Kim is a board-certified holistic health coach, healthy living and cleanse consultant, and studied under Dr. Andrew Weil and Walter Willet.
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 a food recall that has flooded the news regarding unsafe ingredients or simply because they want their pets to eat healthily, 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 there 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, eggshells, and sardines.
- Vitamin D is needed to release the calcium. Your dog can obtain a 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 flaxseed 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!
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.
Recipe 1: Rice and Veggies (With Sweet Potato)
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.
How Much Food 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 bodyweight, 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.
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!
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 the 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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: When making homemade food for dogs, are the food ounces by weight (I'll need to pull out the food scales) or volume (I'll use the measuring cups)?
Answer: By volume: bring out your measuring cups!
© 2012 Kim Lam
Do You Have Any Homemade Dog Food Recipes to Share?
Ingrid on May 29, 2020:
Any idea how many calories are in a cup of this mixture ? The one with the ground beef.
Kamz Marie on March 13, 2020:
My pittie is around 60lbs, and when we aquired him he was almost a year. Well we want to be great fur parents so we bought great dog food. Much to our dismay, every morning he would go out to do his business and eat grass to throw up. we were extremely worried so I started looking into alternatives for food and I found a recipe that worked for him. 2 c brwn rice, 2lbs ground turkey or beef, 1 slice beef liver, finely chopped, 1med zuccini, 1 can if sliced carrots and 1 can French green beans, cook all meat and rice according to instructions then mix all ingredients together. Use 1 regular size food scoop of iams and 1and 1/2 cups homemade food twice a day, and so far there's been no more issues. He even had a benign tumor pop up on his paw that has since gone away because we barley feed him anything store bought any more. So ty, for these recipes! I'm sure he would love these treats as well!!
Fay on October 27, 2019:
Hi i have a 4 year old male shih tzu. He has vomit problems. I've done everything to figure what causes it, but no result. He throw up foam in the morning not food. Does anyone know what i can do. Doctors couldnt do anything. His vet recommended PRILOSEC halh a day, since he us taking it he has not vomited. But i dont want to give him medicine. Can you help me please.
Geraldine on October 07, 2019:
Hello,I have a Frenchie that’s 15months old And has been through having her intestines removed for a misdiagnosis of a foreign object ...& she suffers from intestinal issues and has food sensitivities and allergies I had a glacier peak DNA done on her and it came back with so many stressors and triggers to almost all of common proteins ,according to The test she could have beef , duck ,Rabbit , yak ,venison ,she can not have any grains ... I’ve had her on beef raw and now I lightly cook it and add can food for nutrition and she is starting to get finicky ... do you have any suggestions?
Karen carnahan on December 06, 2018:
Has anyone fed a dog with cancer? I know it needs to be low in carbs and sugars so I’ll have to be carefully with the veggies to avoid the carbs and rice is probably out. I’ve heard pumpkin and ground turkey\beef\chicken and some leafy green veggies but just looking for anyone who has experience in this area for some guidance. Thanks!
email@example.com on June 18, 2018:
Help our boy has dry itchy skin.. Hatchi is a male 80lbs..Do you have a cooling recipe. like others I cant do the math how much should he eating X2 .
Eselpee on February 22, 2018:
I cook one pot for us.
I brown meat in the crockpot with a touch of olive oil, then add a variety of veggies (tonight's had 96% lean burger, carrots, beets - greens & all -, cauliflower, turnip, parsley, red lentils). They put it on Merrick dry food. I add roasted garlic & scallion to my serving since no allium for dogs and have mine with spring greens. Are there other veggies dogs should avoid?
Edna on August 31, 2017:
It is my understanding that dogs require organ meat in their diet.
I noticed that you did not have that in your recipes.
Also brown rice is harder for dogs to digest than white rice.
Nancy Bernal on June 27, 2017:
Made my first batch, so we"re on Day 1.
Recipe: 3 lbs ground turkey, 6 eggs w shells, 1/2 lb chick livers, 2 sweet potatoes, 2 cups white rice and 1/4 c yogurt on top of food in bowl.
