Bringing a pet dog home can be a life-altering experience. Watching your pup grow up into a spirited and lively adult dog can fill your heart with joy and inspiration. Pretty soon, you will realize that your pooch has become a part of your family and you are going to leave no stone unturned to keep them healthy and happy.
It is only natural that you would want to shower your canine companion with all your love and affection. However, you also need to ensure that your dog gets the right environment and nutritious food for proper physical and mental growth. That’s why it is crucial to watch your dog’s diet and ensure that they receive the right amount of essential nutrients.
But in today’s age of information overload, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of online advice about the canine diet. In recent years, many self-proclaimed pet nutrition experts have come forward with various theories against processed dog food. It is only natural that you will find yourself drawn to nutritious homemade dog food recipes.
However, just because you are cooking your dog’s food at home, it doesn’t guarantee that these meals are superior. Unless you consult an animal nutritionist or veterinarian before home cooking your dog’s meal, you might end up depriving them of vital nutrients. Worse still, you might even be using unhealthy or toxic ingredients in your recipes.
That’s why in this blog, we have curated a list of the most nutritious homemade dog food recipes. But before delving deeper, let us take a closer look at the pros and cons of home cooking your dog’s meals.
- Is Homemade Dog Food Better than Store-Bought Food?
- What are the Benefits of Homemade Dog Food?
- What are the Risks of Homemade Dog Food?
- How to Make Homemade Dog Food?
- Nutritious Homemade Dog Food Recipes: Our Top Picks
- Frequently Asked Questions
Is Homemade Dog Food Better than Store-Bought Food?
Most store-bought dog food options contain the right quantity of essential nutrients. Also, these foods go through rigorous tests and quality checks to ensure that they don’t contain any toxic ingredients. They are easier to prepare and most dogs tend to like the taste just fine. Therefore, the notion that processed dog food isn’t healthy or ideal for your furry friend isn’t necessarily true.
Nevertheless, home-cooked meals, when prepared using the right recipes, can be more wholesome and nourishing. They can also offer a welcome change of taste when your dog is bored of eating the same food every day. Depending on the ingredients you are using, it can even be more cost-effective in the long run. You will, however, have to take time out from your busy schedule to prepare nutritious homemade dog food.
What are the Benefits of Homemade Dog Food?
When you prepare your dog’s meals at home, you get extensive control over the quality and quantity of various ingredients. This can be particularly helpful if your dog has known food allergies or aversions. Also, you get the chance to include more whole ingredients, such as grains and vegetables, in your dog’s diet. It is helpful for dogs who are prone to digestive issues or intolerant to certain foods.
It is also worth mentioning here that pet food manufacturers often recall certain products due to quality or compliance issues. If your dog’s diet relies on store-bought food, it might be difficult to switch to another brand in the event of a recall. This is because your dog is already accustomed to the taste and flavor of a particular brand’s food. Home cooking your dog’s meals saves you from this hassle.
Moreover, spoiling your dog with homemade treats can be a great way to show your affection and nurture your bond. Even if you aren’t fond of cooking, you can don the chef’s hat to celebrate special occasions, such as your dog’s birthday. The joy of watching your pooch devour the food will make all the brainstorming and effort worth it.
By now, you must be tempted to start cooking a hearty and delicious meal for your furry best friend. But there are a few things you should know about before taking the plunge.
What are the Risks of Homemade Dog Food?
Home cooking your dog’s meals can be a great way of making them feel loved and cared for. But if you are a new dog parent, it is a good idea to tread with caution when it comes to homemade dog food. To begin with, you must understand that it requires a significant investment in terms of time and effort. If you are working or have to manage kids at home, giving store-bought food to your dog might be a more convenient option.
Here are a few mistakes you should watch out for while preparing dog food at home:
1. Not Verifying Your Sources
Cooking your dog’s food isn’t the same as baking a chocolate cake. You can’t just use any of the random nutritious dog food recipes you find on the internet. This is because most online recipes won’t address the daily nutritional requirement of your dog. Following such unreliable and unverified recipes can lead to a significant imbalance in your pet’s diet. Also, these recipes don’t take into account any food intolerance or allergies your pooch might be suffering from.
That’s why as a ground-rule, you should make it a point to consult a certified vet or pet nutritionist. They can assess your dog’s unique nutritional needs and develop a suitable diet plan. Also, they are better equipped to recommend what supplements you need to use and ingredients you should avoid.
