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Sustainable Dog Food

 
Erin Dee
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Location: Williamston, Michigan
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One of the common blind spots for sustainability comes in the form of pet foods. I recently found a new company, and it looks to me like they do a great job: Earthborn (http://www.earthbornholisticpetfood.com/us/)

This post talks about some of their benefits, along with other information about healthy pet foods in general: http://homesteadhost.com/sustainable-pet-food/

What foods have you guys run across that are sustainable? Do you make your own homemade dog/cat/pet foods?
 
Olanga Jay
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I will never believe in any commercial pet food again, once I learn about the legal aspect of this:

From the article:
"Most of grocery store dog food formulas, contain "meat and bone meal" which has been known to contain dead dogs and cats that were euthanized in animal shelters. Their bodies are picked up and bought by the truck load by "rendering plants" , that also pick up road kill, dead live stock, and etc. They are shredded, and boiled. They skim off the fat on the top of the "soup" and collected it and sell it to pet food companies as "animal fat", the rest of the animals' remains are crushed up, dried and sold to dog and cat food companies as meat and bone meal" : http://earthislandprojects.org/eijournal/fall97/fe_fall97petfood.html

From the article:
"Because of persistent rumors that rendered by-products contain dead dogs and cats, the FDA conducted a study looking for pentobarbital, the most common euthanasia drug, in pet foods. They found it. Ingredients that were most commonly associated with the presence of pentobarbital were meat-and-bone-meal and animal fat. However, they also used very sensitive tests to look for canine and feline DNA, which were not found. Industry insiders admit that rendered pets and roadkill were used in pet food some years ago. Although there are still no laws or regulations against it, the practice is uncommon today, and pet food companies universally deny that their products contain any such materials. However, so-called “4D” animals (dead, dying, diseased, disabled) were only recently banned for human consumption and are still legitimate ingredients for pet food" : http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359

Now I myself cook food for my dogs and cats.
 
Cj Sloane
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I have made dog food but mostly still feed kibble.

The best thing would be to have them eat what you eat. I have 4 dogs so that's not possible (just not enough leftovers). I do like to give them eggs with kibble (I've heard cooking them makes more protein available). They also get all the scraps from whatever butchering goes on (a fair amount). They barely ate any kibble for a month after we had 2 pigs and a cow slaughtered on farm.
 
Chris Fox
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As a kid we used to make our own dog food. Whatever we had lying around. Every time we butchered a cow we would make a big batch. Cheap cuts, heart, kidneys, leftover vegetables, cut small then cooked with brown rice, oats, millet. Throw in eggs. Let cool then store in the freezer. That would last a month or two.
 
Olanga Jay
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I have 5 large dogs and five cats. I cook for them a lot of grains and legumes that contain lots of protein and add the butcher's leftovers meat (it more for the smell), and what remains from our table. Give them as well fruits and vegetables, vegetable oils and fats. Do you know how much fat the butchers just throw away! I melt the fat and one gallon is enough for a long time. Sometimes I buy chicken thighs on sale... We keep chickens primarily because they clean our place from ticks, so we have a surplus of eggs, which we feed to our pets... They now shine with health. And it turns out not more expensive than the cheapest commercial food and the quality does not even compare.
 
Julie Helms
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Olanga Jay wrote:

From the article:
"Because of persistent rumors that rendered by-products contain dead dogs and cats, the FDA conducted a study looking for pentobarbital, the most common euthanasia drug, in pet foods. They found it. Ingredients that were most commonly associated with the presence of pentobarbital were meat-and-bone-meal and animal fat. However, they also used very sensitive tests to look for canine and feline DNA, which were not found. Industry insiders admit that rendered pets and roadkill were used in pet food some years ago. Although there are still no laws or regulations against it, the practice is uncommon today, and pet food companies universally deny that their products contain any such materials. However, so-called “4D” animals (dead, dying, diseased, disabled) were only recently banned for human consumption and are still legitimate ingredients for pet food" : http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359

Now I myself cook food for my dogs and cats.


