When I was a child, my family had a dog. My grandparents had a dog, my friends had dogs, and all of our relatives had them too. We lived in houses while our dogs lived in our gardens. They had a lot of space to run, play, hide, and a little dog house for sleeping. Back then, that was a standard.
Even if the dog wasn’t welcome inside of the house, it was a part of the family. What kept that bond lasting, besides daily play times and cuddles was the feeding routine. Today, this is considered dangerous for your pets, but back then, my mother would cook lunch for us, we would eat and then we would give the leftovers with additional dog food to our puppy.
Now, we all know that every dog should have properly balanced nutrition to stay healthy. Still, many people miss the habit of offering their pets a home cooked meal and re-using leftovers that way. We are here today to tell you that you still have an opportunity to do both. You can cook specially for your dog! I am sure he will be grateful and that you will get some extra tail wiggles.
If you decide to cook for your dogs, there are a few basic rules that you should consider. No matter what breed your dog is – German Shepard, Labrador, French bulldog, Pit Bulls or just a regular dog you rescued from a shelter, these three golden rules apply.
1. Getting a proper balance
What worries dog owners the most is how to make complete and balanced meals for their pets? Now, tell me one thing. When you cook for yourself and your children, is your every meal perfectly balanced? Or do you try to keep a good balance on a daily basis?
It is much more likely that you do the second. Getting every dog’s meal correctly balanced is almost impossible and at the same time – unnecessary.
What you need to achieve is so called over time balance. Leading expert on homemade food for dogs, Mary Straus is here to calm you down. She says that as long as you feed your dog variety of different foods, everything should be okay. You have to ensure that your pet’s nutritional needs are met over a week or two. There is no need for stressing about fitting all of the essential components into one meal. Feeding your dog different meals on different days is just enough to provide good health and optimal well-being.
2. A little bit of this, a little bit of that
This rule is closely related to the previous one. Imagine if you were eating only chicken breasts every day, for every meal for ten days. At some point, you would get sick of it, no matter how much you liked it at the beginning.
The same goes for dogs. If you serve them the same recipe repeatedly, it will cause problems. You have to assure variety. Include, poultry, red meat, liver, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and sometimes grains and legumes.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it doesn’t mean your dog should be too. For optimal functioning dogs need animal proteins, while they don’t require carbohydrates. Vegetable proteins and tofu do not have necessary amino acids, which can cause certain health problems. At least half of your dog's food should be made of animal protein.
Another expert Monica Segal recommends you to feed your dog with following groceries in this exact order: eggs, dairy products, fish, and meat. These components have the highest biological values, with eggs on the top of the list and meat at the bottom. All the vegetables you serve to your pet need to be steamed or pureed because dogs’ short intestinal tract is not able to metabolize the cells from raw plants.
3. Calcium is a must have
Healthy meal for your dog has to contain calcium, which you can get by adding raw meat bones to the dish. Of course, you can use calcium supplements, but that might not be the best idea.
Mary Straus warns you that calcium supplements usually include vitamin D which is not recommended for dogs. You can add ground eggshell to your dog's food and provide calcium that way. Adding vitamin E to their nutrition should also be considered.
If you decide to feed your dog strictly with home cooked meals, purchase some high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplements. There are many kinds of them, and you should search for the one that suits your dog’s needs the best.
When you decide to make a transition to homemade food for your dog, consult a veterinarian. Many factors have a role in creating the perfect menu. Is your dog a puppy, inactive, pregnant, young adult and active or old adult active? Is he/she underweight, ideal or overweight? Does he/she have some kind of disease or disorder? It is important to include all of this information while creating a meal plan.
Research had shown that only nine out of two hundred dog food recipes, recommended from different sources meet the National Research Council’s (NRC) Recommended Allowances or Minimum Requirements for all essential daily nutrients. Which means you should be careful when dealing with dog diet and you shouldn’t do it without vet’s consultation.
We will offer you some general guidelines, but for a complete nutritional guide, you should read this article.
