Homemade Dog Food

German ShepherdThis is dedicated to my constant shadow.  My guardian.  My first baby.  My children’s “Nana”.  The Whiner.  The Lurker.  My sweet old dog.  My Heidi-girl.

When we got her from a shelter 9 years ago, Heidi was an abused, malnourished, pitiful thing who joyfully loved us from first sight on.  Although we were able to help her overcome most of her challenges due to a poor start in life, she has always been ambivalent to food.  Therefore, it took a long time for her to lose the “starved dog” look.  Add to that, the active personality of a German Shepherd and she was one skinny dog.  After a year or so, the vet informed us she was going to have to get off the cheap dog foods and onto some quality high-protein chow.

Fast forward 9 years and here we are.  We’ve been very happy with the brand she’s been on for years but I decided that the old girl could use a treat.  And it’s always nice to be able to stretch out the expensive dog food as much as possible.  Since we’ve been trying to cook more whole foods for ourselves in our family’s diet, I thought we could extend that to the dog too.

So yes, we make homemade dog food.

For those of you not shaking your heads at how spoiled my dog is and are interested in the recipe, please read on.  It’s really not too much work and it makes enough to supplement 2 meals a day for about 2 weeks.  I don’t make this stuff religiously but boy, oh boy, does it make her happy.  She even lets me know how much she enjoys her dinner by wiping her face on the side of my bed (with the quilt it took me a year to make) in sheer happiness and gratitude afterwards.Homemade Dog Food-5

Homemade Dog Food

2 lbs ground pork

2-2.5lbs ground beef

1 large sweet potato

1 large apple, cored

2 carrots (or 8 baby carrots)

1 c. kale

1/2 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 c. rice

1 1/2 c. water

Put the ground meats in a 4-6 quart crockpot.  You can really use any ground meat that you would like. (Heidi likes the beef and pork best for taste and I like their price.)  Buy bulk to get a better deal or wait for a good sale to make this more cost effective.

Peel and chop the potato, apple and carrots into 1″ pieces.  Chop the kale.Homemade Dog Food-1

Add all of the fruits and veggies to the crockpot and mix with the meat.

Cook on HI for 3-5 hours or on LOW for 5-7 hours until the meat is browned.  This actually smells pretty good too.  My son thought “dinner” smelled really good when he got a whiff on the last batch.  🙂

When the meat mixture is close to being done, cook up the rice with the water on the stovetop.  We use long-cooking rice (bring the rice and water to a boil, then turn heat to LOW, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes).  When the rice is done, mix into the meat mixture.

Voila!  Dog food.

Separate the food into 1/2c. -1c. portions in small baggies or tupperware.  We keep most of them in the freezer and pull out about 4-5 at a time and keep in the fridge.  When meal time comes, we squeeze a bag down the middle to split the serving in half, microwave the meals serving for about 30-40 seconds and then mix into her regular dog food.  (We cut down on the kibble to save money and avoid over-feeding.)

Homemade Dog Food-6

    1. I have a miniature beagle who I rescued off the street, also highly abused. He has never liked eating and at times is too skinny. I started making dog food similar to this about 8 months ago and he loves it and had gained 2 pounds! He is also losing his teeth, so this food is easy for him to chew.
      Thanks for the recipe!

    2. I love that you have a GSD! I have 2 of them! One of them has food allergies and I’ve been cooking his food at home. I haven’t been able to make the food last longer than about 3 days (feeding 3 c / serving, 2x daily). I couldn’t tell by this article but is that the serving size you use? I thought GSDs are usually supposed to eat about 6 cups daily. How do you get this to last for 2 weeks?! I’d love to make that happen! Please clarify. Thank you for your post!

    3. Hi Kelly!
      This lasted longer for me because I fed it as a supplement onto Heidi’s regular food to help get her to eat. It didn’t completely replace it. 🙂 She was also a smaller GSD so she probably didn’t eat as much as most of the breed. Unfortunately, she passed away the summer of 2016 due to old age. I was her ‘person’ and it broke my heart to lose that sweet girl. We now have another GSD, Yfke, who is 3. She doesn’t have the food aversion that Heidi did and we’ve gone another route for her. We’re going with a ‘raw, meaty bone diet’ for this one and it’s going great. It sounded really weird when I first heard about it but the more I researched, the more sense it made. If your pup has food allergies, you might check into it and see if it’s right for your family!

