Whether it’s for nutrition or for fun, cooking for your dog is a wonderful experience that we think everyone might like to try. And with these pup approved homemade dog food recipes vet approved, your dog will be thrilled to give them a try.
If your dog always follows you into the kitchen looking for a few pieces of fallen food while cooking, this might be a good indicator on whether he will enjoy homemade food made just for them!
We’ve created this guide to help you learn how to safely cook homemade dog food recipes and understand the nutritional aspects behind the ingredients plus offer some delicious recipes to try out at home.
Why You Should Cook for Your Dog
Making homemade dog food can benefit your pets several ways. Often times, dogs can be allergic to grains or additives in standard processed dog food and even worse is that it may lose its nutritional value over time. If you have a dog who suffers from allergies, skin problems or stomach issues this would be one of the most important reasons to control the ingredients in their food.
Preparing dog food from scratch ensures your dog will get the proper nutrients making it easier to digest and keep them healthy for the long haul.
Dogs have been around far longer than pre-made dog food, so it makes sense that they would want to eat something other than the same kibble twice a day.
Even if you only cook for your dog once or twice a week, you’ll find them amazingly grateful and healthier. You might quickly start to see your dog scratch less, have less hair fall out, become more active and energetic, have more regular stools, maintain better stamina, and even sometimes it will make them just happier more well behaved pets.
How Hard Is It to Cook for Your Dog?
Cooking for dogs isn’t very difficult at all. Your dog wants to eat good ingredients that have been cooked by their favorite person. As long as you don’t burn the food and put in an honest effort, your canine friend is sure to gobble up anything you put on a plate.
If you aren’t used to cooking for yourself, you might want to spend time learning a few basic kitchen techniques. Grains like quinoa, couscous, and rice cook differently depending on your local environment; expect to throw the first few batches away until you’ve landed on the perfect recipe. You should also know how to chop vegetables and cook meat until it’s safe to consume.
With that said, there’s nothing wrong with jumping into the kitchen and learning these skills as you go. Dogs are excellent kitchen assistants, and yours will definitely love to help you taste-test every innovative recipe.
The Benefits of Eating Homemade Food
- Variety: Almost all creatures need and want variety in their diet. An interesting and healthy diet can keep your dog from getting depressed and may even have overarching health benefits. Modern veterinary experts have started recommending practices like rotational feeding and home cooking to help your pet get the most out of mealtime.
- Nutrition: Not all diets are created equal. Although most kibbles will meet your dog’s nutritional minimums, they truly can’t compete with a diet of real ingredients like meat and vegetables. Remember to carefully plan your dog’s meals to make sure they’re getting everything they need to be healthy and happy.
- Safety: Many pet owners switch to home cooking because they’re concerned about the manufacturing standards of pet food. Cooking your dog’s meals personally will also help you avoid allergens and ingredients that might be causing dry skin and similar conditions.
- Flavor: Whether it’s for you or your dog, home-cooked food simply tastes better. Dogs have taste buds and flavor preferences, just like you do; if you learn how to cook, your dog will probably give you a round of paw-tapping applause.
- Family: Cooking and sharing a meal together is one of the best ways to bond with those you love, and dogs are no different. If you feel distant from your pup, try inviting them into the kitchen while you make their meals. This kind of loving experience will be an important memory for you and your furry friend.
Learning to Share the Love
Cooking for your dog is as much about enjoyment as it is about nutrition. For most dogs, meals always taste better when they’re shared with a beloved human friend.
This is a great reason to cook homemade dog meals in a more traditional style. If you use ingredients like chicken, rice, and vegetables, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a few bites of whatever fresh creation you just prepared.
Taste-testing is important for all cooking – and if you think the food tastes good, your pup will be much more confident when they take the first bite.
Obviously, you and your dog will have different flavor and texture preferences. If your pup is in love with a liver and rice bake that you simply can’t stand, don’t pressure yourself.
But if you try to cook food that you know you will personally enjoy, you’re far more likely to create something that makes your dog feel like part of the family.
Building Your Dog’s Homemade Dog Food Recipe (vet approved) Plate
Dogs have been living alongside humans for thousands of years, and their nutritional needs really aren’t that different. No matter what dish you’re building for your dog, you should end up with a similar balance on the plate:
- 50% protein – beef, chicken, fish
- 35% vegetables – green beans, broccoli, mixed veggies, squash
- 15% carbs – rice, grain, potatoes
Protein and vegetables should make up almost all of your dog’s diet. Domestic dogs are used to eating a certain amount of carbs and starches, but they need far less than their human companions.
However, if you feed them a no-carb diet, they might become lethargic and depressed. They use carbs as a source of glucose which provide energy for your active friend.
