I never saw myself as the kind of person who would make homemade dog food, and then I adopted the pickiest puppy in puppy history. She hated dry dog food. She would sniff it and then turn her nose up and walk away. She would actually go days hardly taking one bite. We tried everything — different brands, adding canned foods, adding raw eggs, cheese, or peanut butter. She would turn her nose at just about all of it or gingerly pick at the dry food and leave it.
We started asking around and searching the internet for alternatives. We quickly found that dry dog food, even the very expensive kind (which is what we were buying), is really junk. I won’t go into details, but we decided that our dog was right to be picky and deserved more than hard-pressed carcinogens for food. We made the choice to dip our toes into better options, with the right to bail out at any time if it got too difficult or too pricey.
We researched homemade foods and then sent all the recipes to our veterinarian friend for his opinion. We also looked into supplements to help pick up any slack our new diet would potentially lack.
My initial goal was to get our puppy to eat. I had no idea that I would reap several other benefits, too. My dog is very big. She will be over 100 pounds fully grown. She is seven months and already weighs 75 pounds. As an Akita, she is also a big shedder. She will have two big sheds twice a year, spring and fall, but she was shedding when we got her and my last Akita did not shed year-round. After only six weeks on homemade food, her coat is absolutely gorgeous. She was pretty before, but her coat is even softer and shinier now, and she isn’t shedding as much! I am excited to see how the spring shed goes when she loses her winter coat. She will obviously still shed, but I am hopeful it’ll be more manageable after she goes the entire winter on healthier food.
With big dogs also come big poops, and we walk her several times a day, so that means we have to pick up her mess and carry it home. I say this only because I want you to understand the benefits of our new diet and how much happier we all are, not just the puppy! On the dry puppy food we were feeding her, the stools were always loose and runny, very hard to clean up, and gross! But now, her stools are so much smaller and solid, and so easy to clean up! I had no idea this was a benefit I would see, but the difference is amazing. I wouldn’t go back to dry food just for this reason alone!
The best benefit is how extremely happy Koda is.
She follows me around and lays close to me all the time if I am sitting; she used to be my husband’s shadow. I think she knows I cook all of her meals and she wants to keep me close. We used to have to beg her to eat and would even try to hand feed her to no avail. Now, she actually comes and “asks” to be fed three times a day. She is just so much happier and is growing and getting so strong.
The real question on everyone’s mind: how much does homemade dog food cost?
The three recipes I have included cost me around $43. They lasted me one month, but they might last you longer if you have a smaller dog. Each serving is one cup and about 300 calories. You can compute the exact calories online using a calorie calculator and ask your veterinarian how many calories your dog needs a day. I feed Koda a total of seven cups a day, split into three servings. I was spending $56.99 on dry food every three weeks, so this is cheaper, though not by much. It amounts to about $475 in savings a year, which will pay for the supplements we are using for her. Price wasn’t really what I was interested in the most; I just wanted to feed my dog healthy food.
As for supplements, you can get whatever you think is best for your pup from the pet store, DinoVite, Chewy or elsewhere.
We started Koda on one from the beginning that included vitamins, minerals, omegas, enzymes and fatty acids. My veterinarian friend also suggested an article that talked about omegas, and suggested they come from a fish oil source, so we have added that to her meals, too. I know the fish oils have helped with her coat, but I know that isn’t the only reason she is doing so much better. I wish I had started this process before my older dog got so sick as it may have prevented so much of what ails her now. As it is, she has a very weak stomach and we are afraid to make such a drastic change in diet at her age, so we are only feeding our homemade food to the puppy.
Finally, let’s talk hassle/convenience.
I love to cook and I feel it is one way I show my love, so this was a no-brainer. That being said, all of the recipes are simple; I just throw them in the crockpot and let them cook. Tonight, for example, I will be making the liver recipe. As I go to bed, I will put all the ingredients in the crockpot. When we get up in the morning, her breakfast will be hot and ready. I will unplug the crockpot and let the food cool down. I will then portion it out into individual freezer bags for each day. I will put three days’ worth in the refrigerator and then the rest will go into the freezer. As I use the last bag, I just pull out a few more days’ worth. I make them one recipe at a time and each lasts me 1-2 weeks, but you could spend a Saturday making and packaging it all, and be done for a month.
One more thing about prep: I don’t peel any of the vegetables and I chop them up into very big pieces. This speeds up the cooking process and it also slows down the eating process. I also pour a cup of warm water over the food before I feed Koda. If you decide to try these recipes, be sure to check in with your veterinarian first and then let me know what you and your dog thought of it! I give the fish recipe to our cat too and she just loves it! Add any meats, fruits, or veggies you want to vary the flavor for your dog.
- 5 lbs chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup UNCOOKED brown rice
- 2 chopped sweet potatoes
- 2 carrots (chopped)
- 15 ounces diced tomatoes
- 7 eggs, beaten, shells saved
- 1/4 cup fish oil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1.5 cups water
- 2 apples (chopped)
- 8 ounces frozen peas
Throw the first nine ingredients into the crockpot and cook on high four hours or on low for 6-8 hours. In the meantime, crush eggshells and set aside (I use my blender and a little water). After cooked, toss in frozen peas, eggshells, and chopped apples. Allow to cool before storing.
- 1 lb beef liver
- 2.5 lbs chicken breast
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Sweet potatoes, chopped
- 2 russet potatoes, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 can chickpeas, mashed
- 1 ½ cups water
- 5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Combine all of the ingredients except eggs and cook on low for eight hours. Once done, allow to cool then toss in the eggs.
- 4 large potatoes, chopped (2 white, 2 sweet)
- 1 large can of Salmon (about 14-15 ounces)
- 3 cans of albacore tuna
- 4 large eggs, hard boiled and chopped, shells saved
- large handful of parsley, chopped
- 5 cups of water
- 8 ounces of frozen peas
- 2 large apples, chopped
Boil the potatoes until fork tender, but not mushy. Add the next five ingredients and cook for five minutes. Toss in peas, egg shells, and apples and allow to cool before storing.