Measured 1 cup, rolled into balls and froze. About 6 days of food. Feeding 2 cups a day? Not sure of this yet.
Pam on January 02, 2017:
Dogs that have had calcium oxalate stones should not eat carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, yellow squash, or green beans. Do you have recipes without those?
jenna on December 08, 2016:
I'm so glad I found your page! Looks like you did a lot of research before putting this page together. I have two bulldogs and feeding them a wet/dry dog food plan was costing about $2.50/day. I also had no idea what was in their food. I had some free time, so I went out and bought the ingredients for this recipe and made a triple batch. In the end it made 16 cups of food, and a few cups of extra ingredients i froze for next time (4 sweet potatoes, cup of carrots, cup of broccoli) and I also bought a container of plain yogurt i use to add a spoonful of per feeding. I shopped at Walmart and it ended up costing $17. I think that's a great value for knowing exactly what's in your dogs food and the sheer joy I see on their face when they gobble it up. I cooked the sweet potatoes in a little bit of coconut oil for digestion. And also added basil, oregano, parsley and rosemary - all more for helping digestion and other great benefits. Thanks again for the great recipe and tips!
imik on July 17, 2016:
Has anyone ever made homemade grain free dry kibble? Any easy way?
Jollee on June 03, 2016:
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!
Yvonne on April 09, 2016:
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 ..got 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
Anne on December 20, 2015:
Do you have recommendations for a hepatic diet?
Kim Lam (author) from California on November 18, 2015:
That's so awesome Linda! Thank you for sharing. I'm glad her symptoms went away.
Linda on November 13, 2015:
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!
Linda on November 03, 2015:
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!!
Kim Lam (author) from California on October 05, 2015:
Suzanne and Lynne- thanks for sharing!
Suzanne on September 28, 2015:
I am now making homemade food for a 70lb adult lab and a 60lb husky/collie 8 mo. puppy.
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.
Lynn on August 01, 2015:
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!!
Kim Lam (author) from California on March 17, 2015:
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.
Andi on March 14, 2015:
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
Nancy on December 16, 2014:
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.
Mary Vallavanti on December 14, 2014:
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
Kim Lam (author) from California on November 26, 2014:
Hi Nancy-buckwheat treats sound great! Gluten free too. Please do share the recipe!
Kelly from NJ, USA on November 25, 2014:
Nancy on November 25, 2014:
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 :)
Sharon Berry from Michigan on November 04, 2014:
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.
Kim Lam (author) from California on August 25, 2014:
Hi Vicki! Glad your dog loves it! Have you tried giving him/her salmon oil supplements for skin? Also,
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 25, 2014:
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!
Georgia Picton on February 06, 2014:
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.
EYDIYA on January 11, 2014:
it's a good info
Melissa A Smith from New York on May 29, 2013:
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.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on July 28, 2012:
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!
Kim Lam (author) from California on July 13, 2012:
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 too...in the near future when I actually have one. Thank so much for sharing with your friends. :-)
thatchjl from Dayton, Ohio on July 13, 2012:
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!!
Mmargie1966 from Gainesville, GA on July 13, 2012:
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!
Kim Lam (author) from California on July 12, 2012:
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.
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 12, 2012:
Good article. I would like to link to this on the hub I am working on at the moment, on feeding table scraps.
Hillkim from Dallas, Texas on July 09, 2012:
Great article! Thanks for sharing a dog food recipe like this. For more recipe you can visit http://www.howtomakedogfood.org/
Judy Specht from California on July 09, 2012:
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.
thatchjl from Dayton, Ohio on July 09, 2012:
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.
Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on July 09, 2012:
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
Kim Lam (author) from California on July 08, 2012:
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...
Kim Lam (author) from California on July 08, 2012:
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 cooking...it'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.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 08, 2012:
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!
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on July 08, 2012:
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?
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 08, 2012:
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!
Violet Redfield from Australia on July 08, 2012:
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!