How to Make Homemade Food For Dogs


How to Make Homemade Dog Food

Though opinions differ greatly, I believe that a healthy dog's nutritional requirements can be fulfilled with three main essentials: nutritious food, sunlight, and belly rubs.

Whether it's the food recall that flooded the news regarding unsafe ingredients or simply because they want their pets to eat healthy, more pet owners are considering making their own homemade dog food.

I have been making homemade dog food for years, long before the food recalls. With the advice of my vet and thorough research, I am confident that making homemade dog food is a better option for my pets. I am feeding them food that does not have chemicals, fillers, preservatives, and whatever else the manufacturers put in their to maximize their bottom line profit.

In addition, I also spoil my dogs by giving them 1-2 homemade dog treats each day. Read further for tips on how to make your own dog food. It's actually very easy and less expensive, compared to the high quality dog foods out in the market.

My dogs love this fish oil supplement! It smells like real fish too!

  • Calcium is generally one of the deficiency concerns when feeding a homemade dog food recipe diet. Calcium is also found in broccoli, spinach, and kelp seaweed. You may supplement calcium with plain yogurt, cheese, egg shells, and sardines.
  • Vitamin D is needed to release the calcium. Your dog can obtain sufficient amount of vitamin D by running around outside in the sun (and for you too).
  • Magnesium is found in spinach.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids are found in salmon fish oil.
  • Glucosamine chondroitin can help with arthritis.

Proper Nutrients from Homemade Dog Food

The biggest challenge with making homemade dog food is to make sure that the food has a complete and balanced nutritional profile.

Keep in mind that dogs have a shorter intestinal tract. They also don't chew their food as much as we do. Both of these factors affect food breakdown and the amount of nutrients being absorbed. To ensure that your dog digests his food properly and absorbs the complete range of nutrients, here are a few suggestions.

  • Make sure you chop or grind the vegetables up really well. This helps "pre-digest" the food, thus aiding with proper release and absorption of vitamins.
  • Like humans, dogs also need a variety of food so they can get a wide spectrum of nutrients. I recommend that you change up the meat and vegetables, but still maintain the suggested ratio.
  • You can also mix in a nutritional supplement with their food, such as flax seed or fish oil.
  • I would not recommend too much broccoli or cauliflower since it can cause gas and stomach discomfort.
  • When possible, use organic vegetables and lean meats.
  • Brown rice has more nutrients than white rice.
  • Add in steel cut oats for fiber and bulk.
  • Mix the homemade dog food with a high quality dry dog food to ensure all the vitamins are there. And, it's a great way to cut down the cost!

How to make dog food using ground lean beef for protein.
How to make dog food using ground lean beef for protein. | Source

Optional Vegetables/Fruits for Substitution:

Carrots, green beans, peas, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin puree (no seasoning), and smaller amounts of broccoli or spinach.

Sweet potatoes are really healthy for dogs! They contain fiber and vitamins that are essential for their overall health. Make sure you use sweet potatoes and NOT white potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are really healthy for dogs! They contain fiber and vitamins that are essential for their overall health. Make sure you use sweet potatoes and NOT white potatoes. | Source

Homemade Dog Food Recipes

Recipe #1 Rice & Veggies

By nature, dogs of all breeds and sizes are evolving as carnivores - biologically adapted for a diet rich and varied in fresh meats, with smaller amounts of fruits and vegetables.

The following recipes have ingredients that help maintain strong bones and teeth, improved immune system, high energy, efficient digestion, and an increased life expectancy.

Use this recipe as a foundation, but rotate different ingredients for a wider spectrum of nutrients. Keep the ratio the same and just switch different vegetables.

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 cups water or (beef/chicken broth)

Chop vegetables up in smaller cubes. Put all ingredients into a large pot and cook for 30-45 minutes until vegetables are soft. Serve at room temperature. You can take it one step further and blend everything in a blender or food processor. This is a great idea for senior dogs, who require a softer texture for easy chewing.

Note: If you want to give your dog fish oil supplements with his food, make sure you put it in the food right before you are ready to serve. Fish oil supplements contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are sensitive to heat.

  • Remember, homemade dog food should be served at room temperature, and left-overs may be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.
  • Individual servings may be frozen for future defrosting and feeding.