I worked at an animal shelter from 1988-1991 as manager and cruelty agent. One of my jobs was euthanizing cats and dogs (about 3,000/year). The drugs used were sodium pentobarbital, ketamine and acepromazine. The bodies were picked up weekly by a rendering company. After the animals were rendered the solids went for pet food (meat by-products and bone meal) and the fat went for cosmetics. My last year there, we had a crematorium installed and ended the rendering contract.

 
Leila Rich
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When I had a cat and a dog, I used to make their food. Well, the dog's anyway; the cat was carnivorous and picky, so 'making' their food basically involved cutting up meat.
The dog would scoff anything and was especially fond of things that would poison her. I had 500g of very flash chocolate for baking and somehow the dog got into it. Luckily she puked it up all over the house, or it would've been curtains. Anyway, I digress :
I used to combine in a roasting dish, cover and bake, various combos of: brown rice, split peas (or any dhal/lentil), garlic, chopped veges that needed using, etc.
When cooked, I'd get it outside fast: it smells a bit...stir in whatever meat I had, usually heart and other cheap random bits. If I was feeling loaded I'd add flaxseed oil.
Mix it all up, pack in icecream containers and freeze.
 
Fred Morgan
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Our dog gets raw butchering scraps, whey from making cheese and papaya and other tasty treats like that. He does great. He gets some bones as well. I don't cook his meat, I don't really understand why it would be necessary... he sure doesn't seem to care.

Oh, he loves fried plantains when he can get them...

We have one dog so he does just fine on our scraps.
 
Chris Fox
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I've always heard about chocolate and onions. Are there any other foods not to feed to dog/cats?
 
Julie Helms
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Chris Fox wrote:I've always heard about chocolate and onions. Are there any other foods not to feed to dog/cats?


Grapes/raisins
 
Erin Dee
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Location: Williamston, Michigan
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Wow, I'm so impressed with everyone's dedication to making homemade dog food! You are truly inspirations.

In addition to the other Not Good for Dogs items, add garlic and cooked bones (most folks know about the bones, of course,) macadamia nuts, avocado, and excessively salty items. Whole stone fruits are a danger due to the pits, so remove those first.
 
Kahty Chen
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When I cooked store bought organic chickens, I'd give my dog the bones that had softened by boiling to make stock (only bones that were soft enough to crush between my fingers). My homegrown chickens, however, have such incredibly strong bones that I can't even use them at all.

Here's a list of foods that works for us, I've had it for awhile, don't recall where it came from, maybe a raw food site like BARF:

Good Veggies' & Fruits to Feed:
Romaine (COS) Lettuce - High nutritional value
Tomatoes (avoid the leaves and stems)
Apples (not the seeds)
Jicama (remove skin)
Bell Peppers (Capsicum) - red, green and yellow
Bananas, Bok Choy, Oranges, Alfalpha Sprouts, Beets, Kale, Cilantro, Mustard Greens, Dandelions, Zucchini, Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus, Parsnip, Turnips, Sprouts, green beans, zucchini, squash, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, brussel sprouts, apple

Limited:
Carrots - These are high in sugars so be careful
Celery - Not much nutritional value but is a good diuretic.
Parsley- high in oxalic acid
Fresh Pumpkin (not the canned pie filling) -
bananas
olive oil

Caution Veggies' & Fruits (Foods you can feed but with cautions)
Garlic
Grapes / raisins-
Eggplant - OK to feed the fruit but avoid any other parts.
Avocados (& leaves) - The fruit part is OK to feed in small amounts.
Spinach, Swiss Chard, and Rhubarb - OK in small amounts.
Cabbage/Broccoli/Cauliflower - OK to feed in small amounts but may cause gas. If fed frequently and in large amounts these will depress the thyroid.
Potatoes -
Cautions: If your dog is diabetic or has arthritis and has/had cancer then you may want to stay away from underground veggies because they convert to starch/sugar which aggravates arthritis. Cancer cells also thrive on sugars.

