Have you been thinking about switching your dog from a commercial diet to a homemade diet?
You’re not alone, as more and more people are discovering the joy of knowing they’re feeding their dog a healthy, natural diet.
Cooking is one way you show your family how much you love them, and your dog is another member of your family, right?
Homemade dog food recipes are a great way to give your dog a more nutritious diet. Unfortunately, many recipes just aren’t designed for homes with large dogs, especially if you have more than one.
That’s why we’ve scoured the internet for the best homemade dog food recipes for big dogs.
Bigger batches mean less cooking, so you can spend more time loving your dog and less time in the kitchen cooking for him.
Nearly all of these recipes contain at least 2 pounds of meat, so there’s no need to try to double or triple small recipes or cook a new batch for every meal.
Most of these recipes refrigerate or freeze well so you can make several meals at once.
How to Make Dog Food at Home
Throwing together some homemade dog food sounds easy, but there are actually a lot of factors you need to consider to ensure your dog is getting proper nutrition.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Feed your dog with a wide variety of foods.
- Change up the diet at least once a week to make sure your dog gets a good overall balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Supplement your dog’s diet with calcium unless you feed raw meaty bones.
- Use lean meat and remove skin from poultry unless you have an extremely active dog who needs more fat in his diet.
- The less variety you include in your dog’s diet, the more supplements he will require, and vice versa.
- Do your research. We don’t have enough room here to explain all the nuances of feeding your dog, so make sure you understand what proportions you should be aiming for and what supplements your dog may need.
- Always review your homemade dog food plan with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is getting the right proportions of the right ingredients along with any necessary supplements to keep him in prime health.
- Make sure you’re aware of what ingredients to avoid because they could harm your dog, such as garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and more.
Potential Problems with Homemade Dog Food
- It can be difficult for the average dog owner to properly balance homemade diets.
- Homemade diets typically cost about as much as high-end dog foods.
- You’ll have to spend a significant amount of time preparing and storing the food.
What Types of Ingredients Are Good for Making Homemade Dog Food?
Part of the beauty of making your own dog’s food is that you can use a wide variety of different ingredients to suit your dog’s needs and preferences. If your dog is allergic to chicken, you can use beef, pork or salmon.
If your dog hates salmon oil, you could substitute flaxseed to provide omega-3 fatty acids.
Similarly, your dog may need extra glucosamine and chondroitin, so you go to the extra effort to provide additional chicken cartilage.
Some of the most common ingredients you can use in your dog’s food include the following. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it provides you with a good starting point and reference.
The following foods are generally regarded as safe for dogs if properly prepared.
Protein should always be the star of your dog’s food. Although more of the food’s calories may come from carbohydrates, you’ll always want to decide on a protein first.
- Poultry organ meats (gizzards, livers, hearts, etc.)
- Beef liver
Carbohydrates help provide a significant portion of your dog’s caloric intake. Note that some of these carbohydrates, such as corn and peas, are typically considered vegetables, but in the context of dog food, they play a carbohydrate-like role.
- Brown rice
- Whole grain pasta
- Sweet potatoes
Fruits provide your dog with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as a bit of sweetness than many dogs love.
Fruits clearly have a place in your dog’s food, but they should only be included in moderation. Too much fruit content in your dog’s food may lead to weight gain and digestive dysfunction.
Check out our comprehensive guide on which fruits dogs can eat here.
Vegetables help to provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and bulk to your dog’s dinner.
Like fruits, you’ll want to provide only moderate amounts of most vegetables, to avoid causing your dog to experience digestive difficulties. It may also be helpful to start with a relatively low vegetable content when first switching to homemade foods.
Note that we include vegetable-like fruits here, such as tomatoes, here as well.
- Green beans
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
Most proteins contain fat, but it is often desirable to include supplemental fats to help raise the number of calories in the food, improve palatability and encourage coat and skin health.
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Peanut butter
- Salmon/fish oil
- Corn oil
- Vegetable oil
- Shredded cheese (small amounts only)
Dangerous Foods to Avoid
The following foods should always be avoided when preparing all-natural dog foods, as they can lead to illness.
- Sugar-free products containing xylitol
With that in mind, here are 10 of the best homemade dog food recipes for large breed dogs.
Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes
#1 – Meatballs
There is a constant debate back and forth about whether dogs should eat grains. We’ll stay out of that argument and present some recipes from each train of thought, including one raw recipe.
