winter 2010 133 copy e1299025429847 How to Make Your own Healthy, Natural Dog FoodThe Dog Food Dilemma – Our Search for a Better Dog Food

by Jenny Brown

Please note: I am not a veterinarian or a nutritionist and am not qualified to give advise regarding your pet’s medical or nutritional needs.  Thank you for understanding!

 

When we adopted our dog, Brewster, a German Shepard mix (of which we will never know for sure of what), he sneezed often and shed like crazy. Being a firm believer that the food you eat affects you for better or worse, I started with the dog food as a potential cause of these problems.

I began researching what ingredients to look for in rating quality dry dog food. My criteria became this:  Meat must be the first ingredient; if it said corn  anywhere in the ingredients, especially near the top, I ran the other direction. I knew corn was not only a cheap GMO filler in dog food but the most likely ingredient to cause allergies and stomach issues. I tried a few different brands that contained higher quality ingredients and were supposedly hypoallergenic, but Brewster continued to sneeze and shed hair like Linus’ blanket in ‘Peanuts’ sheds dirt.

I didn’t try every brand. There still might be one out there that works but an $80. a month dog food bill was out of the question.

I began to think realistically about this… what would my skin and hair look like if all the food I ate was processed and dried? The thought of canned dog food crossed my mind and was quickly dismissed. I wasn’t going to pay double for what was really just reconstituted dry dog food and I didn’t think I could bear the smell of that stuff every day. This finally led me to research a raw food diet.

Since we raise grass-fed beef cattle, a raw food diet for our dog fit very nicely into our lifestyle. I asked our butcher to grind all the tongue and the organ meats (except the liver – they do not like to grind livers because it makes an incredibly juicy mess – I have to chop the liver myself). We also had some of the fat and the lower cuts of meat ground. My recipe proportions were about 60% muscle meat, organ meat, and fat, 20% vegetables such as cooked grated carrots, squash, or pumpkin, and 20% either cooked potato, whole-grain brown rice, or millet. I added a few needed supplements, mixed it all up in a big tub, and put individual servings into Ziploc sandwich bags.

I left a few in the fridge and put the remainder of the packages in the freezer and defrosted a few days-worth at a time when needed. Right before serving, I stirred in a raw egg which raised the protein level a little higher and gave Brewster’s coat extra shine.

Within only a day of this dietary switch, the sneezing stopped. In one week, the shedding problem decreased dramatically, dog breath improved, the smelly dog farts ceased, and his poop wasn’t as offensive smelling and it biodegraded quickly. Go figure.

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Raw dog food mixture. Not what I would call ‘pretty’ but extremely healthy. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have much of an odor…it’s all fresh ingredients. The white stuff is ground fat done by our butcher (My husband thought it looked like maggots. My kids thought spaghetti sauce with small noodles).

blog 001 e1299031016661 How to Make Your own Healthy, Natural Dog FoodBonus tip: If sending boys to help you transfer the packages to the freezer, inform them that the packages must be stacked neatly before they freeze. ‘Put in the freezer’ does not mean ‘toss in the freezer’.

This diet works great during butcher season but unfortunately it doesn’t last the entire year. I had to come up with another solution until the next butchering.

Since I didn’t have meat from our own animals available anymore and my budget doesn’t allow for organically raised meat bought elsewhere for dog food, I had to settle for store bought hamburger the rest of the year.  Sometimes being a purest is just not affordable and you do the best you can. I knew it was still better than whatever ‘meat’ is in commercial dog food.

Regardless how hard of an iron gut dogs supposedly have (which in reality is a high acidic level), I was not comfortable feeding the store-bought meat raw; it had to be cooked. I began hunting for homemade dog food recipes. After playing around with several different ones and adjusting the ingredients to fit my standards and meet the correct percentages of protein/vegetable/grain, I came up with my own ‘meatloaf’ recipe for dogs. The protein in the meatloaf is mostly meat but is also in the form of beans and eggs to help reduce the cost.

A few notes on feeding grain to dogs:

Many raw food advocates are against feeding dogs grain and think that all grains should be completely eliminated from their diet. I think they have good evidence that supports that grains were not a part of a dogs primitive diet but there is disagreement on the issue of whether some whole grains are a problem for dogs. Many of the higher quality dog foods contain a percentage of whole brown rice or potato.

We don’t feed grain to our cattle, why would we feed it to our dog?

For comparative purposes, let me first give you a picture of how livestock animals process their food:

Livestock, such as cattle, sheep, and goats are ruminants. A ruminant is an animal with four compartments in their stomach for digesting feed. Their digestive systems work like a fermentation vat and have a proper balance of microbes to break down and digest roughage such as grass, hay, and tree leaves. Adding grain into the mix (which is more acidic than roughage) causes imbalance and upset in the digestive system’s micro-organisms as they try to adjust to a more acidic feed. This can cause serious gas problems and reduce the animal’s over-all health. These animals are not made to switch back and forth from roughage to grain (One exception: a steady combination, gradually introduced, is necessary for lactating dairy livestock, especially goats).

Dogs, on the other hand, have a simple stomach, similar in some ways to humans but with some huge differences in chemistry. A dog’s digestive system has a highly acidic environment for breaking down proteins. Although dogs are carnivores, they are not solely dependent on protein for their food, but it is the most important part of their diet.

A dog that is fed a high grain-based dog food is more likely to have health issues and be a problematic dog. Dog’s will dig through garbage and tear up a house in search of protein if the diet lacks it. Dogs also do not have the enzyme in their saliva like we do which begins to break down starchy foods in the mouth. The result is that the starch sticks to their teeth and causes tartar and plaque build-up which, if fed too much grain, could lead to gum disease. Also, the digestive tract of a dog is short, and is not designed for processing large quantities of grain, it will just pass through the dog’s system, leaving you with “petrified logs” on your lawn. But, because of the higher acid levels in the dogs stomach, it is able to break down and utilize some grain.

I have chosen to include a percentage of whole grains in my dogs diet. My dog is very healthy and there have been no signs of allergies or any other problems from the low percentage of whole grains he is given. You’ve got to find a healthy balance that works for your dog and for you. Much of my reason for keeping the whole grains in the recipe is cost. Meat is the most expensive ingredient. If I felt whole grains was a detriment to my dog’s health, I would change it.