Bad Veggies' & Fruits (Foods to be avoided all together)
Onions
mushrooms
Chocolate
Pits of most fruits (apples, apricots, kiwi, pears, Avocados, peaches etc.) -
Cornstalk
coffee / tea
Alcoholic drinks (and hops)
yeast dough
salt
macadamia nuts - can lead to paralysis or weakness
tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
Potato Leaves and Stems (green Parts)
rhubarb leaves

 
Chris Fox
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Yea we never did it for admirable reasons. We did it because we were poor : )
 
                
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After getting more and more expensive dog foods to treat a very allergic dog I finally started cooking for my dog. Typically I was cooking up chicken and rice and throwing in some veggies. When I was discussing this with two friends that both grew up out of the US (but on two different continents) they both mentioned that they always just fed their dogs raw meat from the freezer and table scraps. So, after some research I finally made the jump to raw, specifically the "raw meaty bones" diets or "whole prey model". I was not expecting the level of success this has been. Not only has his food allergies cleared up but so have his frequent ear infections and he no longer gets a systemic reaction to flea bites. His energy is better and I would even say he seems smarter. And of course he has sparkling clean teeth and a GORGEOUS silky coat.

I don't follow the diet to the letter and our dog gets fruit, veggie and grain table scraps. Sometimes he will get kefir or some cheese too.

We raise our own rabbits and guinea pigs, mostly for the dog but we eat some rabbit. I hope to start raising the little japanese quail soon too. It's nice to know that we aren't bringing in factory farmed meat for him and next to nothing gets wasted. We supplement what we produce with meat we find on sale and eggs.
 
Mateo Chester
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Any other raw dog food type websites/forums like BARF that you folks might recommend? Any other recipe's with ratio's of ingredients, cooking methods etc. ? And to the folks that have upwards of 4 to 5 dogs, if you are not producing the food for your animals, what do you reckon this costs on a weekly/monthly basis if you want to use properly/organically/sustainably raised animals/grown food ? Thanks
 
Renate Howard
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When my cocker spaniel was 12 she started having some health problems. I read about the BARF diet and wanted to try it but she wouldn't eat raw food. We compromised and I got chicken leg quarters from the store for $1/lb on sale. I added in sweet potatoes, squash, or some other orange veggie or sometimes greens and cooked it in the slow cooker until it was mush, then removed the bones and froze the majority of it, thawing it as needed. It was far cheaper than IAMS, which we were feeding her, her dandruff went away, and she wound up living to a ripe old age. Both of our dogs lost their excess weight so they were lean and very healthy looking.

I think if you aren't feeding raw bones you need to slow cook the bones with the meat then remove them - a good bit of the calcium and other minerals dissolves out of the bones into the broth that way. Dogs have a high need for those.

When we butchered a goat who had gone paralyzed, we found that the organs and bones were around half the full weight. So if you are butchering your own animals it's likely you could get a lot of the meat for a small number of dogs for free.
 
lyla moore
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Is anyone else raising guinea pigs and/or rabbits for their dogs? Do you feed whole or process? My beagle loves rabbit he occassionally catches on his own.
 
Elia Neal
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lyla moore wrote:Is anyone else raising guinea pigs and/or rabbits for their dogs? Do you feed whole or process? My beagle loves rabbit he occassionally catches on his own.


I have thought about raising rabbits, as it would be nice to disconnect from the WalMart (or Aldi) chicken quarters; but have wondered if it would be worth it, or if it would just feel like One-More-Thing-to-Do. When my dogs catch a rabbit, I just split it between them... no further processing. They are large dogs, and the bunny halves disappear with no fuss -- fur, bones and all.

I know this is an older thread, but if anyone wants to chime in here on the raising of rabbits... or maybe that should be a new thread of its own.
 
