One of the first things we had to come to terms with on arrival in New Zealand was the price of dog food. You can certainly get standard dry dog food, kibble, at the supermarkets and pet stores. What we didn’t like was the price. In the US we paid something like maybe $30USD for a 30 some odd pound bag of dog food that our dogs would eat (Maxi is a picky one) and that would last something like a month or two. Here, that same approximate size bag will run you closer to $100NZD if not $150NZD. So we looked for alternatives.
We started off with something common in all supermarkets–the dog roll. It’s …like a dog sausage. Both dogs were happy to eat this but soon enough Maxi had intestinal distress bad enough for an emergency vet trip. I guess those things are made with all kinds of cast off meat and are mostly fat. So no more dog rolls.
After looking around a bit I realized that offal meats (kidney, liver, heart) and other things that dogs would like (raw bones) are much easier to come by here than in the US. So we went with that.
After some experimenting I finally have a recipe that I have to make twice a week (limited by pot size really) and the dogs are happy and healthy eating. As potatoes are a staple food here and cheaper than anything else I could use to bulk out the food (not to mention not too bad for dogs, unlike corn, wheat etc) I started with those and gradually found things to add.
Here’s what I make on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This (along with chicken frames and chicken necks) feeds about 35kg of dog for half a week. One 32kg one and one 3kg one.
8 medium potatoes. I use enough that my 3L pot (a bit less than a gallon) is full but not so full that I can’t get the lid on.
2 cups frozen Celery, marrow, some kind of vegetable. It’s pretty important to use frozen or cooked veggies. I used carrots or silverbeet for a bit. Whatever is on sale really. The freezing breaks down the cellulose so the dogs can digest better. Dogs are even worse than people are digesting cellulose so freezing for at least 3 weeks or boiling is important or the veggies will go straight through the dogs. I buy a huge bunch of celery, chop it and stick it in the freezer. Then I add frozen celery directly later. Same with marrow (huge squash) or silverbeet. Carrots I just cook, though the dogs like them raw too.
1-2 cups organ meat. I’ve been using maybe 1.5-2 cups chicken hearts lately. This means I can be lazy and not chop things up but when I buy bigger chunks of liver or heart they need chopping. I find liver is good in 1-1.5 cup amounts, heart is good in any amount and kidney is best used sparingly. Yum, I know.
4 Tbs Brewers Yeast. I was worried about the dogs vitamins. I mean I guess they probably hire canine nutritionists at dog food companies. Adding Brewers Yeast makes me feel a little better.
Vinegar and Oil. I’ve been out of these lately but a bit of olive oil and a splash or two of vinegar goes well with this. Vinegar helps the food not go bad and the oil provides tasty plant fats. I’d consider these optional.
Egg shells or eggs. The egg shells are good for calcium. My dogs get bones every day so not so worried about that but I’d say no more than the shells of two eggs per this size recipe. I sometimes thow in up to 4 yolks as well.
So. Wash and slice the potatoes any old how into the pot. Add water into the pot to about half way and cover. Bring to a boil and turn the pot off (this will boil over in my size pot at least). I bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and leave the potatoes on the stove for the rest of the day or overnight. Drain the water and add the potatoes (which should be soft but not mush) to your storage container. Stir in organ meats and vegetables until reasonably well mixed then stir in Brewers Yeast. Add optional ingredients as desired and you are ready to serve.
Big dog gets 3-5 serving spoon fulls. This is maybe 1.5 cups max I think. He gets a chicken frame (a chicken carcass with breast, thighs, wings etc taken off. Yum) for breakfast with this and just potato mix for dinner. Little dog gets 2-3 small (no bigger than my finger) chicken necks for breakfast and 1-2 spoons (maybe 0.5 cup) potatoes and just potatoes for dinner.
Happy, not fat, reasonably healthy dogs. Lucky, lucky dogs.