"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homegrown Puppy Chow

One of the things that we have been striving to be more self-reliant in is the ability to feed our pet's food that we can obtain or produce ourselves. After consulting with a fellow blogger whom I trust goes to great lengths to care for her own dogs and doing a lot of reading on the subject of canine nutrition we have come up with our first homemade dog food recipe. Having realized that a dogs natural diet could consist of a wide variety of different foods we started offering small samples to our puppy, Rowdy, early on so that he would develop a taste for them, and boy did he ever. He loves to eat everything we have given him...fruits, veggies, nuts, chicken poop (his idea not ours), etc...

In the wild, a wolf, coyote, or dingo's diet consists of more than just meat. Being opportunistic in nature their diet, while based on various types of meat, can also include some fruits, berries, grass, vegetables, and other plants. I've read that coyotes are even known to raid farmers melon patches upon occasion. So we came up with a cooked puppy food that is approximately 50% meat and eggs and 50% plant based. This is of course subject to change depending upon how well the dog does on this diet and any new information I might obtain.

Here is a fascinating video of wolves supposedly eating raspberries. Although they look more like rose hips to me.

Our first batch consisted of a couple pounds of good quality lean ground beef, eggs, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, peas, plain tomato sauce, berries, apples, chicory root, parsley, celery, and steel cut oats to bind it all together. All of these vegetables, and the steel cut oats, are supposed to be easily digestible for dogs unlike some of the cheap corn and soy based "filler" ingredients, full of chemical additives, that make up the bulk of some pet foods...or so I've been reading in Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide To Natural Health For Dogs & Cats and various other sources. For the record, while a very interesting book, I don't necessarily agree with everything in Dr. Pitcairn's book.

Anyway, this mix will last him about 25 days (keeping in mind that this is a small puppy...for a while) and is served as an addition to his constant supply of dry dog food and the occasional serving of kefir or milk, extra eggs, raw fresh veggies, fruit, berries, and any voles or mice he might catch. We measured out the daily portions and froze them for ease of use.

Grandfather tested and puppy approved homemade dog food right out of the garden.:)

He absolutely loves his new food, it was so good I even had a bite. If I have to start eating dog food in my old age this will be my brand of choice, not very tasty but pretty darn healthy.:) We will probably add a little more protein in the form of beef, fish, broth, legumes, and eggs as he continues to grow. Other possibilities include the addition of spinach (?), garlic, eggshell powder, broccoli, squash, rice, flax, and kale to the mix. He goes nuts over our kale for some reason, he was with me while I was picking it one day, probably thought I was grazing on it, and has been stealing it from under the row covers ever since. Now if I could just figure out how to make a high protein healthful dry dog food, and then there's those hopelessly lazy and finicky cats to deal with.

So far Rowdy is a very healthy, happy, and energetic puppy who loves to take walks in the wetlands. Beside harassing our cats his favorite pastimes include catching goose feathers that are floating down stream, hunting for voles, and quality time with the chickens...more on that later.


It's me ...Mavis said...

Hello... that "dog" food looks pretty darn good! And... I like the sounds of the birds in the video...

Roasted Garlicious said...

Mavis, i too was loving those birds... Mr. H loved the video!! thats one lucky puppy!! as for the dog food, looked pretty good... i make dog biscuits but not dog food... i include nutritional yeast, yogurt, molasses and a few other 'goodies', i passed them out to all my doggy friends, at christmas and they were a hit...as for the wolves, yes that did look more like rosehips... in the wild, food is food if your hungry!!

Anonymous said...

You puppy is eating more veggies that I do... This is good diet for anyone, no wonder he likes it.

Heiko said...

I love it, home grown dog food! Well done that man! We'll be doggy parents for a couple of weeks from next week too. Looking after a wee mut of some friends.

Ayak said...

It all looks very nutritious. You mention introducing spinach amongst other things. Mr dog Beki loves spinach..she also loves vine leaves (cooked) and mixed with her food.

Just one thing to be prepared for. In my experience, puppies will eat absolutely everything put in front of them, but as they get older they start to reject certain things. I never give in to this straight away, not wishing to encourage them to be fussy eaters. But eventually it becomes clear that they dislike certain things and become a bit more selective.

Mermaid said...

I've always been told that potatoes are bad for dogs. It sounds like you did your research, though, so I bet it is healthy.

granny said...

You never cease to amaze me Mr H !!
Rowdy is one lucky puppy dog :0)

Wanda said...

Looks like a perfectly good stew to me. Your garden and life is very impressive!

