Making dogfood and it fluffs up???

I am pressure cooking chicken, putting everything (bones and all) in a commercial size grinder which makes everything super ground down. I then add cooked rice, a vege mix with spinach, eggs (with shell), broccoli, cauliflower, squash, carrots (all has been cooked and then blended together) and pinto beans. After all is mixed, and refrigerated or frozen, the mixture starts "growing" and getting really fluffy. WHAT is going on? WHY does it fluff up? It also doesn’t smell very good. I have tried to refrigerate everything quickly but is hard because of the volume involved (I pressure cook 60 lbs to 70 lbs of chicken). I have added the same stuff (rice and veges and eggs) to ground beef and turkey and it doesn’t fluff up. I just want to make sure it is safe to feed the dogs. Thanks for any help

Pamela Balazer


caninechef August 4, 2016
Maybe this batch failed because it is summer now and there is not much help from the environment with cooling. If I made DF in cool weather first stop after cooking was the porch, and divided up as someone else mentioned. So maybe you can do larger batches when the weather can help you out and smaller ones when it is hot.

Usually I think cows etc when I think marrow. Chickens don't seem to have the same type of fatty marrow as hoofed animals so I am not sure if there is even the supposed benefits of marrow from them. I have no opinion on the pressure cooking.

I will comment on one thing and that is your meat to bone ratio. Are you using formulated recipes or have you examined the protein/mineral balance in your product? Whole fowl has way more bone in it than you want to be feeding relative to the meat. I THINK the prey model diet calls for only 10% bone and whole chickens are something like 25% bone. People using things like chicken necks and backs as a high proportion of the diet are in even more trouble. I ultimately decided to avoid the finer points of vitamin/mineral supply and feed 50% kibble.

If you want to be able to formulate you own recipes I suggest the Collins Guide to Dog Nutrition. This is a very old school nutrition book but lots of facts and numbers and I it helped me mix and match ingredients and KNOW what the breakdown of the end product was.

When I was cooking I usually added raw meat. I bought chicken legs one day planning to feed them raw but I just could not do it and ended up cooking them and removing the meat. Fast forward about 10 years when I was feeding mostly commercial dog food and a 12 year old had stopped eating though she like "people food". I went to the 50% raw ratio and she ate for another 2 years. Very easy on the raw meat days, just cut up the meat into single serving size chunks and hand it out. They eat bone-in chicken ( though have to add in a certain amount of boneless) and take turns knowing on larger bones such as a pork shoulder.
Pamela B. August 5, 2016
thanks! for all the good info. last night i pressure cooked enough chicken with bones for one meal, ground it up and it was a hit. tonight i did the same but added the same stuff as before (rice, veges & eggs with shells blended together, and beans) and it was again a hit. both times smelled fine. kinda funny, i realized that being a vegetarian for over 35 years made my sense of what smelled ok meat wise questionable. anyway, i am now satisfied that the growing / fluffy problem with my previous batches was the little beasties coming from not cooling fast enough. i really tried on the second batch but apparently still didn't appreciate how fast it needed to be cooled. i am sure you are right about the summer thing. i am going to give some more thought about the marrow thing from other larger bones......thanks so much again.
702551 August 3, 2016
I can understand why caninechef assiduously avoids online discussions about dog food. So much misinformation about the topic.
Pamela B. August 3, 2016
lol.....i agree!
ktr August 3, 2016
I just wanted to add that you should be careful when giving your dog bones that they can easily break. We have a friend whose dog died after chewing on a chicken bone. The bone broke and the sharp edge became lodged in the dogs throat.
Susan W. August 3, 2016
I don't feed chicken bones to dogs, but that doesn't usually happen unless the bones are cooked. Raw bones don't splinter. My dogs get raw chicken necks, but that is entirely different. They also get raw marrow bones.
ktr August 3, 2016
Good point on the bones being cooked vs raw.
Pamela B. August 3, 2016
thanks but as i said, i put the bones through a large commercial grinder which puts out something that looks like ground beef you get in a grocery store. the reason i pressure cook the chicken is to keep the bones soft vs the hardened bones that regular cooking produces. i am also hoping that the nutrient value of the marrow is maintained.
caninechef August 3, 2016
For several years I made dog food for shall we say a fair number of dogs. I never made huge quantities of food at a time and never froze it so have no similar experience. If I had to guess it would be that because of the large volume you are making at once you have had a problem cooling it adequately. I doubt if it is related to this batch being chicken. I usually used cooked grains/vegetables and raw ground meat, occasionally boiled meat. I prepared only what they would consume within 3 days. Even with the volume I worked with ( usually one very large stock pot) cooling it was a pain.

Anyway the only reason I can think for it growing would be that well something is indeed growing. Safety? It really depends on the dog. On average dogs have amazing digestions with very acid stomachs that will dissolve bone and kill off many little beasties which would make people ill. But I doubt if anyone can tell you it is safe. If you have a delicate or compromised dog it might be too much for them while the average roughneck would eat it with out a tummy rumble. Or it may have grown something that dogs in general do not cope with well.

I decided I was spending way to much time making dog food and eventually ended up feeding a mix of prey model diet and commercial kibble. This is a very simple regime to follow but don't be fooled by the camp that insists that anything that is natural must be best in all cases. Nature is driven by the survival of a species and does not care a bit if some old or otherwise compromised individual is not up to surviving on a diet that on average works well.

There are indeed many websites and discussion sites devoted to dog food. I decided that 3 topics to avoid at all cost on the internet: religion, politics, and dog food.

