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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Do you have time to make your dog’s dinner? Does your veterinarian caution against it? With a little education, regulating a dog’s diet with homemade food doesn’t have to be rocket science, or scary. It’s a great way to make sure your canine is consuming something designed for their unique needs, and also another way to say I love you.
Many high-quality dog foods now exist that offer the kind of wholesome protein, human-grade ingredients you’d love to give your dog. These foods are not cheap, however.
That’s where homemade dog food can come into play. Here are some great tips and healthy dog food recipes to get you started, taking into account factors like the age, size, and health issues of your particular pooch.
The General Scoop
Opinions vary, but an average homemade dog food diet is going to be about
- 50% protein
- 30% carbohydrates
- 20% fruits and vegetables
- 10% fat
Vet-recommended supplements can be added too, from omega-3 fatty acids to cod liver oil and specialized vitamins for your dog’s needs. Rice is common to fulfill the carb quotient, and brown rice is healthier than white. Vegetables can vary, and fat sources can be poultry skin, ground flax seeds, and other sources. For a basic primer, check out this article.
Author Rick Woodford demonstrates an easy Mutt Loaf recipe in this video:
For a Hungry, Growing Pup
What to feed a puppy is going to differ a bit from their later years. As a general rule, dogs need to consume about 2-3% of their body weight per day. A younger dog, however, needs the high end of that figure (or a little more) during the rapid growth seasons.
Conversely, cut down on calcium for that puppy. Too much isn’t healthy, so while some recipes might recommend an egg a day (including the shell crushed up) for calcium, a puppy shouldn’t have that much prior to puberty. Cut that ingredient in half.
Cover that puppy breath with a peanut butter and honey concoction—or purchase a puppy-friendly treat that’s sized just for training.
For the budget-conscious, this recipe for puppy stew that should feed your growing canine family member for just a little over $2 a day.
For Older Dogs to Chew On
The best food for senior dogs will definitely include those fruits and vegetables, along with additions like wheat bran to help with constipation.
For an aging immune system, Vitamin E and beta-carotene are essential. Supplements can be used, but they’re found organically in many seeds and vegetables.
Kidney issues may require a shift to a higher protein diet. Arthritis impacts many older dogs, so glucosamine chondroitin should be added, naturally found in animal cartilage.
Age brings decreased activity, so no matter what you’re feeding that four-legged friend, you’ll need to trim it down. Keep a scale for them, and their food, so it’s closer to the 2% body weight average.
Decrease the fat levels in recipes as well, since they’re more likely to retain what they’ve got.
The Daily Puppy offers this senior meal recipe that spices up ground turkey with rosemary, then adds the trimmings.
A smaller dog has different needs, for obvious reasons. Size and weight impact serving sizes; to determine the right serving size for your dog, use this handy food calculator.
More than portion, ingredients and prep may vary. Much like puppies, a dog under 20 pounds doesn’t need as much calcium as a large dog.
See if your smaller dog likes this meatloaf recipe that includes a healthy dose of oatmeal, cottage cheese, and flax seeds.
Larger dogs don’t need vegetables and other ingredients chopped as finely as smaller dogs. In fact, it’s good for their jaws and teeth. This hearty recipe recommends starchier carbohydrates like lentils and barley alongside bulky fruits and vegetables, like sweet potatoes and apples. You’re free to cut them into bigger bite size pieces to exercise those choppers.
From Skin to Stomach
Itching and skin conditions might be the result of diet, which means your dog needs special attention. What’s the best food for dogs with skin allergies?
First, you probably need to reduce the diet back to a basic protein source and see if the allergy clears up. You can also purchase limited-ingredient, high-quality food for a period of time to discover if the allergy clears up.
Then test reintroduction of ingredients to see what may be causing the reaction.
It’s always best to work with your veterinarian in this process.
Some dogs may be allergic to soy, whereas others might need soy supplements based on other allergies.
If your dog just has a sensitive stomach, Buzzle offers some simple recipes including liver and veal, and recommends the use of ginger and yogurt to help soothe.
Cooked Food, or a Raw Deal?
There is quite a bit of debate over raw meat for dogs, with the potential for contamination and fears of salmonella and more. It’s also true that dog’s stomachs are built for raw food better than humans, and some argue that safely prepared raw meat is better. If you’re just getting started, it might be better to err on the side of cooked caution, but for a look at both options, check out these recipes for both viewpoints.
IB Pet offers a tutorial on a raw recipe in their video:
A Final Bite
A busy life and the possibility of compromise might lead to poorly prepared food and a pet that isn’t getting the right mix of nutrients for healthy living. When shifting to homemade dog food, do your research and talk with your veterinarian to make sure that you’re covering all of your dog’s nutritional needs.
Explore the possibilities and see if bringing the food prep home is right for you!