If you ever need to fill out your dog’s plate, simply add more vegetables; my dog just loves green beans! A standard meal might look like several slices of fish or chicken laid down next to a heap of steaming veggies and a small amount of whatever carb your family is enjoying for the night.
Protein is the most important part of a dog’s diet. Although dogs can get by with small amounts of meat during hard times, they are at their healthiest and most energetic when they have meat for both breakfast and dinner.
Dogs love every kind of meat, but not all cuts are created equal. The truly healthiest diet is composed of high-quality beef, chicken, and fish. Other red and white meats are also acceptable; consult with your dog to figure out their favorites.
Turkey is healthy but can make your pet drowsy. Pork is popular among large dogs, but it may not sit well on a sensitive canine stomach.
Dogs don’t do particularly well with cured meats. Most types of ham and bacon are far too fatty or salty for regular consumption. There’s nothing wrong with tossing your pup a small slice of bacon in the morning, but don’t make it the center of their diet.
It’s also smart to avoid extremely cheap meats like organs and gizzards- except liver, this is a healthy protein for many dogs. Some large dogs have no problem digesting these items, but many domestic canines have developed incredibly sensitive stomachs. A good rule to follow is to give them samples of different meats- if your dog throws it up or acts unwell, you shouldn’t feed them that kind of food again.
Finally, dogs usually love protein-rich foods like peanut butter or yogurt. Some dogs like eggs, but others will refuse them entirely. Don’t feed your dog anything that contains almonds, pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts; almost all tree nuts are toxic to canines.
Green vegetables are important for your dog. They’re an important source of fiber and vitamins, and they help keep your pup full long after the meat and carbs are digested. Try green beans, broccoli, and other local favorites; if you prepare them correctly, your dog will probably gobble them up.
Dogs can also eat vegetables like corn, beets, and carrots. Adding a variety of vegetables to your dog’s diet can be a good way to avoid vitamin deficiencies. However, if you replace green vegetables with corn every night, your pup won’t get the same nutritional benefits. Instead, these ingredients should be used to add color variety, and interest to a meal.
Most dogs don’t like to eat raw vegetables. You should cook everything that goes on your dog’s plate unless it’s truly meant to be served fresh, like an apple slice. Before you serve something, consider whether you’d like to eat it; raw carrot slices aren’t a good complement to any meal.
Resist the temptation to cover your dog’s vegetables with salt or butter. This is meant to be the healthiest part of their diet, so don’t make it a source of sodium or fat. As long as the vegetables are fresh and cooked correctly, feel free to give your dog a large healthy serving.
Although fruit isn’t traditionally used for making dog food, your dog will still probably enjoy slices of apples, bananas, peaches, and other low-acid fruits and berries.
Certain fruits and vegetables, like grapes and avocados, are toxic to dogs. Don’t feed them anything that isn’t considered safe by the ASPCA. Always pay attention to the way your dog acts after a meal; if they throw something up, you shouldn’t serve that item again.
Dogs need some carbs in their diet, but they don’t need nearly as much as humans. It’s really easy for a dog to gain weight from flour-based foods just as we do but it can also cause them lots of allergies and illnesses.
Grains are generally considered to be the best kinds of carbs to feed your dog. Try cooking up a side of quinoa, couscous, or rice for their next meal. Oats are popular for breakfast foods and treats; they just don’t taste great in savory foods and dishes.
This doesn’t mean that you should never feed your dog something with flour in it, but the portions need to be incredibly small. Bread, pasta, and similar foods are not good choices for a staple dog food recipe. Potatoes are acceptable in small quantities; just make sure they’re cooked completely before you serve.
Dogs need plenty of healthy fats in their diet. Meat is a good source of animal fats, but you may also want to use additional fatty ingredients in your recipes for both variety and flavor.
Most dogs who can digest dairy products are big fans of cheese. While cheese is ok every once in a while, many dogs are intolerant to dairy so be sure to watch for how they digest it. You may also find yourself using olive oil, chicken broth, eggs, and coconut oil in certain recipes as called for. Try to avoid using over processed oil, lard, and other excessively fatty substances; greasy things almost never sit well in a dog’s stomach.
Preventing Nutritional Deficiencies
Everyone needs a balanced diet, and local ingredients won’t always cover either your or your dog’s nutritional needs. This is why you may want to add supplements to your dog’s diet based on the recommendations of your vet.
Dogs who eat homemade food, vet approved even have a chance of becoming deficient in calcium. An easy solution is to provide real bones for your dog to chew; check the butcher department of your grocery store for affordable solutions. However, if this isn’t an option, you can also buy calcium supplements. Don’t buy random supplements over the counter; ask your vet for a recommendation.
Recommended Supplements to ask your Vet about:
- Calcuim Citrate or Bonemeal powder
- Daily Multiple Vitamin/mineral supplement
In general, your vet will be able to tell you if your dog has a nutrient deficiency. Never give your dog a random supplement without a veterinary consultation; if you don’t know what’s in there, you have no idea whether it’s safe.