If you’re in favor of including grains in your dog’s diet, this one uses 10 pounds of ground beef to keep your dog fed for a while. Recipe found on The Dog Bakery.
- 10 lbs lean ground beef
- 2 cups oat bran
- 3 cans pumpkin puree
- 4 carrots, boiled or steamed, then mashed
- Leaves of 4 kale stalks chopped finely
- 3 slices of bread cut into small cubes
- 4 eggs
- Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl and form balls of any size.
- Dredge the balls lightly in flour, then shake off the excess.
- Bake at 400° until done. Balls the size of donut holes cook in about 25 minutes
#2 – Chicken Dinner
Courtesy of Daily Dog Stuff, here’s a grain-free chicken recipe that’s sure to keep your large-breed dog happy.
- 5 pounds of deboned chicken
- 2 cups red cabbage, finely chopped
- 2 cored, skinned, and finely diced apples (make sure you remove all the seeds, as they’re toxic for dogs)
- 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
- 5 whole eggs
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- Boil chicken in a large pot until it’s nearly cooked.
- Reduce to a simmer and add cabbage, spinach, and apples.
- After the chicken is fully cooked and the greens are wilted, remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Stir in eggs and olive oil and serve cooled.
- Can remain refrigerated for up to 5 days.
#3 – Easy Crockpot Dog Food
Don’t have time to cook? Whip out the crockpot for this simple recipe your dog will love! This recipe is from Damn Delicious.
- 2 ½ lbs ground beef
- 1 ½ cups brown rice
- 1 (15-oz) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped butternut squash
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped carrots
- ½ cup peas, canned or frozen
- 4 cups water
- Stir all ingredients into a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Let cool completely before serving.
#4 – Turkey and Veggie Dog Food
This homemade dog food recipe from SkinnyMs is grain-free and contains a little bit of organ meat for some added nutrients.
- 2 lbs lean ground turkey
- 2 tbsps raw turkey or chicken liver, finely diced or pureed
- 2 coarsely chopped medium carrots
- 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
- ½ zucchini, sliced
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- Add 1 1/2 cups water to a double boiler, place carrots in a steam basket over the pot, and cover.
- Heat until boiling and steam the carrots until they start to get tender in about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the turkey and liver to a large skillet and cook on medium-high heat until done and there’s no more pink color. Drain off any fat and discard.
- Add broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini, and continue steaming until all vegetables are tender, but not mushy: about 6-8 minutes.
- If necessary, chop vegetables more finely or put them in a food processor.
- Add vegetables to turkey and liver; stir to combine.
- Add olive oil and toss.
- Allow to cool before serving or putting in bags or containers to freeze
#5 – Raw Meat Patties
For you raw diet lovers out there, Daily Dog Stuff has an easy-to-freeze recipe of raw meat patties mixed with veggies.
- 5 pounds of ground meat (any type, change the variety as desired. You can even combine meat types)
- 1 can of sardines in water
- 4 eggs (including the shells)
- 1 cup of mixed vegetables (at least 2 different types of veggies, finely chopped)
Simply mix together all the ingredients and form into meal-sized patties for your pup. Freeze and thaw as needed.
#6 – Beef Dinner
From Daily Dog Stuff, this recipe includes 10 pounds of meat for a meal that will last for several days.
- 10 lbs ground beef or turkey
- 10 whole eggs
- 5 cups cooked brown rice
- 3 cups mixed vegetables
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Combine ingredients in a large bowl
- Form into large bowls and place in a baking dish
- Cook for about 45 minutes until meatballs are cooked through
#7 – Make Ahead Doggie Stew
Skinny Ms has another spot-on homemade dog food recipe perfect for families with large dogs. This recipe is great because it can be made on the stove or in a slow cooker, whichever you find to be the most convenient.
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 10-12 thighs)
- ¼ cup chicken livers
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup frozen green beans
- 1 cored, sliced apple (make sure to remove all the seeds; they’re toxic for dogs)
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 handful chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Apart from cook times, the directions are the same for both stovetop and crockpot cooking methods.
- Add all ingredients, except peas, parsley, and olive oil and just enough water to cover the ingredients.
- On a stovetop, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook on low for about 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender. In a crockpot, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-5 hours.
- With either cooking method, add peas and parsley about 15 minutes before the mixture is done cooking.
