Which Is Cheaper, Homemade or Commercial Dog Food?

by Madeline Masters
Remember that the cost for homemade dog food doesn't include the price for your time spent making it!

Remember that the cost for homemade dog food doesn't include the price for your time spent making it!

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Cooking for yourself is almost always cheaper than buying ready-made food. But what about for your dog? Whether homemade dog food is cheaper than store-bought depends on a few factors, like what grade of commercial dog food you buy and what ingredients you use to make your dog food.

Commercial Dog Food: Canned

The price per 12-ounce can of dog food varies greatly depending on the brand name. A midrange brand dog food such as Pedigree, Alpo or store brands costs on average $1.25 per can. An average premium can of dog food like Natural Choice, Spot's Stew or Science Diet costs about $2.50. The cost per pound (16 ounces) for basic canned dog food is $1.67, and $3.33 for premium canned food. Keep in mind that when comparing dog food prices, you can usually feed your dog a bit less of the higher-quality brands and still provide your dog with the same nutrients.

Commercial Dog Food: Dry

Again, the price for dry dog food varies a lot depending on the brand and grade. For midrange dry food, the cost per 30-pound bag is about $35. Premium dry dog food averages $65 for a 30-pound bag. So, the price per pound for dry midrange dog food is $1.17 per pound. The price per pound for kibble is about $2.17.

Homemade Dog Food: Standard Ingredients

The possibilities are almost endless when you're making your own dog food. The cost to make home-cooked doggie dinners depends on the ingredients you choose and changing prices. Dog food recipes are based on a ratio of three-fifths meat, one-fifth grain and one-fifth vegetable. For example, a recipe of chicken breast, sweet potato, and broccoli will cost $2.45 per pound, based on the prices of $3.40 per pound for the chicken, $1.50 for the broccoli and $0.60 per pound for sweet potatoes. A recipe of chicken thighs, rice and carrots will cost $1.20, based on $1.50 per pound for the thighs, 75 cents per pound for carrots and 70 cents per pound for rice.

Homemade Dog Food: Organic Ingredients

You may decide you want to use organic products in your home cooking to rival the top-quality dog food brands. The cost for organic ingredients is almost always higher. Using a chicken breast, sweet potato and broccoli recipe, your cost per ingredient would be $6 per pound for the chicken, $2 per pound for sweet potatoes and $3.50 per pound for broccoli. The total price per pound for the prepared dog food would be $4.60. Organic chicken thighs cost $4 per pound, 75 cents for carrots and $1.55 for rice. It costs $2.85 to make this recipe using organic ingredients.

Putting it All Together

So, to put it all together for you, here's a list of how all your different dog food options compare: Midrange canned dog food costs $1.67 per pound. Premium canned dog food is $3.33. Midrange dry dog food costs $1.17 per pound. Premium dry dog food is $2.17. Combining kibble and canned midrange dog food averages at $1.42 per pound. Combining half and half premium dry and canned dog food costs $2.75. Homemade dog food using standard ingredients costs $2.45 per pound for a chicken breast recipe and $1.20 for a chicken thigh recipe. Homemade dog food using organic ingredients costs $4.60 for chicken breast and $2.85 per pound for a recipe with chicken thighs.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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