It sounds complicated and time consuming, right? Not to mention that there are a lot of contradicting information on what, and what not to include. True enough, if you cannot get the ingredients and proportions right, you might do more harm than good. That’s why we put together the essential ingredients for making dog food at home. It’s much easier than you think, so follow these easy steps to a well balanced homemade diet.
There are many health benefits that come with preparing your dog’s food at home. Knowing exactly what your dogs are consuming gives peace of mind and reassurance they’re getting what they need to maintain optimal health. First off you need to know that your dog is a carnivore, aka meat eater. You have to keep this in mind when preparing their food, or choosing kibbles. Their meal should consist of at least 50% meat. However, meat alone cannot provide them with all the vitamins, minerals, fat and fibre they need in their diet. Let’s dive in.
Balancing the diet is one of the most important factors. If the diet is not balanced, it becomes less than ideal and can ultimately lead to many deficiencies. If there is a lack of vitamins or minerals (especially calcium) in the diet, dogs can run into health problems quite quickly. That is why we recommend adding 50% meat, 25% veggies and 25% grains. You should add fat daily and fish weekly.
What you include mainly depends on your pup’s age, health and dietary needs. For example puppy diets should be a little higher in fat and calcium. Senior pets should be fed foods that are easy on their digestive tracts. Working dogs should eat more protein and an added amount of vitamins and minerals. Don’t be scared to experiment with this, and always ask your vet for advice.
Meat, raw or cooked is the base ingredient for homemade dog food. Dogs are obligate carnivores and thrive on a protein based diet. Meat options include: beef, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, venison, ostrich, buffalo, etc. Be sure the meat is fresh and fit for human consumption. The fat content should be no greater than 15-20% and you can skip adding extra fat if the meat is fatty enough. Feeding fish occasionally is acceptable, but definitely not as a main staple.
Another part that we often overlook is organs. Organs are the main source of vitamins for dogs. A small part of your pet’s diet shuold consist of organs. The best ones we recommend are: liver, heart, kidney, spleen, tongue and gizzard. These act as the ‘multivitamins’ for dogs. Without organs your dog’s diet will be vitamin deficient.
Vegetables can make up about 1/4 of the meal and provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dogs get more nutrients from the vegetables if they are lightly steamed, chopped or pureed. Vegetables to include: squash, pumpkin, zucchini, carrots, peas, beets, yams, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and sweet potato. Vegetables to avoid: onion, potato, tomato, bell peppers, spinach, raw beans, garlic, leek, chard and beet greens.
Avoid Feeding Carbohydrates like corn, wheat, potatoes. Dogs lack the digestive enzymes to break down and metabolize carbohydrates. They contain no nutritional value for dogs and basically just go right through the digestive tract. Carbohydrates are often the main cause of many canine diseases. For example obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease and allergies. The reason they are added to commercial pet food is that it cuts down on the production cost.
I thought I would give you an example of what I feed my Frenchie. She is a senior lady, of about 13kg or 28 lbs. She gets half a chicken breast, one chicken liver, one chicken neck with the skin on, a carrot (grated) and some home cooked oatmeals. I cannot say she adores the oatmeal a lot but she definitely makes sure all the meat is gone. Another example would be 200 gr ground beef, two chicken legs, a third of a medium courgette (grated) and a half of a sweet potato (baked).
Balance over time
You might hear this a lot, but it’s important. Monitor your dog’s digestion, stool and mood when feeding him a home cooked or raw diet. If their diet consists of mainly or only meat, then their stool is a lot less. This is because they metabolize it a lot better than kibbles. You can alternate and change things around when you get a bit more confident with your basics.
Vitamins and minerals are also an integral part of your pup’s diet and you can read up the essential ones here. And finally don’t worry too much. Home feeding takes a little getting used to and a little experimenting, but it is definitely worth it. Ultimately, by making dog food at home you will always know what your pup eats. Whereas buying ready made kibbles can lead to a repetitive and unbalanced diet. Not to mention it is linked to the development of canine cancer. So have fun cooking for your pup, or feeding him raw. They are worth it.