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Homemade Dog Food FAQ
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Homemade Dog Food FAQ

Critter Culture Staff

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Keeping their dogs active and healthy is important to many pet owners. You might have wondered if you could help your dog live an even happier, healthier life by making their food at home. Maybe you've read about recent recalls of dog foods due to contaminants or bacteria, or perhaps you're worried that commercial dog foods contain filler ingredients that aren't healthy for your pet. The great news is, making your own dog food can ease these worries while supporting your pup's health.

1

Should I start making my own dog food?

A super cute golden coloured dog is smelling a bowl of food that his owner is holding. FatCamera/ Getty Images

There's not just one right answer to this question. Making your own dog food can have health and safety advantages, but it isn't always convenient. You'll need time to buy and prep ingredients on a weekly basis. Depending on the recipe you use, making your own dog food may also cost more than buying pre-made food at the store. Homemade food is often the most cost-effective option, however, if your pet has allergies and you already buy a specialty food.

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2

How can I find out the best dog food option?

Woman shopping in supermarket reading product information. Pet food. VLG/ Getty Images

It's a good idea to talk to your vet and show them the recipe you plan to use before making any major change to your pet's diet. Your vet or a qualified animal nutritionist can tell you more about specific dietary requirements for their breed. Some vet offices even have recipes and prep tips to share with their clients.

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3

Does my dog's age make a difference?

German Shepherd dog lying next to a bowl with kibble dog food, looking at the camera. Snizhana Galytska/ Getty Images

When you buy dog food in the store, it's labeled for puppies, adult dogs, or senior dogs. You'll need to take similar care in formulating a food that matches your pet's life stage. Feeding an adult dog a puppy diet can lead to excess weight gain, while feeding a puppy adult food can cause malnutrition and digestive issues. Senior dogs sometimes need diets that are adapted to more sensitive GI tracts. Be sure the recipe you use is tailored to your dog's life stage.

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4

Do my dog's health issues make a difference?

young beagle waits for food...has been blurred some so focus is on eyes and actual dog food. joshblake/ Getty Images

Does your dog have any medical conditions? You'll need to take these into account when formulating your dog food. Some common medical issues that need to be addressed in a dog's diet include food allergies, heart disease, kidney disease, chronic pancreatitis, and bladder stones. If your dog has a medical issue and is already on a specialty diet, ask your vet what homemade diet would most benefit your pet.

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5

What should be in my homemade dog food?

handsome man feeding cute dog in living room at home LightFieldStudios/ Getty Images

Like humans, dogs need to eat a balanced diet in order to stay healthy. Generally speaking, dog food should be made up of at least 10% protein, at least 50% carbohydrates, between 2-5% fiber, and at least 5.5% fat. Do research on their breed to determine the exact ratio your furbaby needs.

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6

What vitamins and minerals does homemade dog food need?

Man shopping in supermarket reading product information.Using smarthone. VLG/ Getty Images

In addition to balancing carbs, proteins, and fats in your dog's food, you'll also need to add extra vitamins and minerals. Again, you should consult with your vet or an animal nutritionist to determine your pet's particular vitamin needs. Keep in mind that all breeds need plenty of calcium for healthy bones and joints. Some dog owners feed their pups a bit of yogurt every day, but this is not enough to address your pet's calcium needs. Nutrients should be added directly to their food.

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7

Should I add other supplements?

Old man choosing dog food for his miniature pinscher in pet shop. Saleswoman helping him with it. JackF/ Getty Images

Other supplements aside from standard vitamin and mineral blends might benefit your dog. You can get add-in oils and powders tailored to breeds that tend to suffer from hip dysplasia and other joint issues. You can also find supplements designed to support heart and kidney health if those are concerns for their breed.

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8

Should I make cooked or raw dog food?

Healthy natural pet food in bowl and dog's paws on yellow background. Zontica/ Getty Images

It's a debate for humans, and it's a debate with dogs, too: raw or cooked? The truth is that it's just a personal preference. If you would like to try raw dog food, you'll need to take extra precautions. Source ingredients carefully, and never use any meat or produce that has an "off" smell. It's best to feed raw food to your pet immediately after you make it to reduce the risk of foodborne bacterial illnesses.

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9

Does my dog food need to have grains?

Over the shoulder view of a woman feeding her adopted mixed breed dog a treat in the North East of England in a pubic park while obedient training. They are on a daily walk during lockdown. SolStock/ Getty Images

Grains like rice and barley have gotten a bad rap in the pet world in recent years. However, these ingredients are not harmful to your pets unless they are actually allergic to them. If you'd like to use grains as a carb source in your dog's diet, be sure to cook them first. Not even the toughest dog can digest uncooked rice without problems.

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10

What should I watch for after feeding homemade dog food?

Woman feeding her pet dog training him to wait for his food Sally Anscombe/ Getty Images

Once you've started your dog on a homemade diet, be alert for changes in behavior or health. Note if your dog has diarrhea or vomits. Track your pet's weight to ensure that they aren't losing or gaining too much. If you notice anything of concern, talk to your veterinarian and make any suggested adjustments to your homemade dog food recipe.

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