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Instead of opting for a stressful visit to the pet store for dog food, many dog parents have a new take on Ina Garten’s famous advice: If you don’t like store-bought, homemade is (more than) fine.
To take the guesswork out of cooking for your pup, here’s a recipe from experts who have experience with homemade dog food.
This recipe will make approximately 15 pounds of food, enough to feed a 40-pound dog two meals per day for a week. It contains 1,200 kilocalories per kilogram or 34 kilocalories per ounce. This recipe was created with the help of an animal nutritionist, Dr. Susan Lauten and is balanced, according to the National Research Council’s (NRC) guidelines.
The directions say you should use an electric pressure cooker, but a variety of other methods, including slow cookers (a.k.a. crock pots), poaching, roasting, sous vide, or steaming are fine. It is much easier to use an electric pressure cooker, if we’re being honest.
The ingredients are fresh and uncooked, unless otherwise noted. The amounts must be followed closely, but you have flexibility in the choice of fruits and vegetables that you use. You can use thawed-out frozen varieties, too. The supplements are specific brands and provide a unique mix of necessary vitamins and minerals. As a note, in this homemade dog food recipe, we use organ meat including chicken hearts, livers and gizzards, and it’s important to use a kitchen scale to weigh each ingredient.
Because this recipe has a large volume of ingredients, make it into two batches; it will not fit into one pot, even the larger sizes. These cookers should not be filled to more than three-quarters of their capacity. The recipe can also be cut in half to make 7½ pounds of food. Note that an 8-quart model was used in testing this recipe.
Homemade Chicken and Vegetable Dog Food Recipe
This recipe can be made in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot. Yields approximately 15 pounds.
Animal Protein Sources Important: Chicken can shrink by up to 30 percent during cooking; start with 10 pounds of raw chicken to get 7 pounds of cooked chicken. 6 pounds chicken breast meat, skinless, boneless (raw) 4 pounds chicken thigh meat, skinless, boneless (raw) 7 ounces chicken liver 3 ounces chicken gizzards 3 ounces chicken hearts Six eggs (raw) 24 ounces. chicken stock (made from cooking the chicken) 3.75 ounces canned sardines in spring water, drained
Vegetables and Fruit 1½ pounds sweet potatoes (unpeeled) 10 ounces carrots (unpeeled) 8 ounces cabbage or broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. 4 ounces kale or other leafy greens 8 ounces butternut squash or similar squash 4 ounces blueberries (or other kind of berry — fresh or frozen) 12 ounces green beans or peas 6 ounces pumpkin purée ¼ cup parsley, stems included 8 ounces apple
Supplements 1 vitamin E, 100 international units 4½ teaspoons. (17 grams) calcium carbonate made from eggshells 1¼ teaspoons taurine powder 1 tablet zinc copper 2 tablets ground Up & Up Woman’s Daily Multivitamin ¼ teaspoons kelp powder (NOW); comes with tiny spoon; 10 of its spoonfuls equal ¼ teaspoons
Using an electric pressure cooker, cook 4 ounces dried garbanzo beans in 2 cups of water, using the “bean/chili” setting on high pressure for 20 minutes. This will produce 8 ounces of cooked beans. Or you can use drained canned garbanzo beans.
Drain and cool the beans. Empty the pot.
Cut the chicken into large chunks, trimming most of the fat. Roughly chop the organ meat (liver, etc.). Place half of the meats into the pot with 1 ½ cups of water and cook on low pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl or pan. Reserve the broth.
Return 1 ½ cups of broth to the cooker and add the rest of the raw meat. Repeat the cooking process.
Reserve the broth.
Finely dice/process the sweet potatoes and the other vegetables and fruit, including the parsley, using a food processor, or by hand. Grind the cooked (or canned) garbanzos in a food processor.
Place half of the cooked chicken back into the pot, along with 12 ounces of the reserved chicken broth and half of the vegetables, and cook for five minutes on low pressure; use the manual release. (Since the chicken has been cooked, ingredients only need to be cooked lightly—hence the shorter time.)
Add three beaten eggs, 4 ounces of ground-up garbanzos, half of the ground seeds (excluding the flax seed, which is heat sensitive and will be added later), half the sardines, and 3 ounces uncooked oats.
Stir together. The chicken and other ingredients must be mixed in well.
Keep warm in the covered pot for a few minutes (time for the eggs and oats to cook). Then remove the inner pot from the cooker and let the food cool.
Note: The oats, eggs and chia also act as binding/thickening agents.
Move that batch into a large bowl, then repeat the cooking process for the second batch of ingredients.
Stir in and dissolve the supplements and ground flax seed in a small amount of the stock; if using the vitamins in capsules, be sure to break or cut in half, and grind the tablets. Sprinkle half on each batch of cooled food and incorporate it well. It is very important that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Use the pulse function on a food processor to blend everything together. This will ensure that all ingredients have been equally dispersed and the food has a mushy, thickly puréed consistency. Or do it manually using a food masher, or even by hand (like you would meat loaf).
Be sure to break apart the pieces of chicken (which should already be well-shredded) and mix with everything else extra-well.
Note: While some commercial fresh-cooked meals have recognizable bits of ingredients, that’s done mostly for our benefit. For dogs, the mush-like consistency aids in digestion and bioavailability.
Every dog is an individual, and amounts will vary with age and activity level. This guide is based on the estimated needs of an altered, moderately active adult dog.
Body Weight: 10 pounds Daily Kcal: 349 Daily amount into two servings: 10 ounce
Body Weight: 20 pounds Daily Kcal: 586 Daily amount into two servings: 17 ounces
Body Weight: 30 pounds Daily Kcal: 794 Daily amount into two servings: 23 ounces
Body Weight: 40 pounds Daily Kcal: 986 Daily amount into two servings: 29 ounces
Body Weight: 50 pounds Daily Kcal: 1166 Daily amount into two servings: 34 ounces
Body Weight: 60 pounds Daily Kcal: 1337 Daily amount into two servings: 39 ounces
Body Weight: 70 pounds Daily Kcal: 1501 Daily amount into two servings: 44 ounces
Sources Of Total Calories Protein: 45.4 percent Carbohydrates: 24 percent Fat: 30 percent