2. Experimenting with the Recipe
So, now that you have found a reliable dog food recipe, you must be eager to flaunt your culinary skills. You might want to tweak the measurements or swap certain ingredients. However, this could result in deficiency or overload of certain nutrients in your dog’s diet. It is always a good idea to follow all the instructions listed in a recipe to a T.
3. Not Providing a Balanced Diet
This is one of the most common mistakes dog parents make when preparing their pet’s food at home. Feeding your pooch the same meal with similar ingredients might be depriving them of certain nutrients. Some of the most common ingredients that are lacking in home-cooked dog food include minerals and vitamins.
Failing to provide your dog with a balanced diet can cause long-term damage to their body. For instance, studies have found that legume-rich and grain-free diets might be linked to an increased risk of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Consult an expert for a better idea of the type of supplements you should include in the diet.
4. Using Toxic or Unhealthy Ingredients
Certain foods, such as chocolate, onion, garlic, and macadamia nuts, are a strict no-no for dogs. Likewise, grapes and raisins are known to cause kidney failure in dogs. It is, therefore, crucial to avoid these ingredients in any meal you are preparing for your pooch. Also, you should monitor their eating habits to find out whether they are allergic to specific food items.
Despite the risks, cooking for your dog can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. You just have to find the right nutritious homemade dog food recipes and get those checked by a canine nutritionist. You also have to know how to prepare your dog’s meals in your kitchen.
5. Trying Too Many Recipes at Once
On paper, it seems like a good idea to combine various dog food recipes to compensate for their shortcomings. However, in reality, this will do more harm than good. Combining several recipes can exacerbate nutritional deficiencies and take a toll on your furry friend’s wellbeing. Also, such meals can be more difficult to digest and trigger intestinal disorders.
How to Make Homemade Dog Food?
In this section, we will take a look at the steps you should follow to make delicious and wholesome canine food. Let’s get started.
1. Find a Good Recipe
Your dog’s health and wellbeing are largely dependent on the type of diet you provide to them. If you are keen on home cooking their meals, it is crucial to start with the right recipe. While you will find a plethora of nutritious homemade dog food recipes on the internet, it is crucial to choose one that is balanced and safe.
To begin with, make sure it doesn’t involve any ingredients that are unsafe for your dog. These could include generic unhealthy foods, such as chocolate and raisins, or specific foods your furry friend might be allergic to. Next, analyze the list of ingredients and make sure it includes a healthy mix of nutrients, such as:
- Carbohydrates (found in grains, vegetables, and legumes)
- Fatty acids (found in fish, egg yolks, and oatmeal)
- Proteins (found in meat, fish, seafood, and eggs)
- Minerals (found in fruits and nuts)
- Vitamins (found in fruits and green vegetables)
While carbohydrates are essential for digestion and physical growth, proteins help repair cells and strengthen muscle tissue. Likewise, minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and sodium, are crucial for the development of bones and teeth. Your dog also needs a healthy dose of various vitamins to boost their immune system and improve their skin and hair. It is just as crucial to
If you are skeptical about using online recipes, you could ask a fellow dog parent for recommendations. Irrespective of the recipe you select, it always a good idea to consult your vet or pet nutritionist and check whether they would greenlight the recipe. They might suggest a few changes in quantities of different ingredients to ensure that your dog gets the daily intake of vital nutrients.
2. Stick to the Instructions
Experimenting with your dog’s diet isn’t the right way to showcase your culinary prowess. Instead, you should make it point to precisely follow every step, as mentioned in the recipe. It is a good idea to use a kitchen scale to measure various ingredients, particularly meat and grains. Make sure you cook each ingredient for the right time to preserve the nutrients.
Also, you must resist the temptation to swap certain ingredients just because they aren’t available at the moment. For instance, if the recipe calls for olive oil, you can substitute it with canola oil. This is because both these oils have very different nutrient profiles. Likewise, you could change the nutritional composition of a meal by using a different type of meat or fish. Also, make sure to cool any food before serving it to your dog.
3. Don’t Forget to Include Supplement
Even if you use all the right ingredients, home-cooked dog food is still going to lack a few key nutrients. Calcium and omega-3 fatty acids are the most common nutrients that are missing in homemade dog food. It is, therefore, wiser to ask an expert for recommendations on the type of supplements you should be using.
