Today, I decided to take the plunge into DIY dog food. We got the books, we did the research, we talked to our (completely unhelpful) vet, and now we are making Cleo's food. Well, sort of.
Basically, dogs need vitamins A through K and basic minerals like potassium, magnesium and such, most of which will be covered by a well rounded diet (that is, feed the dog different stuff every day, not just chicken). The only thing that she will definitely not get enough of is calcium, and especially for puppies too much or too little is a big problem. Eggshells have tons of calcium, but must be ground in a coffee or spice grinder (not just crushed) to be edible and effective.
So, although I am pretty sure I know what I am doing, until I am 100% positive, I am mixing our home made food with store bought puppy kibble, about half and half. That way, I can be sure that the correct blend of vitamins, minerals and nutrients is getting to her.
My first dog food recipe, I will call Puppy Potato Salad. This is modified from the Tuna and Potato Dinner recipe from This Book. We didn't have tuna packed in oil, so I used some canned herring (which had been sitting in our pantry untouched for months, don't even remember why we bought it) instead, after much research into its healthfulness and a little taste test with Cleo.
First, I boiled some potatoes. Only one would end up in her meal, but if I am going to heat up that much water anyway, I might as well make potato salad tomorrow. Next I mashed the herring with the oil it was packed in (dogs, especially puppies need a high protein, high fat diet).
To the herring, I added some yogurt (dogs need good bacteria in their gut just like us), grated carrot and parsley for vitamins and fiber. A little olive oil for fat content, and finally I cut up the potato (about a half cup, chopped) and mixed it in.
The result looked really terrible, but Cleo loved it. Mixing the home made food with store kibble, it made about six servings. The ingredients were probably around $3, so that makes 50 cents a meal. Not quite as cheap as a pure kibble diet, but much healthier (I hope) in the long run.
Eventually, the goal is to feed Cleo mostly with the scraps of our kitchen, but plan our meals so that the scraps will be just what she needs. I figure we should spend some time preparing her meals pretty much separately, but at least trying to overlap the ingredients. Over time, ideally, most of our vegetable waste will be composted, and all of our meat and fatty scraps will go to Cleo. In other words, the long term goal is to make Cleo part of a more sustainable kitchen.