Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Down with Dog Food Cans by MCR Leigh-Ann T.

Down with dog food cans - make your own dog food instead

Pet food cans have got to be one of the smelliest and messiest items to clean for recycling – even if you use the dishwasher. With two dogs and a cat, cans seemed to make up about 50% of the contents in my weekly blue bag. I decided to lose the cans.

Dogs are not picky eaters - quite the opposite – most are very appreciative eaters, gourmands, you might say. Unlike children and spouses, they don’t comment on what was overdone or under spiced, or how tired they are of your menu choices. No, dogs attack their meals with gusto and tail wagging. Really, it’s surprisingly gratifying to cook for your dogs.

First, a few cautions:
  • ·Most dogs will overeat if given the chance, and overweight dogs face the same health problems we do. A great local brand of dry dog kibble is the mainstay of my dogs’ diet. This way I know they are getting all the base nutrients they require. To supplement that, they get about a 2:1 ratio of dry kibble to homemade food.
  • Many human foods can be harmful, or even poisonous, to dogs.
    • This includes onions, garlic, chives, green potatoes, salt, sugar or honey, corn cobs, tomatoes, rhubarb, other fruits such as apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears (the seeds can cause cyanide poisoning), grapes or raisins, avocados, bread dough or yeast (expands in their stomach), raw eggs, anything with caffeine, chocolate or xylitol, broccoli (okay only in small quantities as it may cause stomach upset), raw eggs, meat with bones that can shatter, dairy products and fatty foods such as chicken or turkey skin, bacon, hot dogs, or deep fried foods (can cause pancreatitis in dogs), nuts (a little peanut butter is okay), mushrooms, or raw fish.[1]
    • This list may seem daunting, but if you think in terms of cooked, low fat meats and most green and orange vegetables you can’t go wrong. Always check with your veterinarian, especially if your dog has any health problems.
Now to the good stuff:

My first experiments with homemade dog food started this past summer with raw carrots, peas and green beans from our community garden. Both my dogs loved them, and I crossed the expensive, store bought dog treats off the shopping list. Then I tried cooking up a pot of lean hamburger, carrots and peas, with some water to make a gravy, and mixed this with their dry kibble instead of canned dog food. It was a hit.

I did a rough calculation of the possible savings – let’s say 25 cans of dog food per month, at about $1.50 per can = $37.50 per month, versus about $12 for a large package of hamburger, stewing beef, chicken, minced turkey, or other meat, plus $7 for a bag of fresh carrots and a pack of frozen no-name peas or green beans = $19, or a savings of about $18 per month. Not to mention 25 less cans in the blue bag.

When I’ve cooked up a big batch of doggie stew I keep 4-5 days’ worth in the fridge and freeze the rest to defrost as needed. Once a week or so they get cooked eggs or other leftovers. They also love roasted or boiled sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other winter squash, brown rice, and even kale and brussel sprouts (in small quantities). They've yet to complain, and cooking for such an appreciative audience is a pleasure! Now to try homemade cat food - a fussier clientele for sure, but getting rid of smelly cat food cans will be worth a little culinary effort.

[1] Source: Delta Community Animal Shelter. Available:

Leigh-Ann T. completed the MCR course in 2011. Since then, she's volunteered with the City of Edmonton's grasscycling campaign, participated in workshops and presentations, and written several articles about waste reduction.


  1. Thanks, Leigh-Ann! I've been wondering about this idea since we got our pup almost a year ago. Appreciate your putting this out there for those of us who haven't had time to research the idea!

  2. Great article, I've been considering making my own cat and dog for for some time. I just didn't know where to start. Thanks!

  3. awesome stuff. you just made it. seriously i love it.. dog food recipes