    1. Hi Astrid,
      No I don’t have any kind of analysis on this. It really depends on the meat, rice and the different vegetables and fruits used. I’m just an average person who had read on ways to help supplement my dog’s diet and then showed what I did. Heidi absolutely loved it and it helped her to eat her main food, which she’d been apathetic about her whole life. Now that she has passed on, we feed our new GSD on a raw meaty bone diet with organ meat, fruits and veggies. If you’re interested in different diets, I highly recommend looking into it. It’s easier than it seems at first and you base amounts off of your dog’s body weight and percentages of meat/bone/organs. When she gets elderly and needs a little extra, we’ll probably come back to this cooked supplement. 🙂

  1. Emily, I love your heart and passion. I have 2 littles I rescued off the street at 1 year snd the other at 3 months. They are happy, playful and very loving. On top of that, they don’t eat! They want to, and I’m trying to find nutritious healthy food for them. I‘ve been through several premium dog foods, wild food, natural food and I make homemade food. They generally won’t eat vegetables in any form. Anything greasy at all upsets their digestion. What I’m doing now – with limited success – is boiling chicken breast or super lean beef, boiled with peas and tiny shreds of carrot, and a bit if brown rice. I use a chopper and chop/mix it all together and on occasion. they’ll eat some. To help the nutrition factor, I buy Wild, Merrick, limited ingredients. – just a premium prepared dry food to try to get the vitamins, minerals, etc., into their diet. They may or may not eat it.

    What they DO like is food humans eat that has been marinated or spiced or flavored. They want my dinner every day. Because of my ingredients, I can’t do that.

    I’d never thought about crock potting food for these two but I’m going to try it. Maybe (and I’m laughing) if I can get it more aromatic, they’ll eat some.

    Sorry for the ramble – but thank you so much for your love and care of your sweet old girl. and for adopting another. Never quit!!

  2. This is by no means a complete meal and people should not be lead to believe it is! It is lacking organ meat, calcium and omega 3’s. These are not optional for proper nutrition. Also, rice is nothing but a cheap filler and serves no purpose to the dog. Cooking the food destroys so many nutrients!

    1. Oh my! Such a negative comment. Emily never claimed to use as a complete diet, just a supplement and a way to give her dog a treat.

    2. Hi Hilari,
      You’re very right about the things the above recipe is lacking. What you’re wrong about is that I was misleading people into thinking it’s a complete stand-alone diet. This was for my elderly dog who continued on her regular food but was prone to being underweight due to a complete lack of interest in food. Sadly, Heidi passed on in the summer of 2016. Before getting a new puppy in 2017, I did a lot of research into raw food diets and our new GSD, Yfke, is on a raw meaty bone diet. Complete with organ meat. I have been contemplating writing a blog post about it but it’s a touchy subject and wasn’t sure if I wanted to deal with hostile comments.

  3. I made this exactly as it says to – with serious doubts that my finicky Shih Tzu would eat it – WELL….he loves it and I am making my second batch – Thank you!

    1. Hi Reggie,
      You know what? I don’t know! My guess is that she just has a preference against brown rice. I’ve had a picky dog before and it was funny what she wouldn’t eat that most other dogs wouldn’t hesitate to gobble up.

  4. My lab has a lot of food allergies so I went to the homemade dog food instead of can since the cans had a lot of the things he is allergic to. He still gets dry food mixed in with this in the evening and a cup of dry food in the morning. The only thing I do differently is substitute the meat with chicken. It is one of the few proteins he can have. He absolutely love this recipe.

    1. Hi Alexis,
      I only used this to supplement my dog’s food already. We normally fed in 1 c. food portions so we’d end up doing about 1/2 c. of her regular food mixed with 1/2 c. of this.

    2. My Lab weighs close to 90 and he gets 1 cup dry food mixed w a cup of the homemade food. He loves it and he seems satisfied after he eats.

  5. While this may be great as a supplement, do speak worth your veterinarian before using as a complete diet. It’s possible that the recipe may be lacking crucial vitamins, minerals, etc. for use as a sole food source.

    1. Tina, I do the same thing. But, maybe 1/2 cup dry. Busters 27lbs. I switch between chicken and turkey.

  6. I love switching out homemade dog food recipes & I will definitely make this one next for my 3 furbabies-labs. They are so worth it. Thanks for sharing

  7. I found a crockpot recipe & started my 8lb chihuahuas…they love it & it lasts for 2wks. I often buy the sweet potato, butternut squash & peas & chopped spinach in the freezer section.

  8. i put the appropriate amount of rice (brown rice only) along with everything else and it cooks up just fine. We have two 18 lb dogs and this lasts them a week.

  9. Question. Is there a reason for peeling the potato, apples, and carrots? I’ve always heard there are lots of vitamins in the peel, unless dogs can’t digest them or something.

    1. You know what? I had to look it up and it seems that for two of the three, you don’t. Carrots and apples are perfectly fine to keep the peels on. You don’t want to give dogs potato peels though because they can be poisonous to them.

    1. Probably not long if you used it as 100% of your dog’s diet. We supplement along with the kibble – it really just depends on how much you choose to put in each meal.

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