Time to actually make that dog food!
I’ve had several people ask me for my recipe. That seems like a pretty simple request, but I don’t really have a recipe. I just have some basic ingredients that I like to use. That being said, although the actual ingredients vary the basic formula does not. The below sizes will feed roughly 25 pounds of dog for around 2 weeks. I like to make a lot at once and put one batch in the fridge and freeze the other.
Here’s what I use:
Meat– Dogs are carnivores, so meat should make up the bulk of their diet. I almost always use poultry or fish- whatever is on sale. Chicken thighs/breasts, ground turkey, and tilapia are some things I use often. Ground meat is preferable, otherwise you will have to grind it yourself and that takes quite a bit of time. I use a little over 3 pounds.
Organs– Organs should also be an important part of your dog’s diet. This is really appetizing stuff, like beef tongue or chicken heart or veal kidney. Use different ones each time you make it. Grind them through the food processor after they’re cooked. Organs are usually pretty cheap. I use about a pound.
Vegetables– If I have vegetables I bought for myself that are going to go bad, I’ll dice those up and throw them in. It’s a great way to make sure they’re not going to waste. Otherwise I just buy a frozen bag and thaw a big bowl of them. I try to mix it up so they’re not getting the same veggies every week. Dogs should never have onions or mushrooms so make sure they’re not in the frozen mix. Tomatoes and potatoes aren’t a good idea either. When I buy a frozen bag, I try to make sure they are finely cut. If they are larger pieces, I put these through the food processor after they are thawed. When buying frozen, I like the idea of buying organic but unless there’s extra room in the grocery budget I usually get the cheap stuff.
Fruit– I don’t add fruit every time, but every now and then I will. I follow the same logic as vegetables. Dogs should never have pits or seeds, so if you use things like apples or peaches make sure those are removed. Dogs should also never have grapes (or raisins) or avocados as they are toxic. Applesauce (as long as it is natural and doesn’t have a bunch of crap in it) is a good way to add fruit to your dog’s diet.
Dairy– Cottage cheese is really easy to mix into food. I’ll buy a big container of the low fat kind and mix the whole thing in for the two weeks. Sometimes I’ll also mix it up and use yogurt or eggs. Plain yogurt makes a great snack as well. You will find conflicting opinions on using raw eggs. Dogs aren’t nearly as sensitive to salmonella or EColi as we humans are, and I personally have not had any problem mixing raw eggs into their food. As with anything else, use your judgment.
Beans– I buy my beans dry from the bulk section. I soak them overnight, cook them the next day, and then put them in baggies that I freeze until I’m ready to use them. This has worked really well as I always have beans on hand, and those beans are healthier and cheaper than what I would find in a can. I usually have kidney beans and black beans on hand, so that is what the dogs will get. However, any type of beans will work. Watch your dogs stools if you start this diet- if they are not fully digesting the beans, run them through the food processor before adding to the food.
Filler– I use either whole grain oats or brown rice. If you want to do grain free, you can use sweet potatoes or pumpkin. The more you use, the longer your food will last, but the less nutritionally dense it will be. I usually follow the guidelines for about 4 servings worth.
Supplement– See this post regarding the supplement I mix in.
Oil– Oils can help the dogs coat and skin condition. I like to add this last, because if my food is pretty dry I can use a little more, or if it’s a good consistency I can skip it all together. There are many different kinds of oils. Right now I am using sunflower oil.
Seasonings– I don’t add seasonings to my food, but as you look online you will see that many people do. There is debate about the use of garlic in pet food. I don’t use it.
That’s it! Just cook the stuff that needs cooked, grind the stuff that needs ground, and mix it all together. Here’s what this batch looked like when complete:
For feeding guidelines, I feed about 1/2 cup per day per 15 pounds of body weight. So a 7-pound dog would get 1/4 cup a day, a 30 pound dog would get 1 cup per day, etc. This can get really expensive with big dogs.
My dogs LOVE the food. I’ve yet to make a batch they don’t devour. Hooch is a pretty picky eater and he gulps this stuff down. Somehow, they can always tell when I’m cooking for them vs. just regular cooking, and they really work that puppy dog look the entire time I’m in the kitchen:
That’s it for natural living stuff for now. I’d love to hear what works for you! Next time we’ll be back to normal stuff.