Natural, Homemade Dog Food

 

We’ve had our little dog, Shasta, since we got married in 2007.  She’s a mixed breed dog that weighs about 6.5 pounds.  She’s fairly healthy but has had one problem that has plagued her off and on for several years.  She gets itchy. It’s not fleas though she has had them a couple times in her 7 years of life.  And it’s not just a little itchy… she gets so itchy that she rubs her eyes until they are so irritated they get scabs and look miserable.

At first, we took her to the vet.  Three trips later, we’d tried several medications that just made her sick and/or just didn’t do a thing.  We spent a lot of money and didn’t get any answers.  So, we decided to try a more natural method of healing her, and it ACTUALLY WORKED.

We did two things.

#1: We began making her dog food from people-quality foods we had on hand
#2: We began feeding her a natural dog supplement

Within weeks, this problem that had bothered her for months had nearly cleared up!  I’m convinced that it was a nutritional deficiency from eating store-bought food.  We gave her the supplement for several months until it ran out, and sporadically gave her homemade food and dog-friendly people foods.  For the last few months she has been eating store-bought dry food.

Now, about a year later, the issue is back.  Poor little dog!  So we ordered her a new batch of supplements and today I’m making her some healthy dog food.  In my next blog post I’ll talk about this supplement that we love so much, but this post is dedicated to healthy dog food.

I will give you the guidelines for making your own dog food, as well as the recipe I’m using today.  Here we go!

First, you should know that dogs can eat many things that humans can eat.  Here are a few foods that you should NOT give to your dog:

  • raisins & grapes
  • nuts (especially macadamia and walnuts) and apple seeds (a very small amount won’t hurt them but why take chances?)
  • chocolate
  • coffee/caffeine and alcohol
  • sweetener or salt
  • onions & garlic
  • dairy products (dogs are lactose intolerant. Small amounts could give them an upset tummy or gas)
  • tomatoes, peaches, persimmon, plums

With those items listed, our very small dog has occasionally had small amounts of some of these and has lived to see the next day.  So if a trace amount of these items are consumed, don’t panic unless your dog’s behavior starts to seem abnormal.  But as a general rule, avoid these items.

 

Okay, back to dog food.

When making your own dog food, try to follow this ratio:

40% meat

30% vegetables

30% grain

Obviously that is not an exact science but that was what I found as a rough guideline when I was searching online as I began making dog food.  I typically don’t like to go to the store and buy ingredients to make dog food but you obviously could do that if necessary.  Instead, what I like to do is look in my freezer and see if there is a bag of frozen vegetables or package of meat that is just SLIGHTLY past what I’d like to use for our (human) food.  I’m pretty picky about freezer burnt food, and if it looks unsafe, I toss it in the trash.  But if it looks like it’s just beyond what I’d prefer to eat but too good for the garbage, I use it for dog food.  (My thought is that it’s still going to be better quality than the stuff that goes into shelf-stable dry food that contains lots of junk.)

I throw my ingredients in my crock pot and let it cook for a few hours, until the food is soft and meat is cooked.  I let it cool and then begin feeding to Shasta.  She LOVES this stuff.  I think she would eat herself chubby if she could, but we do regulate her portions. It is stored in the fridge and/or freezer, depending on the amount we make at any given time.

Since I typically use the “freezer method” for determine ingredients, my recipes are often different.  But today, I’m using:

Meat: a pork chop (bone removed) and a boneless chicken breast with a *small* amount of liver added in for nutrition.  Be cautious to use small amounts of liver; it’s good for dogs but absolutely in moderation.

Veggies: some green beans that were frozen and lumped together in the bag, a sweet potato, a carrot, and maybe some peas as well.

Grain: I’ll throw in some black beans that we have in the fridge already; black beans are a great source of nutrition for dogs!  But I’ll likely add in something else to round out this recipe. Sometimes I use barley, rice, oatmeal, or potato.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian, nor have I received training on this topic.  I have spent a good amount of time researching it online and recommend you do your own research.  You could always ask your vet about breed-specific requirements for your dog.  If your dog begins acting strangely after ingesting something new, please contact your local vet, the local emergency vet clinic, or call the animal poison hotline at 888-232-8870.

 

Have you made your own dog food before?  What ingredients does your pooch particularly love?

 

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