Monday, April 23, 2012

Can Your Own Dogfood


Canning dog food isn't so much about frugality for me as it is nutrition and preparedness. My dogs mean a lot to me and while their days are numbered just like ours, I want them to be as healthy as they possibly can each and every day. This could be a point of argument, but dogs were not really meant to eat solely dry kibble. Many of our friends and visitors can't get over the fact that we feed our girls 'people' food. My Zoe is 12 and Evie is 4. They are very healthy, happy and have the usual amount of gas that dogs do - really, they are not stinky dogs. Besides, I really like knowing what I'm feeding them. Remember what happened a few years ago with the pet food supply?

I like having jars just for my girls on the pantry shelf too.

When I order my groceries from the grocery store, I always order 3-5 pounds of beef hearts. My canner will hold 9 pint jars, so I spread out the beef hearts over the 9 jars each time.


The beef hearts get cut into cubes. This is the longest part of the process. I highly recommend using a tomato knife or knife with lots of serration for this job, it will make it easier.

This is about the time that I'll feel the island that I'm working on start to tremble. Looking down, it's always my foodie, Eve. She knows what I'm doing and that it's for her. She shakes with anticipation, actually before every meal.

"Momma, you're the best cook EVER". I know Baby.

I line up the jars on the island, and evenly distribute the cubed beef hearts among the jars. Two tablespoons of brown rice also gets added to each jar.





Next step is to boil a kettle and fill each jar with boiling water to just before the threaded rim as you can see in this photo.


Wipe the rims with a cloth moistened with white vinegar and place sterilized lids and rings on. Pressure can (ONLY pressure can this recipe in a PRESSURE COOKER) for 75 minutes at 15 pounds of pressure.

How much does it cost to can dog food? Not much. I spent $3.81 for the beef hearts, used around $.70 for rice. Each jar (there's 9) will last two to three meals and gets mixed with (our) leftovers, eggs, and yes, some dry kibble.

Enjoy the day-

23 comments:

  1. What a great idea! I'll have to find a recipe for cat food too. Do you have one?

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  2. I do have an idea although I've not implemented it. When I hear of someone slaughtering chickens, I'll ask for the livers and gizzards. That would make some nice cat food. :)

    I don't worry about the cats too much when it comes to supplementing their diet though, they are ALWAYS eating some critter outside.

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  3. I have always wanted to try something like this, but with a 70 lb. Pitbull, I think it would cost too much. :/

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    1. Yikes! I have another recipe that uses more veggies that would make it go further. I wait until the end of the farming season and I can get a really good deal on potatoes. Layer the jar with meat, carrots, potatoes, and rice.

      Thanks for your comment!

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  4. I have often wondered if I should make my own dogfood. This will give me something to try. One question though, are you putting the rice in dry or cooked? I have a brand new pressure canner, but haven't used it yet so I don't know what it's limitations are. Thanks!
    Debby

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  5. Yes, 2 tablespoons of dry brown rice. The beef hearts only take up a little over a third of the jar, giving plenty of room for the rice to expand. Don't be afraid of your pressure canner (I was at first), as long as it's a new one with all the safety features. Just pay attention to it the first few times. Happy Canning!

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  6. This is wonderfully enlightening. I'd tried to find something online between 'raw meat' diets (the all natural dog diet which to me, sounds like a disaster of e-coli or something waiting to happen), and 'make your own dog treats' (which all seem to be the equivalent of store-bought, using FLOUR and other nutritious things like brewers yeast or flax seeds, but end up killing the meaty flavor of the broth used).
    THIS idea is perfect, and I so appreciate the comments which add to it!
    Now I just have to learn how to can and get supplies... lol.

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    1. I do give my dogs occasional raw bones (outside), but not raw meat. Bostons tend to wear a bit of food after they eat (at least mine), and they kiss me. So, I'd be the one to get e-coli - lol!

      Using a pressure cooker is a lot easier than my grandmother's time. Just follow the instructions that come with it. That and a book called Putting Food By. Love that book. I have an older copy of it and have had to tape it together.

