Table of Contents
Last updated April 24, 2021
- You can make homemade dog food with human foods, but it must have the right balance of protein, fiber and carbohydrates to be healthy.
- While popular, vets generally don’t recommend making your own raw dog food because of the risk of bacterial contamination or possible public health risks.
- If your dog has any medical issues, consult with a vet or veterinary nutritionist to make sure the homemade diet works for your pet.
For dog owners, it’s only natural that you question what’s in your pup’s food. Sure, it says “chicken” on the bag, but what does that actually mean? If you’ve been questioning store-bought food, or would just rather have more control over your dog’s diet, there are plenty of homemade options that meet your dog’s nutritional balance requirements. Your vet can steer you in the right direction for preparing homemade dog diets, or ask about the suitability of particular veterinary-endorsed diets for your dog.
Before You Start Cooking: Homemade Dog Food Needs to be Balanced
Your homemade meal must contain protein, fiber and carbohydrates. Puppies require about 25 percent protein in their meals, while 18 percent is sufficient for adults. However, protein needs change according to your dog’s age and vary according to breed, so check with your vet regarding the right amount for your dog. You might have noticed that commercial dog foods often don’t list the percentage of carbohydrates. That’s because the proper percentage of carbs in the dog’s diet is still not set in stone by the veterinary community and regulators. If you’re making Fido’s meals yourself, you have the freedom to purchase the freshest, highest-quality ingredients available. Make sure you weigh your dog frequently to verify he stays a healthy weight. Take your dog to the vet before starting the homemade diet so your vet can determine Fido’s ideal weight.
Vet-Approved Recipe #1:
Massachusetts’ MSCPA-Angell Animal Medical Center provides sample recipes on its website for dogs weighing 15, 30 and 60 pounds. It recommends the same basic ingredients for all sizes, just at differing amounts. The primary protein source is dark chicken, but you can substitute with turkey, lamb, pork, beef or eggs in the same proportions. Carbohydrates might consist of pasta, white or brown rice, sweet potato, barley, peas, corn or oatmeal. Grains and meat should be cooked. Fiber comes from carrots, bell peppers, green beans, baby spinach, squash or broccoli but such fibrous matter should be no more than 10 percent of the dog’s entire dietary intake. Vegetables can be cooked or uncooked.
For a 15-pound dog, mix:
- 3 ounces of a cooked protein source (dark chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, beef or eggs)
- 1 1/3 cups of cooked carbohydrates (rice, sweet potato, barley, peas, corn or oatmeal)
- 1 tablespoon of vegetables, cooked or uncooked (carrots, bell peppers, green beans, baby spinach, squash or broccoli)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable oil.
For a 30-pound dog, use:
- 4.5 ounces of the cooked protein source (dark chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, beef or eggs),
- 2 cups of cooked carbohydrates (rice, sweet potato, barley, peas, corn or oatmeal)
- 1.5 tablespoons of vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, green beans, baby spinach, squash or broccoli)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable oil
For 60 pound dogs:
- 8 ounces of the cooked protein source (dark chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, beef or eggs)
- 3.5 cups of cooked carbohydrates (rice, sweet potato, barley, peas, corn or oatmeal)
- 3 tablespoons of vegetables
- 3 to 5 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable oil
As a supplement, MSPCA-Angell AMC recommends Balance IT, available from veterinarians.
Vet-Approved Recipe #2:
Founder’s Veterinary Clinic of Brea, California, offers a sample recipe for 20-pound dogs that you can half for 10-pounders or doubled for 40-pound canines.
For 20 lb dogs (Halve for 10 lb dog, double for 40 lb dog):
- 1/4 pound of cooked, skinless chicken
- 1 cup of cooked brown rice
- 1 cup of peas and carrots
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of potassium chloride (a salt substitute).
Substitutions for this recipe differ slightly from those allowed with the recipe from MSCPA-Angell Animal Medical Center in that FVC’s allows boned fish as a protein source and potato as a carbohydrate. FVC suggests adding calcium citrate or bonemeal powder to ensure that your home cooking doesn’t result in calcium deficiency. It also recommends a daily multiple vitamin designed for dogs.
What About Raw-Diet Foods?
Gaining popularity is the raw food diet, also known as the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, or BARF, diet. The concept was developed by an Australian veterinarian, Dr. Ian Billinghurst. BARF’s philosophy states that “the diet a dog evolved to eat — over many millions of years of evolution — is the best way to feed it.” While you find might some veterinarians recommending homemade raw foods for dogs, similar to what ancient canines ate, that’s not the view of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, don’t recommend making your own raw dog food because of the risk of bacterial contamination or possible public health risks.
Always Get Your Vet’s Approval
If your dog suffers from medical issues, you might need to adjust certain veterinary-endorsed diets. Ask your own vet about your dog’s specific nutritional needs as well as for a recommendation for a certified veterinary nutritionist. The three of you can find a homemade diet that meets your pup’s dietary requirements. Whether your dog has specific medical problems or not, you should always tell your vet that your dog eats a homemade diet. You should also add veterinarian-recommended supplements to the homemade diet’s basic components.
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