Make your own dogfood #homedogfood

This will be a journal like exploration of this issue  – beginning from the need, to where I am at now and where I will have got to at the end of the process. First  – the pooch in question. Sandal is a 10 year old female chocolate lab.

Sandal 10years old (1) About 3 months ago, she stopped eating what until then was her regular old kibble dog food.

Life is busy this week, and I promise I will update this more later. I’ll use the twitter hashtag #homedogfood when I update the blog in the days and weeks ahead. (the #dogfood hashtag is used so frequently and also quite pejoratively. I am at least serious in my inquiry. )


Dec 12:

A little context is in order. Sandal recently developed heart arrhythmia – an irregular heart beat. Slowed her right down, and to the point where she refused to eat. Anything. Taking her for a walk she looks like a prisoner off to execution. Poor doggie. Now she is on heart meds – they seem to be working. She is eating more, though is still incredibly fussy about what. And if she does not get what she really wants, she simply won’t eat anything!

Yesterday I boiled down some cow hooves. Never done this before. I put carrots and onions, and salt too  – so at least I have a good beef broth. My idea here is that if she likes the broth, I will use it to make rice for her, and package it in 100g chunks for future use. However, she sniffed, didn’t touch it. So I won’t waste my time with rice. I will render this down a little more though – there remain 2 more hooves in the freezer. The hope is that a more concentrated stock will help.

We also had roast chicken for dinner. so as is the usual practice, I made stock from it. Still won’t take the stock, so still no point in making rice with it for her.

What’s next? I got some stewing beef I will make into basic 100g burger patties and then frozen to be consumable by human or the beast. This is all getting frustrating  – not to mention time consuming. Its a tad interesting but there are other things I’d prefer to do with my time! 


Dec 13:

Noticed yesterday that she was amenable to eating crepes – not the French version, more a variation of the sourdough Ethiopean Injera, but made with flour.

Here is the recipe, a work in progress.

1 part flour
2 parts sourdough starter
2 parts water
3% of flour weight – baking soda
3% of flour weight – saltpour cook and serve.
So to make a small batch:100g flour
200g water
200g sourdough starter
3g salt
3g baking soda
note: try oil in the mix, medium heat on the burner, a little more water.I still don’t have this down in terms of the right amount of water, I know it needs some oil in the batter, and I still need to get the heat right.Resolution today: don’t prepare anything you are not prepared to consume yourself, or it will end up being thrown out, try very small quantities first.I’m thinking again that Sandal may not be long for the world, but at least she is comfortable, even if she is not eating much.


Dec 19

This will be my last installment here. I didn’t get around to making that batch of rice cooked in chicken stock – but I still may yet do a risotto for the humans and see if she likes it.

Sandal is like an old person who picks at, and is extremely particular about her food. This has meant:

  • Having a wide variety of food available, both commercial and homemade
  • giving little bits to see what she wants
  • a combination of hard and soft food
  • cutting things she will love but are quite expensive (i.e. fresh ham, fish, beef jerky) into foods she will somewhat tolerate  – for example little bits of a slice of ham or jerky mixed with fresh good quality kibble
  • always giving little bits of wet food, refrigerating it & using it up asap
  • never leaving wet food out for any length of time
  • if preparing a burger or a pattie, prepare as if humans in the house will eat it, give very little bits to gauge interest, only give if there is clear enthusiasm

It looks like this will be the ‘new normal’. And so life goes. I believe this will be her last winter with us. She’s perhaps a little young to die but she’s had a good life, and no regrets. Perhaps its just my own coping mechanism, but I find myself beginning to grieve   even as she still lives. That will make her passing a little easier.

Thank you for reading and sharing this little life journey.


Dec 27 2012

Hold everything! This story is not yet done!

A couple of days  ago – Christmas – my son gave me a most wonderful present. What could someone who is terribly particular about what’s in the kitchen and tends to fill those needs as they come up possibly want…. that someone else would know to do?

A Food dehydrator – that’s what! I quickly saw its advantages as I processed the turkey carcass – these bags of frozen oh so easily forgotten meal in a bag turkey could in a matter of mere hours, transform into tasty morsels of jerky! Not only that but all of a sudden a world of possibility now lay open for new and inexpensive food options for the senior pooch.

Not only could I do jerky, I now had a solution for any can of dog food I had opened up and had her turn her nose from when offered. I simply spread a thin layer of the pet food pate and let it dry. A can she had earlier rejected that day went down in about 30 seconds. But even if it didn’t, I now had something I did not have to worry about going off, though I’ll still refrigerate it.

Then this morning I had yet another idea – to at least try out. Like most people, I do soup stock from the holiday turkey carcass. At the end of the operation I like to have a delicious, clear flavorful, and canned broth. But there is also a lot of meat and vegetables left over from it, that still have a fair amount of value and nutrition. Tasty too- like the soup. So I am thinking – why not dry it all? Indeed. Why not. Grind it all up and its like your own homemade wet dog food. Spread it on the dehydrator and extract the moisture and  – with luck – a balanced meat and vegetable doggie food leather. That is the hope. I’m drying it as I do this blog. Even if Sandal does not want it, it can be used at some point  – for some other dog – in the future.

Here is a photo of the turkey/vegetable  mash as it goes into the dehydrator. IMG-20121227-00410



Dec 31 2012

RIP Sandal.

She was a truly wonderful, beautiful, amazing dog. Constantly loyal, loving, gentle, yet also a master of risk analysis.

In the end she gave up eating anything. Her last meal – the only thing she would eat – was a Tim’s Swiss and ham sandwich.


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