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    2. I've been feeding a raw diet for over 15 years. Dogs have a different ph in their stomachs so E. Coli isn't a problem unless they are in poor health to begin with. Had one of our dogs put down a few weeks ago at 17 1/2. She ate a raw diet till the day she died. I really believe the raw diet was what helped her to live so long. Her mother died at 12. I guess there is a possibility of getting E. Coli from them if they lick you. Ours give "kisses" on a regular bases but none of us have ever gotten E. Coli. I like the idea of having some canned food as a back up. This would certainly be better than buying it. Thanks for the recipe!

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    3. Wow, that's wonderful to have your dog for so long...although I'm sorry for your recent loss. I know it's hard to lose them, a family member.

      I appreciate your perspective on the subject of a raw diet - thanks!

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  7. Oh I've been thinking so much lately on making our own dog food. I want to do it, but am at a loss of where to start. Dry dog food is so expensive... We raise chickens (some for eggs, some for meat) plus we also eat mostly venison for our red meat so I wanted to be able to use those foods. I think I could sub out one of those meats and would just need the rice! I LOVE this idea and love having a concrete starting point - yay! :)

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  8. Definitely you have great sources to make substitutions. Can it up for Bandit - he will love it.

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  9. Love this! A 4-H'er in our county did a presentation last year about what's on the labels of commercial dog food compared to what that wording "really" means. My husband was so stunned that when we came home he started researching the information the girl presented. We immediately made some big changes in our dog's diet! She's healthy and happy and loving her good food. Thanks so much for sharing this post on Homestead Helps!

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    1. Glad you like it! Dog food ingredients are pretty scary. They have such a short life, so why not treat them good?

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  10. What a great idea! I've heard so much about canned dog food containing additives etc., this sounds like a wonderful way to nourish your dogs.

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  11. I just want to thank you for this. I can't get beef hearts because the meat packers around here send the cattle to GA to be killed. However I made mine with old meat (as in some we put up last year), chicken livers, brown rice and then I added some dried beef broth. My pug loves it. I ran out yesterday morning and have some on now processing but I bought a couple of cans of the dog food I was feeding her and gave her some of it this morning and she turned her nose up at it. So I guess I will be making her food from now on. ;)

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    1. Glad that works for you! My girls are pretty spoiled too...they wait for the pop of the canning lid. Makes them dance.

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  12. Just stumbled across your blog...love this post! I have cooked for my furrybabies for around 4-5 years now. My "first born" passed away from Lymphoma Cancer. While he was in treatment, I spent lots of time researching diets for my canines. The daily food I make for my guys...and gal is based on the info I came across as well from a very good friend of mine who is known as our local dog whisperer!

    I make a pot of their food that will last for 3 days (I have 3 dogs). It consists of chicken, chicken stock, brown rice, fresh, seasonal veggies such as squash, sweet potato, asparagus, carrot, etc. I sometimes supplement with frozen or veggies I have canned/frozen. Their lab work is always perfect and they love it!

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  13. Thanks for leaving a comment Joy! Also, thank your for your 'recipe'. My girls would certainly appreciate the sweet potatoes.

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  14. Great idea-how about some alternative meat suggestions that will can well [last]??

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    1. Good question. Keep in mind that God made dogs carnivorous, but veggies are good for them too! My dogs LOVE tomatoes and actually steal them from the garden. Perhaps a tomato/potato/carrot recipe with a chicken or beef broth base would be a good option. I know my girls would love it. We'll be canning up our fall dinners for them soon.

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  15. Just found your blog I am looking to make/can my little do some dog food. We just had her to the vet and I am sure she was poisoned on her canned food even though she has eaten that kind since we rescued her 2 years ago We have a beef butchered every year and give away the heart and liver, I'm hoping she will like this food and I can start canning her food. Do you have other recipes for dog food and do you have a finished pic of this food so I can see if I am doing it correct. I am also cooking a chicken to get the broth to use instead of water and also going to try to come up with a chicken recipe she will eat. Thanks again for this post.

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    1. No pics of final product, just make sure you are using a pressure canner when making dog food and following manufacturers directions. Careful with straight chicken broth with dogs. I've read that it's not that good for them.

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