Food & Nutrition
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Save Money with Homemade Dog Food


In general, your homemade recipes should contain a high-value protein source (muscle meat, eggs, fish, liver), a fat source (safflower, olive, canola or fish oil; the best and most easily available fish oils are salmon and cod), a fiber-containing carbohydrate (brown rice, sweet potato, oats, barley), and a phytochemical source (fruits, vegetables, herbs). Substitutions can be made; for example, if you know your dog likes whole-grain pasta, substitute pasta for barley as a carbohydrate source. Some dogs, like some kids, hate veggies but will eat fruit, so use fruit instead; fruit can complement meats just as readily as vegetables can. Yogurt, cottage cheese, beans and tofu can occasionally be used as protein sources, but keep in mind that not all dogs can tolerate dairy products, beans or soy and may become flatulent or experience other gastrointestinal “issues”; test tolerance with small quantities.

When you cook a batch of homemade food, let it cool, and—if you make more than your dog can eat within a couple of days—portion it into reusable, washable containers, then freeze and defrost as needed. You can safely keep cooked food in the refrigerator for three days; after that, spoilage becomes a concern.

By adhering to the basic guidelines, you can be creative, provide great homemade meals and know that the ingredients are wholesome. You might even try serving some of these recipes to your human family so they can feel special too.

These recipes are calculated for a healthy adult medium-sized dog (approximately 35 to 40 pounds) who’s moderately active. The ingredients listed are standard (not organic) and can be purchased at any supermarket. Dogs of this general description require approximately 1,800 mg of calcium daily, according to Sommers, et al. If your dog is smaller or larger, her total calcium requirements can be calculated using 600 mg for every 12.5 pounds. (If your dog is a senior, still growing or has health issues, please consult your veterinarian— we really can’t say this often enough!) For a veterinary nutritionist– developed canine vitamin/mineral (calcium- inclusive) supplement, check out BalanceIT® powder.

Important: Many veterinarians, while acknowledging that pet food recalls and the poor quality of some pet foods are causes for concern, still feel that homemade diets, when fed exclusively, may result in nutritional imbalances and vitamin/mineral deficiencies that may pose threats to canine health. Therefore, if you choose to feed your dog a homemade diet, it is important that you understand and provide what your dog needs to stay healthy; veterinary nutritionists can assist in developing suitable homemade diets. While caution was taken to give safe recommendations and accurate instructions in this article, it is impossible to predict an individual dog’s reaction to any food or ingredient. Readers should consult their vets and use personal judgment when applying this information to their own dogs’ diets.

*The cost of feeding homemade will vary according to the size, activity level and health of your dog. Dogs who are pregnant or lactating, growing pups and those who perform endurance activities require much more nutrition (calories, protein, fatty acids) and have other special nutritional needs.



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 54: May/Jun 2009

Roschelle Heuberger, PhD, is a Registered Dietitian, an Associate Professor of Nutrition and director of the Clinical Nutrition graduate program at Central Michigan University.

Illustration by Vivienne Flesher

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Trudster | February 27 2011 |

My mother made her own dog food for years. OUr large dogs lived 15-17 years under her care. Many is the time I would arrive for a visit
and see two big kettles with simmering delicious smells coming from them...Many is the time also I mistakenly ate from the dog's kettle-
to which she would joking say "You should have asked first, stupe."
I wish she was here to read your articles...

Submitted by Anonymous | March 30 2011 |

I have found that feeding a homemade diet is actually more expensive if you do it right, by that I mean varied and balanced.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 17 2012 |

If you want to keep pets healthy and happy feed them meats and some vegetables. Home made pet foods are the best

Stop feeding big name commercial pet-foods from large companies

1. Most of them contain wheat, Rice, soybean, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, poultry meal, fish meal, poultry byproducts meal etc

2. 90% of vitamins, minerals, fish meal are sourced from China.

3. Fish meal, chicken meal etc contain potent carcinogen called ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin is used for preserving fish meal and chicken meal and is never declared on the label

4. Grains, grain by products cause obesity, diabetes, allergies, and other diseases. They decrease the quality of life of your pets.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 27 2013 |

Next time you are at your grocery store ask
The butcher for leftover bones. They are
less expensive than buying dog treats.

Submitted by Heather Dent | October 2 2013 |

Do you cook the bones or just feed them raw when you get them from the grocery store?

Submitted by alice | October 15 2013 |

bones are bad for dogs!!! you must never give them t your dog... ask a vet about iti!

