Monday, March 02, 2009

Dog Food: Homemade Biscuits

The third and final installment in my series about the three things our dogs consume: stuffed kongs, homemade food, and homemade biscuits. This time I describe our nine-year journey from Iams® Original Formula Small Biscuits to home baked biscuits.

Home Baked Dog Biscuits

Once Augie turned one we started on Iams® Original Formula Small Biscuits. This worked fine until we started adding two daily frozen peanut butter treats to their diet which turned Augie and Izzy into fat little spheres of fur with chubby little appendages. Instead of reducing the quantity of biscuits we gave Augie and Izzy we switched to Iams Weight Control™ Formula Biscuits. They're the same size as the Iams® Original Formula Small Biscuits. This way we could continue to use biscuits for obedience incentives without overfeeding. Between this, the switch to PB2 in their frozen kongs, and the substitution of vegetables for some kibble in their meals, Augie and Izzy got down to a lean healthy weight which they are successfully maintaining.

Kind of like my realization that crackers and cereal were the last processed foods in our pantry, last fall after we kicked the kibble habit I realized Iams Weight Control™ Formula Biscuits were the last processed food our dogs eat. Now, that fact alone did not motivate me to bake my own dog biscuits.

I already go to three different stores do do my weekly grocery shopping. When I have to pick up dog biscuits that adds a fourth store. Now that we've dropped the FURminator deShedding Dog Food Supplement from the menu, the only thing I need to buy at the pet store, other than biscuits, is a canister of multivitamins twice a year. None of the grocery stores around here carry Iams Weight Control™ Formula Biscuits. And even if I switched back to Iams® Original Formula Small Biscuits, the grocery stores sell smaller boxes at a higher price than the pet store.

Shopping convenience aside, this fall I discovered the new boxes of Iams Weight Control™ Formula Biscuits weighed less and cost more. Also David noticed the biscuits themselves had gotten thinner. This is a common tactic in all sorts of goods. Consumerist has dubbed the phenomenon The Grocery Shrink Ray and has a whole series of posts documenting the trend.

Leaning toward home cooking in general, shopping convenience, and Grocery Shrink Ray aside, the real catalyst to my adventure in dog biscuit baking was this gift from our very own Rebecca.

In our Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/New Years package from my fellow bloggers Bob and Rebecca, we received a Chef Fido Dog Biscuit Cutter & Recipe Kit.

Along with the double sided, dog biscuit shaped cookie cutter (complete with the capability of imprinting entirely redundant messages on your homemade dog biscuits), came four recipes.

So far I've only tried the recipe on the outside of the packaging.

Rover's Rewards adapted from the Chef Fido Dog Biscuit Cutter & Recipe Kit
3/4 cup hot water
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl pour hot water over butter. Stir in powdered milk, salt, and egg. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead 3 to 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough. Pat or roll to 1/2 inch thickness and cut out with Chef Fido Dog Biscuit Cutter. Place on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper or a non-stick baking mat. Bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool and dry out until hard.

The recipe says it makes about 1 1/4 pounds of biscuits at a cost of about 25 cents a pound. I'm not sure how that math works out given that the flour alone cost $0.89 per pound at Henry's. And my first batch weighed in at 1 lb. 0.5 oz. The recipes inside make larger batches (allegedly 2 1/4 lbs, 1 3/4 lbs, and 3 1/2 lbs). They even have one that includes garlic. Why on earth would you want your dog's breath to be garlicky on top of everything else dog breath implies?

"Mmm . . . something smells yummy." Are the exact words David used when he came into the house while the dog biscuits were baking. We split one (which is SO much less gross than certain people who shall not be named eating commercial dog biscuits . . . or was it cat food . . . when they were little). Very wheaty. Like a super healthy Wheat Thin, but thicker.

David likes to break the biscuits in half so he doesn't overstuff the dogs while he bribes them into behaving during walks. These homemade biscuits break much more easily and cleanly than the Iams Weight Control™ Formula Biscuits. I attribute this to their natural ingredients as opposed to the construction waste filler I suspect commercial biscuits contain.

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Bob said...

The nameless someone ate: "Milk-Bones", dry dog kibble, _and_ cat food, not to mention other substances too horrible to mention. But this was back in the good old days, when even dog food was made only of healthy things, or we all had built up our immunities, or something.

The nameless someone reportedly claims that dry dog food was perfectly tasty, but cat food was disgusting.

Also, the nameless someone is often bemused that they were thought of as a geek by people who never knew how true their assertions were.

Rebecca said...

I'm so glad the dogs like the biscuits and that they actually worked. It was a total impulse purchase, but seems like it worked out well.