While many commercial dog food brands are on the market, many dog-owners find making healthy dog food at home appealing. Whether just for fun or maybe your dog needs a special diet? There are plenty of homemade options that can meet your dog’s nutritional balance requirements, especially when using vet-approved recipes. Not only can you cater recipes to meet your dog's particular size, breed, and activity level, but you can also help ease medical concerns or control dietary restrictions. The key is to make sure your dog is getting the nutrition he or she needs, including protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. Let’s get into why each of these is vital to your dog’s growth and how to incorporate them into your fresh dog food.
Protein is an essential nutrient for your dog. Without it, they’ll lose energy, their coats will become dull, and their immune systems weaken. Typically, adult dogs do very well with a diet made up of about 18% protein, with puppies needing 25% protein. Real meat is the most natural source of protein a dog can consume. Most common meats for a dog’s diet include beef, chicken, turkey, liver, duck, and venison. Other good sources include eggs, which is surprisingly an even better source of protein than meat, and fish, which is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Peanut butter is also a perfect treat for pups because of its protein and fat content - just make sure the peanut butter is unsalted and without added fillers or sugars.
Carbohydrates are your dog’s primary source of energy. Figuring out how many carbs your dog needs is tricky, though. Some experts believe that dogs need a more carb-heavy diet, while others feel that consumption should be less. There is one thing that all veterinarians agree on, though – simple carbohydrates should be avoided because they are absorbed by the body quickly. These would include ingredients made with white sugar or white flour. Complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes, beans, and oats, are much better and will give your dog the steady energy supply it needs. The last thing you would want is to cause your dog to be sluggish and tired most of the day. Most dogs are high-energy, and we want to keep it that way.
Fiber is essential for a dog's gastrointestinal needs – it keeps the colon healthy, prevents constipation, and helps avoid unnecessary weight gain. The great thing about fiber is that it's found in many ingredients, like many fruits and vegetables. Some good sources of fiber include pumpkin, ground flaxseed, apples, carrots, green beans, and brown rice. You can even feed your dog berries, which have added antioxidant benefits. Overall, fiber should make up less than 10% of the entire recipe.
Most homemade diets require added oils for fat, calories and to supply particular nutrients. It’s essential to use suitable types of oils. You can even give your dog supplements such as our Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil as it's rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Fish oil helps regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation – you can just throw a fish oil capsule in your dog’s meal to provide them with the omega-3 fatty acids they need. If you don’t feed your dog much fish, give cod liver oil in an amount that provides about 400 IUs of vitamin D daily for a 100-pound dog. If you don’t feed your dog much poultry fat, supplement with walnut, hempseed, corn, vegetable, or high-linoleic safflower oil.
Before you start cooking homemade meals for your puppy, there are a few things to consider. First, steer clear of table scraps and processed human foods. Many items are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocados, and Macadamia nuts. It’s best to stick to a vet-approved recipe without swapping out any ingredients. Some ingredients may seem similar but don’t provide the same nutrition that your pet needs. It would also be wise to invest in a quality food scale, which is much more accurate than measuring cups, especially when it comes to meat. Your pup may also need added supplements if you’re feeding them from scratch, so make a vet appointment 2 to 3 weeks after their diet change to make sure all looks good with their weight and nutrition levels.
Basic Vet-Approved Recipe
- 1/2 lb Lean Grass-Fed Beef (such as Sirloin)
- 1/2 lb Organic Zucchini
- 1/2 lb Organic Green Bell Peppers
- 3 to 4 All-Natural Dog Bully Stick Treats
Healthy, homemade dog food can benefit your fur baby in several ways, especially if you have a pet suffering from allergies, gastrointestinal sensitivity, or skin problems. With fresh dog food, you know exactly what your pet is eating versus commercial food, which can have confusing labels and additives. Some easy combinations include chicken and rice for dogs, beef and sweet potatoes, and turkey and veggies.
Just remember, you must follow vet-approved recipes that include well-balanced ingredients and nutrients. Just like a human, your pet needs foods with plenty of protein, carbs, fiber, and fat to keep them in healthy shape!