How to Make Your Own Dog Food

Two dogs watching dog food being made

Interested in making your own dog food?

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be cobbling together your dog’s dinner in no time!

Making your own dog food also gives you the chance to offer better nutrition to your dog(s) than most commercially prepared foods.

Will It Cost Me More in Time and Money?

Sometimes, but not always, shopping for and preparing the ingredients yourself is less expensive than buying ready made dog food. It also depends on the size of your dog and whether you can buy in bulk quantities or not.

Will making your own dog food take a lot of time? Probably it will the first few times you do it. General cooking experience will help, of course. If you have limited cooking skills, just stick with it and you’ll be mixing things up like a pro before long. See here for my first experiments with making homemade dog food

Having the right tools and a store where you can get all the ingredients you want will help. 

Also, if you plan ahead and make a bigger batch of homemade dog chow once a week, the rest of the time it will only take a few minutes a day to feed even a large dog.

The more daunting challenge may be figuring out which type of diet you should have your dog follow.

Making Your Own Dog Food: Raw, Cooked, or a Combination?

There are many conflicting ideas regarding what offers a dog the best nutrition.

Some people swear by a raw food diet; others say raw foods are too dangerous and cooking for your dog is the way to go.

Others, like us (see Cooking for Our Dogs below), choose to do a combination of kibble or canned and raw or cooked foods.

The objection to raw is usually to meats or vegetables NOT grown by organic methods.

Dietary Options

For raw food diet options, see Canine Raw Diet 

For cooked food diets, see Cooking For Your Dog

By the way, if you’re feeding a commercial type kibble or dog food and wondering how good it is for your dog, see Dog Food Analysis

Rest assured that the exact foods can vary and your dog can still getall the nutrition needed by making your own dog food with carefully selected ingredients. After all, people who live in the Far East may eat very differently from ones in Mediterranean countries but still have healthy diets.

What About Supplements?

Even if you’re making your own dog food, you may wish to add supplements such as a canine multi-vitamin and calcium, just in case, since there are so many environmental assaults on our pets’ systems these days.

Dr. Andrew Jones, a holistic veterinarian from Nelson, BC, in Canada, recommends a combination diet. He also offers a super-duper canine supplement that includes probiotics in powder form, so it can be mixed in with your dog’s food.

His website provides an excellent explanation of the specially formulated ingredients used and why this helps your dog. There are no fillers or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives used.

Which Foods to Avoid

By the way, although dogs can eat a lot of healthy, natural foods that people also eat, there are some foods that are dangerous for dogs but not for humans. We learned this firsthand as outlined below: 

A piece of raw bacon caused an extreme reaction in Comet, our GSD mix, that almost killed him, resulting in a vet bill of $1,000 for 24 hours worth of care.

The vet told us many dogs do not tolerate pork or fatty/greasy meats well – it can cause acute pancreatitis or hemorraghic gastroenteritis. Believe us, seeing your dog in pain and bleeding from the rectum is not worth the momentary pleasure of giving him or her this type of treat.

In Comet’s case, cancer was suspected – in fact, we were told that if the bleeding did not stop by the end of the day that we should consider euthanizing him the following morning. We took him home and he was able to live another six months without further trips to the vet. He died peacefully at home on August 22, 2010.

Cooking for Our Dogs

Comet gnawing on a homemade bullion treat.

After Comet’s emergency, we became super vigilant about his nutrition and making our own dog food. The photo shows him enjoying a homemade chewie made of socks dipped in low sodium chicken bouillon.

We did some research and put him on a special diet that included some raw and some cooked foods including a small amount of cottage cheese or plain yogurt, a vitamin supplement, and some protein powder; then a combination of 25% cooked rice (brown or white), 25% grated raw vegetables, and 50% lean hamburger, fish, or chicken (sometimes raw, sometimes cooked). He also had a soup marrow bone or two to chew on daily.

We wish the vets had told us that all the good bacteria had been wiped out of his system after Comet received high doses of antibiotics during his emergency and that he would need continuous doses of probiotics to restore them. 

We finally figured it out and bought Dr. Jones’ supplement for Comet after he kept having occasional bouts of throwing up or diarrhea and suffered weight loss despite the good diet. He did show some improvement on the supplement, but by then it was too late.

A slimmed down Chiweenie.

We also fed this special diet and supplement to Pebble who was itching like crazy and rather chubby when we first got her, a week before Comet passed away. She had been fed kibble with red and yellow dyes in it, as well as cheap canned dog food.

The diet slimmed her down beautifully, as you can see, but did not eliminate the itching entirely. However, after we put her on the supplement, it took care of the itching within a week

Well, that’s our story with making your own dog food. We trust you have learned enough and are now ready to give it a try yourself!