What Goes into Homemade Dog Food?

Your pooch can eat a lot of the same stuff you cook for yourself.
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Homemade dog food isn't about throwing together various ingredients that you think are healthy; it's about creating a balanced diet for your pup using quality ingredients. With homemade food you know exactly what your pup is eating, and it can be a healthy alternative to bagged dog foods.

The Controversy

Before getting started on making homemade dog food, understand the different controversies surrounding the movement. Countless experts and veterinarians are on each side of the matter: some say it's healthy and others warn against it. Those for it say it's a better way to give your dog natural, healthy ingredients that lead to a healthy life. Those against it warn that it's very difficult to create a well-balanced diet for your dog and that commercially available foods are already well-balanced. Before taking on the mission of cooking your dog's meals, talk to your vet about what your individual pooch needs in his diet.


Protein is the main ingredient in homemade dog foods, and should be the main ingredient in a commercial dog food you feed. Dogs get most of their energy from the protein in their food. Meat-based and other sources of protein should make up approximately 25 to 50 percent of the total volume, according to David McCluggage, DVM in his article "Feeding Your Dog." Lean meats and poultry are among the best options, including chicken, lean turkey, certain fishes such as salmon and the leanest of beef cuts. Cooked eggs are an ideal and tasty source of protein for homemade dog foods or even as a snack.

Grains and Carbs

Grains add variety, but are also a source of carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity and may also cause problems with your pup's blood sugar levels. While white rice is starchier than other rices, it can greatly improve digestive problems in your pooch. Barley, whole grain rice and brown rice are also acceptable. As for other carbohydrate sources, consider sweet potatoes, which they're inexpensive and readily devoured by most pooches. Cooked pasta is another choice. Feed these sparingly.

Veggies and Variety

Dogs tend to love vegetables, so many veggies are added into homemade dog foods and commercial dog foods alike. Green beans, peas, carrots, broccoli and various squashes are all great additions to homemade dog foods. Veggies also add numerous vitamins and minerals that benefit your pooch in several ways. Other options for variety include low-fat dairy foods such as low-fat cottage cheese. Some dogs are lactose-intolerant, however, so feed sparingly until you are sure your pooch can handle it. Feeding home-cooked meals to your pooch with a kibble supplement is another way to add variety and also ensure a balanced diet.