Friday, February 17, 2012

The Basics of a Home Made Dog Food

Are you afraid to make homemade meals for your dog? Are you concerned about lifetime adequacy of commercial pet foods and the safety of commercially available kibble or raw diets? Does your family eat healthy foods rather than highly processed or fast foods? 

If you answer yes to these questions, then let me set the record straight. Naturally the commercial pet food companies will be against you feeding a home made diet.

Your veterinarian has seen health problems associated with poorly made diets or with table scraps, may be reluctant to help. For a veterinarian to recommend a popular commercial diet or sell a diet from the clinic is more practical than taking time to discuss an appropriate homemade diet with you.

A dog is anatomically a carnivore with teeth and muscular jaw designed to tear flesh and grind bones, a stomach conditioned to the handle acidic gastric juices needed to begin protein digestion and dissolve bone fragments. A shorter digestive tract particularly the large colon is metabolically adjusted to handle the flesh and bones of “natural prey” along with some fiber and pre-digested carbohydrates from eating the intestinal contents of its prey .

What sets the dog apart from the cat is its ability to digest complex carbohydrates found in the intestinal content of its prey or in berries, whole vegetables, grasses and whole grains. Thus the dog can adapt and survive on an herbivore diet during periods when the natural prey is scarce. Dogs are successful scavengers and became associated with humans because of this. For millenniums dogs have survived on a diet that was “balanced over time” a concept that the present pet food manufacturer’s state is inappropriate, as they believe dogs require a “complete and balanced diet “on a daily basis. A diet “unbalanced over time is also inappropriate” Because of their ability to digest a wide range of natural ingredients the nutrient requirements of a dog represent a range of values rather than a specific number. Some the nutrients such as trace minerals and some vitamins that are required in small amounts making the range between the recommended allowance and the safe upper limit very narrow.

What is Needed in a Homemade Diet?

The main goal is to use whole food ingredients that provide the appropriate balance of nutrients for your dog without the use of supplements if possible.


The amount of protein in the dog’s diet can range from 14 % to 40% on a Dry Matter Basis (All the water removed).  This depends on the level of activity, the age, and the health status of the dog. Ideally the protein should be animal based, with only a small amount of plant protein coming from the carbohydrate sources.  The industry believes that the protein source is not that important so long as the essential amino acids are present in the diet in the correct proportions. Animal protein stimulates the appropriate acid levels in the stomach and small intestines for optimal digestion. The most common source would be muscle tissue with attached tendons, cartilage and soft (immature bone). Whole eggs plus the shell is another good protein source. Cheese particularity cottage cheese and plain yogurt are other protein sources. Wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat plant it has no gluten or starch and but is high in protein, minerals, Vitamin E, B vitamins and antioxidants. I recommend always adding it because of the nutrients it contains.

Organs (liver, lung, kidney, pancreas, stomach and intestinal lining, reproductive organs) are an important source of protein (amino acids) as well as hormones and enzymes, trace minerals, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins. Approximately 5 to 10 % of the protein can come from these sources

Whether you grind, or mince in a food processor or leave in chunks will be an individual choice

Ideally these protein sources should be fed raw to prevent heat associated nutrient losses such as with Taurine. If you have reservations about feeding raw then lightly sautéed the muscle protein but leave the organ meats raw. Eggs should be cooked as raw eggs make the mixture too wet and the egg white contains a factor that affects the availability of biotin (a B vitamin).  

**When handling raw meat makes sure you wash disinfect our hands, countertops and utensils after mixing... 


The amount of fat in a dog’s diet can range from 5% to 30% of the dry matter with lower fat content used in calorie reduced diets and the upper range is fed to dogs performing with high physical energy.

The primary fat source should be animal based and usually associated with the protein source. Fat from animal origins will be primarily saturated fats. Vegetable oils such as olive, canola, flax supply the monounsaturated (Omega 9) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega6 and Omega3). Fish oils are a source of Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA).

Carbohydrates are not essential in the diet but do supply many of the minerals, trace minerals carotenes, soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamins and antioxidants necessary for a healthy diet. These can comprise from 3 to 50% of the diet Dry Matter

Any commercially available raw meat or poultry paddies can be substituted for the meat (Poultry) and organ meats and eggshell portion of this diet

**If you have concerns about the grains you can add more vegetables such as zucchini, yellow winter squash (Skin , flesh and seeds), potatoes,  yams or sweet potatoes 

If your dog has suspected food allergies you can start the diet with only a few ingredients and then slowly add one ingredient at a time and watch for redness in the skin, itching, biting and scratching 

If you are concerned about your dog’s joints then the very tip of a whole chicken wing, the third section furthest from the chicken’s body is composed of soft bone and cartilage a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate. These can be fed as is, but I caution you that there have been instances of choke and obstruction of the esophagus in dogs so I would recommend that you can grind them up and add to the food. To this diet you could add 10 to 12 wing tips. Other sources of cartilage are the joint surfaces of bones and the soft ends of spare rib bones.

Makes about 14 kg of food (20% fruit always include one  citrus fruit, use different colour fruits the berries can be cranberries, strawberries, raspberries etc.)  (8 % to 20% vegetables both green and coloured); (24% grains rice , wheat germ); (48% protein and fat sources). These proportions are not etched in stone and can be manipulated but I find they do give me a good nutrient balance

 Nutrient break down on an “As Fed” basis based on book values (Nutrition

168 Kcal/100g
9.1% Protein; 11% Carbohydrates; 1.9% Mixed Fibre; 9.8% Fat **; Omega6: Omega 3=2:1
0.3% Ca; 0.2% P; 0.26% K; 0.07% Na; 
68% Moisture

** Fat can be reduced with extra lean meat, wild game meat; poultry with skin and fat removed

Food Preparation

Equipment needed

An accurate kitchen scale, a meat grinder and or a food processor, a large rubber maid tub with lid, or a large portable camping cooler. 

All ingredients can be fed raw except the rice, grains and eggs

*Note raw meat can be contaminated with microorganisms that may be harmful to humans. Handle using suitable sanitary precautions including cleaning feed bowls.

If meat is cooked, lightly sauté, do not overcook. The liver must be fed raw.

All fruits vegetables and meats should be coarsely ground in a food processor. The vegetables and fruit do not need to be peeled or the seeds removed.* Note pits from peaches apricots plums must be removed.

Once processed completely hands mix all ingredients together in a large rubber-made container. Once mixed freeze in smaller meal sized portions.

Introduce the new diet gradually to allow the gastrointestinal tract to adapt from a kibble to a wet whole food diet.

Avoid grapes, beet tops, onions, rhubarb, very fatty meats and fat poultry 

How Much To Feed Adults vs Puppies

The following tables show how much of the diet to feed as a % of your dog/pups actual or ideal body weight (BW) For example your dog is a normal BW of 10 kg and activity level. The amount to feed would be 3% of the body weight or 3/100x10 or .3 kg or 300 g. Since each dog / puppy is an individual, the amount fed per day may be more or less than these values. The important thing is to make sure your dog is in good body condition and not gaining or losing weight. For obese dog you must feed the amount required to maintain a healthy (normal) body weight not its present body weight... For puppies, the goal is to prevent them from growing too fast or becoming fat  

The following tables show the number of calories needed per day and the amount of diet in grams to meet those requirements. Since each dog / puppy is an individual, the amount fed per day may be more or less than these values. The important thing is to make sure your dog is in good body condition and not gaining or losing weight. For puppies, the goal is to prevent them from growing too fast or becoming fat

Therapeutic Diets 

Weight Loss:

Options for modifying:
*Add some cooked rice about 1 cup will change the analysis

Liver Diet: 


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