Homemade Dog Food | How to Make Dog Food

Learning about homemade dog food is an exciting experience for pet parents. With personally-sourced ingredients, you can have complete control over your dog’s diet.

Homemade dog food can be nutritious and tasty. By knowing how to make dog food, you can know exactly what you are feeding your dog. It can help save money or for the same money, you will have higher-quality ingredients.

By learning how to make homemade dog food that is safe, you can enhance your pup’s diet. You’ll be prepared to make the best dog food to support your pet’s overall health.

Homemade dog food

There are plenty of dog food recipes to choose from. However, before you choose one to make, you need to know what are the best ingredients for homemade dog food.

Also consider whether you want to make wet dog food or dry dog food.

Making your own dog food

There are often questionable ingredients in dog food which is why it’s a good idea to learn how to make your own. Many store-bought dog foods contain fillers, preservatives, and meat byproducts, including 4-D meats. 

Dogs are carnivores. However, if were to look at the list of ingredients in dog food you buy, you might be surprised. In many inexpensive brands, there are fillers to replace natural proteins. These add empty calories with no nutritional benefit. 

Examples of fillers in dog food are are soy, corn, rice, and wheat. Overall, dogs’ teeth structures don’t allow them to chew grains properly. This means consuming them over time can cause digestive issues and other health concerns. 

In addition, in agriculture, these grains are typically treated with chemicals before harvesting. These chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, etc.) ultimately end up in the dog food.

Some dog food brands use meat byproducts or 4-D meats. This stands for dead, dying, disabled, or diseased. Manufacturers are permitted to simply call these ingredients “meat byproducts.” These typically contain steroids, hormones, chemicals, and more.

Many manufacturers also use artificial dyes to make their produce resemble meat. Dog foods also include preservatives.

How to make dog food

Manufacturers can use an assortment of ingredients with vitamins and minerals. Fortunately for you, it also means that there are plenty of ingredients to use in your homemade recipe. Creating a balanced diet is essential.

Adding water to homemade dog food

When adding water, use distilled water or filtered water. This will be better for the dog’s kidneys.

Raw or cooked

Also be sure to be consistent with foods. When learning how to make dog food, one of the important things to do is to either cook all of the ingredients or keep all of the ingredients raw.

This means, if you use cooked steak in a dog food recipe, you will also need to cook the vegetables, brown rice, and anything else you include.

Likewise, if you use hard-boiled eggs, be sure the additional ingredients are cooked as well. 

Use caution when using raw meat. It’s generally not recommended. 

Vitamins & Minerals

In addition to protein, dogs require iron, calcium, zinc, and copper. You may choose to add a shaker powder such as organic Dog Greens or other supplement. It’s easy to shake these organic supplements on the dog food you make. This may be something to consider if your dog has special dietary needs, is vegan, is grain-free, etc.

Protein

Protein can come from a variety of sources. Meat, seafood, dairy and eggs are all options for homemade dog food.

Beef is a common protein in homemade dog food, but many other sources are considered. You can opt for any organ or muscle protein because it will help your pets meet their daily requirements.

The main protein to avoid is the liver since it can hold onto impurities that you won’t want your dog eating. A few of the best proteins to add into your homemade recipe include:

  • Lamb
  • Fish (herring or mackerel)
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Beef (ground or cut in strips)
  • Beans (kidney or lima beans)
  • Eggs (moderately)

An example of a dog food recipe using ground chicken is: ground chicken, brown rice, zucchini, peas, spinach, squash, and carrots. Blend it in the food processor. Your dog will love it.

Add filtered water as necessary. With wet vegetables such as zucchini, peas and squash, you won’t need as much as you would if you were only using carrots and spinach.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are essential for your dog’s digestive health since they contain healthy fiber necessary for digestion.

Without a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, your pets could be prone to loose stools and diarrhea. There are also essential vitamins within carbs to protect their digestive system.

