Any true dog lover wants only the very best for their furry friends. As humans, we understand the link between eating healthy foods and having a healthy lifestyle equating to a better quality of life.
By extension, most dog owners try hard to buy only the best possible dog food. Commercial dog food manufacturers know this and play to pet owners’ sense of responsibility. They add all sorts of promises and claims on their labels, such as “added vitamins and minerals”, or “added calcium and protein”, or even “premium grade meat”.
What they don’t advertise so boldly are the massive levels of artificial flavors, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives inside each can. This chemical cocktail is one that most humans wouldn’t consider eating – so why would we consider feeding these things to our beloved dogs?
Besides, if the food they were making was so good for our dogs in the first place, why would it need to be artificially colored, flavored, or otherwise have additives thrown in? We suspect that it might be to make the food last longer on the shelves.
But is it really to make it at least palatable for dogs to eat?
Think about some of the preservatives put into commercially canned food and into kibble that can allow it to sit on the shelves for months and months without going rancid. Many of those preservatives are known to have been banned for human use more than 30 years ago for containing cancer-causing carcinogens. In fact, some of the preservatives listed on the labels for dog food are also the same chemicals found in pesticides that the OHSA lists as hazardous chemicals. Those same pesticide containers have “Poison” labels on them.
Yet we feed these things to our dogs.
Add to this the dubious nature of the “premium grade meat” inside each can of commercial dog food, and you should begin to see why making homemade dog food can be a preferable option.
The reality is, you can use ingredients such as chicken, beef, lamb, venison, fish, turkey, yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, rice, pasta, and vegetables to give your dog a really healthy diet. Before you gasp and say “oh, that’s REAL food”, think about it for a moment...
People food is what we consider to be “REAL” food, meant to be fed to real, living creatures that deserve real food. Yet your dog is a real, living creature that also deserves to eat real, healthy, fresh food. Not processed, artificial, chemical-laden muck.
Most dog food recipes are quick and simple to make. They are able to be frozen, so it’s easy to make plenty of food in advance in a short time.
However, the most important reason to make your dog’s food yourself is the ability to always know what your dog is eating.
Increase Your Dog’s Lifespan
Your dog is at your mercy when it comes down to the choices you make for his lifestyle and diet. In fact, many of the choices you make could influence just how long your dog will remain by your side.
Did you know that the oldest known dog anywhere in the world was a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) named Bluey, who lived for 29 years and 160 days? There was also a Labrador named Bella in the UK who lived a healthy, happy life for more than 28 years.
Yet the average lifespan of a dog in domesticity is around 10-11 years. It should make you wonder why this is so. It should also make you wonder whether it’s possible to increase your dog’s lifespan beyond the average expectancy.
There are a few good tips available for increasing your dog’s potential lifespan. These include regular physical exercise and mental stimulation in the form of playing games or solving challenges. Many vets will also recommend having a dog neutered or spayed, as this can also reduce the risk of testicular cancer in male dogs and uterine cancer in female dogs.
Obese and overweight dogs also face an increased risk of premature death, as the extra stress on joints and the immune system can cause other health risks. Dogs should be kept within a healthy weight range with good muscle tone for improved life expectancy.
However, many vets may recommend dog owners should include vitamin supplements in a dog’s diet to help improve a dog’s health and potentially increase lifespan. What this tactic fails to recognize is that with a healthy, nutritious diet, supplements shouldn’t be required.
It also implies that the commercial dog food most people feed their pets is sufficiently lacking in the right vitamins, mineral, and nutrients to supply their dog with the healthy diet they deserve.
Vitamins and Minerals
Rather than pay for expensive supplements on top of already paying for expensive commercial dog food, it makes far more sense to work out a healthy set of homemade recipes to rotate each week. The recipes you choose should provide the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to suit your dog’s simpler digestive system – and definitely should NOT be based on what works for humans.
As dogs begin to age, they may develop cataracts. Yet these can be minimized with the addition of some lutein to the diet. This can be found in some leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage, or broccoli.
Green leafy vegetables are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is ideal for helping to combat constipation in dogs. Green, leafy vegetables are also very low in calories, very low in fat content, high in plant-based protein, are full of anti-oxidants, contain plenty of iron and calcium, Vitamin C, folate and Vitamin K.