 

September 250 copy1 e1299032856344 How to Make Your own Healthy, Natural Dog FoodBrewster is also very fond of chicken.

Portion sizes and a few other ‘tid-bits’

As far as how much to feed your dog, I suggest starting with an amount that is recommended for the weight/activity level of your dog and watching to see if your dog maintains a healthy weight. I had to cut back a little from what was recommended for my dog’s weight because he started gaining a few waist sizes.

We feed our dog once a day at our dinner time. Food stays in the dog’s stomach for a longer period of time than your stomach would keep food. This allows the acids time to break down meat proteins, fat, and bone. This is why most dogs do fine being fed only once a day.

Unless your dog has better self-control than my dog, basing an appropriate serving size by how much a dog is willing to eat doesn’t work. Brewster is not what I would call “in tune with his body.” It’s definitely quantity over quality for him.

One HUGE bonus to this diet, whether I’m feeding raw food or the meatloaf recipe, is that I rarely ever have to scoop poop in my yard; it breaks down very quickly. One good rain and it’s part of the earth.

I have adjusted my recipe slightly from batch to batch depending on what and how much of the ingredients I have on hand. The most important rule is that the  percentage of protein does not drop below 60%. The higher the protein, the better. If you find that your dog is sensitive to grains, just as some humans are, the amount can be reduced or even even eliminated but it won’t likely hold together as well in a loaf form.

One more note: When switching from the raw food to the meatloaf, I have never had to ‘slowly introduce’ the change in food. There have never been any adjustment issues. With dry dog food, it was a different story. This is the case with my dog though; your dog may react differently.

 

Jenny’s Homemade Dog Food Recipe

This recipe will last about 1 month for one large dog. I like to make a big batch so I only have to make it monthly. It’s a bit of a project so set aside a morning or an afternoon to do this. If you do not have enough bread pans or don’t have the freezer room, you can cut the recipe in half or even quarter it. I use two large bread bowls for mixing.

In a big container or 2 large bread bowls, combine:

10# raw hamburger
12 c pureed, cooked beans (I usually use pinto or red beans)
1 dozen eggs
2c wheat germ
4c rolled oats (finely chopped in a food processor)
8c cooked brown rice, cooked millet, or cooked and mashed potatoes
8c liquid (either water, milk, yogurt, whey, or stock – can be a mixture)
4c cooked pureed vegetables (preferably squash, pumpkin, or grated carrots)
6 T. garlic powder (acts as a natural internal parasite deterrent)
1 T. salt substitute – such as ‘No Salt’ (potassium chloride – a needed form of potassium)
12 T. egg shell powder – a necessary source of calcium(I save my egg shells by rinsing them out immediately and letting them dry on a baking sheet with sides. When I    have saved a large amount, I grind them into a powder in my coffee grinder.)
6 T. kelp granules and any other desired supplements

Pre-cook beans and rice, millet, or potatoes, and the vegetables ahead of time. I like to work on this the week before I’m ready to make the recipe and just put them in the freezer until it’s time (except potatoes which do not freeze well.)

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Mix all ingredients with hands in two large bowls or a large  container.

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Divide mixture evenly into 12 bread pans

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Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

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Let cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into desired serving size slices.

Place individual servings in Ziploc sandwich bags and pack as many as will fit neatly into gallon Ziplocs for storing easily in your freezer.

winter 2010 103 e1298869144497 How to Make Your own Healthy, Natural Dog Food

 

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77 Responses to “How to Make Your own Healthy, Natural Dog Food”

  1. Angie Silberberger Says:

    Please think about revising your recipe to eliminate the garlic powder. I was just at our vet again today and they have a poster of toxins in kitchens that are poison to dogs. Garlic and onions, grapes and raisins, chocolate and coffee (caffeine).

  2. Jenny Says:

    Hi Angie,
    Thank you for your comment. Garlic, in large quantities, could cause gastrointestinal irritation and even lead to red blood cell damage in dogs (and more likely in cats). It has been added to the poisonous list because unfortunately, many pet owners are not well versed in herbs and think if a little is good than a lot must be great. To be safe, most veterinarians would rather say to avoid it all together just to be safe. Unfortunately, the public then hears it as “it’s poisonous in any amount.” Many herbs must be treated with care just like medicine. Great benefit can be had from many things if taken properly, but overdosing, even with certain herbs, can have serious side-effects. We have used garlic with our animals (including canines) for years with great results and no side-effects. Our current dog (whom we adopted) had terrible digestive problems even with high quality commercial dog food. These issues were completely eliminated when he was switched to our homemade recipe. This story is not uncommon. What should really be put on the poisonous list are many of the commercial feeds on the market. Even those in the veterinary field that I have spoken with say a small percentage of garlic, such as the amount in the recipe, is likely not an issue. I still say, you need to do what you are comfortable with, what your individual pet responds well to, and do not take my advice over your vet’s.

  3. Angie Silberberger Says:

    Thank you very much for your thorough explanation and I’m glad you’ve done your homework so I can feel confident BECAUSE I have 3 rescues that I want to switch to your homemade recipe. It sounds like it is safe to use the small amount of garlic powder in your recipe and I am definitely interested in its use because of its natural antibiotic and cholesterol lowering attributes (in humans that is) and I am very excited to hear it can help with parasites in our dogs. So thank you for taking the time to explain your research because I too am an analytical type that needs the details to feel confident in taking a strangers advice. How long have you been feeding your animals the dog food? Your dog looks incredibly healthy and happy!

  4. Kristen Wright Says:

    I love this recipe! I have a large boxer/lab and she runs through food quickly. Unfortunately, we run in to the same issues as you (smelly farts, dog breath, excessive shedding) and I feel bad for her because the food has to be bothering her inside, too.

    How much does it cost you to make that batch for a month?

  5. Jenny Says:

    The cost varies. When I originally ran the numbers, it saved me around half the cost of a decent (not top of the line but quality ingredients) dry dog food… that’s if I had to buy all my ingredients. It usually costs me less than that because I use ingredients we grow or raise ourselves when I can and I buy most everything else in bulk. It makes a big difference in the cost when using your own home grown potatoes rather than paying over $1 a lb. for brown rice or millet. The biggest expense I face is when I do not have our own meat available. I wait for a good sale on hamburger and buy 40-50#.

