Dog Food Recipes: learn everything you need to know in 10 minutes

Dog food in dog bowlDog food recipes ingredients are extremely diverse, sometimes very specially formulated for a special need (weight loss, high energy, large breed, allergy considerations and so on) that starts with very specific ingredients. People who choose to offer their dog special formulas of dog food have learned about the special needs that their dogs have, much like people do for their own bodies.

Targeted formulas are readily available on the market today, but for those that find commercially available dog food not enough for their pet, they turn to homemade dog food as a viable and healthy alternative. So, what kinds of ingredients go into specific dog food recipes? What should be in certain dog foods for certain conditions and body types? There are hundreds of formulas, but here’s a rundown of some of the more common types to give you an idea of what you should be looking for. And of course, it’s always a good idea to ask your vet for more detailed information regarding the best diet for your pet.

Types of Dog Food Recipes

You find general information about different types of dog food recipes below. Check out our dog food review section here on Petmoz for in-depth reviews of dog food products and brands.

Dry Dog Food

Typical dog food comes in several forms. Most are familiar with dry dog food, which usually looks and feels like a hard dry breakfast cereal. It comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, scents, and even textures.

Formulas are designed to fit every possible need of dog, from allergic considerations, weight loss, high energy, small dog formulas, large dog formulas, and even some breed specific formulas that you can only find in specialty stores or direct from the breeders themselves. Sizes and shapes of each morsel are usually tested and formed based on a dog’s preference, because dogs actually have textural preferences, much like people.

Recipes for dry dog foods vary widely, depending on cost and quality. For many brands and formulas available in grocery stores and large retail box stores, dry dog foods are grain based, as it’s cheap and easy to manufacture, and works well when dried and pressed into kibble pellets. Grains usually include corn and corn products, as well as wheat, rice, barley, and many other grains. Some better quality dry dog food recipes do have meat and meat meal products as their first ingredients, which comprise most of the kibble itself. Secondary ingredients include further meals of meat and grain, vitamin supplements, chemical stabilizers and preservatives, colors, and flavorings.

Dry dog food is usually the cheapest version of readily available commercial dog foods and is designed to last a long time and store easily in the store, and in the home. It’s also formulated to not have offensive odors that humans might not find pleasant, and be easy to feed without a lot of mess. It’s been common past practice to formulate dry dog foods with the owners of the dog in mind first in terms of cost, appearance, smell, and ease of storage, then the dog’s needs in mind second in terms of nutrition and palatability. That’s changing these days with the onset of food recalls due to manufacturing mistakes, laziness, and company cheapness- and people are paying better attention to the nutrition that they offer their dogs and demanding higher quality ingredients in dry dog food.

Wet Dog food

Another easily found type of dog food is the wet version, and it comes in cans and now sealed pouches as well. Wet dog food recipes revolve around the basic canned meat or canned meat product, with water, flavorings, vitamins, stabilizers, and other commonly used ingredients in the commercial canning process (salt is one of them). There usually isn’t much in terms of grain products in canned wet dog foods, and overall offer slightly better nutrition for the dog than most dry dog food recipes offer.

For dogs that are older or who have trouble chewing and swallowing dry dog foods, wet dog food recipes are a great alternative. Owners however do not enjoy the appearance, smell, and mess that dealing with a can of meat can involve, and in some cases the cost is much higher when compared to dry dog food which makes it a less popular method of feeding dogs commercial dog foods, but still popular enough to be widely available in any grocery store or market.

There are also commercially available “raw” dog food products that you can find refrigerated either in their own refrigeration unit, or among the meat products normally found at the grocery store. Wet foods come in several forms and options, but the most popular is packaged much like a large sausage, and cut into slices like a sausage in portions for each meal.

Since refrigeration is the only method used as a preservative, these dog foods usually don’t contain much in terms of chemical preservation or salt. They typically contain a soft yet formed meat product with other products intermixed like fruit and vegetables, usually kept whole or in recognizable pieces. You can also find these raw foods in pouches formed as ready to feed chunks and in other forms, some containing gravy. Some are meant to be warmed in the microwave before feeding.

Many pet owners usually choose one of these commercial methods for feeding their dog based on lifestyle, preferences in terms of nutrition, cost, and sometimes simply it’s what they’ve always used. Some dog owners choose to mix for example, wet and dry dog food to help increase the likelihood that their dog will eat, but also to help dogs who are aging eat the dry food that they’re used to.

Recipes and formulas come in many, many types. These are all based off of diet considerations, size of the dog, flavor preferences, allergy considerations, activity level, age of the dog, and many other specific needs suited to fit individual needs. Some are made to suit the overall house’s dietary rules that the dog lives in as well, such as vegetarian dog foods, gluten free, organic only, and many others- some so specific most never hear of them. Meat is always a first, quality ingredient in all of these dog food recipes, no matter the specific formula.

