How to Find Inexpensive Ingredients to Make a Cheap, Homemade, Raw Dog Food Diet
Do You Feed Your Dog a Cheap Commercial Diet?
I know a lot of us are forced to buy what is cheapest.
Ol Roy, the dry dog food brand sold in Walmart, is the best selling dog food in the US. It is not the best for your dog, so why is it so popular? It is cheap. Really, really, cheap. A 50 pound bag is about $20.
But do you want to force a food like this upon your dog? It is made up mostly of ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with BHA (suspected of causing cancer), and corn gluten meal. Many of the people who buy this food know it is not good for their dogs, but blame the high costs of better foods for their continued purchases. Some web sites claim that feeding a raw diet will cost several hundred US dollars a month. Ol Roy customers agree and use those numbers to justify buying another bag.
They also know that the cheap dog foods include a lot of fillers that pass through your dog without even being digested. (Anyone who has cleaned up after a dog knows what I am talking about.) So if you could feed your dog something just as good and just as cheaply, but not as convenient, would you make the extra effort? Is your dog worth an extra few minutes each day?
Why Is Raw Food so Expensive?
The main problem I see with raw food is that, since it is so much better, the companies that are selling it are charging a huge premium, and those dogs that really need it are still fed Ol Roy and other supermarket brands. Bravo!, a meat packing company that also sells raw dog food, charges anywhere from $2 to $4 for packaged meat that is supposed to be nutritionally complete.
A big dog will end up eating several hundred dollars per month with a prepackaged raw food.
Are they worth all the extra money? Not in my opinion. Commercial raw foods are not as good as the cheap raw diet you can make up at home. The meat has the bones ground into it, but since they are fine pieces they do not have the same physical or mental effect that chewing on a bone has.
You can do things yourself cheaper and better, and all it takes is a few minutes of your time.
Can I Make up a Cheap, Raw Diet for My Dog?
Raw Ingredients You Can Purchase Cheaply
- Chicken feet, chicken necks, chicken backs, chicken carcasses that have had the breasts removed for human food, and chicken “giblets”. If you do not have any poultry slaughterhouses in your area, some grocery stores also sell inexpensive human-grade chicken quarters in large quantities; I prefer to purchase the other alternatives.
- Beef face meat, beef tracheas, and esophagus, beef lungs, beef heart, beef kidneys, beef pancreas.
- Pork intestines, pork neck, pig heads (sawn in half).
- Eggs, plain raw yogurt, beef trimmings (beef fat).
- Anything that you might have available locally: lamb necks, lamb tails, whole fish, deer, rabbit farms, etc. I have seen some recommendations to use road kill, but here in the tropics, this is not an option I would ever want to use. Frugal can only go so far.
- You can also use vegetable peelings (blended to a consistency similar to rumen contents), extra vegetables from your garden, free bruised fruit and vegetables from your supermarket, and table scraps (you do need to be familiar with things your dog should not eat).
I cannot state exact prices since they will vary according to where you live. No matter where you are, however, a raw diet can be purchased for a lot less than the commercial diets will cost you.
Going Beyond AAFCO Standards
Will the “budget” raw food you make up to feed your dog at home be certified by the guys in white coats? No, it won´t, but your dogs won´t mind. AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) have standards that have nothing to do with the quality of food that goes into your dog. Feathers and leather are fine ingredients and will meet AAFCO standards as long as a few vitamins and minerals are thrown in.
That list of your dog´s AAFCO-approved bag of food is also what went into it, not necessarily what is present at the moment. Any pet food that is cooked to a temperature exceeding 290 degrees Fahrenheit will have some important vitamins destroyed.
Do you really think dogs have been sitting around waiting for an AAFCO-approved diet for the last several thousand years? Does that sound like something that meets “all your dog´s needs”?
You can easily put together a diet that will satisfy all the needs of your dog. The only ingredient I would always recommend adding (if you can purchase it in your area) is fish oil. My dogs also get plenty of antioxidants through eating locally grown tropical fruit (like coconut). If you are not adding fresh fruit to your mixture, think about this too.
Best Raw Dog Food Ingredient
The best ingredient when you make up raw dog food is:
Why Preparing Raw Dog Food Is Worth the Effort
There are a lot of advantages to feeding a dog a natural diet, but when I first looked into it, one of the first things I had to focus on was cost. I live frugally, and always try to live “green”, and I decided early on that a raw dog food sold in plastic packs or medallions was neither affordable nor appropriate to my lifestyle.
I do not have a huge freezer, like some of the forums claim you will need to make raw feeding affordable. It just requires some effort. If most of the options I listed are not available to you, try calling your local zoo and ask the keeper there for other ideas in your area. There are good cheap food ingredients available everywhere.
Your dog does not need to eat human quality ingredients, and you do not need to depend on some company to make up his feed for you. In most places, a raw diet can be put together for a lot less than about $1 a day. Don´t you think your dog is worth $1 a day?
No company is going to do this for you; natural raw dog food is not commercial.
Switch your dog to what is right, but do it yourself.
It is worth the effort.
Questions & Answers
We have adopted a 150 pound English Mastiff who has been on a raw diet for last three years. It is very expensive: 2 chicken breasts + 1 pound ground beef per day (in 2 feedings). He also gets legumes. Help! This is expensive. He has allergies & this was recommended by a holistic vet (and a previous owner). How can I feed him for way less than $3/day??
A dog that is that large is going to cost a lot to feed, whether it be real or commercial food. (Check the prices on the premium foods that are prescribed for allergies next time you are at a pet superstore.) You do not need to feed your dog chicken breasts and ground beef though. Look into some alternatives discussed in this article (chicken feet, chicken necks, chicken wings, beef trachea, etc.), feed him vegetable peelings, and put together a diet that is less expensive.
How do I know that I'm feeding my dog a nutritionally balanced diet? I can't just throw some meat, bones, veggies and fruit into his bowl, can I? How do I know which proportions of each to feed?
There are numerous sources out there to help you feed a dog a balanced diet. This article supplies a list of the inexpensive ingredients you can add to his diet instead of purchasing one of the commercially prepared raw diets.
If you still have not started with this diet, you can read one of the books from Dr. Ian Billingsworth, a veterinarian from Australia, or purchase the book "Raw Dog Food" from Carina McDonald and follow her guidelines.
If you want to read more on the internet before purchasing a book, there are several sources. Just type your question into a search engine. You can also see an article I wrote at http://hubpages.com/dogs/paleo-diet-dog.
I always start puppies out very early, as soon as the mother starts weaning, and have had great results.
How do you know what amount your dog needs to eat per day?
You can estimate how much you need to feed based on your dog's weight, but the amount you give depends on what you are feeding so you can only tell for sure over time. If you feed chicken necks, for example, they have a lot of fat, so a dog does not need to eat much. A chicken foot has little fat, so your dog needs to eat more.
I am seeing conflicting information about avocados and fat for my dog's diet. High-fat ketogenic diets are healthy for omnivores, so the fat thing makes no sense to me and I would think it is a good filler. Avocados are great for humans, but I'm reading good and bad about them for dogs. What are your thoughts?
Yes, I have also seen stupid comments where the writer claimed that avocados were toxic for dogs. That is incorrect. They are fine and, if your dog likes them, avocados make a great supplement for a raw diet.