Debra Lyndley
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When we re-homed our northern innuit 18 months ago she was very skinny & had constant stomach upsets. We tried every dried mix / tinned combo we could find without success, then a neighbour suggested barf (raw food & bones). What a difference its made! happy healthy dog, no more stomach upsets.
I asked our local community abbatoir if they would be willing to sell me 'pet trimmings' - butchery scraps, unwanted offal etc that they mix up & mince for us, & as many bones as she will eat. The pet trimmings are cheap (less than tinned dog food) & bones are free.
We are lucky to live on an island that produces free-range, grass & hill fed beef & lamb - there are no intensive livestock farms here - so we can be confident of the quality of the food she eats & that no factory farmed animals are included. The abbatoir are delighted - they make a little extra money & it reduces their costs because everything she eats would otherwise go to landfill, & its expensive for them to send their meat waste to landfill, so its a great solution for us all. Word has spread & they have quite a lot of doggy customers now.
I do lightly cook the 'mince ' for her, but that's only because she spreads it around & its easier than having blood smeared everywhere. I also often catch our cats pinching food from her bowl when they think she's not looking so it must taste ok to them too.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Meat. We have a pack of livestock guardian herding dogs. Much of their food is vermin and the occasional foolish predator that violates their boundaries. The dogs eat most of the dead stock as well. When you have livestock you have dead stock as a percentage. They also eat scraps from the weekly slaughter which is also a major part of their diet. We do have commercial dog food but that only makes up a small portion of their diet. They say it is boring but they eat it if hungry enough. It is one of the things they call "not meat" with an extra negative. See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/2006/02/19/feeding-big-dogs/
 
Cj Sloane
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Anyone make food for a lactating bitch? This dog has had some strange food behaviors since I got her in July from an egg producer who had her chained up because she was stealing eggs. When I give her kibble, she uses her nose to cover it with dirt. I wonder if the chickens were stealing her food so she stole their eggs.

She was kind of thin to start with & I'm a little worried she's not eating enough. What? A Jewish mother worried someone's not eating enough? Call the newspapers!

I bought some insanely cheap leg quarters and gave her one raw & she covered that up too! Here's the thing - if I give her left over people food, she eats it no problem.

I think I'm better off cooking & deboning the chicken, maybe with rice & carrots, and extra fat, and feeding that to her instead of dog food. I give her milk to drink so I'm hoping she gets enough nutrition.
 
Raye Beasley
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I made the mistake? of feeding feeding raw meat to my puppies when I first got them, shortly after weaning. They never took to commercial food after that. If I lock them up so they don't have access to anything else, they will eat it eventually. At $63.00 Can. per 30 lb bag, it adds up pretty quick for two large dogs.

I leave dog food out for them now as a back up, but it's mostly chickens and birds that seem to want it. They each get a chunk of meat daily and what ever they scrounge for themselves. They have taken to eating the chicken/pig feed when I am grinding it fresh. Its wheat, peas and kelp. They prefer the pig feed which is ground finer. I am now noticing that the cats are helping the geese eat their grain as well now the fall is getting cooler and their usual prey is getting harder to catch.

The dogs are really big, sleek and active. Their teeth are pearly white and their breath doesn't smell, unless of course, they have been eating dung again. I have a freezer set aside just for dog met and used soup bones.
 
Cj Sloane
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Raye Beasley wrote: I made the mistake? of feeding feeding raw meat to my puppies when I first got them, shortly after weaning. They never took to commercial food after that.


I guess that's not surprising, given what's in commercial dog food.

Sugar, my lactating bitch loved the dog food I made for her: cooked leg quarters, deboned then put back in the stock with rice & carrots. I made the same dish for my husband who insisted the cheap chicken was fine for him! I'm going to try it again with brown rice and probably a few eggs mixed in while the rice is cooking.

Now I've got extra incentive to put a bunch of roosters in the freezer.
 
