Supermarkets offer a large selection of dog food that’s convenient and affordable. But is that good food for your pet? Many of the popular brands contain harmful chemicals and poor-quality meat. While they won’t harm your dog in the short term, they don’t provide optimal nutrition and cause future health problems. 

That’s where vet-approved homemade dog food steps in. With it, you’ll know exactly what your dog eats, and you won’t have to worry about additives and preservatives. Read on to find homemade dog food and treat recipes that will ensure your furry friend’s health. 

To help you make an informed decision, we’ll discuss the following:

Nothing Beats a Home Cooked Meal 

There’s something wholesome about cooking for your pet, the same way you cook for your family. Plus, home-cooked meals for dogs are beneficial for their digestive system. If you’re worried about GMO or filler ingredients, you can take matters into your own hands for peace of mind.

Benefits of Homemade Dog Food

Since the 1940s, dry animal food has become so widespread that most people can’t even imagine making homemade food for dogs. Still, some guardians choose to feed their furry friends healthy homemade dog food recipes that are vet-approved and discard commercial options. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Complete control over the recipe. Preparing food for your dog means choosing the ingredients and cooking method. So you can rest assured that your pet eats quality meals and stays healthy.
  • Fresh and filler-free ingredients. Home-cooked fresh dog food recipes contain natural ingredients without artificial fillers, preservatives, dyes, or harmful chemicals. Plus, this diet is beneficial for your furry friend’s skin and coat.
  • Cheaper. The most tangible benefits concern your wallet. Vet-approved homemade dog food lets many pet owners save money because a high-quality meal doesn’t cost much compared to commercial brands.
  • Allergen-free. Added fillers and GMO ingredients in commercial dog food can cause allergic reactions or sensitivities. Homemade food will reduce the risk. But if you have no time for cooking, you can find good dog food for allergies.
  • Ideal for picky eaters. While most dogs eat almost anything you put in front of them, some are quite picky about their food. That’s another reason why dog food recipes that are vet-approved are better — your dog won’t be able to resist them.

Must-Have Ingredients

When it comes to homemade food, building a balanced diet is crucial. It’s best to alternate meals to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients it needs. Here are some must-have ingredients you should use:

  • Proteins. Many non-prescription kidney dog food brands contain a lot of protein, which is essential for all dogs, but even more so for those with renal issues. And you can easily find high-quality meat protein to craft vet-approved homemade dog food recipes for kidney disease. 
  • Fats. They’re mandatory for skin, fur, circulatory, and urinary health. Puppies need about 8%, while adult dogs thrive on a diet with 5% of fat.
  • Carbohydrates. While carbs are essential nutrients for most dogs, make sure you don’t use too much rice and corn. You should only add about 10% to get balanced homemade dog food recipes. 
  • Minerals. Calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and chloride are essential to your dog’s health.
  • Vitamins. Dogs need vitamins for biochemical reactions, a balanced diet, enzyme formation, and oxygen transportation. So your pet’s diet should at least consist of vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Harmful Ingredients

If you want to learn how to make your own dog food, you should know what to avoid. Here are some ingredients that might be potentially dangerous and allergic to dogs:

  • Soy. Dogs can’t digest soy the way pet food manufacturers claim they can. The legume has a compound called “phytates,” which blocks the enzymes that break down proteins. 
  • Wheat Gluten. It’s an allergen, and dogs with digestive problems shouldn’t eat food with it. Besides gastrointestinal difficulties, gluten intolerance can cause tiredness and skin issues. If you’re not sure whether your dog has an issue with gluten, you can find out with a dog allergy testing kit.
  • MSG. Pet food companies add MSG to their products for a better taste. But studies show that MSG can cause liver inflammation and diabetes. Plus, it’s toxic for your dog’s brain and nervous system.
  • Meat Meal. Avoid any pet food with meat meal ingredients. They might contain meat from sick animals or expired meat from grocery stores.
  • Artificial Colorings. It’s not proven to be safe for dogs, so you won’t see it in homemade puppy food recipes that are vet-approved.
  • Farmed Salmon. It can be potentially toxic to dogs, as farmed salmon contains common water pollutants, such as PCBs and pesticides. 
Small puppy in jumper licking lips over dog food bowl

Vet-Approved Homemade Dog Food Recipes

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert in home-cooked pet food, the recipes below fit the needs of most dogs. Here are five healthy homemade dog food recipes that are vet-approved and suitable even for picky eaters:

Recipe 1

This recipe covers a day’s food for an average 15-pound healthy dog. Your pet should eat about 300 grams of it daily. 

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Chicken or dark meat
  • White rice
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Vegetable oil
  • Balance IT Canine

To prepare this easy homemade dog food recipe, you should first cook the meat and white rice. Then, add one part raw carrots, green beans, and broccoli florets. Also, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil, like corn, sunflower, or olive. Finally, use the Balance IT Canine supplement, which is rich in macro and micro-minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. 

