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Imagine if you had to eat the exact same food every meal, every day of your life. Beyond being painfully boring, wouldn’t you question whether you’re getting a nutritionally balanced diet? Welcome to a dog’s life. Long ago before commercially produced dog food, dogs ate a lot of the same foods as humans. There’s a reason our dogs beg for our food – they’re meant to eat a variety. Table scraps anyone?
Homemade dog food can benefit your canine companion in a number of ways — especially if you have a pet who suffers from allergies, gastrointestinal sensitivity or skin problems. Treat your dog as you would any of your other family members by preparing nutritious food from trusted ingredients. Here, we’ll give you some tips on how to make dog food, nutrition guidelines and our favorite homemade dog food recipes. We guarantee your pup will benefit from your efforts and could even improve behavioral problems that stem from dietary deficiencies.
What Nutrition Guidelines Should You Follow?
Before embarking on a homemade diet, consult with your veterinarian to make sure you’re not barking up the wrong tree with your dog’s basic nutritional needs. Here are some daily must-haves with general balance guidelines. Serving sizes depend on your pup’s weight, size and activity level.
- 40% Protein – animal meat, seafood, eggs or dairy
- 10% Carbohydrates – grains and beans
- 50% Vegetables
- Fat – from oil or meat
- Calcium – crushed or powdered egg shells; a supplement
- Fatty acids – cooked egg yolks, oatmeal, plant oils and other foods
Our Favorite Homemade Dog Food Recipes
We’ve written up some of our favorite dog food recipes to share with you. To jump to a recipe you’re interested in, click on the link below.
Note: Serving size is not included because portion sizes varies depending on a number of factors including breed, activity level, age, and health of your dog. We recommend feeding your dog a comparable number of ounces/cups that you would normally feed your dog.
A much healthier alternative to canned dog food, this recipe is loaded with fresh protein and vitamins and can be stored in your fridge for most of the week.
- 1 pound of beef stew meat
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1/2 cup of carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup of green beans, diced
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of water or organic vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for frying
Total: Makes approx 4 cups (or 32 fluid ounces)
- Cook the sweet potato in a microwave for 5 to 8 minutes until firm but tender. Set aside.
- Slice the stew pieces into smaller chunks, about the size of a nickel.
- Cook the stew pieces in a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until well-done.
- Remove the beef chunks from the pan, reserving the drippings.
- Dice the sweet potato.
- Heat the drippings over medium-low heat. Slowly add flour and water into the dripping while whisking to create a thick gravy.
- Add the meat, sweet potato, carrots and green beans into the gravy and stir to coat.
- Cook until the carrots are tender – about 10 minutes.
- Serve cool.
- Store remaining stew in the fridge for up to five days.
This is a great recipe for pooches who may need to keep the pounds off. With a good balance of lean animal protein, healthy carbs and veggies, it yields 10 cups of dog food and can be refrigerated for up to five days.
- 6 cups water
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower
Total: Makes approx 12 cups (or 96 fluid ounces)
- Place the water, ground turkey, rice and rosemary into a large Dutch oven.
- Stir until the ground turkey is broken up and evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the frozen vegetables, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
We love this recipe for its nutritional value, its quick prep time (10 minutes) and the easy crockpot cooking. It yields 12 cups and can be easily frozen for future feedings.
- 2 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 ½ cups uncooked brown rice
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups chopped butternut squash
- 1 ½ cups chopped carrots
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 4 cups of water
Total: Makes approx 11 cups (or 88 fluid ounces)
- Stir in all ingredients with 4 cups of water in a crockpot.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 hours or high heat for 2 to 3 hours.
- Stir as needed and cool to room temperature.
Looking for a doggie digestive aid? Pumpkin is easy on sour stomachs and can help alleviate your dog’s digestive issues. These homemade dog biscuits are a great way to introduce an all-natural tummy aid into your pup’s diet.
- 1/3 cup extremely cold water
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned or home-made)
- 2 cups whole grain brown rice flour
- 1 large egg (you can omit this if your dog is allergic to eggs)
- 2 1/2 tablespoonful flax-seed oil or olive oil
Total: Makes approx 24 1 oz balls (or 24 fluid ounces)
- Preheat the oven to 320 – 350 degrees.