Yet most dogs simply don’t like eating spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale or lettuce raw. This is why it can be a good idea to add small amounts of these into some recipes that require cooking. The amount required is only small, and the flavor is disguised by the other ingredients. Yet even small amounts still provide your dog with extra vitamins they need.
Finely chopped or diced carrots added into some recipes provide your dog with Beta Carotene and Vitamin A, which can also be great for healthy eyesight. Carrots are also an excellent source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Phosphorous.
Pumpkin is also excellent for adding some healthy vitamins to a dog’s diet. Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene and anti-oxidants, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It’s also ideal for use as a low-calorie filler in weight loss diets for dogs.
Adding peas and green beans to some recipes can also help to increase the amount of dietary fiber, plant-based protein, iron, Vitamin C, and potassium in a dog’s diet. They’re also rich in anti-oxidants, which can help to combat free radicals and other carcinogens.
Caring for your dog’s teeth and gums could be a very effective way to improve his overall health, as well as helping to avoid other associated illnesses. Many veterinarians agree that some of the worst ailments they see in older dogs could be attributed to poor dental care. Those same vets also recognize that a dog with healthy teeth and gums has the potential to live a longer, healthier life.
This is because the plaque and tartar that builds up around your dog’s teeth and gums are made up of bacteria that can cause infection and disease. In fact, the toxins generated by the bacteria have the ability to affect a dog’s heart, liver, kidneys and even the nervous system and the brain.
Believe it or not, it really is possible to train a dog to have his teeth brushed with a regular toothbrush. This type of training is best done at approximately 8 months to 12 months old, once the adult teeth have completely grown. A gentle scrub of the teeth and gums every other day can help to keep plaque and tartar down. It also reduces the risk of your dog suffering from painful gingivitis.
It’s important to never use human toothpaste while brushing a dog’s teeth. There are toxins in toothpaste that could be harmful to your dog. Instead, ask your vet about specific dog dental care toothpaste that contains simethicone and poloxamer 407.
However, if your dog really doesn’t like having his teeth brushed, it may be possible to purchase some dental chew-treats that contain these ingredients.
Dogs can also benefit from chewing on pork hide or rawhide chews, as these are digestible and encourage vigorous chewing that can help to scrape off tough tartar build up.
The single best way to improve your dog’s dental health, though, is to avoid commercially canned food. Moist dog food and commercially canned food sticks to the gums, get caught beneath the gum line and gets between the teeth. Ask your vet what kind of dental problems they see regularly in dogs fed a diet based only on commercially canned food. You’ll be appalled by the results – and it will guarantee you won’t want to feed your dog this type of food any longer.
Dogs may not show pain very easily, but any dog owner who has seen a beloved furry friend suffer through debilitating joint problems, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, will know how heart-breaking it can be.
Chronic pain caused by joint ailments can serve to weaken the immune system, leaving your dog susceptible to a myriad of other illnesses, diseases, and health problems.
One of the primary reasons that dogs develop hip and joint problems is being overweight. This puts an enormous amount of strain and stress on joints and ligaments, potentially reducing your dog’s lifespan. Overfeeding and lack of exercise are the primary culprits for obesity in dogs.
Yes, it’s possible to purchase joint support supplements. These often contain glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine supplements are usually created using the shells from prawns (shrimp), lobster or crabs, by way of a complex chemical process.
However, many of the supplements available for joint support contain ingredients that may cause side effects, such as constipation, diarrhea and even stomach ulcers.
What the manufacturers of these supplements won’t tell you is that glucosamine is also naturally found in animal bones and bone marrow. Feed your dog the occasional large raw marrow bone to gnaw on. He’ll be receiving a natural form of joint support supplement and doing his teeth and gums some good at the same time.
Apples also contain anti-inflammatory properties, so finding a recipe containing small amounts of apple can help your dog’s system to combat arthritis all on its own.