Recipe 2

The recipe is for 20-pound dogs. You can divide it in two if your dog weighs around 10 pounds or cook more if it’s over 20 pounds. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound of skinless chicken
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of peas and carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon of potassium chloride
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

To prepare nutritionally complete homemade dog food with enough calcium, we recommend using calcium citrate or bone meal powder. FVC also suggests adding a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement for dogs.

Recipe 3

This is one of the best homemade dog food recipes for a 20-pound dog. You can adjust the ingredients based on body weight, age, and unique needs. Also, consider adding some nutritional supplements and quality CBD oil for dogs. Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this recipe:

  • 8 ounces of ground organic turkey thigh
  • 1/4 cup of grated vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons of ground turkey organs (liver, heart, or gizzards)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salmon oil
  • 500 mg of calcium citrate

First, you’ll need to blanch the vegetables. Once they’ve cooled, put them in a blender and grind them down. Then, cook the ground organic turkey thigh and other organs at a medium-low temperature. When the meat is ready, mix everything together.

Recipe 4

Vet-approved homemade dog food can be a real treat for your pet. And Zoey’s Favorite Fully Balanced Gourmet Dinner offers a tasty dinner for your furry pal. Here are the ingredients: 

  • 3/4 of a cup of brown rice
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of chopped meat
  • 3/4 cup liver
  • 1/4 cup of chopped zucchini
  • 1/4 cup of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup of carrots
  • 1 raw or boiled egg (use the shell)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of virgin olive oil
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

First, cook the rice in a pan, steam the broccoli, and boil the egg. After that, mix them with all the ingredients, adding vitamin and mineral supplements at the end. 

Recipe 5

Every dog deserves a special treat for Christmas. So VetCo offers a delicious meal, which mostly consists of food you’ll inevitably buy for your own dinner. This DIY dog food recipe contains many ingredients, so you should portion it out based on your dog’s size. You’ll need:

  • 3 lb of cooked skinless turkey meat
  • 1 lb of cubed sweet potato
  • 1 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons of homemade cranberry sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of onion-free turkey gravy or olive oil 

Boil two sweet potatoes for 20 minutes. Then, dice and chop up the cooked turkey into small pieces. When the potatoes are ready, mix all ingredients. If your dog has digestive issues, don’t use the gravy. Instead, ask your vet for a recommendation on homemade dog food for an upset stomach.

The Downsides of Homemade Dog Food

Making your own dog food can be cost-effective and healthy for your pet, but only if you do it right. Otherwise, it could be potentially life-threatening. 

Dogs have complex nutritional needs that differ from ours, and it’s crucial to do your research before making a homemade meal. Here’s what many dog owners get wrong when trying to cook dog food without learning the basics:

  • Lack of nutritional balance. The veterinary nutritionist Jennifer Larsen at UC Davis reports that many online recipes lack essential nutrients. Larsen recommends dog owners consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist before switching their pet to a homemade diet.
  • Including a harmful ingredient by accident. Many pet owners wonder how to make dog food safely. The truth is that seemingly innocent ingredients like onions, grapes, and raisins can be harmful to dogs. The ASPCA advises pet owners to keep a list of potentially dangerous ingredients, like alcohol, avocado, coconut, dairy, garlic, salt, xylitol, and yeast dough. 
  • Takes time to prepare. Be honest — do you have the time to make vet-approved homemade dog food? You’ll probably need several hours a week. It’s a time-consuming business that requires a huge commitment.
  • Doesn’t last long. Compared to commercial food brands, homemade food doesn’t last long. Storage is often an issue. For instance, if you prepare homemade dog food recipes that are vet-approved for large dogs or want to make multiple batches, you might need a second fridge. 

Raw diet — Yay or Nay?

Many dog owners believe that raw meat is a richer protein source and that nutrients are lost during the cooking process. But that’s not true. If you want to put your dog on a raw diet, ask your vet for advice to ensure your pet will receive all the needed nutrients. Otherwise, you might put your dog at risk of nutritional deficiencies and health issues.

But raw food comes with other risks, too. For example, uncooked ingredients can include ground up bones, which cause intestinal blockages or even lacerations. Also, raw meat might contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. 

Conclusion

Vet-approved homemade dog food is a wonderful way to make sure your dog gets fresh, quality food and optimal nutrition. But you’ll need time, patience, and lots of practice to make the perfect meal for your furry pal. 

Before making drastic changes to your pet’s diet, always seek your vet’s advice. They’ll suggest the best course of action for your dog’s health.

Sources:

  1. Massachusetts’ MSCPA-Angell Animal Medical Center Recipe
  2. Founder’s Veterinary Clinic Recipe
  3. Whole Vet Pet Cooked Dog Food Recipe
  4. Zoey’s Favorite Fully Balanced Gourmet Dinner
  5. VetCo Dog Christmas Meal
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