Home made dog food can be a healthy and delicious alternative to commercial dog food.
But you need to be sure that you get the balance of nutrients right to keep Fido healthy.
If you're thinking about making food for your dog yourself but don't know where to start, I have a 'Beginners Guide' right here.
There are a few reasons why you might be considering a DIY diet for your pet...
The most important part of feeding your dog homemade food is getting the ingredients right - figuring out what's good for him, what's bad for him, and the ratio/balance of protein, carbs, fats etc.
Unfortunately, giving your dog a good home-cooked meal doesn't mean cooking a bigger meat-loaf or more spaghetti sauce....
....putting it in his bowl and calling it a day.
And that goes double for the apple pie you're having for dessert!
To give your dog a well-balanced home made meal you need to include these basic food groups....
The ratio and combinations can vary depending on the age, breed, size and activity level of your puppy or dog.
Young puppies grow very rapidly and have specific nutritional needs that must be met in order for them to grow up healthy, and personally I wouldn't recommend feeding a young pup a homemade diet as so much of their normal growth and development depends on the nutrition they get at this stage.
The best puppy food is a premium formula that has been specifically designed to meet the very unique needs of growing pups. They come in blends to suit small breeds, and large breeds, and there are also all-life-stages formulas.
Always consult with your veterinarian before changing your
puppy's diet because he/she will be able to make recommendations and give
you very valuable advice. In fact, talk to your vet before you make any kind of big change in diet for a dog of any age!
Once you've decided and agreed upon a change, be sure to make the actual switch over gradual to avoid an upset tummy.
A home made dog food should ideally contain
Here are some of the ingredients you can use to whip up your own dog food recipes.
There are also many great books available that are packed with interesting and nutritious recipes for main meals, treats, biscuits and more.
Pick up one or two good ones and use them to vary the ingredients, flavors and textures of your home made dog food. You'll find a few of the ones I recommend toward the bottom of this page.
Trial and error will help you discover which combination of ingredients your pup prefers - and if little Fido consistently picks all the squash out of his dinner, try carrots, or green beans instead.
Lean, boneless meat is a good source of protein, try some of these:
You can add carbohydrates by choosing from the following:
Any of the following vegetables are usually enjoyed:
Try some of the following fruits as well:
If you want to give a little more variety to your recipes, try adding a little natural (unsweetened) yogurt or cottage cheese.
Eggs, cooked in any way, are a good source of protein and their shells are full of nutrients too so you can grind them up and sprinkle them over the food. Brewers yeast can also be sprinkled over Fido's meals.
Avoid giving your pup or dog foods that high in fat or sugar as they're really bad for him! Things like hot dogs, pizza, fried chicken, cake, cookies and ice-cream are all no-no's.
If you choose to make your dogs food yourself, why not make his treats too?
It's super-easy to create tasty good-for-him treats in your own kitchen. You don't need any special equipment or skills, and many homemade dog treat recipes are super easy and quick to make.
Also, don't forget that you can use some of these ingredients as treats. Vegetables, fruit, meat (cooked or freeze-dried) and cheese all make good choices.
Fido's treats should be just as good for him as his meals are, so if you're buying commercial treats, be sure to check the ingredient list and labels. My Healthy Dog Treats page features some of the best choices, so you might want to start there.
I prefer to make my dog treats at home myself, that way I can be sure that only the best ingredients go into them... and there are no nasty or hidden chemicals, additives etc. It's super easy and you don't need any special skills, equipment or ingredients. Check out this website for tons of easy homemade dog treat recipes that your dog will love!
There is also another type of homemade dog food, one which is growing in popularity, and that's the BARF (Bones And Raw Food) diet. This type of dog food contains many of the same ingredients in the lists above, but instead of being cooked they are fed raw.
This type of diet is thought to be especially good for dogs with allergies, and both dog owners and researches who have been involved with this type of diet believe that it has significant health advantages and leads to a longer, happier life for your dog.
Again, it takes more effort than feeding a complete commercial food, but it's no more time consuming than homemade dog food that you need to cook.
You can find out everything you need to know about raw dog food (including what and how much to feed) on my Raw Food Diet For Dogs page.
You can also feed your dog dehydrated foods and treats (liver, beef, chicken, sweet potatoes, apples.... there are so many options). Check out this page on easy-food-dehydrating.com to learn more about dehydrated dog food (and how to make it). Simple, healthy and easy to store home made dog food. What more could you ask? That same site also has TONS of great information on food dehydrating in general which is a fantastic way to create healthy meals and snacks for the whole family.