The desire for people to know what goes into their food and the upswing of homecooking hasn’t just stopped at the human level. More and more folks are opting to whip up homemade dog food for their furry companions as well. Check out the ingredient list on your run-of-the mill bag of kibble, and it’s not hard to see why so many are growing dubious of store-bought food.
On average, kibble and canned food are full of animal byproducts and large amounts of unhealthy filler grains, not to mention all those preservatives (I mean, we hope they’re preservatives, but really who knows what the heck all those long chemical sounding ingredients are). And while there are some brands with a nicer list of ingredients, any food supposedly full of meat, veggies and other perishable items that can stay edible for four years (that’s right, folks –kibble can be up to four years old when you buy it) has got to have some less than desirable stuff in it. Did you know that dogs can easily live into their 20s? Crazy, right? But no wonder they often don’t when they’re eating the same packaged, processed sort-of-food day in and day out.
There are countless stories of dogs thriving on home cooked food, and chronic medical conditions improving or even disappearing. So why not join the ranks of humans cooking real, fresh, healthy homemade dog food recipes for their four-legged companions. Don’t worry, it’s really not hard or even particularly time consuming. Keep reading for a beginners guide to how to make dog food.
When it comes to feeding your dog correctly, it can often seem like a daunting task. Pet food brands often make it seem like dogs need some sort of magic, unknowable formula lest they keel over and die. But the truth of it is, dogs are omnivores, just like us, and can (and should) eat many types of food. That’s not to say that care shouldn’t been taken when it comes to planning meals and choosing ingredients, but in general, if you plan healthy, varied meals for your dogs, they’ll do just fine. More than fine, they’ll thrive. Just like us, there’s no need to fit every single vitamin and mineral into every meal. Variety is the spice of (canine) life! Beyond that, very little is actually needed to properly cook for your dog. In fact, simplicity is best –avoid butter and seasonings of any kind. Some prefer to make things even easier by feeding their dogs a raw food diet. However, many doggie nutritionists suggest cooking the food, to prevent food borne illnesses. Cook a big batch in one sitting and freeze daily servings in individual bags. That way you can defrost them as needed throughout the week. Easy peasey. Keep reading to find out which ingredients for your from-scratch dog food recipes.
Protein. Lots and lots of protein. Pooches need lots of meat, and varying kinds. In general, about 50% of each meal should be meat. Beef is a great source of iron and fat, but leaner meats like chicken make great staples too (as too much fatty meat can be bad, just like with humans). Also, try to add fish in once or twice a week –even just salmon from a can. Super easy, and salmon is great for your dog’s health and coat. Here’s a list of these and other great sources of protein:
Most vegetables are great for your dog, and they should eat lots of them. However, fruits are a needed food group as well. Both are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Vegetables can be given in any amount, however be selective with the fruit, as too much can cause upset stomachs. Fresh fruits and veggies are best, as they have the most nutritional value. However, frozen veggies are just fine, too. But at the very least, try not to use canned vegetables, as they’re chock full of added salt, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of making healthy, homemade food for your dogs. Here are some of the best fruits and veggies that are totally safe for pooch:
To what extent grains should make up a dog’s diet is still a bit controversial. However some amount of carbohydrates are certainly necessary for healthy digestion and cardiovascular health. Just make sure carbs (grains and starchy veggies) don’t exceed 50% of the meal. Here are some good ones:
Of course, there are certain foods you shouldn’t feed your dog. Some are unhealthy and too much will lead to problems, and some are outright poisonous. Here’s a list of foods to steer clear of:
So fry up some meat, boil a few potatoes, warm up some veggies, and mix it all together. Boom. Inexpensive, healthy, real food for man’s best friend. And be sure to check out justfoodfordogs.com. They have great info about ingredients, recipes, and serving sizes. They also sell supplements and their own frozen, homemade food –if cooking it yourself just ain’t your thang.
Be sure to let us know in the comments below how Spot, Rex, and Max like their new meal plan? I betcha they’ll be as happy as this dummy.
Lauren is a New York based actor/singer/writer. She is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University as well as the College of the Holy Cross. She’s a fan of beer, pasta, and academic establishments with unnecessarily long titles. Find her on stage, or online– she’s there often.