Let’s start with basics. Here are the percentages of what your dog’s nutrition needs to contain and how you can provide it:
- 40-50% protein – eggs, meat, seafood and dairy products
- 10% carbohydrates – grains and beans
- 50% vegetables – cooked, steamed, processed
- Fat – oils or meat
- Calcium – crushed egg shells or a supplement if necessary
- Fatty acids – cooked egg yolks, plant oils, oatmeal, fish, and meat
Now, if you still fear that your dog will get sick if you start giving him table scraps, we are here to bust some myths for you:
- Your dog won't get worms if you let him drink milk. However, it’s likely that he will have loose stool, due to his inability to process lactose.
- Chocolate also doesn’t cause worms. But, it doesn’t mean you should give it to your dog – it can cause heart problems if fed in large amounts, due to theobromine.
- Garlic won’t protect your dog from getting worms or fleas.
- Spaying or castrating your dogs will not lead to him/her gaining weight. If your dog is healthy, he/she can only become overweight if you feed him too much.
- There is no need to add vitamin C supplements in your dog’s nutrition. They manufacture it internally, on their own. However, if your dog is going through intense exercise, disease or aging, some supplementation might be a good idea.
- If you are already offering your dog a proper diet, do not mix in additional calcium, it can cause harm!
- If you notice some of the following symptoms: itchiness and dry skin, swollen and red ears, compulsive paws licking, scratching face and chin – your dog might be allergic to certain kinds of food, like corn, soy, wheat and so on. On the other hand, if your dog is vomiting or having diarrhea, he might be developing food intolerance. Both cases are a good reason to visit your veterinarian.
- Dietary deficiencies are not visible as soon as they start. It can take more than six months for them to become evident. However, high-quality diet will visibly improve your dog's condition after only three weeks.
- If your dog has dermatological problems, try adding omega fatty acids or upgrade his diet to meat-based ingredient formula.
Our Favorite Homemade Dog Food Recipes
Risotto For Your Furry Friend
For this meal, you will need following ingredients:
- 2 cups of brown rice
- 1 pound of ground turkey
- 6 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
- 16 ounces of frozen vegetables – broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower
Place ground turkey, rice, rosemary, and water into a large cooking pot.
Stir until the ground turkey is evenly distributed over the mixture.
Wait for the mixture to boil over highest heat.
Reduce the heat to low and start simmering. Continue in this manner for 20 minutes.
Add frozen vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it cool down. Place it in the refrigerator and serve cold.
Your dog will surely enjoy this recipe, and it is particularly useful during the hot summer days. As you can see, this meal includes meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates at the same time, which is great.
Delicious Lamb Stew
- 2 cups of ground lamb
- ½ of a grated carrot
- 1 cup of cooked brown rice
- ½ cup of fat-free yogurt
- 2 and ½ cups of water
Put water, lamb, and carrot in a pot.
Turn on the low heat, cover the pot and cook until the meat is tender.
When cooking is done, take off the oven and let it cool.
Mix in cooked rice and yogurt. Serve warm or cold to your dog.
Every dog loves a good lamb. If you make this dish for your pet, he/she will be eternally grateful.
Salty Gourmet Biscuits
- 12-16 ounces of raw liver
- 1 and ½ lbs. of white flour
- 8 ounces of oats
- 3 bouillon cubes (meat or chicken flavored)
- 1 cup of water
- 2 beaten eggs
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Grease three baking sheets.
Chop the liver.
Mix oats with flour and bouillon cubes.
Add eggs and chopped liver into the mixture.
Add water as long as you don’t get the firm and sticky dough.
Spread the mixture on the sheets and cut it into portions with the small dog-biscuit cutter.
Remove leftover parts. Spread out on another sheet and repeat the process.
Bake for one hour.
You can store these cookies in airtight container in your fridge for about 2 weeks.
Your Dog’s Favorite Bone Broth
- 35 ounces of beef bones
- 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, if you want
Put chopped beef bones into the pot or pressure cooker.
Add one cup of apple cider vinegar.
Fill the pot with water to cover the bones.
If you are using a pressure cooker, cook for 4 hours. If you are cooking on your stove, simmer for 8-24 hours. Add water when needed.
Let it cool down. You can even put it in a refrigerator for a few days.
Your dog will love this dish. It is like a soup made especially for him/her.