  6. Kristen Wright Says:

    Thanks! We have our own potatoes in the ground right now, I’ll probably wait until they are ready before I make a batch. That will be about the same time we start getting eggs from our chickens. Awesome recipe, thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Alicia Bedelia Says:

    Have you considered canning? If you have more meat “scraps” available during butcher season than you can use, you should be able to make batches of dog food and can it. It would cut down on energy costs since you don’t have to freeze it and it would remain at room temperature which is the best temp to feed your pets. Also, if the electricity goes out, that is a lot of food that will go to waste.

    Thank you so much for your post. It is right up my alley! If you have any other tips, I would be very happy to receive them.

  8. Jenny Says:

    That is an excellent thought, Alicia. The only concern is the safety. Since you are dealing with a meat product that is not a tested recipe (for proper processing) you run a risk of contamination. There are so many variables in canning (such as the thickness/size of food being canned) that can affect it from being heated/processed properly. I personally would not recommend it unless you can find an equivalent approved recipe that you can adjust to and go over it with a master preserver at your county extension. They are a wonderful resource and have been trained to know what ingredients will affect the processing. If you find a recipe, please let me know!

  9. Carolyn Riemann Says:

    I just contacted my master preserver on home canning dog food and she said to get all the ingredients and she will search into it and if she finds a recipe already done, she will forward it to me. We also raise our own beef and have a huge vegetable garden and I preserve approx. 100 cases a year and loved this. Please email me with the raw recipe and I will forward to her! Am going to do the meatloaf one this weekend as I have several dogs! Thanks!!

  10. Jenny Says:

    The raw recipe is basically the same as the meatloaf but I freeze it to keep the meat in it’s raw stage (only when I have our grass-fed beef available that we raise organically). Ingredients very slightly (I listed the variations) depending on what I have available at the time. I have also tried freezing just the meat/bean/vegetable/supplement portion of the recipe and added the cooked potato or rice and a raw egg when serving. So, you have some flexibility in this when looking for an equivalent preserving recipe. Keep in mind though, if you are preserving it, raw ingredients will not matter because you’ll be cooking it anyway.

  11. BERNIE Says:

    Hi Jenny
    Thanks for the for all the good info,I too make my own dog food once in awhile except I buy chicken instead of beef it is a lot cheaper,you can also buy oats the same as the quick oats in 50lb bags through some feed stores.
    I used to be an Executive Chef so I use that to my advantage at times.
    I Puree bone and all in a heavy duty blender and use the broth to puree after cooking the chicken until it falls off the bone then I use left over broth to cook the oatmeal and mix into the pureed chicken.
    I have two Dobermans that are house dogs and five Skippies that are outside dogs that I call my Gremlins.

  12. Clara Hendricks Says:

    What about small dogs. I have a 4 1/2 lb. Maltese.

  13. Jenny Says:

    I have never owned a small dog, my dogs have always been on the larger side so I am not familiar with the Maltese breed. But, just as with individual large dogs or even humans, I would first find out what the approximate calorie intake should be for the dog, taking into consideration his size and activity level (there are several charts available online). Then estimate how many calories are in the food, depending on your recipe variation, and test the serving size. If he’s looking a little on the thin side after a few days, increase the amount. If he’s gaining weight, cut back until you find the right proportion that maintains his desired weight. No two dogs are alike, even in the same size category. Digestive and other health issues as well as breed can affect your dog’s dietary needs. You must find the right proportion for each individual dog.

  14. Tina Says:

    What about Vitamins should those be added to the meatloaf, or on the food when you feed them.. also my dog was just diagnosed with a enlarged heart and liver ,where could I find organic meat .. I’m sure the meat in the groceries store is filled with antibiotic and crap

  15. Jenny Says:

    Hi Tina,
    You can add whatever you want. Both herbal wormers or vitamins can be added to the food. Dogs tend to be fairly easy in this area. They scarf food down so fast that I think before they realize what you sprinkled on top, if they realize at all, it’s already headed down their throat! I do include Thorvin kelp in my recipe which contains over 60 vital minerals, amino acids, and vitamins for animal health and productivity. The minerals come from plant tissue making them easily digested and absorbed unlike synthetic vitamins that are added to most commercial dog foods. The recipe also contains egg shell powder which is an easily digested and natural source of needed calcium for dogs. One teaspoon of eggshell powder yields about 750 – 800 mg. of elemental calcium plus other micro-elements (magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, etc. ). If you feel your dog needs more than that, a supplement such as Molly’s Herbals Herbal Dietary supplement might be a good choice for you. http://www.fiascofarm.com/herbs/mollysherbals.php/products/herbal-dietary-supplement
    As far as organic meat, the best way I believe to get it is to find a small local farmer or rancher like us, who raise meat for their own family and a few extra head for others. You will know exactly where your meat is coming from, how it is cared for, and you’ll save money buying a quarter or a side over the individual cuts (I am factoring that the meat is also for you, not just the dog! The steaks and good cuts go to you; the cheapest cuts, organ meat, and fat go to the dog.) Most people hear of us by word-of-mouth. The only place we have ever advertized is Craigslist so you might want to check there for a local farmer. Ask around.
    I personally do not have the budget to go buy ‘organically certified’ meat for my dog…if we run out of beef around here, we (us humans) generally don’t eat it for awhile. As for the dog, I buy the cheapest hamburger I can find on sale. It’s not my ideal choice but I still feel with it being in a fresher state (albeit cooked) and with all that I add to it, it is still a better choice than most dried dog foods. My dog’s digestive system is happier for it. If you can afford to buy organic meat at the health food store for your pet, wonderful. For me, it’s just not an option, not even for the humans in the house which is why I am thankful we have the ability to raise our own meat. Just do the best you can with what you have to work with!

