Making your own homemade dog food can be a challenge. But if you get the right ingredients and balance the diet, it can be well worth the effort.

You will need a kitchen scale, large mixing bowls, a spoon or paddle, and a cutting board. A good knife is also helpful. If you’re looking for a shortcut without compromising on quality, consider checking out a wholesome dog food review for a trusted brand that simplifies the process. With the right ingredients and expert guidance, providing your canine companion with a nutritious homemade meal can be both rewarding and hassle-free.

1. Beef

Dogs thrive on protein-based diets. Hence the importance of beef in homemade dog food recipes. The meat provides protein, fats and necessary vitamins and minerals for dogs. However, a balanced meal requires more than just meat. Dogs also need other nutrients such as vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. This is where non-meat proteins, vegetables and fruits come in.

The Founders Veterinary Clinic recommends including 1/4 to 1/3 pound of meat per day for each 20 pounds of your dog’s body weight. Choose lean ground beef or shredded chicken with skin removed, venison (lower-fat cuts), fish such as salmon or trout, lamb, rabbit and other wild game meats.

Adding variety to your dog’s diet also helps prevent food sensitivities. You can source these exotic meats at butchers, farmer’s markets, raw food co-ops or from hunter friends. Just be sure to cook these meats until tender before feeding them to your dog.

2. Chicken

If you’re making your dog food from scratch, you’ll want to use a quality meat for protein. Generally, beef or poultry are the best choices for homemade dog food. But if you’re feeding a sensitive pup, consider adding other proteins like lamb, goat, rabbit, venison or fish to your dog’s diet. These proteins may require a little more effort to source but will provide an array of vitamins and nutrients your dog needs for optimal health.

Another important ingredient for homemade dog food is chicken meal. This is a concentrated, high-quality source of protein used in dry pet foods. Look for recipes that use “chicken meal” rather than generic terms such as “meat” or “fish meal.”

You can also make your own homemade dog food using lean ground turkey, lamb or salmon if your pup has no allergies or sensitivities to these proteins. These sources are less expensive than other, more exotic proteins but still packed with the nutrients your pup needs to thrive. Just be sure to cook these ingredients thoroughly as uncooked animal products can carry bacteria that could make your pup sick. And never feed a dog a bone, as these can splinter and cause GI blockages or punctures.

3. Fish

A well-balanced homemade diet should provide dogs with a good mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Ideally, these nutrients will be obtained through natural sources rather than synthetics.

Fish is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also an important part of a dog’s immune system and provides valuable antioxidants, such as vitamin A and E. Try adding salmon, tuna, flounder or cod to your pet’s food.

Homemade recipes that include fish are an ideal way to add variety and introduce new proteins to your dog’s diet. Choose healthy, lean fish like tilapia or cod that is not farm raised and not treated with any antibiotics.

Make sure your recipe contains at least 50% muscle meat (i.e., a 5 lb recipe would have about 2.5 lbs of meat). Aim for 12% bone and 22-25% organs, which can be purchased fresh or freeze-dried. Remember that cooking shrinks the weight of your meat so be sure to weigh it after it’s cooked to get an accurate measurement of calories and nutrients. Also be sure to cook your ingredients thoroughly and allow them to cool before weighing and measuring.

4. Vegetables

As you add more proteins to your dog’s diet, it’s important to include vegetables as well. Vegetables provide your dog with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that work to complement the amino acids found in muscle meat. They also supply enzymes to aid digestion, help manage metabolic processes and offer a host of other health benefits.

The most common veggies to incorporate into homemade food are carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and peas. Carrots, for instance, are high in vitamin A, which promotes eye and bone health. Carrots also have beta-carotene, which helps fight disease. They are a good source of dietary fiber, too.

Cooked spinach, kale and swiss chard are also great additions to homemade foods. These dark leafy greens contain a range of nutrients including vitamin A, C and K, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They are also a source of antioxidants, which combat free radical damage and support the immune system.

Other healthy veggie options include tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms. However, you should be cautious with mushrooms because some can be toxic to dogs and lead to liver disease and other serious conditions. The best way to prepare mushrooms is to steam them or sauté them briefly in a pan.

5. Grains

Adding whole grains like brown rice, barley, quinoa and oats provides dietary fiber, antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals. These include magnesium, potassium, folic acid and iron. These are all essential for dogs’ health and wellbeing.

Dogs also need protein from animal sources and fats. Eggs provide vital Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and phosphorous. Cooked eggs are also a good source of protein and other nutrients.

Other foods like leafy greens, sweet potatoes and pumpkin are excellent sources of nutrient-rich dietary fiber. They also provide valuable vitamins and minerals such as antioxidants, vitamin A, B6, C, potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc and choline.

Be sure to consult with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist when making your own homemade food. These experts will consider your pet’s age, size and health history and help you create a high-quality recipe that meets your dog’s specific nutritional needs. A high-quality diet is especially important for a sick or injured pet. A well-balanced homemade diet will ensure your dog gets the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, calcium, iron and other important nutrients. It will also help your dog heal and stay healthy.

6. Fruits

Adding fruits to homemade food is a great way to give your dog an extra boost of nutrients. But make sure to add them in moderation. Too much fruit can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.

Veggies and fruits can be added to a home-cooked diet in small, bite-sized pieces. To prevent choking, cook the vegetables and fruits until they are soft.

For example, carrots are rich in vitamins A and K, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. And sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and fiber.

Watermelon is high in lycopene, potassium and folic acid. It is also low in calories and a good source of fiber. And strawberries are packed with vitamins C and K, folic acid, fiber and antioxidants.

If you are making your dog’s food at home, it is a good idea to consult with a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist on dietary needs and proper ratios. They can provide you with the tools and resources to build recipes that meet your dog’s specific nutritional needs.

7. Dairy

A high-quality source of dairy (like milk or yogurt) provides protein, fatty acids, and important vitamins and minerals. It also helps to keep your dog’s gut healthy.

It’s not necessary to use a dairy-rich recipe in every meal, but if you plan on making homemade food regularly, it’s essential that you find the best ingredients you can afford. Avoid anything that’s past its expiration date, low-quality meats that may contain antibiotics, or chemicals in processed vegetables. You can also choose organic, homegrown, or local veggies and fruits to help support the local economy and reduce your pup’s carbon footprint.

You should also consider using a holistic veterinarian-made pet food supplement to make sure your dog gets all the nutrients it needs while eating a homemade diet. Each canister of this homemade dog food vitamin supplement contains enough for eight batches of meals.

When making homemade dog food, it’s crucial to stick to the recipes provided by a qualified vet or veterinary nutritionist. Many recipes available online aren’t formulated properly, and they can fall short on key nutrients your dog requires to thrive. This includes protein, fatty acids, calcium, iron, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals.