We want our dogs to be the healthiest possible. What better way to ensure their health than making their food to know exactly what you are feeding them?
There are two main questions we get from dog owners considering making food, “how do I make a well-balanced dog food?” and the other is “what is the true cost of homemade dog food?”
We’ve discussed nutrients in the past, so today we dive into costs. Here are the pros and cons of homemade dog food vs store-bought dog food. Plus, some of the cost analysis to give you a better idea on what the cost of homemade dog food is.
Pros of Homemade Food
- You know what is going in the food
- It’s healthy
- You can make the food to address specific needs your dog has, like homemade allergy food
- No filler ingredients
- The quality is regulated by you
- No preservatives – always freshly made
- Less waste
Cons of Homemade Food
- You have to have the ingredients on-hand
- You have to take the time to make the meal as opposed to simply using what you bought
Pros of Store-Bought Food
- Convenient – just buy and serve
- Does not contain toxic ingredients for your pet
- Regulated to have the correct nutrients
Cons of Store-Bought Food
- Recalls of commercial foods
- Allergens that some dogs are sensitive to
- Sometimes uses filler ingredients
- Does not always address unique health needs
- Not always convenient to pick up
Cost Analysis for Homemade Dog Food and Store-Bought
One of the main components that people think about when considering homemade dog food is the cost. Here is a cost analysis to set your mind at ease and allow you to see the different in cost.
Wet Vs Dry Store-bought Food
No matter which variety of dog food you buy, the price will vary depending on which brand you buy. For your average can of wet food, prices are around $1.24 a can. high end brands can range up to $3.50 per can. This can really add up, if let’s say, you have a 20-pound dog who eats around 1.5 cans of dog food a day. If you feed them the high-end brands, this can add up to over 6 dollars a day.
The same goes for dry dog food. A 15-pound bag of basic dog food, such as Beneful, will cost around $15.00 while a 15-pound bag of higher-end dog food, such as Blue Buffalo, can cost around $32.00. That means a pound of dry dog food can vary between $1.00-$2.15 depending on which brand you feed your dog.
If you’re concerned about what ingredients your dog is eating. if your dog has any allergies to food, or if your dog is just a plain picky eater be prepared to lean towards the higher end of the price range. More expensive dog food usually uses a high-quality protein and cleaner ingredients.
Cooking food for your dog generally involves these ingredients: some type of vegetable (such as peas and carrots), rice, oil, some type of meat (usually chicken), and a supplement. Here’s one daily recipe for a 20 pound dog and we found with a breakdown of average prices of ingredients to give you an idea on cost
- 1/4 pound skinless chicken .79 cents
- 1 cup cooked brown rice .14 cents
- 1 cup peas and carrots .23 cents
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil .03 cents
- calcium citrate and daily vitamin prices vary
Based on this recipe and using standard ingredients found at a grocery store, it would cost around $1.21 to feed your dog (minus the supplements). While this is cheaper than the higher end brand of dog food, it ends up costing around the same as the lower end dog food. However, the quality of ingredients is much healthier.
Whether or not you decide to start making your own dog food or to continue buying store-bought, it’s always important to make sure your dog is getting their nutritional needs. Pay attention to your dog’s digestive health and make sure you check with a veterinarian before making any changes to their diet.