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Homemade Pet Food: Natural Holistic Nutrition for Dogs

Updated on May 5, 2011

Treat your Best Friend to Homemade Dog Food

It seems the old adage is true, we are what we eat. In the case of our pets, they are what we feed them. With increasing concerns over the safety of commercially manufactured pet foods, owners have taken it upon themselves to learn more about the benefits of switching to homemade dog food. You don't need to spend a lot of time or money making your pet's food and the benefits could be well worth it. So treat your dog to a more holistic approach to eating with natural homemade pet foods.

What's Really in Commercial Pet Food?

To better understand what we pour into our pet's dishes, it's important to look at the ingredient label. Many popular brands, and their generic alternatives, contain either meat by-products or meat and bone meal; terms that seem to have settled nicely into our collective conscience. What exactly are meat by-products? Defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), meat by-products are non-meat portions of slaughtered animals, including lungs, bone, brain, intestines, blood, kidneys and stomachs, which are not fit for human consumption. Meat by-products, and the other substandard ingredients and fillers found in pet foods, are less nutritious and could be a contributing factor to the increased risk of cancer and other life threatening diseases. Surprisingly, the AAFCO neglects to mention that current guidelines legally allow for the use of diseased, dead, denatured and dying livestock, road kill and even euthanized pets.

While this information should be sufficient enough to thoroughly gross you out, it's important to remember that knowledge is power. Armed with this disturbing information, pet owners are capable of making changes to better the lives of their companions.

What's in Your Dog's Dish?

What Pet Food Do You Purchase Most for Your Dog?

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Think About It!

Are you giving your pets the very best nutrition?

Benefits of Homemade Dog Food

Natural Ingredients for Optimal Health

A healthy, balanced pet requires a healthy, balanced diet, free of by-products, fillers, additives and preservatives. One simple and cost effective way to achieve balanced nutrition for your faithful friends is to make your own homemade pet food. While there are few studies to back up the benefits of feeding your pet a diet based on whole foods, animal lovers and practitioners of this method are usually quick to tell you about how much it has improved the health of their animals. Most dogs that eat meals made from fresh meats, vegetables and fruits experience fewer conditions, like gum disease, digestive problems and even cancer. Additionally, the consumption of high quality proteins and nutrient-rich vegetables help to improve muscle condition and vision, make your dog's coat shiny and can cure common ailments like ear infections, dry skin and allergies.

Getting Started: How to Prepare Homemade Dog Food

Making your own pet food can seem to be a time consuming task at first, but with careful planning it isn’t as daunting as it may seem. By setting aside one afternoon for preparation, you should be able to compile enough food to sustain your pets throughout the week. Take care to watch for sales at the grocery store and stock up on ingredients when the prices are low, although preparing your dog’s meals is typically less costly. If you happen to have a vegetable garden, you can use scraps and leftovers to create healthy dishes for your dog.

Maintaining a proper balance of nutrients is important when creating meals for your pets. There is a slew of conflicting information on the internet, from raw diets to specific ingredients and certain percentages of protein. As a general rule of thumb, combine at least 30% high quality protein, 30% vegetables and 10% whole grains for dogs. Homemade dog food recipes are available online or can be found by browsing through pet food cookbooks.

Check Out These Great Homemade Dog Food Books!

Finding the right recipes for your pet can be a daunting task. To find the most accurate and nutritional recipes, it is recommended that you check out these popular dog food cookbooks.

A Basic Pet Food Recipe - Something Simple to Get you Started!

Here is a great recipe that I created to get you started on your homemade pet food adventure. It is particularly easy and useful because you can add almost any vegetables you have on hand. Remember, to seek the guidance of your veterinarian before feeding your pet new foods. The recipe also works well for cats, but consider adding more eggs for valuable and nutritious taurine to aid in healthy vision. Additionally, some cats and small dogs may require that meals be ground in a blender or food mill to make chewing easier.

Basic Weekly Dog Food (Bulk Recipe)

4 lbs. ground turkey or lean chicken (organic or antibiotic-free preferred)

5 large eggs, beaten (brown, vegetarian and antibiotic-free preferred)

5 cups cooked brown rice

5 whole carrots, thin sliced and steamed or boiled

4 cups green beans, cleaned and steamed or boiled

Various vegetables that are approved for canines

In a large pot, crumble ground meat and cook thoroughly. Add beaten eggs and stir continually over medium heat until scrambled and cooked. Remove pot from heat and add cooked rice and cooked vegetables. Allow mixture to cool before portioning into tightly sealed containers. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months.

