Questions about cheap home-cooked meals, please

This is the place to share your best homemade dog food and treat recipes with each other! Remember to use caution if your pet has allergies and to make any diet changes gradually so that your dog's stomach can adjust to the new foods you are introducing.

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Destroyer of- Stuffed Animals
Barked: Mon Feb 25, '13 9:21pm PST 
I'm tired of feeding my dog low quality dog foods, but I'm unable to afford higher quality, so I'm very interested in trying home-cooked meals for her. I'm really lost though. I have no idea where to begin.

My questions are:
1.) How do I figure out how much to feed her? She's about 80 lb. but she's overweight and on a diet. She's supposed to weigh about 60 lb.
2.) Is this type of feeding (vs. dry food) really cheaper? I live with my mom, who pays all the bills, and she's not entirely convinced that we can afford to feed her this way. If we can afford to spend $500 on food for ourselves, I think we can afford to feed our dog good quality foods, too.

Any tips, reputable websites/books, or recipes would be really appreciated. Thank you

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Mon Feb 25, '13 11:34pm PST 
Read dogaware.com!

The site is very useful, loads of information on feeding dogs fresh food. Books and even links to some recipes are on there.

Estimate the feed needed by multiplying the ideal weight by 2%. A fifty pound dog would start at 16 ounces of raw meat/egg/fish/organ/dairy per day with veggies and such being extras and possibly substituting 30% of the meaty stuff with overcooked grains if you must. Or figure how many calories in the kibble fed and figure the calories in the homecooked diet and start with that. I hadn't a clue as to how many calories were in the kibble my dogs got and started with 20 calories per pound of dog. Sassy ended up burning through 25 calories per pound a day and Max only needs about 15 calories per pound per day. Nutritiondata.com uses USDA information and you can make up recipes so this is very easy to do. Once you learn it of course! I read that it works better in some browsers than others, it is a bit glitchy in Firefox but acceptable.

Any method of estimating the feed is just that. What you must do is put your hands on the dog and feed less if you cannot easily feel the bony bits and more if they are too prominent. Max is heavy if the skin on his neck is thick and thin if I can feel a dip between his hipbones for instance.

I would like to feed this sort of thing to Max if he had to eat cooked food.
12 ounces of meat/egg/fish/dairy to 4 ounces of pureed veggies is what it would come to and Max might eat 12 ounces a day.

Here is another one. It won't feed a 25 pound dog for a week, some sort of mistake there but it looks good to me. Formulated by Mary Straus of dogaware and Steve Brown.
http://nutrition.tripawds.com/2010/03/23/high-protien-low-fa t-dog-food-recipe-from-the-canine-ancestral-diet/
And another from a vet.

And you don't have to have the perfect plan in place to start out. Adding even a little fresh food is a good thing. See dogaware for the sort of thing to mix with kibble now. As you find good recipes you can use half and half until you get over the scary learning curve and decide to cook full time.

Raw food is cheaper and easier than cooked though. I feed 38 pound senior citizen Max 20 pounds a month for about $20-30.

Destroyer of- Stuffed Animals
Barked: Tue Feb 26, '13 9:26am PST 
Thanks very much for your help. I browsed around this section beforehand and bookmarked some similar posts about cooked food. It was mostly that I just didn't understand how much she should be getting.

I've thought a lot about a raw diet as well, because I've heard so many good things. Unfortunately, my mom isn't on board at all. Maybe she'd reconsider if she knew that it would cost as much as the dry food we give our dog every month. $20-30 is really inexpensive!

As of right now, more so because she's overweight, we've been cutting back on her dry food a little by replacing some of it with steamed broccoli. We don't give her too much, because she's got problems with sodium, but she seems to really enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods. I'm sure she'd do very well on a cooked or raw diet.

Again, thanks so much for the information. It can be a little intimidating, but you've given me a lot of good information.


What don't kill- me makes me- stronger
Barked: Wed Feb 27, '13 10:27am PST 
If you have a library card there is alot of good books out there on making your own dog food.The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for the Health and Happiness of Your Canine Companion is a god one.

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Wed Feb 27, '13 10:49am PST 
The ones my library had back when did not inspire confidence. They had cutesy names for the recipes and no information on what nutrition they provided. Dogaware has a list of books, you can write down the names to see if any are at the library or check google books. Many have part of the book online.

At the very least the recipes should mention calcium of some sort. If the recipe is more than 50% veggies, fruits and grains then it could be protein starving the dog. Pitcairn puts calcium in his 'healthy powder'. Bone meal and egg shell are often used.
Riversedge- of Chaos- "Erebus"

Barked: Wed Feb 27, '13 8:57pm PST 
First, where the heck do you live and what do you eat that you spend $500/month on people food for two warm bodies? 0.0 I'm a college student, granted, so I'm on the "what's on sale" diet and I never eat out, but I manage to eat on $100/month max. Usually more like $80. And I live in the city. Sans Top Ramen, too. (Hate the stuff. Crock Pots, however, are magic, my friend!)

