Let me get one thing out of the way – most dry foods are highly processed convenience foods and not as nutritious as the packaging says. They’re high in carbs (aka sugar) and bulked up with fillers. If you feed a dry food then at least take time to read the ingredients and get an understanding of it.
There are great (and cheap) ways to supplement a dry food diet to greatly improve the health of your pet, such as supplements from the pet store or fresh foods from the supermarket.
3 Simple Supplements
Well respected Wellness Vet Dr. Karen Becker recommends the following 3 supplements to a dry diet:
- Sustainably sourced Krill oil as an excellent source of marine omega 3 fatty acids.
- Digestive enzymes to help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and absorb nutrients.
- Probiotics as beneficial “good” gut bacteria to help maintain gastrointestinal health.
Supermarket Bargains, Fresh Meats, Fresh Foods
Lots of pet products are poor quality with inflated prices. “Pet grade” meat is illegal to sell as human food for the simple reason it’s worse quality. So why not buy “Human grade” meats? It can work out cheaper!
If your local supermarket is like mine you’ll always find meat and meat products reduced for quick sale, so when you’re doing the weekly shop why not look for meaty bargains your dog would love?
All of these are cheap and great for dogs – chicken necks & frames, livers, kidneys, hearts, meaty bones, brisket bones.
Breast meats and prime cuts are also great, especially when they’re yellow stickered at 50% off.
The occasional tin of tuna or sardines (in springwater) is another cheap option, and I often find these much cheaper than the lesser quality equivalents in the pet food aisle.
The meat and fish counter at my local supermarket is currently selling basa fillets at AUD $5.50/kilo. I bought 5 fillets for $4, so a cheap healthy dinner last night for myself, my two dogs, and my cat.
Your local butcher might stock green tripe which is astoundingly nutritious if you can hack the smell.
We often hear “grains are bad” for dogs, but it’s not strictly true. Cheap grains cooked at high temps into a grain heavy kibble are definitely bad, but home cooking your dog rice, barley, oats, along with a mince such as turkey, chicken, beef, or kangaroo is a great idea. Throwing in some veg wouldn’t go amiss either. All of these ingredients are cheap, and it doesn’t take long to cook up a batch for the week.
Supplementing a dry food with any of the above will greatly improve the ongoing health of your dog, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.
To Cook or not to Cook?
Dogs can stomach raw meats, but use caution. Bones should always be fed raw.
Generally I offer my dogs any red meats raw, but other meats such as pork, or fish I’ll cook or boil. I feed chicken necks and frames raw, but generally with chicken breast I’ll boil it and cut it into squares as excellent nutritious treats.
For the more adventurous you could buy an air drier and make chicken or beef jerky treats which keep for ages.
Dogs are often fed a monotonous diet, a misconception led by corporate marketing. Over the last 20+ years we’ve seen an alarming increase in unhealthy pets, from itchy skin to cancer.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – variety is as important for our pets as it is for us.