Thoughts on Homemade Dog Food.. and a recipe!

Hi, hello and HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE! I hope everyone has been enjoying time with family and friends and taking it easy over the past week. The holiday season has always been a time centered around family for me, and that includes the puppies too. Over the holiday break I had the pleasure of working on my first collaboration (!!!!) with someone who also considers her pups to be family, not just pets.

Samantha runs the Instagram: @thesweetlifeofemmittandellie where she shares daily photos of her two hilarious and ridiculously adorable pups, Emmitt and Ellie. She approached me a couple of weeks ago about making homemade dog food in response to IMG_0111speaking with a co-worker about their experience with preparing food at home as opposed to buying it from the standard pet store chain. As someone who loves and cares for her pets, Sam wanted to make certain that she was setting Emmitt and Ellie up for extended, healthy lives and was exploring the idea of making her own dog food to ensure that desire.

To be honest, purchasing Lola her food is something I haven’t thought twice about. She’s been on Taste of the Wild dry food IMG_0112since she was a puppy and we haven’t had any complaints.  HOWEVER, after doing some quick research on the dog food industry the little regulations coupled with the nearly constant recalls gave me pause. If I am concerned about what is going into my body, shouldn’t I have the same concern for my dog?

Making dog food from scratch can be overwhelming. There is a lot of debate, a lot of different opinions and a LOT of research. On top of all of that, there are a TON of recipes online to choose from. At the end of the day there is going to be some trial and error to find what recipe works best for your dog (you want to find that balance between something they enjoy that also delivers all of the nutrients they require) and you should always consult your vet’s office if your dog has allergies or has a sensitive stomach.

Samantha and I both agreed that this recipe seemed simple and that it would be a good starting point towards developing a recipe of our own. Below is what we settled on, and I think all of the dogs really enjoyed their mid-day treat! I also included why we choose certain ingredients, and what you can substitute certain items for in case your dog has an allergy or doesn’t care for one of the ingredients.

Homemade Dog Food


  • 1 pound of ground beef  cooked and drained. You can also use ground chicken or turkey depending on what your dog enjoys taste wise/ has an allergy towards.
  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice. Oatmeal is another great option. Whole grains are an IMG_0108important component of a dog’s diet and it’s important to do your research about the importance of grains when looking into a grain-free diet.
  • 8-10oz of steamed mixed vegetables (we chose a mix that included carrots, green beans, zucchini and yellow squash). Sweet potatoes are another great option (high in fiber, vitamin b, vitamin c, beta-carotene and manganese).
  • 1/2 a can (around 8oz) of plain pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree is great for digestion as it is full of fiber and beta-carotene. It’s important to make sure to only feed your pup a small amount though, as too much vitamin A (which beta-carotene coverts into) can be highly toxic to dogs.
  • Plain yogurt (for garnish). You can also use plain greek yogurt if your dog has a lactose allergy. Yogurt is full of calcium and protein and the probiotics are great for digestion. Make sure to avoid yogurts with added flavors/sugars or artificial sweeteners.


  • Once the veggies have been steamed (we opted to steam frozen veggies, but you could always opt for fresh) throw them in the food processor and pulse for a second or two. This breaks up the vegetables into smaller pieces for easier digestion.
  • Combine the cooked rice, cooked ground beef, processed veggies and pumpkin puree into a bowl and mix well. Let the mixture cool.
  • Portion out one cup for the cooled mixture for each pup, top with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and serve immediately.
  • Any leftovers can be stored in an air tight contained and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

The verdict:

The dogs licked their bowls clean so the flavors were definitely on point. In terms of cost, this meal wasn’t terrible either. As long as you shop smart (buy items that are on sale or IMG_0109buy in bulk) I don’t see it being more expensive than a normal dog food purchase. Even the time commitment was minimal (this took maybe 30 minutes to put together?) and seems like it would be manageable to do every week. My only concern is making sure that the pups are receiving a good balance of nutrients everyday and aren’t getting too much (or too little) of anything. If I decide to move forward with making the switch to homemade dog food, I plan on consulting my vet to confirm that all of the nutrients are present and accounted for.

Just like I always preach that I am not a doctor, I am not a veterinarian either. I always encourage everyone to do their own research, speak with their preferred professional and make their own decisions/draw their own conclusions. IMG_0110However, I can confidently say that if you are a pet owner it is worth your time to check the ingredients in your dog’s food and see if there are any recent recalls. To see a list of the most recent recalls please visit the FDA’s website.

Have you ever made your pet’s food from scratch? If not, what do you look for in terms of selecting a brand or flavor at your local pet store? Let me know in the comments below!


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