Once again, prevention is worth so much more than cure.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The popularity of Omega 3 Fatty Acids in human diets to help combat weight gain and obesity are still growing. What commercial dog food manufacturers haven’t recognized is that there are multiple other health benefits for dogs inherent in a diet rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
A dog eating a purely commercial canned food diet may suffer from a deficiency in the important nutrients found in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. This can increase allergic reactions in some dogs to include eczema, dermatitis, persistent ear infections, and other health problems.
However, it has been proven that the linolenic acid found in Omega 3 Fatty Acids can help to prevent heart problems, reduce the risk of cancer, reduce inflammation, and improve the immune system.
Natural sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids include much cold water fish, such as:
Of course, it’s still important to remember that dogs have very different digestive systems to humans, so small amounts of these foods only a couple of times a week can really have a big effect on a dog’s overall health.
Avoiding Some Foods
While some of the foods humans eat are extremely healthy for us and can help to combat a wide range of ailments, the same foods may not be good for your dog. In fact, there are some foods that are potentially toxic to a dog’s nervous system and simplified digestive system.
While onions, green onions, garlic, and avocado are extremely rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and should be included in a healthy human diet, they should be avoided in a homemade dog food recipe at all costs. These foods also contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which may cause damage to red blood cells, cause vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and dehydration in dogs.
Grapes, raisins, and mushrooms are also excellent sources of vitamins and minerals in humans but can be seriously dangerous when fed to a dog. Grapes contain toxins that can cause kidney failure, while the toxins in mushrooms may damage the nervous system, resulting in shock and even death.
Corn is a very popular ingredient in far too many Internet-based homemade dog-food recipes. Yet dogs aren’t able to digest this very easily. It’s also one of the top 3 known allergens in dogs. When you read the labels on most commercial canned dog foods, you’ll note that many of them contain corn by-products. These are often listed as corn meal, gluten meal, or cereal by-products, and should be avoided where possible.
Financial Benefits of Making Your Own Dog Food
While there are plenty of health benefits for making your own dog food, did you know there are also plenty of financial benefits too? Sadly, there are many people who complain about the cost of purchasing high-quality food products in order to make their own recipes. They lament the amount of time it takes to prepare simple recipes in their busy day.
Unfortunately, what they may be missing are some of the other costs that may not always be so apparent.
For example, a happy, healthy dog will need far fewer vet visits, simply because they may not suffer from so many allergies, or from health problems related to nutritional deficiencies.
Dogs eating a healthy diet are less likely to become obese and suffer from the myriad of obesity-related health issues that can affect joints and vital organs.
Of course, when you really add up the cost of purchasing a half-pound of good quality meat in order to make a week’s worth of healthy dog food, plus a little rice, a handful of fresh vegetables and a tiny bit of gravy mix, it can add up to be cheaper than several cans of commercial dog food and dry kibble over the same period of time.
So, when you add up the real savings for making your dog’s food yourself, you’ll see it really is possible to create good food for a comparable price with a minimum of fuss. However, you could also be avoiding the steep costs that health problems and frequent vet visits could cause over your dog’s lifetime as well.
Homemade Dog Food Recipes
The best part about making homemade dog food is the ability to mix and match what ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t have the vegetables listed in the recipes on hand, experiment with something else that your dog is able to eat instead. The same goes for the meat base. If you don’t have the suggested meat base available for a particular recipe, substitute it for what you can find that will still be healthy for your dog and still fit into your budget.
Choose what works for you as far as availability and quality. Remember, variety in what you feed your dog will give him the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients he needs to keep him healthy. Your dog will love it!
Dog Main Meal Recipes
Healthy Doggy Dinner
1 pound (500g) ground meat (turkey, beef, lamb, chicken)
½ cup rice
½ cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons gravy powder
½ cup finely shredded spinach
½ cup finely diced carrot
2 cups cold water
1 cup hot water
In a saucepan, heat a little olive oil over a medium heat. Add the ground meat and fry until cooked through. Break up the meat with a fork as it cooks. Once the meat is cooked properly, add the spinach, carrot, rice, oatmeal and 2 cups of water. Allow the mixture to simmer until the rice is very well cooked and begins to swell. Stir occasionally to stop the mixture sticking to the sides of the saucepan.
In a separate cup, mix 1 cup of hot water and the gravy powder. Mix well with a fork until there are no lumps of powder remaining. Add the gravy to the simmering mixture and blend well.
