Dog ownership can be as do-it-yourself friendly as any other aspect of life. You can make your own dog shampoo for canine bathtime. You can make your own dog beds and toys for sustainability and general earth friendliness. You can try your hand at some home remedies for common dog ailments. And of course, you can make your own dog food, which can be more earth friendly than purchasing commercial dog food, more manageable financially, and could be better for your puppy’s overall health. So what are the specific benefits of homemade puppy food?
Why Make Puppy Food at Home?
Maybe you’ve lost trust in pet food companies because of recalls. Maybe your puppy’s health or energy level isn’t where you want it to be. Maybe you can’t seem to get it right with commercially made products. Or maybe it’s just your natural inclination to try your hand at something new.
Whatever your motivations, if switching to homemade puppy food for the long haul, be sure you have the time and energy to keep things consistent and involve a professional. Without proper care and attention, your puppy can suffer from nutritional deficiencies, which can affect their growth and developmental health.
If you’re going to make the leap, be sure you can commit to doing it properly.
Guidelines for Making Puppy Food at Home
Your puppy should enjoy a balanced diet including protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. The protein, fat, and carb ingredients are fairly easy to put together. Supplements should be added to all homemade dog food, especially puppy food, to be sure the diet is rounded out.
Follow these basic guidelines for proportions, but be absolutely sure to consult your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist throughout the process.
Appropriate portioning should be discussed with your vet, since this will change from breed to breed quite a bit.
According to Jenna Stregowski, RVT, “Most pups should be fed at least three times a day until six months of age.” For tiny dogs, she adds, “four small meals may be better.”
How to Prepare the Food
Unless you’re going down the BARF or raw-food road, you’ll want to gently cook all the ingredients in your homemade puppy food.
- Put all the ingredients, except for the supplements, together in a saucepan
- Add a bit or water or no-sodium broth
- Heat gently until everything is cooked through
- When it’s done cooking, allow it to cool
- Some pet parents chop, mash, or shred the ingredients together into manageable puppy-sized mouthfuls. Others favor a food processor to macerate everything.
- Most practitioners of homemade food cook in bulk and store pre-portioned sizes in small containers in the freezer. Consider muffin tins to get consistent sizing.
- Add in supplements before every meal, one serving at a time
Downsides to Making Your Own Puppy Food
The most common pitfall is that pet parents don’t consult closely enough with their veterinarians and end up creating deficiencies or overdoses in their dog’s diet. Stregowski says, “Establish a good relationship with your vet. Be in touch with them as you make this transition. They can make recommendations specific to your puppy. If you notice lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, or a bloated abdomen, call your veterinarian for input. If you notice more severe abnormalities like dizziness, trouble moving, or if they develop blue or pale gums, bring them in right away.”
If you’re willing to put in the time and learn a lot, making your own pet’s food could be a source of adventure, fun, and bonding for you and your puppy.
More on Puppies
Which Dog Breed is Best For You?
What are Puppy Mills?
Puppy Grooming for Beginners
How to Buy Puppy Supplies You'll Actually Use
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.