Vet-approved Frozen Meat Treat
- 2 cups of skinless and boneless grilled chicken
- ¾ of fat-free yogurt
- 1 carrot or ½ of carrot, if your dog is diabetic
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together in one plastic bowl.
Place the mixture in ice cube trays and freeze it.
Another great thing to serve during the summer, it is like a doggy fro-yo.
Dog’s Favorite Loaf
- 1 pound of lean ground turkey
- 3 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 raw eggs
- ½ cup of chopped carrots
- ½ cup of peas
- ½ cup of oats
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Mix the lean ground turkey, chopped carrots, and peas in a large plastic bowl.
Add the oats and eggs to the mixture. Mix until the loaf mixture comes together.
Use olive oil to grease a loaf pan and add half of the mixture to the pan.
Place three hard-boiled eggs along the center of the loaf. Then, put the other half of the ground turkey mixture on top of it.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Let it cool down, and you can serve it to your dog. It is best to cut the loaf in half-inch slices before offering it to your canine.
Vegan Dog Delight
- ½ cup of whole-grain rice
- ½ cup of black or white quinoa
- 1 cup of lentils
- 3 cups of natural peanut butter
- 1 and ½ cups of apple cider vinegar
- 3 cubed sweet potatoes
- 6 cups of filtered water
For Each Serving:
- 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil
- 200–250 mg of cranberry extract
- Multivitamin powder
- Enzyme supplement
- 125 mg or 1/4 pill of dogs probiotic
Boil the water and add rice, lentils, quinoa and sweet potatoes.
Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer, for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Rice, quinoa, lentils, and sweet potatoes have to be well cooked and very soft.
Add more water if needed and stir occasionally.
When it is done, remove from the heat. Give it some time to cool down.
Mash the mixture.
Add vinegar and peanut butter and stir again.
Make 3 to 5 servings, where one serving is around 2/3 cup, and refrigerate them. The rest of the mix can be stored in the freezer.
Right before you serve it to your dog, mix in the flaxseed oil, cranberry extract, supplements and probiotic.
You can make this vegan meal for your dog from time to time, but remember dogs need animal protein. This would not be enough for optimal health and well-being. That is the reason why so many supplements and probiotics need to be added.
- 1 can of Salmon
- 1 egg
- 1 potato
- 1 or ½ carrot
- 1 stalk of celery
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- Little oil for frying
Chop up the vegetables into small pieces.
Drain the salmon and add egg and flour.
Form the salmon mixture into small patties
Fry the patties in oil until they turn golden brown.
Remove them from oil and proceed to stir-frying the vegetables for 5-8 minutes.
Serve the patties and vegetables to your dog.
This dish is guaranteed to spoil your pet.
Cordon Bleu For Fancy Dinners
- 1 pound of cooked, ground or baked ham
- 1 pound of ground chicken
- 3 beaten eggs
- 1 cup of shredded cheese
- 1 cup of cooked brown rice
- 1 and ¾ cup of milk
- ½ cup of parmesan cheese
- ½ cup of corn
- ¾ cup of boiled and cubed sweet potatoes
- ¾ cup of canned plain pumpkin
- 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons of plain wheat germ
- 1 tablespoon of brewer’s yeast
- 1 tablespoon of parsley flakes
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
Use the nonstick cooking spray on a baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix ham, chicken, cheese, rice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, wheat germ, parsley, corn and brewer’s yeast.
In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and the milk and pour them over the meat mixture. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
Place it in the oven and bake for one hour, until the parmesan is melted and golden brown.
Let it cool and serve to your beloved puppy.
Healthy Pumpkin Balls
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour
- ½ cup of canned pumpkin
- 4 tablespoons of molasses
- 4 tablespoons of water
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- ¼ tablespoon of baking soda
- ¼ tablespoon of baking powder
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
In a plastic bowl, mix pumpkin, water, oil, and molasses.
Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and powder to the mixture. Start stirring until the dough becomes soft enough.
Make little dough balls with your hands.
Place the balls onto the greased cookie sheet and flatten them using a fork.
Place it into the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
Let your canine enjoy the sweets you’ve made for him/her, and he/she will love you even more.
