Home cooked food for dogs is easier than you might think, and the health benefits are totally amazing!
My family has experienced huge health benefits since we all started eating cleaner, and that includes the dogs. The most amazing change is seen in Dixie, our 15 year old rescue mutt. She has literally changed from an “old lady” into a happy, bouncy dog again within the past year, and it’s totally due to nutrition. By adding a variety of clean, nutritious home prepared foods to her diet and giving her a couple of good quality supplements, she has regained optimal health and vitality. The change in her is amazing, and even more amazing to me is how simple and easy it is to make such a dramatic health change.
Before Home Cooked Food
Just a little over a year ago, Dixie really started showing her age. She had been struggling with mild arthritis for several years, and last year suffered from a knee injury which slowed her down even more. We’ve been feeding her Hills J/D prescription dog food for a few years, which helps with the arthritic stiffness. For more joint support, she gets Nutramax Dasuquin chews which contain helpful MSM and Glucosamine. I also give her Dr. Goodpet Arthritis Relief, which seems to help. Despite the special dog food and supplements, she still seemed to be going downhill. She was lethargic, depressed and withdrawn most of the time. She was also having quite a few “senior moments” where she seemed to “forget” what she was doing.
Since experiencing so many positive health benefits by cleaning up my diet, I thought I’d try adding some clean, whole foods to the dogs’ diets as well. Both Dixie and her 5 year old brother Bucky had been eating only high quality dry dog food up to this point. High quality dry dog food such as Taste of the Wild, CANIDAE, Blue Buffalo, etc… is good, but it’s still processed food. No matter how “clean” processed food is, there is still no comparison to real, whole food. Our family eats a lot of organic vegetables, and the dogs love raw veggie treats, so I set out to cook them something that would provide lots of nutritious veggie goodness. I don’t have a lot of spare time, so it was important to be able to make a big batch of something super nutritious and delicious that would last for many meals. That’s how my dog “Veggie Soup” was born! I make a large pot full of soup, refrigerate what will be needed for a weeks’ worth of feedings, and divide/freeze the rest for use as needed – perfect!
The Healing Power of Nutrition
Within a few weeks of feeding the dogs some homemade vegetable soup every day, Dixie’s disposition became noticeably better. She was no longer hiding under the bed all day long, and seemed to be getting a little twinkle back into her eyes. Although she was still limping a bit from the knee injury, she didn’t appear to be moving as slow any more. In addition, both dogs were losing a little weight and their coats were starting to look shinier. These changes were totally attributed to the home cooked veggie soup!
Since the veggies were making such a tremendous impact, I decided to cut back a bit on the dry dog food and make a meat base “stew” to feed them as the main meal. I make this the same way I make the soup, but start off with a couple pounds of lean, clean meat, and then add some veggies to finish it off. I’ll either stew and debone an all-natural chicken, or use an all-natural roast or some kind of ground beef or poultry for added fat and protein.
After about three months of eating home-cooked stew and soup every day, supplementing with about 1/4 less dry dog food, Dixie’s health and disposition took a huge turn for the better. Her bum knee healed up and she was able to climb stairs again. Her slow walk became a bouncy prance, and she rarely went under the bed anymore. As more time went by, she became more and more alert and engaged. Both her and Bucky lost excess weight and their coats turned soft and shiny. Now, a little over a year into clean, healthy eating via supplemental “soup” and “stew”, Dixie is healthy, vibrant and happy. Although she is frail due to old age, she is no longer in any kind of pain and seems so happy! She often forgets she’s elderly and tears through the house like a young pup (which scares me to death, as I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself)! She still has an occasional “senior moment”, but not nearly as often as in the past.
For a little over a year now, both dogs have been eating a diet of high quality dry dog food (a smaller portion than recommended) supplemented with homemade meat-vegetable stew for the main meal, and a bowl of homemade vegetable soup for their afternoon snack. They both do a really fun “happy-dance” at feeding time now! In the past, when they only ate dry dog food they were never too interested in mealtime, usually eating a few bites, and nibbling on the remainder for the rest of the day. Now the meal is gobbled up happily, and they playfully romp around the house afterward! It’s such a joy to see them so happy! Not only does feeding them homemade, clean food make them feel good, it makes me feel great too!
Making Home-Cooked Dog Food is Easier than you Think
You might think it’s too much trouble to make homemade food for your dogs, but it’s actually an easy “one pot” meal! The secret is to make a large batch, keeping out what you need for a week and freezing the rest for later. Another tip to make it easy is to use an electric pressure cooker (my recommendation) or slow cooker. These appliances are great timesavers. If you’re thinking about getting one, I highly recommend the Instant Pot!
Here’s how I do it:
Homemade Veggie Soup for Dogs
The soups and stews I make for the dogs are much like soup I would make for people, minus the spices and some toxic veggies. I always start out with a mixture of fresh and/or frozen vegetables, with the addition of a little protein in the form of legumes such as lentils, or beans like garbanzo, kidney, navy, or pinto. I like to cook spontaneously, so I usually rummage through the pantry and fridge to find things to add as well. I might add a little rice, oatmeal or bone broth if I have some on hand. Sometimes I even throw in some leftover lettuce or salad greens. I never add any seasoning and am always careful not to add any foods that are toxic to dogs, such as onions. The main thing I try to do is add a variety of healthy, nutritious ingredients that will add important vitamins and minerals to my babies’ diet!
See this post for my recipe for basic veggie soup for dogs.
Homemade Stew for Dogs
For stew, I pretty much follow the same recipe as for soup, except I start with about 2 pounds of beef, chicken or turkey, then add vegetables. I omit the legumes for stew, since the meat provides the protein.
Caution – Some Human Foods are Toxic to Dogs
Before making any food for my dogs, I first did a little research to make sure the ingredients I chose for the “soup” and “stew” were OK to feed to dogs. Several foods such as onions and grapes are poison to dogs, so I wanted to be sure to avoid the bad stuff. A good source for what human foods are good and not good for dogs is the ASPCA