4. Monitor Your Dog’s Health
Introducing your pooch to any new diet can adversely affect their health. To begin with, you need to keep an eye out for skin rashes and gastrointestinal issues. Also, you should closely watch your dog’s body weight and regularly get them checked by the vet. A thorough physical exam will determine whether the home-cooked diet is doing any real good to your pooch or causing them to lose/gain more weight.
So, what type of homemade food should you give to your dog? Let’s find out.
Nutritious Homemade Dog Food Recipes: Our Top Picks
If you run an online search for homemade dog food recipes, you will be spoilt for choice. Whether you are looking for a proper meal or snack options, you will find a plethora of recipes. But which recipe should you select for your dog’s diet?
We have handpicked the most nutritious dog food recipes to help you make an informed decision. We do, however, recommend that you get in touch with a vet or nutritionist to find the right recipe for your furry companion. Without further ado, let’s take a look.
1. Frozen Peanut Butter & Banana Bites
Image via For the Love of Cooking
Everyone knows how much dogs relish peanut butter. But feeding your dog oodles of peanut butter isn’t particularly healthy. That is unless you turn their favorite food into a refreshing summertime treat. These frozen peanut butter and banana bites are ideal when you have run out of store-bought dog treats. Also, they are healthier and don’t contain any harmful preservatives. Bonus points if you use a specially designed dog treat silicone mold.
- 1 ripe banana
- ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup peanut butter
- Microwave the peanut butter until it is runny (about 10 to 15 seconds). Add a spoonful to each silicone mold and even it out.
- Mash the banana with a fork and add the Greek yogurt to create a creamy mixture.
- Spoon the banana mixture on top of the peanut butter layer and let the treats freeze for at least 4 hours.
2. Chicken Jerky Strips
Image via Proud Dog Mom
Most dogs love munching on chicken jerky treats. However, store-bought chicken jerky often contains preservatives, as well as harmful ingredients, such as salt and sugar. The good news is that preparing chicken jerky strips at home isn’t rocket science. All you need is an oven and a couple of hours to spare.
- 1 pound chicken breast
- Olive oil (just a dash)
- Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
- Thoroughly rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a kitchen towel. Cut each chicken breast into thin slices (about ¼” to ⅛” thick).
- Line a sheet pan with baking paper and place a wire rack on top of it. Lightly brush the rack with olive oil.
- Place the chicken strips on the rack and bake them for 2 hours. Flip the strips and cook for another 45 minutes or until dry and crisp.
3. Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
Image via Heart Hook Home
This is yet another opportunity for you to spoil your pooch with treats minus the guilt of jeopardizing their health. Plus, pumpkin offers a wealth of nutritional benefits, including improved digestion. Use a bone-shaped cookie cutter to make these pumpkin dog biscuits look even more irresistible.
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons softened coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons water (might need more)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Make a soft and sticky dough with all the ingredients.
- Roll the dough on the countertop to about ¼” thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits.
- Place the treats on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done.
4. Slow Cooked Beef & Rice
Image via 12 Tomatoes
If you want to prepare a balanced meal for your dog with loads of nutrients, this is just the recipe you need. It has got veggies, beans, rice, and meat – everything you need to ensure your canine companion eats a balanced diet. The best part is that this slow cooked beef and rice dish is super-easy to prepare.
- 2 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 ½ cup brown rice
- 1 can kidney beans (strained and rinsed)
- 1 ½ cups butternut squash (diced)
- 1 ½ cups carrots (chopped)
- ¾ cup green peas (fresh, frozen, or dried)
- 4 cups water
- Add the beef to the slow cooker followed by the rice, beans, and veggies.
- Add the water and mix everything together with a good stir.
- Place the lid and cook for 6 hours (on low) or 3 hours (on high).
5. Turkey with Rice and Veggies
Image via PetBacker
This recipe offers all the benefits of the previous one, minus the extra fat from the beef. Also, it cooks a lot faster because you use a Dutch Oven instead of the slow cooker. You can use a wide array of vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, and carrots, in this dish. You can get the full recipe here.
6. Beef Stew
Image via Pinterest
Nothing screams comfort food louder than a bowl of warm and delicious stew on a cold winter night. This beef stew features the right amount of meat and veggies to ensure a balanced meal. The addition of sweet potatoes makes it rich in carbohydrates too.