Cj Sloane
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Cj Verde wrote: I'm going to try it again with brown rice and probably a few eggs mixed in while the rice is cooking.


This was a big hit, she had 3 large bowls this evening. I also added butter while the rice was cooking for some extra calories.
 
John Polk
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I also added butter while the rice was cooking for some extra calories.

This is yummy even for human food rice.
Sometimes, I use chicken stock instead of water for the rice.
Adds flavor, calories, and some protein. Makes the rice more nutritious.



 
Mountain Krauss
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I think the most sustainable dog food is gophers & squirrels, and any other small mammal they catch themselves. Gophers & squirrels are particularly good, though, since they take a good portion of the harvest. Rodents are a particularly sustainable cat food, since rodents take a portion of the stored harvest.

Since our dogs aren't very good at catching gophers, they get access to the same compost pile the chickens feed from. The chickens eat mostly produce and some meat, while the dogs eat mostly meat and some produce. We have kibble, too, when we think the dogs aren't getting enough from the compost pile, but we try to minimize that part of their diet.
 
Cj Sloane
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John Polk wrote:
Sometimes, I use chicken stock instead of water for the rice.
Adds flavor, calories, and some protein. Makes the rice more nutritious.


I'm doing that because first I boil the chicken, then drain & debone then back in the stock while the brown rice, eggs, carrots cook more.

I just have to keep up on making this because she really didn't want the kibble this morning, even with milk in it. Those puppies are draining her for sure. I guess it's a good thing there are only 6 of them.
 
Cj Sloane
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Mountain Krauss wrote:I think the most sustainable dog food is gophers & squirrels, and any other small mammal they catch themselves.


I wonder about LGDs though, they don't seem terribly good at catching mammals. They're pretty good about eating offal but we don't slaughter enough for it to be a constant source of food. Wonder what the Maremmas ate 200 years ago when the shepherds left them in the mountains with the sheep for the winter?
 
C. Hunter
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A grain heavy diet, just like modern kibble, mostly. Bread or pottage plus leftover table scraps that didn't go þo other livestock, offal, supplemented by whatevee they could catch, I expect. A lot of historical hunting manuels/diaries have recipies for fortified dog bread, or reciept lists that include line items for food. of course, mlst of thoSe records are for hunting dogs owned by the wealthy but it's at least A baseline. I expect that the diet was probably pretty much like those of the shepherds themselves. I also suspect that they fed fewer adult dogs- it might have been more cost effective to have a couple of kids do the job just supplemented or backed up by the dogs. warning, tons of speculation in this post
 
Cj Sloane
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Well, I know they like bread, but it's probably as bad for them as it is for us. I wonder if I can use it to my advantage to fatten up Sugar.

Years ago, my Golden wouldn't touch his food till he had the crust from my kids breakfast.
 
C. Hunter
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It's not GREAT for them, but I don't think it's THAT bad, either. Starchs/carbs are a lot of calories and sugar, and yeah, that's bad for a modern sedentary human, but one burning the kind of calorie doing hard physical work that people were in the past, the extra intake calorically probably was the difference between starvation and having enough bodily resources to make it through lean seasons, and grains DO have a lot of good things about them, too, even if we do overuse them. Interestingly, I've had one working dog (working breed, working bloodline) that HAD to have grains in her diet or she could not maintain good condition, and I have other dogs (of a non-working breed whose historical diet was mostly fish) who do markedly better on a grain free diet.
 
Rick Howd
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Keith Snow had a recent podcast on feeding the dog, it might give some insight into the topic. http://www.harvesteating.com/harvest-eating-radio/2014/11/10/254-feeding-fido-strategies-for-making-your-own-dog-food

He believes in real food and self-sufficiency, is definitely in our camp but maybe doesn't have the same "exact" bug.
 
C. Hunter
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Is there a transcript anywhere?
 
Rick Howd
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no but if you really can't download or listen to it I'll listen to it again and record his recipe. Honestly there is more than a recipe in the post.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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