In this post, we will purely focus on the ingredients that you need to cover for healthy homemade dog food.
When preparing food at home for dogs, in most cases, you are either feeding them more or fewer nutrients than what he needs. So I did a bit of research to find the best guidelines for homemade dog food.
These are the things you need to keep in mind when giving homemade dog foods to your pet:
- Dog food must contain varieties of ingredients from different food groups.
- Calcium is a must whether you give supplements or bones.
- Lean meats are best unless you have a busy dog
Hopefully, these guidelines will help you make your own dog food at home.
My story: I have 2 Pit Bulls and 2 GSDs. I only buy dog foods for my Pit Bulls on a regular basis. Because they don’t do well with homemade foods. For GSDs, I developed a mixed diet!
Homemade dog food recipe guideline.
Meat should be the main ingredient.
All proteins should come from meat and animal products. Plant-based proteins are cheaper, but your dog might not be able to digest it and end up becoming a loss factor.
Dog foods must contain 50% meat. So if you give turkey, chicken, beef or whatever, half the amount should be meat.
A little knowledge of the dog food history will enlighten you about how well-fed dogs from the previous era were. They had a rich protein diet with raw foods.
To keep the fat low (preferably 10-15%), you should opt for lean meats like chicken or turkey. If your dog is not very active, remove the skin as well.
Dog food recipes with chicken are easily available online. And once you start copying others, you will gradually develop your own recipes that your dogs will love.
Bones for calcium.
You can feed your dogs with raw meaty bones. This should contribute one-third of the overall diet. But you can also make bone stew and serve them once or twice a week.
There’s a little debate on feeding raw bones or cooked bones. We don’t want to elaborate on that. But bones will meet the daily calcium requirement of your dog.
Fish for vitamin D.
Your dog needs vitamin D too. And the best way to provide this without supplements is to feed them with fishes in small amounts daily.
You can choose any fresh fish for this. But you need to cook it before giving it to him.
As a rule of thumb, one ounce of fish per pound of meat will give them their required vitamin D.
If you don’t like fish or don’t cook it every day, you can feed him once or twice a week. Canned fish with bones is also a good option.
Beef and chicken livers are fairly cheaper than their meat counterparts and also healthy for your dogs. It should make up no more than 5% of the overall diet.
The best is to give organs in little quantities every day. Make sure to cook them before serving.
Eggs for extra protein and nutrition.
You can give eggs to your dogs with the shell. This will add additional proteins and calcium to their diet. For a 20 pound dog, 1 whole egg a day is sufficient.
Fruits and vegetables for nutrition and fiber.
Fruits and vegetables are of no help to dogs. But these food ingredients help in digesting other foods. So if you want your dog’s digestive system to function smoothly give them deep colored vegetables and fruits.
You can read our post on ‘Dog food vs human food’ to know what types of food are good for them.
Feeding meat at home can be expensive. So you can add some starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and legumes to some carbohydrate to their diet.
But these vegetables must be cooked for your dogs to digest properly.
You can feed them leafy vegetables in variables quantities. Just don’t give too much. As it can cause gas.
Grains for lowering cost (controversial).
Probably, grains are the most controversial food ingredients in dog foods. It can cause a variety of diseases like allergies or arthritis. Grains that contain gluten can also be problematic for your dog’s digestion.
But you can give grains like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa in very less quantity to their food. I usually provide 25% of grains in my dog’s diet.
This helps me keep the cost low and stop them from starving. But if you can afford to feed them lots of meat, you can skip the grains altogether.
If you add grains, make sure they are cooked properly.
Here’s a list of cheap homemade dog foods that are super easy to make and will save you a ton every year. Just follow the guidelines we mentioned here and make your own.
If you don’t give bones to your dogs, you should provide calcium supplements. 800-100mg calcium per 1 lb food is what your dog needs. This is calculated excluding the veggies.
A good way to prepare calcium supplements at home is to grind eggshells in a coffee grinder, and you will never run out of calcium.
Half a teaspoon every day of eggshell powder should meet your dog’s required calcium per day.
Broccoli and sesame seeds are other better sources of calcium.
Oils give extra fat and calorie supply to your dog’s food. And they are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
For omega-3 fatty acids, you can give fish oils. It should be no more than 300mg per 30 pounds of body weight. Fish oils will make your dog’s immune system stronger.
For dog owners who are not fond of fish, you can add cod liver oil to your dog’s food.
You can also use plant oils as an addition. But plant oils should never replace fish oils.
Walnut and hempseed are good sources for omega-6 fatty acids. For cooking the food olive oil, canola oil or even sunflower oil can be used.
I sometimes use coconut oil for stir-frying dog foods. But that’s totally up to you!
Vitamins and minerals.
Most homemade dog diets are not essential to meet the minerals and vitamin requirements of your dog.
In that case, you need to look for supplements. You can buy vitamin E supplements and add just 1-2 IUs per 1 pound of your dog’s body weight.
Your dog needs very little amounts of iodine. But keep in mind his iodine intake should not be lesser or greater than the recommended intake. 300mcg per day is enough.
If these guidelines seem very time consuming, you can always opt for commercial dog foods that are rich in proteins and nutrients. Just feed them according to their age and according to their breed.
Make sure to read our post on ‘what dog food is bad for dogs’ to avoid foods that are of no help for your dogs!