Cooking homemade dog food is for me one of the best choices you can take in Your dog’s life.
In this post I will cover different topics in how to feed your best friend healthy homemade food, so please find a comfortable position and stay focused with me till the end, of course, if the alimentation of your dog is very important for you.
Let’s get started.
infographic provided by cyberpet
Why Prepare Homemade Dog Food?
Although most people continue to buy commercial products to feed their pets, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of including natural products in the feeding of their dogs and cats.
Preparing homemade dog food brings many benefits to their health. It is always better to opt for healthy and in this case, preparing food for dogs and cats at home guarantees that. Thanks to all the nutrients it provides, your dog will be healthy and strong.
Commercial Food Vs. Homemade Dog Food
Some people still consider the option of buying food to feed their animals more appropriate and effective. It is always faster to go to the pet store, select food, and take it home.
But … have you stopped to think if this type of food really has a complete nutritional contribution?
There are many arguments that we could give you so that you decide to prepare yourself snacks, prizes, treats and food in general for your pet:
The pet food manufacturing industry arose from a need for convenience and time saving, generating the least possible residue. The problem with these foods is that they are made in a totally different way from those that are suitable for people.
In some cases, the ingredients constitute all the parts that are leftover from the food factories for human consumption, like bones, intestines, hair, feathers, the pulp of fruits and vegetables, etc. For this reason, we should not be fooled by some industrial food packaging when we read phrases like: “quality ingredients.”
You should know that the heat used in the process of making commercial food eliminates much of the nutritional value of the ingredients. On the contrary, if we prepare homemade recipes, we are not submitting the ingredients at such high temperatures for this to happen.
Making food for your dog can be as simple as introducing a couple of ingredients in a blender, crushing them, resulting in an extremely delicious and nutritious puree. In the same way, if you usually make/prepare homemade juices with your juice extractor … Don’t throw the pulp in the trash! Add it to your preparation.
In this way, you reduce your waste and optimize the performance of your food. Sometimes, we have no time to make food for our pets, but there are tools that can help you reduce the amount of time used in the elaboration of the food for your pets significantly, as a food dehydrator.
This machine not only helps you save time, but it also works at low temperatures. Thanks to this, you could make food, cookies, and snacks in your own house that will conserve all the nutrients.
The organs of dogs and cats are designed to eat foods with a high degree of humidity. Commercial feed, in contrast to homemade dog food, has only a humidity of about 8%, which makes our animals need to drink water constantly.
This can lead to kidney problems. For this reason, it is vital to provide our dogs and cats with diets rich in moisture to ensure an adequate state of health. This is only possible if we prepare our own diets ourselves.
Finally, it also highlights the importance of a varied diet. Each food has different properties that provide great nutritional value if we are able to combine them within a balanced diet. Having a diet based on commercial food limits the contribution of new nutrients for our pets.
Advantages of Homemade Dog Food
In addition, there are many advantages offered by the option of making homemade dog food. Some of them:
- To be able to choose the quality and quantity of ingredients that we can add to the recipes.
- The dog foods that we buy in the stores are plagued with components that DO NOT contribute benefits for their health. Homemade foods, however, contain lower rates of salt, sugar, and preservatives, something that greatly benefits our animals.
- Homemade foods, however, contain lower rates of salt, sugar, and preservatives, something that greatly benefits our animals.
- Making healthy snacks for pets allows us to choose the right ingredients in case our pet has some type of allergy or requires a special type of nutrition. We always recommend that it be correctly formulated and under the recommendation of a veterinarian.
- Another reason why the homemade alternative is beneficial is the economic one. When we choose this type of diet, we usually take advantage of the food that we have leftover or that we have at home, which can considerably reduce the economic cost of buying food, snacks, and derivatives.
- Pets usually like homemade food more. They enjoy its flavor, the different textures, as well as the possibility of eating something different every day.
The Most Recommended Foods
There are many natural foods that you can add to your pet’s daily diet to make sure they cover all their dietary needs. We highlight here three food groups that should not be missing when preparing a homemade diet for your pets.
Vegetables provide many benefits from the nutritional point of view, preventing diseases. In addition, they regulate intestinal transit thanks to its high water content. Something that provides great benefits to your pet.
Vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, carrots, asparagus, or sweet potatoes can be consumed as they have a great nutritional contribution. Also, keep in mind that not all are suitable. Onions and potatoes (in the raw state) are not recommended as they can cause damage to your stomach.
#2 Protein of Animal Origin
- Chicken: this is probably the most common protein for animal consumption, not only because of its economic price and its high protein content but it is also a type of meat that’s easy to digest, easy to cook, and with an exquisite flavor. Although, on the other hand, its consumption must be moderate since the hormones that it usually contains can be harmful.
- Fish: consumed also in moderation, cooked fish is safe and provides many nutrients to our animals. In fact, it is one of the most used proteins in the creation of croquettes for dogs and cats.
#3 Grain and Cereals
Cooked grains and cereals can be a healthy option. Some, such as rice, oats, barley, and millet, have high nutritional power. Industrial cereals intended for human consumption or coated with chocolate, are not suitable at all.
Homemade Dog Food Recipes
#1 Vegetable and Rice Puree:
- Select some of the vegetables mentioned above,
- Cook them
- Mix them in a blender with a little cooked rice.
Your dog will love it.
#2 Tuna Snacks:
- In a blender, we introduce a tin of tuna, (naturally much better)
- a beaten egg,
- a spoonful of oats
- and a little water.
- Beat for about 40 seconds.
- Then, put this dough in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 150 degrees.
As a result, we will get some snacks “the sea of tasty.”
#3 Strips of All Kinds of Chewy Meat and Fish:
A very simple recipe in which we can use different types of meat. For example, liver, veal, chicken, and even fish.
- We cut the meat into small strips,
- put them in a food dehydrator for 4 or 7 hours depending on the dehydrator at 70 degrees.
- Final results: exquisite snacks that we can use as treats.
#4 Dehydrated Pumpkin or Carrot Strips:
This recipe is very easy to prepare, perfect for when you do not have too much time.
- Simply cut small strips of pumpkin or carrot and
- place them in a food dehydrator at 50-55 degrees between 4 and 7 hours, depending on the food dehydrator you have.
The result? A healthy and nutritious snack for your little friend.
#5 Sweet Potato Cookies:
For this recipe, you need to
- remove the skin of the sweet potato and
- cut it into small sections
- place them in a food dehydrator for 4 to 7 hours depending on the dehydrator you have.
The idea, in this case, is to dehydrate them at 50-55º.
#6 Carrot and Oat Cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Put 150/200 grams of oat flakes in a blender until you get a consistency similar to that of flour.
- Mix this with a couple of grated carrots,
- an egg, and
- two tablespoons of olive oil.
- When you have managed to mix them,
- you will get a dough that you can mold to your liking.
- I recommend that you use a pasta cutter to give it different shapes.
- Next, place the treats on the previously floured baking sheet and
- bake for 30 minutes until golden and crispy.
- Let them cool and
- keep them in an airtight container.
Your pet will love it.
Tips for Cooking Homemade Dog Food
- Home cooking is a good option to feed your pet when a balanced diet is prepared that has the supervision of the veterinarian or dog nutritionist.
- Cooked dishes should not contain an excessive number of ingredients: the digestive system of dogs is not the same as the human. Four or five ingredients are enough.
- To design a homemade diet, it is essential to know the animal’s dietary needs: the number of daily calories it needs, as well as the amount of vitamins and other essential nutrients.
- The ingredients used are natural so the food you prepare can last between 2 and 3 weeks in the freezer. This is the best way to keep it. You can also use freezer bags to store what you have prepared and divide it into several daily servings. If you also dehydrate the food, the preservation is more durable, and these are perfectly preserved for weeks in closed containers. If, on the other hand, you make food from one day to the next, keep it in a cool place.
Benefits of Natural Homemade Dog Food
After reviewing the general considerations to consider when establishing food, we see how the benefits of homemade dog food is the possibility of choosing the food with which we will make up the menu. However, it is not the only advantage:
- By selecting the ingredients ourselves, we make sure to use quality food and establish the percentage of each product fully adapted to our dog.
- As we said, through a homemade diet for dogs, we can guarantee that all the essential amino acids are present that your digestive system is not able to synthesize.
- We offer the animal a diet with nothing processed or very little processed ingredients, which translates into an improvement of their general state of health by ingesting totally natural products. This is because the less treated foods are, the better the nutrients are maintained, they are easier to assimilate and hardly contain artificial chemicals, and in some cases, nonexistent.
