Preparing homemade dog food for pet owners to give their canine companion a great treat or healthy way of life is really not that hard. Many dogs love human food and sometimes a homemade dog food diet can appeal to a picky pooch more than any commercial dog foods, like generic canned food. It’s also a safer option than simply feeding your pup raw food. However, a healthy diet for a human is likely not very healthy for a dog. Meeting and understanding dog nutrition is highly important to keep your buddy healthy and happy in the long term. This guide will help you learn how to feed your dog nutritionally balanced diet using homemade dog food recipes.
Before You Begin
When you are considering either shifting your dog’s diet to fully homemade dog food or adding homemade food to your dog’s normal high-quality dog food your first stop should be your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist. Take the time to discuss your pet’s health and long-term nutrition goals. If your dog has any conditions, it can be good to get an opinion from the perspective of veterinary medicine. Professionals in the veterinary community are usually well-informed when it comes to pet diets. But, you can also see specialist veterinary nutritionists if you feel the need. Different dogs have different needs, even if the basics are the same for all dogs. Some dogs have allergies or may have preferences you will need to consider. Your vet can go over your options and provide a few starter recipes for your dog. You should also take the time to talk to a dog nutritionist if at all possible. They can guide you to the best diet for both you and your buddy.
You may have heard about raw diets for dogs. The idea is to replicate the diet dogs would have eaten before domestication. However, raw diets can have serious risks for dogs since this is not a diet they are fully adapted to anymore. There is a serious risk to both dogs and pet parents of illness thanks to salmonella and other harmful bacteria . This can make either you or your pup very sick. Many raw and homemade diets lack important nutrients that can cause renal failure in dogs. This is particularly true of puppies that are still growing . Always have any homemade diet checked by a dog nutritionist and have your pup checked regularly to make sure that you are meeting all of its nutritional needs.
Many homemade diet recipes on the internet treat all dogs the same. However, even adult dogs and puppies of the same breed or size have different nutritional needs. For instance, too much protein and other nutrients can seriously harm an older dog. Puppies need plenty of calcium to support healthy growth. Active dogs need more fats and calories to stay healthy. Always consult with your vet and ideally a dog nutritionist before trying any new diet. So, don’t think that you can simply feed a dog the same food because it worked well for another pooch.
Dog owners will also need to commit to the cost of extra vet visits and testing. Trying to save money here can cost your pup. Homemade dog food can be cheaper than some specialized diets or the best organic dog food. Your time and the extra veterinary care will add up over time. You should always consider your budget.
You should also know that committing to making your own dog food will take time. While many recipes use a slow cooker or methods like stewing to help make preparing food easier, it still takes time and effort. You also need to have the equipment to cook and store any food you make. Homemade dog food supplements can help make sure that the food you make is balanced for your dog’s specific nutritional needs. You will need to take the time to learn what your dog needs and find recipes that will provide the right nutrition for your pet. If you want to learn if you can handle cooking for your dog, making basic treats is a great way to start. Healthy cupcakes for dogs or boiled chicken can be great high-value treats.
If you mostly feed your dog homemade food but you’re tight on time, you can also order fresh dog food from time-to-time to avoid disrupting their diet. You can even find dog food delivery services that bring your pooch’s meal straight to your door.
Pros and Cons of Making Homemade Dog Food
Homemade dog food has many pros, but there are some important cons to consider. Making your own fresh dog food can help avoid allergens or processed ingredients. You know exactly where all of your ingredients come from. Your fresh food will also be free from preservatives and you can tailor it for your dog’s taste.
However, it is very hard to make balanced meals that aren’t very calorie-dense. You need to do your research and make sure the ingredients are safe for your pup. It is very easy to miss that a diet is missing certain nutrients since dogs require over 40 nutrients to stay healthy. Many recipes online include unsafe ingredients like grapes or avocado. Legume-based grain-free diets can also cause heart disease, so be careful and talk to your vet or ideally a dog nutritionist to create a healthy diet for your buddy .
If your dog has many allergies or food sensitivities, you can try today’s best dog food for allergies or home cooked dog food may be your last option to keep your pet fed. Some rare allergies in dogs can be hard to find commercial food for. If a dog is allergic to multiple common proteins, finding a diet that removes all of them can be hard. Combine that with needing to limit certain nutrients for health reasons and homemade dog food may be your best choice to keep your buddy happy and fed.
Understanding dog nutrition will help you find the right homemade dog food recipe to keep your pet healthy. Even if a recipe looks healthy to you, if you do not know dog nutrition, you will miss out on essential vitamins that your pooch needs to stay healthy and strong. Talk with your vet to understand your dog’s specific needs, particularly if your buddy has any allergies or food intolerances.
The first nutrient that you need to understand for a dog’s health is protein. Dogs are carnivores and need lean protein to be healthy. Most dogs will need lean pork, beef, venison, chicken, or other meats. Unless your dog is very active as a working farm dog, be sure to stick with lean meats and remove the skin from any chicken you use to keep the fat levels balanced.
