FOOD & TREATS

How to Make Dog Food: Recipes, Nutritional Information And Health Benefits

Homemade food for dogs
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

Have you ever wondered how to make dog food? Once upon a time, commercial dog food was nowhere to be found. What did that mean for dog owners back then? Well, they had to cook their dogs’ meals from scratch just like we did for ourselves.

In those days it was common for dogs to eat homemade meals alongside their owners. In maybe the last 100 years we have moved away from home cooking both for our pets and for us. Everything is pre-prepared for us these days, for dogs this means either dry kibbles or wet food.

If you are looking to give your dog the best diet possible, never have to worry about a potential recall on your brand of food and really know what your dog is eating, then making your own dog food might be exactly what you are looking for.

While it may take a little longer, your dog will love you for this tasteful dinner night after night. He will probably dance around in the kitchen, wagging his tail when he knows you are cooking for him!

This article is meant to give you a basic guide on the reasons that so many people have started to feed their dogs homemade dog food again, what sort of nutritional needs your dog has compared to your human family as well as giving you a few great recipes!

Why consider making your own dog food?

There are many different reasons that you may be considering for making your own dog food. These reasons could range from simply wanting to know the best possible products are being fed to your dog (just as you would want for yourself or your human family) to because your dog has a food allergy and this is the best way to keep him from suffering.

I have to say, one of the greatest parts about making your own dog food is just to know what your dog is eating. Dog food and any pet food really, is not well regulated. This leads to recalls, sick pets (or worse) and even potential increase in food allergies from the dog’s commercial brand food.

Also, not all dog foods are created equal. While some may be rich in certain nutritional values, they may be lacking in other essential ones, leading to an unbalanced diet and a pet with malnutrition. Since the pet food industry is not closely regulated you have to hope that the manufacturer was accurate on everything they put into their food (and let’s face it, they’re not!).

Homemade dog food

If this is a concern to you, you are not alone. Many dog parents over the recent years have turned back to feeding their dog a nutritional and homemade meal instead of commercial dog foods.  When you feed your dog a food that you made yourself, you can be certain about everything that goes into his body.

Also, you will know which nutrients he may be lacking, which gives you a chance to make up for it with supplements when needed.

When choosing to make your own dog food, you need to be sure to educate yourself on the nutrients needed to give your dog a balanced diet. Be sure that you give them appropriate portions for their size, age and that you give them vitamin supplements for anything their diet may be lacking in. This is essential to ensuring your best friend is eating a healthy diet.

What nutritional values does your dog need?

Just like we have the food pyramid showing us the food groups and have basic guidelines on how to follow a healthy diet, there is an entirely different pyramid and required nutrients for dogs. They have evolved over the years but the basic needs of their bodies have stayed the same.

Depending on how far you are willing to dive into the world of homemade dog food it may be possible to get them all the nutrients without the aid of supplements. Though some basic homemade dog foods are great for your dog as long as you add supplements to their meals to make-up for any missing vitamins or minerals.

The basic building blocks of a dog’s diet are:

  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

As long as you are covering everything on that list, you are feeding your dog a well-balanced diet of homemade dog food.

Protein is probably the most important part of your dog’s healthy diet. Meat, whether you choose to cook it or serve it raw, should make up about half of the dog food you are making. Dogs, after all are carnivorous and have been for centuries.

Protein and the fats that are associated with meats help your dog’s digestive system to function properly. With most cooked homemade dog food recipes, you will need to add an additional fat supplement to meet the amount of fats your dog needs.

Homemade nutrition guide

We humans turn to vegetables to get all of our proper vitamins and minerals and this works great for your dog too, but always cook the vegetables you serve your dog! A dog’s body cannot properly breakdown raw vegetables, wild dogs are known to get their vitamins and minerals by eating dung from rabbits or other herbivores.

This is because the vegetables in the dung have already been broken down once. By cooking and even pureeing the vegetables you are simulating the pre-digestive stage, making it easier for your dog’s system to handle these much needed veggies.

