By Richard Gray
Why do you want homemade dog food recipes? What are the advantages of homemade dog food?
Well, homemade dog food can be a cheaper option for dog owners than manufactured commercial dog food. It could also be a tastier temptation for the pooch in your life. Your dog may be a picky eater or maybe he has become bored with the same old food routine. He’s maybe been pining away watching you as you prepare your own food and pleading with those big brown eyes for a taste.
You might be tempted to give in to those eyes and feed your canine pall home cooked food as an occasional treat. But, home prepared dog food is not the same as human food. The food we eat is mostly too rich and contains too much fat for a dog to easily digest.
There are many factors to think about and discuss with a veterinarian if you are planning to switch to a full-time home-cooked dog food diet. In the following post, we outline the important points for you to consider before preparing your own dog food.
Table of Contents
Importance of Homemade Dog Food
There are many benefits in making your own homemade dog food. To begin with, you can make sure that the ingredients in the food are healthy and fresh. Giving fresh and healthy ingredients has specific health benefits. Past studies have revealed that dogs are known to live longer and have suffered less with obesity and accompanying joint problems. 
You are also able to give the foods you know do not give your dog an allergic reaction. There are many commercial dog foods available and they are convenient to buy and use. However, some commercial dog foods have been known to contain ingredients, like sweeteners that are harmful. 
When you make the food you can learn the amounts of calories and nutrients you need to maintain your dog’s ideal weight and health. Also, the ingredients in homemade recipes are often more bio-available. That means they are easier to digest and are absorbed without causing bloating.
You do need to be careful with selecting homemade dog food recipes in order to have food with a balanced vitamin and nutrient content. The recipe we are recommending here comes with a breakdown of the vitamins and nutrients in the specific ingredients.
The following are what you will need to include when making home prepared dog food…
Essential Nutrients for Dogs
The Association of American Feed Control Officials advises a minimum of 18% per kilogram should be protein. This figure can rise to 25% depending on the age and size of a dog, as well as activity levels. Working Dogs generally require more protein. Puppies need more protein to aid their growth.
Protein is found in meat (beef, lamb, pork) poultry (chicken, turkey), fish, and in cooked eggs and natural yogurt. A healthy intake of protein provides nutrients that maintain and repair muscle. It maintains cells, tissue and organs and provides antibodies. Protein contains 10 amino acids that are necessary for a dog to remain healthy. Amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be part of the protein diet. [3, 4]
One of the most important functions of carbohydrates is to supply energy. Glucose is craved by the body so carbs are essential; otherwise, the glucose will be obtained from other nutrients like protein. This will deprive the dog of the other nutrient sources in the protein.
With carbohydrates, there is no standard recommendation from AAFCO. For growing and active dogs, 20% is generally advised. Simple sugary carbs can cause flare ups in diabetes and thyroid disease. Slow-burn complex carbohydrates (whole oats, brown rice, cooked sweet potato) don’t cause the same sugar/energy overload. [5, 6,]
Fiber is a form of carbohydrate. A proper intake of dietary fiber is needed for digestive well-being and the maintenance of a good stool that is not too dry or hard. Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables. Good sources come from apples, dark leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin and brown rice. 
Fat is obtained from meat and oils and is an essential ingredient. It is advised at least 5.5% of daily intake. Fat helps with the absorption of certain vitamins. Fat provides protection and insulation for essential internal organs. It promotes good skin conditioning and hair growth. 
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential for overall health, including vision, bone health, and the immune system. It is important/vital to provide a balanced intake or toxic reactions can happen. Vitamin A, D, E, K are fat-soluble vitamins and need bile salts or fat for absorption in the gut. Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and Choline dissolve in water and cannot be stored in the body, so deficiency can occur.
Macrominerals and trace minerals are both daily requirements for dogs, but in different amounts. Dogs that don’t have a balanced mineral intake could suffer serious health issues and even death. Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium & chloride are the macro-minerals required. Copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc are the trace minerals needed. 
Maintaining hydration is critical. As a general guide, a dog should consume ⅛ of a cup of water (1 ounce) per pound of body weight each day. 
Serving Sizes & Portion Control
Portion control is not an exact science and depends on the condition, age and level of exercise for a breed and dog.
Using a calorie calculator tool is a useful option. The calorie input is displayed in pounds & kilograms. The calculator includes various criteria for dog conditions as well as water intake needed per weight.
As a general guide for you to consider: a 10 lb. (4.5 kg) dog requires in the region of 220 calories per day. A 20 lb. (9.7 kg) dog needs about 365 calories, a 40 lb. (18 kg) dog 615, a 60 lb. (27.2 kilo) dog 840 and 100 lb. (45.3 kg) giant dogs need about 1225 calories each day. There is variation in exercise and metabolism of the dog. A hunting breed that leads an active life may burn a couple of thousand calories a day. 
