Bulking out the Fresh Food diet for financial purposes

Updated: Jul 24

There are times when fresh food feeders are on reduced budgets and rather than go back to kibble which would cause many of them conniptions, they look to ways to bulk out their recipes with fillers.

Whilst we recognise it is not best practice to bulk out healthy recipes with cheap fillers, life happens right! I'd rather recommend some potato, oats or rice for example than see a dog put back on highly processed "food" with synthetic nutrients that is so high in carbs that it can lead to inflammation.

There are a number of ingredients we can use, some healthier than others:

  • Potatoes - White & Sweet

  • Rice - White & Brown

  • Oats with steel cut being the healthier option

  • Legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans

  • Seeds such as quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat

  • Gluten-free grains such as Millet

Some pet parents get worried about the non-grain ingredients listed above because back in 2019 the FDA started to investigate a heart condition called DCM that seemed to pop up in some pretty decent numbers and people believed grain-free formula's that used a lot of these ingredients were to blame. It's important to know the FDA has said the following:

  • At this time, we are not advising dietary changes based solely on the information we have gathered so far.

  • At this time, it is not clear what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs. There are multiple possible causes of DCM. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a potential cause of DCM, but it is not the only cause of DCM. Nutritional makeup of the main ingredients or how dogs process them, main ingredient sourcing, processing, amount used, or other factors could be involved.

Dry dog food not fresh food has been greatly implicated, you can read more about that here.

Most importantly, in 2020, a new study proved that Grainfree and its ingredients were not causing DCM in dogs. Whether or not we find out what was causing DCM, fresh food diets have not been implicated to any statistically significant level including recipes that use these ingredients. Fresh food feeders aim to feed a variety of ingredients on rotation not the same thing day in and day out which could be problematic if there is something wrong with the formula or a synthetic nutrient mix used. There are pro's and con's to every single ingredient we put in our and our dogs mouths, it's our job not to be scare-mongered but to seek information from reputable sources. As a pet parent you get to choose what goes into your dogs body, so if an ingredient doesn't make you feel comfortable, then don't feed it, simples - but hopefully you've based that decision on legit information.

For example, rice doesn't make me feel super comfortable so I don't feed it to my dogs very often, usually just as left overs. The reason for this is that I try and just stick to species-appropriate ingredients, there was also a study that found that dogs that eat rice regularly could be at risk of long term arsenic exposure, this is going to be more relevant to dogs who eat rice everyday such as in kibble, not many informed fresh food feeders would feed it everyday. You can read more about that here.

Some pet parents feel uncomfortable feeding legumes, this is often traced back to a human cardiologist that did a video with 2 leading influencers in the pet community. Dr Gundry is very anti Legumes due to lectins. What does the science say? Well you can actually cherry pick studies from both sides of the fence. The basics of it is that "Legumes contain Phytic acid, or phytate which is an antioxidant found in all edible plant seeds, including legumes. It impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium from the same meal and may increase the risk of mineral deficiencies in people (and probably dogs) who rely on legumes or other high-phytate foods as a dietary staple" so the safe bet would be not to rely on them as a dietary stable and follow the principals of fresh food feeding which is to feed a variety of ingredients on rotation.

When you're on a budget because Covid-19 blew your job up, your care factor is likely to just be centred around feeding your dog a half decent diet so there's no guilt or judgement from us, you do whatever you need to do to help your dog remain on a mostly healthy diet if your budget allows and if your budget doesn't allow then you do whatever you need to do to feed your happens.

There are a bunch of other things you can do to reduce the costs of a fresh food diet and you can read more about them here.

I have put together a complete and balanced recipe (AAFCO) that you can feed to puppies and adults. This is a very basic recipe that lacks the variety I would normally include because this is a recipe for those on a budget. I have balanced the fats, formulated to an ideal calcium:phosphorus ratio for puppies and included good amounts of fibre for good gut health. I would recommend cycling through different recipes because if you fed this day in and day out that wouldn't be awesome. I will aim to include more recipes for those on a budget in this blog in the future. With complete and balanced recipes, there are no substitutes for ingredients as all ingredients contribute their unique nutritional profile to balance the recipe, however, if you are just using he recipes for inspiration, you can change whatever you like. This recipe works out to under $5.00 per kilo. When completing the costings, I used my supplier for animal proteins here in Sydney which is World4Pets. For the majority of the remaining ingredients, I have used the Woolworths supermarket website.

I've used egg rings to freeze patties but you can store your mix in whatever way you like. Keep in the fridge what you will use within a few days and freeze the rest. This recipe will make you around 1 kilo of food.

To make this recipe suitable for puppies, I have used Now brand Bone Meal powder instead of egg shell or seaweed calcium powder because bone meal contains good amounts of phosphorous which is required with puppy formulas. The only reason I have not used edible bones in this formula is that it can be challenging to ask pet parents to cut say 50g off a bone to balance the calcium in a recipe. Just because I have used a powder for calcium does not mean you cannot feed bones. For my own dogs, I feed them edible bones as an entire meal every 2nd night for enrichment, a jaw work out, dental health and a fresh calcium source.

You can download a complete nutritional profile (in a pdf format) of this recipe here - this recipe is not for commercial purposes and is only for individual use.

More information about the recipe below:

  • 500g of whole bird chicken mince - this is effectively a BBQ chook, raw minced up without any marinate. It is not chicken frame mince which is normally called pet mince.

  • 300g of brushed potatoes with skin on, boiled - don't worry about the dirt!

  • 2 Large eggs

  • 50g Beef Liver

  • 50g Beef Kidney

  • 50g of raw finely chopped/blended Carrots

  • 20g of frozen peas, boiled

  • 10g of unsoaked chia seeds, you can mix in as is or ground down, the moisture from the rest of the formula will help make them more bioavailable.

  • 2.5g of Iodized salt aka table salt - don't be afraid of salt, dogs have nutrient requirements which salt takes care of.

  • 1g of Wheatgrass powder - you can find Wheatgrass powder typically in health food stores or online.