There are a lot of good commercial dog foods out there, some of them offering the best nutrition for your canine friend. However, it isn’t always affordable or convenient, especially for dogs with allergies or sensitive stomachs. Sometimes it is just easier to prepare meals at home for your pet, instead of trying to navigate the aisles and aisles of dog food. Fortunately, you don’t need to be an animal nutritionist or even a good cook to start making your own dog food.
There are many things you can do to provide nutritious food once you know the basics of what your dog needs.
The idea of making your own dog food may be appealing, especially if you love your pet like family. Home cooked meals must be better than anything you could purchase in a can or bag, right? Well, not necessarily. You first have to know a few things before you can strike out making your own dog food.
Your dog, just as with your own diet, needs balanced nutrition to remain healthy. However, what you might consider to be balanced may not benefit your pet. Canines have specific nutritional needs.
Sometimes you will be able to meet those needs with food you prepare, and sometimes supplements may be required to keep your dog healthy and happy.
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Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs
However, to obtain a well balanced diet for your dog does not mean every home cooked meal needs to be balanced. In fact, when making your own dog food it is only important that your dog achieves balance over time, say a period of several days or weeks.
Instead, focus on a variety of different foods, specifically meats with a few grains, veggies, and fruits. This will help supply a balance of nutrition over time instead of providing the same thing every day.
Three Different Types of Homemade Dog Food1
This diet best reflects the natural, ancestral diet of your dog—meat, meat, meat. Unlike humans, dogs have strong stomachs that are not as susceptible to salmonella and e-coli. This is why they are able to eat raw meat without becoming sick from the bacteria. Quality, raw protein is an ingredient your pet will thrive on. For this homemade diet, meat is left uncooked and should make up 60-80%. Raw meats can include chicken, beef, buffalo, venison, turkey, fish, etc.
Next come vegetables to be combined with the meat. These will help fill out your pet’s nutritional needs and ease digestion. Some things to include are broccoli, squash, carrots, and asparagus. You might also want to consider some supplements to make sure you pet is getting all the vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to remain healthy.2
Organic foods are not just a benefit for humans, but for dogs as well. In this diet there is no place for the artificial. Things like pesticides, herbicides, waste, and artificial additives are entirely eliminated. Meat should be from animals without growth hormones or antibiotics. All fruits and vegetables should be strictly grown without herbicides and pesticides. Basically, any homemade dog food recipe can be altered to accommodate an organic diet, as long as you replace the conventional ingredients with organic ones.3
When making your own dog food, holistic might be your method of choice. This type of diet is all about variety and balance. The foods can be served raw or cooked. They can include grains, fruits, and vegetables. Still, as with the other types of homemade dog food, meat should make up the major portion of the diet. Most holistic recipes suggest two parts protein, one part carbohydrates, and one part vegetables with only a minor supplement of fruits.
Pros of Making Your Own Dog Food
If you decide on homemade dog food, then you are in full control of what goes into those meals. You can be sure and avoid the substances your dog does not respond well to and avoid cheap fillers and anything artificial. When you make your own dog food you might notice your dog has better energy levels, maintains a proper weight, and looks better than ever.
Cons of Making Your Own Dog Food
The American Veterinary Medical Association draws attention to the complexities and risks of homemade dog food. Pet nutrition is not simple. It can be unique to breed, size, and age. All commercial pet foods are tested thoroughly before being released. The same cannot be said for what you cook up in your kitchen. You have to be cautious and make sure what you do feed your pet will not harm them in the long run.
If you do end up making your own dog food, then you will want to discuss the specifics with your vet or a certified vet nutritionist. They can help give you guidance for the best recipes that are appropriate for your dog. It does take a lot of time and trouble, making your own dog food. However, if your pet does not do well on commercial pet foods, then the results will be well worth it.
Looking for some homemade dog food recipes? We’ve got you covered.
I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.
We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.
On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.