  16. Angie Silberberger Says:

    Oh my gosh! I made my first batch of dogfood and our 3 dogs all drooled beside the bin as I kept adding ingredients. They were beyond thrilled when I fed them handfuls of heaven. They were hysterical! It’s a hit and I used the quantities but used chicken (.88 per pound) and brown rice with shredded carrots. I have gluten intolerance so upped the oatmeal but omitted the wheat germ. I wouldn’t have known where to start without a recipe from someone I an obviously trust to provide smart information. Thanks Jenny!!! Yuki, Maggie, and Petey thank you as well. P.S. How much does your large dog weigh and how many cups do you give him a day?

  17. CrazyCousinLance Says:

    It’s Great that there is so much more concern about making Healthy Homemade Dog Food these days, Maybe if people fed their dog as they should eat, they would truly be a member of the family.

  18. Jenny Says:

    I wasn’t aware that our dog wasn’t a member of the family…he certainly thinks he is! :)

  19. Jenny Says:

    Hi again, Angie…same excuse as last time on why it’s taken so long to respond :)
    Variations of food used is the key to keeping the cost down, as you’ve discovered.
    We vary our recipe with what’s available, and often with whatever has been slaughtered recently.
    I don’t get overly scientific with the measurements when feeding. I base it on the ingredients (sometimes the meat may have higher fat content), how much exercise he’s getting, and I watch the ribcage. Currently a serving of approximately two full cups is perfect for him. If I notice a change in his weight, I adjust the amount. Same as I would for myself!

  20. Grace Says:

    Love this recipe!! We just got a puppy and I want to make my own food for her. Would you recommend adjusting anything (save quantity) for a puppy’s special needs?

  21. Jenny Says:

    I haven’t had a puppy since I was a girl! I have since adopted my dogs so I am not up on a puppy’s nutritional needs. If it was me, I’d do a bit of my own research (online, library), see what their nutritional requirements are and see if I could successfully make those adjustments in the recipe. Here is an article I found that was put out by Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. http://www.vetmed.vt.edu/vth/sa/clin/cp_handouts/Nutrition_Growing_Puppy.pdf It has a few tips for feeding a homemade diet to puppies. They are in favor of a balanced commercial diet and some of their concerns/research (I believe) are based on store bought foods (such as raw meat). You’ll have to decide what you’re comfortable with.

  22. Amy Green Says:

    Great recipe! I am at my wits end with our three year old boxer. He has skin allergies andn”yeast issues.”. We have tried ALL the expensive foods out there. With grain and grain free. I have been researching and researching. This recipe looks amazing. My question is, I give my dog a cold pressed fish oil supplement and acidophilus daily. Could I continue to add those to this recipe? My next step was going to have to pay a lot of money to get a “phone” consult with a canine nutritionist. It looks like you know your stuff! Thanks for your time. I look forward to your response.

  23. Jenny Says:

    Hi Amy,
    I had a boxer years ago and I know they can be high maintenance with their sensitive stomach issues, shorter life expectancy, and high cancer rate! Yet, I am not a vet and don’t have expertise in diagnosing or recommending treatment for your dog. You are doing the same exact thing I would do…research, research, research. If it was my dog, I would give the recipe a try and add the supplements to the food when serving. I definitely would not eliminate them but I would not ‘cook’ them in the recipe either, high heat will destroy omega-3 fatty acids. But, you need to do what you think is best for your dog. As far as the consultation (again, this is only what I would do if I was in your situation – it is not a prescription!), if I didn’t see improvement in about a week or two with the diet change, assuming the nutritionist comes recommended and is open to more natural approaches, it may be well worth the call.

    I sympathize with you though…because your boxer is a part of your family now, you want to do what you can to keep him happy and healthy. End of story. But this is one reason I am far more persnickety now about the breed of dog (or any animal for that matter) I choose to raise. I used to be a sucker for any cute, fluffy critter but now I look for breeds that have a higher chance of NOT needing much veterinary intervention. If I’m spending more $ carrying for an animal than I do myself or my kids, that is out of balance in my checkbook. But that’s my personal farm-girl philosophy. Some issues are not predictable yet I do my best to avoid them from the start.

  24. Amy Green Says:

    Thanks so much! What would you recommend if I can’t find the kelp granules? So far I can only find it in a 50 pound bag:) Would it be better to just add a doggie multi vitamin and omit the salt, egg shells, etc?

  25. Joanna Says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I came across your website/recipe information on one of my nightly searches to try and figure out what’s wrong with my dog….. She is a 5 year old German Shepherd and we’ve been through EVERY SINGLE DOG FOOD on the market (including prescription diets, but excepting the low quality grocery store stuff). I am currently on my SECOND attempt to feed her a raw diet, as I keep reading so many good things about it. This time (as last) the raw diet makes her smell SO INCREDIBLY BAD that we can’t stand to be in the same HOUSE with her, but we just plug our nose and let her stay next to us…. I can’t bring myself to make her live outside. Her licking/chewing/ear problems seem to be a tiny bit better, but the smell is killing us (not GAS, just body odor that is horrific). I DO NOT understand it. I currently have her on Nzymes (brand name) for yeast overgrowth, as I’m thinking some of her issues may be yeast related. I really, truly am at my wits end after over 4 years of battling with her smelly, itchy, disgusting skin/ears/feet/stomach etc…. Not only do I feel bad for her, but I feel helpless, which makes me resentful in some small way. When I ran across your recipe here, I thought perhaps I’d give it a try, but think I should leave the potatoes/rice out in case her issue really is YEAST… But I have my doubts about the yeast since she’s been on this raw diet for 6 weeks and the smell is just getting worse by the day. It seems it would start to clear up after not “feeding” the yeast after this long. We’ve pretty much ruled out environmental allergies since her issues all seem to be related to food. I am going to get her thyroid checked next week, but she really doesn’t have the symptoms of a thyroid dog (I used to be a vet tech)

    I don’t know. I guess I just needed to vent and was hoping you, or someone else on your blog, would have either some tips, or a few words of encouragement for me. I’m feeling very beat up. I’ve had SO many dogs in my life, and never had a problem like this. I don’t know what to do. Thanks for listening. Kudos on your recipe and dog. He looks amazing and so healthy!

