This isn’t my normal blog post but this is the easiest way to show how I make my dog food and the pictures too! I started down the path of homemade dog food out of necessity. One of my dogs, who I was feeding very expensive, high end dog food, was having ongoing health issues. I had monthly vet visits, spending several hundred dollars each time. After several of these trips, the vet suggested that my dog wasn’t getting any nutrients from the store bought food, and recommended that I make my own. I started out with a basic recipe that my cousin Jenna gave me – thank you dear cousin – and I have tweaked it a bit here and there. I have done quite a bit of research and each time I make a batch, I make it a little different. This way, they don’t get the same nutrients all the time, and they are getting a more varied diet. I have been doing it for a little over 2 months now, and none of my dogs have been sick since. I have been asked if it is cheaper than buying from the store? I can tell you that when I add in vet bills with the food, as well as having a sickly dog, I am coming out ahead. Plus I enjoy cooking, so it’s fun.
The basic recipe I try to follow is 85% meat and 15% vegetables/fruit. One tip I can give you is that when you are in the grocery store at any time, just look to see what meat they have marked down or on sale and buy it. You can put it in the freezer until you are ready to make another batch. I buy ground turkey, ground chicken and ground beef. I also had read that it is very beneficial to add organ meat. Well let me tell you, that was hard to do. I hated cutting it up. I went to the local butcher shop and arranged with the butcher to have him give me several pounds of beef liver and he grinds it up for me. Much better!
I begin by preheating the oven and cutting up vegetables to roast in the oven. In this recipe, I cut up 4 sweet potato’s, 1 butternut squash, 8 organic carrots and I added about 8 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil. I cover the pan in foil and roast them for about an hour to hour and a half.
Then I cook the meat in several pots on the stove top. For each batch I put in 10 lbs of the varied meat. Someone asked me if you could add fish and you absolutely can. (But I would caution against using a lot of fish bought from the store as it can contain mercury and some other harmful things if eaten in large quantities.) So I cook the meat in 3-4 pound batches and when I am finished, I have a 5 gallon bucket that I pour the meat it. I have 1 package of baby spinach that I put uncooked in the 5 gallon bucket and gradually put the batches of the hot meat on top of it. After each batch added to the bucket, I stir it up. This wilts the spinach without cooking out the nutrients from it. I also put a pot of vegetable stock (low sodium) on to boil and cook a pot of organic brown rice – about 4 cups cooked.
In my last batch of meat, I added 2 cans of organic garbanzo beans or chickpeas and just cook through till warm. I dump in the last batch of meat and then the pot of rice in the bucket and I stir to mix it up. By now the vegetables are ready and I pull them out of the oven. Here is a picture of the meat/rice/spinach/garbanzo beans mixture looks like and the vegetables out of the oven. Sorry I didn’t think to take a picture of the finished product in the five gallon bucket – I got excited towards the end.
Dogs are known to have short digestive track’s, so unless the vegetable you are going to feed them are somewhat softened and cut up into small pieces, they will not get the nutrients from them that you want. So no matter what vegetables you use, I suggest cooking them and mashing them in a similar fashion. I use a potato masher to just do a chunky mash of all the vegetables. I leave the skin on the sweet potatoes but you do need to remove the rind from the squash. Here is a picture of the mash when I am done.
I can tell you from personal experience, this mash is very tasty. This is the point I get slightly jealous of my dogs. After everything is cooled down, I begin the bagging process. I can’t suggest how much to feed your individual dog but I can give you an idea of what amounts my dog’s eat. My 8 lb Pom/Chi mix eats around a half cup of this each morning and night. My 16 lb Cocker/Pek mix eats about 3/4 – 1 cup each morning and night. I put the meat mixture and then the vegetable mixture in plastic storage bags to equal about 1 1/2 cups – so that each bag feeds both my dogs for one feeding. I need two bags a day. Once I have them bagged, I date them before going in the freezer.
I smash them down flat, so that they are quicker to unthaw. I pull several bags out each day so that they are thawed for the next day. I don’t like to microwave food if I can help it, so when I pull them out of the fridge, I put them in a cup of hot tap water for about 5 minutes. The dogs eat them very quickly. Each batch last my two small dogs anywhere from 10-12 days.
Now this recipe can be varied greatly and I have tried many other versions of it, but always sticking to the 85/15 meat to vegetable ratio. Here are some other things I have used to date and all of them, my dogs love. It is a great way to clean out your veggie bin in your fridge too.
Blueberries – I used these instead of garbanzo beans once
Broccoli – this one and the next 4 can be roasted in the oven too
White potato’s instead of rice
You can buy a can of pumpkin and put a tablespoon in each baggie
You can also put a tablespoon of plain, unflavored greek yogurt in each baggie
You could also add some cooked eggs as well but my dogs don’t really like them. You could also use the eggshells as a nutrient by grinding them up and adding a teaspoon of ground shells to each baggie.
I suggest you make a recipe and see how your dog responds to it. There may be things they don’t like, that doesn’t agree with them or they react to and you want to be able to narrow it down to the right culprit. Once again, I can only speak to my dogs and experience. They have had no vomiting, diarrhea or vet visits in over 2 months since switching, so for me it has been a positive switch.