Water is also essential to your dog – just as much as it is for you. I cannot express enough that your dog should have access to clean drinking water at all times. Whether you are out on a long walk, playing in the yard or lounging around the house, there needs to be a bowl of clean water available to your pet. They can suffer dehydration just as easily as we can if water is not available!

Are there health benefits to a home made dog food diet?

Of course there are benefits to making your own dog food over buying commercial premade kibbles or cans. The most commonly mentioned benefit of making your own dog food is, “Knowing what is going into your dog’s body.” The idea is, you are so concerned about what goes into our bodies, but do you ever stop and consider what goes into your dogs?

Most commercial pet foods barley keep up with the standard required nutrients in the food and many of them are lacking in important vitamins and minerals that they need.

Among the many reasons you should make your own dog food is the fact that dogs who eat homemade dog food are much less likely to suffer from food allergies – or allergies in general – than those who eat a commercial kibble or canned food blend. This is because their bodies are getting all the essentials and they are much healthier than their counterparts who eat store brand.

Dogs diet

Dogs who eat a homemade diet containing all the proper vitamins and minerals are likely to live fuller, healthier and potentially longer lives. A dog suffering from a vitamin deficiency is likely to be sick often, and you never want to be victim of a pet food recall! The only way to 100% avoid getting a tainted batch of food is to know exactly what you are feeding your precious pet.

Another great reason is that your dog is really going to love their food. Think about it, how many of your friends make their dogs food? Your dog will be one loved, possibly a little spoiled, but definitely well taken care of canine! People who make dog food at home tend to report that they feel closer to their dog than they did before. Cooking for your dog and watching their excitement knowing this time it’s their food in the oven is simply a great feeling!

So basically, the best benefits of making your own dog food are:

  • Knowing what’s in your dog’s food.
  • Less chance of allergies.
  • No food recalls.
  • A happier and healthier furry friend.
  • A better bond between you and your dog.

Want some great recipes?

I personally don’t want to tell you whether a raw diet or cooked diet is better for your dog. Everyone has their own opinion on this piece and there is no point in arguing it. Yes, raw meats can potentially be dangerous – and yes, dogs have been eating raw meats since the beginning of their days.

I have chosen two recipes I found to be pretty basic to make and they include any necessary supplements to supplement what the normal meal is lacking.

Dog food homemade

There are thousands of ways to make your own dog food. These are two recipes that I believe even a beginner could handle as a way to start your dog on a better path. You will want to eventually expand your dog’s menu – after all, how would you feel about chicken and gravy for every meal?

Offering your dog a variety of food not only keeps him happy, but it also gives you opportunities to use less supplements if foods are made in the right combinations.

As for those recipes, let’s start off with the cooked recipe.

Chicken and rice dog food recipe

What you need:

  • 10 lbs. chicken (leg and thy quarters, baked)
  • 18 eggs (hardboiled, with shells, which are a source of calcium)
  • 5 cups uncooked white rice (will make 10-15 cups when cooked)
  • 1 tube of fish oil (you can use Grizzly Salmon Oil)
  • Some dog supplement like the Ultimate Skin & Coat Dog Supplement (use 2-4 cups)

Once you have baked the chicken you need to debone it. You can use all the meat and fatty pieces as well as the skin in the food. Set the bones aside to make a stock with them later. After rice is cooked, simply mix the chicken (shredded), rice and crushed up hardboiled eggs (shells and all).

Add in the fish oil and dog supplement and mix until well blended. Leave a few cups in the fridge for near future meals and freeze the remainder in portion sized containers or bags.

Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat Dog Supplement

That recipe is one of the easiest cooked meat recipes I have found. You can add veggies to this meal as well as long as the veggies are cooked to mush. Now for those of you who are interested in feeding your dog an all-natural raw homemade dog food, here’s an easy recipe for dog food.

Raw food dog recipe

Many pet owners shy away from the raw diet, but it can actually be quite a healthy option for your dog. Don’t believe us? Check out the facts at our article on the benefits of the raw food diet.

