Make Homemade Dog Food
2. Prepare the Recipe Right
Tempted to experiment in the kitchen? Save it for yourself. It’s best not to improvise when you cook for your pooch.
- Follow the recipe. Altering it can have unintended effects. For example, cooking chicken with or without skin and bone changes the recipe’s nutrient profile, Larsen says. You might also add or subtract calories without meaning to.
- Don’t swap ingredients. Some ingredients seem similar but don’t provide the same nutrition. For example, corn, canola, and walnut oil provide certain essential fatty acids that olive oil and coconut oil don’t. By making swaps, “you could very easily unbalance the diet,” Larsen says.
- Buy a food scale. They are much more accurate than measuring cups, especially for measuring meat.
Cook all animal products to kill bacteria that could make your pooch sick. Cook grains, beans, and starchy vegetables to make them easier to digest.
Never add foods that are toxic to dogs. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocados, and Macadamia nuts.
If you want to mix things up, do it with the treats you feed. Offer dog-safe fresh fruits and vegetables as treats.
3. Add the Right Supplements
Even the best recipes often don’t provide enough of certain nutrients, such as calcium. Your pup needs supplements if you’re feeding him from scratch. Which ones depend on which nutrients are missing from his meals. A good recipe should include specific supplement instructions. If you're unsure, talk to a pet nutritionist.
4. Make Sure the Diet’s Working
After your dog’s been dining on your kitchen creations for 2 to 3 weeks, take him to the vet to make sure he’s not gaining or losing too much weight. If his weight is changing, check it again in a couple of weeks.
Take your pooch for a checkup twice a year. The vet can look at his skin, coat, body condition, and “any type of problems that might be happening as the result of the diet,” Larsen says.