  26. Jenny Says:

    @ Amy – I do buy kelp in the 50 lb. bag since I use it for livestock as well. Since multivitamins and dog foods have varying amounts of vitamins/ minerals (including this recipe which could have numerous variables), you would need to find out if the two combined create an excess amount of any given supplement. I found a nutritional chart that looks like it could be helpful; good for me to review as well! http://dels-old.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/dog_nutrition_final.pdf
    Again, I am not a vet, nor a nutritionist, and I don’t always agree with the main-stream information that is out there for animals (or people). So, the one thing I do feel confident recommending to you is do your own research and if you have a vet, talk with them, so that you feel comfortable and confident in making these decisions for your animals.

  27. Jenny Says:

    I’m sorry for your troubles, Joanna! This is way over my head so all I can do is share a few thoughts I had with you…if anything, to hopefully help you not feel so beat up! :(
    I have not had trouble with the raw diet causing bad odor, at least nothing in comparison to the odor my dog had from dry dog food…and I have a very sensitive nose. I think all dogs stink just by being dogs. I don’t know if this would make any difference with the odor factor in your situation, but I don’t feed commercial meat raw . I’m not sure why it would cause an odor other than a possible reaction to an additive in the meat or maybe what the cattle were fed. We use our own naturally raised grass-fed beef. When we don’t have it available, I make the meatloaf recipe with store bought hamburger (I cook it). I just am not personally comfortable using the commercial meat raw. When you mentioned the skin issues, I just wondered if you bathe your dog often and if so, with what. Many of the products on the shelf create skin/scalp problems…both for animals and humans.
    I read on a raw food blog once about a dog who didn’t fair well on a raw ‘meat’ diet until he was given a ‘vegan’ raw diet . It doesn’t seem logical since dogs are carnivores, but if the issue improves for that particular dog, why not?
    Like I originally said, your issues are out of my league for me to be giving any advice (which legally I cannot anyway). I am also under the assumption you have already had a vet look at her. I Hope you can pull something out of this to spur you on to keep searching for solutions for your dog.

  28. Joanna Says:

    Thanks so much for the thoughts! I truly appreciate the time you’ve taken not only to post your recipes, but to communicate with others.
    I’ve had Nickel to several vets, even an allergist, and no one has any answers. The raw diet I am feeding her right now is actually from the pet store. I have gone between “Primal” and “Bravo”. Yesterday, I ordered a case of beef hearts and trimmings, (mixed and ground) from a local (high quality) butcher, thinking I’d start making my own raw food with the various ingredients I’ve read about in the internet, and your website. I’m thinking I need to cook the food, regardless of what I get, and maybe that would help her not to smell so bad….. Which I guess means it’s no longer a raw diet, but I’m willing to do whatever works. I have a new puppy showing up at the end of the month and her breeder recommends RAW only, so I may end up spending a lot of time making two different diets.
    Anyway – thanks again for your thoughts! I’ll post again if I notice any difference once I start making your meatloaf recipe. Joanna

  29. Amy Green Says:

    @joanna. Try this website. http://Www.thegreatdanelady.com
    She has great articles about skin/allergy issues and dog food. She hasa program that she recommends for yeasty dogs. Hope this helps

  30. Amy Green Says:

    Oops…..skip “the”. It is just http://www.greatdanelady.com

  31. jamie the dog trainer Says:

    I was wondering if a mixture of chicken turkey and beef would still be ok for making this meat loaf. Or would chicken itself be ok when making this recipe. As a dog trainer I feed raw bones from local butcher. They will grind the meat I need for this recipe. I am always looking for ways to better feed my dogs. I am currently on a no wheat, no corn, no soy, no byproduct dog food at a very reasonable price. 40lb 34 dollars. I would like to have a supplement like a canned food but they are just full of junk. Do you think I could add this to their food and cut the food by 3/4. thanks so much for your recipe. Jamie

  32. Jenny Says:

    Jamie,
    I’m all for using what I have…be it chicken, beef, or a mix. I personally would have no problem trying either of those ideas. I think it’s easy for us to get hung up on a set way of feeding our animals, we’ve been programmed by feed companies for years. Most of us find it easy to experiment with our own diets but when it comes to our animals, we are far more hesitant!

  33. Woof Says:

    I would never feed a raw diet or a diet over 30% meat ( preferably 20%) My dogs get meat 1-2 times a month and are better for it I feed 50% grain

    here are some statistics on grains and veggies:
    Knowledge I’ve acquired by checking dog feces while being fed grain- free and 50% grain diets. The demonstration “Are vegetables really more digestible than grains?”

    Prince, a 9 year old small, male dog of questionable parentage was the subject for the demonstration “Are vegetables really more digestible than grains?” He lives in a small pen out doors with a heated room. He gets walks ~ 5 times each week. His health is unsure – I think he may have a heart condition because of the poor quality garbage he was fed ever since we got him; he was fed it for ~ 8 years. For ~ 1 year Prince was fed a homemade food consisting of 50% various grains, 25% fresh or frozen vegetables (generally peas and carrots, frozen) and 25% meat or legumes. The stools were small for his size and had little odor. He ‘went’ once every 2 days or once each day, depending on whether bran was fed. Going that often is because of his age most likely.
    He was fed from January 15, 2012 to January 16, 2012 on The Honest Kitchen’s Force formula for dogs. It contains many vegetables- whatever % there isn’t of meat. It is a grain free dehydrated dog food with chicken (maybe 30% I’m unsure exactly) He ate less of the food (only ½ cup dry measure). Had I not known better, I would have thought our 2 year old female German shepherd jumped his fence, eliminated, and jumped back out again. The stools were very large and stinky. I could see some vegetables in the stool. I will have this fed if possible when we are not at home because 1(it has very simple ingredients 2(it is dehydrated rather than extruded or baked, however next time I will use a formula of theirs that does have grains.

    Conclusion: Grains are more digestible than vegetables. It makes no sense why I would feed grain-free.

  34. Karen Says:

    Hello – I’ve decided to start trying to feed a homemade diet to my dogs (10yo Golden Retriever, 2yo Bichon) and found your recipe. The only problem is the beans. Whenever I have given my GR beans, watch out! Enormous gas! I haven’t tried them in a while on her, but I’m wondering if I should avoid them in this recipe or reduce them? Do some dogs just not do well on beans?

