Clyde is a five and a half year old lab/ mystery dog mix, and perhaps the greatest dog ever. We met when he was about 6 months old. He had run away and was sent to the pound (I think) because he looked like a full grown pit bull. Well, he just kept growing, and is now about twice the size as when we first met.
He was a picky eater when I first knew him, which meant hours in the dog food aisle for me. I was uncomfortable with a lot of the ingredients in those dry foods, but I had to go home with something for him to eat. I wound up with some pretty crazy things- I remember one had a lot of avocados in it. There was also a vegetarian one, and one with vitamin bits in it. I felt like I was being taken- why was I paying so much and thinking so much about what amounted to cereal? Plus, who wants to spend that much time in the dog food aisle?
Anyway, all of that label reading has paid off, 'cause now I make a lot of Clyde's food. Yes, that is right. I cook for him. But you know, what matters in the food system matters to and for everything that eats. When you think about it that way, it is kind of crazy that manufactured pet food is the norm! It is not a big deal to make his food anyway. Basically, I take the ingredients I saw on the bags of dried dog food, and apply it to whole food. Most of the time I make it in the rice cooker, so it is really easy. The bulk of the food is some grain (brown rice or oats), veggies and fruit pulp left over from the juicer (no waste!) or grated fresh, and some protein (egg, liver, kidney, yogurt or cottage cheese, even tofu). He gets peanut butter in his kong ('cause he loves it) and treats from the farmers market. I wind up spending the same or less than the fancy dried food I was relying on before.
I do keep some dried food around for those days I don't have enough time to cook. But nothing makes that boy happier than some real home cookin'. And nothing makes me happier than giving him something that makes him happy and healthy.