How To Make Dog Food

Nemo - the "Mighty Dog"

I have lived in many places around the world. And, because I love animals, I have generally had a dog or two in my care.

In many places in which I have lived, people exist in dire poverty. Animals were not generally regarded as “pets.” Dogs and cats are mutually impoverished inhabitants in a world of sparse resources. Dogs generally survive on community garbage scraps. Left to their own devices in finding food with which to sustain their lives, they are often small, undernourished and mistreated.

I have also experienced a number of natural disasters, including a massive hurricane. When it happened, I was forced to endure, for the first time in my life, a world without electricity. For several months, there was no fridge, freezer, microwave or stove (not to mention gas pumps and hair irons.)

Add all this together and you may understand why I have developed some survival skills that many Americans do not have. Amongst these skills is my ability to make homemade dog food.

I learned this in Jamaica.

When I lived there in the mid-1980s, there was no commercially branded dog food available in stores.  The supermarket in Kingston sold bones (labeled as such) for the purpose of making dog food. After the hurricane, I considered myself very lucky indeed to have the resources to buy the bones, which I had to cook on an outdoor stove. This REALLY came in handy for feeding my two great Danes and two Shih-tzus.

Lately, my skill has once again saved the day as I endure seemingly endless months without a stable income. I have resurrected my knowledge of how to make dog food so that my little companion, Nemo (another Shih-tzu), can continue to eat well.

Here is my recipe:

Use any type of meat stock…. neckbones, hambone, chicken necks, innards, etc. You can even use bones left over from your own meals. If you use chicken, you will have to remove the bones after cooking because — I hope you know — dogs don’t chew their food, so the shards of chicken bones can kill them.

Put meat/bones in a soup pot. Cook the meat/bones until you have a strong stock. (You can add a little salt and vegetable oil if you want to, but that is only for taste, not a necessity.)

Slowly add cornmeal (1 cup of meal to each 5 cups of water/stock)… stirring constantly.

It helps to “slurry” the meal before adding it to the pot — that means stirring it in some cold water in a separate bowl until it “dissolves.” Slurrying keeps the meal from clumping when you put it in the hot water to actually cook it into food form.

Cook the mixture on low for about an hour, stirring frequently.

Once it is a good, firm consistency, turn off the pot and let it sit until it cools.

Once it cools, it congeals. It is now dog food.

At this point, you can transfer it into a plastic container and store it in the fridge.

If the power is out and your fridge is not working, you can keep it in the pot on the stove. (Just keep smelling it to be sure it hasn’t spoiled.)

I usually make enough to last for a week (not that much for a Shih-tzu). I heat what I have dished out for a minute in the microwave — or, if the power is out, just let it sit until it is room temperature before serving.

My little “Mighty Dog” Nemo LOVES it!

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1 Comment

  1. Kay said,

    5 May 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Great idea!!! I would never have thought to do this. With the economy as it is as well as unemployment, this may be an option for my babies soon. Thank you!!


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