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3 common mistakes made in DIY Dog Meals, & 3 delicious Dog Food Recipes helping you avoid them.

Personally, food is my love language, I show how much I care about my Human family through food, I love to make meals for them as it gives me joy seeing something I created making them happy. I have over loved my husband (sorry Husband!) and he’s a bit rounder than he used to be!

Preparing a homemade diet can provide you with a sense of satisfaction in knowing you’re helping your dog in exactly the same way – I know I stand back from my freezer and feel immense satisfaction looking at the next prepped batch of meals for our four dashies! If you've got (human) children as well, making your Dog's food together can teach them the joy of caring & nurturing their best friend too.


So, with this happy thought in mind, lets be sure to avoid these three common mistakes. Keep reading, I’ve created 3 easy Recipes you can make at home from simple and easy to source common ingredients - I promise no insanely hard to find ingredients like ’essence of Turkey Tail Mushroom grown on the Northern Slopes of the Himalayan Mountains’ or ‘GMO Free Swiss Chard that’s been harvested on the full moon’!! (seriously, some recipes you find when you Google makes my mind boggle!)


The Basics

The popularity of homemade dog food is on the rise, and unfortunately, so are preparation and feeding mistakes. It’s easy to prepare an unbalanced homemade meal that can even be harmful if formulated incorrectly. If you’re considering making homemade dog food, it’s important to have a good understanding of why the diet you prepare absolutely must be nutritionally balanced.

  1. Meat & Veggies is not enough

  2. Fiber must be included

  3. Do not include Rice or Pasta

Common mistakes to avoid include offering only meat and veggies, forgetting your dog’s need for dietary fiber, and not meeting minimum nutrient requirements with specific supplements or foods. A lot of people also include cooked Rice or pasta to ‘pad ‘ out their food. This is not a great idea.


It has been my experience that as people realise the right diet is essential to their pet’s health and quality of life, the more interested they become in making homemade food for their animal companions. I absolutely encourage this, but with the caution that while switching to homemade food has tremendous benefits for most dogs, it’s not always easy to do, and it’s relatively easy to make mistakes.


Benefits & Drawbacks of Homemade Diets


Benefits

You know exactly what your dog is eating (which isn’t possible with commercially prepared pet food — especially ultra processed diets). Pets eating homemade diets often don’t poop as much, because the ingredients have higher digestibility, with the result that most of the nutrients in the food are absorbed rather than excreted.


Some animals with chronic gastrointestinal (GI) issues or multiple chronic diseases improve on homemade diets. It’s easy to create novel protein homemade diets for pets with food intolerances or allergies & control what your dog is eating (or not eating).


You can create Raw Meals, or Cooked Meals. Or a combination of both

Every single dog, just like every single human are different. Some thrive on 100% Raw Meals, while others don’t, so you have the power to custom-feed wholly based on the intimate knowledge you have of your dog.


And, of course the ‘happy-place’ you can go to when making food for those you love! (I call it buying their love LOL)

Potential drawbacks

Homemade diets can be unbalanced and even harmful if formulated incorrectly.

They can be more expensive than commercially available pet food (especially if you choose organic ingredients).

A pet parent decides to make changes to a recipe without consulting an expert, resulting in large nutritional gaps, potentially putting your pet in harms way.

There are no AAFCO feeding trials/nutritional analysis reports to help guide feeding decisions.


1. Nutritional Balance in Homemade Diets Is ESSENTIAL

Many homemade diets and some commercially available raw diets are nutritionally unbalanced. This can cause dogs to become deficient in the important minerals and vitamins, antioxidants, and/or essential fatty acids necessary for skeletal, organ, and immune health. A considerable amount of research has gone into determining what nutrients dogs need to survive, and there is ample evidence showing what happens when they are deprived of nutrients such as calcium, iodine, selenium, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, manganese, vitamins D, E, potassium, and others necessary for cell growth, repair, and maintenance.


The minimum amount of nutrients needed to sustain life is what constitutes the term “complete” (aka the minimum amount of nutrients needed to sustain life; all the basic vitamins and minerals are present in the diet).“Balanced” pertains to the relationship of nutrients to one another. For instance, calcium and phosphorus must be in correct proportions, relating to one another, in addition to being provided in the correct amounts (which are different for early growth, late growth, adults and seniors).


There should be four primary components in a raw diet for dogs:

Meat, including organs; pureed vegetables and fruit; an all natural vitamin and mineral mix and beneficial additions like probiotics, digestive enzymes, and super green foods (these aren’t required to balance the diet, but can be beneficial for vitality).


It’s possible to meet minimum nutrient requirements using all whole foods, it’s just very expensive, so most pet parents choose to use supplements to help meet daily minimum nutritional requirements. A healthy dog’s diet should contain about 75% to 85% meat/organs/bones (or a “bone replacement” supplement) and 15% to 25% veggies/fruits (this mimics the gastrointestinal contents of prey, providing key nutrients, as well as critical fiber and antioxidants as well).