Silke said...

Well, this is an interesting post as I've been thinking of starting to make Winslow's food. Right now, we feed both Winslow and Ramses really high-quality, organic dry food with occasional raw meat mixed in. They are both doing great, but I think I'd like for Winslow to eat more fresh food in general.

Our first dog, Moe, was crazy about fruit. We never had any fruit to pick that was in Moe-hight (and since he was part Great Dane, he could reach quite high). He especially loved peaches, raspberries (he'd pick them with his front teeth) and strawberries!

When we had more than one cat, I used to make their cat food and freeze it using a recipe from The Natural Cat book. They liked it quite well...

Well, you've inspired me! :) Silke

P.S. Loved that video. First time we let Winslow of his leash when he was a wee puppy, we were walking next to a swampy moat (at Fort Pulaski). He took one look at us and leapt into the stinking water. The car ride home was quite cold with all the windows open...he stunk to high heaven!

Mr. H. said...

Mavis - In the summer, when all the birds have arrived, in the early mornings it is really loud out there.

The dog loves the food but I'm hoping that I have had my first and last bite...until I get really old anyway.

Roasted Garlicious - To the left and right of that little outlet stream there is some swampy land full of cattails...red and yellow winged blackbirds everywhere. The tree along the creek often has some sort of bird of prey hanging about in it eating voles and rabbits.

We have been meaning to make some dog biscuits as well, it is next on our puppy to-do list.

Vrtlarcia - I hope it is a good diet for him...time will tell. He is usually so worn out from hanging around us that I think he would eat anything though.:)

Heiko - You had better be careful or there might be a hiking dog/puppy in your future as well.:) I hope you have a great time baby sitting.

Ayak - I can almost guarantee that Rowdy is going to be so exhausted from hanging around us that he will be happy to eat anything. He even puts himself to bed at night when he has had enough of us and has slept straight through until morning since the day we got him...I am happy about that.

From what I have read spinach is OK but only in small amounts as it contains oxalic acid that might interfere with calcium absorption...of course they say the same thing about humans eating to much spinach and Swiss chard as well so who knows? We eat tons of the stuff and appear to have very strong bones.

Mermaid - Cooked potatoes are actually fairly easily digested by most dogs and a good source of protein and carbohydrates.

You are partially right though as raw potatoes are possibly bad for dogs and most store bought potatoes are so heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals that I would be leery of eating them myself...cooked or not. Because your average pet is much smaller than a human these chemicals tend to have a harsher affect them...or so they say.

Granny - He is a very spoiled puppy too. I'll just be glad when he is done teething and realizes that my fingers are not chew toys.:)

Wanda - Thanks, it actually would not be too bad at all if we added a few spices to it. It is pretty neat that the dog, chickens, and us can eat pretty much the same foods.

Silke - Part of the reason for our homemade puppy chow is that we decided to feed him a supposedly good quality dry dog food, Natura EVO. It is very/horribly expensive so we are hoping that he will not eat to much of it and fill up on our brand of food instead.

Thanks for sharing that Moe was a fruitarian.:) Seriously, it does make you realize that they do eat quite a varied diet. Was your homemade cat food based on meat?

I think you are right Winslow and Rowdy would get along quite well as long as they had swamps and dirt to play in.

Silke said...

Our homemade cat food was based on raw chicken that was pureed with all kinds of stuff - including grain and veggies and things like brewers yeast. Hmmm, I might try that again - although Ramses is a finicky eater! I know what you mean about good dry dog food being expensive! :) Silke

P.S. Winslow has never cared for fruit, even though we tried getting him used to it as a puppy. Don't know why!

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Brings back old memories. I hand mixed our Lab's food (although raw) for years since Lab's are highly allergic and he couldn't eat one more bag off the shelf. He lived his last years on kefir. In fact when he died last March I stopped making kefir because I couldn't bare not having him to share it with. Sniff. We know we were able to enjoy the last 3 months of borrowed time with him because of what I fed him. He is so greatly missed.

He loved to hang out in the garden with me and begged for raw carrots. If he ever saw me picking ANYTHING he would snitch it esp blueberries!

Accidental Huswife said...

Lucky Rowdy! I've been feeding my dogs a raw diet -- you know, the one with the hilarious acronym BARF. But as they are getting older, they seem to have trouble chewing and digesting so much meat. My friend swears by the Pitcairn diet. I think I will get that book. BTW, Texas A&M did a study of the contents of feral dogs stomachs for something like 30 counties and found food a lot like the stuff you're cooking -- veggies, berries, roots. And meat too, of course.