  35. Alisha Says:

    @Jamie – Hi! If you’re willing to share, am interested in what “no wheat, no corn, no soy, no byproduct dog food at a very reasonable price. 40lb 34 dollars” you are using as I would love to switch to a healthier dry food (currently feeding Iams) and also supplement with this recipe, as you suggested. Thanks!

  36. Erin Says:

    Hi Jenny. Just wanted to thank you for this amazing recipe. We were spending tons of money every month or so trying to treat our labmaraner’s constant skin issues. This recipe completely eliminated his yeast infections and bad smelling skin. This recipe was a life saver!

  37. Tracey Says:

    What a neat website! I have 4 large dogs, and have gone back and forth over the years with making food for them – it is mainly a time issue (work full time, 3 kids, small farm, volunteer work). I made your recipe – on a side note – the kids all thought I was cooking dinner and that it smelled fantastic. :) So I followed the recipe exactly, and for the liquid – I pureed 2 lb of chicken livers, and used a large tub of plain yogurt. However – my final result was quite liquidy – I cooked it longer – 1.5 hours, but it did not slice – just fell apart. Do you think the fix is as simple as using less liquid? I’d love your opinion before I do it again. The dogs absolutely love it, and I just froze it in the bread pans, and will scoop it out. Someone asked about cost – I bought my beef from Kroger at $2.20/lb, used my own eggs, and added chicken liver and yogurt ($5), and used a huge can of pinto beans – cost was $34.14 for the whole batch. If you divide this by 28 for 4 weeks – it’s $1.20 a day.

  38. Tameathompsondavis Says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe….I have three six month old Staffordshire Terrier who are going to love it…

  39. Cheryl Says:

    Sounds like a Great recipe…just need to know…what kind of burger are you putting in this recipe? 80/20, or does it matter?

  40. Hollie Says:

    Does the measurement T. stand for tablespoon or teaspoon? Thanks!

  41. Jenny Says:

    Tablespoon.

  42. Maria Says:

    I have 3 italian Greyhounds that are 10 years old, all came to me when they 8 wks old. They are all very healthy. I’ve been cooking home made for them since puppies. I cook chicken (remove skin) whatever is on sale. I either bake or make a chicken stew (switch for variety) with seasonal cut up fresh fruits and veggies. Veggies cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, spinach. I pour the chicken mix over rice and add a few beans (chick peas, white etc). They also eat fish, eggs, some nuts. Basically in moderation they eat a lot of fresh foods. I do not feed junk food or left overs of any kind. Everything is fresh and no condiments. No salt, No sugar, No garlic or anything other than the natural foods. My doggies even eat papaya, blueberries, love tomatoes from my garden. I brush their teeth every day. I hope my babies live a long happy life. So far so good. No kibbles for my dogs. I started cooking for them when I was having many problems with them always sick due to bad commercial food. I recommend giving them many foods not just one recipe for the rest of their lives. Try giving fruits and veggies as treats.

  43. Anita Says:

    About the garlic comment; I had the same experience w/chocolate. I came home to find my 50lb dog had eaten not even a whole chocolate bar, I panicked called vet, they said bring her immediately that they would need to pump her stomach and get her on fluids to prevent liver failure which would have costed hundreds of dollars. So I looked it up online and came to find that she would have had to eat a whole chocolate cake and icing to do any damage. She was just fine. Years ago I used supplements like brewers yearst and garlic powder for my cats. Any thoughts on homemade catfood? Also, a note for ppl who have cats that get frequent urinary tract infections, just adding 1 or 2 meals of canned catfood to their diets per week will eliminate this problem, Dry food dehydrates them and cats aren’t thirst driven, in the wild they would get all the moisture needed from their kill. I like to give mine as a treat the drained water from can of tuna instead of discarding it or some chicken broth when im cooking. If most ppl knew what was in their pet food and how it was processed they would be horrified. Thanks for the good information and keep up the good work.

  44. deb Says:

    Would it be possible to add Bananas instead of Salt substitutes for potassium?

  45. Brooke Says:

    Hi!
    I must admit, while we are very passionate about healthly living and eating right, I’ve really come to realize we are not giving our dogs the same care. Ahh! I am going to try your recipe right away. My question is – do you know if Flax is ok for dogs? We add milled flax to nearly everything of ours….and thinking it would be good for the pups too. Thoughts?

  46. Phoebe Says:

    Thank you for this article and recipe!

    I recently made it for my dog and she LOVES it! I have her primarily on a raw food diet but sometimes, when I’m in a rush, it’s nice to have something easy to throw in her bowl that is NOT commercial junk/kibble. This is a perfect option and freezes well for those rushed mornings.

    I was wondering why the addition of the egg shell powder though. I washed the dozen eggs that were called for in the recipe and added them whole (egg shells included) into a food processor and blended them up. If I do this, should I still add additional egg shell powder?

    Thanks again for posting!

  47. Dayton Dog Says:

    Regarding the “garlic is bad for your dog comment”. I think I read somewhere that they did a study of the life expectancy of dogs all over the world and found that dogs in Europe seem to live the longest and guess why? Because they add small amounts of garlic to their dogs food when feeding them. Also I have been told NEVER feed your dog tomato’s because of the high acid levels in them. Just my two cents worth.

  48. Sonya Says:

    Fresh garlic is good in small quantities for dogs. May bring on gassy farts though in some breeds. Garlic powder is safe. Tomatoes are safe for dogs whether fresh, paste or canned without salt, even a small amount of ketchup is ok and will add some additional flavor. I made the meatloaf for my Lhasa Apso and found my husband stealing forkfulls out of the pan. I used ground turkey for easier digestion. Several of my dogs favorite veggies. When I try it again I will use more greek yogurt or some cottage cheese. Thank You for the wonderful recipe!

  49. Jenny Says:

    It is not the same thing. Potassium Chloride is what is found in salt substitutes and is extracted from the mineral sylvinite. Also, adding a more ‘liquid’ substance (as opposed to dry) to a recipe that needs to hold together (like meatloaf) may cause it to become mushy and not hold its form.