What you need:

  • 10 lbs. raw ground beef
  • 18 eggs (hard boiled, with shells, which are a source of calcium)
  • 5 cups uncooked white rice (will make 10-15 cups when cooked)
  • 1 tube of omega fatty acid supplement (you can try this product)
  • Dog supplement

Take the hard boiled eggs and crush them up into a large mixing bowl or tub including the shells (once again – it may sound crazy, but egg shells are actually a very, very good source of calcium for your dog. Leaving out the shells means adding a calcium supplement as well!). Mix in the cooled, cooked rice and add the tube of omega fatty acid supplement.

Nutri-Pet Nupro Joint and Immunity Support for Dogs

Once this is all mixed well, add raw ground beef and mix until well blended. Add the dog food supplement now or on a per bowl basis. Once it’s finished, leave a few servings out and freeze the rest in portion sizes for later use.

Raw food dog recipe

I honestly, would try a few different types of recipes and see which one your dog responds to best. You can find plenty of recipes to try in our article on the top 10 healthiest homemade dog food recipes. After all, all dogs are different, just like all humans are different. They will all have different tastes, some may love a raw diet and others may turn their nose up at it. You just have to experiment to see what your dog prefers and work from there to provide them a diverse and well balanced diet.

But you don’t have to stick to just dog food. We have some great recipes for homemade dog treats as well, for those times when your pooch needs a snack for that good behaviour.

Is making your own dog food worth it?

The answer to this question, in short, is yes. Absolutely 100%! It is always a good idea to consider making your dog food from scratch. Not only will you be benefiting in all the ways mentioned throughout the article, but you will feel good about yourself too. There is a sense of pride in being able to say that your dog only eats the best, because you make all his food yourself.

On a homemade diet your dog is far less likely to end up sick or suffering from seasonal allergies and on top of it, your dog is likely to be an extremely happy one. You will notice the difference within days of switching from a commercial, store bought kibble or canned food to a home cooked diet. You may see some indigestion at the beginning of the switch but this will happen in any creature when their diet is suddenly changed. Don’t be too concerned unless is lasts beyond a week past the diet change.

We could sit here and review all the reasons you should make your own dog food for days. The main point is, you care about your dog and you want the best for him or her. If that sounds familiar then you should consider switching from a store bought food to a home cooked diet.

Your dog will thank you and all the benefits will show. Dogs with a properly balanced diet have more of a natural shine to their coats, less fur-loss due to aging and generally do not suffer from allergies.

In some cases you may have picked a home cooked diet because your dog currently suffers from a food allergy. If this is the case, the best way to keep your dog happy and healthy is to create a dish that is free of the offending food. If this food is one of the major sources of vitamins, minerals, fats or proteins then you will need to be sure you replace it with the proper supplement.

No matter what your situation is, there is a recipe out there that fits your dog’s needs. Whether he is allergic to chicken, doesn’t like raw meat or simply mow’s down everything in sight, there is a homemade dog food that your furry friend will absolutely love. When you switch to a homemade dog food diet, consider a checkup with your vet after a few months to ensure your dog is getting all the needed nutrients.

Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to make your own dog food and the benefits a home cooked meal has for both your dog and you, it’s time to stop web surfing and get in the kitchen, cooking! After you make your first few meals and see how much your dog loves it, you won’t ever want to buy him a commercial grade dog food again!

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.

  • Hilary Reddy

    I love this article! I have to remember and make sure I give my dog a balance diet of carbohydrate, protein and fat. I prepare homemade meals for my pet and this is such an excellent read!

    • Anna Smith

      Thank you very much, Hilary! Not only you provide good and well-prepared meals for your dog, you also do it as a labor of love. Definitely a win-win situation.

  • Missy Carter

    I’m feeding my Labrador chicken and white rice in addition to her dry dog food. Although with a lot of research in nutrition, I would love to wean her off dog food and strictly on homemade meals.

    • Anna Smith

      Weaning her and eventually providing her homemade meals is a good idea, although it should be a subtle portioning process to gently wean her off dry dog food and ensure that it will not disturb her appetite due to sudden switching.

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