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Tips to Save Money When Making Homemade Dog Food

As pet parents, we want to provide our furry friends with the best care possible, and that includes their food. Making homemade dog food is a fantastic way to ensure your dog receives a nutritious diet tailored to their needs. However, the cost of ingredients can sometimes be a concern, especially when you have a large dog or numerous pets. The rising cost of living has also forced many pet parents to be savvier with their budget. In this blog post, I will share a few tips on how you can save money while still providing your dog with nutritious homemade meals. I have also included our budget-friendly homemade dog food recipe using easily found fresh food ingredients that will not break the bank.

First, I suggest that you start with your budget (whatever it may be) and see what you can feed that is nutritionally best for your dog within the budget. You may need to make a few adjustments and compromise to get by. Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself! Your love and care are priceless, and with a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can weather tough times while keeping your furry companion healthy and happy.

Here are my tips to make fresh food feeding fit your budget, whatever it may be.

Do not discard the fruit/vegetable scraps
Keep those carrot ends, the bok choy base and any of your fruit/vegetable scraps that are dog friendly and make a purée to add to your dog’s meal. Don’t throw away any fruits or vegetables that are about to turn too! They are perfectly fine to include in your dog’s meal.

Keep an eye out for fresh food market scrap bin, off-cuts or left-overs
They often sell them for a small price or give them away – and they are perfectly fine! Not only do you save money, but you also reduce food waste. Speak to your local grocery store, butcher or fishmonger and ask if they can save you the scraps, off-cuts or left-overs. Raw meaty bones and fish heads make a nutritious meal and broth.

Buy wholesale or in bulk
This is where you can save money! It may be worth investing in a freezer. Alternatively, you can ask other fresh food feeders to join you on a purchase.

Keep an eye out for meat mark-downs
They are marked down because they are close to their expiry date – and they are perfectly fine!

Substitute fresh with frozen or canned
Not only do frozen and canned foods are often cheaper, but they can also have higher nutrients. Frozen produce is snap frozen soon after harvest, which will preserve the vitamins and minerals. Canned salmon, for example, contains more vitamin D than fresh salmon.

Grow your own
Not only do they taste better, but you also know what is in them. Find a local food swap where you can exchange your homegrown fresh produce with others in the community.

Rotate with pre-made dog food
This can be a more affordable and convenient option, especially during times when prices of fresh produce are high and supplies are low.

Use a pre-mix
Pre-mix is a formulated blend where you just add meat, organ meat or fish to make a complete and balanced meal. Rather than getting the individual ingredients yourself, this can be a more affordable and convenient option, as well as a good safety net to ensure that your dog gets all the essential nutrients.

Feed a hybrid diet
A hybrid diet is when you feed both kibble/dry dog food and a fresh food diet. This can be a good option if you are budget conscious and not ready yet to make a switch to a full fresh food diet.

Opt for pet grade meat
Pet grade meat is cheaper than human grade meat because it comes from knackeries (or pet food abattoirs) instead of abattoirs that slaughter and process meat for human consumption. The animals killed at knackeries are often lower value than those intended for human consumption. Keep in mind that knackeries do not follow the same strict regulations as abattoirs, making what goes into the pet grade meat less transparent. You need to do your own research and find a reputable supplier. Please note that regardless of the type of meat in a product, if it is intended for pets, it will say ‘pet food only – not for human consumption’ on the pet food label, even if the meat is human grade meat.

Add fillers
There are several ingredients we can use as fillers to bulk up your dog’s meal and add calories – some are healthier than others. Examples include potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice, brown rice, oats, lentils, peas, beans, quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat. Kibble can also be added as fillers to fulfil your dog’s daily calorie needs.

Plan and research
Work out exactly what you need so you do not waste or overspend. Join Facebook community pages where members often share about local specials and deals.

Mindful supplementing
Another thing that may worry dog parents on a tight budget is the cost of supplements. It is quite easy to overdo the supplements, which may actually cause more harm than good. Try to get the nutrients from whole foods first before supplementing. Some nutrients can be balanced over time which means that your dog does not necessarily need high amount of them in every meal. Always supplement mindfully to your dog’s needs.

If you’d like to learn more about dog nutrition and feeding fresh foods (raw or cooked), check out our ebook called Bowie Drools Over the Alphabet. You will find an A to Z fresh foods list you can share with your dog, complete with the nutrient guidelines and over 30 dog friendly recipes to try. You will also learn about dogs’ physiology and the nutrients they need to thrive (supported by science) and how to make your own nutritionally balanced dog food.

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