When it comes to purchasing food for your furry best friend, so many of us are guilty of not putting enough research into the kibble or wet food that we’re buying. Dog food can get expensive, especially when you are buying it often, and/or you have multiple dogs.
Have you ever thought of making homemade dog food? Although it sounds like work, homemade dog food can not only be cheaper than the high-quality kibble you’re buying every other week, but much better for your pup! Let’s take a look at some great homemade dog food recipes, and some more information on why crockpot recipes are the way to go.
Why Cook your Dog’s Foodin a Crockpot?
For some reason, when a recipe calls for the word “crockpot” we think that it’s more complicated than it actually is – the only thing that makes it complicated is if you don’t have a crockpot!
The benefit of cooking with a crockpot is that you can literally throw a bunch of ingredients into it, and then leave it to slowly cook all day. As a result, you (or your dog) will have a freshly prepared meal that is ready to eat at the end of the day. It really couldn’t be easier! A crockpot cuts down on preparation time and cleanup, saving valuable minutes all around (which I’m sure your dog will also appreciate).
What are the Benefits of Homemade Dog Food?
There are a great number of benefits to homemade dog food. Having said that, it’s only healthier if it’s done properly and your dog or puppy is getting all the vitamins and nutrients it needs. So, if in doubt, consult a veterinarian before cutting the kibble altogether. However, the majority of mainstream dog food that you’re buying at your local supermarket does not containenough natural,essential ingredients for a dog, never mind a growing pup.
A good general rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, don’t feed it to your dog! Some kibble contains a ton of filler ingredients that are meant to keep your dog full, but can be harmful to your dog’s health rather than beneficial. Some additional benefits of homemade dog food include:
- Healthier skin and coat – There are many natural, healthy foods and oils that you can feed your pup that are great for their skin and coat, including flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, eggs, liver and wild salmon. Dogs with allergies that show up on their skin in the form of an angry rash, flakes, bumps, etc. particularly benefit from these sorts of ingredients – and not just the traces that can be found in dog food. It’s absolutely best for your dog to receivethese ingredients in their true form, to get the most out of them.
- Firmer stool and less to clean up – Kibble based dog food often contains an excessive amount of fiber, which can upset the stomach, and cause loose and excessive number twos (we’re just trying to be real here). This is why if you’ve already changed your pup’s food over from kibble to homemade, you’ve probably seen a difference in the firmness and amount of their stool. The fact that they’re going to the bathroom less may alarm you at first, and leave you wondering whether they’re actually getting enough food or nutrients. Well actually, the fact that they are keeping more inside is a good thing – this means that they are absorbing more of the nutrients, rather than it just passing through them.
- Increased energy – Well yes, your new pup may already be bouncing off the walls, you’ll notice an even bigger increase in energy with a natural, homemade diet (trust us, this is a good thing). Due to less food simply passing through your dog’s digestive system, they are able to absorb more energy and nutrients from their food, which pays off when it comes to how much physical energy they are able to exert. With more energy they are also able to tire themselves out easier, so be prepared for more running, jumping, playing and all-aroundincreased puppy antics.
- Decreased vet visits (and a longer life) – Did you know that low quality kibble and over processed wet food can be hugely detrimental to your dog’s health? Dangerous filler ingredients and low-quality food can be the cause of cancer, diseases, digestion issues and skin problems in your pup. Fresh, quality ingredients not only prevent these issues from happening, but they also keep your pup’s immune system up. This is not unlike when we ourselves have a poor diet made up of low quality, fast food – sooner or later; a diet like this is going to be sending us to the doctor. As a result of this decreased risk of health issues, chances are your pup is going to be around for much longer, which is really what it’s all about.
- Enjoyment of meal times – While yes, we’re sure that your dog enjoys meal time no matter what, they will appreciate the quality of food they’re receiving over their previous, every day kibble, and they will notice the difference! They will feel fuller and more fulfilled after their meal, and you’ll have a happier pup overall.
Can you Freeze Homemade Dog Food?
Absolutely, you can! We recommend that you divide your dog food into individual baggies ready for serving, keep enough in the fridge for a week, and save the rest.
Okay, so we’ve been talking about the benefits of homemade dog food and the ease of cooking in a crockpot. But what about the recipes? This is where we can start to feel lost and wonder if we’re really giving our dog’s enough nutrients – which can prompt us to return to our standard kibble that claims to be a safe, fully balanced diet for your pup. Please don’t be fooled by these claims!
We’ll show you in the following recipes that you can provide your pup a much safer, fully balanced meal than kibble can ever claim to do.
Beef and Butternut Squash
This recipe is bursting with beneficial ingredients for your pup. It will leave them happy, completely full, and with an incredibly balanced diet.
- 2 to 2 ½ lbs.pre-cookedground beef
- 1 ½ cups of brown rice
- 1 to 1 ½ cups of chopped carrots
- 1 ½ cups of chopped butternut squash
- ½ cup peas (can be frozen or canned)
- 1 15 ounce can of kidney beans
- Combine the ground beef, brown rice, carrots, butternut squash, peas and kidney beans, along with 4 cups of water in a 6-quart crockpot.
