How to Make Homemade Dog Food
By D. M. Du Pont
Back in the days before Iams or Purina, what did our grandparents feed their dogs? Table scraps mostly or their own recipes. There weren’t the hundreds of dog food varieties as there are now. After World War II, Gaines and Kennel Ration began with canned horse meat. Mostly as a way of getting rid of surplus horses and using up cans made for the war effort. It wasn’t until the 60’s and 70’s when dog food really come into its own.
The ironic trend is now going back to natural dog food. After the poisoned grain episode from China and the increasing cost of dog food, plus my last dog, Adam I adopted came with multiple bags of very expensive sensitive stomach dog food (he upchucked anyway). I decided I’d try my friend’s homemade dog food recipe she used.
With a degree in Animal Science, I decided to put my education to a practical use. So after several versions of the following recipe, here is the most balanced one. My dogs love it. My pup Adam went from 56 to 104 pounds and his liver functions have improved 100 points. This recipe is simple and versatile and far less expensive than canned food.
I call it the “Third Recipe”, because all the portions are in roughly thirds; Rice, Vegetables and Meat. Plus you should make more of everything every three days. Once you get into the routine, it is very easy and you’ll know what amounts you are regularly using.
Important point to remember is dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, which mean they eat all sorts of stuff, not just meat. So just feeding meat is a no no. Too much protein in their diet can make dogs hyper and overly aggressive. Too much protein isn’t good for their kidneys and they don’t get certain needed trace elements. People act like feeding dogs is an “exact” science now. However, it never was before and dogs did fine. So you really can’t make a mistake it you stick with the basics of this formula.
The “Third Recipe” for Dogs
White rice boiled with a chicken bullion cube – carbohydrates for energy, easy digestion and bullion cube for favor. You can substitute potatoes occasionally.
Vegetables - frozen or canned or fresh - green beans or peas/carrots or mixed vegetables – I prefer frozen over canned – and green beans are best. Easily digested and have fiber.
Meat – chicken, turkey, tuna or beef or wild game or eggs
Two half meals – morning and evening- and the cup portions depend on the size of your dog(s). All ingredients are roughly in thirds, but if you have an active dog, use more rice.
The most inexpensive way is to buy 25 to 50 pounds of rice is from Costco or similar retail outlet. Those little bags in the grocery store are quite pricey. I store rice in “Vittle Vaults” porthole screw top lid hard plastic dog food containers. Buy these storage units on Amazon.com, least expensive and free shipping and you use these for all sorts of bulk food storage.
You’ll need to make more rice every third day as it gets watery and becomes a great bacteria medium. You can use a rice cooker, which I don’t like to clean. Or make it from scratch in a stock pot. White rice recipe is usually 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.
If you are not used making rice, it takes a little effort at first. So for two big German shepherds, I make four –five cups of rice at a time - eight plus cups of water, bring to a boil with two boullion cubes and then add 4 cups of rice. I stir, then turn the water on to a slower boil and stir periodically to make sure the rice doesn’t stick. Making the rice is now so routine now that I get up during commercial breaks, stir and visually know once the rice is big and puffy to cover and take off the burner. I have an designated big stock pot and I know from experience to fill up to a certain point and add so many cups of rice and two bullion cubes. Brown rice is harder to digest, tastes like cardboard and the point of the white rice is carbs for energy and easy digestion.
Green beans are the best all around vegetable. Green beans are fibrous, full of nutrients and pulls particles through the digestive tract. I occasionally mix a bag of peas and carrots with a bag of green beans. Peas and carrots are a bit more sugary and not as much fiber. So as a veggie staple, don’t use all the time. Mixed vegetables, like corn and lima beans, aren’t broken down in the digestive tract and a waste of money. Shop around for the lowest frozen vegetables or seal-a-meal or can your own. Broccoli is fine if you are willing to perish from dog gas attacks.
