How We Feed Our Homestead Dogs

Pets are an expense, with food and vet bills being the main issues. When I consider feeding my dogs on the homestead, I always feed the best food I can find. This doesn’t always mean pre-made, store bought food either.

The reason for this is simple.

Dogs need to eat well just like we do. What they eat affects their health. Having six dogs and many more over the years and being a pet professional, I have tried all kinds of store bought dog foods as well as those I prepared myself and I have seen many different kinds being fed to their dogs by clients.

What I’ve found is that on the homestead, the more food I can provide for my dog the better.


The dogs are waiting to find out what Ernie is making.

This is what we do for our own dogs on the homestead. All dogs are different and respond differently to foods. Know you own dog(s).

We Feed Dry Dog Food

Yes, we use a dry dog food for convenience. Yikes! Isn’t this the opposite of a homesteader’s thinking? In a way yes, and in a way no.

By yes, I mean that it is not self sufficient and likely NOT the most ideal thing for a dog. By no, I mean that I have always felt that our dogs need to be able to eat from many different sources. Often, I have worked with a dog who has been babied and won’t eat anything but certain types of food. I expose our dogs to many different kinds of foods and this includes a good quality dry food. But it is not our main source of food for the dogs.

If you want to and can feed your dog raw or only stuff from your homestead, perfect. It can be done and is the best way in my opinion to feed dogs. This is also a goal of mine.

I have fed raw in the past, but currently don’t have the access to the kind of meat I want to feed to six dogs. Supplies come and go around here. Also, two of my dogs are 15 years old and can’t chew bone anymore. They are starting to not want to eat, so I give them whatever I can that is tasty enough to interest them AND give them nutrients they need. Mostly, this comes from a can.

We Feed Cooked Fish

We buy canned salmon and sardines, and fish that was caught from the local area lakes. Don’t forget that if you are or want to be a “raw” feeder, canned fish is cooked and so is not raw. All fish caught in local lakes is cooked before feeding it to the dogs. You could probably feed it raw but it would have to be frozen for at least 3 weeks before feeding to eliminate parasites.

We Feed “Scraps”

All scraps have to be whole foods i.e. NOT processed meats, foods with additives etc. Our scraps include things liked cooked potato and other veggies, meat scraps like chicken, venison, beef, pork etc. If there is fat, we remove it and don’t feed it. Cooked fat is different from raw fat and has a different affect on the body for dogs. So eliminate cooked fat.

We also make dog treats such as cookies. It is easy to make your own dog treats and there are unlimited recipes to be found on the internet.

We Feed Meat From Local Sources

We get meat locally. The beef is grass fed from nearby ranchers and we get chicken from a woman who raises them herself. We used to get pork from a farmer but have not had any for a few years. Ernie also hunts during the season, and sometimes the dogs get extra deer meat, but we always freeze the deer for 3 weeks before feeding. The deer antlers are also given to the dogs instead of bones to chew, but can also cause cracked teeth so we need to be careful about that. If I feed bones they must always be raw. We only give chicken bones as we have had bad experiences feeding other bone.

If I feed raw meat only on one day, it is not likely to be an issue since the dogs are getting calcium from other sources on different days. I also feed the chicken parts with the bones. These include all parts of the chicken however, I am careful to feed appropriate sized bones to each dog. You must know your dog no matter what you are feeding.

One of my dogs can’t eat small chicken thighs without me breaking the bone in it ahead of time because she gulps it. But then she can’t eat larger bones either so I have to watch her. With my large dogs I have never had an issue with any of them eating bones because they are not gulpers.

Feeding raw meat exclusively without bone leads to nutrient imbalance and should not be done.

Other Fresh Foods

We also feed raw or cooked eggs. Eggs are like a multi-vitamin for dogs. The nutrient content of eggs doesn’t change much whether raw or cooked so I alternate.

If we have farm eggs, then we feed them raw and can feed the shells as well. The skin on the inside of the eggs has nutrients that benefits the dogs. If the eggs are boiled in the shells, we do not feed the shells as they become sharp when cooked. Again, eggs are like a vitamin pill for dogs.

In the fall we have apples from our trees and the dogs eat them right off the ground or are given one to eat. We make sure not to give too many so that they don’t eat too many seeds. Most seeds go right through because they don’t chew them, but just to be cautious we watch how many they eat. Apple seeds are high in arsenic so just be careful, observe what your dog is doing and you should be OK. We also feed raspberries when they are available from our garden and blueberries when we can buy them in season.

Vegetables from our garden can include spinach, parsley, celery, carrots, fennel, peppers (not hot), and herbs, especially cilantro.

Basically, we try to keep it simple and not rely exclusively on processed dog food from the grocery store.

Feeding our homestead dogs a variety of foods is what we strive for and fits in with the self reliant lifestyle.

For a really good reference on dog heath I suggest The Forever Dog by Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Shaw Becker.


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About Village Homesteader

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3 responses to “How We Feed Our Homestead Dogs”

  1. projectpatrol says :

    We feed our dog raw. Can I ask what the bad experience was with bone you mentioned? Even though we’ve fed raw for 4 years now, I’m still a nervous wreck when it comes to bone. We’ve never had a problem but, curious to your experience. Thanks!


  2. Homesteading101 says :

    The one issue we had was when we fed raw beef knee bones just for the dogs to chew. One dog, Emmett, and 60 lb Aussie, must have eaten to fast or chewed off some shards and bled internally. We knew this because his feces was clay coloured for several days. It still flares up occasionally. But none of the other dogs had any trouble with this type of bone, and they all had the same kind. Also, this type of large bone was what I was told to give as they don’t produce shards.
    I once boarded a raw fed dog for a month and his food consisted of t-bone steak with the bone in. He was a great dane and had no trouble with this bone at all and lived to a good old age. This is what I was told produces shards when chewed up.
    So just to be careful, after that I only fed chicken bone and with raw beef I bought bone meal from the health food store to put on the meat.
    So to sum it all up ;-), it really just depends on the dog I think. No one can predict results in this other than problems are not that common. I also knew one dog who lived to be 15 who’s owner would bring hi the COOKED chicken wing bones to eat every saturday from the bar!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. projectpatrol says :

    Yikes, cooked chicken bones are the one thing we’ve known NOT to feed 🙂 The only bones I’m comfortable feeding are raw chicken, duck, rabbit, and fish. He’s a good chewer and doesn’t inhale his food which is a plus and you’re right it’s dependent on the dog and watching them. Thanks for the info!


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