- Use two baking sheets and baking paper to avoid sticking.
- Mix lightly beaten eggs and pumpkin in a separate container until smooth. If you don’t want to use eggs then just smooth the pumpkin puree separately and proceed to the next step.
- In a larger bowl, combine flax-seed oil and brown rice flour.
- With constant stirring, add the pumpkin mixture to the rice mixture and slowly add water. Be sure to leave some of the rice to be used as some sort of toppings for the cookies.
- Hand mix the ingredients thoroughly.
- Using two pieces of baking or waxed paper, roll dough out to desired thickness.
- Remove the top baking paper.
- Evenly pour rice flour onto the top of the dough and lightly press it to the waxed baking paper.
- Remove the paper and cut to desired sizes.
- Place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is completely dry.
- Cool and store in a dry plastic or glass container until ready to be served.
Don’t trust store-bought raw hides, which often have a ton of additives and preservatives? Homemade chicken jerky strips are a perfect replacement. This recipe is a much healthier alternative and very easy to make. Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (if they last that long!).
- 2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Total: Makes approx 10-20 strips
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Trim all excess fat off the chicken breasts
- Cut into 1/8 inch thick strips using a paring knife
- Bake for 2 hours on a baking sheet until strips are dry and hard
- Cool completely before presenting to your pooch.
After a long walk in the hot sun, what pooch wouldn’t want a refreshing treat? We absolutely love this simple recipe – yogurt, banana and peanut butter. It’s a frozen smoothie for your dog. Need we say more?
- 4 cups plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3 bananas, ripe, peeled & mashed
Total: Makes approx 8 1 oz treats
- Blend all ingredients together into a puree.
- Pour into 4-ounce plastic cups (ice trays or toddler popsicle trays work well).
- Freeze until firm.
- Can be kept in freezer for up to two weeks.
Tips on How to Make Dog Food
It’s important not to stray from homemade dog food recipes or substitute ingredients as you might for yourself and your family. Dogs have different nutritional needs that require cooking recipes exactly as instructed. Be sure to cook all animal products thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria and cook all grains, beans and starchy vegetables to make them easier for your pooch to digest.
When in doubt, an excellent resource is Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative by Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD, a long-time expert in veterinary medicine. First published in 1999, the book is now free online and is considered by many pet nutritionists to be the Bible of healthy homemade pet nutrition.
For even more cooking options, be sure to check out Home Cooking for Your Dog: 75 Holistic Recipes for a Healthier Dog.
What About BARF?
No, we’re not implying your new canine culinary skills will cause your pet harm; we’re referring to the raw diet, more affectionately known as BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), which has gained a lot of popularity among dog owners over the last few years. The basic idea is to feed your dog raw meats, grains and veggies just as his canine ancestors did millions of years ago. While you can find a lot of raw dog food recipes online and some veterinarians may recommend it, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is not on board with BARF. Citing a number of studies, the AVMA’s policy discourages feeding raw or undercooked animal proteins as they contain potentially deadly pathogens that not only can sicken your pet but also can be secondarily transmitted to humans. Yikes!
What Foods Should Your Dog Never Eat?
As a dog owner, you’ve likely come across this essential list before, but it’s always good to have it on hand as a reminder, especially if you’re cooking dog food from scratch. The major toxic foods include:
- Onions and garlic
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Raw bread dough
For a more extensive list, check out this article.
Don’t Feel Like Cooking?
If you want your pup to experience homemade food, but you just don’t have time, give TopDogDinners a shot. With this service, you can have customized, fresh dog food sent right to your house!
Cooking for Canines: Online Help
There’s no shortage of homemade dog food recipes you can find online. We stumbled upon this fun and informative video series that gives you weekly recipe tutorials, tips and more. Check it out in case you want to subscribe through YouTube.
Most of all, have fun with your new status as your pup’s chef. We hope we’ve given you some good places to start and tasty recipes for your pooch to appreciate. Even if you’re not a master in the kitchen, homemade dog food sure beats every day of kibble!
Do you have any homemade dog food recipes to recommend?