Recipe #2: Crockpot Chicken

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of green beans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (optional)
  • 4 cups of water

Throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker and set it at low temperature for 6-8 hours.

My dog loves homemade dog food!
My dog loves homemade dog food! | Source

How Much Food to Should You Feed Your Dog?

If you're not sure about your dog's appropriate feeding portion, refer to the easy guideline below. You can follow one of the two guidelines.

1. The rule of thumb is to feed them about 2-3% of their total body weight for most dogs. Puppies may need a bit more since they are in their critical growth and developmental stage. Older or inactive dogs may require less amount. To calculate, multiply his weight, in pounds, by 16 to get his total body weight in ounces. Feed him 2-3% of that weight, daily. For example, my Pit bull weighs 60 pounds.

  • 60 lb. x 16 oz. = 960 oz. (total body weight in ounces)
  • 960 oz. x .02 = 19.2 oz. (total daily minimum food weight)
  • 960 oz. x .03 = 28.8 oz. (total daily maximum food weight)

You may choose to divide your dog's daily food into two feedings, or you may want to stick with one daily meal.

2. Some veterinarians also advise to feed by counting calories.

  • Dogs that weigh-in at less than 20 pounds generally require 40 calories per pound per day. For instance, your 10 pound Chihuahua will require approximately 480 calories per day (10 lb. x 40 cal. = 400 cal. per day).
  • Dogs that weigh over 100 pounds will require 15 calories per pound of body weight, per day. For example, a 100 pound Golden Retriever will need roughly 1500 calories per day (100 lb. x 15 cal. = 1500 cal. per day).

This is simply a recommended serving. Due to the higher nutrients in homemade dog food, less is always more when it comes to quality dog food.

In addition to feeding them dog food, I also reward my dogs with healthy homemade dog treats.

How to store your homemade dog food.
How to store your homemade dog food. | Source

Time-saving Tips for Making Homemade Dog Food

Some of us don't even have time to cook for our own family. You may feel overwhelmed at the idea of making homemade dog food.

Consider using the following tips below to save time.

  • Cook in large batches and freeze individual servings in a tight zip-lock bag.
  • Make use of your slow cooker! Throw it all in the morning before you head out to work.
  • Have your kids help out!

Please Remember...

Some dogs might get an upset stomach if you switch foods too quickly. Before you start making your own homemade dog food, it's also a good idea to seek advice of your vet and ask if he or she has any restrictions to any of the ingredients. Some breeds may be more prone to food allergies than others. Switch your dog’s food over gradually, slowing mixing in a homemade dish with your regular food over the course of several days.

More by this Author

Do You Have Any Homemade Dog Food Recipes to Share? 39 comments

violet-femme profile image

violet-femme 4 years ago from Australia

Love this idea and your recipes! I want to start cooking for my dog; for his health and my wallet.

I'm vegetarian so cooking with meat won't be very nice...but at least I won't have to clean out disgusting dog food tins anymore. They're the worst!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

This is great! I've been investing in high quality dry dog food, but I'm sure it's not as healthy as real food like this. I'm glad you researched all of this to save the rest of us time so you could recommend this to us. I think I'm going to start making my dog's food, mixing it with part dog food, as you suggested. Do you mix about half and half? Thanks for this hub. I'm going to read the others about recommended dog foods and dog treats. Thanks!

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Wow! I've thought about making food for my dog for a long time because the good stuff is so expensive and he has a sensitive stomach. I'm bookmarking this and I might give it a try! I'm a little scared about all the cooking, but I've thought about this so much that I don't think I'll mind. Nice job here! Do you know what other sorts of vegetables you can sub in?

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

My dogs LOVE sweet potatoes. I will get busy and try this recipe for home made dog food. I did make one batch of canned salmon, brown rice and sweet potatoes awhile back. They just loved it! Thanks for the recipe!

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 4 years ago from California Author

Hi Victoria~ I actually mix a higher ratio of the homemade food since it's cheaper...maybe 70/30 just to bulk it up a bit. Some of the high quality food that I recommended in the other hub has a wider spectrum of ingredients...but they're just so expensive!

cclitgirl~ I'm sorry to hear your dog has a sensitive stomach. Sweet potatoes will help with digestion. Don't be intimidated by the's even simpler than it sounds. Or, you can use a slow cooker and just throw everything in! For veggies, I've used carrots, green beans, peas, zucchini, sweet potatoes, pumpkin puree (no seasoning), and smaller amounts of broccoli or spinach.