10 Most Toxic Foods to Dogs
You are eating your favorite food, and your dog is sitting right next to you. He is looking at you with his big beautiful eyes, and he is practically begging. Many people are not immune to this level of cuteness. However, you should be. Some foods shouldn't be given to dogs under no circumstances. Let’s take a look at the most poisonous foods list:
It can be found in candy, baked goods, gum, and toothpaste. The problem with this chemical is that it causes insulin release that leads to hypoglycemia and liver failure.
If your dog eats xylitol, he will probably start to vomit, lose coordination, become lethargic and even have seizures. Liver failure will be noticeable after only a few days.
It sounds logical that you shouldn’t give alcohol to your pet, but some people think it is fun. Sometimes dogs lick significant amounts of alcohol accidentally. However, it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, central nervous system depression, loss of coordination, tremors, difficulty breathing, abnormal blood activity, coma and even death.
If you suspect your dog has consumed alcoholic beverages, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Avocado may be good for you and but it is a problem for many animals, like donkeys, rabbits, birds, horses, sheep, goats, and dogs. Avocados contain persin in their leaves, seeds, bark, and fruit. It will cause vomiting, diarrhea or lack of stool production in cats and dogs. But, all of the other animals listed above can suffer much more severe consequences.
#4. Onions and Garlic
These vegetables are dangerous for both cats and dogs. They can cause red blood cell damage and gastrointestinal irritation. Things should be all right if you get your dog to the vet on time. You’ll notice weakness, red or brown urine, pale gums, hyper salivation and lack of muscle coordination.
Even if you cannot imagine life without coffee, your dog has too. Caffeine in your coffee, tea, medicine, or beans can be fatal. First signs of caffeine poisoning are fast breathing, muscle twitches, and restlessness.
#6. Grapes and Raisins
These fruits are healthy for humans, but in dogs, they cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can do the damage and make your pet sick. Repeated vomiting is a sure sign that something is wrong. After a few days, your canine will become depressed and indolent.
We all agree on one thing - chocolate is delicious; dogs have a problem resisting it too, just like humans. But, unfortunately, they have to. All of the dog's problems with chocolate are caused by theobromine.
The chocolates that are healthiest for the people – dark and unsweetened ones are the biggest concern. They cause vomiting and diarrhea at best. In worst case scenario, they lead to heart problems, tremors, seizures, and death.
#8. Raw fish, meat, and eggs
This one is pretty straight forward. Raw foods contain bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli or parasites that can cause poisoning. Also, avidin in eggs decreases the absorption of biotin, which leads to coat and skin problems. The most common signs of poisoning are fever, vomiting and enlarged lymph nodes. Cooking should prevent all of these problems.
#9. Yeast dough
Just as yeast dough rises when exposed to heat, it can rise in your dog’s digestive system. This is painful and leads to bloating and potential twists that can be life threatening. Also, yeast produces ethanol, so it will leave the same consequences as alcohol if your dog eats it.
#10. Salt and salty snacks
A large amount of salt in any form will cause excessive thirst and consequently urination. In more severe cases, it can lead to sodium ion poisoning. First signs that you can catch are vomiting, diarrhea, depression, fever or tremors. In the end, it can cause coma and death. For that reason, keep your dog away from potato chips, popcorn or pretzels.
How To Preserve Homemade Dog Food
When you start cooking for your dog, you will notice that more often than not, you make much more food than he/she needs for one serving or even a few days. As you are well aware that you cannot feed him/her the same dish for several days, you need to find a way to store it.
Storing homemade dog food is not so different than storing the food you eat every day. They can be stored in freezer and refrigerator. You just need to provide enough airtight plastic containers. The food can be kept in the fridge for three days before it goes bad, on the other hand, if you freeze it, you can store it for two weeks or even more. If you have a small dog, like Chihuahua, you should get baby food containers; they are just the right size for your puppies servings.
If you don’t like this refrigerator-freezer option, or you don’t have enough space, there are other options that you might find interesting. You can switch to canning. It takes a little more time and effort, but it is just as efficient.
