This is my detailed guide about homemade dog foods in 2022.
Are you a DIY person too? Do you want to make your own dog food? If you wonder what the pros and cons of this are, this article is for you. I also made a specific balanced recipe for you and your puppy.
Before you read on, you should know that I consider it very important that you always ask your veterinarian’s opinion on such matters first and foremost. Although I have tried to put together the best possible dog food recipe, your dog may have different nutritional needs.
Are there any benefits of homemade dog food?
In short, opinions on this are divided even among experts. From my experience, I can say one thing. Homemade dog food can be helpful, but you need to pay attention to many things. If you don’t follow these, you can do more harm to your puppy than you would like.
Processed foods (such as in-store dog food) usually contain fewer nutrients. If you cook fresh ingredients for your dog, it can result in a much healthier result. Not to mention, you don’t have to deal with embarrassing dog food labels. The food you make is guaranteed to contain no preservatives, additives, etc.
Dog food recipes can come in very handy if you run out of commercial dog food. In such cases, it is still better to serve balanced food to your dogs than to give them some human food from the table.
However, despite the above, there are plenty of good quality commercial foods on the market. Experts say today’s pet food industry is not as awful as many claim. Of course, always pay attention to the ingredients on the label.
On the other hand, ready-to-buy foods often have a balanced nutrient content. A few percent difference in the proportion of macronutrients counts for many breeds. If you compile the food yourself, you need to pay much more attention to these specific percentages.
Overall, homemade dog food has many benefits, but you have to stick to many essential rules. These will be discussed below.
Important nutrition guides
Of course, it is not easy to determine the nutrient needs of dogs. Like humans, dogs can be unique and different. Bodyweight, gender, age, health status, activity, or breed are important. Without considering these, it is impossible to determine what is right for a dog. You may want to consult your veterinarian.
However, six nutrients are essential for any dog. These are protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water. If these are found in dog food, it will undoubtedly provide enough energy for growth and support for the immune system.
You can take care of vitamins and minerals with the help of vegetables or fruits. However, if you want to be sure, you can add dietary supplements to the recipe.
Finding the best diet for your dog is not easy. You have to consider several aspects, e.g., activity, breed, age, health condition, etc. If you want to make the best decision possible, check out my comprehensive guide on how to choose the best dog food.
Below I will detail the critical nutrient sources mentioned above.
As everyone knows, this is the building block of the body. That is why it is essential. It is the most crucial component of cells, organs, tissues, etc. The best sources are chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, fish, and eggs.
Fats are excellent sources of energy and play a role in many processes in the body. They are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. They are also responsible for the proper functioning of the hormonal system and the beauty of the skin and coat. The best sources are meat and several foods that contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Glucose is perhaps the most important energy source, and the body most easily produces it from carbohydrates. Also, carbohydrates are also responsible for intestinal health (fibers are also carbohydrates). The best sources are rice, legumes, sweet potato, and grains.
It is important to note that there is no agreement among experts on the carbohydrate needs of dogs. Because dogs are carnivores, they can basically get energy, ideally from protein and fats. However, carbohydrates can still be utilized, and there are particularly healthy carbohydrate sources for them.
It would not be easy to list how many minerals are responsible for everything in an article. In addition to bone and tooth health, they also play a role in hormonal and nervous system processes. And there are plenty more things to go on. The most important minerals are calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc.
Like minerals, vitamins also have a lot of positive effects. These include immunity, skin and eye health, bowel function, weight loss, etc. The most important vitamins are A, B, C, D, E, and K.
Dogs make up about 60-70% of their bodies, like most living things. For this reason, proper hydration is critical. Of course, you don’t need to add too much water to the recipe. However, make sure you always have the right amount of fresh water for your dog. Dehydration can have many negative consequences.
Best tips for making a homemade dog food
Since your dog is one of your family’s most influential members, you clearly want the best for him. If you follow the tips below, you’ll get closer to making good dog food for your canine.
A good recipe
Plenty of homemade dog food is deficient in essential nutrients. Examples are iron, copper, calcium, and zinc. The best dog food recipes are those made by dog nutrition experts.
Always consider the sources if your dog needs a special diet (e.g., in case of sensitivity or allergies). In this case, the usual raw materials may change.
