This is my beginner’s guide to all dog owners out there, hope this helps to kick start your journey to home-cooked food or to fine tune your current recipes. I am not a professional nutritionist, if your dog have pre-existing issues, please seek advice from your vet.
I started home-cooked food for Truffle when he was 7-8 months old after 1-2 months of intensive research.
I learn more and more from different sources as I go, ranging from google articles to Facebook groups.
Summary of contents-
- Get started ( Weight, lifestyle, age, health conditions)
- Good for reading
- Guidelines for cooked diets
- Guidelines for adding supplements
- Foods to avoid/restrict
- Herbs (Turmeric and parsley)
- Truffle’s diet
- Sample recipes
If the meal is not balanced according to your pet’s needs and requirements, it can lead to nutrition deficiency/excess. Examples are malnutrition or obesity.
Always do a food transition whenever your dog is undergoing diet change. Some dogs have sensitive stomachs and a sudden diet change can lead to stomach upset. Add just one new ingredient at a time and wait a few days before adding something new, gradually increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the amount of the old. Gradually introducing the food over a 14-day period is the best way to avoid some of the issues that can occur with a change to diet.
Preparing home-cooked food is a commitment, I strongly suggest you to start this diet if you can follow it through all the way. Half kibble half cooked food? No. This not only makes it hard for you to balance, it is also not ideal for your dog.
Do not feed single recipes long-term. The key to a healthy diet is variety. Any single recipe, even if provided by a veterinary nutritionist, is likely to cause problems if fed exclusively for long periods.
Avoid Pinterest and Google recipes, they are almost always horribly unbalanced and dangerous to feed long term.
First, 4 points to take note-
- Lifestyle (Active, not active etc)
- Health conditions
As a general rule, dogs will eat around 2 to 3 percent of their body weight in fresh food daily (use cooked weights for foods).
Large dogs will tend to eat a lower percentage, and small dogs a higher percentage of their body weights. Smaller breeds may need as much as 4 to 5 percent of their body weight daily, while giant breeds might eat as little as 1½ percent, or even less.
45 kg dog- 907 g of food a day (2 percent of body weight)
22.5 kg dog- 453 g to 680 g of food (2-3 percent of body weight)
11 kg dog- 226 g to 340 g of food (2-3 percent of body weight)
4.5 kg dog- 140 g to 184 g of food (3-4 percent of body weight)
If your dog is very active, you may add 0.5% to their diet. If your dog is underweight, you may add 0.5%-1% to their diet.
If your dog is very inactive, a couch potato, you may deduct 0.5% out from the diet. If your dog is overweight, you may deduct 0.5%-1% out from the diet.
Advised to follow the vet instruction’s for overweight/underweight dogs.
Puppies need more protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus than adult dogs do, but too much calcium can lead to serious orthopedic problems. I recommend twice the amount of calcium needed for adults, 1 teaspoon of eggshell powder every 0.45kg of cooked meat.
3 months: 4.5 to 6.5 percent of current body weight (55 percent of adult diet)
6 months: 3.5 to 5.25 percent of current body weight (88 percent of adult diet)
9 months: 2.75 to 4 percent of current body weight (100+ percent of adult diet)
Adult: 2 to 3 percent of their body weight daily (100 percent of adult diet)
Senior dogs do not require lesser proteins in their diet, a protein-rich diet is especially important for older dogs, due to the fact that their systems are less efficient at metabolizing protein. However, you do need to control the weight of your senior dog by reducing food amount of lowering fat content in food. This is to lessen the stress on their joints.
Tricosamine and rose hip powder will be good in a senior’s diet.
Different health conditions like diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis etc requires different kind of diets and/or supplements. I am not equipped to touch on this topic as I am not an expert/ have no prior experience, the best advice you can get is from a vet/professional nutritionist should your dog need any special requirements.
Good for reading
Below guidelines are adopted from Mary Straus’ website www.Dogaware.com that covers both cooked and raw diet. The website is very comprehensive and has many information on diet and health concerns in general. I have included what I feel is more relevant, and omitted the rest. If you wish to have a full comprehensive knowledge, give that website a thorough read!
Guidelines for Cooked Diets
Meat- Feed at least 50% (preferably more) animal protein products. Percentage of meat varies according to life stages and health conditions.
Liver should make up 5% of the total diet.
Vegetables– No more than half the diet (preferably less) should be cooked vegetables. I personally include 20-25% leafy vegetables/fruits in Truffle’s recipes.