This “80/10/10” plus fiber “base” is an excellent starting point for recipes but is far from balanced and is not appropriate to feed long term without addressing the significant micro nutrient deficiencies. Fresh, whole food provides the majority of nutrients dogs need, and a micro nutrient vitamin/mineral mix takes care of deficiencies that may exist. As I mentioned, if you opt not to use supplements, you must add in specific whole food sources of these nutrients, which requires additional money, creativity, and math.


And a shopping list that's looong....


Have you glazed over yet? Have I lost you? That’s the last of the ‘geeky’ part of this article - I promise it’s easy to do, requires a little bit of thinking and no so much fuss!

2. Mistakes to Avoid


Feeding only meat

Many well-meaning pet guardians are confusing balanced, species-specific nutrition with feeding hunks of muscle meat, ground beef and veggies or a blend of meat, veggies, and rice to their dog. Although fresh meat is a good starting point for homemade diets, it’s far from representing a nutritionally adequate diet.


An exclusive diet of ground up carcasses, for example, may still lack the minimum requirements for a number of vital nutrients and falls grossly short of almost all nutrients to meet even AAFCO’s minimum nutrient requirements (which isn’t saying much).

Many homemade raw feeders create diets that are predominantly chicken-based, because chicken is cheap. Chicken meat must be balanced with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to control inflammation. Ground up whole chicken frames ticks the Calcium box, but misses the meat and organ requirements. Without balancing these fats, skin and coat health is compromised, and many animals end up with chronic inflammation that is manifested in many unhealthy ways, often in the form of skin allergies, and itchy, inflamed ears.


Including cooked Rice, Cooked Pasta, Cooked Oats, Cooked Noodles

A lot of people mistakingly apply the Human Food Pyramid to their dogs diets, and, as Humans we need these foods to be healthy. DOGS DO NOT NEED THEM WHATSOEVER!


Sorry for yelling in caps - they can not digest them, and get no benefit from them at all. Sure it ‘pads’ their bowls out and seems to make the meal cheaper. But in truth, these ingredients are going in their mouth and out the other end in their poop. Zero health benefit to your dog. And, just to stop and make you think, poop quantity - a cup of rice goes in, and a cup of poop comes out.


Who wants to pick up bigger poops? Not me!

Forgetting Fiber

Domesticated and wild dogs voluntarily graze on grasses and plant matter for a variety of reasons, including meeting their body’s requirements for enzymes, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Providing adequate amounts of low glycemic, fibrous vegetables also provides the prebiotic fibers necessary to nourish your pet’s microbiome and contributes to overall gut and colon health.


Sorry - in 10 words or less - Fiber found in Vegetables make up the PREBIOTIC component!


Some fruits, for example, blueberries, are rich sources of antioxidants, so it’s important not to overlook them when planning your dog’s nutritionally balanced fresh food diet. You can puree fruits, along with appropriate low glycemic veggies, and add them into the recipe; you can also offer them whole in small pieces as treats or snacks as long as your dog has no problem digesting them.


A good rule of thumb is to keep vegetable and fruit content less than 10 to 15% of the diet for dogs which mimics what these animals would self-select in the wild.


3. Skipping supplements

There are only two options for assuring nutritional adequacy in homemade diets:

1) feeding a more expensive, whole food recipe that contains a significant number of diversified ingredients necessary to meet nutrient requirements (that long shopping list!)


or

2) using supplements.


There are two categories of supplements: Supplements needed for a diet to meet minimum nutritional requirements, (REAL foods) and optional supplements you may choose to address a specific health concern (think of them as Medications).


The supplements we are discussing here are the required supplements that prevent nutritional deficiencies... Simply put they are Real Foods Blended carefully to address nutritional ‘gaps’ in meal plans.


We teach the value of feeding real, whole foods over synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements, Mother Nature has gifted us, why mess with perfection in a lab? Click here for a summary of our Wellness Range of supplements. They are all natural, and almost every single ingredient is certified Organic. They are food. We have done the hard work for you, no need to hunt down Wheat Grass or Spiralina, Moringa, Barley Grass or Turmeric - this is the time saving cost effective way to boost each and every bowl! (and once again make that shopping list quick and easy!)


Many pets benefit from additional supplements to support specific organ systems, such as joint support for seniors, seasonal allergy supplements, or detox supplements during pesticide application months (Medication Supplements). These extras don’t balance meals, they support the body in other ways, beyond meeting baseline nutrient requirements.


If you’re interested in providing additional supplemental support (beyond the supplements needed to balance your homemade diet) and have no idea where to start, work with your veterinarian or wellness coach to determine what supplements would be beneficial.