LynnS said...

Gosh, Mike, that video was such a treat. Rowdy is so adorable. I loved watching him tug away at some undergrowth in the creek. The best was at the end of the video when he hauled-butt! So Border Collie! YOU WILL HAVE YOUR HANDS FULL, MY FRIEND! :-) :-)

It's wonderful that you are making your own dog food. We know it's so much better than the store brands!

I also refer to the Pitcairn book and have followed several of the recipes there. We stopped buying the "name brand" dog foods years ago. Our 5 year old Golden began vomiting after about 2 years of age. After a few trips to the vet, one vet and I thought that it might be dietary. At the time, we were using a good quality store brand which had corn as the main "filler" cereal. Well, the vet told me to take corn out of the dog's diet and try rice with lamb meat. The dog immediately improved so we knew those foods would worked very well. Once removed corn from his daily food, we can give him small portions, just no dried corn. We feed him bits of fresh corn and even corn on the cob (yes, they both really DO eat it on the cob and it's so funny). Other meats are chicken, pork, and beef. They also like organ meats, too.

Our Goldens get table scraps and sometimes I make them a special "meal" with bits of this-n-that we have leftover. They love the variety plus it lets them feel that they're part of the pack here. lol

I make doggie biscuits too. Always thought of getting my husband to make me a cut-out shaped like a bone but never have. Wouldn't that be funny?!

Woof woof! I've eaten dog food too, but I cook the meat and it's basically people-food plus supplements. Normally I don't eat bone meal or Lecithin. lol

We learned just last year that grapes have toxins that dogs cannot process. Do you know about that? We've fed our dogs grapes and they love them. Never noticed they got sick, so I'm not sure it's a myth or the truth.

Stefaneener said...

He's pretty dang cute.
I love the idea of homemade food, and we'll have to do a cost analysis.

Mr. H. said...


Thanks, I might have to try something similar with our cats.

Mr. H. said...


It sounds like he was a wonderful dog. I know how you feel as we still think and talk about one of our previous dogs quite often and miss him greatly. I'm glad to hear about the kefir in the sense that Rowdy likes it so much and after what you shared we are now more assured that it is good for him.

Mr. H. said...

Accidental Huswife,

We picked the book up at the library the other day and found it very informative. It is definitely worth reading and full of recipe ideas for ones pet. Interesting information on the Texas A&M study, thanks for sharing that.

Mr. H. said...


I'm glad that you liked the video. Here is the best part - It was so important to Micki that we not get a dog that jumps in the water all the time and gets all muddy and wet...hee hee. Originally I was trying to talk her into a labrador but she would have no part of it. So now I have to tease her a bit as Rowdy loves to romp around in the water.

I'm so happy to hear that everyone has read an approves of this book as I had never heard of it before and found it to be an excellent reference for what we hoped to feed Rowdy. I will have to try the fresh corn out on Rowdy...at least I hope that I have that opportunity this summer, always got my fingers crossed when it comes to growing corn.

I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one who eats dog food. I tried to get Micki to take a bite but she refused...more for Rowdy and I.:) I did not know about the grapes but will keep it in mind. Thanks for the info.

I did find this about grapes and think perhaps I will keep him away from them just to be safe -

Grape and raisin poisonings in Dogs

Recently, there was a letter in the AVMA Journal from Dr. Gwaltney-Brant and others at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center discussing grape and raisin poisoning in dogs. Apparently, grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs when ingested in large quantities.

The grapes and raisins came from varied sources, including being eaten off the vine directly. The dogs exhibited gastrointestinal signs including vomiting and diarrhea and then signs of kidney failure with an onset of severe kidney signs starting about 24 hours after ingestion of the grapes or raisins. The amount of grapes eaten varied between 9oz. and 2 lbs., which worked out to be between 0.41 and 1.1 oz/kg of body weight. Two dogs died directly from the toxicity, three were euthanized due to poor response to treatment and five dogs lived. Due to the severity of the signs and the potential for death, the veterinarians at the poison control center advocate aggressive treatment for any dogs suggested of ingesting excessive amounts of grapes or raisins, including inducing vomiting, stomach lavage (stomach pumping) and administration of activated charcoal, followed by intravenous fluid therapy for at least 48 hours or as indicated based on the results of blood tests for kidney damage.

I have fed my dogs a few grapes every now and then for years, so I don't think there is a need to panic if a dog eats three or four grapes but if the whole bunch is missing from the table one day, it would be good to think about watching for any signs of a toxic reaction.