Note that grains seem to be related to a number of health problems in dogs, including allergies, arthritis, IBD, seizures, etc., so if your dog has any of these problems, try omitting grains (and maybe starchy carbs as well) to see if there is improvement. Remember that dogs have no nutritional needs for carbohydrates, they are simply cheap fillers.
Avoid novel proteins, such as venison, duck, kangaroo, etc., as these should be reserved in case they are needed in the future for food allergy elimination tests.
Eggshell powder- 800 to 1000 mg calcium per 0.45kg of food fed (cooked weight).
You may purchase eggshell powder here-
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Guidelines for Adding Supplements
The wider the variety of healthy foods in appropriate proportions you feed, the less need for supplements there should be. Conversely, the more limited the diet you feed, the more supplements are needed.
The heat in cooking process destroys nutrients, especially if its overcooked. Freezing also destroys nutrients, more nutrients are lost with longer freezing period.
Calcium is always needed in home cooked food unless you feed a diet that includes raw meaty bones, where the bone is fully consumed. Following are some supplements that can be added to help ensure that all nutritional needs are met:
Vitamin E should be supplemented in all homemade diets in order to meet nutritional guidelines. Requirements increase whenever you add fish or plant oils. See Vitamin E for how much to give.
Fish oil (body oil, such as salmon oil or EPA oil) is a healthy addition to any diet. Sardines can also be used in place of fish oil to supply omega-3 fatty acids. See article on Fish Oil for more info.
Cod liver oil is high in vitamins A and D. If you don’t feed fish regularly, you should give cod liver oil in an amount that provides around 100 IUs vitamin D per 9 kg of body weight daily.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines and help control yeast and harmful bacteria, as well as helping with digestion and intestinal health. Probiotics given for two weeks or longer following antibiotic usage may help restore populations; probiotics given while taking antibiotics may help prevent diarrhea caused by the antibiotics (give probiotics at least two hours apart from antibiotics). Dogs that are under stress or that have digestive problems or yeast overgrowth may benefit from routine probiotic supplementation.
Foods to Avoid or Restrict
While most foods safe for people are also safe for dogs, there are a few notable exceptions. Here are some foods you should not feed your dog:
- Onions: Can cause a form of anemia. Reaction is dose-dependent and will build up over time. Small amounts are not harmful, but there’s no reason to feed them.
- Grapes and raisins: Cause kidney failure in some dogs for unknown reasons.
- Macadamia nuts: Toxic to dogs, even in very small amounts, but most dogs return to normal within 24-48 hours.
- Chocolate and caffeine: Toxic to dogs.
- Xylitol: A natural sweetener, xylitol is toxic to dogs.
- Nutmeg, mace and sage are safe in very small amounts, but too much can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression or excitement.
- Yeast dough can expand in the dog’s stomach causing pain and even rupture.
- Cooked bones
- Human medications: never give without first consulting with your vet.
The following foods should be restricted:
- Garlic: May be beneficial in small doses, but can cause anemia if given in larger quantities.
- Avocado: Fruits of Guatemalan species are mildly toxic to dogs, causing digestive upset, while fruits of Mexican species are safe. Note that the popular Hass variety is a hybrid and toxicity level is unknown. Pits and rinds of all species can be toxic.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Very healthy, but can suppress thyroid function if large amounts are fed raw. Feed in limited amounts, or cook first. The cruciferous family includes include arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, turnip greens, watercress, rutabaga, daikon, kohlrabi. I often limit cruciferous vegetables to 5% maximum in a recipe.
- Spinach and swiss chard: Should be fed in limited amounts due to their high oxalate content. Cooking removes some of the oxalates, though in this case you should not feed the water where the oxalates go.
- Potatoes (the regular kind, not sweet potatoes), tomatoes, peppers (all kinds) and eggplant: May aggravate arthritis pain, but are otherwise fine to feed. Grains and starchy veggies may also aggravate arthritis and other forms of inflammation.
- Cow milk can cause stomach upset due to lactose intolerance (yogurt and cottage cheese are low in lactose and are good to feed).
- Fatty foods can trigger pancreatitis in susceptible dogs. Don’t feed fatty scraps to dogs.
The following foods are often warned against, but are safe to feed:
- Mushrooms: Any mushroom that is safe for humans is also safe for dogs. Warnings apply only to poisonous mushrooms. Many dogs die from eating poisonous mushrooms that they find growing outside, but not from being fed mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms are very beneficial.