As the rice expands, it should absorb much of the water in the mixture. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Spoon the mixture into sealable, air-tight plastic containers.
Store unused portions in the fridge for up to 3 days or store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Hamburger and Liver Stew
1 cup ground hamburger
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
½ cup finely chopped liver
¼ cup diced potato
¼ cup diced carrot
¼ cup chopped green beans
½ cup rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons gravy powder
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground hamburger meat and breadcrumbs until well mixed. Form meat into small patties.
In a frying pan, heat a little olive oil over a medium heat. Cook the hamburger patties until well cooked. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool. Add the chopped liver to the frying pan and cook well.
When the hamburger patties are cool enough to handle, chop them into small pieces. Add the chopped patties and liver into a medium-large pot along with the water, vegetables, and rice.
In a separate cup, put the gravy powder and just enough water to form a thick gravy. Mix the gravy well to ensure there are no lumps. Add the gravy to the stew.
Simmer the stew over a low heat for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the stew to cool completely before serving.
Store any unused portions in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or store in the freezer.
Salmon Doggy Loaf
1 16 ounces (450g) can of salmon in oil
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg – beaten
1 carrot – finely diced
1 stick celery – finely diced
½ teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon cottage cheese
Preheat your oven to 350F (180C)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the salmon, egg, cottage cheese and breadcrumbs well with a fork. Be sure to break up all the salmon pieces and remove any bones you find. Dice the carrot, parsley, and celery finely and add these to the mix. If the mixture is too moist, add some more breadcrumbs.
Place the mixture in a small loaf pan and bake at 350F (180C) for 30-40 minutes. When the loaf is cooked through, leave it out to cool. Slice into sections to serve.
Store any unused portions in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
1 pound (500g) minced turkey meat
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chicken broth (or stock)
1 tablespoon chicken gravy
½ cup green beans
½ cup finely chopped carrot
Combine all ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat until turkey meat is cooked through and oats have begun to swell. Allow the mixture to cool before serving.
Any unused portions can be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three days, or stored in the freezer.
Chicken Weight Loss Casserole
1 pound (500g) minced chicken (or turkey)
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 cup pumpkin – diced into small pieces
1 tablespoon chicken gravy powder
Place all the ingredients into a pot and break up the meat with a fork to separate it. Cook over a medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Allow the casserole to simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the meat is cooked through and the pumpkin has softened.
If the gravy hasn’t thickened and the casserole still looks runny, feel free to add a little more gravy powder.
Allow the casserole to cool before serving.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze the casserole until needed.
Saucy Sausage Casserole
½ pound (250g) minced pork
1 carrot, finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon chicken gravy powder
In a frying pan, cook the sausages. When they’re cooked through, remove them from the frying pan and leave them to one side to cool. Add a small amount of olive oil to the pan and lightly fry the pork over a medium-high heat. Use a fork to break up the meat so it cooks more evenly.
When the pork is cooked, add the vegetables, broth, and gravy. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cut the cooked sausages into bite-sized pieces and add them to the casserole.
Allow the casserole to cool completely before serving. Store any unused portions in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or keep it in the freezer until needed.
Weight Loss Venison Stew
½ pound (225 grams) stewing venison
1 cup tinned crushed tomatoes
½ cup peas
½ cup rice
1 cups water
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon beef-flavored gravy powder
Slice the venison into thin strips. Place all ingredients into a large pot and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until rice is over-cooked and meat is browned.
Allow stew to cool completely before serving. Store any unused portions in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or keep in the freezer until needed.
Microwave Venison Stew
½ pound (250g) chopped venison
1 small potato – diced
½ cup chopped green beans
1 cup pumpkin – diced
½ cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon beef gravy powder
1 ½ cups of water
Slice the venison into bite-sized pieces and chop the vegetables. Place the ingredients into a microwave-safe dish and cover with a lid. Microwave the stew on high for 8 minutes. Stir the casserole, then return to the microwave without the lid to cook on medium for further 6-7 minutes, or until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
Allow the stew to cool thoroughly before serving. Store remaining portions in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or keep portions in the freezer until needed.
