What's the Best Homemade Dog Food for my Pup? 🤔
Rising pet food costs, empty carbs, picky eaters -- whatever your reason, you may be considering making the switch to homemade dog food. But what is the best homemade dog food recipe for your pup?
This quick guide takes a look at the basics of how to make dog food at home. We'll break down proper protein-to-flavor ratios and preparation, as well as what NOT to add to your pet's food.
IMPORTANT: Before you make any changes to your pet's diet, make sure to touch base with your vet. Your pup might have surprising allergies that haven't made their presence known yet, and you want to guarantee you're giving your pets the right balance of protein, starch, and veggies. Your vet can double-check your recipe to guarantee a good mix!
The perfect pup bowl
Your dog's bowl should be a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, plus critical vitamins and minerals like calcium and fatty acids. Generally, you want everything to be chopped or shredded small enough for easy bites and easier digestion. If you have young puppies, elderly dogs, or a toy breed, consider blended homemade dog food.
Here's a basic ratio of how to make homemade dog food:
- Protein: 20 - 40%. Puppies should be at the higher end of the protein ratio. Stick to trusted, high-quality proteins like grass-fed beef, organic fish, and chicken.
- Fiber: < 10%. Important for digestion.
- Fat: 5 - 8%. Critical to growth and energy levels.
- Vitamins and minerals: 2 - 5%. This includes things like calcium, phosphorus, and fatty acids.
- Carbohydrates: The rest! Where your pup gets her energy! Make sure to prioritize complex carbs over simple or "empty" carbs that add calories without adding nutritional benefits.
- Special diet considerations: If your dog needs a little something extra (elderly, diabetes, allergies, etc.), you can always add supplements to your homemade dog food recipe. Again, talk to your vet before you add or subtract anything from your pet's diet. Keep an eye on allergy symptoms like itchiness, lots of licking, extra shedding, or tummy troubles.
Depending on your dog's weight and age, feed your pup along the same amounts as you would packaged or canned food (lean more toward canned food amounts if you're unsure). As always, ask your vet if you have any questions about what, when, and how much to feed your dog!
Gimme, gimme! 😋🐶🍲
Here are some of the best ingredients to include in your homemade dog food recipe, following the ratios above:
- Protein: Ground or finely chopped/cubed chicken, pork, fatty fish with bones removed (salmon, sardines), beef, lamb, turkey, organ meat (livers, hearts, gizzards, etc.), peanut butter
- Fiber: Spinach, carrots, zucchini
- Fat: Olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, fish oil, greek yogurt
- Fatty acids: These also come from oils and animal fat!
- Carbohydrates: Sweet potato, pumpkin, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, peas, broccoli, ground sunflower seeds, apples, kidney beans, corn (in small quantities)
- Calcium: Powdered egg shells, calcium citrate
- Phosphorus: Ground up bones, turkey necks, bone meal, bone broth
- Supplements*: Potassium chloride, enzyme supplements
*Ask your vet before adding supplements to your homemade dog food recipe!
Keep it out of my bowl! 😤🙅♀️🦴
The following are foods you should keep away from your dog -- even the ones that you can use as occasional treats, like cheese, shouldn't be included in your everyday homemade dog food recipe. (If you're wondering, that rainbow cake was made with dog-friendly ingredients by some friends of ours -- but we still didn't let Leo stuff his face, as much as he wanted to! 😉)
- Table scraps and actual bones. People food is not always good for dogs! Sweeteners in sauces, ~secret ingredients~, certain spices, and bone shards can all wreak havoc on your pup's stomach.
- Anything in the grape family. Grapes, raisins, craisins, grape juice, and any part of the grape plant is toxic for dogs.
- High-fat ingredients. Dogs, like humans, need fat to live, but avoid packing their diets full of fatty foods. Cheese and peanut butter are great for treats, but our dogs can suffer the same health problems we can!
- Artificial sweeteners. Particularly xylitol, which is found in many peanut butters and natural nut butters. These are toxic for dogs!
- Nuts, particularly macadamia. Macadamia nuts are toxic for dogs. Almonds, cashews, and other nuts can be eaten in small quantities (and they're full of vitamins and minerals like calcium and magnesium), but if you're not sure what's in your trail mix, better not risk it.
- Chocolate. We all know this one, but it bears repeating! The higher the cacao concentration, the more dangerous chocolate will be for your dog.
- Cinnamon. It's not toxic, but it can upset a dog's stomach and even lead to liver or heart disease.
- Garlic and onions. Anything in the allium family is poisonous for dogs!
- Ice cream and other sweet treats. Tasty, but not good for your dog. The overload of sugar (and potential for lactose intolerance) makes this a food to avoid.
What's your favorite homemade dog food recipe? Let us know (and let us see your four-legged chefs in their restaurateur best!) on Instagram @frenchie_bulldog. Bone appetit! 🦴