Second, feeding raw/homecooked can be as expensive or as cheap as you make it, depending on how you prepare your meals and how you source your ingredients.

Hint: do not buy meat from the grocery store, if you can avoid it. Many people save money by buying meat in bulk, portioning it out, and freezing it in a chest freezer. If you have the space for a chest freezer, more power to ya. I, personally, live in a studio apartment, so that's not doable for me. I rarely use my regular freezer for people food, though, so I purchase meat in one month increments (40 lbs-ish) and it fits quite nicely in regular, old box freezer that I have.

I save money by buying meat from a farm. They sell me meat and bone scraps from the butchering process for $1.50/lb, and I am able to buy hormone-free meat for people food there, too! It saves me a lot of money to cut out the middle man, and since I don't live that far from rural/semi-rural areas, I don't have to travel far to get to the farm. I feed my Bernese Mountain Dog for about $60/month, which is the same price as a mid-grade processed food where I live. Before you get sticker shock, think about the actual quantities fed. A 35 lb bag of dog food, fed at 3 cups/day would last me about 3 weeks, which would mean that I would pay about $65 per month to feed my Berner a food that costs $50 a bag. There is more to pricing dog food than meets the eye!(My dog can't seem to process kibble, though, so raw/homecooked is all he can eat, anyway.)

Here is a good website that helps cut the mystery out of raw feeding. Don't listen to pet food propaganda; if you can be trusted with your diet, you can be trusted to feed a dog!


Jack - Cofounder of- Jackboy's Dog- Bakery
Barked: Fri Mar 1, '13 7:41am PST 
You are making a very good move. We've been feeding our dogs home-cooked meals for awhile now and they have been so much more healthier. On top of that, we are not worried about all the food recalls that are happening around us due to toxin corn and salmonella. Corn is not good for dogs anyway, just a bunch of fillers.

You have lots of books suggested to you and that's where we started. Just one very important thing I need to bring up. Keep a keen eye on your dog's overall condition because it's a tricky balance to make sure he has all the proper nutrition. An example is if your dog started to shed excessively. We add all natural supplements such as Nupro to make sure that is taken care of.

Destroyer of- Stuffed Animals
Barked: Fri Mar 1, '13 12:54pm PST 
Thanks everyone for the addition information. I've been talking it over with my mom, who is kind of warming up to the idea. She's on board for at least introducing a little more cooked food to Georgia's diet, just to see how it goes. I still don't think she's really into a raw diet though. Anything to get Georgia off all this kibble is good for me as this point though, whether raw or cooked.

Barked: Mon Mar 4, '13 11:32am PST 
Most dog food budgets go for around $1/lb - raw, cooked, or kibble. If you have to go under that, you're going to have to supplement with a lot of grains which is not of much nutritional value to your dog - mainly just something to keep his stomach full.

If you can afford $1/lb, then my suggestion is to go raw using a very simple 2-meat whole-prey method and feed the dog outside so your mom doesn't have to see him eat.

An example would be to buy the biggest chicken and biggest rabbit they sell at rodentpro.com (no, I'm not a salesperson for them. I buy rats for my snakes with them so I started buying their chickens and rabbits for my dogs too). Then give the WHOLE THING to your dog - that already has the proper meat-bone-organ ratio so you don't have to get anything else.

To feed, you have several options - let the dog do all the work - that is, all you do is defrost the chicken/rabbit and give it to your dog and let him have at it feathers/fur and all. Whatever he doesn't eat goes to the fridge for the next day. Feathers, of course, you get to sweep up because he'll scatter all that stuff all over the place. He'll probably eat all the rabbit fur. Your dog would be needing 1.5lbs of food a day if your targeting 60lbs weight - but you probably would want to go at 2lbs for now until he reaches 60lbs. If you want to do some work, you can optionally get a small prep-area outside so you can de-feather the chicken and skin the rabbit and chop it up into 2lb sections to put in an opaque tupperware container to put in your freezer (opaque so your mom doesn't have to see what's in it, lol!).

So they sell 5lb chickens for $3.50 there and 11lb rabbits for $11. So you can go for under $1/lb. So you can spend the extra money on fancy stuff like beef chunks.

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Mon Mar 4, '13 1:21pm PST 
Wow Bullie, I wish RodentPro was around here so I didn't have to pay shipping! Max gets a few whole prey items but they cost $2 a pound and I have to plan for good weather outside as it is much easier to clean up outside. That is a great plan for feeding, except for the feathers part.
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