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What to Feed Your Dog – Cheap, Healthy Dog Food Brands & Recipes

By Heather Levin

dog food puppyDo you have a dog? I have two, and if you’re the proud owner of a canine yourself, then you don’t need me to tell you just how expensive feeding these guys can be (i.e. how much a dog really costs).

This is why it’s so important that you look out for cheap, healthy dog food. You need to make sure your pets don’t break your budget, while at the same time helping your pets stay healthy by eating high quality food.

Comparing Dog Food Brands

Comparing different dog food brands can be a frustrating, challenging project. After all, there are literally hundreds of different brands out there. I’ve had dogs for over nine years now, and I’ve only gone through four brands. So, chances are that your friends and family will only be able to give advice on a few select brands to try out.

Fortunately, however, we have the Internet. And, there are a number of pet food review sites you can turn to for help including the Whole Dog Journal. This site requires a subscription, but their comprehensive dog food reviews are updated yearly. Additionally, you can check out the many user reviews of dog food products on Amazon.

If you’re feeding your dog kibble or wet food, it’s important to research brands to make sure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs. Many dog foods, especially budget brands, have lower nutritional content. This means that you need to feed your dog more food to ensure he’s getting the vitamins and minerals he needs. Of course, this makes the budget food not such a great bargain, since you’re having to use more!

golden retriever dog food

Homemade Dog Food Recipes

You can always choose to make your own homemade dog food recipes. Many owners are going this route, especially after so many dogs died from tainted food in 2007. What exactly was the food tainted with? The food came from China, and was later found to be tainted with rat poison and fertilizer. I’m not making that up.

Making your own dog food means you have complete control over what’s in your dog’s food. And, it can even save you money, especially if you’re currently buying a top brand.

Here’s a great recipe you can use from The BARK.

Bow Wow Brunch

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked oatmeal
  • 2 cups active-culture plain yogurt
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 Tbsp safflower oil
  • 1 banana, peeled and coarsely mashed
  • 1 apple or pear, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup ripe mashed mango

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate, but do not freeze. Use caution if your pup has not been exposed to dairy.

Yield
8 cups, which feeds a medium-sized dog for about 2 days at 4 cups per day.

Serving size: 2 cups
Total cost: approximately $10
Cost per serving: $2.50
Daily cost: $5

And, here’s another one!

Canine Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey
  • half cup steamed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, squash, spinach, sweet potato)
  • half cup prepared brown rice
  • 4 Tbsp. no-sodium broth

Directions
Combine all ingredients. Total cost is $3.50 with 15 minutes to prepare.

Diet for Your Dog

Many owners go with the BARF diet. It sounds gross, but BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. When you stop and think about it, practically 100% of what you feed your dogs is essentially processed food. How do you think you’d feel if you ate nothing but processed foods all day? Probably a bit sluggish, right?

Dogs didn’t evolve eating processed foods; they evolved eating raw foods. And, according to some dog experts, we’re negatively impacting their health and well-being when we feed them processed kibble 100% of the time.

Feeding your pet a BARF diet improves their health, improves their teeth, gums, and breath, strengthens their immune system, improves their coat, reduces or eliminates allergies, and reduces your vet bills because your pets are now getting a more well-rounded diet.

What raw foods can you feed your pets? Here’s a list, and keep in mind that all meats should be uncooked. 60 to 80% of their raw food diet should consist of raw meat.

  • Meats: raw eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, pork, venison, turkey, rabbit, fish, buffalo, ostrich
  • Vegetables and Grains: broccoli, carrots, romaine lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, summer squash, asparagus, rice, oatmeal, kale
  • Dairy: cottage cheese, plain yogurt
  • Fruit: bananas, mango, apples
  • Oils: olive oil, flaxseed oil, safflower oil, hemp oil

Foods NOT to Feed Your Dog

The following foods are known to potentially be  poisonous to your dog:

  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macademia nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Apple seeds
  • Cherry pits
  • Walnuts
  • Potato leaves and stems (any green parts)
  • Alcohol, or alcoholic beverages

If you’re interested in starting a raw food diet for your pet, it’s important to know what you should be feeding them, and how much in each category, to ensure that your dog stays healthy and strong.

You might want to consider reading The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats. This book is chock full of recipes, and has great reviews on Amazon. Your local public library might have it in stock, or they might be willing to order it for you.

dog eating banana

Supplementing Dog Food

Do you know what I do with my dogs? I feed them high quality, Nutro Natural Choice kibble every day. But I supplement their food with quality, raw ingredients on a regular, if not daily, basis.

For instance, my dogs love Romaine lettuce. So every time I make a salad, they get some too. I also regularly mix in eggs, olive oil, cottage cheese, or rice into their kibble. This not only makes their dinner more “exciting,” but it also helps round out their nutritional needs.

I also give them fresh food as a treat instead of processed Milk Bones all the time. For instance, they love carrots and bananas. So when they’re good, this is what they get. Or, I’ll give them half a slice of whole grain bread for a treat; they love it!

Tip for Saving Money

How else can you save money on your dog food?

  • If you decide to go with the BARF diet, or you just want to give your dog raw meat on occasion, hit up your local butcher or meat department. A lot of times, certain animal parts are disposed of rather than sold. These include necks, bones, backs, feet, and tails. If you ask, they might be willing to give you these animal parts free, or at least sell them to you at a deep discount.

Final Word

Do you feed your dog a raw food diet, or do you supplement your dog’s food with raw ingredients? What are some methods you utilize to keep your dog healthy while on a budget?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/BlogandSave Savings.com Blog

    I didn’t know that dogs could eat dairy. great list!

    • Heather

      Thanks so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1672303537 Wes McCann

    Dogs love goat derived dairy as well! Good excuse for country folks to keep a few goats.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AKAT7LTLSYPPBZM3EZYO2DS3VU Prissy Bajungas

    Dogs love dairy. When I was breast-feeding, I allowed our puppy to drink right from the teet! It was good for him and gave us a special bond.

    • wtf

      nobody is going to comment on how disturbing this is? really?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1335372998 Pam Hopkins

        yes…very disturbing

        • B B Gunz

          it’s clearly a joke with a name like ‘prissy bajungas’

      • Sheila G

        and human milk is not dairy. yes indeed, very disturbing :-/

  • Roma2tant

    I have always been told (by various vets and websites) that dogs absolutely cannot have onion but can, in fact, have garlic. What’s the story here. Many ”make your own dog food recipes” include garlic but really warn against onion. Who does one believe?

    • Thylton0301

      I read that onions can make your dog anemic so not to give it to them. I know grapes are the worst they can shut their kidneys down.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1335372998 Pam Hopkins

    I see the dairy and it makes me think you don’t know what you are talking about. Milk/ Dairy causes worms, Unless it’s made from something besides cow milk, that is not a good thing to be telling people unless you can prove that it is no longer the case.

  • a

    Is it safe to add apple cider vinegar to the dogs food as well?

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