I try to be careful with my dogs’ weight but they’ve on occasion ended up 5-10% above their ideal weights. (I know, I’d be thrilled if I were that close to my ideal weight.) After reading up on the subject, I decided to try to limit the carbohydrates they eat to try to keep them closer to their ideal weights. (They’re not totally deprived – they have excellent noses and find pizza crusts and muffin wrappers on our walks more often than I’d prefer.)
Lately, I’ve been replacing 1/4 of their food with a mixture of unsalted homemade broth, celery cooked until it’s very soft in the broth, and meat scraps. (Celery because my rabbit loves celery hearts so between me and the dogs we eat a lot of the thicker stems.) The unsalted homemade broth is made with chicken carcasses (I can get them for 59 cents per pound at the farmer’s market and they actually have a decent amount of meat on the bones if you’re willing to pick them over after cooking them), beef bones (again, inexpensive at the farmer’s market), and/or whatever bones remain from food I’ve cooked for myself. After the bones have cooked a long time (a day or more for beef bones, several hours or overnight for chicken bones), I let the mixture cool then pick out the bones but leave in any fat, skin, cartilage, meat etc. I find it easiest to scoop the solids into another bowl to pick through them without the liquid getting in the way. I’m sure I occasionally miss tiny chicken bones, but since splintering is the danger with cooked chicken bones, I can’t picture a 1/2 cm chicken bone creating much of a splinter.
They happily eat this concoction and their health and digestion has continued to be good.
Meanwhile, I’ve also moved away from carbohydrate-based dog biscuits. They’re just as happy with rawhide, freeze-dried chicken, and beef liver. (I have probably a couple months of treats on hand but will look into making my own inexpensively as my supplies run low. In the past, I’ve made treats by mixing blended eggs and sardines with whatever flour I had on hand then spreading the mixture on a cookie sheet, cutting it into pieces, and baking it until it was dry. I stored most of it in the freezer and took a couple days worth out at a time. I’ll poke around to find a flour-free option.)
They’ve both had dental problems (one cracked his tooth and had it pulled and the other came to me with some rotten teeth so he had 3 teeth pulled) so I’m staying away from giving them hard bones, but they do happily eat raw chicken bones on occasion. (I’ve given them chicken feet in the past but yesterday one of them swallowed his chicken foot almost whole then vomited so I’m reconsidering whether chicken feet are a good idea for him.)