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Making Homemade Puppy Food

Important Things to Know Before Making the Switch

By Lauren Leonardi . July 17, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM

    Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

Making Homemade Puppy Food

It seems as if more and more pet parents are getting into the whole do-it-yourself lifestyle when it comes to caring for their pets, even when it comes to nutrition. Find out the important things to consider before you begin making your puppy food from scratch.

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.

 

Ingredient

Approximate Balance

Options

Protein

40%-80%

Boneless chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, or duck; deboned fish, especially salmon; and eggs which can be cooked with their crushed shells included for extra calcium. Organ meats are very healthy as well, but typically should not make up more than 15% of the diet.

Fruits & Veggies

5%-10%

Carrots, blueberries, peas and more. But steer clear of anything poisonous for dogs.

Fiber-Rich Carbohydrates

20%-60%

Potatoes, both sweet and regular; brown, jasmine, or white rice; peas; lentils; and oatmeal or barley in smaller amounts.

Fat

5%-15%

Poultry skin; rendered poultry fat from cooking; safflower, canola, or soybean oil; or ground flax seeds or flax oil.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vet-Recommended Dosage

Consider a puppy supplement with plenty of calcium for your growing dog. Consult your veterinarian for recommended brands.

Extras

Your Discretion

Some folks save treats like tinned tuna juice, broth, leftover chicken soup, and other tasty morsels to include in their puppy’s food. Other extras may include parsley for fresher breath, or probiotics to stimulate immunity. Later in life it might make sense to add supplements like glucosamine for achy joints, but in your young dog, this won’t be necessary.

 

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.

  1. Put all the ingredients, except for the supplements, together in a saucepan
  2. Add a bit or water or no-sodium broth
  3. Heat gently until everything is cooked through
  4. When it’s done cooking, allow it to cool
  5. Some pet parents chop, mash, or shred the ingredients together into manageable puppy-sized mouthfuls. Others favor a food processor to macerate everything.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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Homemade Puppy Food at a glance

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  • 1Always work with your veterinarian to determine a healthy diet for your pet.
  • 2Homemade puppy diets consist of protein, fruits or vegetables, carbs, fats, and supplements.
  • 3Many makers of their own dog food make a lot in advance and freeze portions for later.