How can you feed multiple dogs healthy CHEAPER than kibble? Many people have more than one dog – sometimes more than 3 dogs and they want to feed them as healthy as possible but budget can be an issue so they feel stuck feeding only kibble. So what are your options to give them as much Nutrition as possible but still not break the bank…Here they are 🙂
Ideally we want to feed our dogs ORGANIC, WHOLE FOOD, SPECIE APPROPRIATE – Raw or Home cooked! That’s our ideal…but this can get tricky with more than 2 dogs especially if they are big dogs…so here’s some tips.
- Create your own food that is cheaper but still wholesome. Dogs do best on minimal grains (rice, oats, soy, wheat etc) and starches (potatoes, peas, squashes etc) because these all turn into sugar essentially and dogs have a bit of a harder time digesting them BUT when you are stuck whether or not to feed kibble which is usually 60% starch or MORE anyways…than we can at least make our own version of healthier ingredients. Using grains and starches automatically makes the meals far cheaper…so what you want to do is make 50% of the meal just that if you have to budget. So some options are using a base of grains/starchy food as half your meal for your dog. You can use Brown Rice (NOT white rice – there’s no nutritional value in that), Whole oats (don’t pick quick oats – get the regular ones), Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Squashes (Pumpkin, Spaghetti Squash, Butternut – even Zucchini is great this one can be cooked or raw). Best is to ROTATE different foods all the time…so your dog gets variety…variety of different meats, grains/starches/veggies/fruits means a variety of nutrients.
- Next our protein – meat! Cheapest is usually Chicken legs or sometimes Pork. Whatever is on sale. You want this to be at least 25% of the meal – ideally 35%. If you can do more meat – the better for your dog…again depends on your budget for that week or month. There may be times you can do more meat and can cut back on the carbs and other times may be a bit less. It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time but you want to do the 25% as your minimum. Sometimes you will be able to do 75% meat and rest Starches and carbs…healthy young dogs can tolerate some flexibility. So you can feed 1/4 of the meal to half to 3/4 of the dish meat – whatever budget allows. You can chose from chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant, beef, venison, pork, fish (ONLY fresh water – ocean fish too polluted) eggs (can be fed daily) are some examples. Talk to hunters, or people that have freezer burned meat – or call up some of your local farmers and butchers for off-cut meats or cheaper meats they can sell you. There are many options worth looking into that can drastically reduce your feeding costs. Now don’t forget to feed LIVER and KIDNEY (also cheap meats) – these organ meats are VERY important in your dog’s diet – there are nutrients here that won’t be found anywhere else. Either feed a small portion daily 5% of meal or give 1-2 x a week in larger amounts. Some dogs can’t handle large amounts at a time due to the richness (can cause looser stools) of the organs so see what your dog does best on.
- Calcium/Magnesium sources – again VERY important…many people miss this part completely when feeding their own food. To make sure your dog gets enough feed some meaty bones (RAW ONLY – cooked ones splinter and can do damage to your dog’s gut or get caught in the throat). So some options – chicken backs – super cheap. Chicken carcasses some local ethnic stores sell these for a $1.00 a bag…you can either feed it raw whole or cook in pressure cooker till bones are totally dissolved (no sharp shards must be able to fall apart between your fingers) or feed a crushed (use a coffee grinder) egg shell daily (would dose a 50 lb dog)…or a calcium/magnesium supplement (contact me for dose)! Don’t skip this part…if you do you will cause Nutritional imbalances.
- Good FATS! Again very important. Cheapest way to go is to use Flax Seeds – they can be bought in bulk. FRESHLY grind before feeding. You can feed 1 TBS a day for a 50 lb dog quite easily. You can also use Chia instead but more expensive. Hemp is another option. Fish oils USED to be best for dogs but due to the pollutants found in these products I no longer recommend them.
- Vegetables and some fruits can be given to your dog – I believe they can benefit from them. You can give anywhere from 15-25% of the dog’s meal in vegetables (less fruits). Some wonderful options are Romaine Lettuce (or other dark colored lettuce leaves – Ice Burg is the least nutritious so I’d leave that one out), Kale, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Carrots, Green Beans etc.). You can feed these cooked or raw – but one thing you have to do is make sure they are minced/cut up very fine. Either put in food processor or blender or cut up into tiny pieces. Dogs will have difficulty digesting them otherwise. As for fruit – berries are usually the best, next is apples and pears – and if your dog likes others you can try things like bananas, pomegranates, oranges etc. Just stay away from grapes or dried fruit of any kind – these can make dogs sick.
- Sea Kelp 1/4 tsp daily in food (good for a 50 lb dog). Provides over 60 different nutrients and minerals. You may want to give this one on and off periodically as the Iodine levels may be higher in some batches so good to give for maybe 3 weeks on 1-2 weeks off and so on. Usually not a problem to be given for a few months in the beginning as most dogs are usually deficient – but long term you want to give them a break. If your dog has any thyroid issues – work with a Holistic Vet to know what to put in to their food…usually they can benefit but you want to monitor. If your dog is already on any thyroid medication – don’t give unless working with a Holistic Vet.
So if you find the above still too much you can also do 50% of the best quality kibble you can find…and add in MEAT and VEGGIES (minimal fruit) and the healthy OILS. This will still provide more nutrients than feeding kibble alone…kibble is VERY little meat (no matter what they try to tell you) and mostly STARCHES (sugars) with a handful of supplements…so providing some real foods can make a world of difference.
When things get lean financially you can easily feed your dog for under $1.50 per day (50 lb dog) if you get creative. That is less than MOST kibble diets! 🙂