Why You Should Feed Your Dog Homemade Dog Food

Homemade Dog Food Recipe

When we got our puppy, Deli, a black lab-pointer mix, our family decided she would eat only a homemade dog food and that we would never give her commercially prepared dog food. Definitely not the grain-heavy dry stuff in the 100 pound bags for about $30 bucks. We fed our other two fur babies food that was shelf stable for years and in the end, we walked through cancer with both of them — my precious K.C and California Girl. I always thought the diet was a huge part of both dogs getting cancer.

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Circa 1992. KC having fun playing chase with her new puppy California Girl aka Cali. Photo by S. Carlson

When Sickness Shows Up

When KC was diagnosed with Cushings Disease and given about 7 months to live. I found myself grasping at straws. I can’t lose my first fur baby. She was only 6 years old. We didn’t know about the cancer then, but I am sure it was an underlying issue. The obvious disease — Cushings — was diagnosed first.

The internet was emerging and there was SOME information available, but not as much as can be found today. Back then, who knew what information was factual and what wasn’t. It was still new territory and information I found on the internet was added to my notes. My quest for answers took me to the library, local vets and health food stores. I lived in the big city and decided to talk to vets both in my city and a couple hours out of the city. I found many approaches to pet care and got some great information.

The local health food store had books and very knowledgeable staff that were more than happy to chat about my dog. I was on a mission to find a cure.

Can Food Up Quality of Life?

I believe it is a personal decision. My research and findings led me to a choose to change KC’s diet. Of course, Cali also got in on the dinner action. We now were making homemade dog food from a recipe that a country vet created for my two dogs. We drove 45 minutes to the closest whole foods so our dogs could have organic. It was a family affair. After church, we spend a few hours in whole foods, educating ourselves to make better food choices for everyone in the family.

I am solid in my belief that our family got to enjoy almost five additional years with KC because of the medication and changes in her diet. After each check up, the vet said we should keep up what we were doing with KC, that she’s happy and she was pleased with her progress. That’s when I realized that switching her to filtered water and whole, fresh foods was healing. It really upped her quality of life.

A New Way To Eat For The Entire Family

I had a light bulb moment! If clean eating worked for KC, then it would work for my family. This was the beginning of our family reducing the amount of processed foods we used to consume in our diets.

Lemon cucumber-mint water is refreshing and cleansing. Photo credit: S. Carlson.

Fast forward about seven years. We lost sweet KC and it broke my heart. Cali was battling cancer and nearing the end of time with our family. We had a young daughter and to help soften the devastation our family was about to go through with our impending loss of another fur baby, with we adopted a new puppy.

It was an easy choice to feed our new pup nutritious whole foods. I talked with a vet via email, got a customized diet for my puppy and the recipe adjustments to transition her into adult life. I think it cost me about $100 bucks, and was worth it. This new puppy would never have food that is shelf-stable, never be around yard chemicals and never drink unfiltered water, if I could help it.

We made a batch of food and Deli loved it! The recipe wasn’t difficult, but did take planning, just as one would plan when cooking for someone in the family who is on a special diet.

Summer is here! Make sure your pup gets out and enjoys the season with help from Rover! 

The Puppy Diet

Deli consumed a diet high in natural protein like beef, fish and poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables and some grains, usually quinoa, brown rice or millet. In addition, she ate legumes like chickpeas, peas, kidney beans, potatoes and starchy root vegetables.

For years, Deli was a healthy happy pup. She exercised and was trim and svelte. Everything we fed this girl was fresh food, minimally processed in our kitchen. In addition, I buy treats that are gluten and grain free, use organic ingredients and very few preservatives, if any.

Switching The Diet

We moved to Los Angeles and Eric took a job out of town to work on a project. He would be gone five months, and preparing homemade dog food was time-consuming. It was time I was short on. For instance, I was juggling my daughter’s home-schooling, acting classes, auditions and remodeling our new abode. Life started to get really hard for me and I made a change in Deli’s diet.