- You have the option of cooking on a low heat for 5-6 hours, on a high heat for 2-3 hours, or whichever suits you best. Stir sporadically.
- Let cool completely before serving to your pup – and that’s it!
This meal is completely balanced and provides everything your pup could need in their diet, while being delicious and incredibly filling.
It’s important to feed your dog a combination of meat, healthy carbs, fiber and vegetables to make sure they are getting everything they need in a healthy diet. Any overload of any of these ingredients can most definitely upset your dog’s tummy, so don’t defer from the suggested ingredient amounts too much. Other than that, bon appetit to your lucky pup!
Pork and Peas Please
We’re sticking with fairly basic recipes with simple ingredients, as your pup is able to get a fully balanced diet without having to go overboard. Especially if you’re just starting out with this change of diet, we don’t want to risk upsetting your dog’s stomach, even if the extra ingredients are incredibly good for them. Here’s another simple and incredibly nutritious meal. This particular recipe is also grain free!
- 2 ½ to 3 lbs.raw pork tenderloin
- 2 yams
- 1 bag of chopped carrots
- 1 bag of peas (frozen or unfrozen)
- 2 apples (peeled, chopped and without core)
- 1 15 ounce can of kidney beans
- 2 cups of broccoli spears (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cups of chopped spinach
- Place the pork tenderloin in the crockpot, adding enough water so that it’s covered.
- Add the chopped yams, carrots, broccoli, apples and beans on top of the meat.
- Cook either on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours, and then add the peas when there’s 2 hours left to go.
- Stir in the chopped spinach at the very end.
- Mix everything well – the fruits, vegetables and peas should all mash together, and the pork should easily shred.
This recipe should leave you with a serious amount of leftover dog food that you can store away in your freezer, and you can guarantee your dog will never get sick of it!
This is a fairly basic recipe, with a little twist – blueberries! Blueberries are often seen as an ingredient in higher end dog treats, and for good reason. Blueberries are just as beneficial to our pups as they are to us, as they contain a ton of valuable antioxidants and fiber. Blueberries also contain phytochemicals, which are known for helping to fight cancer in humans, and they have actually been shown to improve the health of animals. Is this enough reason to add it to your dog’s food? Yes, we think so!
- 2 to 3 lbs. ofraw ground turkey
- 2 to 3 lbs.of raw ground chicken or chicken thighs (if you choose chicken thighs, make sure the bones are removed completely after cooking).
- 2 small potatoes (chopped)
- 2 small sweet potatoes (chopped)
- 1 cup of frozen or fresh peas
- 1 cup of chopped carrots
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- Place the ground turkey and the ground chicken/chicken thighs in the crockpot first, and add enough water to cover them completely.
- Add the rest of the ingredients in no particular order.
- Cook on low for 12 hours.
- Allow it to cool completely before serving to your pup.
And that’s it for this recipe! It’s incredibly easy, incredibly nutritious, and should last your dog for weeks (depending on the size of your dog and how many you have, of course!).
What do Vets Think?
As mentioned above, making your own dog food can be incredibly beneficial to your pup, nevermind your wallet. It is always safer to check particular recipes with a veterinarian before giving them to your dog as their meal, especially if this is their sole source of nutrients. They may require you to feed them additional supplements (which can usually just be sprinkled over their food), depending on the age and size of your dog (puppies often need additional nutrients in general).
When it comes to concerns about homemade dog food meals, vets generally are concerned about safety hazards – that is, making sure that you’ve removed all bones after you’ve cooked the meat, and removing all seeds and pits. They also warn about the fat content, and encourage you to opt for leaner meats, such as lean or ultra-lean ground beef. And again, if in doubt, consult your veterinarian about your choice in crockpot dog food recipes for your particular pup to make sure that it’s not lacking in anything – some crockpot dog foods are not meant to be a full-on meal replacement. So, there you have it! If we haven’t provided you with enough reasons why you should switch your dog’s food to a crockpot/slow cooker, there may not be any convincing you, which is totally fine. There are lots of ready to eat dog foods out there that do provide all the vitamins and nutrients your pup requires. However, if you’re willing to take a few minutes out of your day and prepare your pup some food, it is definitely worth the effort. If you’d like more information on how much to feed a puppy and when, check out our puppy-feeding schedule here.
I grew up in a household that was filled with animals. I believe that my fate as a dog-loving person was sealed in early childhood since my parents owned several dogs of varying sizes and breeds. There was no choice but to take care of and learn about dog habits and the best animal care practices — otherwise, I’d be clueless about how to go about the creatures I was surrounded by day and night.
As a life-long puppy lover, I know a thing or two about dogs and how to go about caring for them in the best way possible. Although I’m not a professionally trained dog behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian, all of my knowledge and experience with canines comes from a place of love and a deep-rooted passion for dogs and animals in general.
Seeing as dogs kept me company throughout every stage of my life, I decided to follow a different path in my academic life and obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Management and Digital Advertising, which ultimately allowed me to combine my professional training and personal experience by creating the ultimate dog lover’s resource website! Along with my husband, Dave, I run MySweetPuppy for like-minded dog lovers who want to have a single, clear, and reliable information source about anything and everything related to dogs and their well-being.