Making your dog homemade food is a great way to keep him nourished with healthful ingredients that you get to choose. Having control over what ingredients go into the food your dog consumes is rewarding and can help keep your pet safe if he has allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.
When it comes to dogs, it's no secret that they love meat. Their sharp teeth and hunting instincts make them natural meat eaters. Foods, like chicken, turkey, duck, salmon, beef, lamb and rabbit, provide important nutrients and ample protein to help build and maintain muscle in your dog.
Some pet owners choose to feed their dogs cooked meat while others choose to feed it to them raw. Dogs' bodies are designed to kill bacteria in their food better than a human body can, but this is a personal choice. Dogs with certain medical conditions or who have compromised immune systems should not be given raw meat. Before you begin your dog on a raw meat diet, consult his veterinarian for a consultation and checkup.
According to Founders Veterinary Clinic, you should feed your dog 1/4 to 1/3 pound of meat per day for each 20 pounds of his body weight. Good meat options include lean ground or shredded chicken with the skin removed, lean ground beef or lean beef steak, skinless turkey or duck, lean cuts of lamb and rabbit, or salmon or other boneless fish.
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In addition to meats, non-meat protein sources can be added to your dog's homemade food. Founders Veterinary Clinic recommends switching the protein sources, including different kinds of meat and non-meat, when you make your dog food. This will keep him interested in his food and provide balanced nutrition.
Non-meat sources of protein in dog food include low fat cottage cheese, nonfat plain Greek or traditional yogurt and cooked eggs. These foods are easy on your dog's stomach and also provide ample protein.
Non-meat protein sources should total 1/2 to 3/4 cups of cottage cheese or yogurt or 3 to 4 eggs per 20 pounds of your pet's body weight per day. Non-meat protein sources can be used alone in the food or you can use them alongside meat sources. If you use non-meat protein and meat protein together in the same recipe, be sure to compensate by using half the recommended amount of meat and half the recommended amount of non-meat protein together to achieve appropriate protein content.
Carbohydrates are the first source of energy in your dog's body. To keep him healthy and energized, a portion of his homemade food should consist of the appropriate carbohydrates.
Good carbohydrate choices include brown rice, whole grain pasta, white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Plain white rice or white pasta will suffice as well, but brown rice and whole grain pasta provide an extra dose of fiber, which will help to keep your pet's digestive tract healthy.
Your homemade food should contain 1 to 2 cups of cooked rice, pasta or potatoes per 20 pounds of your dog's body weight per day.
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According to Founders Veterinary Clinic, vegetables are optional to add to your dog's food, but provide ample benefits, such as adding necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber. Good vegetable choices for your pooch include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, green beans, squash and even pumpkin.
The vegetables you choose to add into your dog's food should be cooked well to a soft texture. Dog's digestive tracts may not accommodate raw or undercooked veggies, and may cause him stomach upset and gas, but cooking the vegetables helps to stave off this problem. Frozen or fresh cooked vegetables work well.
Your homemade food should contain 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked vegetables per 20 pounds of your dog's weight per day, if you choose to add them.
In addition to the main ingredients, you may want to add some supplements into your dog's food to keep him healthy.
Add to the finished food one tablespoon of olive or canola oil per 20 pounds of your dog's body weight per day to keep his coat healthy and shiny.
For added calcium, process an egg shell in your food processor until it is a fine powder and mix it into the dog's food. Alternately, you may purchase bone meal to add calcium to your dog's food. Add 1/2 teaspoon of either ground egg shell or bone meal to the food per 20 pounds of your dog's body weight per day.
A multivitamin may also help your dog to thrive. Consult your veterinarian regarding brand and dosage as this can vary based on your dog's breed and size.
Leeann Teagno has been writing professionally since 2006. An English major, she continues to study information systems management at American Public University. Teagno is an organic gardener, cook and technology buff with past employment in mobile communications. She also volunteers at an animal shelter and operates a home bakery.