Which Is Cheaper, Homemade or Commercial Dog Food?

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.

References

Resources

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.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images