Homemade Dog Food

Not to be a downer, but my dog has bone cancer. I’m going all out to give him the longest, best life possible — surgery, chemo, the works — and it got me thinking about the craziness of feeding our beloved pets some stuff from a bag that’s had all the nutrients processed right out of it and then synthetic vitamins sprinkled back on.

So, since Hoover’s surgery to have the leg with the tumor removed, I’ve been making his dog food and continuing my research about what dogs really should eat.

Dogs need mostly meat. And for about 10,000 years, that’s meant raw meat. Commercial dog food is mostly grain and what meat there is is not really worthy of being called meat. (Incidentally, commercial dog food has only been around about 70 years, about as long as junk food for humans.)

Because Hoover is undergoing chemotherapy, I haven’t gone the raw route yet. I may, once his chemo is over, and I certainly will for my next dog. For now, I’m cooking his meat.

In terms of portion size, the general rule of thumb is to feed 1-3 percent of your dog’s body weight, the low end for older or inactive dogs. Hoover weighs about 57 pounds, so he gets just over a pound of food a day.

Here’s my basic recipe for a day’s worth of food. I usually make enough for 4-5 days and keep a container of it in the fridge. You could certainly make a bigger batch, portion it, and throw it in the freezer. Just remember to keep it about 60 percent meat.

3/4 lb cooked meat (boneless chicken thighs, ground beef, etc. I use organic because I’m trying to save his damn life. Not a time to cheap out.)

1 zucchini, shredded or chopped

1 carrot, shredded or chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 fish oil capsules

1 ground up egg shell (for calcium)

1 raw egg – or – 2 T yogurt or cottage cheese (the good kind with probiotics)

Briefly sauté the vegetables in olive oil. Mix everything together.  Serve at room temperature.

You can certainly substitute other veggies you have on hand such as green beans, broccoli, brussell sprouts, spinach, kale, squash, cabbage and cauliflower.

Hoover has no objections to this new diet — indeed he relishes meal time — and we haven’t had any digestive issues as we had when we switched to a new brand of kibble a few years back. He healed from his surgery very quickly and his energy is great.

Overall, making dog food is much less trouble than I thought it would be I feel better about what I’m putting in his body.

I’m planning to make Hoover’s food for the rest of his life, and I’m hoping that extends well past the usual prognosis.

Here are some online sources that I found valuable during my research. All these folks are veterinarians with a holistic bent:

Dr. Charles Loops, a conventional vet turned homeopathic vet talks nuts and bolts of feeding a more natural diet. 

Dr. Doug calls himself the Holistic Vet and discusses why he feeds raw. 

A video post from Dr. Karen Becker dispels the myths around raw food diets. 

So, what are you feeding your pets? Would you ever consider making pet food from scratch?


  1. Unfortunately, my cats love “cat junk food”- the cheaper, processed cat kibble. I can’t get them to eat the ‘good'(more expensive)store-bought cat food.

    I would be interested to hear if anyone makes their own cat food.

  2. Sorry to hear about your dog. Wonderful that you decided to give your dog the best food you can. Hope he lives a happy life for a lot longer!

  3. I was thrilled to read your article on homemade dog food. Our last dog we adopted from the pound so who knows what he ate for his first 8 years, but we fed him store bought food because we didn’t know any better. Within 2 years, he died.
    Our current dog was originally fed raw but what I noticed was he would stop eating for a few days off and on. Also, the ingredients were never listed and I started to think, can I trust what is in this. So, I make Wilson homemade god food. I boil up flank steak and chicken thighs and mix in a fruit, vegetables, hemp seed, and eggs. He has never shunned his food, he has kept a stable weight for 2 years, and he has a ton of energy.
    I would also like to point out that dogs absorb people’s energy. They need to be cleared of negative energy as well just as humans need. Good energy-good food-lots of love.
    I hope Hoover recovers fast!

  4. Now that is love, Hoover is one lucky dog to have you on his side.

  5. Jessica Anne says:

    The veterinarian in me is shuddering. Please always cook your pet’s meat. There is a big difference between a wild canine eating fresh kill and the packaged meat in the grocery store that has been processed in a meat packing facility, saran wrapped and sitting, brewing in it’s own bacteria for who knows how long. Domestic dogs are domesticated for thousands of years, there are differences between our pet’s and wild dog’s digestive systems. Also, if you’re going to cook, make sure you’re getting the proper amount of micronutrients (like calcium, phosphorus, and taurine for cats). UC Davis has a fantastic nutrition department that will custom formulate a balanced homemade diet for your pet, even taking into consideration underlying disease processes, for a fee, of course. You may need to have your vet act as the middle man with them. Here’s the site: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/nutrition/index.cfm

    • I totally get your point about sourcing meat. The truth is, I will probably not do raw with my next dog, because I am a risk averse individual and seek the middle path. My main interest is fresh and wholesome ingredients, and of course making sure I’m meeting all nutritional needs. I’ll definitely check out the UC Davis link. Sounds really cool.

  6. I’ll boil chicken or ground beef if my dog gets a stomach bug, but I just can’t justify it all the time. We spend a good amount of money on Wellness brand dry dog food because I learned a few years ago how much crap is many common brands. When I made the switch, I used http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com to find a brand that still fit within my budget. Fortunately, many big box pet stores have started carrying better alternatives in the last couple years.

    • I’ve also started supplementing with a dehydrated dog food made by Honest Kitchen. They have great sourcing and it’s a nice back up when I don’t have time to make a batch from scratch.

  7. Yes indeed, Hoover is one lucky dog to have a family that will do whatever it takes to keep him healthy.

  8. Oh! Sad to hear about your dog’s illness. Well, I admire your unending love for your dog. Hoover is such a lucky dog to have you. :)

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