TwoJunes, Lisa Bell and Nicole Rees, share their latest recipe for making a supply of delicious (Stella tested) home-made dog food. One quart container of food lasts Stella for two days. This recipe makes enough food about 1 month. I tend to up the recipe by half to get enough food for 6 weeks, but you will need considerable storage space for that much food—a chest freezer has made it possible for us.
- Two June’s Homemade Dog Food We started making our dog’s food seven years ago, when we first moved to Portland. Stella, a chow-border collie mix, suffered from recurring ear infections. New in town, we discovered that alternative medicine applied even to pets in Portland, so we brought Stella to naturopathic veterinarian. After all, traditional antibiotics and ointments didn’t seem to be a cure.
- 1 lb. brown rice
- 1 lb. medium grain white rice
- 10 carrots, shredded or chopped food processor
- 12 cups shredded broccoli stems and/or equivalent amount of shredded cabbage, cauliflower, or greens (collards or kale)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 4 cups frozen peas
- 18 cups (six 26-oz cans) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups safflower oil (I frequently substitute 1 cup of rendered animal fat, usually bacon, but occasionally chicken or beef for 1 cup of the oil)
- ¾ cup dry milk powder
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 4 lbs. ground beef
- Fill a very lot pot approximately 2/3 full of water; bring to a boil. (I use a 33 quart extra large canner, but a very large stock pot would work just fine.)
- Add brown rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add white rice and cook 20 minutes.
- Add carrots, broccoli (and other vegetables if using) and garlic and continue cooking until the rice is very soft and vegetables are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add peas; cook 1minute. Drain well. (I use a medium sauce pan as a ladle to transfer the hot mixture into 3 large colanders set in the sink.)
- Return drained mixture to the pot. Stir in the kidney beans, canola oil and/or rendered fat, the dry milk powder and the soy sauce.
- Place in the coldest spot you have and cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally to speed the process along. (In the winter, we set the canner outside on the deck. In the summer, we cool it off in our garage which remains cool year round.)
- Thoroughly mix in the raw ground beef. Portion into 1-quart freezer-safe containers. (Mixing and portioning by hand is by far the most efficient technique. Lowering the canner height by setting it on a stool or chair also makes the job easier and less stressful on your back.)
- Freeze everything you are not going to use within the next 2 days. Remember to take out a container at least 48 hours ahead of time to thaw in the refrigerator.
Yield: Makes approximately 14 quarts of food
Variations and tips
l occasionally add left-over Parmesan cheese rinds to the cooking water and take them out when I drain the rice-veggie mixture. They add great flavor, and the softened rinds can be chopped into bite-sized pieces, refrigerated and given as special treats. The addition of bacon fat also adds a ton of flavor. I’ve used other whole grains including barley or millet in place of some of the rice. As Stella got older, we decided to include some white rice as it’s a bit easier to digest. Different types of beans or lentils make a nice change now and again. Stella loves any sort of cruceriferous vegetable, so we tend use what’s in season, cheap, and on-hand. Woody asparagus stems, small amounts of red bell pepper, and parsley stems have all made appearance. I use the food processor to shred the veggies since it is fast and uniform, but chopping by hand would work just as well. General consensus is that onions are hard for dogs to digest and onion-y dog gas is not fun, but Stella seems like a bit of well-cooked garlic for flavor and it also acts as an antimicrobial. Eggplant, hot peppers and tomatoes don’t seem to agree with Stella so we minimize the nightshade family in her diet.
The original recipe from the naturopathic vet included a number of natural supplements: bone meal, vitamins including an A&D combo, a vitamin E supplement (or cod liver oil), flax seed oil or ground flax seeds, nutritional yeast, lecithin and kelp or alfalfa powder. As we have upped the amount and variety of veggies over the years, I have eliminated these and Stella has thrived without them. I added the vegetable oil to improve the thawed texture of the frozen food. I do give Stella a fish oil capsule (human grade) every now and again to up her omega fatty 3 intake. I also give her an occasional vitamin E tablet, but her coat is excellent even without it. The carrots fulfill the vitamin A requirement. I think the cruciferous veggies and dry milk powder pretty much take care of any calcium needs, but I do occasionally grind up eggshells very fine and add to her food in place of bone meal. If your dog is young with good teeth, uncooked large bones as a treat also provide great calcium and dental benefits. A bit of cheese now and again is also good for teeth and enormously popular. (If anyone wants the original recipe vet recipe with the rationale for the supplements and amounts to use, I would be happy to email it to you.)
Amount to feed your dog
We give our 14 year old, 45 pound chow-border collie mix with has a moderate activity level, about 1 cup of food per serving, twice a day. You will need to adjust up or down depending on your dog’s age, breed and exercise level. You might want to consult your vet on amounts and start off with a small batch as a test. Dogs do have allergies, just like people, and you’ll want to observe them carefully any time if you change their diet significantly.
Recipe yield and freezing
One quart container of food lasts Stella for two days. This recipe makes enough food about 1 month. I tend to up the recipe by half to get enough food for 6 weeks, but you will need considerable storage space for that much food—a chest freezer has made it possible for us. I find that 1 quart yogurt containers work really going from freezer to refrigerator and have the bonus of many, many reuses. If you don’t have enough containers or find the shape doesn’t work well with your configuration of freezer space, quart freezer bags work pretty well too—it’s just a bit harder to portion and serve out of a bag.
Cost and time
This size batch costs roughly $35 in ingredients. That works out to about $0.65 per cup which is certainly far less than any premium/holistic/natural canned dog food on the market. The amount of time you’ll spend is as follows:
- 20 minutes to prep veggies and assemble all ingredients
- 45 minutes to cook rice and veggies
- 15 minutes to drain and mix in all other ingredients except meat
- 2-4 hours cooling time depending on temperature of cooling area
- 30 minutes to mix in meat and portion into containers
So, about an hour of your time is spent in real recipe “action” and probably another ½ hour on cleanup all told. Plan on being home for about a ½ day to complete all the stages, but you will have plenty of time to do other things while the mixture cooks and cools.
Recipe courtesy of TwoJunes, Lisa Bell and Nicole Rees