Homemade Dog Food: The Real Deal

. 3 min read

Homemade dog food sounds like a good idea—after all, what could be more nourishing than a home-cooked meal? However, for dogs, it’s not quite that simple. Before you embark on a DIY dog food journey, it’s important to understand the benefits and risks of making your own dog food.

So is homemade dog food a good idea for your pup?

Benefits of Homemade Dog Food

Many people choose to make their own dog food to ensure their dog is eating a natural, whole-food diet. Many processed, off-the-shelf dog foods have preservatives and additives that aren’t exactly healthy. Your dog may scarf it up, but that doesn’t mean it’s best for him! Gary Weitzman, DVM, President of the San Diego Humane Society and author of the book The Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness, puts it this way: “I like hot dogs, but I’m not going to live my whole life eating them.”

Another reason to opt for homemade dog food? You don’t have to worry about dangerous dog food recalls. You can control exactly what goes into your dog’s food and make sure that all ingredients are properly prepared.

Dangers of Homemade Dog Food

Just be aware that keeping a dog healthy on a homemade diet is more complicated than most people think. A study from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine tested 200 popular homemade dog food recipes, a number of which were written by veterinarians. The researchers found that most of the recipes lacked essential nutrients, which could lead to health issues in the long term.

If you are feeding your pup DIY dog food, find a recipe that is approved by your vet, and make sure that your vet checks in with a nutritionist as well. Weitzman says some of the most common mistakes are adding too much or too little calcium, and not including enough of the amino acid taurine, often found in organ meats. Taurine deficiency, if left unaddressed, can cause serious cardiac problems in dogs, including an enlarged heart.

Another common problem is inadvertently adding food that is toxic to dogs. Never put garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, or avocados in your dog’s food.

How to Make Nutritionally Complete Homemade Dog Food

Make sure you have a recipe that supports a balanced diet for your dog. In Natural Dog Care, Bruce Fogel, DVM, MRCVS, recommends the following recipe. (Even with this recipe, supplementation may be necessary to maintain good health.)

Standard Homemade Diet
2 oz. chicken
1 oz. liver
¾ cup uncooked rice
1 Tbsp sterilized bone meal
Pinch iodized salt
⅓ Tbsp sunflower oil

Cook the rice, bone meal, salt, and oil in twice the volume of water. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the meat and cook for another 10 minutes.

Once you have a recipe that is vet- and nutritionist-approved, it’s critical that you follow the recipe exactly. Swapping even the most seemingly basic ingredients (e.g., walnut oil instead of sunflower oil) can throw off the nutritional balance.

Is Homemade Dog Food a Good Idea?

If you are up for the challenge and willing to put in the time to find a recipe that works for your dog, homemade dog food can be rewarding, for both you and your pet. However, human-grade dog food like Ollie is an easy option for pet parents who want to give their dogs fresh, healthy meals without having to worry about the potential dangers of nutrient deficiencies.

Every one of Ollie’s recipes is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages. Yum!

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.