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 4 years ago from California Author

Thank you Violet and Rebecca for taking the time to comment! Salmon is good too~ it fullfills their omega 3 requirements. Your dogs are lucky to have you! ;-) Take care...

Nettlemere profile image

Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

Your dogs eat better then I do! It's good to hear from someone who has a well tried and tested recipe for home made dog food. I've heard about the product recalls for dog foods in the USA and I can understand why you would be concerned enough to make your own. pinned

thatchjl profile image

thatchjl 4 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

I had never considered doing this although I have always purchased the best canned food I could afford without all the additives. I am going to try this for my three puppies and see how it goes.

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

In Africa a friend used recipes like this to feed his dog. Dog food is hard to find there. We have friends that kept their beagle alive for many years after her expected demise by making her food. She was allergic to preservatives in dog food.

Hillkim profile image

Hillkim 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Great article! Thanks for sharing a dog food recipe like this. For more recipe you can visit

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

Good article. I would like to link to this on the hub I am working on at the moment, on feeding table scraps.

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 4 years ago from California Author

Nettlemere- thank you for pinning...I appreciate it very much!

Thatchjl- your puppies will love the food...they might not want to go back to eating the previous food. ;-)

Tirelesstraveler- thank you for sharing your story. Preservatives are definitely a common culprit for allergies.

DrMark-feel free to link the article. I will definitely check your article out as soon as it's pulished. Thank you.

Mmargie1966 profile image

Mmargie1966 4 years ago from Gainesville, GA

I used to make homemade baby food when my kids were little, but this is an awesome idea! I don't have a dog at the moment, but my cats may benefit from something like this. I'll have to research it.

Great hub! Sharing it with my dog owning friends!

thatchjl profile image

thatchjl 4 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

We made this crockpot food and the dogs are in heaven, they love it and it was so easy to make and compared to the premium food I was buying it was really inexpensive. Thanks!!

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 4 years ago from California Author

Thatchjl- Wow that was fast! I am so glad to hear that your dogs loved the food. I appreciate you coming back to share the results. Take care! :-)

Hello Margie- I plan on making my own baby food the near future when I actually have one. Thank so much for sharing with your friends. :-)

Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I wish I'd had this information back when we used to make food for our dog. We just made up our own recipes, so I'm not sure whether we covered all the nutritional bases! Great tips - voted up!

Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa A Smith 3 years ago from New York

Glad to see more people cooking for their pets, and this looks great. I would just make one recommendation--there are nutritional issues with only using muscle meat.

EYDIYA 2 years ago

it's a good info

Georgia Picton 2 years ago

I adopted female rat terrier and had her spayed. I have two other dogs that we adopted from a shelter and we used similar identification methods.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Hey, I read this two years ago, but I finally tried the recipe. Well, my dog did. He loves it! I'm mixing the homemade food with his dry food, hoping it will help his skin problems. I know he's happier, anyway! Pinning this to my new homemade pet food board!

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 2 years ago from California Author

Hi Vicki! Glad your dog loves it! Have you tried giving him/her salmon oil supplements for skin? Also,

ShariBerry profile image

ShariBerry 24 months ago from Michigan

Very interesting article. I wish more pet owners would pay attention to the food they are giving their animal. It is so important for a healthy pet to have the right nutrition. We used a rice and hamburger diet for our dog when having some intestinal problems and that was very successful.

Nancy 23 months ago

Love to see homemade recipes, thanks Turtlewoman. I use pearl barley instead of brown rice. Bake my sweet potatoes and carrots in a little water (topped with ground cinnamon) for about an hour at 350. Just found a local source for lamb (google Local Harvest) My little girl, who would pick at her expensive dry dog food, loves her homemade meals! Buckwheat dog treats are next on my agenda :)

sosown profile image

sosown 23 months ago from NJ, USA

Original topic!

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 23 months ago from California Author

Hi Nancy-buckwheat treats sound great! Gluten free too. Please do share the recipe!