Submitted by Jenn | February 3 2014 |

Bones / bone marrow are actually VERY GOOD for dogs, as they are for humans. We humans need to simmer the bones, make a stock, in order to obtain the necessary vital nutrients. A dog can simply chew on them. Raw is best, as long as they're not contaminated. Bone marrow is especially healthy.

Submitted by Carol | March 25 2014 |

Raw bones are bad for dogs! I have had 2 beautiful scotties that became very ill with pancreatitis after having a small raw beef bone and actually one of them had a cooked beef bone. Very sick with lots of vomiting, IV fluids. I would never feed a raw or cooked bone to a dog again.

Submitted by Corrine | June 10 2014 |

Our small dog had stomach issues and couldn't keep anything down. I researched raw meaty bone diet and all of its benefits, and switched. He loved and ate raw chopped chicken necks plus various supplements for years. He died of "old age". Beautiful teeth, coat and NO itching. Just dont ever cook the bones first, they tend to splinter.

Submitted by Lorre Hopkins | June 19 2014 |

My Dad was a Veterinarian (who has since passed), and he would Never allow us to feed any of our dogs bones. He was very adamant about it due to the amount of dogs that he had to surgically remove splintered off pieces out of their throat and trachea area. I think these were both raw and cooked bones, but I'm not completely sure. I tend to be more Holistic than his generation but I just can't bring myself to give my dog a bone without hearing my Dad's voice in my head.

Submitted by Ninja | June 5 2014 |

I feed my dogs bones all the time and they love it. They grew up eating bones so they know how to eat them. Some dogs with no experience with bones can choke so its best to slowly introduce them to it.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 29 2013 |

I m looking for the perfect food for my dog. I cook vegetables with chicken and chop meat. I want to know if parsley, oregano, and tumeric (dry) can I add in his food for he enjoy better. I buy dry food Natural Balance grain free. For his brekfast I make cookies with sweet potatoes, carrotas, zuchini, 1 egg and oats. I really want my dog to, live very very long, he is my baby. I deeply appreciate your help.
Sincerelly Ernani

Submitted by Ann Hall | October 12 2013 |

My dog is getting sebaceous cysts and we are home making food. Any suggestions? She is a golden retriever.

Submitted by Wendy | September 28 2014 |

Just one - obviously go to the vet.

Submitted by Patricia and Da... | April 19 2013 |

Hello I have a 2 yr old full breed toy Maltese. she is very picky and some times wont eat for a day and a half. If I make her scrambled eggs she gobbles them up. She only weighs about 2 lbs and has a mind of her own. I definitely am switching her to home maid food. Shes deaf and loves to bark and only minds if I use a squirt bottle with water. I'll take any advice I can get and recipes..
Tank you

Submitted by Amanda | September 2 2013 |

As far as the barking goes, I would suggest hand signals. If you can find a trainer nearby that could help, that would be nice. But, even if you can't, you can research hand signals or make your own. Only give her what she wants when she's quiet. I just got a dog that apparently was trained to bark when told to Sit. I hold my finger to my mouth and make her sit before she gets her bowl. She's been with us four days now and only sparingly barks when I say sit. Also, to have her sit, I use my index finger pointed above her head. This encourages her to look up and put her rear down. I hope this helps!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 7 2013 |

I took my dog for a half an hour drive in the car then an hour and a half fast walk at the park before dinner. This is what my two and a half year old fox hound -Walker (large breed) that weighs 84 pounds had to eat when we returned home:

1 cup Eukanuba Adult Weight Control (1+ years and 51 lbs. and over)
½ cup cook carrots sliced thin
½ cup steamed chicken diced
¼ cup wheat spaghetti chopped
2 Butler Schein S3 SOFT CHEWS (Synovial Support Supplement-Combining Glucosamine HC, MSM Creatine Monohydrate, Perma Canaliculus, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Antioxidants in a highly palatable liver flavored chew.