These healthy filler foods also help keep the dog food together. Good options for carbs include:

  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Yams
  • Cooked potatoes
  • Pasta

Ingredients to make dog food with brown rice: Ground turkey or chicken, brown rice, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and peas. Add water as necessary. Mix in food processor or Vitamix.

Dog food recipe using cooked pasta: Ground chicken, pasta, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, olive oil.

Vegetables

There are a substantial number of vegetables that your dogs can eat. They act as a healthy addition to their food and supply vitamins and minerals.

You’ll want to make sure that you have a good assortment of veggies to keep them interested. Our favorite vegetables to put in homemade dog food include:

  • Zucchini
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Cooked cabbage
  • Cucumbers

Fruits

Adding a little bit of sweetness to your pet’s food is a great way to entice them to eat. One of the most considerable advantages of fruits is that they’re packed with antioxidants.

Since antioxidants help ward off free radicals, you’ll be protecting your dog’s immune system.

A few of the best fruits to add to dog food include:

  • Blueberries
  • Melon
  • Coconut
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Bananas

Oils and Fat

Drizzling olive oil, walnut oil, or safflower oil will provide additional fats and nutrients.

What are the worst ingredients for homemade dog food

There are plenty of ingredients your dogs shouldn’t eat. The reason to make your own dog food is so it’s more natural and organic when possible. You also may have a dog with special dietary needs.

When you make your own dog food, consider what ingredients should not be in dog food. Be sure to avoid these ingredients:

  • Food dyes (Your dog doesn’t care what color the food is!)
  • Wheat, gluten products
  • Corn
  • Rendered fat
  • Meat by-products
  • BHA and BHT
  • Other additives

Some of these ingredients are best if limited, while others need to be avoided at all costs.

What to limit in dog’s diet

  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Dairy
  • Cooking oil
  • Corn

What to avoid in dog’s diet

  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Coffee
  • Spices
  • Raw dough
  • Avocados
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate

When making it at home, dog food should contain natural muscle meat sources.

how to make homemade dog food
homemade dog food vs store-bought

Is it cheaper to make your own dog food?

With the proper dog food recipe, you have the opportunity to make inexpensive dog food. Many families find they can save money by making their dog’s food, primarily if you can cheaply source the ingredients or use leftovers.

The best way to answer, “Is it cheaper to make your own dog food?” is to do the calculations.

On average, a single can of wet dog food will cost around $2, and you’ll need at least two cans daily. With the least expensive store-bought food, you can spend $4 per day compared to far less with homemade food.

If you’re able to source multiple ingredients for $20 and create 20 servings, you’ll be spending $1/day for meals. Keep in mind, you can portion and freeze them to serve later.

However, it is relatively easy to get carried away when making your dog food, especially with organic produce.

Organic produce and grass-fed meat can be exceptionally more expensive than conventional ingredients. Since you’ll want your pets’ food similar to yours, it can be challenging to stay within a budget.

Still, making your own dog food can be healthier with natural ingredients. This means, even if you are spending the same amount as you would buying it, your dog will likely enjoy higher-quality ingredients, better nutrition, and even organic dog food for the same cost.

Is homemade dog food better?

Because you can provide natural ingredients and organic ingredients for your dog, it’s often better to make your own.

There are two main things to consider with homemade dog food: quality control and bioavailability. By taking these points under advisement, you can determine whether homemade food is best.

Quality control

When you’re responsible for making your pet’s food, you have complete control over ingredients. This process allows you to know where the ingredients come from and what goes into the formula.

Since pet parents have significant concerns about store-bought food quality, this can give you peace of mind.

On the other hand, you’re solely responsible for ensuring your pets get the nutrition they need. As you’re likely not a veterinarian, this is a huge responsibility for any owner. Be sure to discuss with your vet what your homemade dog food recipes typically contain.

Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about dealing with the big name recalls from pet food manufacturers.