Michael Richards, DVM

Mr. H. said...


It will be much cheaper for us as we grow all of the veggies and only have to buy the meat. We figure that our cost comes to about 10-20 cents a day based purely on the price of the meat we have to buy. This does not include the additional dry dog food that he will also have available but hopefully eat less of...so far so good.

kitsapFG said...

The video alone was worth the stop in to your blog today. Something magical about a cool morning in a wetland. Sound of birds, misty conditions, and the sound of water lapping against objects. Very soothing. Even Rowdy seemed meditative - at least up until the last little burst!

The dog food concoction sounds like ti will be quite nutritious. I may need to resort to making homemade cat food at some point. My cat Sid was very very ill when he came to us and as a result of that prolonged illness he eventually had almost all of his teeth come out (he has about two left in his head). He must live on canned cat food as result because he cannot chew up hard or even chunky canned food. We spoil him rotten and he is in good shape despite that challenge... but he does get tired of his food choices. Mixing it up with a little homemade might be nice for him.

Mr. H. said...


All of these noises are so very new to him he does tend to just sit there and listen. The poor thing was so very afraid of geese flying overhead at first but appears to have have finally adapted to them and all of the other goings on in this strange new world that he is now a part of.

One of our cats, a stray, is much the same as she has bad teeth and a hard time eating. We might have to have them pulled as well.

Sunny said...

What a cute pup...looks like he is eating quite well :)

Mrs. Mac said...

May I dine on some of that puppy chow! It looks way more healthy and appetizing than the selection we've had the past week!

Mr. H. said...


Thanks, I think he eats better than we do.:)

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

It's hard to eat healthy, and affordably, while traveling that's for sure. The last trip I made was to the Oregon coast where I dined at a popular seafood establishment and promptly got sick for almost two days...that's twice that this has happened to me while eating out. I certainly would have been better off with a nice bowl of doggy stew.

Silke said...

Well, Mr. H., I just made a batch of dog food with all kinds of yummy ingredients like you had displayed. Daniel thought it was dinner...and it smells good enough that I just could be! I think Winslow will be thrilled! See what an inspiration you are?!? :) Silke

P.S. Winslow is very grateful to Rowdy...

Mr. H. said...


That is great, I hope he really likes it. "Daniel thought it was dinner"...LOL

Rowdy has been eating this for almost two weeks now and still loves it so I guess we did OK. I might do as you suggested and make up something for the cats as well.

Silke said...

Ok, Winslow is NOT convinced... I am surprised, but he is so picky!! Do you season yours with something? I wonder if it's too bland for him.

Mr. H. said...

We did add a tad of salt to the mixture when cooking it up but that is it. I have noticed that Rowdy prefers to eat it warm. He gobbles it up if warm and does not if it is cold.

Robbyn said...

love the video...Rowdy is so cute! We make some of our own dog food, too, but the dry kibble we still buy at the store. Kaleb loves treats of apple slices and whatever fruit or grains we have in the kitchen at the time...and loves berries :)

Mr. H. said...


That's great that Kaleb eats such things. I will have to test the raw apple slices out on Rowdy and see what he thinks. He does like frozen cranberries.:)

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Wow, Mike this got really long...I'm guessing it was a great topic. We all love our dogs!

I was "blessed" with The Beautiful Blogger Award and I'm passing it on to you guys! (I'm sorry, I have to!) I'll be posting it on Tuesday if you want to come and claim it!

Have a great weekend...what's left.

Mr. H. said...

Thanks Diane.:)

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog!

Excellent and informative post! I am getting a new puppy soon and am considering going with natural food that we grow ourselves.

Mr. H. said...


Thanks for stopping by.:) I think you will feel much better about feeding your new puppy homemade and homegrown ingredients. our little guy seems to be thriving and we don't have to wonder what is in his food as we make it ourselves.

Amara said...

I think homemade dog food is a great idea. Higher quality and it sounds like you're doing some serious reading on canine nutrition. Just wanted to caution against garlic and other alliums. Ive read it can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs (and cats to a greater extent) when sufficient amounts of garlic or onions are eaten. How much I'm not sure... but something to keep in mind.

Mr. H. said...

Hello Amara,

Thanks for the information. We don't use any onions but have been adding a bit of garlic. Perhaps I should do a little more research on it. Thanks for stopping by.

meemsnyc said...

That's great that you make your own dog food!! Healthier too for them. In the photo it looks cooked. I've read that you can give dogs rare meats too.

Related Posts with Thumbnails