- Walnuts: Only the moldy hulls are toxic. The nuts themselves are fine to feed, though high in fat, so best to give only small amounts.
Herbs (My 2 favorites)
Turmeric “Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs” – National Health Federation.
Turmeric aids in the following:
Destroys multi-drug resistant cancer; destroys cancer stem cells (arguably, the root of all cancer); reduces unhealthy levels of inflammation; treatment of epilepsy; relieves allergies; high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals and many more. Turmeric needs to be made into a paste to be effective.
According to research, about 5% of black pepper by weight is comprised of a compound called piperine, which enhances the bio-availability of Turmeric. When eaten with fat, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system thereby in part bypassing the liver. Hence, coconut oil is used.
Start with about ¼ to ½ tsp, depending on the size of your dog. You can increase the amount from there, up to about 1 tablespoon for larger dogs.
Parsley– Lorelei Whitney, MH, C.Hom explains: “Parsley is soothing to the kidneys and is used in ailments of the lower urinary tract such as cystitis; it also can be used to help prevent renal (kidney) gravel or stones from forming in dogs and cats. It is a rich source of anti-oxidant nutrients and vitamin C. It also contains vitamin A from beta-carotene which is beneficial to dogs and cats.”
Parsley acts like an antioxidant in that it neutralizes the negative effects of the environment by eliminating toxins and maintains the elasticity of the blood vessels. It is very beneficial for the liver, digestive system, to re-boot the immune system, reduce stress levels in the endocrine system and will benefit every area of digestion.
Suggested dosage: use 1 teaspoon for small breeds, 2 teaspoons for medium size breeds and 3 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon for a large size breed.
Additionally, one to two tablespoons of fresh, finely minced parsley can also be mixed into the pet’s food daily.
Truffle is 5 kg, healthy male maltipoo, active and have luxating patella.
Truffle’s meat percentage is 70%, reduced from 80% because his previous test showed too much protein in his system.
The recipes I use are grain-free as they provide no nutritional value and may cause allergies, arthritis etc. However, grains and carbohydrates are a cheaper source as compared to proteins so there are still many owners who are feeding grains, and their dogs are also as healthy. To each their own.
Truffle is able to eat salmon 3-4 days a week, so omega-3 fatty acids supplement is not needed in his diet. If you do not feed fish regularly, cod liver oil is highly recommended that can provide around 100 IUs vitamin D per 9 kg of body weight daily. Canned sardine in spring water is also a good alternative if you can’t get fresh ones!
Vitamin E should be supplemented in all homemade diets in order to meet nutritional guidelines. However, I am not a fan of feeding too much supplements, especially when Truffle is only 2 years old. Instead, I use foods high in vitamin E to boost. My favorites are *pumpkin, almonds, broccoli (less than 5% in diets) and some olive oil. I also lightly steam them, and puree it for better absorption and better nutrients retention. Foods are also prepared in 1 week batches for better nutrients retention, longer freezing = more nutrients lost.
Pumpkins have carbohydrates, but they are low in amount.
Additional supplements in Truffle’s food are- Probiotics and rose hip. Probiotics are to promote gut health and rose hip is for his level 1 luxating patella. Truffle is also eating green lipped mussels and taking bone broths everyday to help maintain his grade, I am hoping that he do not have to take pills (tricosamine) as natural is always better. My vet also agreed with my approach and Truffle is very doing well so far.
Before starting any supplements or food to target a certain illness, always remember to consult a vet first. Not all articles on google are reliable.
Recipes are changed weekly! Variety is key, there are different vitamins/minerals in different vegetables so I like to play around with different colored greens and different proteins. I steer clear of exotic proteins, so I can use them if I need to do a allergy diet elimination test in the future. Truffle is allergic to chicken and his favorite protein is salmon.
Need help with calculating the percentages and weight? Visit-
End of guide
Thank you for reading my beginner’s guide to home-cooked food! I hope all of you gained knowledge from my post, and cleared your doubts (if any) regarding this topic. Share around and let me know in the comments below if you have any other questions or topics you want me to touch on my next blog post.
I would like to reinforce that I am not a nutritionist, if your furkid have other pre-existing issues, kindly seek opinions from a vet before starting any new diets or make any changes to existing diet.
Happy cooking and be safe! ❤