By Holly Barker, VetChef Accredited Nutritionist
Preparing a homemade fresh diet for you dog doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be daunting moving from a kibble costing 25p a day, to sourcing and preparing fresh ingredients for your dog. Here are some hacks to get you started.
Get to know your local butcher. Pick a quiet time, buy yourself some high quality locally sourced produce, then ask your butcher what happens to the meat that isn’t sold and ask if you could buy it for you dog to save it from the bin? In particular look for hearts, kidneys, liver and the cheaper cuts. These can then be kept in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Yellow sticker bargains. An hour or two before a supermarket closes or before midnight is the best time to grab a bargain. Head for the fresh produce and bag yourself a deal. Vegetables can be chopped, par boiled and frozen until you need them.
Game is great! It's seasonal, minimally farmed, nutrient dense meat, and a great novel protein source for dogs with allergies. Search google and Facebook to find your nearest game meat supplier, these maybe a specialist butcher, restaurant or even given away for free as the result of seasonal shooting or pest control such as rabbit or pigeon.
Frozen & tinned. Foods that have been frozen or tinned can help lower costs and will keep for long periods. Tinned fish, vegetables, beans and pulses are great store cupboard staples. Just keep an eye on the salt content, anything stored in salt water can be soaked in plain water overnight to remove any excess salt.
Raw dog food suppliers have a huge range of cost effective meats that you can cook for your dog. Just check to make sure it has no bones in it first! These suppliers are particularly good for bulk buying liver, heart, kidney and muscle meat chunks from a variety of species. Most places in the UK have a raw food supplier that will deliver to you.
One meat free meal per week. This may seem controversial, however dogs are scavengers, perfectly adapted to forgo a meaty meal in place of a lighter vegetarian option occasionally. This also gives the digestive system a rest from processing protein, which can aid kidneys, liver and pancreas health.
The freezer is your friend! You can batch cook larger quantities of food, then portion and freeze, saving valuable time. Simply defrost and reheat as you would with your own food, making sure it’s piping hot throughout.