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Last Updated on February 22, 2021

Proper nutrition is just as important to your dog as it is to you. Many people don't know what to feed their dogs beyond processed foods and kibble. If you want the best for your furry friend, you can try making them a nice homemade treat. You will need to spend a little time in the kitchen, but once you see their excited reaction, it will be worth it.

However, you need to be careful and learn about dog nutrition. Their needs are different from ours, and several ingredients we commonly use are either toxic or indigestible for dogs.

This article should give you some basic guidelines about what to do and what no to do when making homemade dog food. We advise you to consult with dog nutritionists before introducing your canine companion to home-cooked dog food. They can give you the best-personalized advice based on your dog's breed, age, size, health conditions, and other factors.

The Confusing World of Dog Food

Industrial dog food recalls are a fairly common thing. That is why so many people have decided to ditch store-bought dog food and go for a home-cooked option. However, you should be careful about it.

Homemade dog food can be a healthier option, but you need to pay special attention to nutritional balance. Commercial foods are created by professionals, and they are meant to bring perfect dietary balance to your furry friends. However, many brands contain additives and processed ingredients that may not be the best option.

Just because someone is feeding a home-cooked diet to their dog, it doesn't mean it's the healthier choice, explains Jennifer Larsen, doctor of veterinary medicine, and expert on dogs' and cats' nutrition.

Owners are told by many sources that homemade food is superior to commercial products. However, there is no proof to support this claim.

While there is no clear scientific evidence to support that homemade dog food is better than commercial brands, there are certain advantages. Feeding your dog a diet comprised of whole foods makes a lot of sense in the long run.

With homemade dog food, you can control your furry friend's diet, address intolerance issues, forget about commercial food recalls, cater to individual needs and preferences, and build a stronger bond.

Dogs' Nutrition

Dogs need a balanced diet with plenty of proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. The best way for them to obtain all the nutrients is to enjoy a diet containing meats and plants.

A dog food delivery service can help you make sure your dog is getting everything they need.

Water

Water is an essential nutrient all living beings need to function normally. Your pets should have access to clean, fresh water at all times. Healthy animals will self-regulate their water intake, so as long as it's available, it's all good.

Lack of hydration can lead to a myriad of severe health conditions.

Proteins

Our canine companions need to consume a diet rich in proteins, obtained from meat or plant sources. Although wolves are carnivores, since the domestication, dogs have been getting used to what we eat, and their original canine diet has changed considerably. That is why they can eat a mix of meat and plant-based foods.

Although it is not advisable, our furry friends could thrive on a vegetarian diet. However, their eating plan would have to be designed by professional dog nutritionists so that they don't lack anything in their diet. Your dog can't survive on a diet that exclusively consists of meat, as it can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies and health issues.

  • Animal meat protein sources include: Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and certain fish
  • Other animal sources: Eggs and dairy in moderation
  • Plants: Certain legumes like kidney beans or lima beans

Most meats are also a great source of fatty acids, another vital part of a dog's diet.

Vegetables

Veggies are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are an essential part of a balanced diet.

Some great vegetable choices include carrots, green beans, spinach, peas, pumpkin, cucumbers, celery, and more. You can also include certain fruits like apples, as they are rich in Vitamin C and A, as well as other phytonutrients.

Be careful with plants like broccoli and cauliflower as they are a good choice in moderation, but can cause bloating and gas when too much is consumed.

Carbohydrates

It is a common misconception that carbohydrates are not an essential part of your furry friend's diet because they are unable to digest carbs. This common misconception comes from the National Research Council's dog eating guidelines (1). Their research concludes that domesticated canines do not need dietary carbohydrates since they can metabolize glucose from protein and fat alone.

This simply means that a lack of carbs won't lead to a noticeable deficiency, but going carb-free is not a good long-term idea.

A small portion of your dog's meal should contain starches. You can include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, yams, or unsalted pasta. Just make sure to cook everything first, as these raw products are not digestible by your furry friend's stomach.

Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Certain ingredients could cause digestive problems, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, diabetes, and even death. That is why it is essential never to feed your dog chocolate, avocados, caffeine, alcohol, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, currants, macadamia nuts, nutmeg, citrus fruits, sugar, candy, artificial sweeteners, yeast dough, and more.