Consult A Veterinarian About A Balanced Diet
When switching to homemade dog food it is important to consult a veterinarian about your dog’s nutritional needs. You will need to closely watch your dog’s weight and general health. Watch for changes in coat and skin condition and signs of digestive distress and consult your vet immediately if this happens.
When you have agreed on a balanced homemade recipe with a veterinarian, it is best to have basic kitchen equipment for food preparation:
- Weighing scales for accurately measure the ingredients
- A food processor to blend the ingredients together thoroughly
- Containers/bags to accurately measure and portion the food
Keep your preparation area free from food that you eat that may be harmful to your dog. Follow the recipe instructions on portions and cooking directions. You may want to start your dog on a taster size of the recipe to see if he likes it. Store the cooked food in either the refrigerator (will keep fresh for 2 to 3 days) or freezer (best consumed within 60 days).
Simple Homemade Dog Food Recipe
Homemade Ground Turkey & Vegetables Recipe
Ingredients (and benefits for a dog):
1 tbsp of olive oil (maintains good skin condition)
3 cups spinach (contains vitamins A, B, C, K, iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene, and roughage)
½ cup frozen peas (contain iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, protein, fiber)
2 carrots (fiber, beta-carotene)
1 zucchini (many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folate, high in protein and low in calories)
1 ½ cups brown rice (fiber, manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and potassium)
3 lbs (1.36 kg) ground turkey (protein, riboflavin, and phosphorous)
Start by grating the zucchini and the carrots. I used the larger grating side of my vegetable grater. Put in a bowl. Measure out one cup of frozen peas.
Chop the spinach with a kitchen knife on a chopping board. Add to the bowl with zucchini and carrots.
Wash/rinse the brown rice and then cook as directed by the pack instructions. I put in 1½ cups of rice and 3 cups of water. (I cooked/simmered for 45 minutes until the water was absorbed)
Pour the olive oil into a stock pot and fold the turkey into the stock pot and cook until brown. I used a standard plastic spatula to break the meat up loosely as it was browning.
After the meat is browned, add the vegetables (peas, spinach, carrots, zucchini) and cook until spinach softens. Then turn the heat off and cover until the rice is ready to be added.
When the rice is cooked, add it to the stock pot and combine with the cooked meat and vegetables.
When all the ingredients are blended together, put it into storage containers. One batch lasted about 5 days with ~1 cup (8 oz) servings for breakfast and dinner.
I tried and adapted this vet-approved recipe from Oopsie Mommy Kitchen with Brooke. For a variation to a dog’s diet, simply replace the main protein (ground turkey) with a proportionate size of steamed fish, ground beef, ground chicken.
The recipe above is vet-approved and the ingredient list provides a breakdown of the vitamins and nutrients contained. Not all homemade dog food recipes do this and supplements may be needed. Again, it is vital to consult with a vet or nutritionist on recipes and what supplements they recommend for your dog.
Adding supplements without professional guidance is risky. Calcium is regarded as essential. But over-ingestion of calcium can cause bone problems, specifically in larger breed puppies. Excessive vitamin A & D can affect blood vessels and induce joint pain. Vitamin D excess can reduce appetite, harm bones and cause muscle wasting. 
If you are considering a food supplement look for one given a green light by a recognized body. The ‘Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) is a good place to start. 
Tips for Making Homemade Dog Food – Review
Choose the correct ingredients that are listed in the recipe. Make sure to use fresh and healthy ingredients, such as lean meat, whole grains, and fresh vegetables. Be aware of the ingredients and foods that dogs cannot eat. Onion is an everyday ingredient in human food, but it is toxic to dogs. Garlic is another common ingredient that is toxic.
Balance the nutrients
Make sure to provide your dog with a balanced diet that includes all of the essential nutrients. Consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations for your dog.
Make sure to portion the food correctly, as overeating can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
Storing homemade dog food
Homemade dog food can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can also freeze it for up to three months.
What to do now!
When making homemade dog food, you’ll need to consult with your veterinarian to find a diet that is suitable for your dog. Be aware to include ingredients in your home cooked food that are not harmful to dogs. You can check out our post here: What foods Can Dogs Not Eat?
Are you wanting to make healthy non-baked/frozen and baked dog treats? You can read our post ‘15 Healthy Ingredient Homemade Dog Treats’ here: Homemade Dog Treats
What 5 ingredients should be in dog food?
3. Healthy fats
Do vets recommend making your own dog food?
Generally, vets don’t recommend making your own raw dog food. This is mainly because of the risk of bacterial contamination. If your dog suffers with any health issues, consult with your vet or veterinary nutritionist first to check a homemade diet is compatible with your pet.