- By including fresh, natural meats, fish, fruits, or vegetables, the dish is much more appetizing for the dog.
- It is much more digestible due to all the above since the use of products adapted to the needs of the dog, fresh, quality, and natural make your dog’s body assimilate without problems.
- It allows us to establish a variable and complete menu so that the animal does not get bored of eating always the same thing or presents nutritional deficiencies.
How to Find The Balance With Homemade Dog Food Diet?
In order to take advantage of all the benefits of homemade dog food, we must bear in mind that not everyone has the same nutritional needs, as we have already mentioned. Thus, we will distinguish
- lactating females,
- geriatric and sick.
- The size of the dog is another factor to consider since the larger breed puppies will be healthier with slow growth.
In any case, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian before any change in your diet. Next, we will see the general considerations that we should keep in mind depending on the age or the state of your dog:
- A mother at the time of delivery should consume 1.5 times her usual ration.
- Growing animals require more protein and calories than adults. If we maintain high protein in the diet of the adult dog, if the caloric intake does not decrease, we will end up having an obese adult.
- Puppies up to 6 months require twice as many calories per kg of body weight as adults.
- In old age, fewer calories are needed, approximately 30% less than in youth. In addition, at this time it can be beneficial to include vitamins such as E, C, and selenium in the dog’s natural diet, due to its antioxidant effect.
On the other hand, for the diet, I will also take into account the level of activity displayed by the dog in his daily life. For example, a dog performing a lot of exercises may consume a greater amount of fat, while a dog with a more sedentary lifestyle should control their intake very well. And finally, treats should never exceed 5-10% of the recommended daily calories.
Remember that positive reinforcement can also be carried out with caresses, words of encouragement, or games. For healthy adult dogs, the key to finding balance in homemade food lies in knowing the animal. In this way, we recommend trying and experimenting to find the right quantities for your dog, detecting which foods he likes best and how to combine them.
How to Cook The Food for Dogs?
The benefits of homemade dog food are optimized considering the cooking methods.
Meats, fish, and poultry are always recommended to be cooked to prevent the transmission of parasites. They can also be cooked on the grill.
Of course, we must remove all those bones capable of causing obstructions. Although there are types of homemade dog diets that offer raw foods such as the BARF diet, we can’t always guarantee that the products are in optimal conditions and, therefore, I recommend cooking or freezing food in advance.
Foods with lactose, such as milk or cheese can cause diarrhea, so we must control their consumption or, in clear cases of lactose intolerance, remove them from the diet. So, we will have to plan the feeding of our dog to make sure it is balanced. We can prepare it, freeze it and take it out as needed, which will facilitate the daily logistics. We should never add salt or sugar or foods like chocolate or exciting foods like coffee.
To enhance the flavor of the dishes, we have the option of incorporating beneficial spices for dogs such as turmeric, oregano, rosemary or thyme. Olive oil is also indicated due to its derma-protective, antioxidant and digestive properties, which is why we can serve homemade dog food with a splash on top.
The Pros of Homemade Dog Food
- It enriches the quality of life, increases its vitality, is healthier, and can increase the life expectancy of the dog.
- Increased defenses, strengthening the immune system.
- It gives us the ability to adapt the diet taking into account the needs of each animal, its sex, size, age, and race.
- We reduce the intake of water, as a lot of water is produced directly from fresh foods, decreasing the risk of torsion of the stomach.
- Improves digestion, decreasing the number of bowel movements.
- The almost total disappearance of the risk of suffering from certain types of food allergies directly related to the additives used in commercial feed.
The Cons of Homemade Dog Food
- We need more time, to prepare homemade food, which should be done almost daily. In more or less high amounts depending on the dog or dogs that live in the home.
- Need to have the different ingredients available that make up the diet, ensuring freshness and optimal conservation
- If we choose to prepare homemade recipes for dogs on a weekly or monthly basis, we must control the entire process of the cold chain, both by freezing the rations and by thawing them.
- Try to get information about the ingredients that a dog may or may not be able to eat, know its nutritional characteristics, and use at all times those ingredients that best suit each dog.
- Learn and treat nutritional supplements within the dog’s diet can be commercial, which makes the use of this diet more expensive, or opt for natural supplements (Spirulina, Goji Berries …)