Pet food recalls have become all too common. Many pet owners are switching to preparing their own homemade pet foods to avoid tainted ingredients and unwanted fillers.
Dog food recipes abound on the Internet. Do a search and you will find thousands. The difficult part is narrowing down the information in order to obtain recipes for a diet that will positively contribute to your dog’s health and well-being.
If you are thinking about starting a regiment of homemade food, keep one thing in mind. You should not bounce between homemade food and commercially-manufactured dry kibble. That means you definitely have to plan ahead so that you are not caught in a situation where you are too busy to make Rover’s dinner. Taking the dog out for pizza is not a good option.
Always check with a veterinarian before changing your dog over to a diet of homemade food. Different breeds have different requirements. Your dog’s vet can help you establish feeding guidelines.
There doesn’t seem to be a golden rule for how much homemade food it takes to replace commercially manufactured dry kibble. No Cans, an Internet website, suggests feeding dogs that weigh under 10 pounds about 2 cups of beef and 2 cups of rice per day. They say that this should be spread out over several meals. Accordingly, dogs that weigh between 10 and 30 pounds should get between 2 and 3 cups of beef and 2 and 3 cups of rice per day. Dogs weighting between 30 and 50 pounds should be fed four cups of beef and four cups of rice per day.
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a dog’s nutritional needs come down to needing a diet of 40 to 45 percent protein, 20 to 35 percent complex carbohydrates, 20 percent fats and 5 to 10 percent fruits and vegetables.
Most experts say that it is best to let the dog determine the amount of homemade food. They suggest starting with an amount that seems adequate for the dog. Put the food in front of them and allow them to eat what they want. If they don’t finish their bowl of homemade food, take it away after a period of 20 minutes. Measure what is left and feed that much less the next time you offer food.
It is very important to monitor the dog’s waistline when you switch the diet from commercial dry kibble to homemade food. If the dog gains weight, you need to cut back on the amount you are feeding. If the dog loses a lot of weight, try offering larger servings or feed a lesser amount several times a day.
A bulk recipe (remember that feeding Rover a homemade diet is a daily commitment) for a balanced canine diet is: 5 pounds of chicken or ground beef, ¾ cup canola oil, 4 to 5 cloves of garlic (the garlic must be cooked because raw garlic can cause distress), 32 cups of water, 8 to 10 cups of processed vegetables (remember that dogs should not have onions) such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, spinach, beets and string beans, 2 to 3 cans of kidney beans, ½ cup molasses (optional) and 42 to 45 ounces of oat meal. Eggs can be added to boost the protein level of this food if necessary.
Use at least a 24-quart pot to brown the meat. Add canola oil and garlic. Once the meat mixture is well cooked, add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the vegetables that have been chopped in a food processor or blender (canned and frozen vegetables will work). Add the beans to the mixture. Next, add the oatmeal. Stir frequently so the mixture does not stick to the pan. Remove from heat and cool.
The above recipe is enough to feed three boxers that are fed twice a day for one week.
If your dog currently eats dry kibble and you plan to change to a diet of homemade food, do not make the transition all at once.
Some veterinarians have reported good results with a homemade diet consisting of equal parts of protein, vegetables and grains. Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy your favorite cuts of meat for the dog. Most will be as happy with ground beef as they are with a juicy steak. If you have a local butcher, ask about buying meat for the dog. Beef, venison and wild game, chicken, turkey, fish or lamb are all good sources of protein.
In fact, you may want to include fish twice a week because it is a good source of essential fatty acids. Pre-cooked or canned fish that contains bones is a good source of calcium for your dog. It does not hurt to use one type of meat for a batch and then change to another kind of meet for the next batch of food. In fact, changing meat ingredients can help to keep your dog interested in his or her food.
You can use portions of vegetables that you deem not fit for human consumption to make homemade dog food. The best carbohydrates to use in homemade dog food are items such as brown rice, oats, millet, barley and couscous. Do not use hops.
If you embark on making homemade dog food, keep in mind that there are some food items that you should never give to a canine. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, raw garlic and macadamia nuts. If in doubt about an ingredient, ask the dog’s veterinarian or do some research before assuming it is safe to feed to your pet.
Feeding homemade dog food will give you peace of mind about what your pet is consuming. You will know that there are no tainted ingredients or unwanted chemicals in the food and your dog will love you for the tasty concoctions you create. Just remember to keep an eye on the dog’s waistline.