10 Tips to Make Your Own Dog Food

Making food for your dog is just like cooking for the rest of your family: you want to make meals that are nutritious, balanced, and complete. The good news is that homemade dog food can be a healthier source of nutrition than dry kibble or wet canned dog food, and it can save you money in the long run as well. Oh, and your dog will thank you with extra tail wags and kisses. Don’t you wish the rest of your family was that enthusiastic at mealtime?

  1. Check with your vet. Before you switch your dog’s diet to homemade, talk to your vet first, especially if your dog has any existing health problems. Your vet or a canine nutritionist can advise you on the dietary needs of your dog, with regard to breed, age, size, activity, and other factors. Once you understand your dog’s nutritional needs you can make your own dog food to meet the unique needs of your pet.

  2. Know what NOT to feed. Do you research and make sure you don’t feed your dog anything that could be harmful if ingested. Onions, grapes, and tomatoes are all off limits. For a complete list of foods to avoid feeding your pet, see this Humane Society food safety resource list.

  3. Healthy fruits and veggies. Vegetables that are easily digested by your pet are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and usually make up about a quarter of the ingredients in homemade dog food recipes. You can add a variety of dehydrated vegetables including green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, or broccoli to your pets’ food. Certain freeze dried fruits and berries, such as blueberries, bananas, and apples, can also be added in moderation, or used to make healthy dog treats.

  4. Supplement calcium. Dogs need calcium daily to build strong bones, and for heart, muscle and nerve health. Unless you’re feeding your dogs raw meaty bones regularly, you’ll want to make sure you provide a calcium supplement in their homemade dog food. Calcium carbonate or calcium citrate are recommended for dogs and can be found at the supermarket.

  5. Healthy protein. Dogs thrive on diets that include lean, healthy meats such as turkey, beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. Make sure the fat content is below 20% and choose high-quality meat that’s fit for human consumption. Protein, usually from meat, makes up around 40-50% of the ingredients for most homemade dog food recipes. Eggs and fish can be added to their diet as well.

  6. Good grains. Unless your dog is on a grain-free diet, some portion of your dog’s food should consist of a healthy grain like brown rice. Just be sure to cook the grains longer than you would for your own consumption, ensuring they get really soft, for easier digestion.

  7. Beans add protein. The majority of your pup’s protein should come from whole meat sources, but beans can be added as an additional source of protein. Dried beans are a good source of fiber too. Black beans and kidney beans are good choices. Rehydrate dried beans before adding to your dog food to make them soft. Add one cup of dried beans to one cup of water and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

  8. Save time. You can make a big batch of homemade dog food and then freeze it in the portion sizes you’ll feed it to your dog. Not only will it help the food last longer, but with pre-measured portions, it makes feeding extra easy. Selecting high quality dehydrated veggies, legumes, and grains speeds up the process because they’ve already been prepped—all you have to do is rehydrate the product.

  9. Blend and serve. Dogs don’t grind up their food as they eat it, so it’s important to blend or puree your homemade dog food so they can get the full benefits of nutrition. Blending your dog’s food will also aid digestion.

  10. Multivitamins. To make sure your dog is getting full range of nutrition, nutritionists recommend supplementing your dog's homemade meals with vitamins made for dogs. Talk with your vet about supplements.