Whichever option you choose, be careful not to leave your dog food waiting for too long. Always check if it is still fresh and healthy before giving it to your dog, to avoid potential health problems.
Pro Tips From Other Bloggers
Many people all over the world are dog lovers. Also, many of them had already tried feeding their pets with homemade food. We are bringing you their professional tips that work almost every time and for nearly every canine. Take a pen or give your best to remember as much as you can, because these will improve your and your dog's life tremendously.
If your dog has diarrhea or gases, and life in your house requires a gas mask because of it, add a tablespoon or two of pumpkin or sweet potatoes in his/hers future meals. It does miracles!
If your dog needs medication and doesn’t like to take pills, there is a good way to trick him/her. Hide the pills inside of soft cheese. Soft cheeses are sticky, so your dog won't separate his pill from them or spit it out.
If you are cooking tuna based meals for your dog be sure to choose tuna packed in oil rather than water. It tastes and smells better, and it will provide your furry friend with much more healthy fats.
If you have an adult dog, it is best to feed him/her twice a day. This way he/she is less likely to become overweight because he is well fed and doesn’t need to go through your garbage or eat anything that gets in his way.
If you want to prevent your dog from becoming a picky eater, put the food in his bowl and leave it for 20-30 minutes. After that time, pick it up even if he/she hasn't eaten. This way, his meals will be better scheduled, and he will know that you decide when and what he should eat.
Serve your dog’s food in stainless steel bowls. Ceramic and glass ones are more likely to chip, get in your pet's intestines and cause a problem, while plastic ones release toxic chemicals.
If you cook a whole ham, freeze the bone as well as leftovers. You can use the bone later to make a delicious and healthy broth for your canine.
If you want to offer something sweet to your dog, you can use apple sauce as a sweetener. Choose firm, well-colored apples without mushy brown spots.
Stay away from fatty foods like bacon or organ meats. They can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
Baby carrots are great treats for overweight dogs. They are low in calories and have a great crunch.
Common Problems and Solutions
In this section, we will address some of the most common challenges and solutions about homemade dog food diet.
Many people are concerned about the size of the portions they should give to their dogs. There is no right answer to that question that can be found online. You have to take your dog to the vet and discuss portion sizes with him. That is why we recommend a vet consultation before the transition to natural homemade food.
Typical dog’s allergies are related to beef and chicken. Even if your dog is not allergic at the beginning, he/she can become if you keep feeding him/her the same kind of meat all the time. Remember to keep switching. If you know beef and chicken are not an option, cooked fish, duck, turkey or lamb will serve you right.
Dogs can have a problem with digesting brown rice. If your does too, make sure to double cook it or cook it longer than you would when you are making a meal for yourself. If you don’t like this idea, you can always ditch the rice and go with quinoa.
Even if the raw diet is very popular and seems logical, because people believe that dogs would eat raw meat if they lived in the wild, it is not the right thing to choose. There are many problems with raw food listed above. Remember the whole organism of a domestic dog is not the same as wild dog’s one. Yes, your dog's ancestors were maybe wolfs, there hasn't been a wolf in your dogs family tree for centuries.
If you notice your dog is having any kind of health problem, visit a veterinarian. Don’t try to cure him by changing his/hers diet on your own. Maybe the issue is much more complicated than you suspect. It is better to be sure than sorry later on.
Many of these problems are already addressed in the article, so they were not given further explanation. Homemade food for your dog is the right choice, but remember that it had to be cooked and made not just mixed and thrown in a bowl. At the same time, it is better for your home budget and much healthier for your fur baby. Your dog deserves attention; he is giving you so much more.
As you can see from our article, you can easily start producing homemade dog food and treat your pet the way it deserves; with highest quality nutrients and best taste possible. Homemade dog food is great both health-wise and budget-wise, and it doesn’t require much hassle. If you love your pet, you’ll want to treat it the best you can. With homemade dog food, you’ll make it feel special and crave for more every time!
Check out our recipes and ideas, follow the advice from pros, and avoid common problems. Enjoy life with your pet, and treat it like it deserves. Treat it the best.
Would you have something to add to this article? Do you have some questions or suggestions? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share the article with your friends – both them and their pets will be grateful!