Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homemade Dog Food Recipe

I've been working on this method/recipe since September, but before I posted anything experimental, I wanted some proof that it was good. Now I really wish I had taken a picture of my 15 year old, 50 lb mutt back in September. We would have sworn that Sara had maybe a few weeks to live. Her hair had nearly all fallen out, her bones were starting to show through her skin, she wasn't eating much, she slept most of the time, and she was fairly disoriented when she was awake.

A little over three months later, her fur is fuller and softer than it's been in 5 years. She's filled out and gained weight. Sara's eating plenty of both my dog-food and the kibble. She still sleeps a good deal, but much less than before, and she's alert when she is awake. Every now and then she even wrestles and tumbles with the other dogs. She acts and looks like a dog of 10 rather than 15.

I understand that it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but, if anything, I can't state enough how changed she is. My friends, who have come over weekly for the last year, are just as shocked.  I never thought I would see such a change in Sara, and we all thought, back in September, that she wasn't going to live much longer.

As for our other three dogs, saying they love the food is, again, an understatement. Their fur is soft. Fleas don't seem to be a problem. The ones we got from the pound in September have filled out and look more muscular.

I'm not saying I made the end-all be-all of dog food recipes. It isn't hard to make something better than dry kibble. Look at the ingredients in even the more expensive kibble, and you'll see what I mean. The top 3 ingredients most often found in even the pricey brands are:

  • Corn
  • Chicken by-products (beaks, feet, organs not eaten by people)
  • Ground bone (though it's rarely called that)
I did a little research on what the current theories about what dogs can and cannot eat, and here's a few guidelines:

    * soy - allergy
    * wheat - allergy
    * corn - allergy
    * garlic - toxic
    * onions - toxic
    * Grapes/Raisens: toxic
    * chocolate - toxic
    * Coffee: toxic
    * Tea: toxic
    * Raw Eggs: contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems.
    * Raw meat: is potential source of parasites and bacteria. (I know many people feed their dogs raw meat, but I have too much meat-germ phobia to do it.)

    * Brewers Yeast: full of b vitamins and other nutrients, but if given too much it can cause digestive bloating and death. Most pet stores sell it, and I give about 1/2 of what the bottle recommends.

    *Meat: turkey, chicken, beef or pork (I buy whatever is on sale) Remove the bones.
    *Peanut butter
    *Eggs, cooked

Quick cooking grains:
    * Rolled oats
    * Bulgur
    * Quinoa

Whole grains:
    * Brown rice
    * Barley
    * Millet

    * Green beans
    * Carrots
    * zucchini
    * Yams/sweet potatoes
    * Baking potatoes
    * Broccoli florets and stems
    * Pumpkin, canned, fresh or frozen
    * Beets, canned or fresh
    * Spinach, fresh or frozen
    * Apples
    * Pears

Legumes (beans):
    * Lima beans
    * lentils, green or orange
    * Peas or split peas, green, yellow or orange

    * Vegetable oils
    * Animal fats, like lard, tallow or fish oil

Once I had a good idea of what not to feed my dogs, I needed to know how much. It took a good deal of my google-fu to find out the daily recommendations for dogs.  Basically what I found is that dogs need about:
    * Carbohydrates = 53%
    * Protein = 22% (more for a puppy or really active dog)
    * Fat = 25%

My Basic Method (pictures and details will come later, but here it is for now)
- Yields enough for 4 medium sized dogs for 1 week. Supplement with kibble. Refer to the above YES list for specifics.
  • 2 lbs meat
  • 1 1/2 cups grain #1, dry
  • 1 1/2 cups grain #2, dry
  • 1 - 2 cups green fruit or vegetable
  • 1 - 2 cups orange fruit or vegetable
  • 1 - 2 cups red or purple fruit or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup green legume (bean), dry
  • 1/2 cup yellow or orange legume (bean), dry
  • 1 1/2 cups lard or other animal fat
  • 2 TBSP iodized salt
  • water, enough to cover contents
 I can go on and on in detail explaining why, but I've been trying to post this for 3 days, so it's going out in it's bare-bones and corrections-needed for now.
  • Place all contents in a large stock pot or large crock pot. Add enough water to cover contents.
  • Stock pot method: turn heat to high, bring to simmer, turn heat to low. Simmer 4 hours.
  • Crock pot (haven't tried this yet, but it should work in theory). Cover and put crock pot on high until simmering. Reduce to low, keep covered and simmer for 8 hours.
  • Use stick blender to puree contents, or a conventional blender using multiple batches. Make sure it's well blended.
  • Let cool. Store in  a large container in fridge.
Fixing it in the Morning:
  • For each dog, use 1 egg (large dogs use more). Whisk and microwave for ~40 seconds. Whisk again, microwave for another 40 second. Egg must reach a temperature of 160 degrees.
  • Brewers Yeast: 1/2 the recommended amount
  • Chewable kids' vitamin, dosage should be on bottle based on pounds.
  • Omega 3 rich oil (like cod liver or salmon): 1/2 tsp per 25 pounds of dog
  • 1 TBSP olive oil or canola oil
  • Wheat germ oil for horses (found in feed stores) ~1 tsp per 25 pounds of dog, but there should be dosage on the bottle.
  • 1 cup dog food (recipe above) per 25 pounds of dog.
Mix all together. I powder the vitamins and brewers yeast with a mortar and pestle (found at a health food store) for easier digestion.

Making it Affordable
I sold this to my husband by saying it will save money. I wasn't lying, but it does take forethought.
  • Buy what's on sale. If ground turkey is on sale this week, get that. If you have freezer space, when something is at a really good price, stock up for future weeks.
  • Save those parts of the vegetables that we don't eat. Limp carrots, broccoli stems, apple that's a little too soft. You can freeze then before they go really bad.
  • Look through your leftovers. Most of the time, 2 or 3 things from the recipe is from my leftovers. Week old rice, out-of-date broccoli and cheese, or hamburgers no one wanted. Before throwing something out, as long as it doesn't have a large amount of the NO stuff in it, use it for the dog food.
  • Buy in bulk rather than week to week. I have a gallon of wheat germ oil that's made for horses. It should last about 6 months or more. You can store things like that in the fridge to prevent them from going rancid.
As I said before, this isn't THE definitive dog food recipe, but I'm happy with it, my dogs are happy with it and so I use it. I did a bit of research and I'm pretty secure in thinking that their breakfast is better for them than kibble alone. Comments are welcome, and if I have something wrong or left something out, let me know.


  1. Great recipe!
    Bulgar is a form of wheat and if your dog has a gluten allergy this could not be good. Also oatmeal that is not steel cut & certified gluten free could cause upset to a dog with the allergy. (Quetesh...)
    Just a note :) Most dogs will do great on this, Tesh is allergic to many things & it's a pain in the butt to find food she can eat.

  2. Thanks Geohaz! Good points! I'll add the gluten free info in when I revise it. I like the flexibility my recipe gives - hopefully people will adjust it to their dog's needs. Barley has gluten too, so I'll need to note that. And I probably should add buckwheat and amaranth, for more GF options. Again, Thanks!!