Making fresh, organic, homemade dog food for your large-breed pooch is a great way to assure that your dog is nourished and happy. Whether you choose to exclusively feed your dog homemade food or wish to do it in addition to your dog's usual kibble, making nutritious organic food is a great choice for your dog.
Protein is a necessary macro-nutrient for animals. Dogs are no exception. Protein serves a variety of functions in the dog's body, including fur and nail growth, muscle building and to maintain the health and repair of ligaments, tendons and cartilage.
While protein is available in both plant and animal sources, dogs should get the majority of their protein from animal sources. Dogs are carnivores by nature and should be treated primarily as such, although plants and grains can also healthily be incorporated into a dog's diet.
When making organic dog food, meat protein sources should be very lean and cooked thoroughly to prevent food-borne illnesses . Organic meats like extra lean ground beef, ground turkey breast, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lamb and lean ground venison are excellent protein sources in homemade dog food. Fresh fish such as salmon is also a good protein source.
Other animal-based organic protein sources can include organic, plain Greek yogurt and eggs, which contain ample amounts of protein. Yogurt can be used to bind together meats, eggs and other ingredients while packing an extra protein punch.
Large dogs need extra protein to maintain their ligaments and cartilage, so skimping on protein is not advised.
Carbohydrates provide dogs with an immediate energy source for all of the prancing, running, barking and yard-sniffing that they love to do so much. Carbohydrates also provide opportunity to introduce fiber, which is beneficial to the dog's digestive system, into their diets. Carbohydrate sources should include healthy ingredients like organic brown rice, barley, lentils, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash and apples, all of which contain ample amounts of fiber.
Most vegetables contain healthy carbohydrates and fiber as well as other nutrients, so don't shy away from adding fresh or frozen organic veggies to homemade dog food. Carrots, peas, celery, spinach and kale are all good options. However, steer clear of onions, which can be poisonous to dogs.
Dogs need fat in their diets, but too much fat can lead to a potentially fatal condition called pancreatitis. The fat contained in organic lean meats and fish, eggs and yogurt adds some fat to the dog's diet, but adding a bit of extra healthy fat is advised. Fat is necessary for life, and in your dog, it keeps his nails and coat healthy. An active dog's diet should contain about 20 percent fat, while a less-active dog's diet should contain slightly less.
Using lean meats and adding in healthy unsaturated fat, such as olive oil, is a great choice in keeping your dog healthy.
Most of the dog's nutritional needs can be met through variety and careful selection of ingredients in organic homemade dog food. However, you will likely have to supplement calcium for your dog. Calcium can be found in organic egg shells.
Calcium is very important to all dogs, but especially to large breeds, which are often prone to hip and joint problems. Calcium builds strong bones. Large dogs need about 1,000 mg of calcium per 40 pounds of body weight.
Egg shells contain about 2,000 mg of calcium. Wash the shell from an organic egg and then dry it in the oven at 325 degrees for about five minutes (which will also kill bacteria) and then grind it into a fine powder in a food processor. Each shell will yield about one teaspoon of powder, which can be added to your dog's homemade food as a natural and effective calcium source. Egg shells also contain phosphorous, another mineral necessary for canine health.
To assure proper nutrition further, you may also wish to give your dog an all-natural complete vitamin and mineral supplement. To obtain such a supplement, see your veterinarian.
Preparation and Storage
Dogs usually require 2 to 3 percent of their body weight (in pounds) of fresh food daily. For a 100 lb. dog, this means 2 to 3 pounds of food daily. Choose whether you want to prepare your dog's organic homemade dog food daily, every couple of days or every week. Because large dogs require more food than small dogs, it may be easier to make their food more often as it would require large cooking pots to make a whole week's worth of food at a time. Making it more frequently also allows for more variety. This recipe will make a day's worth of food for a 100 lb. dog.
Start off by choosing 1 pound of fresh, organic lean meat, poultry or fish and then cooking it on the stove top thoroughly. Be sure to chop the meat into bite-size chunks for your dog. Add in four tablespoons of olive oil and continue to cook the meat for a few minutes.
Add 1 pound's worth of cooked carbohydrates. Cooked organic sweet potatoes, apples, pumpkin or squash in combination with a starchier carbohydrate like lentils, barley or brown rice is ideal for maximum nutrient density.
The next addition is your choice. A cup of the organic vegetables you choose combined with half a cup of organic Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs can bring it all together.
This recipe allows you to change it slightly each time you make it, providing ample opportunity for variety. It will also allow you to gauge your dog's reaction to certain foods, allowing you to avoid foods he doesn't like and make foods he likes more often.
Before changing your dog's diet, always talk to his veterinarian first.
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.