I admit it: I cook for my dogs. They eat better than I do. While I tuck into a yogurt, they get a slow-cooked beef stew chock full of veggies and whole grains. I do this because: 1) I love my dogs, 2) I like cooking for them and 3) I don’t trust commercial dog food.
Consider the number of recent dog food recalls that have been contaminated by salmonella, “a quaternary ammonium compound mixture,” elevated levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone, and horrifyingly, pentobarbital, one of the euthanasia drugs used to put a pet to sleep. Take a look at the list of recalls on the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Now let’s talk about home cooking meals for your furry best friend.
Before you embark on becoming a dog chef, do your research. What do dogs need nutritionally to be healthy? How much food is just enough? It’s extremely important you know the basics of canine nutrition before attempting to make your own dog food. Once you understand the ratio of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals, you’ll be better able to determine if a recipe is healthy.
I suggest you invest in a crockpot, which can range from $20 for a basic version to $150 for all the bells and whistles. Get at least a 6-quart size so you can make a large amount of food and freeze it in portions. Depending on the size of your dog, one slow-cooked meal can last from two weeks to over a month.
Other helpful equipment includes a food processor for chopping and slicing veggies. These are also available in a range of prices from the mini-version for under $30 to the larger one at $179. Also invest in a good chopping knife, a baking pan, a 10-inch frying pan and freezer storage containers.
To be sure your dog is getting everything he needs, you can add supplements to his food after it’s heated up for each meal. Discuss this with your veterinarian first. Some popular supplements include Nupro and Dr. Harvey’s.
There are basic recipes available online and in dog food cookbooks. Here are some cookbooks that will give you great nutritional information and easy-to-make healthy recipes.
1. The Healthy Homemade Dog Food Cookbook
The Healthy Homemade Dog Food Cookbook is loaded with information about nutrition and tons of recipes for treats and dinners. Highlights include: Rovers Chicken Risotto, Irish Lamb Hotpot, Mighty Meaty Mutt Loaf, and Canine Cottage Pie. There are sections on feeding puppies and senior citizens, appropriate food for dogs that don’t feel well, information about raw food, equipment, and recipes for dogs with food allergies. Readers report that the recipes are easy to make and dogs love them.
2. Home Cooking for Your Dog: 75 Holistic Recipes for a Healthier Dog
Home Cooking for Your Dog is a holistic cookbook with recipes for cooked meals, treats and a raw food diet. The nutritional information, cooking tips and stories about author Christine Filardi’s four dogs are illustrated with color photographs of dogs and funny line drawings. Recipes are divided into sections for Pup-Friendly Pies and Quiches, Casseroles, Fishcakes, Burgers, Bad to the Bone Stew, Monday-Friday Meals and Treats. The hardcover version comes with a Basic Food Chart and Serving Size Chart along with information about nutrition and kitchen prep.
3. The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious & Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love
The Healthy Dog Cookbook is written by Jonna Anne, an executive chef and founder of the Copperpaws website, Mary Straus, a canine nutritionist, and Shawn Messonnier, a veterinarian. The book’s sections feature Canine Nutrition, Snacks & Treats, Meaty Meals, Lighter Meals, and Special Diets. Readers say the recipes are easy to make with limited ingredients, so if you’re a beginner doggie chef, this may be the book for you. Each recipe also includes a nutritional analysis and indicates recommended supplements (and amounts) to add.
4. The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats
The Whole Pet Diet is aimed at dogs who are overweight, suffer from allergies, joint disorders, digestive problems or simply aging. It includes 25 easy to make recipes for meals and treats, information about supplements, healthy teeth and coats, and a weekly program to improve your dog’s health. There are also recipes for a natural essential fatty acid supplement and a mineral mix. The recipes focus on stews, treats, and adding “green foods” rich in chlorophyll, beta-carotene, and protein. Recipes include Jasmine’s Lamb Delight, Shrimp and Eggs, Salmon and Veggie Patties and Spot’s Chicken Stew.
All our picks our independently chose, but we do earn an affiliate commission to support our work. However, if we don’t like the product, we aren’t going to write about it. Making a few cents off an affiliate just isn’t worth it to us.