For added vitamins and minerals, consider adding a few drops of an organic or holistic liquid supplement. If your pet's coat is looking dull and or they are suffering from dry skin, a teaspoon of olive oil (per feeding) should bring back the shine and relieve bothersome itching.

What Do You Think? - Your Comments and Feedback are Greatly Appreciated

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    • profile image

      Tammy 20 months ago

      How much do I feed my 66 pound lab/mix, 10 years old?

    • profile image

      Lisa 2 years ago

      I have a 3 yr old catahoula/greyhound mix. From the time we got him as a puppy, he had very loose stool. I finally found a combo that works for him. Fresh fruit, pumpkin, grated raw veggies, usually a mix of carrots, sweet potato, broccoli or cauliflower, raw beef or chicken and grain free (1/4 cup) kibble. He is doing wonderful on this mix and finally I can keep weight on him...He is very lean, but no ribs are visible! I also add coconut oil on occasion.

    • profile image

      Wally 2 years ago

      I don't see a calcium source listed. Is this really a complete recipe?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have lived on a farm since i was born 45 years ago, the farm was my fathers and his fathers,,,, etc.

      We have always had dogs, both working and non-working.

      My father got me my own first dog (storm), an all white allsatian,, when i was 9.

      Ever since then i have fallen in love with animals, especially dogs.

      I have owned and had good expierence with all breeds of dogs, from pitbulls, staffies, bullmastifs etc .... to jack russells, spaniels and even my mothers poodle and pug.

      Every single dog i have ever owned and also every dog my generations have owned on my farm HAVE NEVER BEEN FED COMMERICIAL DOG FOOD. They are fed natural nutrition from birth. Meat and veg mince, and as raw as it comes from 8wks old. I then start introducing small raw items such as, chicken wings, necks. For the first wk or two i hold on to the food im feeding, like you were playing tug with a toy to encourage chewing before swallowing. It takes the dog abit getting used to and will choke once or twice in the first wk or 2, but they are quick learners and rarely choke again.

      Ask yourself, would you try swallowing something that you knew was too big?????

      The earlier you start the better.

      I now have a pack of 4 dogs and there are 7 dogs on my farm. My pack consists of Hugo my English Bulldog, Unit my Alapaha Blue Blood (American Bulldog), Bullseye my English Bull Terrier and Rosey my Austrailian Sheep Dog. Along with a Poodle, Pug and Lab.

      I have only ever been to the vet for a serious problem once since having Storm aged 9, and that was with a re-homed dog that had been on a commercial diet previously.

      I can't stress enough how much i am against commercial dog food

      I only wish you could spend a day with my pack !

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Actually onions, raisins, grapes and chocolate are all neurotoxins for dogs and should not be given to them. Garlic is from the onion family and thought to have similar affects.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Actually, raisins, grapes, chocolate and onions are not good for dogs. Some say garlic too as it is related to onions which are a neurotoxin for dogs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      As for the vegetables that are fit for human consumption but not for dogs: onions are definitely not good for dogs (toxic!) and some dogs might be sensitive to mushrooms. Personally I would avoid giving dogs food containing mushrooms that you have picked yourself; white mushrooms from the supermarket are one thing - my guys have never shown a reaction to the occasional mushroom in their dinner, but I wouldn't want to take a risk with all sorts of different types that might or might not be toxic to dogs. As for avocado and broccoli: I've been feeding my guys home cooked food for about 10 years now, and have regularly given them both avocado and broccoli, and never have seen any negative side effects. My girl loves chewing on the broccoli stems, she comes into the kitchen to ask for them when I'm cooking. As it's a dark, leafy vegetable, broccoli contains lots of nutrients and is a very good source of vitamin C. I've read that the stone and the skin of avocados is toxic to dogs, but not the fruit itself. Again, it's got lots of nutrients, particularly B vitamins.