You can use a variety of meats in this food. It depends what your dog will tolerate. Be careful not to rotate types of meat until you have a feel for what you dog can tolerate. I always cook the meat; in today’s world there is too much contamination to take a chance on causing a hemorrhagic intestinal bug. Cut or pull the meat into smaller portions for better digestion.
Eggs are a very cheap and inexpensive protein. I hard boil the eggs and add one or two to the meal. You can fry or scramble if you want to spoil your pooches. Eggs and rice is what makes up that expensive ID (intestinal diet) dog food from the veterinarian.
Chicken - is great, it is easy to digest and inexpensive. I broil up a $5 pallet of 10 chicken thighs from Wal-Mart. Chicken thighs have lots of meat and only one bone to remove and I add one chicken thigh per meal serving for my German shepherds. When traveling I bring cheaper canned chicken breast to open and add. You can use gizzard and hearts as well. Livers are a bit fatty, but okay as a baked treat once in a while
Turkey is inexpensive. You can cook a turkey up when they are on sale, then package the meat into portions, freeze and take out as needed.
Tuna – I give this for only two meals a week. It is inexpensive if you buy the store brand and the oil/water is good for their coats. Too much processed ocean fish has mercury. So limit the amount. I don’t like fish oil capsules. Oil from what fish? Goldfish? Contains too much concentrated mercury. Natural fish is best.
Beef – Is harder for dogs to digest. When I make a stew or a soup, I crock pot up beef stew meat until tender and broken down. I make extra to add to the dog’s meal with a little juice. So if you insist on feeding beef, crock pot for tenderizing and easier digestion. Hamburger is fine in limited amounts and a little grease is good for their coats, but kind of pricey to feed regularly unless you have a little foo foo dog.
Wild Game– Feeding your dog, venison or other game is okay. Just make sure it is thoroughly cooked. You don’t want your pet to get sick from some weird intestinal bacteria. Some wild game is very rich and less is more with pets. Just make sure your pet can tolerate this meat to avoid diarrhea and other intestinal episodes.
You can supplement your dog’s nutrition with a daily over the pet counter vitamin. A money saving tip is to buy the senior dog vitamins. They contain twice as much vitamin per pill. So, buy the senior dog vitamins, break them in half and you get two vitamins for the price of one.
As in all things in life, balance is the key. Dogs don’t mind eating the same thing daily. Try not to give your dog gravy or lots of fatty food, as this can cause pancreatitis and could kill your pet. You’d be surprised during the holidays how many dogs come into the vet with pancreatitis from eating gravy and fatty foods.
You can make a giant batch of this food, put it into portions and freeze. I don’t blend this food in a blender, but just hand mix the ingredients or with a spoon in their bowl. Blending breaks down the natural structures and it loses some of it’s value. Eating a paste like substance can stick on the dog’s teeth and cause problems. I have mixed this food and to put into portions to freeze to take on a trip for limited use.
Dry Dog Food
I do have some dry crunchy kibble dog food out. I prefer Purina, mostly because they are an all American ingredient dog food and never had recalls from overseas tainting like Iams or other brands. Purina One chicken and rice is a good all around dry dog food. Old Roy is a suspect dog food made in China. Science Diet is mostly corn based and not as digestible. Friend with kennels call Science Diet the poop making food, since it all gets eliminated. Eukanuba is a very fatty dog food and should only be fed to active bird dogs or dog with similar energy burn levels.
Dog biscuits are fine. I just give the Milk bone or Kirkland brand. Remember each treat has between 2-5 grams of fat. That is what is holding the biscuit together. Avoid those dyed fake “meaty” treats. They are full of dye and salt and fat. Some dogs like carrots or other raw veggies. Carrots have fiber but are also very sugary.
For three days with two meals a day, it costs me about 75 cents a day per dog on average. This is for the rice, green beans and chicken, even less with eggs or more with beef. Once you get into the routine, it is a very healthy and economical solution and better for your pet’s health.