The question I am most asked is what I feed my dogs. The answer is both simple and complex. They eat dog food. But about 80-90% of the dog food they eat is cooked by me. Not because I spoil my dogs and have nothing better to do, but because good quality dog food is hard to find and expensive, and I like to know exactly what my dogs are eating. I, myself, try to avoid boxed/packaged/processed foods as much as possible. Why wouldn't I want that for my dogs?
And the other 10-20%? They free choice feed on some high quality kibble. This way they can supplement their caloric needs on days when they have been more active.
So how does one make dog food anyway?
I buy what is in season (tends to be cheaper and fresher), what looks good in the store, and what is priced well. I try to buy good quality ingredients. As such, the food does vary somewhat from batch to batch. The dogs do not react to this variation in any way. Feel free to vary ingredients depending on what is available in your area or what you have in your freezer/fridge/pantry. It helps to be friends with your butcher to get good meat variation at great prices. The key is to stick to the proportions of Meat, Vegetables and Grains.
Ingredients: Meat (approx 40% total by volume)
Pork (including: shoulder, hocks, chops, leg)
Beef (roast, stew, shank, tendons)
Chicken (stewing hen from farmer's market)
Turkey (legs, wings)
Veal (breasts, chops)
Other as available (venison, moose, bear, lamb, etc)
Wash meat and add to boiling water, skin, bones and all. Cook until falling off the bone. Lately we have been puttng the pot into the oven and letting it cook slowly overnight. The beef tendons should be very soft and signifcantly smaller. Take meat out of pot and chop when cool enough to handle. Strain and save liquid. Discard all bones as cook bones are brittle, often break into shards, and can cut up your dog's digestive system. Add cut up meat back into pot.
Ingredients: Vegetables (approx 35% total by volume)
Chinese Long Green Beans
Any other veggies in season (avoid: onions, eggplant, peppers, tomato, citrus, corn, soy)
Fresh or Frozen Parsley
Process all veggies in food processor, until chopped. Most veggies can be shredded in your food processor. Shred cabbage first, add back to meat and simmer until well cooked (while you process the rest of the veggies). Add water as needed. Add some salt, though it should be very underseasoned by human standards. After cabbage is cooked, add the rest of the veggies and bring to a boil. Simmer with veggies for 5-10 minutes.
Ingredients: Grains (25% total)
Roasted Buckwheat (10-15% total)
Make sure there is enough water in your pot to completely cook the grains and that the pot is boiling. Add grains to pot and bring to a boil agin. Add garlic and parsley. Stir and cover and let sit in a 250oF oven for 30-40 minutes, or until grains are cooked.
Cool completely before giving to your dog.
We make huge batches of this food and freeze in portions. Defrost and serve.