Dealbusters: Homemade dog biscuits

dog biscuitsThis Monday series checks out whether something that sounds like a good deal — or takes a bit of extra work — is a good deal. We’ll look at cost and benefit — with everything filtered through my individual experience. Please chime in with your take.

Shortly after the dog food recall this spring, our local newspaper published a recipe for homemade dog biscuits.
We gave the biscuits a try. First we used a cookie cutter shaped like a little pig, about the size of a small bone-shaped commercial dog biscuit. But our dog tends to the overweight side, so we usually broke those in half. Now I make the biscuits using a 1″ round cutter.

If you don’t have a cutter the right size, be creative. You could use a well-floured lid from a gallon of milk or whatever else you find that’s right.

The cost breakdown:
I haven’t bought dog biscuits for quite a while, so I looked at prices on Milk-Bone biscuits cost $3.99 for about 120 biscuits ($0.03 each); Meaty Bones biscuits cost $5.99 for about 78 biscuits ($0.08 each).

Cost breakdown of homemade dog biscuits:

  • 2.75 cups whole wheat flour – $0.40
  • 2 small jars baby food – $1.38
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder – $0.25
  • 1 tsp salt – $0.00
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk – $0.32
  • 1 egg – $0.28
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil – $0.24
  • 8-10 Tbsp water – $0.00
  • Natural gas oven (1 hour) – $0.23

TOTAL = $3.10 to make about 48 half-size biscuits, or $0.06 per small biscuit

Savings = There are none. Sadly, these biscuits cost 133 percent more than cheap store bought dog biscuits.

The winner: Homemade.

The priceless factors:
Knowing what is in the biscuits. Check out the ingredients of Meaty Bones or Milk-Bone and you’ll see what I mean — although I think I speak for everyone when I say that just reading the phrase “beef fat preserved with tocopherols” makes my stomach growl.

The biggest boon is that my dog LOVES these biscuits. He most often gets a biscuit when he goes into his kennel when we leave the house. With store-bought treats, he goes willingly enough. With homemade treats, when we lock the back door, he gets a gleam in his eye. When we reach a hand toward the fridge, he starts backing toward the bedroom. When we actually have the biscuit in hand, he runs into his kennel and waits for his treat. Easy-peasy.

The drawbacks:

  • Well, uh, it turns out they’re not cheap in the least. But since we dole out just one to two a day, $3.10 is a price I’m willing to pay for about two months’ worth of biscuits.
  • They are not super-crunchy, so they aren’t brushing the dog’s teeth while he chews.
  • They have no preservatives, so I store them in a container in the fridge to stay on the safe side.

The verdict:
Call me a spendthrift. I’ll keep making these for sure.

Grade: A

Photo by Dana Coffield, from The Denver Post

7 thoughts on “Dealbusters: Homemade dog biscuits

  1. Melissa says:

    Our dogs have also LOVED these treats when they’ve come to our house with your dog. :)

    They must be mighty tasty, and sometimes, just the fact that your dog will do whatever it takes to get one is worth a great deal.

  2. cheaplikeme says:

    Indeed! And if we *wanted* to taste them, we could, since they’re made from all human-grade ingredients. I haven’t actually tried one, but they smell delicious when they’re baking.

  3. Praniti says:

    Heya…I was just browsing around and came across this post…One thing you mentioned as a drawback is that the biscuits aren’t crunchy enough…I make doggie biscuits at home too so out of experience I’d say bake at the suggested temperature for just a few minutes less than the suggested time and then lower the temp. and let the biscuits stay in there longer… I follow this “low temperature…more time” idea and it works amazingly! Biscuits which have been stored for a month are crunchier than market bought ones ;)

    Also, you use babyfood in your recipes. Here, in India we only get basic milk/milk apple kind of flavours…no meat baby food so instead I simply use the juice leftover from boiling chicken…and if I have any meat lying around, I just mash up and add about a couple of spoonfulls or you could just use chicken flavouring cubes…All these would bring down the cost!

    Hope it helps :) … Take care and my doggie sends his wags your way :)

  4. Praniti says:

    Oh and another thing…since your dog tends to be on the overweight side, try making the biscuits thinner…Those will definitely be crunchier and ofcourse lesser calories :)

  5. Cheap Like Me says:

    @ Praniti – Thanks for your comments! I will try the baking idea. I do make my biscuits much thinner than she suggests — about 1/8 inch (3mm) thick. Great point.

    We recently added a dog to our home, and the biscuits have played a big role in his being oh so willing to take to kennel training just like our other dog! They look forward to their cookies. :)

  6. Guy says:

    Sounds great, however, just a word of warning. Make sure you check that the baby food does not contain any onion powder as this is toxic for dogs and in large enough doses can result in anemia.

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