You should also limit butter, dairy, cooking oils, corn, and salt intake, as too much of these ingredients could cause problems.

How to Make Homemade Dog Foods

If you have decided to make your dog homemade food, here are some things you should do and avoid to provide the best possible nutrition to your canine friend.

Homemade Dogs Food – Do's

  • Use trusted sources – Many online "dog nutritionists" offer recipe options that are not the most reliable. Consult with veterinarians and use trusted services such as BalanceIT to get your perfect dog recipes by a board-certified dog nutritionist.
  • Balance the meals – Each recipe should consist of roughly 40% meat, 50% vegetables, and 10% starches.
  • Avoid processed ingredients.
  • Make sure all ingredients are safe for use.
  • Forget about seasoning.
  • Follow every dog food recipe – Using alternative ingredients may cause a nutrient imbalance.
  • Add supplements if necessary – Many homemade dog diets lack calcium or phosphorus. Use any supplements your vet recommends.
  • Make large batches – Making a week's worth of dogs' homemade food is more convenient than cooking every day.
  • Always check with your vet before switching diets.
  • Monitor your dog after the switch – Once you start making dog food at home, watch your furry friends for 2-3 weeks to make sure they are not gaining or losing.

Dog Food Recipes – Don'ts

  • Avoid processed food.
  • If you are buying canned vegetables, make sure they are low in salt and free of preservatives.
  • Don't feed your dog a vegan diet – Although some breeds can live on a carefully balanced vegetarian diet, most experts don't recommend it.
  • Be mindful of your leftovers – Consider all ingredients you used, and don't feed them anything that may not be dog-friendly. Healthy human meals don't have to be fit for pets.
  • Don't rely too much on multivitamins – Use supplements if your vet recommends them, but don't think a healthy diet has an alternative.

Make Your Dog Food at Home – Sample Recipe

Here is a basic recipe you can make for your furry friends at home to get an idea of what a proper dog meal should look like.

You'll need:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • An egg
  • 2 1/2 cup vegetable mix (think carrots, peas, spinach, and cauliflower).

Place brown rice and meat in a slow cooker, or cook it on a stovetop. Slightly overcook brown rice as it is easier to digest that way. Boil vegetables, and puree them for easier absorption. Hard boil the egg and slice it. Take the shell off and grind it into powder.

Once everything is cooked, mix it, and it should be ready for consumption. Feed them the appropriate amount of food for their age and size per day. You can also add a little bit to the kibble to make it more interesting.

FAQ

What is the best homemade food for dogs?

There is no such thing. Your furry friends' nutritional needs depend on the breed, size, age, and medical history, so while a certain recipe will be good for one dog, it won't fit the dietary needs of another. Research healthy dog food recipes and consult with your veterinarian before you start your dog food homemade adventure.

Is it cheaper to make your own dog food?

It can be. Try buying meat and produce that is on sale. Most grocery stores have a 50% off for meat products that have to sell that day. You can buy it, and make a batch the same day, or put it in a freezer. Combine this with produce discounts, and you will save significantly.

What can I feed my dog instead of dog food?

This guide should give you a good idea of what a balanced recipe for your furry friend should look like. Make sure you consult with a professional before you start making feasts for your dog. 

Is homemade dog food better for dogs?

Just because something is made at home, it doesn't instantly mean it's better. You still have to do a lot of research and cook healthy balanced meals to get the full benefits. If the food you make is full of processed ingredients, preservatives, and nutritionally imbalanced, it can harm your dog's health.

Should You Make Dog Food at Home?

Home cooking is not for all dog owners. It requires a lot of nutritional information research, recipe planning, and it can take up a lot of your time. Commercial pet foods are widely available, affordable, there are many nutritious options, and it's easy to stock up.

"Cooking for your pet is a process that's demanding on your time, labor, space, and finances," says Dr. Larsen.

You should consult with your vet before trying a dog diet comprised of home-cooked meals. Every recipe needs to be nutritionally balanced, and the whole dieting plan must be designed to meet the unique needs of your furry friend. Each dog is different, and so are their nutritional requirements.

However, home cooking does have certain advantages. You can cook food that is specifically tailored to address nutrition needs, imbalances, make your dog happy, and as a result, it can straighten your bond.

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Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.

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