  50. lynn Says:

    if anyone has a dog w/ IMHA no!no! garlic.. please. and no! no! raw diets for the IMHA dogs. what may not harm most dogs but a dog that has IMHA please… please be very careful… and IMHA has nothing to do w/ the diet the pet had before…and even going to home made meals doesn’t stop this disease… but yearly shots can as stress and other factors but raw diets no! garlic no!!!!

  51. Kathy Says:

    Sounds good, can I omit rice/potatoes though? My dog can’t hand le them. Would peas be a good substitute? Thanks so much.

  52. Deanna Says:

    When making one’s own dog food, can a multi-vitamin
    (for people) be included daily?

  53. Jenny Says:

    I would not recommend giving your dog a ‘people’ vitamin as their requirements are not the same; there are multi-vitamins available specifically for dogs.

  54. Jenny Says:

    You will have to decide for yourself if peas are a good choice for your pet. The challenge will be figuring out the quantity needed for adequate nutrients and whether or not it will work consistency-wise in the meatloaf. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!

  55. Suzanne Says:

    So we have been paying about $60 for a 26lb bag of GREAT dog food..but the cost went up and it’s about back to $70…That’s just crazy! We have a dog that has very sensitive skin & have tried lots of different things. I would like to find something cheaper – and if making it is I wouldn’t mind trying it. I’m just nervous about what to add (right now her dog food is the Simple Wellness Salmon & Rice so there are only about 5 ingredients in it). Also, I would prefer (thinking it easier) to have it be dry dog food that I can keep in a container in the garage. Suggestions? Comments?

  56. Whitney Says:

    I’m just curious, but what was the raw food recipe you were using before that you show being in large bins?

  57. Jill Says:

    What about using string beans from the garden in the receipe? I am going to give this an honest try.. My dog suffers from kidney stones, terrible shedding, vomiting, bad hips.. I want to try anything to help her..

  58. Amanda Says:

    How many cups are in each loaf? Trying to figure measurements for 2- 67lb dogs for 1 month. Thanks

  59. Jenny Says:

    There is about 5 cups in my commercial bread pans. Your pans may not be the same size though.

  60. Jenny Says:

    Pretty much the same thing but with our own grass-fed beef. I freeze it in serving sizes but do not bake it. I only bake it if I have to use store-bought meat.

  61. lynn Says:

    i buy puritan pride vitamins they are natural .and they have sales where you buy one get one free or buy one get two free i love the buy one get two free.i get the fish oil there also.did mean to sound bad in my last post but alot of people do not know what IMHA is as i did not until it hit home with my little fur baby. her IMHA was from the yearly shot and w/ small or tiny dogs garlic is more of a problem than w/ large dogs but if the big fur kid gets IMHA they to shouldn’t have garlic.i do home cook and did for my fur baby before the IMHA.shots heartworm meds and flea topic or oral many other things like a snake bite or spider bite can trigger the IMHA in the most healthy of fur kids.dr.jean dodds and dr.shultz are working hard to stop the rabie shots so often as if we go over seas we only get shots every 8 years. they are workingto 5-7 years . please look up IMHA it can happen to any dog. health has nothing to do with it breed size age or even mixed breeds.be informed it could save your fur baby to know the signs.and keep up home cooking for your fur baby they will be better to fight off anything that happens i had one fur child to live 21 1/2 years on home made food and my fur baby cat lived 28 years . remember when old farm dogs lived in their twenties? hummmmm… something to real food… health!!!!

  62. lynn Says:

    oops!!! i meant to say i did not mean to sound bad… so sorry i typed too fast to read what am typing so very sorryabove post

  63. Anita Says:

    Jenny,

    Thanks so much for all of the excellent advice and the recipe. I ran everything by my vet who agrees this is a nutritious recipe for homemade dog food.

    I have been trying for months to find a good homemade food recipe for my super picky 5 year old, 3 pound Yorkie rescue. She does not do well on commercial food and regularly goes days ignoring it. She suffers from messy poops, bad breath and the smelliest dog farts you’ve ever experienced. You would not believe the farts that can be produced by this teeny munchkin! And I have only fed her the highest quality commercial chow out there and brush her teeth daily.

    Well, let me tell you that she LOVES your homemade food recipe! It’s like Christmas morning when I make food now. She dances around with excitement while I’m preparing it and munches it down in its entirety in record time. Never before. I’m amazed.

    No messy poop; no smelly dog farts – none – and her bad breath is much improved. And she’s happy and has tons of energy.

    Thanks again ever so much!

  64. margaret Blackmore Says:

    I am going to try your dog food but I was wondering if the T stands for teaspoon or tablespoon. thanks for the information. I have dogs that don’t seem to be able to carry their pups and I read that to much vit K or vit a can cause some problems so am going to go natural and try this.

  65. Donna Mollaun Says:

    Don’t add the starchy beans. It causes a painful disruption to their digestive track. Green beans are OK.

  66. Connie Says:

    After a few recalls on dog food lately, I was nervous about feeding my dogs food available on the market so I decided to look for a dog food recipe and stumbled upon this I’ve made this a few days ago, it’s a wonderful recipe. I can tell it’s improving the health of my dogs already, plus my husky is very picky when it comes to his food and he devoured his meatloaf up. My oven is small so I had to cut the recipe in half but it’s enough to feed a Siberian Husky and a Golden Retriever for 9 days. The cost was $19 for me. Thank you so much for your recipe!

  67. Susan Says:

    Thank you…I cannot wait to try your recipe for my dog. She is a shitzu that we found in the deer woods a few years ago. She never liked dog food and always wanted our food, only I know a lot of the food it is not good for her. All the advice and tips are great! I probably will not need to make up as big of a batch though. haha! Marked your page…will try the recipe soon! Thank you!

