nutritionists, just like human nutritionists, never expect anyone to follow one recipe without variations all the time.
Instead, you’re given guidelines regarding food portion sizes and groups. If your dog doesn’t have a health issue that calls for a special diet, you can prepare homemade food in the same way.
Unlike adult dogs, puppies are more prone to nutritional deficiencies or excesses and related health issues. Large-breed puppies, for instance, are specifically at risk if they consume excess calcium before puberty.
Therefore, you need the right nutritional guidelines for puppy food to optimize health.
Preparing homemade food for your dog is economical and healthy, making it the best way to feed your pet. Cooking for your dog at home also ensures that your pet feeds on food that’s free from harmful additives.
Other pet owners prepare homemade food for their dogs due to health-related problems. Whichever is the case, cooking homemade dog food is easy.
Nutritional Requirements for Dogs
When preparing home cooked meals for your pets, you don’t have to feed them on protein alone. Just like humans, dogs need a variety of starches, meats and vegetables to meet their fundamental nutritional requirements.
Dogs who eat only protein lack essential vitamins, leading to thyroid issues and other deficiencies. Lack of sufficient proteins in the diet of your pet causes muscle deterioration, poor immune function and blood disorders.
Your pet also needs a balanced diet. Most vets recommend a 40% to 50% to 10% ratio of protein, vegetables and starch, respectively.
Homemade Dog Food Ingredients
You can prepare different food categories for your pet using various ingredients. What’s important is that you pick fresh, organic ingredients without additives.
The food groups and respective ingredients to add to your pet’s diet include:
Apart from meat, dogs can fulfill their nutritional requirements from other sources of protein. Opt for any good organ or muscle protein to cook and feed your pet.
The liver tends to retain impurities, hence should be used moderately. Depending on availability and cost, opt for any of the following protein sources to feed your pet:
- Chicken – easy to find and affordable
- Beef – cut into small strips or grind
- Fish – herring or mackerel; serve once or twice weekly
- Turkey – easy to digest, widely available, and economical
- Eggs – moderately
- Beans – kidney or Lima beans; not to replace meat protein
Dogs eat all kinds of veggies. Safe vegetables you can prepare for your pet include:
- Green beans
- Broccoli – causes gas
- Cauliflowers –causes gas
Carbs are rich in vitamins for pets. They also offer fiber to support digestion.
Some good options include:
- Rice – brown is preferable
- Pasta – without salt or oil
- Cooked potatoes
Food Ingredients to Avoid When Making Home Pet Food
Some foods aren’t safe for dogs; they’re dangerous and can be deadly. Avoid the following ingredients when preparing dog food:
- Raw yeast dough
- Macadamia nuts and walnuts
- Spices such as curry, cayenne or paprika
Never use spoiled ingredients or those with mold to prepare dog food. If it’s dangerous for your dog to eat, avoid it.
Although some people include a clove or two (cooked) in their home dog food, raw garlic isn’t recommended. This ingredient is controversial. Ask your vet if your pet can consume garlic or not.
Pet Food Ingredients to Limit
Some ingredients aren’t dangerous or harmful to pets, but should be used in limited amounts. They include:
- Added salt – some dogs can’t digest salt
- Cooking oils such as canola oil
- Dairy foods – some dogs can’t digest easily
- Corn – dogs experience difficulty in digestion
Calorie-Rich Homemade Pet Food
Underweight dogs require extra calories in their food to bulk up.
Discuss the issue with your vet first because severely underfed dogs develop medical issues if fed too soon with lots of calorie-rich foods.
Increase carbs and proteins in your dog food mix, or cooked and chopped hard-boiled eggs.
“Satin balls” are also rich in calories, explaining why rescue volunteers, shelter workers and breeders have used it for many decades to feed underweight dogs.
Vet-Approved Homemade Food for Pets
The internet is clouded with lots of vet-approved pet foods. However, your personal vet is the best individual to recommend custom dog food for your dog.
Dogs differ in terms of breed, age, and medical history, hence their nutritional requirements. No two dogs have the same requirements for a good diet. An online resource for pet owners and vets would come in handy.
Other resources available online include:
- JustFoodsForDogs for specific recipes you can follow to create a balanced diet or get one for $250.
- The Balance IT website for customizable diet options. Pick the carbs, proteins, veggies, fats, and fruits you’ll use to receive a nutrient profile for your dog, including a supplement mix at a small fee.
- The American College of Veterinary Nutrition website for nutritional resources available pet owners and vets. You can also get a local or remote board-certified vet nutritionist on the site to consult on the best nutritional plan for your pet friend.
Is a Homemade Pet Diet Right for Your Dog?
Use the resources listed above and your personal vet to create the best homemade pet food for your dog. Homemade pet diets aren’t for every pet owner.
It’s important to properly balance the ingredients correctly to get the nutrients right. You must also handle the food products safely to prevent bacterial contamination of yourself and your dog.
According to Tufts University’s Veterinary School’s Clinical Nutrition Service, get your pet’s recipe from the pet equivalent of a registered dietitian to get your dog’s nutritional requirements right in the diet you prepare.
A registered dietitian is a vet with board certification in vet nutrition or one with a Ph.D. in animal nutrition, atop being experienced in creating pet diet formulations.
Tools You Need to Prepare Homemade Dog Food
Various tools can make it easy to cook food for your pet. Some of the tools you’ll need to cook nutritious home dog food include:
- An instant pot or a crockpot
- A Dutch oven
- A pyrex dish or a disposable meatloaf pan for baking a dog-friendly meatloaf in your oven.
- A Traeger grill that comes with 6-in-1 cooking versatility to prepare all kinds of foods for your pet.
- Propane fire pits also offer versatility in cooking pet food. For instance, you can grill meat while roasting marshmallows for yourself on another section of the grill.
Whichever food you prepare for your pet, you can slice it up into one-meal portions and keep in the freezer for use later.