When it comes to homemade dog food, there are two types of pet owners.
No, it’s not those who make their own dog food and those who don’t. It’s actually those who’ve made their dog a home-cooked meal and those who never have.
The first time you whip up fresh food for your pooch is a revelation. It’s easy. And there’s no shortage of homemade dog food recipes to help keep things simple.
We’ve collected some favorites below. Make sure you read on to get the full scoop on homemade dog food and the best ways to make it as safe and healthy as it is tasty!
Healthy, Balanced Homemade Dog Food Recipes
To make the most of a meal, your dog needs food packed with:
- Fatty Acids
- Supplemental Nutrition (e.g., vitamin oils or powders, etc.)
Be sure to take into account your dog’s size, breed, in all dog’s proportions when putting together a meal or a serving. To get a nice variety of natural nutrients, you’ll need to add veggies to the meat and carbs. You can generally cook them or serve them up raw. Be super attentive to follow the rules of diabetic dog food.
Many recipes use just a few favorites, like carrots, broccoli, and tubers/squashes. But the American Kennel Club has a fairly comprehensive list of the many dog-friendly fruits and vegetables you can try. So, we’ve put together a recap here for you:
- Can dogs eat cauliflower? Yes, its cousin broccoli is slightly more nutritious, though.
- Can dogs eat zucchini? Yes, raw or cooked plain; slices even make for a healthy, crunchy treat, along with cucumber slices.
- Are onions bad for dogs? They’re terrible — onions are very toxic for dogs. The same goes for garlic. Don’t ever try to share a meal you’ve luxuriously seasoned with garlic and onions.
- Are grapes bad for dogs? Unfortunately, they’re terrible, too — grapes and raisins are toxic enough to cause acute kidney failure. So instead, try blueberries or cranberries.
The Simple Rice and Turkey
This DIY dog food from Damn Delicious calls for brown rice, which has greater nutritional content but is a little more difficult to digest. Commenters suggest adding pumpkin to aid in digestion.
The ingredients include brown rice, ground turkey, baby spinach, carrots, zucchini, peas, and a little olive oil.
- Can dogs eat rice? Yes, and it’s a common ingredient across commercial dog food and homemade recipes. Its only downfall is that too many carbs can promote weight gain.
- Can dogs eat turkey? Absolutely — just stick to the meat. If you’re sharing your table scraps, skip bones and fatty, seasoned skin.
- Olive oil? An excellent source of healthy fats.
The Hearty Beef and Eggs
From This Mess Is Ours comes a different mixed bowl, created with their dog’s kidney disease in mind. So, you can rest assured they’ve vetted this recipe well (no pun intended) and checked in with their vet!
The ingredients include brown rice, lean ground beef, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, parsley, and a little olive or safflower oil.
- The author cautions that beef and egg allergies aren’t uncommon in dogs. If anything seems off, she says, stop using the recipe and get in touch with your vet.
The No Rice Mini Cakes
Here’s a grain-free dog food recipe from Healthful Pursuit, which can be made all raw, with a mix of cooked and uncooked ingredients, or all cooked. However, since it requires blending and freezing in a mold, we might recommend this only for the most committed homemade dog food foodies!
- The optionally raw ingredients include grass-fed beef, whole eggs, sea salt, coconut oil or tallow, and a multivitamin supplement.
- The optionally cooked portion includes bone broth, sweet potato, apples (de-seeded), ground flax or pumpkin seed, and chicken or calf liver.
The Little Kibble Topper
The recipe from House That Barks is designed as a doggie appetizer or side dish, with a small yield/portion size. Perfect for trying out this whole home-cooked dog food thing or otherwise spice up your pup’s mealtime.
- The ingredients include chicken or turkey, brown rice, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, a pinch of salt, and coconut oil for pan-frying.
- This isn’t a nutritionally balanced meal substitute, so don’t swap it out for a meal even if you up the portion. Try one of the other recipes instead if you and Fido fall in love with the process!
Are Homemade Dog Food Recipes Vet Approved?
It’s not that veterinarians disapprove of home-cooked dog food. They’d just like us all to be smart and cautious about it! It’s easy to look at meat and vegetables and see a complete meal, but it’s not necessarily providing your pet with all the nutrients they need.
Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist Cailin R. Heinze writes that the best dog food recipes are exacting.
- Specific ingredients in specific amounts get consistent results. But, by the same token, she discourages arbitrary substitutions.
- You can substitute or add, but know the “why.” Be informed in your decisions.
- Finally, consult with your vet or a veterinary nutritionist whenever possible. They’ll let you know any concerns for your pup in particular and can help guide your choices.
Do I Really Need to Take It So Seriously?
Dogs can surely survive on all kinds of foods, and real food must be healthier than processed kibble. Right?
- Real food does contain plenty of natural nutrients and higher quality ingredients than mass-market dog foods. But commercial dog food is still formulated to hit basic protein, calorie, and nutrient benchmarks.
- Dogs certainly do have some adaptability in their diet. But just think of us: humans can also survive on all sorts of diets and with all types of nutrient deficiencies. We won’t be living our best, happiest, and healthiest lives, though. And neither would your pup!
If you were hoping to be a little more freeform with your doggie recipes and just whip up a meal occasionally, once or twice a week, or use small portions as meal toppers or afternoon snacks. In that case, you don’t need to worry so much if your pup has another source of full, balanced nutrition.
Another alternative might be natural whole-food dog food.
- It packs the healthy goodness and the same rich ingredients as homemade might.
- But something like Freshpet dog food is backed by vet expertise and specially formulated to replace a dog’s daily kibble or wet food.
- You can get some of the best puppy food this way. Puppies need a lot of good nutrition to grow up big and strong. To keep them off of a kibble diet, you can start them on one of this high-nutrition, whole-food mixes and move up to homemade meals later!
Your dog’s taste may be not-very-exacting — or maybe you’ve got a picky eater — but whatever they’re eating, we hope it’s good for them. There’s no better way to make sure of that than to make their food out of your food, right there in the kitchen supervised by your dog’s knowing nose, of course.
And hey, kitties love the pampering, too. Can cats eat blueberries, pumpkin, and all the rest? They don’t need the rice, but otherwise, you can spoil your dog and your cat both with tasty homemade delicacies.