- 1 pound beef (cut into chunks)
- ¾ cup green beans (diced)
- ¾ cup carrots (diced)
- ⅓ cup green peas
- 1 small sweet potato (microwaved and diced)
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Cook the beef chunks in vegetable oil over medium heat (for 10 to 15 minutes). Remove from the pan.
- Add flour and water to the pan and gently mix with the dripping to make a gravy.
- Add the beef and vegetables and cook until the vegetables have softened.
7. Chicken and Veggie Rice
Image via Top Dog Tips
This chicken and veggie rice dish is another variation of the slow cooked beef and rice recipe mentioned earlier. It is particularly useful if your dog has gained weight and you want to avoid red meat in their diet. All you have to do is cook the brown rice and meat separately. Add the rice and veggies to the cooked meat and stir to combine the ingredients. You can even substitute the ground chicken with turkey.
8. Meat Loaf
Image via Meal Garden
Of course, this isn’t a recipe you would try for an everyday meal. Instead, it is the perfect food for special occasions, such as your dog’s gotcha day. While this recipe uses turkey, you can swap it with other lean meats, such as chicken. You can even garnish the meat loaf with some icing made of mashed potatoes and top it with some sliced carrots for a pop of color.
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup brown rice
- ¼ cup carrots (grated)
- 1 tsp basil (dried)
- 1 tsp oregano (dried)
- ⅛ tsp parsley (dried)
- ½ cup canned tomato puree
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and spoon the mixture into a loaf tin (lined with parchment paper).
- Bake for about 50 minutes or until the center is completely cooked.
9. Mini Omelettes
Image via One Good Thing by Jillee
Wondering what to serve your four-legged family member for breakfast? How about these mini omelettes loaded with lean meat or fish and vegetables? Whisk eggs in a bowl, add the chicken/turkey/salmon, and throw in veggies of your choice. Bell peppers and spinach work well. Fry over medium heat in a mini pan or pour into a lined muffin tray and bake until cooked through.
10. Salmon & Veggies
Image via FirstCry Parenting
Are you on the hunt for a dish that you can share with your canine companion? Your search ends with this hearty salmon and veggie dish. Make sure you utilize all the odds and ends of the vegetables, including potato peels and broccoli stems.
- 2 mid-sized salmon fillet
- 1 head of broccoli (cut into florets); cut the stem into thin slices
- 2 carrots (diced)
- 3 potatoes (diced)
- 1 squash (diced)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Steam the vegetables (including the sliced broccoli stems) in a rice cooker or roast them in the oven until tender.
- Coat the veggie peels in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook them in an air fryer.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan and cook the salmon over medium heat.
- Take the skin off from the salmon and cut it into bite-sized pieces before serving with the veggies.
There are various ways to prepare nourishing and delectable homemade food for your pet dog. From lip-smacking treats and kibble to wholesome meals incorporating meat, rice, and veggies – you will find a wide range of nutritious homemade dog food recipes. However, it is always wiser to consult a pet nutritionist or veterinarian before you try any new recipe. Also, make sure you incorporate a variety of foods to let your pooch enjoy a balanced and wholesome meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we will discuss a few common questions dog parents have about homemade dog food. Let’s get started.
What Foods Should Your Dog Never Eat?
There is a wide range of foods that you should never feed your dog. These include onion, garlic, and chives, which can damage their blood cells and cause gastrointestinal issues. Also, make sure you avoid giving them chocolate, coffee, raisins, grapes, and aerated drinks. Lastly, keep them away from salty snacks, as well as foods containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Food?
In recent years, canine diets comprising raw meats and vegetables have grabbed the limelight. However, feeding your pet raw meat exposes their digestive system to harmful bacteria that can cause intestinal infections. Also, their bodies might find it difficult to digest starchy vegetables and grains.
How Much Homemade Dog Food Should You Feed Your Dog?
There isn’t a simple formula to answer this question. The quantity and type of food you should feed your dog depends on what their body needs. Consult a vet or canine nutritionist to create a proper diet plan for your pet.
What Kind of Vegetables Can You Use in Homemade Dog Food?
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are loaded with nutrients. Also, you should incorporate a healthy mix of different veggies, such as carrots, green beans, peas, pumpkin, etc. Steer clear of onion, garlic, and chives.