Do Dogs Have Food Allergies?
There is a long list of foods that are not safe for dogs to eat. When you’re cooking for your dog, the best solution is to act like they have several food allergies. Don’t use these foods in your cooking, and don’t share scraps of foods that contain these items as ingredients.
Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs
- Nuts – Almost all tree nuts are toxic to dogs. In particular, avoid almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. Cashews and peanuts are both safe and enjoyed by canines across the world.
- Seeds – It’s also generally safe to assume that most seeds are toxic for pets, especially if they’re from the center of a fruit or vegetable. Sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are fine in small quantities.
- Onions – Onions, garlic, and other alliums can be incredibly toxic for your dog if they’re consumed regularly. Eating onion once isn’t cause for alarm, but these ingredients should never be included in your dog’s regular diet. Check broths and other ingredients for onion before you add them to a meal.
- Caffeine – Dogs are incredibly sensitive to caffeine. If they consume even a small quantity, they could have a heart attack. This is why you should avoid giving your dog coffee, chocolate, tea, and other caffeinated substances. If your dog happens to get something with caffeine, stay calm, and monitor their behavior closely.
- Grapes – Grapes contain a toxin that can be lethal to dogs in large quantities. It’s generally smart to avoid giving your dog anything with grapes, raisins, grape juice, or wine.
- Avocado – Avocado really doesn’t agree with a dog’s digestive system. Don’t ever include it in dog food, and watch your dog closely if they accidentally get something with avocado in it.
- Xylitol – is used as a sweetener in many products, including peanut butter, baked goods and candies. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. Always be sure to check your foods ingredients for xylitol and never give your dog anything with it and it can truly be deadly for your beloved pet. Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures and worse.
Dogs with Individual Allergies
Like humans, individual dogs have the ability to develop allergies to certain foods and ingredients. Allergic reactions in dogs can range from mild to severe, and they should be taken seriously when you’re putting together a meal plan.
Some of the most common dog allergens include dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, and even bananas. However, every dog is different, and it’s impossible to tell whether they have an allergy until it’s been confirmed by a vet. If you think your dog is allergic to something, avoid feeding them that item until you can schedule a consultation.
Allergic reactions in dogs tend to include swelling, itching, and worse off- difficulty breathing. You may also notice hives or redness across the body. If your dog is currently having an allergic reaction and is having trouble breathing, get them to the vet as soon as possible.
How to Serve Food to Your Dog
Dogs can’t use a fork and a knife. They also need far less food than their human counterparts. No matter what kind of homemade dog food recipes (vet approved) you make, you’ll want to serve it in a way that’s easy for them to eat.
You don’t need to heat the food unless you wish to, most dogs will happily chomp away at cold chicken or beef stew. If you do wish to heat the dish, always check the temperature before giving it your dog. As dogs can have fairly voracious appetites, hot foods can scald their mouth and throat causing a lot of pain when eaten too quickly.
Portions Sizes for Dogs
Dogs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell how much they need to eat. Most dog portion guides recommend portions based on how much your dog weighs. However, it’s important to remember that dogs that exercise more will burn more calories and will need slightly larger meals.
The food that you serve will also factor into portion sizes; vegetables take up a lot of space, but they don’t contain many calories. If your dog is a big eater and you’re trying to get them to lose weight, packing their plate with veggies can be a great solution.
Small dogs can often need as little as 1/4 cup of food per meal. A very large dog will want to eat several cups of food at a time. Use your best judgment, and be ready to feed your dog more or less based on how they react.
Weigh your dog regularly to make sure they’re a healthy weight for their breed. A dog that is eating too much will quickly start to gain weight. If your dog seems lethargic or anxious, they might not be getting enough at mealtime; try feeding them extra, or add another meal to their schedule.
Dogs need to eat two or three times a day. If your dog only has two meals on the schedule, they might appreciate a midday snack. Try to match mealtimes to your own schedule; otherwise, your dog might want both their own dinner and some of yours.
Dogs need most foods cut into manageable bites. Cutting up a piece of steak before mealtime can be time-consuming; this is why many dog owners prefer to serve stews, bakes, and other soft foods that don’t need much pre-meal preparation.
However, if you’re willing to slice up a chicken breast, your dog will likely be extremely appreciative.
The smaller your dog is, the smaller their bites of food will need to be. Large dogs may enjoy chewing up a large piece of meat, but tiny dogs need everything prepared.
Watch to see if your dog has difficulty eating, especially if you’ve made them something new.
Saving Homemade Dog Food for Later
Most homemade dog food can be kept and served for up to three days. Keep your leftovers in plastic containers or sandwich bags. Always store it in the refrigerator; no food is safe to eat if it’s been left on the counter for more than four hours. If you choose to freeze a recipe, don’t keep it for longer than three months.