But, for example, specifically puppy food, higher amounts of fats are added for extra energy needed for the fast growth that puppies experience in the first year or so of their lives. Dogs with grain allergies (actually fairly common) sometimes do well on dog foods formulated with rice or any other gluten-free dog food commercial selection, or dog food that has no grain product in the recipe to start with.

Food formulated for older dogs is usually less calorie dense, but made to be of better taste and softer texture to entice an appetite and of course, be easier for the old dog to eat. Food formulated for overweight dogs vary, but usually depend on the volume that adding vegetables brings without the calories, so that an overweight dog feels satisfied but is getting less energy from the food in an effort to help the dog burn the excess fat that they’ve accumulated. For overweight formulas, this is the theory at least.

Commercial dog treats and biscuits aren’t usually as nutritionally complete as commercial staple foods, and the recipes for treats like biscuits are usually pretty simple. Value biscuits are usually made from mostly flour, with flavorings and colors added. Think of a very basic, tasteless cookie recipe- without the sugar. Treats can vary widely themselves, and like commercial dog food can come in many forms and textures depending on the likes and dietary needs of the dog. Some treats even do double-duty, designed especially to not only reward a dog, but to also clean the teeth and freshen breath. Many dog treats are old and popular staples, like cured bones, dried and cured pig’s ears, feet, snouts, and bull *ahem* “areas”, skins, and anything else that can be dried and cured. Skin is routinely formed into shapes like bones, rings, sticks, flat pieces, or just about anything and dried for leathery rawhide treat chews. These chews can be infused with flavorings, but are usually left simple and kept as they are- dried animal skin (which dogs love).

Additional reading

  1. Canned or Dry Dog Food – What’s the better choice?
  2. Best dog food choices
  3. Wet Food vs. Dry Food for dogs

Homemade dog food

With the recent flurry of dog food and treat recalls and a new found appreciation for our furry friends and what they eat, demand for higher quality and a distrust for the commercial dog food industry has spurred on a popular movement to make dog food and treats at home, with recipes that are even more individualized than commercial dog food products could ever hope to live up to. With science founding’s backing up this new approach to feeding dogs, it’s no wonder people are choosing to make their pet’s food at home.

There are some very basic ideas behind feeding dogs at home. First, raw bones from pork, beef, chicken, or any meat source are actually relatively safe and a very necessary part of a dog’s diet. Raw bones contain marrow which is highly packed with nutrients, and the bone itself is savored as a favorite chew, helping to keep teeth in excellent condition. Cooked bones are dangerous, as they can splinter and do harm when eaten, swallowed, and moved through the digestive tract. Meat is the most important and essential part of a dog’s diet and should comprise most of what a dog eats.

People rely on beef, pork, chicken, duck, sheep, lamb, or any other type of readily available raw meat that they have access to. Eggs, fish, and other sources of protein are also necessary. Produce is added as an extra component for flavor and something new, but it’s always necessary for a dog to stay healthy. Grains can be added as an extra source of energy for hard working dogs, or growing dogs, and can be added in its cooked, whole form to ensure that the dog is getting whole grain and not grain by-product. Added gravies, sauces, cooked ingredients from meals (table scraps) are also readily given to dogs, even if they’re not fed solely from home and should be given sparingly.

For an overall guideline regarding raw food feeding for dogs, 75% of the diet should be meat and bones, and the rest should be produce and other additions. Daily, a typically healthy 20lb dog needs about 3 ounces of this diet per meal, which comes out to just under a half a pound total of food per day. A lot of raw food feeders make the bulk of the food ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator, where they feed throughout the week.

Ingredients that should not be in your dog’s food are onions and garlic, raisins, grapes, macademia nuts, cholocate and other sweets, and raw meat.

A recipe might look like this for a healthy growing puppy on the raw food diet, for example:

  • 4lbs of quartered, whole chicken backs, cut into pieces small enough to be swallowed
  • 1lb of raw fruits and veggies like carrots, apples, and sweet potato
  • 1/2lb raw organ meat of chicken, or beef.
  • 2tbs fish oil (optional)
  • A mineral or vitamin supplement (optional)
    • In a food processor, break down the chicken backs (bones and all), the produce, and organ meat. Mix all of the ingredients, and separate into individual daily servings. Store in the refrigerator.

You can offer dogs  on this diet raw soup bones on this diet as treats and chews as well.

When you plan to create your own dog food recipes, make sure that you consult a veterinarian about it first to make sure everything is balanced enough and no key ingredient is missing.

Video instructions

Additional reading for homemade dog food recipes

  1. Treat your dog with homemade dog treats!
  2. WebMD article on homemade dog food
  3. A Sniff of Home Cooking for dogs and cats

There’s a very wide range of foods you can offer your dog, and what you choose depends completely on what you value as important, what you need out of a dog food, and most importantly what’s best for your dog. Dog food recipes fit the needs of most, if not all individual dogs out there, so there’s bound to be a dog feeding program solution that works for you and your dog.

Comments

  1. Great article. We feed our huskies home made dog food at least once a week.

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