How to Find Inexpensive Ingredients to Make a Cheap, Homemade, Raw Dog Food Diet

Updated on January 8, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Dogs that eat raw food are healthy. The food is NOT expensive.
Dogs that eat raw food are healthy. The food is NOT expensive. | Source

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?

Chicken feet are an inexpensive and easily consumable source of calcium.
Chicken feet are an inexpensive and easily consumable source of calcium. | Source

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.

Dogs love fresh coconut; in fact, they will even fight over the husk.
Dogs love fresh coconut; in fact, they will even fight over the husk. | Source

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:

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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.


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    • profile image

      Eric 2 weeks ago

      Great info thanks

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      They are probably beef bones and just too hard for a dog that size. My smaller dogs just chew off the cartilage, or eat the marrow if the bone is sawed in half.

      It is vital that the dog eat the bones, which is why chicken necks are so good. If you cannot get them in your area, look for chickens that have the meat removed (like they sell for making chicken soup). If nothing else, you can purchase large bags of chicken wings on sell at Walmart.

      It is not easy for us to switch, and I realize this is not for everyone, but the dogs really do benefit if you are willing to take the time.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      I give my Min Pin marrow bones once or twice a week. Being a small dog, he eats the marrow and just chews ON the bone for a while. Like others raised on the dog food mentality it is hard to switch to total raw.

      What would you recommend for my Min Pin?

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Sorry mary615 but even if your dog needs to be on a limited protein source diet (like only lamb, only chicken, etc) that does not mean she needs to be on a commercial dog food that you purchase through a vet. Read the ingredients--they are not what Baby needs to stay healthy. Look up all of those ingredients, and see what harm they are doing her. If she is allergic to some food sources, all it means is that those ingredients do not need to go into her food.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I is so hard to know what to feed our dogs! my Schnauzer is allergic to "people food". I can only give her a prescription diet from the Vet to keep her from scratching herself. Good informative Hub!

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      I'd rather wrestle Ajej for the coconut husk! On second thought, though, just maybe, with enough salt, maybe some fish oil, and if you microwave them for 2 minutes...............

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Oh, come on Bob, you mean your mom never made up a nice chicken foot soup when you were a kid? That picture does not make your mouth water????

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Eeeeewwww :)