating, and making more of an effort to know what’s in our food. This got me thinking about dog food. I wondered, could you make dog food at home? What’s in dog food? and what I learned change my attitude about dog food forever.
It started with finding reputable breeders. To often people are breeding animals for profit and not looking after the care, health, nutrition, and genealogy of their dogs. We wanted to make sure we got dogs with the temperaments we were looking for as well as a good pedigree with no health issues. I had my heart set on a Brussels Griffon and after a little research my husband decided on a Wire Fox Terrier. We were lucky enough to find great breeders through the AKC website and they were both within driving distance.
Since working with a breeder means typically you go on a waiting list we started researching more about the breeds, temperament, care, and so on. Around that time is when I started googling around about dog food. What my husband and I decided was that we wanted to offer the best health we could to our little guys and were determined to do just that.
After doing a little googling I discovered a newish company in Newport Beach, CA called Just Food For Dogs. Not only do they sell everything you need to keep you dog happy and healthy but they make all their food and treats right there in the store. Well, It’s more of a kitchen than a store but everything is fresh and made daily. They have worked with a team of veterinarians to devolve all of their recipes. They have looked at what dogs need and then looked to real food for the answers. After they develop the list of ingredients they then round it out with a custom nutrient blend by recipe. They even offer 6 DIY recipes! What really shocked me was they give away the recipes.
At the time we were living in California so we did a road trip down to Newport Beach and stopped in the shop to talk to them and get more information. When we went in the owner was there and he proceeded to tell us all about why mass produced commercial dog food was so bad. Not only is it the scraps and remnants off floors of butcher houses but they often contain everything from “grade 4-D meats” which are meats from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals. It’s not uncommon for it to contain road kill. Its also not uncommon for it to contain mill floor sweepings and corn that contains high levels of pesticides. Simply put, the cheaper the food, the cheaper the ingredients, the worse the nutrition.
This lined up exactly with how we looked at food for ourselves. We talked it over. Looked at the pricing and decided that we would go the DIY route.
The recipe is pretty straight forward:
- 2 pounds 4 ounces of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh
- 1 pound 4 ounces of Boneless with Skin Chicken Thigh
- 5 ounces Chicken Liver
- 6 ounces Chicken Gizzard
We run all of this through a meat grinder. If you don’t have one you can dice it into small pieces by hand or if you have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer you can get a meat grinder attachment for it.
Then to that we add:
- 8 ounces of Spinach (shredded)
- 8 ounces of Granny Smith Apples (graded)
- 8 ounces of Carrot (Graded)
This is really easy to do multiple batches with a food processor. We then mix the fruit and veg with the meat. For the last four years we have been cooking it in a large 14″ skillet on the stove but recently we purchased the Breville Hot Wok Pro and found with it’s large capacity and ease to move everything around we managed to cook it much faster which means more of the nutrients were able to be retained in the ingredients!
While that’s going we cook up a batch of long grain white rice:
- 1 pound 8 ounces white rice
- 45 ⅜ ounces water
Set that to the PRESSURE/RICE setting and let it do it’s thing. Once that’s done we dump the rice and the meat in to an extra large bowl. (We found ours at a restaurant supply store.) Finally we add:
- 50 grams DIY Chicken Nutrient Blend (This is the only thing you have to buy from Just Food For Dogs, it runs $20 for 150 grams.)
We happen to have a dog with loose bowls so we also add:
- 30 grams Chia Seeds
Mix that all up together and it makes 10 pounds of food.
Depending on that type of dog you have will determine how much they need to eat at each meal. It is also recommended that a puppy eats 3 times a day and an adult dog eats twice a day. What’s really great is the most recent update to their website has a calorie calculator on it so you just fill in the information like breed, gender, activity, date of birth, and age range and then it will tell you how much to feed your dog.
For my little guy (the Griff) he eats 5 ounces of food twice a day and our wire fox eats 8 ½ ounces of food twice a day.
That means we go through a batch of food about every 6 days. To make this manageable we make 6 batches of food in one afternoon, once a month. My husband and I do it together. We then package it up into Arrow’s ½ gallon Stor-keeper and freeze them. Each cube lasts about 2-3 days and we keep it in the fridge. Each time we open a new tub we thaw the next one.
Then each morning and evening we scoop out the food into their dishes and warm it just slightly in the microwave. It may seem like a lot of work… and it is, but knowing what’s in my dogs food. Knowing it’s real ingredients and it’s food I would eat gives me peace of mind that I am doing what I can to ensure my dogs have long and healthy lives.
Sidenote: The total cost for our two dogs is $127 a month for food. This is factored with a higher quality chicken from “Amish Farms” which I can get for $1.80 a pound from my food co-op. (That includes my 10% membership bulk discount.)
If you’re wanting to know more about what’s going on with pet food I encourage you to read an article written in 2009 by The Huffington Post, titled: Looking for the Safest, Healthiest Pet Food? Good Luck with that. Warning it’s a very disturbing and infuriating read…