Food for Thought…All About Homemade Dog Food

The Cook'n Newsletter talks mostly about cooking and baking for people. And rightly so—you're our main audience—folks who love to cook and bake and know their way around the kitchen.

But today I'd like to branch out a little and talk about cooking for our canine friends. Have you ever made your own dog food, or even thought about it? If you're a dog lover, it's a worthwhile goal. Over the years we've experienced several dog food recalls bags (for Ecoli, Salmonella, and Listeria). So it seems like a good idea even if it's just to protect our pal's health. But making your own also saves money.

Of course, you'd want to check with your Veterinarian before you make a change with your pet's food. But if your pet is healthy and you have the go-ahead from your Vet, then you might seriously consider this. It's not really any extra work. Most dogs eat cooked meat, chopped vegetables, and limited fruits. And what a coincidence, so do we.

You might start by visiting the American Kennel Club's (AKC) website and reading their article on the human foods dog and cats can eat ( I noticed down in the comments section a reader recommended a vitamin supplement to add to the food. Sounds like a good idea as well.

Another website, BalanceIT It shows all the different foods we can feed a healthy adult dog (Disclaimer: under Veterinarian supervision). They put this info into a handy chart. If you go to their site (, you can click on desired foods then "Done" to see FREE healthy adult recipes or even sick pet recipes.

After you've found a recipe or two that you'd like to try, the next step would be to visit the “marked down” section of your grocery store's meat department.

And as far as tools/equipment go, you don't need much. Just a sharp knife, cutting board, measuring cups, freezer bags or containers for storing food (Anchor Hocking is a good set), a permanent marker to date meals made, and maybe a microwave steamer bowl.

Now back to the point that most pets eat cooked meat, chopped vegetables, and limited fruits. With this in mind, why not plan a nightly supper of chicken, brown rice, steamed carrots and broccoli? Just make a LOT, and allocate part of it for your dog. And if you want to stretch it, you might add a bit of kibble to the mix.

Chop everything fine and mix in a large bowl. And then divide it all amongst your freezer containers. Those that hold one cup are perfect. Date each container and freeze. I like to write my dates on masking tape rather than actually on the containers.

On one of my favorite sites, Food Storage Moms (, I found a list of homemade dog food ideas that I've referred to often. The author's suggestions:

  • • Besides making sure your pet has plenty of water throughout the day, you want to be sure they have a good amount of healthy fat in mixed into the food (olive oil, coconut oil, and peanut butter are excellent choices).
  • • Plan on the food containing approximately 50% protein (beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, lamb, salmon, shrimp, tilapia, tuna, turkey breast, and yogurt).
  • • Plan on the food containing approximately 25% vegetables (bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, green beans, kale, peas, cooked pumpkin, spinach, cooked sweet potato, yellow squash, and zucchini).
  • • Plan on the food containing approximately 25% grains (brown rice, quinoa, and white rice).
  • • Good ideas for fruits/snacks (which you might want to peel and chop also) are apples, bananas, blueberries, rindless cantaloupe, oranges, pitted pears, and rindless watermelon.

I'll close with this last thought: while studies show homemade dog food is cost effective and healthier for our pets, it's also a good way to prepare for disasters. Have you ever wondered what would happen to all of our pets if their commercial food became unavailable for days, weeks, or months? It just seems wise to plan and prepare for their health and comfort as well as our own. Food for thought…


    Alice Osborne
    DVO Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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