Roxie (the name is now finalized according to She Who Must Be Obeyed) was brought up by the breeder on BARF – no not vomit – Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. This is a huge movement in the world of pet feeding, based on a philosophy of feeding animals foods appropriate to their genetic design and evolution.
So, as descendents of wolves, dogs should be fed raw meat with fruits and vegetables (which would be found naturally in the entrails of their prey). No grains, no pasta, no pizza, no cheese. Hmmm…sounds a lot like the Paleo diet and its kin for humans, i.e. we should eat in the hunter-gatherer mode.
My own view is more moderate. Dogs evolved alongside humans. They are unique among species in that they are the only one known to have intentionally crafted a symbiotic bond with human beings, based on protection in exchange for food and affection. This largely also explains our unique attachment to them, unlike other domesticated species which were taken against their will and proclivities and held captive from man’s benefit.
Anyway, back to the feeding of dogs. We were concerned about making the transition from Roxie’s BARF diet of 14 weeks, to a more convenient one for us. Before her arrival, we bought a bag of premium dog food in the form of the usual dry pellets. This one is supposedly made from “freshly de-boned chicken” (sounds like marketing-speak to me), without grains as fillers. It cost $23 a bag.
As a scientist, I like to assess things based on the facts and not on some marketing gimmick. It also pisses me off when manufacturers specify servings in cups, but what’s in their bag on weight. This is of course purely intentional, the idea being to prevent you from knowing what value you are getting for your money.
The bag calls for 3 cups/day for a dog of her size. I weighed one cup and it came to 112 grams/cup, or 336 grams in one day’s serving. The bag contains 2.72 kilos of dog-food, so the math is quite simple: Divide 2270 grams by 336 grams per day for a value of 6.75 day’s worth of food in one bag. We would need almost 5 bags per month to feed the dog, or app. $115 worth of food based on $23/bag.
Next, I went to our local grocery store. They always have some meat on sale as a lost leader. Some enormous chicken breasts were on sale and I bought 4 for $12. Stewing beef was also on sale at $3.50 a pound, so I bought another $25 worth. Veal tails (the dog should eat cartilaginous bone) was also available and I bought $25 worth of that. In the end, for about $62, I bought a month’s worth of real human grade meat. True, I have to actually cook the chicken breasts (boiling them provided us with 10 liters of chicken broth for my cooking as a bonus), and I have to cut up the meat. That took about an hour, saving me about $73 in dog food. Not bad for an hour’s work.
And I’m sure the dog will be very happy too. She hoovers down the meat and leftover vegetable cuttings. With the occasional piece of pizza crust, of course.