Most store bought pet foods are just as junky as the processed foods sold to humans. Read the ingredients. If the first ingredient is not meat, it's trash. Most list the first ingredient as corn meal. Also beware if the meat ingredient is something other than MEAT. Some key words to look for are animal digest (which is what was in the animal's stomach when it was slaughtered), meat byproducts (which can be organs and sinew) or bone meal (which increases the protein content of the food but provides little nutritional value to the food).
Dogs and cats were not designed to eat corn. Felines, especially, are carnivores. Dogs are a bit more forgiving, meaning they can eat some veggies, but the bulk of their diet should be meat. They can suffer from the same debilitating health issues humans do if they are fed nutrient-poor diets.
So what do I feed our animals? Well, one of our dogs gets sick every time we feed him more than a few kibbles (store bought dog food). On scraps, he does fine. While we do generate a fair amount of table scraps, I also buy a 10 pound bag of chicken legs. In my local markets these bags sell for $6.90 everyday and less if on sale. Keep reading and you'll see how that $6.90 feeds not only my dogs for a few days, but my family of ten as well.
I rinse the legs under cool water, being sure to slide my finger along the backbones to remove the lungs that are usually still attached. The organs go into the cat or dog's bowl. Yes, they are raw. It's OK as cats and dogs are, by their nature, hunters who eat raw food.** Give it to them. I cook the legs just as I would if I were making a pot of chicken stock.
Instructions for Making Broth
Place legs in a large pot. Add 2-3 carrots and 2-3 ribs of celery and 1-2 onion(s).
Add 5T salt and 2-3 bay leaves, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Skim off and discard any scum that forms (usually in the first 30 minutes). Let simmer slowly for a couple hours. When done strain all of the solid contents and save the broth.
Cool the solids (veggies and meat) in the fridge and when it's feeding time, simply remove all bones and feed your dog this nutritious, whole food.
Now on to feeding the family. The broth continues cooling in the fridge for at least a full day. The fat layer that develops on the top is usually pretty thick, as the legs are usually where the bird stores fat reserves. This layer of fat gets turned into SCHMALTZ. Read more about that in another post. I use this fat to cook with everyday. The broth gets made into soup or canned for use for another day.
Using this method, you get 3 uses from one rather inexpensive product. I can usually feed our 2 dogs this meat for at least 4-5 days, supplementing it with other table scraps.
**dogs and cats can handle eating raw meats, but be sure not to allow children to handle the raw meat or dishes that have contained raw meat