Make the recipe properly
Sometimes it’s okay to experiment in the kitchen. However, this is not the case with your dog food. Changing some ingredients can also completely change the nutrient profile. This can have unintended consequences.
Follow the recipe strictly. Some ingredients may look similar, but they may still contain completely different nutrients. For example, rapeseed oil and olive oil contain other fatty acids.
Adhere to the prescribed amount of ingredients. It may be a good idea to use a food scale. Some recipes do not give precise instructions on quantity. Try to avoid these or ask your veterinarian for advice.
Sometimes even the best recipes don’t contain enough of all the nutrients. An example is calcium. You can replace this with dairy products or eggshells. And you can help the vitamin content of the recipe with added vegetables. Besides, you can choose dietary supplements for dogs.
Check the effect of the dog food
If your dog has been eating the food you prepared for a few weeks, it’s time to visit your vet. You may want to look at the weight and health of your pup at this time. If bodyweight has changed, doses can be adjusted accordingly. Your veterinarian will know what negative signs to look out for that could indicate a poor diet.
What mistakes you should avoid when making handmade dog food
You may have read some useful tips first. Now, however, I will list the things you should avoid when making dog food. Of course, you shouldn’t do the opposite of the tips discussed above either. However, I did not want to rewrite them here.
This is not about the source of nutrients but the source of the recipe. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, most of the recipes found on the internet are inadequate. In many cases, it lacks important nutrients. And sometimes they contain more of some ingredients. Neither side is appropriate because it leads to imbalance.
You don’t pay attention to balance
If a nutrient deficiency (or excess) occurs in the dog’s food, it can lead to disease in the long run.
You use multiple diets at the same time to create balance
Many times, multiple recipes have the same nutrient deficiencies. Because of this, it doesn’t help your dog to use numerous recipes at once. Strive for the only good handmade dog food.
Unsafe or unhealthy ingredients
Avoid hazardous sources. Some foods are toxic to dogs, such as grapes, raisins, chocolate, garlic, avocado, macadamia nuts, and more. Wash things of animal origin well and cook them properly. Legumes, grains, and starchy vegetables are also worth cooking.
A balanced recipe
I tried to put together a perfect and balanced recipe based on the above. With a bit of follow-up, I also tried to meet the vitamin and mineral needs of the dogs.
- 400g ground beef
- 1 raw egg (large)
- 0.5 can sardines (canned in water)
- 0.5 cup of brown rice
- 1 large sweet potato (180g)
- 0.5 cup carrots
- 0.5 cup broccoli
- 1 oz. bell pepper
- 1 medium apple
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 teaspoon kelp powder
- half of the eggshell
Beef is an excellent source of protein. Slightly greasy, if there is a problem with this, it can be replaced with chicken or turkey, e.g., Eggs are also a good source of protein, but now it’s included in the recipe because of the healthy fats and vitamins. Please do not throw out half of the shell as it will be needed because of calcium. (It is important that puppies and some breeds need less calcium. In this case, use fewer eggshells or no eggs at all.)
Sardines are essential for vitamins D and E. Both sweet potatoes and brown rice are excellent sources of carbohydrates. I put both in the recipe because they both have valuable nutrients.
I used carrots, broccoli, bell pepper, apples, spinach, and green beans as a source of vitamins and fiber. Kelp powder due to iodine should be included in the recipe.
It is important not to season the food. Especially do not use salt. Remember not to make the recipe for yourself. Dogs respond much worse to salt than humans.
Simply grind, mix, and cook the ingredients. The finished amount is enough for about two meals for a 30 kg (65 lbs) dog.
Is there any alternative to home cooking?
As you can see, making dog food at home is not the most straightforward task. Ready-made meals can provide a solution for this. These are commercial foods that contain whole ingredients. These ingredients are pre-cooked, which is why these foods are made for the same purpose as the handmade versions. You can choose any of them if you pay attention to your dog’s nutritional needs.
Basically, making food for your dog yourself is an excellent idea. But you could see that there were a lot of things to pay attention to. I think the recipe I made is delicious, tasty, and balanced. However, ask your veterinarian for advice before you start cooking.