      On the other hand, I've read that the green bits and the roots growing out of potatoes are very bad for dogs, so I make sure to cut these off when I give my guys potatoes. I try to feed them organic as much as possible, but if the potatoes happen to be non-organic, I peel them as well, as any pesticides tend to get absorbed into the skins, which would otherwise be the most nutritious part. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Home Made meals are the best. Every Monday we make my baby 7 little containers, ( brown rice, green beans, carrots, brocoli, & chicken ) we do mix this every other day with dry BLUE BUFFALO food. SHE IS A HAPPY BABY

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @AllisonLindsay: How do you know how much to portion? I have a 4 year old - 14lb (should be 12lb) furbaby.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @healthywebsites1: Avocado, onions, broccoli, and mushrooms (even ones safe for humans) are all vegetables that are not safe for dogs. I think that's all of them, but I might be forgetting some.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have 2 St. Bernards weighing 110 lb and 160 lb. They are asking for homemade food and I am not sure how much to give them? They eat 4 cups dry kibble. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • healthywebsites1 profile image

      healthywebsites1 6 years ago

      Your recipe mentions, "Various vegetables that are approved for canines." Are there some human-edible vegetables that are not acceptable for pets?

    • AllisonLindsay profile image

      AllisonLindsay 6 years ago

      @anticloud: Hmm...I have three children and a full time job, but don't have any trouble making the food for our pets. I devote 1-2 hours every Sunday to making a large batch that will keep in the refrigerator throughout the week. I suppose it's all relative...those who feel that is a priority will make time. I don't find it to be a burden in the least bit.

      As far as a takeout restaurant for dogs, no thanks. One of the greatest benefits of cooking for my pets is that I save a tremendous amount of money. I have a feeling that takeout dog food wouldn't be very affordable, or wholesome.

    • anticloud profile image

      anticloud 6 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I don't think that a lot of people will feel they have the time to prepare food for their dog - especially those who have kids. Luckily there are a lot of new options popping up on the market for those who do not have time. Wouldn't it be interesting if there were a takeout restaurant for dogs? Hehe.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      my pooches love fresh veggies. thanks for the recipe

    • Kitty Levee profile image

      Kitty Levee 6 years ago

      My guys get noodles, peanuts, various sprouts, bananas, kefir, eggs, chlorophyll with mint, Taste Of THe Wild Bison kibble, pumpkin, and various vegetables.

    • AllisonLindsay profile image

      AllisonLindsay 6 years ago

      @Lee Hansen: I'm so glad you like the lens! :) Have you tried mixing a little scrambled egg in with her food? You might be able to transition her to whole foods by gradually introducing things like eggs, fish or veggies into her dish. Also, you'll want to make sure that the pieces of food are small enough for her to eat.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      I think these recipes are great. Dogs and cats need protein and other foods just as we do and they deserve to eat wholesome foods without scare stuff or chemicals added. I need to find a good cat food recipe that my feline will eat. She wants the dry food she was weaned on before we adopted her and turns away from "people" foods.

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 6 years ago

      I am going to try it for our dog, as he is allergic to something in the commercially prepared foods. Thank you!

    • AllisonLindsay profile image

      AllisonLindsay 6 years ago

      @Monika Weise: It looks simple because it really is! :) About an hour a week for nutritious, healthy pet food (and for less than buying dry food) can't beat that! Please let me know how your adventure progresses and please, let me know if you have any questions. I'm always glad to help!

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      This looks pretty simple. I'm going to start doing this for my dog.

    • AllisonLindsay profile image

      AllisonLindsay 6 years ago

      @meisgood132: Hi Sam! I'm glad you found this lens informative :) Making your own dog food is easier than most people think and can often be less expensive than commercial pet food. We used to have a Labrador named Mitchell, who passed on earlier this year. We now have two Dachshund puppies, who also happen to be 'spoiled' on homemade food.

    • meisgood132 profile image

      meisgood132 6 years ago

      Sam is the name of my 19month old Black Lab and to be honest with you, I had never even thought of making Sam his own mix. This is because we tend to trust in labels here in the UK and wouldn't have the first clue of making our own mix. I feel a little ignorant because I really should know what foods is good for Sam. So what I think I'm trying to say is thank you for all these excellent facts to help get me started.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 7 years ago

      This recipe is almost identical to the one I make for my yorkie. He has been eating "people" food now for a year and half. I do not feed him anything "commercial for dogs". When I find boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale, I will use a couple of those instead of turkey meat.

    • JRLSolutions profile image

      Joy Lynskey 7 years ago from Moneta, Va

      Awesome lens and some really great looking food! I've been wanting to start doing this for a while but never got around to it. I think I'll plan to instead of buying the mega bag this time!