Thursday, June 5, 2008

Feeding the Dogs

I didn't quite get around to making those scones on the wood stove, mainly because there were already home cooked muffins, biscuits and slice waiting to be eaten. I thought the scones could wait. What we did cook on the stove top was two batches of home made dog food.

We have two dogs. One is elderly with arthritis and the other a very energetic 6 year old. They are both fed a home cooked diet. Actually we are in the transition phase from shop bought to home made. Currently the dogs get home made food at night and commercial dry dog food in the morning.

Why home made food? It was recommended the elderly dog, Bonnie, be fed a grain free diet as apparently the grains aggravate her arthritis. Our other dog is a Labrador and apparently grains can cause problems in Labradors. A commercial grain free product is pretty expensive so I got a homemade recipe from a vet.

The homemade food is easy to prepare, it just takes a bit of time. We cook a week's worth of meals at one time and measure individual serves into plastic storage containers and freeze the meals.

Home Made Dog Food
2 kg dog mince - try and vary the type of meat, don't use the same week after week and include some organ meat (liver, kidney etc)
1.5kg vegetables - grate the vegetables (I use the food processor) DO NOT use onion
1 tablespoon Vegemite - can be omitted but our dogs love the taste and it adds extra vitamins

Cook the above in a large pot. When the vegetables are soft and the meat lightly cooked spoon into individual serving containers. Our elderly dog gets 500g of this food each night and the more energetic dog 600g. Refrigerate food. I make double the above quantity for two dogs for one week.

Before serving add bonemeal or a calcium tablet, omega 3 oil tablet (optional but great for arthritis) and a dog multi vitamin tablet or powder. Follow the directions on the packet for the quantity of multivitamin.

Is it worth the effort?
Well the dogs love it. The food disappears at an astonishing rate. After about 6 weeks on this diet the elderly dog does seem to be moving better despite the cold weather. Its about the same cost as buying tinned food but with a lot less waste. Instead of throwing out a tin dog food can each night we simply wash and reuse our plastic containers.

Cost:
mince - currently I am paying $1.50/kg at the local butcher or $3.00/kg at Coles.
vegetables - I use any vegies at home that need to be used up - wrinkly apples, celery tops etc. Vegetables from the vegie garden even about to go to seed parsnips and carrots as they are fine when grated and cooked just discard the center if very woody. I pay no more than $2/kg for vegetables by buying what is in season.
Vitamins etc - I can't recall what I paid for these. Fish oil is cheap from a chemist when its on special, we pay $12 for 400 capsules containing 1000mg omega 3 each.

A week's worth of meals for one dog would cost approx $7.50 compared to $6.00 for commercial tinned food (special diet food is more expensive). Of course it is cheaper if the vegetables come from your own garden (about $5.50 per week).

The big advantage is a healthy diet for the dogs and very little waste compared to all those dog food tins.

We are intending to move from commercial dry food to home made but its one step at a time. A dog's diet should be changed slowly especially if they are elderly.

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