  68. bukky Says:

    hi jenny, i leave in Nigeria and run a breeding kennel. i have 7 dogs. i tried your recipe on them and they really enjoyed it though i substituted thae egg shells and veggies with moringa leaves (which is abundant here). this way they get all the nutrients without me spending extra time preparing veggie and the nutritional contents far out weighs other vegetables. this also allows me skip the garlic

  69. Wendy Says:

    I just want to thank you for your homemade dog food recipe!!! It has literally changed my dog’s life! I have a 5 year old Fila Mastiff (rescue dog that we did not get from a pup) and over the years through self discovery and allergy testing we discovered that our boy is allergic to 15 different things. The food allergies are chicken, wheat, rice and apples. For years I have been buying him high end dog kibble only to have him in the end break out in hives, scratch them and have it produce a staph infection on his skin (and staph is one of his allergens.) This dog has been on antibiotics and steroids for his entire life. He was losing his hair, his liver enzymes were well over 2000 and he was lethargic due to the constant rounds of pills. I finally got fed up, went back to the vet (who I believe I built a wing on his house from all of the vet bills) and said we needed to change something, anything for this dog to try and get him healthy. The vet said well if something doesn’t change then we will just be making him comfortable for the time he has left, because his liver enzymes are far too high, but he can’t come off of the steroid antihistamines due to his many allergies. I did my investigating in to natural foods, and saw your recipe for making your own dog food. I thought well, what could it hurt to try? Because of this dog’s many allergies I didn’t want to go raw, but with some tweaking made a batch of your cooked food dog recipe with supplements. He loved it! But the biggest changes were yet to happen. He began to lose weight, losing his “bloated” look. He went from 200 pounds down to a slimmer 180. He runs and leaps around the yard now! His hair has all but grown back in, and he sheds much, much less. But the greatest effect this food has had on him, is that he hasn’t had a hive in over 3 months, which for this dog is a miracle! He is also down to 1 antihistamine every 2 days (with Benedryl every day still but this is a process). So I just wanted to say thank you for posting this recipe, it has done my dog wonders!!!!

  70. Lou Ann Says:

    Love this recipe! Has all the ingredients for a good basic nutrition. Love my pups have 2 collies and have raised dogs all my life (56 now) Of course–Have to include some of my own thoughts. Fruits are very important for dogs. And mine love them. Use fruits for treats throughout the day. I suggest that dog owners vary this recipe to whatever they can afford. Whatever you can afford to include in t his recipe will be a plus to they dry dog food bought in the store. No preservatives in the key point here. Whatever is used as a variant is so much better than what is bought in a typical bag of dry dog food. We all love our pets or we wouldn’t have searched for a homemade dog food now would we!. Experiment and do the best you can. Lovely site. And the garlic issue–well now just use common sense–it is in such a small quantity–if you are hesitant cut back the amount you include. A little goes a long way! Love and enjoy your pet, they give so much and require so little.

  71. Jenny Says:

    Yes, if it is a capital ‘T’ then it is meant to mean ‘tablespoon.’ Sorry about the confusion…I learned recipe ‘shorthand’ from my mother-in-law :)

  72. susan Says:

    This is probably the best article I have seen. Thank you for all the tips and the recipe. I can’t wait to get it started this weekend. Thank you!!!

  73. Jennifer Says:

    I have been feeding my 9 yr old English bulldog homemade dog food since he was 4 yrs old. We always bought him expensive holistic dog food but his gas was unbearable, he shed perfusely, he had awful dark tear stains, and the poor little guy almost seemed lathargic at times. I by no means am one of these you are what you eat health nuts but I swear on everything changing his diet saved his life. This is what I do every week. I boil 2lbs of brown rice, 2lbs of chicken liver, gizzard, and hearts (it’s like $3 at grocery store), that is boiled, chop 1lb bag of carrots, and 6 apples go right into my ninja bullet, 6 eggs just poached, 1 qt of plain yogurt, and 1lb bag of frozen green beans. Mix all together, put into large bowl and presto dog food for about a week. He gets 1 1/4 cup in the morning and 1 1/4 cup at night. He also gets a multivitamin in the morning as well as a fish oil pill at night. No lie no more gas, no more shedding, tear stains have vanished, he has the energy of a 1 yr old puppy…. Everywhere I go with him everyone is in awe of how beautiful he is and they can’t believe that he is 9trs old. The proof is in the pudding. Dozer (that’s his name) has been on this diet for 5 yrs and every year my vet thanks me over and over again for keeping him so young and vibrant looking. We did slice the carrots at first and noticed them chopped up in his poo but we are strong believers that they were the cure all for his miraculous eye recovery so we did not want to remove them from his diet so we chop them up now. I am so thankful to have such a healthy loving dog. Dogs want nothing but to please their owners how can we not give them the best. Cost wise is about $15 a week and 45 min a week. I can def give him that much for all his dedication….

  74. garcinia cambogia Says:

    It’s difficult to find educated people for this topic, but you seem like you know what you’гe talking аbout!

    Thanks

  75. Sondra Says:

    Rawsome! I am ashamed of ourselves. My husband and I have a 6 year old Jackabee (jack russell/beagle) mix. We too got him as a rescue when he was 7 weeks old. I have tried just about every food out there and to no success. He has always shed, sneezed and vomited. He also will scratch a lot. I never considered that his food my be the culprit. I currently feed him a $18.00 bag of dog food recommended by our vet (she don’t have to pay for it.) He has been eating this for a couple of weeks and no change. My daughter got me on pinterest and told me to search there. Thank my blessings I found you. I am going to try your recipe and see how he does. How do you handle vaccines. I have found a great flea & tick natural remedy that works, but I wonder how much of these vaccines are needed. I know you aren’t recommending anyone change or do as you did, but I sure would like just general opinions. The vet bills are awful and we just can’t keep it up. Would love any comments out there.

  76. Gayle Says:

    Can anyone please tell me if the 80% lean 20% fat ground beef will be enough fat in this meat loaf recipe or would more fat need to be added? Please anyone?

  77. Sandy Says:

    This website with all the contributors has really encouraged me to follow through with a homemade diet. I do some raw diet but did not realize the veggies really are best when steamed. I have 3 dogs and 3 cats. I would really like to move away from store bought pet foods. I’ve tried some of the ‘better’ dog foods but feel boxed in when I see how many recalls are listed. With the holidays coming up I think I can really cash in on a lot of sales for the ingredients. I am starting to garden some so this site has also given me a list of a few things I might not have chosen to grow. Super information! Thanks Jenny and all the others who have shared research, experiences, and gleaned information.

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