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Green Dog Diaries: Homemade, Organic Food that's Far Cheaper than Storebought

I've been postponing trying out the homemade dog food thing for YEARS. Seriously, over a decade ago a woman I knew mentioned how she made her Newfoundlands' food for them and was immediately intrigued by the concept of homemade dog food...and was totally intimidated by what I thought I'd have to buy in order to feed my dog at the time, my precious Rottie, to keep her healthy. Imagining massive amounts of meat, little did I know at the time that dogs are OMNIVORES, not Carnivores.

"It is true that dogs belong to the order Carnivora, but they are actually omnivores. The canine body has the ability to transform certain amino acids, the building blocks or protein, into others, meaning that dogs can get all the amino acids they need while avoiding meat." ~

Basically, as research has shown, dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores. Dogs for a zillion years have been scavengers of meat, meaning they don't need it to survive, but have taken advantage of it as an available food source when it comes their way. So as long as you provide them a good alternate source of protein, you're good.

Originally I'd moved Charley over to a vegetarian kibble diet as I mentioned on a recent post. However, with the popularity of it and the greed that's driving many pet food manufacturers to charge an arm and a leg, when I last went into the pet food store (same prices as buying online, and if you're curious, I'd rather stab myself in the eye with a fork than shop those greenwashing, unionbusting, tax-evading, small-business-ransacking scumbags also known as Amazon) and they wanted $80 for a bag of non-organic vegetarian kibble? I knew I had to call bullshit on that and find a better way.

I looked at a LOT of homemade dog food recipes online, and noticed the similarities - diverse ingredients, good protein and fiber, and of course nutritional value. I ultimately came up with a hybridized version of several that offers a lot of veggie variety and nutritional value AND taste - and takes advantage of the bulk aisle in many ways...saving a TON of money.

Here's the recipe which makes about 4 1/2 quarts:

  • 4 cups organic lentils, cooked in 12 cups of water (boil then simmer, covered, 30-40 min til cooked) - BULK AISLE $7.00

  • 1/2 large bag of frozen organic peas/carrots - $5.00

  • 1 large organic sweet potato, cooked (nuke it 5-7 min) - $2.00

  • Large handful organic dark leafy greens from the garden (kale, collards, chard, etc) - FREE

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast - BULK AISLE $0.20

  • 2 tbsp organic flax seed - BULK AISLE $0.15

  • 2 tbsp organic chia seed - BULK AISLE $0.15

  • 1 organic pastured egg, laid by our ducks - FREE

  • 1 clove organic garlic - $0.20

Mix the cooked lentils with the rest of the ingredients, then pour into glass jars and pop into the fridge.

That's $14.70 for 18 cups. As we feed our 85 lb Labrador mix 2 cups of food per day (1 in the AM, one in the PM), this lasts 9 days. Doing the calculations, that's $50 per month - a $30/mo savings, plus the awesome benefits of no strange filler ingredients, no non-recyclable packaging, and zero pesticides he (nor the farmworkers who harvest the crops) ingests. And unlike the kibble? He literally comes back to the bowl licking it later, hoping there might be more magically appearing...

Some notes...

  • Scraps & Leftovers: We are not a completely vegetarian household, so when we have the occasional fish or meat scraps (our boy does adore salmon skin...), he does get those. And when I make oat milk, he gets the leftovers (so much so the sound of the blender gets him running into the kitchen LOL... ).

  • Garlic is NOT toxic for dogs, and in fact is really good for flea protection as it literally changes the taste of their blood and repels those little buggers. I've fed all my dogs a clove of garlic a day (mixed in with their food) to keep the itchies away, as did my mom to our little dogs when I was growing up.

  • Treats? Yes. Storebought? Hell no. Chop up some apple or carrot. I've never had a dog that doesn't like carrots. My Rottie used to pull them out of the raised beds. Our Mastiff ate anything and everything. Our Pittie took 'em from me and ran with them into the living room to enjoy. And our Lab loves the crunch factor as well.

  • Serving sizes: The amount manufacturers recommend on the packaging is utter garbage, and for typical housepets, often results in overweight animals if followed. Why? It's totally unregulated. Tufts University reports that "calculations of dogs’ and cats’ calorie requirements were made from animals that were much more active than most of our house pets.  In fact, while feeding directions are required on all pet food labels, there are no requirements on how these directions are determined." They went on to compare a huge variety of pet foods and some recommended as much as 60% MORE than their dog would need. Large dogs don't metabolize as quickly as small dogs, and with that, as a medium- to large-dog owner, I've always limited them to no more than 2 cups per day. Watch your pet's weight, knowing what they should be at, and adjust from there. And remember, not all begging equals hunger, some are just emotional eaters, particularly former shelter dogs like a few of ours have been (and will inhale everything in one sitting - and every other dogs' as well - if allowed, because they remember not knowing when they'd eat next).

RIP Lucky Dog, our pitbull rescue-turned-farm dog


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