Want To Make Your Own Dog Food? Some things you should keep in mind!
Over a month ago I finally was able to make a huge dietary change for my dog. After reading lots of information and buying a super handy book from Dr. Karen Becker (currently out of order) and purchasing all the equipment I was ready to make my very own dog food at home. I was so excited and still am which is why I want to share some important tips you should take into consideration before making this a happy, healthy and long lasting food journey for you and your dog.
First of all you will need some basic knowledge and guidance when trying to provide your dog with balanced food. Depending on your dog’s sex, age, health and lifestyle you now get the chance to optimize the food based on your dog’s needs. Since most of us are not able to provide our dog(s) with natural food sources you will want to add some healthy and very necessary food supplements which you are not able to provide him otherwise. I myself found the book “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats. Simple homemade food” by Dr. Becker very helpful when preparing and making the food. Dr. Becker is a holistic veterinarian, animal acupuncturist and homeopath and her book gives lots of useful information on how to make healthy, natural dog food at home. However, I have to warn you, this book is not the regular recipe book you might expect. By using the book you get all the different elements the food should contain but it is up to you to puzzle all the building blocks together. It really is a good book but you have to put in some effort to understand and use it. Lots of people complain that the book is to complex but by providing the information in that way you are able to make the food your dog needs.
Raw or precooked, boneless or with bone?
I am not a planning freak but without some kind of planning or schedule you probably will end up disappointed in the whole ‘homemade-dog-food-practice’. The first thing you need to decide is how often you want to prepare the food. On a daily basis? Weekly? Monthly? What works best for your lifestyle? Are you able to feed raw meat (uncooked) or do you prefer to precook/steam the meat beforehand? Depending on these choices you will need certain equipment and food supplements. I decided to make a batch of food once a month. Although making food once a month means less cooking during the week it also means that you have to choose the ingredients and supplements wisely to provide a balanced diet. We humans don’t have a balanced diet every day but generally over a period of several days or weeks we will achieve a balanced and complete diet. When preparing the food at one moment it is therefore important to get the mix right at that moment. Otherwise your dog will be at risk to get health issues due to food deficiencies. I also decided to precook the meat. Lots of people prefer raw meat because it contains more nutrients and is more natural. However, when “cooking” with raw meat you have to work very very clean to overcome illness due to bacteria. Precooking the meat means that you will need a big frying pan and lots of storage space in your freezer. I buy and precook 9 kg beef (meat, heart and liver) a month so you can imagine how much space that will take! For me it is also easier to give boneless meat which means that I have to compensate the bones with a bone meal supplement.
If you know which meat your dog likes or needs you have to plan which vegetables and fruits you will need and how many. As with us humans your dog, too will need lots of vitamins! In general, my dog Bobby eats everything, however he can be quite picky when it comes to greens. He will eat the meat first and will leave most of the vegetables and fruits (like a child). Therefore I decided to mix the vegetables and fruit with the meat by making some sort of paste. First I precook the meat, put it through a grinder, blend or mash the vegetables and then mix it all together. That way he will eat all his greens!
Depending on the current/previous diet your dog will need to adapt to raw/fresh food. To make it as easy as possible for your dog’s digestive system a transition phase from example dry kibble to homemade food is needed. There are different ways to let your dog get used to the food change but in most cases the transition will go fast and without complications. In general precooked or steamed meat especially organs are easier to digest than raw organs.
Last but not least, making dog food yourself can be more expensive than the dry kibble from the pet store. Although our dog always got high quality and expensive dry kibble, making his food at home myself is still more expensive since I only buy organic meat. Supplements, especially krill oil is quite expensive.
Before you decide to make dog food yourself keep in mind that it will take time and depending on the way you prepare it space! On days that I am making food I spend at least 3 hours in the kitchen chopping, cooking and blending the ingredients. Adding the time to clean all the kitchenware makes it about 4 hours. Making dog food is not complex but it can take some time to get the hang of it. Making one big batch of food a month can safe you some time during the week however it also requires big frying pans and a big freezer. Lots of people pretend that making dog food is not time-consuming at all and that everybody with a dog should do it. I believe that everybody should choose their own way and do what suits their lifestyle best!
Do you have some tips for people who would like to give their dog(s) homemade food?