When I'm speaking with other pet owners about the benefits of homemade dog food, they always ask about the cost. How much does it cost to make homemade meals for your pet? Is it more expensive than purchasing commercial dog food? This guide to the real cost of homemade dog food is just how I personally budget, but it will be a great starting point for any owner new to making homemade dog food.
When you're thinking about the expense of homemade dog food, you have to first think about the quality of the food you'll be making. You will be using whole foods and no artificial fillers, preservatives, dyes or harmful ingredients.
Making your dog's meals also allows you to cater the food to his needs. If your dog has allergies or food sensitivities, you can make sure the food you create won't upset his stomach.
So, when you're considering a switch to a homemade diet you need to think about the quality of the commercial dog food you're currently feeding. Homemade dog food needs to be compared to a high-quality commercial diet made with natural, whole food ingredients.
The Real Cost of Homemade Dog Food
how I personally budget
The figured that I share in this guide on the real cost of homemade dog food are based on the recipes that I make for our Labrador, Saddie. She weighs 70-pounds, is 4-years old and is an active dog.
When you're considering the cost for your pet(s), keep in mind their age, weight and activity level. Puppies and young adult dogs will eat more than seniors. Likewise, larger breeds eat more than smaller pups. And, if your dog is active, he'll need more calories than a lazier dog of the same age and size.
As I mentioned, this is just a guide to get you started on budgeting for homemade dog food.
I start with the protein source, because that's always the biggest part of the expense. I budget about $0.75 per serving for cheaper sources, like chicken and beef. If you choose (or need) to use a more expensive protein, like venison or bison, your cost could be upwards of $1.50 per serving.
For a 1 cup serving of vegetables or fruit, I estimate about $0.50. As with protein, more common produce that is in season will be your cheapest option. Apples, bananas, carrots and green beans are usually fairly inexpensive all year round.
I estimate about $0.25 per serving for carbohydrates. This works well for common carbohydrate sources including rice, oats and pasta. If you're using a more expensive source like quinoa or barley, you'll have to increase this part of your budget.
Finally, vitamins and supplements must be included in your budget when figuring out the real cost of homemade dog food. Studies have shown that a vast majority of homemade dog food recipes are not nutritionally balanced. For this reason, it's crucial that you consult a veterinarian or canine nutritionist before switching your pooch to homemade food.
An expert in canine nutrition will help you evaluate the recipes that you're making for your dog to ensure they are nutritionally balanced for Fido's unique needs. They will likely recommend adding different supplements or multi-vitamins to each recipe based on the nutrients that are naturally included in the ingredients.
Vitamins and supplements are an expensive piece of the real cost of homemade dog food. Typically, I budget $0.25-$0.50 per day, depending on the number of supplements needed. This cost will vary greatly depending on your dog's needs.
Now, we need to total up all of these individual costs. If you do the math, the cost of feeding a large dog would be $2.00-$2.50 per serving. If you have a medium-sized breed, that cost would drop to $1.00-$1.25 per serving. And, of course, a meal for a small breed would cost just cents per serving.
Comparing this cost with cheap commercial kibble that costs less than $0.25 per serving seems like a huge expense. However, if you compare this cost with the cost per serving of a high-quality commercial dog food, you'll see that it is roughly the same. If you look at the cost of commercial fresh dog food options, the cost for the commercial products are often much higher than the estimate that I've given here.