While some meats, like ground turkey, are naturally leaner, you’ll need to make sure that you choose lean ground beef.
Dogs also typically benefit from organs since these can be very nutritionally dense. Be sure to talk to your vet about what will work best for your dog. Some, like beef liver, are also higher in fat
Dogs also need fat, specifically essential fatty acids. Healthy fats like omega-3 are important for your dog’s health. You can get these from supplements like cod liver oil or coconut oil. Dogs also require certain nutrients in their diet like vitamin A and minerals like calcium. You may need to add these with dog supplements if your ingredients don’t have high levels.
While there are many healthy plant oils for dogs, like olive oil, be careful as not all are meant to be taken in orally!
Dogs also need some grains for healthy sugars and starches and plenty of fiber to keep their digestive system working well. Talk to your vet about what your dog needs and prioritize that when you select recipes. Be sure to balance your recipes so that you have all your dog’s nutritional needs met.
Food safety is just as important for your fluffy friend as it is for you. While dogs can tolerate many foods that would make a human ill, you should still keep in mind that food-bourne illness is an issue for your pet. Make sure any protein is thoroughly cooked to kill off pathogens. Any grains or starchy foods like beans or starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, should be fully cooked to make them easier to digest for your dog. Many recipes call for using at least medium low heat to ensure you kill bacteria without quickly overcooking the food.
Follow any directions to the letter. While swapping ingredients can work for human recipes, dog recipes are tailored for calories and nutrition. If you swap ingredients, you risk missing out on all the vitamins and minerals they need. You may also end up with a recipe with higher or lower caloric value. This can result in weight gain or loss if you don’t adjust the amount you feed.
If your recipe calls for supplements, make sure it lists a brand and amount or offers similar guidance. Different brands of supplements can have different nutritional value profiles. You need to know exactly what is in your dog’s food so you can be certain they ate getting the right balance of nutrients.
Using a food processor to grind food in finer all smaller chunks can also make it easier for your dog to consume safely. Of course, this isn’t needed if you buy something like ground pork or beef, however, it might be a good idea for chicken thighs or larger cuts.
The base of your dog food recipe will be some form of lean meat. You can pick anything you like beef, pork, chicken breasts, or any meat you like. You can pick what is cheap at your market or pick something for your dog’s specific dietary needs. A grain is your next choice to make. Rice is common, but it needs to be brown rice to be healthy for your pup. Even then, a rice meal should be a once-in-a-while treat, and not a daily habit. Quinoa and oats are also popular, but be sure to balance these. You want minimally processed grains since most processing is not done with a dog’s needs in mind.
Most recipes also include a few healthy vegetables like sweet potato, green beans, or carrots. Avoid any recipe that includes corn, soy, onions, garlic, or other ingredients that aren’t safe for dogs. This includes things like raw bread dough, macadamia nuts, and grapes. Opt for fruits like bananas if you want to make dog treats that include fruits. You should also look into safe multivitamin treats and safe additives like fish oil. This can help make the recipes healthier for your pooch. Try to restrict any searches to veterinarians and scientific research. There are a lot of old myths about dog nutrition that can hurt your best friend.
Make sure you know how many calories your dog needs and how much food is in each serving of the meals you make for your pup. A large dog like a saint bernard needs much more calories than a small terrier. Watch out for signs of how a change in the diet affects your dog’s weight. If you don’t have a scale, you can usually notice changes in your dog’s body composition. Just like humans, staying at a healthy weight has many long-term benefits for your dog.
Although cooking a balanced homemade dog food meal sounds daunting at first, you’ll soon get the hang of it!
Does Homemade Dog Food Have Enough Nutrients?
The nutrients in your dog food will depend entirely on what you put into it. By balancing ingredients with supplements, you can help create a nutritionally balanced recipe for your pup. If you follow recipes from your vet, you should know exactly what is in the food you feed your dog.
What is the Best Dog Food Nutritionally?
The best dog food provides all the nutrients your dog needs to be healthy. It also has the right amount of calories for the amount of food your dog needs to feel full. This all depends on your dog’s age, breed, metabolism, size, and activity level. This is why you should always consult your vet when deciding on the right diet for your dog.
Can You Feed a Raw Diet?
Raw diets aren’t generally recommended for dogs. You need to be sure that your dog it’s under close supervision by a vet and pet nutritionist. Raw diets can pass dangerous bacteria to pets and pet parents if you aren’t very cautious.
Do I Need to See My Vet?
Yes, any big change in diet should be overseen by your vet. You need to monitor your dog to make sure he or she is doing well on the new diet and getting all the essential nutrients. If you don’t have the right balance, your pooch can get very sick.
How Do I Switch Over?
Your vet can help you with any major diet changes. Be sure to take things slowly since big changes can cause upset stomachs for dogs. For example, it’s recommended that you wait up to two weeks after getting a new puppy before changing its diet.