Interest in homemade dog food has been growing since the mid 1990s and increased further after tainted pet food sickened and killed hundreds of dogs in 2007. There are several books and many websites by veterinarians, with advice and recipes for making your own dog food.
Veterinary Advice on Homemade Dog Food
Do Your Research
There are some websites with unreliable information on making homemade dog food, so getting advice from a veterinarian on putting together a proper diet is important. While preparing your dog's own food is not difficult, you must understand the basics. Check the links below for an overview of vet-approved homemade diets and books by veterinarians.
Basic Dog Food Recipes
Dr. Pitcairn, a veterinarian, suggests using carbohydrates (rice, oatmeal and other grains), meat, and cooked vegetables in equal amounts. He recommends one teaspoon of calcium or bonemeal powder (800 to 1,000 mg) for every pound of food. Other supplements may include fish oil, vitamin E and kelp and alfalfa powder.
Other vets suggest that the meat should be increased to at least 50% of the food with grains and rice in equal amounts making up the balance. A calcium source must always be added. There are many supplements available online and in pet stores to complement a home prepared diet--see Resources for one reliable supplier.
An adult dog needs between 2 and 3 percent of her ideal body weight in food, per day. Puppies up until the age of 6 months need up to 10 percent of their current weight daily. The easiest way to prepare food is to make it in large batches, then package and freeze it.
Customizing a Homemade Diet
Not every dog has the same requirements. Some dogs will have loose stool with too many vegetables. Elderly dogs may benefit from increased amounts of fish oil for joint health. Dogs who work outdoors, especially in cold weather, will benefit from higher fat and protein levels while large, more sedentary dogs may need less. There is no one diet suitable for all dogs, whether in homemade or commercial diets.
If you want advice tailored specifically to your dog, or need to address a health issue like cancer or allergies, ask your regular veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary nutritionist.