What your dog eats does more than just fill his belly.
It also affects his overall health, quality of life, behavior and longevity. Unfortunately, dog food can also have a huge impact on your budget. Thankfully, you can provide your dog with good nutrition without emptying your wallet.
Cost and Quality
A more expensive dog food may cost more to purchase but it may actually be the better bargain in the long run. Many of the more expensive foods are made from better quality ingredients which provide better nutrition for your dog. In addition, these foods tend to be more nutrient dense, with fewer fillers, so you don’t have to feed as much food compared to a food of lesser quality. While researching foods, take a look at the cost of a package of the food, how many servings are in the package for a dog of your dog’s size, and then figure out the cost per serving. Use that figure, as well as the quality of the ingredients in the food, to compare with other dog foods.
Homemade Diets can Work
Homemade diets, raw or cooked, are popular with many dog owners. Not only can you control exactly what your dog eats when you make his food at home but if you’re a wise shopper, you can also save money. Before you switch, though, do some research. A poor diet can cause a number of problems for your dog. There are many sources of recipes, online and in books, and you may also want to talk to a veterinary nutritionist for some recommendations.
Use a Base Formula
If you’re concerned about creating a balanced diet for your dog but you still like the idea of feeding him a homemade food, take a look at the base foods. The Honest Kitchen has several base mix dog foods that are designed to be served with meat, raw or cooked, that you provide. With the addition of meat, these formulas create a balanced diet for your dog. These are reasonably priced so if you can find quality meat at a good price, you can save money.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money if you can use the food before it spoils. Many of the better quality dog foods, when purchased in bulk, are available at discounted costs from the pet food company or through a distributor. Ingredients for a homemade diet can also be purchased in bulk and if you can use the ingredients or preserve them (by freezing, canning, or dehydration); this can be a money saving option. Big box stores or discount stores offer bulk packaging of vegetables, fruits, and meat. You can also often buy in bulk from farmer’s markets, directly from the farmer, or from farmers cooperatives.
Sources of Quality Meats
You may have to do some research to find sources of quality meats at discounts but if you can find a couple of sources it can save you a great deal of money. Talk to a local butcher and see if he’ll sell you muscle meat trimmings, organ meats, and cuts of meat his customers may not want. If he knows you’ll be a regular customer he may offer you a great price. If you have a large freezer, go to a 4-H or Future Farmers of America auction and buy a quality locally raised animal. You may also find meat from local hunters as well as chicken or rabbit farmers. While doing your research, think outside the box. A friend of mine contacted an emu farmer and regularly buys reasonably priced emu eggs and meat for her dogs.
Find a Local Egg Source
Many people have backyard chickens now and these chickens produce a lot of nutritious eggs. Perhaps you can barter with a couple of these people for a regular supply of fresh eggs. Do you have a vegetable garden? Swap some vegetables for some eggs. If you sew, fix cars, or paint; barter your skills for eggs.
Check out Farmer’s Markets
Local farmer’s markets can be a wonderful source of locally grown, fresh, reasonably priced foods. You will find not only vegetables and fruits but also eggs, meats, and even fish if there is a local source. Foods are usually seasonal, however, so buy more than you need at the moment and freeze, can, or dehydrate the extra food.
Plant a Garden
A backyard vegetable garden and a few fruit trees can provide an amazing amount of food. Many vegetables and fruit trees are easy to grow; even by inexperienced backyard farmers. Plus, if you can preserve the excess foods harvested, then food will be available all year round and not just when it’s time to harvest.
Feeding your dog quality foods while adhering to a budget can be stressful; after all, you want to provide the best for your dog. However, with a little research on your part, you can feed your dog good foods and save money at the same time. In addition, with these new ideas and food sources, you may decide to change your own diet.
Written by: Liz Palika
Originally posted on “The Honest Kitchen Blog”.