Bioavailability

Bioavailability is another advantage to homemade dog food because fresh food has far more nutrients. If you compare grocery produce to processed food, far more vitamins and minerals are ready to be consumed.

Whereas artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors can be damaging to your dog’s digestive system. Opting to feed them natural ingredients can help their bodies absorb far more nutrition per meal. Organic ingredients will mean less pesticides, fertilizers, etc. Organic meat will not contain growth hormones and steroids.

Although, it is important to remember that no matter how precise you are, your pets could be lacking nutrition. This reason is why adding a multivitamin to your dog’s daily routine should be essential with homemade meals.

How to make homemade dog food

Figuring out how to make DIY dog food can be time-consuming because it requires plenty of research. You’ll want to make sure that you protect your dogs from harmful ingredients and ensure you’re feeding them well.

Using the tips below, you’ll be able to determine if specific recipes are best for your pets.

Consider dog breed

Check to see what specific nutritional requirements specific for your dog’s breed. You’ll also need to factor in the dog’s weight when determining portion sizes.

Activity

Also consider how active your dog is on a daily basis. For example, a livestock guardian dog who is very active during the day will require more calories than one who is mostly indoors.

Choose a dog food recipe

Before you begin deciding on ingredients for your dog food, you first need to find a recommended recipe. You’ll find homemade dog food recipes online, but not all of them are as nourishing as your pet needs.

There are plenty of examples that fall short of essentials, like iron, calcium, zinc, and copper. The best way to determine if a dog food recipe is healthy is to see who’s creating it.

Talk to the vet

Ideally, you’ll want professional advice from someone who specializes in dog nutrition. With their guidance, all of the boxes should be checked, along with the use of supplements.

You can also discuss your desire for homemade dog food with your vet to see if they have recommendations.

Balanced diet

There are a variety of ingredients your dog food will need, with precise measurements. Protein, carbs, fats, calcium, and essential fatty acids are a few to consider. It’s important to be sure you are meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.

Once you’ve found the perfect recipe for your pups, you must follow the recipe step-by-step. Preparing it as recommended by a trained professional is the only way to make sure your dog is getting enough nourishment.

Note: If you choose one recipe to give your dog every day, then it’s important to be sure it meets the nutritional requirements. If you rotate the diet, you can swap ingredients for others.

It’s also important to note that it can be dangerous when you get too creative with customized recipes. Introduce new foods slowly. 

Below, you’ll find a few of the essential tips for proper preparation. In the best organic dog food recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose.

Unlike human food recipes, it’s unlikely an ingredient is added for flavor or color, as most dogs aren’t picky.

Adult dogs or puppies

Puppies have different requirements than dogs.

Adult dogs need a high protein food source. Their diets should include 20% protein. It should include 5% – 8% fat. 

Additional nutrients to include are: lysine, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and iron. The following vitamins are also necessary: A, B12, D, E, folic acid, niacin, and thiamine.

Measure ingredients

Measuring the ingredients when learning how to make your own dog food is crucial.

With a combination of measuring cups and food scales, you can meet the exact needs based on your chosen recipe.

In most cases, using a food scale can be better since the measurements are far more accurate than measuring cups.

Add supplements

It can be challenging to create a homemade dog food recipe that is all-encompassing. You might find you’ll have to invest in supplements to ensure your canines have the right daily nutrition.

Pet parents need to choose supplements carefully, not to give too much or too little of one thing.

The best recipes you can find will give you information about the supplements you should provide alongside their meals. For further confirmation, be sure to talk to your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist for extra guidance.

There are many organic dog supplements available. You simply shake them onto the homemade dog food.

Track your dog’s health

As you begin to introduce new things into your dog’s diet, you must track their progress. Any changes to their behavior, stools, or digestive health could show that you need to modify quantities or change foods.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for weight gain or weight loss, excessive gas, vomiting, and loose stools.

Track the foods your dog eats. Consider taking your pet to the vet if you’re experiencing any differences in behavior. 