Resist the temptation to make an entire batch of dog food for the week unless you can freeze portions. Home-cooked food doesn’t keep very well, and you don’t want your dog to get sick on day seven. If you’re pressed for time, try cooking two-three times a week and planning to make about six portions with each batch.
Or you can plan for the week and freeze half the meals. I will often make large batches and place the serving in small sandwich bags- freezing half. I take two out the day before to defrost in the fridge. This seems to work well for our schedules and makes Duck (our Rat Terrier) happy!
Simple Homemade Dog Food Recipes Vet Approved
Any recipe that follows the guidelines listed above should be safe for your dog to eat. Try cooking something that uses your family’s favorite flavors and ingredients; if you love eating fish, your dog probably will too. But if you’re just getting started, these recipes from veterinarians will make your dog feel happy, well-fed, and loved.
Oven-Baked Canine Casserole
(From Founders Veterinarian)
Casseroles are a hit because you can let them cook while you get something else done. This recipe is simple and easily adapted; once you get the hang of it, you can use any ingredients that you like.
- Chicken or beef cubes
- Chicken or beef broth
- Mixed veggies
Pre-cook the chicken or beef until just tender to make sure it’s safe to eat. Fill the bottom of the pan with a 1:2 ratio of rice and broth or water. On top of this, add the vegetables and meat. Bake at 375 degrees for around 40 minutes; check regularly to see if you need to add more water.
A Homemade Raw Dog Food Recipe
Serves the requirements of an 8kg dog for 3-4 days
- 250g chopped beef or lamb, raw
- 1 cup chopped carrots, raw
- 1 cup chopped apple, raw
- ¼ cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 1½ cups chopped pumpkin or squash
- ⅔ cup brown or basmati rice (will cook to 3 cups)
- 4 teaspoons sunflower oil
- 4g fish oil
- Other ingredients? See below
- Cook the rice and pumpkin together until soft, and allow to cool
- Mix in the raw ingredients (dogs mostly also like their peas raw)
- Feed the required quantity per day, refrigerate the remainder
- Can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 2 weeks
Holiday Dinner Dog Food Recipe
(From Vet Co Vets) This yummy homemade dog food recipe vet approved and created is a special take on the traditional Holiday meal. With turkey, cranberry, and sweet potato, your dog will in food coma heaven!
- 3 lb skinless turkey pieces (light and dark meats are both ok, but not bones.)
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal
- 1 lb cubed sweet potato, this is typically 2 sweet potatoes
- 2 tbsp cranberry sauce. We recommend using the home made sauce and make sure it has no alcohol in it.
- 4 tbsp turkey gravy (you can substitute olive oil) Make sure the gravy does not contain onions.
Use turkey leftovers or roast the turkey:
- Dice the cooked turkey into bite size pieces.
- Roast or boil your sweet potatoes. Roasting at 400 F for 45 minutes or boil for 20 minutes. You can dice them before or after cooking. If cooking a whole sweet potato, it may take longer.
- Cook the oatmeal according to package instructions. Regular oatmeal is better than instant and takes about 10-20 minutes depending on the kind of oats you purchased.
- Mix together the turkey meat, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. If using gravy or oil, add it now and mix thoroughly.
If your dog is at all prone to pancreatitis or other fat-related upsets, do not use the gravy and consult your vet to make sure that the olive oil is ok.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe
This savory stew will make your house smell amazing for hours. When it’s done, both you and your dog will be dying to taste a bowl.
- Chopped stew meat
- Frozen green beans
- Chopped potatoes
- Beef broth (no onion)
Place meat, potatoes, and broth in the slow-cooker. Add water as needed until all ingredients are covered. Cook on a medium setting for 4-7 hours, checking regularly. When the potatoes start to get soft, add the green beans, and continue to cook until done.
Pan-Fried Chicken with Grains For Dogs (people friendly too)
This recipe requires multiple pans, but it’s a good choice for a make-ahead dinner. Change around the ingredients to include the things your dog loves most.
- Chicken breasts
- Quinoa, couscous, or rice
- Green vegetables
- Skillet with lid
Prepare the rice and the vegetables according to the instructions on the package. Slice your chicken breast thin. Heat a skillet to medium, and place a small amount of butter or cooking oil on the bottom. When the chicken starts to sizzle, flip it over, and cook the other size. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let it rest for a moment, then cut and serve.
These homemade dog food recipes vet approved are fantastic choices if you are looking for a more wholesome approach to your dogs food or if your dog suffers from allergies. If you are interested in contacting the Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist to help develop a meal plan for your pup you can search for one here by location.
By adding real, homemade food to your dog’s diet, we feel it will help them be happier, healthier, and more energetic. Which makes us happy too!