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.
Supplements for Dogs
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.