It’s especially important if you’re finding it’s more challenging to keep your dog healthy and fit.

You will be able to get tests to let you know if their dog food is the problem or another concern.

how to make dog food
homemade raw dog food recipe

DIY dog food recipes

Now that you have a good idea of what to know before making dog food, let’s get into the recipes.

There are plenty of reliable recipes designed by pet nutritionists to consider, such as:

MSPCA Angell 15-Pound Recipe

On MSPCA Angell, you can find sample recipes for dog food based on weight. They currently have recipes for dogs weighing from 15 to 60 pounds.

Ingredients

  • 80 grams of chicken (Dark meat)
  • 190 grams of white rice (Cooked)
  • 3 grams green beans
  • 4 grams broccoli
  • 3 grams spinach
  • 3 grams of carrots
  • 4 grams bell peppers
  • 5 grams of vegetable oil
  • 6 grams of Balance IT Canine (supplement)

Cook the ingredients

The first step to preparing your dog’s food is to make sure you cook the ingredients thoroughly.

Brown the chicken in a separate pan and when cooked, add in the mixed vegetables. You can also steam the white rice separately and add it to the mix when finished.

Use vegetable oil to help the ingredients blend perfectly and finish with six grams of Balance IT Canine. This supplement is specifically designed to help supplement homemade canine diets. You can typically buy it from your veterinarian or directly from the manufacturer.

Store properly

After you cook the homemade dog food, it’s time for storage. You can easily use this recipe to make multiple batches, but you need to keep it in the refrigerator.

Since there aren’t any preservatives, it’s best to store it in small quantities, between 32 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can freeze large batches as well. Portion them into individual serving sizes so you can easily thaw them.

Serve

You’ll find that warm food will be more attractive to your dogs than cold. This makes it acceptable to warm up frozen dog food you’ve made.

For frozen food, be sure to inspect it for signs of fungal growth. You can quickly reheat the food in your microwave, ensuring there aren’t any hot spots that could burn their mouth.

Also, we recommend wetting the food slightly before heating it to ensure it retains its moisture.

As an alternative, you can bake this recipe in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit to give it a crispier texture.

Founders Veterinary Clinic Recipe

It can be beneficial to take a veterinarian’s advice on what to feed your dogs when making homemade meals.

This is a simple dog food recipe. It’s important to note these quantities are recommended for 20 pound dogs.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pounds of skinless chicken
  • 1 cup of brown rice (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon of potassium chloride (salt substitute)
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 250 mg of calcium citrate
  • One daily multivitamin or mineral supplement

Prepare the ingredients

Cook the chicken and rice separately.

Once finished, you can combine the ingredients with vegetable oil. A good brand to consider is Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend since it contains plenty of essential fatty acids.

Add supplements

It’s best if you’re able to receive personalized supplement recommendations from your vet. However, you will want to be sure to use potassium chloride to substitute the salt in this recipe. Also, a daily multivitamin will be necessary.

You could also supplement the calcium citrate for bone meal powder to boost the calcium properties of the recipe.

Adjust serving size

Your dog’s weight will affect the quantities of this recipe, but they’re straightforward to adjust.

If you have a 10 pound dog, you can half the recipe or double it if you have a 40 pound dog.

Once adding this food to their diet, if you see signs of weight loss or weight gain, adjust the servings as necessary.

Watch for your dog’s activity level and caloric intake. Consider fun outdoor activities with your dog to keep him healthy and mobile.

Benefits of learning how to make your own dog food

With the ability to know how to make dog food, you’ll control the ingredients that your pet consumes. Although there is plenty of responsibility regarding knowing how to make homemade dog food, it can be worth it.

You might be able to save money and ensure that your pets are getting optimal nutrition with supplements. Be sure to create a balanced diet for your canine, filled with all natural ingredients. Vitamin D in high doses can be harmful to dogs. 

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