Safety? It really depends on the dog. On average they have amazing digestive systems ( very high pH) and are not too prone to many of the bacterial infections that would lay our systems low. rg

At one point I was making at home a mixed, balance diet for shall we say, quite few dogs. I never made huge volumes however and never froze, what I made was used within 3 days and then I made dog food again. When I discovered at least some of the dogs preferred commercial food and I was spending way too much time making dog food I changed. I do know follow a 50/50 prey model/commercial kibble diet strategy.
Susan W. August 3, 2016
Glad you chimed in. I've also cooked and fed raw foods to many dogs that I've fostered or owned. We often forget that dogs, unlike cats, are scavengers and not hunters. I also just became weary of all the work and time spent. I do feed my dogs raw bones, liver, gizzards and chicken necks to this day. Always raw, not cooked. My 11 year old dog's vet marvels at her health and vitality.
caninechef August 3, 2016
oops, sorry about the duplicate stuff. It somehow seemed to disappear from my screen when I was entering my answer but evidently it still existed.
Pamela B. August 3, 2016
Hey THANKS for your reply. I appreciate your perspective. I decided to start making dog food because I got tired of seeing my dogs getting cancer, leukemia, having strokes, breaking knee ligaments, going blind, getting diabetes, etc. But i hear you about the time commitment (that is why i was trying to do alot at once). Also now i hear you about avoiding talking about dog food on the internet. You reminded me about reading ENDLESS back and forths about the topic of dogfood. Glad to hear from someone like you who understands how dogs can digest stuff. After this second attempt (and apparent failure) of making a large volume of food at once, I have come to the realization that large volume refrigeration equipment is needed to do it. So I will try again but do much smaller volumes. I have had success doing large volume using ground beef and turkey but this 'grinding chicken including the bones' thing just isn't as easy. I guess I just wanted to have my dogs be able to eat bone marrow but couldn't quite get myself to go over to the raw meat diet. Do you think my idea of pressure cooking the bones to keep them soft yet retain the nutrients of the marrow is valid? Again, your comments are much appreciated
Rachel August 3, 2016
I echo the sentiments here, don't feed a mixture that has "fluffed up" and smells bad to your dogs, it is most probably spoiled and emitting gasses.

Also, I've never even heard of giving your dogs eggshells; it would be very hard on their digestive system since shells aren't meant to be eaten by pretty much any animal. Another possibility is that the calcium from the shells could be dissolving and reacting with something else that you're putting in the mix and making it expand? (use the shells for Swedish coffee instead). Beans are the same way; dog digestive systems differ significantly from ours, and they're not built to digest beans.

I don't make my own dog food for a reason because it is very hard to get the balance of nutrients they need in their daily diet. I feed my two large dogs the Taste of the Wild grain-free salmon and sweet potato blend. Their coats are beautifully shiny, and they maintain a healthy weight. Please consider something like this instead.
caninechef August 3, 2016
I actually used eggshells for a while but I did grind them up which was a pain.
Susan W. August 3, 2016
I too have both had dogs on a raw food diet or cooked food diet and have used ground, dried egg shells. I used a coffee grinder. It's common to use eggshells in dog foods for the nutrients.
Pamela B. August 3, 2016
thanks but as susan w adds, it is common to use egg shells....i grind them up very fine in a blender with the veges
BerryBaby August 3, 2016
Yikes, I make my own dog food, but only food that I would eat, which is 95% lean ground beef and boneless, skinless chicken breast. Never heard of this with eggshells, bones and all those vegetables and beans. I add the meat to a vet prescribed dog food. Watermelon, bananas and apple slices for treats. Is this a recipe you came up with or vet prescribed? There are many sites that have Dog Food Recipes that are wonderful. Maybe they can help. However, rule of thumb, "When in doubt, throw it out!"....especially if it smells bad. JMO
Pamela B. August 3, 2016
thanks but i have read alot of books, websites, etc on making dogfood. just trying to figure out how to give my dogs the benefit of bone marrow...which is huge.
HalfPint August 3, 2016
Sounds like the stuff has gone bad. When food smells odd and is emitting gas (i.e. the fluff up), it's spoiled. As much as we try to refrigerate quickly, this can happen. I advise against feeding it to your dogs.

I suggest that next time you make a large batch like this, transfer the hot cooked food to a large tray (that will fit into your fridge). The more quickly the food cools down, the less likely it will spoil. Spreading it thin on a food tray (like the ones they have at buffet tables) will allow it to cool much more quickly than it would in a pot. There's more surface area and it's not a deep, so the heat dissipates faster.
Pamela B. August 3, 2016
yep....after this second attempt to refrigerate this food fast enough, i have realized that i need dedicated large refrigeration equipment if i want to make this large of volume of food. thanks
Susan W. August 3, 2016
Very odd mystery, but I think you would have better luck on a site that focuses on pet foods. There may be members here that make their own pet foods, but I've never seen a post with a pet food question.

However, there is a member here who goes by Caninechef. I've always wanted to know if they prepare their own dog food, but have not asked. If you go to their profile by using the search function at the top of this page (be sure to choose "users" in the drop down), you can click on the little envelope and send them a message.
Pamela B. August 4, 2016
i see a couple ways to search but i do not see a drop down
Susan W. August 4, 2016
At the top of the page, there's a magnifying glass. If you click it and start typing, a sort of dropdown shows up with search by choices like "recipes", "hotline", "username" etc. That's how it works on my phone and tablet. Not sure about other devices.

Canine chef has responded to your question, so just click on his (or her) name or avatar from his post. It will take you to his profile.
Susan W. August 4, 2016's his link.
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