I researched and found I could purchase quality dry foods. I also tried dehydrated, frozen-raw and refrigerated foods. Ease and convenience dictated we go with a quality, grain-free dry food. Consequently, I paid anywhere from $54-74 per bag, which lasted about a month. Her treats always were as close to homemade as I could get. Quality ingredients were of utmost importance.

Headed in the right direction

About four years after changing the diet, we notice a lot of things changed for Deli. Besides the fact that she is four years older, she is now getting lumps and cysts on her body. Lots of them. They are fatty tissue growths and cysts and they don’t seem to bother her. Thank goodness. The vet said to just keep an eye on them, much to my relief.

My daughter is an information junkie and she dove into the internet for some answers. Why is Deli aging so quickly. Why is she so stiff. Does she have arthritis like the vet said? What can we do about the lumps. I mean, I guess all of us, or most of us, get lumpy when we get older. I know I am. But she has a lot of unsightly lumps.

Back To Basics

It didn’t take long to find answers that impacted our choice to take a step back. It was definitely time to get back to a healthier way of eating. I dove in on the research, finding vets who embrace a whole food diet, as well as holistic and alternative blogs dedicated to animal nutrition and health.

I shudder when I imagine how long some of those bags of pet food sit in a warehouse and how often the inventory is rotated.

Subsequently, I created palatable homemade dog food recipes. Most importantly, each recipe contains the correct ratio of animal protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and nutrients. My recipes are easy to prepare fresh, portion and serve or portion and freeze and thaw as needed. So far, so good.

Getting Back On Track

Deli is sedentary. Most days she sleeps more than she is awake. And she does it under my feet so I have to trip — err –walk over her. At my size, it’s more like climbing over her without tripping. She’s a big dog. I’m a big girl without a grasp on my balance it makes walking over a dog 100 times a day quite the challenge.

Living a sedentary lifestyle, her daily food rations are 2% of her total body weight. On the other hand, dogs who live a very active lifestyle would require up to 4% of their total body weight.

Meal Prep: Meal prep allows me to cook in batches, portion out and freeze for Deli gets a variety of meals. This meal prep packet is: Turkey, Brown Rice, Peas, Carrots, Apples.

We use beef, turkey, chicken, salmon, tuna, bison and pork. I freeze each portion until needed, pulling out a few bags at a time to thaw in the refrigerator. I add to the mixture (heated or thawed in fridge), one egg, 1 oz organ meat, 1 tbs. Keifer or Yogurt, 1/4 tsp calcium and vitamins. Deli loves it!

The Nutrition Has To Be Correct!

The second time around with my research and I found much better information. There are more vets who are open to a whole food approach to nutrition for pets. Therefore, with new research, I found an easier way to give Deli what she needs to thrive, based on percentages.

Where my first customized diet from a vet I found on the internet gave me cups/ounces for Deli, this new formula can be easily be adjusted as Deli loses weight. To clarify, feeding her the dry food diet caused a 25 pound weight gain. Deli eating a fresh food diet is down nine pounds in four months and feeling great!

Deli’s portions for her 76 pound weight.

  • Her portion is 24 ounces of food per day, that I split into 2 meals.
  • Protein — meats, organ meats and/or eggs.
  • Vegetables, Grains, Dairy — fresh steamed vegetables, legumes and/or grains and kiefer/yogurt.
  • Supplements calcium in the form of ground egg shells, apple cider vinegar, powdered vitamins.

Check back next week for my recipe or fill out this NO SPAM form and I’ll email you once I post the recipe here on the blog.

Deli Got Her Puppy Pep Back!

It’s only been a few months since Deli has been back on her whole foods diet and we have seen great changes. Deli is down 10 pounds, thanks to her homemade dog food! Yay!! Her agility is better. The torn ACL has healed up and the arthritis isn’t bothering her as much. In short, she can run, jump — which she does for treats — and get up and down without as much effort as six months ago.

Update: I attended a graduation party yesterday and Deli was left home for four hours. What a greeting when I came home! She was full of fantastic energy, running through the house, doing her circles of joy and exuberant! That’s the real difference a homemade dog food diet made in my dog! Deli feels good. She has energy and she moves like she’s young again!

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