My little girl loved every morsel of her meal. She even had a smile on her face! :)

Submitted by samanthaG | May 23 2013 |

Homemade dog food save your money and your dogs. Commercial food are really bad for your dogs' health. There is a homemade food recipes which I prepare for my dogs. Please prepare them healthy food.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 29 2013 |


Commercial dog food is recommended by veterinarians. They aren't bad people.:) You are not the expert on dog care though I appreciate your concern. Also, homemade dog food can be expensive for people on a budget. I asked my vet and there isn't a problem using fresh food along with dry dog food. More importantly, feeding and taking care of a large dog is expensive,especially if you want to keep him or her healthy and happy. Remember, the costs involved with a happy and healty dog: food, flea and tick medication, vaccines & immunizations (rattlesnake vaccine including visit just cost me $85, park fees for fun and exercise with dog. Here is one of my favorite places when I have the time to travel:Point Pinole Regional Shoreline - East Bay Regional Park. The times I visit that park is when I take homemade food and place it in a baggy then in my backpack. Fun hike with family or friends along with other wonderful places throughout the country.

Submitted by jlj | June 8 2013 |

Veterinarians, like human doctors, get very little education regarding nutrition in school. However, commercial dog food companies pressure (financially) vets to promote their foods. I'm not saying vets are bad people. My vet DOES NOT recommend commercial dog food and has taken the time to educate herself and stay on top of current research in canine nutrition. If by "fresh food" you mean raw, it should not be fed in the same meal with kibble as they are digested at different rates and can cause digestive upset.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 9 2013 |

Well, I have to disagree with you.:) My veterinarian is very well educated and so am I! Not only do I agree with my vet but am a researcher. I do not feed my dog raw meat! There is nothing wrong with feeding my dog what I previously have mentioned. MY VET does recommend certain brands of commercial dog food as does the rest of the ten veterinarians at the office I take my dog to. These veterinarians come from around the globe and rank the highest among the universities they have graduated from and continue to keep abreast the issues of today.

I'm going to share with you and others the latest information from the
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:

Compend Contin Educ Vet. 2013 Mar;35(3):E3.
Focus on nutrition: Home-prepared diets for dogs and cats.
Weeth LP.

Red Bank Veterinary Hospital Network, Tinton Falls, NJ, USA.

Promoting health and wellness in dogs and cats is a common goal for veterinarians and pet owners alike. Over the past decade, a number of highly publicized pet food recalls, as well as a growing awareness of the role of diet in health and disease for people, have changed the way some owners approach mealtime for their pets. Many owners, and some veterinarians, now advocate feeding dogs and cats home-prepared foods (raw, cooked, or both) as the sole source of nutrition for pets and cite either perceived health benefits or a general mistrust of the pet food industry as the reason. It is important for veterinary practitioners to understand the risks and benefits of home-prepared diets, as well as the motivation behind a pet owner's decision to follow this type of feeding regimen, to ensure optimal health for their patients.

I will not feed my dog raw meat, eggs, fish, and some other items.

Submitted by Diana Rogers | June 25 2013 |

Maybe you should research "rendering plants!" Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the euthanized animals? That's right... they end up in your pet food. Along with road kill, dead zoo animals, farm animals, etc... Google it. YouTube it. It's disgusting!

Submitted by Lorre Hopkins | June 19 2014 |

You guys are going off the deep end. With so many abused, neglected, and unloved dogs out there do you think they care what form there dog food comes in? Some dog food companies are bad, but some are very good. Some people are good at maintaining a balanced homemade diet for their dog, but many are inconsistent and lack the necessary nutrition a dog needs. A happy and loved dog will flourish on a well chosen diet of natural food in whichever form the owner's budget, knowledge, and time can provide.

Submitted by Amanda | September 2 2013 |

I give my dogs raw eggs every once in a while. It helps with their coat keeping it shiny. I've fed them to every dog I've had. Frankly speaking, dogs are animals. They're omnivores. If they weren't domesticated, they would have a wide diet. They would even be somewhat scavengers. Because of so many recalls on foods, I'm considering a more homemade diet. I don't have a vet yet as I've just had these dogs 4 days. I live in TN. I only take my dogs to the vet if I have a problem or for rabies shot anyway. However, I agree that you and your vet should be educated in every aspect of your pets life. Just as with children, you don't want to take them to someone that's not educated and just do what they say.

Submitted by paul | July 22 2014 |

egg whites can kill a dog never ever feed them raw eggs you were just lucky

Submitted by P. Hartmann | June 19 2013 |

Dogs can't digest carrots. Check their feces. Take the carrots out of the photo.

