VeganMoFo, Day 29: Frugal vegans have spoiled vegan dog-kids.

October 29th, 2009 8:46 pm by Kelly Garbato

null

2007-02-08 - Kelly & Dogs - 0004

Though I hope to eventually pen a piece about canine nutrition vis-à-vis veganism and vegetarianism, this isn’t it! Since I don’t have much time for background research, and don’t want to half-ass it, I’ll have to save that topic for another time. Instead of convincing you to feed your dog-kids a vegan or vegetarian diet – assuming you have dog-kids, that is – this VeganMoFo post is all about feeding your dog-kids a vegan diet (or foodstuffs), frugally.

Granted, commercial vegan and vegetarian dog foods are more expensive than their non-veg counterparts, and feeding your dog-kids a diet consisting solely of homemade food requires enough expertise that I don’t recommend it. Or rather, I can’t advise you on how to do it. You see, even though I occasionally feature recipes for homemade dog food, I primarily feed my kids commercial kibble: ’twas Nature’s Recipe Vegetarian formula for awhile, but we recently switched to V-Dog. Though it’s a little more expensive, it’s also confirmed vegan (DelMonte never would respond to my inquiries). The homemade goodies are more of a “topping,” if you will, to add a little variety to their meals. So all in all, we do spend a pretty penny on dog food in the Garbato-Brady household, homemade goodies notwithstanding.

Luckily, there are other ways to cut costs:

– Make your own dog treats. As with vegan dog food, vegan dog treats can be a little pricey, so you can save some cash by baking treats yourself. In contrast to food, which must meet your dog-kid’s nutritional requirements, treats are extras, so diy is just fine! Just go easy on the fat, salt, sugar and calories, mkay? Also, always check and double-check the ingredients to confirm that they aren’t harmful to canines.

Dogs also tend to be less discriminating eaters than people (well, me), so experiment with abandon, and don’t be afraid to substitute in less expensive ingredients when necessary. Chances are, your kids will enjoy whatever you create. Plus, is there anything cooler than giving your dog-kid a treat you baked especially for her, with nothing but love? (And an oven!)

2009-08-30 - Maple Cinnamon Mini-Muffins for Peedee's B-Day - 0003

For treat ideas, check out It’s A Vegan Dog’s Life, Yummy for Dogs and the Innocent Primate Vegan Blog, for starters.

The obvious downside to baking your own biscuits is that they don’t keep as well as the store-bought stuff, so it’s a little harder to keep some on hand at all times (you never know when you’ll need to entice your dog-kid away from a found animal corpse, am I right?). However, this brings us to the next tip:

– Fresh, raw, dehydrated and dried fruits and vegetables make great treats, too! With a few exceptions, your dog-kids can eat many of the same foods as you. (Although, again, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on table scraps, particularly salty, fatty and sugary foods, and always stay away from foods that are harmful to canines.)

Come breakfast time, my dog-kids are all ears, waiting for me to crack the cabinet in which the dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries are stored. Even though I’m readying breakfast for myself, they know I’m a sucker for a furry face (or five). Before I’ve even set the bags on the countertop, I’m surrounded. Blueberries for everyone!

Likewise, I never chop or dice fresh fruits and veggies solo; there’s always at least one dog, hovering, waiting for a carrot or potato cube to fall to the floor. Carrots are a popular snack, and one I hand out at will, as they’re neither expensive nor unhealthy. Raw tofu is a big hit, too, as is popcorn.

2006-11-23 - Dogs-n-Popcorn-0007

Last but not least, frozen and partially thawed fruit makes a refreshing snack during the hot, humid summer months.

– Forget about the pig ears. Before I switched him to a vegetarian diet, our first-born dog kid, Ralphie, absolutely loved rawhide treats. He’d spend hours gnawing on them and then spend another hour transferring his prize from hiding place to hiding place. Once he “went veg,” bye bye rawhides. (Cue the tiny violin; once we introduced Peedee to the family, the hidden rawhides probably would have caused too many battles to keep around anyhow.)

2002-12-29 - RalphieBone-0009

While there are a few brands of vegetarian “pig ears” and plant-based rawhides available, in my experience, they don’t hold up to rough chewing nearly long enough to justify their expense. As a substitute, we’ve switched to rubber Kongs. Most varieties of Kong have little nooks and crannies in which to hide treats – biscuits, chews, even nut butters such as peanut, soy, almond, cashew, etc. (these work best, IMHO, but they can be very messy and thus are best enjoyed outside).

In addition to providing hours of entertainment, stuffed Kongs help to clean dogs’ teeth. Rennie is our most voracious chewer – and she has the purtiest teefies!

2009-10-19 - Dogs Playing - 0027

Kongs are sturdy, but not indestructible, so always supervise your dog-kid and replace damaged toys immediately.

Kong is our brand of choice, but there are a number of “rip-offs” on the market. Before ordering multiples of any one toy, take one for a test run to ensure that you dog-kid likes it. Rennie, for instance, will only play with Kong rubber toys. You can see how many testers we bought before giving up!

2007-02-25 - Toy Explosion - 0001

Also, shop around – the prices of identical toys vary widely, depending on the vendor. I’ve had good luck at Amazon as well as wholesale websites, such as Pet Blvd.

Got more frugal vegan dog food ideas? Do share!

——————

Tagged:

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “VeganMoFo, Day 29: Frugal vegans have spoiled vegan dog-kids.”

  1. Shannon Says:

    We recently switched Lucy to Natural Balance and she’s loving it. Once we finish off her non-vegan treats, she’ll be a vegan dog too! She’s funny about vegetables, though: sometimes she loves them, and other times she’ll just chew on them for a while and leave a soggy pile of veggie mush on the floor. Gross.

  2. Sara Says:

    Thanks for linking to our ‘Pet the Pooch’ category! I love making my baby homemade treats – plus, it gives me (and my waistline) a break from having to eat all my baked goods myself ;) You know, you’re right..homemade treats don’t keep as long as store-bought, but I tend to make smaller batches in sizes I know I can give her within 3-4 weeks time. The longer you bake them, the longer they’ll keep (that’s just a general rule, not hard and fast rule). When I leave them soft like my cookies, they’ll only keep for about a week or so, but when I bake them to a hardness similar to store-bought, they’ll keep for 3-4 weeks in an airtight container…

    Mocha absolutely adores blueberries and carrots. One thing I like to make her as a special treat is a peanut butter, banana, and agave nectar ‘sundae’ – but it mostly just looks like mush, but she loves it! Sometimes I’ll even toss on some rolled oats… Her favorite dinner is quinoa with pureed greens and squash and a few carrot chunks for texture!

  3. Kelly G. Says:

    @ Shannon – I’m just curious – Why Natural Balance? We had such a hard time settling on a vegan food, but went w/V-Dog because sodium was rather low on the list of ingredients. (We’re trying to restrict Kaylee’s salt intake.)

    @ Sara – Any time! Re: freshly-baked treats, Molly includes instructions for biscuits (which I would assume last longer) on her recipes at IAVDL, but I haven’t had a chance to test them yet – the dogs get so impatient! When making muffins, usually I’ll freeze half the batch so they don’t go bad.

  4. Shannon Says:

    Well, I asked a couple people what they fed their vegan dogs, and all of them recommended Natural Balance. We can also get it at Petco, which is cheaper than mail order. She’s really thriving on it, but if for some reason we need to switch her, we’ll probably go with V-Dog. Good call about the salt, though!

Leave a Reply