Mary Vallavanti 22 months ago

I love this idea, but no one has broken down the cost of it. The recipes don't give you've how many servings it makes. Will have to research this in more detail

Nancy 22 months ago

Hi Mary,

I'm still doing the calculations but 2-2 1/2 lbs. of cooked ground meat (I use turkey but will be switching to lamb - buying local) 5 sweet potatoes cooked, 8 carrots cooked, 5 cups of cooked pearl barley and 2 cans of green beans make about 7

days worth of food ( runs about $17 a week) I have 2 dogs - a 60 lb. & 20 lb.) They also get a powdered multivitamin every morning mixed in.

The link below has information on calories & nutritional value of most foods.

Andi 19 months ago

This maybe a dumb question... But was I supposed to cook the rice and meat first? The vegetables are starting to get soft but there is still a lot of juice and the rice is not done or the meat it seems like. Again, sorry if this is a dumb question lol

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 19 months ago from California Author

Andi- cook the meat first, then put in rice and veggies. It doesn't matter if the veggies get too soft. They'll gobble it all up! And it's not a dumb question- sorry if the article was a bit confusing.

Lynn 15 months ago

I have been making my 3 sm. dogs food for over a year now. I give them I mix various foods but their favorite is Brown Rice, Chicken, Mixed Veggies (not the one with corn) and strawberries. I cut everything up into small chunks and mix together and put in plastic containers and freeze them. When I took them to the Vet a couple of months ago she was surprised how healthy they were and had not gained weight. It is simple to make. I will try your crock pot one sounds like a good switch up for them. Thanks!!

Suzanne 13 months ago

I am now making homemade food for a 70lb adult lab and a 60lb husky/collie 8 mo. puppy.

Pressure cook:

beef heart/kidney/liver (1/2 hr)

beets (about an hour)

Fava beens (at least an hour)

In 16qt pot cook 8 cups rice in 8qt water

Add unpeeled, chunked veggies:

(beets, chunked squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli stems), spinach, dulse, garlic, turmeric, pepper to rice along with a container of broth (beef or vegetable) to fill pot to 3/4

Purée meat / fava beans and add to pot along with crushed egg shells

(Save these & pulverize them to powder)

Add water to 1 1/2in from top

Cook till rice and veggies are done (1/2 hr)

Turn off heat, cover and let sit until rice absorbs all liquids.

Transfer to 4L ice cream containers.

Refrigerate or freeze depending on consumption.

Lab eats 500gr / serving twice a day

Husky/collie 300gr / serving twice a day

My lab has allergies (chicken for sure) and every time I put him on dog food he scratches and bites at his skin and loses his fur. Then he stops eating, even real expensive food. With the homemade food, they sit and wait for a taste when I make it and they do a little dance before every meal. The stools are also much healthier looking and easier to pick ip.

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 12 months ago from California Author

Suzanne and Lynne- thanks for sharing!

Linda 11 months ago

Fantastic info!! Dumb question- is the food ounces by weight (I'll need to pull out the food scales) or volume (I'll use the measuring cups)? Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

Like violet-femme from 3 years ago I'm a veggie, so that will take some getting used to, but I never thought about the cans! I spend more time a day washing those darn cans for the recycling!!

Linda 11 months ago

Me again. I just wanted to say -- my little girl dog had started "inappropriate urination" and I couldn't figure out why. Finally put 2-and-2 together and realized it started around the time of a change in her commercial (high quality) dog food. Since starting this home-cooked food, she stopped within a couple of days! Sure, I could have tried ***YET ANOTHER*** commercial food, but I have no idea what she's reacting to so it would be pointless. What a great side benefit of having changed to making the dogs' food myself!

Turtlewoman profile image

Turtlewoman 11 months ago from California Author

That's so awesome Linda! Thank you for sharing. I'm glad her symptoms went away.

Anne 10 months ago

Do you have recommendations for a hepatic diet?

Yvonne 6 months ago

Ok I am really bad at math.. How much should I feed my dogs I have a 3 yr old Yorkie that weighs 7 pds and just got a papillon 18 month old puppy and he's 13 pds him from a shelter and he's healthy but doesn't seem to want to eat the dry food so I cooked up some chicken rice carrot and beans and gave him 2 tblsp tonight and my Yorkie a tsp , will start more with homemade this week

Jollee 4 months ago

I am vegan, anles.d I feed my fur baby vegan. I use the recipe but replace the ground beef with morning star veggie crumbles. I add her supplements and vitamins to the mix. Perfect!

imik profile image

imik 3 months ago

Has anyone ever made homemade grain free dry kibble? Any easy way?

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