Submitted by Jennifer | June 28 2013 |

Yes this is true that dogs cannot totally digest carrots. I have been feeding my 9 yr old English bulldog homemade dog food since he was 4 yrs old. We always bought him expensive holistic dog food but his gas was unbearable, he shed perfusely, he had awful dark tear stains, and the poor little guy almost seemed lathargic at times. I by no means am one of these you are what you eat health nuts but I swear on everything changing his diet saved his life. This is what I do every week. I boil 2lbs of white rice, 2lbs of chicken liver, gizzard, and hearts (it's like $3 at grocery store), chop 1lb bag of carrots, and 6 apples go right into my ninja bullet, 6 eggs just poached, 1 qt of plain yogurt, and 1lb bag of frozen green beans. Mix all together, put into large bowl and presto dog food for about a week. He gets 1 1/4 cup in the morning and 1 1/4 cup at night. He also gets a multivitamin in the morning as well as a fish oil pill at night. No lie no more gas, no more shedding, tear stains have vanished, he has the energy of a 1 yr old puppy.... Everywhere I go with him everyone is in awe of how beautiful he is and they can't believe that he is 9trs old. The proof is in the pudding. Dozer (that's his name) has been on this diet for 5 yrs and every year my vet thanks me over and over again for keeping him so young and vibrant looking. But yes we did slice the carrots at first and noticed them chopped up in his poo but we are strong believers that they were the cure all for his miraculous eye recovery so we did not want to remove them from his diet so we chop them up now.

Submitted by Alyssa Nicole | July 30 2013 |

Awesome! I have just recently been exploring homemade dog food for our boxer and German shepherd and let me tell you, I have been having a blast! About a month before testing recipes I researched everything I could get my hands on about a holistic diet approach for dogs. The results were stunning! There are many super foods that are good for people in which offer amaing health benefits for dogs too. Carrots are one of them. Rich in beta carotene, carrots are a powerful antioxidant that have been proven to slow the progression of osteoarthritis; this is especially important in large breed dogs whose hips offer complications with age. Also carrots are a phytonutrient that help keep cells in the body healthy, thus enhancing immune system. I steam them, skin and all then slice them up to be put in our homemade dog food. High protein, low carb, moderate fat diet! My two fur babies love the food I have been making and their behavior and activity level has changed as well. They also have been drinking less water too as I assume the high quality commercial pet food we had been buying had a ton of sodium. Sounds like your fur baby had a grain allergy. Try adding some flaxseed meal ( for omega 3's) to your food concoction. Omega 3's help create a protective barrier in skin to block out irritants and reduce inflammations responses by the body. I also like to feed mine salmon which is rich in omega 3... Got a great recipe for "salmon cakes" for dogs that my girls lap up!!! Good luck with your baby, sounds like he is on his way to a long healthy and happy life !

Submitted by Juli | October 29 2013 |

I also have two lg breed dogs. One is suffering with skin allergies. I would love your recipie for Salmon cakes, even food recipie, if you care to share:)I have been looking for a simple economical dog food for my babies. It is dificult on small fixed incmome to afford my girls, but they eat before I do! :)

Submitted by Jennifer | September 22 2013 |

Hello curious about your recipe did you cook the livers, gizzards and hearts? I recently lost my bulldog she lived a happy 11 years and I did cook her food which greatly reduced her allergies, tear stains non existent and overall energy amazing.

Submitted by paul | July 22 2014 |

they can eat carrots and I have never seen them in my dogs poop they have to be cooked or steamed

Submitted by Home Made dog food | July 18 2013 |

Homemade food is really good for dogs. It will be good for your dogs if you include fishes, raw meat, vegetables and fruits. Do not give the food which contains more toxic oxidants to your pet.

Submitted by frank sanello | October 12 2013 |

Where are the recipes in this article?????

Submitted by SarahJK | December 25 2013 |

Homemade dog food is really one of the best thing for dogs' health and of course you can save money too. It is very important because I know that dogs can live longer with healthy diet. What should dogs eat is really very important question and the answer is obvious. Dogs should eat healthy food and healthy food is homemade food not over-processed commercial food. Thank you for great post.

Submitted by JackGordon | July 23 2014 |

I understand that it is much better to eat at home or prepare healthy food but when we don’t have time we don‘t thing about our health. Simply sometimes we have money only for dinner at Mc Donald’s or Burger King. The food from these restaurants is junk food. I want to say that I also was young and though that such food doesn’t influence on our health bit it’s not true. From that moment that I have problems with my stomach I eat only at home or at good restaurants. Healthy and good food costs a lot but you have to buy it. When I don’t have money I take NorthAndLoans and don’t regret. My health is more important that money. And I advise you not to eat all the time fast food which is not healthy for us.

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