Feeding your furry companion only dog food (even the high quality stuff) will sustain him, but it won’t help him thrive. Just like with us humans, dogs were not designed to eat processed food either. Although there are some great quality dog foods on the market, nothing compares to the nutrition of healthy whole foods. For most of us, it’s just not practical to feed our pets 100% home cooked whole food, so I’ve found a way to compromise. I make my furry “kids” homemade vegetable soup as a healthy, delicious snack and supplement to store bought dog food.
I feel it’s important to include a variety of foods in one’s diet in order to experience the benefits of many different vitamins and minerals. This goes for my dogs as well. The more variety, the more nutrients you get! We eat a lot of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables and hate to waste anything, so the basis for the dog’s soup always starts with clean and fresh “leftovers” from food prep, such as stems and peelings. Depending on how much room is left in the pot, I add more fresh or frozen veggies along with some legumes for added protein and minerals. The dogs absolutely love their soup! I feed it alone as an afternoon snack, and also mix it in with their morning dog food as nutritious “gravy”!
The easiest way to make dog soup is to use a slow cooker or (even better) an electric pressure cooker. I use an “Instant Pot” electric pressure cooker, which cooks without a lot of user intervention and also seals in the nutrients. You can also cook this on the stovetop in a large stockpot.
Below is my basic recipe for veggie soup for dogs. I’m a “clean out the fridge” kind of cook when it comes to soups, so the quantities don’t need to be exact.
- Hint: I make a full pot of soup, keeping a quart in the refrigerator for daily use. The rest is divided out into freezer bags and stored for future use. I usually have two or three different batches of soup in the freezer. I label the bags with the main ingredients. This way, it’s easy to alternate the dogs food so they don’t eat the same thing each time (variety is good).
- Hint: We keep a freezer bag of chopped leftover veggie scraps in the freezer, adding to it as the daily food is prepped. This can be anything non-toxic for pets (no onions). For example, washed potato peelings (great source of potassium), carrot ends, celery ends and leaves, stems from greens, leftover lettuce (including core), and broccoli stems. I even include chopped over ripened fruit such as apples and bananas. When it’s time to make another batch of soup, pull out your leftover bag and start a pot of soup!
**** Very important – Some human foods are toxic to dogs. You can check here for a list of foods that should never be fed to pets:
- Assorted chopped vegetables (the more variety the better).
- "!Good choices are green beans, kale, spinach, carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, potato"
- 1 large sweet potato with skin, chopped small
- "!Or 1 can pumpkin (make sure ingredients list only pumpkin (no sugar)"
- ¼ to ½ cup dried legumes
- "!Suggestions: pinto beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, kidney beans, northern beans, etc…"
- "!Option: If you don't want to use dried beans, use canned (1 can). Get unsalted if possible. Always rinse the beans first to remove most of the preservative ingredients."
- Water (filtered water preferred)
- Fill your pot, slow cooker, or electric pressure cooker about 1/2 full with a variety of chopped veggies.
- For extra fiber, stir in chopped sweet potato or pumpkin.
- Add the beans. If using an electric pressure cooker, just throw the dried beans into the pot. If using a slow cooker or stovetop pot, soak the beans overnight first, then put them in the pot.
- Fill pot with water until it's no more than 2/3 full.
- If using an electric pressure cooker, scook on high pressure for 15 minutes, then turn off and let pressure release naturally. If using a slow cooker, cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6 hours. For stovetop, heat to boiling, then turn to simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours, or until legumes are soft.
Store a weeks’ worth of dog soup in the refrigerator, and freeze the rest in freezer bags. You can serve this soup alone as a healthy snack, or as a nutritious “gravy” supplement with the main meal. For portion size, you’ll have to adjust accordingly to the size of your dog. My dogs weigh 26 and 34 lbs., and I give them each about ½ cup of heated soup with approximately ¼ cup additional water to “stretch” it if the soup is thick. If served as supplemental “gravy” with the main meal, I add about ¼ cup heated soup to the regular amount of dried dog food and stir it in.
Introducing Soup to your Dog
It’s important to introduce the soup to your dog gradually, particularly if he isn’t accustomed to eating any type of cooked or human food. For the first two or three times you start feeding your dog soup, start with a small amount. Gradually build up to a portion that is suitable for the size of your dog.