Sardine Pudding Cake
2 tins of sardines in oil (not brine or tomato sauce)
½ cup flour (or rolled oats)
½ carrot - grated
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until well combined. Ideally, the mixture should be a pudding consistency. Add more flour if consistency isn’t right.
Spoon the mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 5-6 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.
Homemade Beef Kibble
4 cups of wheat flour
2 cups of rolled oats
3 cups of well-cooked rice
2 cups of powdered milk
3 cups of beef broth (or stock)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup of lard (or shortening)
Preheat your oven to 200F (100C).
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together well. Pour the kibble batter into a shallow baking pan so the batter is an only ½ inch (1cm) thick. Bake the kibble for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until it becomes dry.
Remove the kibble from the oven and allow it to cool completely. When it’s cooled, break it into small pieces.
This recipe can be easily modified or adapted to suit your dog’s tastes. Instead of beef broth, add a little gravy with water. It’s also possible to add small amounts of pureed vegetables, such as peas, beans, pumpkin, or carrot, to the recipe. Simply substitute ½ cup of pureed vegetables and reduce the amount of broth needed by ½ cup.
Store your kibble in an airtight container and keep in the fridge until needed. Any unused portions can be stored in zip lock bags in the freezer.
Dog Cookies and Treats
Peanut Butter Dog Treats
1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups of white flour
½ cup of rolled oats
3 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 ½ cups of water
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat your oven to 400F (205C).
In a mixing bowl, combine the water, oil, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla essence with a fork or a whisk. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and oats. Mix well until the mixture forms a dough ball. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water. If it’s too dry, add a little more flour.
Sprinkle some flour on your workbench and place half the dough on the bench. Knead the dough until it forms a nice, pliable ball. Add more flour as required. Then roll out the dough into ½ inch (1 cm) thickness and cut into small squares with a knife (or into shapes using a cookie cutter). Re-roll the remaining dough and cut into further cookie pieces.
Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake at 400F (205C) for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat after 20 minutes, but leave cookies in the oven for a further 15 minutes to harden and turn crunchy.
Store dog treats in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Apple Cookie Treats
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 apple – finely diced
1 beaten egg
½ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
Preheat your oven to 350F (180C) and grease a cookie sheet or baking tray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients well. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well until the mixture forms a cookie-dough consistency. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water.
Sprinkle a little flour onto a workbench and roll out the dough to a ¼ inch thickness (½ cm). Cut the rolled out dough into squares with a knife, or use a cookie cutter to create shapes. Roll out the remaining dough and cut more cookies, continuing until there is no dough left.
Place cookies onto the greased cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
Turn off the heat after 35 minutes, but leave the cookies in the oven for at least an hour – longer if possible. This will make them hard and crunchy.
Allow the cookies to cool completely. Store them in an airtight container and serve as treats.
Cinnamon and Apple Cookies
5 cups of flour
1 apple, peeled, core removed and grated
1 cup water
½ cup applesauce
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Before you begin, preheat your oven to 350F (180C) and lightly grease a cookie sheet or baking tray.
Mix all the ingredients together well in a large mixing bowl. This should form the smooth dough. If the consistency is too runny, add a little more flour. If the consistency is too dry, add a little more water.
Sprinkle a little extra flour onto a workbench and roll out the dough to a ½ inch (1cm) thickness. Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter.
Bake the cookies in the oven for 25 minutes, or until they are nicely browned on top. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
Store cookies in an air-tight container until needed.
Note: Cinnamon contains excellent anti-inflammatory properties, so these treats can be good for helping your dog to fight arthritic inflammation. Keep in mind that they are intended to be treats, though, not meals.
Pumpkin Treat Drops
15 oz (425g) mashed pure pumpkin
¾ cup rice cereal
¼ cup oatmeal
¼ cup powdered milk
Preheat your oven to 300F (150C) and lightly grease a cookie sheet or baking tray.
Combine all the ingredients together well in a mixing bowl. When dry ingredients are thoroughly blended in, spoon the mixture into a pastry bag. Squeeze out small rosettes, roughly the size of a dime, onto the greased cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies in the oven at 300F (150C) for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using these cookie snacks as great food rewards during training, or just as treats.
Store cookies in an air-tight container until needed.