Homemade dog food is simple to make, relatively inexpensive & the best part is you know what’s in the food you’re feeding your best mate. There’s a lot of information out there on what is best to feed dogs. Get informed. Not all of it is accurate so don’t take one article you read online as gospel. Plus not everyone can agree. Some prefer raw. Some don’t have the time or inclination to cook. And that’s fine. For you. For me, feeding our beautiful boy, Ramsey, food I have cooked for him is important to me. This is what I do to feed our boy & I decided on this through a lot of research, speaking to vets & homeopaths & being informed. I suggest you do the same.
The most important factors when feeding your pooch are: variety & introducing a different food gradually so as not to create stomach upsets & give your dog the runs. If you’re varying your dog’s diet, you don’t need a supplement, unless your dog is old then you might want to give it something for aches but that would be something to chat to your vet about. For this batch of food there’s chicken thighs (ethically raised, antibiotic & hormone free), ground beef (grass fed & organic), oats, spinach, green beans (from our garden) & butternut squash (also from our garden). If you’re going to cook for your dog, then feed it what you can afford. I have access to inexpensive organic, grass-fed ground beef & wild meat as well as ethically raised chicken & eggs. Also, I don’t always have vegetables in my garden as a large part of the year here in the American Midwest the ground if covered in snow. We have more veggies than my hubby & I can eat so I pick & freeze the veggies to feed our boy.
Here are some combinations & it’s a good idea to mix them up. I change up our boy’s food every two weeks because that is how often I cook for him. I do a large batch & freeze it in portions. Soon I will start to do a month’s work of food at a time.
- PROTEINS: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, salmon, turkey, mackerel, trout, goat, bison & wild meat (deer, elk, moose, grouse, boar)
- BONE BROTH: (optional but good) homemade from chicken or beef bones (or both), water & carrots – no onion
- ORANGE VEG: butternut squash, pumpkin, orange sweet potato, carrot
- GREEN VEG: green beans, spinach, zucchini, asparagus, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
- GRAINS/GRASS: brown rice, oats, barley (wholegrain pasta occasionally is okay as your dog isn’t allergic), wild rice
- OCCASIONAL TREATS: peeled apple, peeled pear, plain yogurt, plain cottage cheese (although it’s high in salt), blueberries, strawberries, bananas, watermelon, cucumber, bell peppers ( I only put cucumber & peppers down because my Finn used to love those), cantaloupe, natural peanut butter, soft cooked egg
- OILS: olive oil, hemp oil, fish oil, coconut oil – it’s important to note that if you start giving your dog one of these oils each day or every other day, make sure to add it gradually – 1/4 to 1 teaspoon depending on the size of your dog
As I said, mix these up, taking one or two from each category . Often I will do a couple of proteins, one orange veg, one or two green veg & one grain – only one grain & sometimes no grain. Just follow the quantities in the recipe below & substitute in each group. The occasional treats are as stated – occasional. I give my boy two eggs a week. I will give him just a little bit of apple – about 1/4 cup diced. Same with yogurt, berries & such.
Once the food is all made I portion it into re-sealable bags, re-useable containers or jars & label it. Because I keep it in our big freezer I have a couple of these plastic baskets so it doesn’t get lost in the chaos that sometimes is my freezer.
How much food your dog needs depends on its age, size & activity level. Our boy has just turned one & he’s 20 lbs of rambunctious puppy – always on the go. I tell my hubby it’s like having a toddler. Ramsey gets 1 1/3 cups of food a day divided into two meals. As part of the 2/3 cup portion he gets each meal, I add in some purchased dog food. More for texture than anything. You don’t have to do this. I use this brand of food called Ziwi. And we’re currently enjoying the Mackerel & Lamb variety. Ziwi’s dried food is air-dried, contains meat, organ meat, bones & New Zealand green-lipped mussels – that’s it (apart from a couple that have tripe for digestion & palatability for specific dogs’ need). The animals are grass-fed & ethically raised. Because of this, the food is a little more expensive than some but you feed less of it to your dog because of its concentrated form. I buy it online from Chewy. We live in a shopping desert, except for a Dollar store with no fridge. Hardly a shopping mecca. Chewy is very good & online shopping for me is effective.
If you’ve read this whole article, then you would have noticed I have grains in my dog food. Now before you start telling me dogs shouldn’t have grains, ask yourself why. They’re easily digestible & a good source of energy. And look, maybe not everyone wants to give their dog grains, no problem, simply leave them out. Sometimes don’t add them. The reason why grains developed such a bad reputation was because pet food companies were adding cornmeal & wheat protein as cheap fillers, as I’m sure some still do. There are many pet foods that are grain-free and some of those companies just got slammed in a recent article claiming they cause heart issues in some dogs. The article is in the process of being retracted as it made claims that weren’t correct & apparently came from a source with an agenda. Fancy that! DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ. That is so important. If you want to have a happy & healthy dog then do your own research that consists more than reading one article. Grain-free food can contain peas, lentils & such, so learn if they’re okay for your dog. Don’t think just because something is “grain-free” it’s better. That’s a bullshit marketing ploy in both our food world & pets.
The reason I choose to cook our dog’s food is the same reason I cook all the food in our house – I know what goes into it. I have control of what I’m feeding my dog, I’ve not left it up to a factory. While this might not be suitable for some people, I know homemade dog food is gaining popularity. As people become more informed about what happens to their food, they want to know about their dog’s food too. Makes perfect sense to me. When you love something so much you want to take care of it, right?
Take care, and if you have any questions about this article, please give me a shout. If you intend to set me straight on what you consider to be gospel forget it – move on.
Cheers, Lovoni xo
homemade dog food
- baking sheet
- wire rack
- large frying pan
- re-sealable plastic bags, re-useable containers or jars for storage
- 8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1 lb lean ground beef 80/20
- 2 – 2 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded & chopped (4 kg butternut pumpkin)
- 12 oz green beans, trimmed of stalk end & chopped (fresh or froze(340 g)
- 4 oz spinach leaves, coarsely chopped (125 g)
- 1 cup uncooked rolled oats (old fashioned)
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (for easy clean-up) & place a greased wire rack on the baking sheet.
- Arrange chicken on the wire rack. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes or until cooked when a small knife inserted into a chicken thigh produces clear liquid. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove & discard skin. Remove chicken from each bone. Set bones aside in a re-sealable bag to freeze for bone broth (optional). They can be frozen up to 3 months. I usually wait until I have about 12 or more to make a big pot of broth. Cut the chicken into pieces – this will depend on the size of your dog & its teeth; I have a xoloitzucinintle (Mexican hairless) & he doesn’t have many teeth so his food is diced.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add beef & cook for 5 to 7minutes, or until beef is browned, breaking up large lumps with a spoon. Remove beef to a large bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Add squash to the same pan (don't clean it). Add just enough water to almost cover the squash. Cook, stirring occasionally & scraping any bits of stuck on beef off the bottom of the pan. Cook squash, partially covered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Remove squash to the same bowl as the beef using a slotted spoon.
- Cook the beans in any residual water left from cooking the squash, if necessary, add a little more water. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Remove beans to the same bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Add spinach & cook for about 30 seconds until just wilted; remove to the same bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Heat 2 cups of water in the same pan (no need to clean it). Add oats & cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until oats are softened. Scrape the oats into the bowl with the other ingredients. Add the chopped chicken & stir until all ingredients are combined.
- Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes if it’s still hot, before spooning it into containers, re-sealable bags or jars. Makes about 10 cups.