How We Feed Our Homestead Dogs

Pets are an expense, 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.

On the homestead, the more food I can provide for my dog the better.

dogs

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

This is what we do:

We Feed Dry Dog Food

We buy the best quality dry dog food we can find that is made in the closest location to us. 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.

So 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. 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. Also, two of my dogs are 15 years old and can’t chew bone anymore. They also are starting to not eat, so I give them whatever I can that is tasty enough to interest them AND give them nutrients they need.

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 to the dogs. You could probably feed it raw but it would have to be frozen for at least 3 weeks before feeding.

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 still feed it but are extremely careful not to feed too much at once. Cooked fat is different from raw fat and has a different affect on the body for dogs. So limit cooked fat.

We also buy dog cookies/treats at this time from the pet store, but that is also for convenience and we buy from companies that are as local as possible with the best ingredients as possible. It is easy to make your own dog treats. 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, I make sure to always give bone meal (made specifically for dogs from ethical and clean sources) if it is beef or feed the chicken with the bones. Feeding raw meat exclusively without bone leads to nutrient imbalance.

Other Fresh Foods

We also feed raw or cooked eggs. If we have farm eggs then we feed 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.  Dogs can be fed eggs either raw or cooked and receive similar nutrients. 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. We also feed raspberries when they are available from our garden and blueberries when we can buy them in season.

Vegetables from the garden can include spinach, kale, parsley, and some herbs.

And thats about it really. Basically, we try to keep it simple and not rely too much on processed food from the grocery store. If we come into a regular source of local meat for the dogs, I will start feeding that.

Happy Homesteading!

 

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About Homesteader101

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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!

    • 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!!

      • 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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