Is Making Your Own Dog Food Cheaper?

There’s a ton of questions about what and how much we should feed our dogs and it seems like it’s not an exact science, however practically speaking, budget will be a big factor for the majority of us. Because we adopted Kacang while we were in Bali, where typically dogs are fed leftovers or boiled rice and chicken and dry food is more expensive, she grew up on homemade food. As a chef, Carl is also quite particular about making food and wanted to make her food, so we decided to continue doing so when we got her back home.

Since we couldn’t find too much specificity online, when we got home we checked in with our vet about her recommendations for feeding home cooked dog food, but frustratingly we still didn’t get much information. So this journey has been a bit of trial and error and ongoing learning. The best advice is to make changes slowly and keep a close watch on your dog’s health and energy levels. Check in with your vet if anything starts to worry you, such as excessive licking or biting themselves.

Carl cooking Kacang's food in Bali, Indonesia
Carl cooking Kacang’s food in Bali, Indonesia

Why Would We Make Our Own Dog Food

The making-your-own-dog-food versus buying it out dilemma is similar to feeding yourself: one takes a little bit more effort but you know exactly what’s going into your food while the other is convenient though sometimes mysterious. Unlike human food though, the average person probably doesn’t know the exact nutritional needs of their dog, which is why it’s much simpler to rely on dog food that’s already been balanced according to Veterinarian recommendations. On the other hand, it can also be overwhelming to try to figure out what some of those ingredients are when we’re choosing which dog food to buy.

What’s the Cost of Dog Food

The cost of dog food will range a lot depending on wet or dry, quality and quantity. We did some quick research and looked at the top sellers across Amazon and Chewy and found that wet food is typically going to be more expensive than dry, about $1-3/meal (10-13 OZ) on average while dry is typically $0.50-0.80/meal (8 OZ), with the greatest savings as you buy bigger in bulk.

Average Dry Dog Food Costs

  • Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Chicken & Barley Recipe, 35LB, $52 = 560oz (70 8oz meals) = $0.74/meal
  • Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Dog Food & Wet Dog Food, 30LB, $48 = 480oz (60 8oz meals) = $0.80/meal
  • Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, 30LB, $50 = 480oz (60 8oz meals) = $0.83/meal
  • Iams Proactive Health Minichunks & Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Lamb Flavor, 30LB, $32 = 480oz (60 8oz meals) = $0.53/meal
  • CANIDAE All Life Stages, Premium Dry Dog Food with Whole Grains, $65, 44LB = 704oz (88 8 OZ meals) = $0.74/meal

Average Wet Dog Food Costs

  • Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Flavor Adult Dry Dog Food, 13 ct, $14 = $1.08/meal
  • Pedigree Homestyle Meals Adult Wet Dog Food, (12) 13.2 OZ Cans
    $10.26 = $0.86/can
  • Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin Recipes, (12) 12.5 OZ Cans, $27.24 = $2.27/can
  • Cesar Gourmet Wet Dog Food Variety Packs, (24) 3.5 OZ, $18 = $2.24/ 10 OZ meal
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Low Fat Original Flavor Pate Canned Dog Food, (12) 13 OZ, $38 = $2.43/10 OZ meal
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food, (24) 13.6 OZ Cans, $85 = $2.60/10 OZ meal

*According to Amazon and Chewy sites on April 21, 2020

In terms of quality, we looked at the ingredients across popular products and noticed that many ready made wet foods include water and then dehydrated vegetables. While that’s not exactly awful, you might be thinking you’re giving them fresh ingredients when you’re not! Another common issue is the mysterious meat byproduct or other stabilizers thickeners such as xanthan gum or guar gum which could upset their stomachs. After this general research we decided that if we could match or beat the price, we would prefer to keep Kacang’s food simple and clean.

Carl cooking Kacang's food in California, USA
Carl cooking Kacang’s food in California, USA

What’s the Cost of Making Dog Food

Let’s take a look at the cost of one of our go-to recipes for Kacang’s food: Beef & Rice. This recipe makes about 160oz of food for the grand total of $28.10, which makes 16 10oz packs for $1.75/pack. Since this pricing is pretty average for wet food, we’re convinced that making it ourselves really is the better choice: the ingredients are the very freshest, there’s no unnecessary additives, and it doesn’t take that much more effort. Here’s the cost breakdown of our ingredients used, mainly purchased at Costco and Restaurant Depot.

Ingredient CostCost by Usage
Lean 90/10 Ground Beef, $3.99/LB6 LB = $24
Calrose - Medium Brown Rice, $11.27/20 LBS1 LB Brown Rice = $0.56
Chicken Liver, $55.95/20 LBS9 OZ Liver= $1.57
Eggs, $3.79/DZ 5 eggs = $0.79
Jumbo Carrots, $6.19/50 LBS 12 OZ carrots = $0.09
Green Beans, $10.28/5 LBS7 OZ Green Beans = $.90
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, $15.99/84 OZ1 OZ Coconut Oil = $0.19

Of course costs will really vary depending on where you shop and sometimes making your own dog food will lack in certain nutrients (lots of folks add supplements to their food), so we switch up the recipe each time to vary her food and use fresh fruits in her snacks. Since we didn’t want to dive into the world of supplements for dogs, we stuck to adding eggshells and splitting her day’s meals with half homemade wet food and half dry food so that it’s a happy medium. So far her health, weight and energy levels are great so we’ll continue to monitor her and adjust as needed.

What do you guys think, game to try making your own dog food? Let us know in the comments below if you do or if you have any questions!

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