More Tips for Formulating and Preparing Homemade Diets

Pick recipes from a qualified Pet Nutritionist, Homemade pet diet recipes should include information on how to prepare the food in batches that can be frozen to save time and money. Don’t just follow a recipe you saw on TikTok or a Facebook group.


If you don’t see ample amounts of a variety of whole foods listed in the recipes then the diet is nutritionally inadequate (deficient). Feeding an unbalanced meal now and then is fine. Feeding unbalanced meals day after day is what causes problems over time, and the number one reason why veterinarians discourage homemade diets.


If you don’t want to or can’t afford to feed 100% homemade, feed fruit as treats or add COOKED veggies to meals — keep a list of fresh food options on hand that can be safely added to commercial pet food.


  • Grind and blend the food, if possible, so your dog doesn’t pick out individual ingredients.

  • Use cooked gram weights instead of cups as a unit of measurement, because a “cup” can vary greatly depending on how finely you cut ingredients; cooked gram weights (you’ll need a scale) is the most accurate way to measure food amounts.

  • Prepare food for several weeks or a few months to save time; package in individual portions and freeze. Bulk Meal prepping will save you time and money.

We recommend feeding fresh seafood in one form or another at least a couple of times a week to help balance your dog’s fatty acids. It’s important that you don’t add any fish or marine oil to the recipe directly. To reduce oxidation, marine oils should not be cooked or left sitting, add it to the food right before serving. If you opt to supplement using Fish Oil Capsules instead of adding whole sardines for example.

How Much To Feed your Dog?

In general, Adult dogs should eat about 2-3% of their body weight daily in raw food. Puppies need around 10% of their current weight per day. This is a guide ONLY, and will vary from dog to dog, and as they age.


Remember, these recipes are not complete and balanced diets, but simply a great place to start. Also remember, variety and rotation of ingredients is the key to creating a fabulous diet for your beloved dog! The addition of some of our real-food supplements make it easy to add all the vitamins and minerals that would come from a very long list of varied ingredients.


In fact, with the addition of just the Healthy Bones Supplement you are adding a further 6 foods to the meal mix, add in the Super Greens Meal Supplement and you are adding a further 8 more REAL foods to the meal!


And at the beginning I mentioned the feeling of satisfaction you too will get from opening your freezer and admiring the portioned containers full of nothing but beautiful ingredients prepared with your care and love! That is priceless, trust me! And, if you've included your kids in this shared activity, they will share this feeling too. I speak from experience.


Here’s the 3 Base Recipes to help you make a start on your own Dog's Health and Happiness Journey!


Beef it up Adult Dog Food Recipe


Ingredients

1kg 90% lean ground beef (mince)

500gm Beef Heart

6 Free Range eggs without shells

100gm beef liver


100gm fresh shiitake mushrooms

2 Tablespoons Healthy Bones Meal Supplement (Calcium)

2 Tablespoons Super Greens Meal Supplement (Micro nutrients, multi vitamins)

2 Tablespoons Hemp seeds or hearts (Omega 3 and Fiber - Prebiotic)

1 Tablespoon Wheat Germ Oil (or Coconut Oil)

1 Tablespoon ground sunflower seeds

1 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt


Method

To Feed Raw

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate and serve within 3 days.


To Feed Cooked

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Move to a casserole dish and Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 40 – 60 minutes. Serve it warm and place the remaining food in the fridge and serve within 3 days.


Chicken & Pumpkin Adult Dog Food Recipe


Ingredients

1kg lean ground Chicken (mince)

500gm Chicken Hearts

6 Free Range eggs without shells

100gm Chicken liver

200gm Cooked Mashed Pumpkin

2 Tablespoons Healthy Bones Meal Supplement (Calcium)

2 Tablespoons Two Seeds Curcumin Meal Supplement (Omega 3 & 6, Thiamine, Magnesium & Fiber - Prebiotic)

1 Tablespoon Wheat Germ Oil (or Coconut Oil)

1 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt


Method

To Feed Raw

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate and serve within 3 days.


To Feed Cooked

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Move to a casserole dish and Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 40 – 60 minutes. Serve it warm and place the remaining food in the fridge and serve within 3 days.


Porky Nom Noms Adult Dog Food Recipe


Ingredients

1.5kg lean ground Pork (mince)

500gm Pork, Beef or Chicken Hearts

3 Free Range eggs without shells

100gm Pork liver

500gm Cooked Mixed Vegetables (Carrot, Broccoli, Spinach)

2 Tablespoons Healthy Bones Meal Supplement (Calcium)

2 Tablespoons Ground Pumpkin Seeds

2 Tablespoons Ground/Grated Ginger

1 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt


Method

To Feed Raw

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate and serve within 3 days.


To Feed Cooked

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Move to a casserole dish and Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 40 – 60 minutes. Serve it warm and place the remaining food in the fridge and serve within 3 days.


child and dog in front of refrigerator
Include your Family in making your Dog's Meals, your children will love it as much as your Dog!



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