- Allow ingredients to cool slightly before adding olive oil and mashing the ingredients or putting them through a food processor.
- Divide into individual serving-sized freezer bags and freeze. Thaw out in the fridge overnight before serving.
#8 – DIY Homemade Dog Food
Want to start your dog on homemade dog food tonight? This recipe from Damn Delicious is one of the fastest recipes on this list.
- 1 ½ cups brown rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 lbs ground turkey
- 3 cups chopped baby spinach
- 2 shredded carrots
- 1 shredded zucchini
- ½ cup peas, canned or frozen
- Cook rice according to package instructions and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the turkey as it cooks.
- Stir in spinach, carrots, zucchini, peas and brown rice until the spinach has wilted and the mixture is heated through about 3-5 minutes.
- Let cool completely before giving it to your dog.
#9 – Dinner Layer Cake
If you’re looking to serve your dog something fancy, it’s hard to beat this savory layer cake from The Dog Bakery.
- 2.2 lbs chicken
- ½ cup carrots
- ½ cup peas
- ½ cup corn (optional)
- 1 medium cored apple (make sure to remove all the seeds)
- 1 egg including the shell
- 1 cup brown rice
- Preheat oven to 325° F
- Cook and soften chopped carrots, peas, and corn
- Peel and chop apple into small pieces
- Mince chicken in a food processor
- Cook brown rice according to package instructions
- Mash vegetable mix
- Pulverize a whole egg to crush the shell
- Blend chopped apple, egg, and chicken together in a mixing bowl
- Combine vegetable mix and rice in a bowl
- Grease a cake pan or line with baking paper
- Place ½ of the chicken mixture in the bottom of the pan
- Put about 2/3 of the rice and veggie mixture on top of the chicken mixture
- Spread the rest of the chicken mixture on top of the veggie layer
- Place the rest of the veggie mixture on top of the chicken layer
- Bake for around 35 minutes or until juice runs clear
- Let cool before cutting a slice to serve to your dog
#10 – A Meal for You and Your Dog
While this recipe doesn’t make a large amount of food you can use for a few days, it does offer the benefit of you being able to cook a meal for your dog and yourself at the same time, which can be a huge time saver. This recipe comes from The Dog Bakery.
- 2 salmon portions SKIN ON (1 oz per 10 pounds of dog plus any amount you would like)
- 1 head of broccoli (with stem)
- 2 carrots
- 1 squash
- 3 potatoes
- 2 tbsps olive oil
DIRECTIONS for the dog meal:
- Cut broccoli stems, peel carrots, and cut squash. Keep the peelings for your dog. Mix together and steam in rice cooker or bake in oven.
- Air fry potato shavings after pouring in 1 tbsp olive oil in air fryer (or place in oven).
- Pan fry salmon in 1 tbsp olive oil with skin on. Start with skin side down on the pan at a medium temp. After flipping, pull crisp salmon skin off both pieces of salmon and place in dog bowl.
- Once everything is finished cooking, mix all together in dog bowl. Make sure each piece is bite-sized.
- Let cool for at least 15-20 minutes before serving to your dog.
DIRECTIONS for the human meal:
- Cut broccoli, carrots, and squash and steam in rice cooker (or bake in oven).
- Slice potato into chips or fries. Air fry after putting 1 tbsp olive oil in air fryer (or place in oven).
- Pan fry salmon in 1 tbsp olive oil with skin on. Start with skin side down on the pan at a medium temp. After flipping, pull off crisp salmon skin off both pieces of salmon and place in dog bowl.
Balancing Homemade Dog Food
Feeding your dog a homemade diet is a bit more complicated than just cooking up some chicken and rice, tossing in a handful of berries and tossing it in front of your dog.
You need to ensure that your dog is receiving the correct number of calories and the proper balance of various nutrients.
Three of the most important considerations include:
1. Calorie Calculations
Your dog needs enough calories to fuel his activity for the day and to rebuild and repair dead and damaged tissues.
To determine your dog’s caloric needs with precision, you’ll need to calculate his metabolic rate and extrapolate from there. However, healthy adult dogs need about 15 to 30 Calories per pound of body weight per day.
Puppies, pregnant and lactating females have slightly higher caloric needs, as do dogs who are extremely active. Older, inactive or convalescent dogs may require slightly less than this.
As always, you’ll want to monitor your dog’s body weight and condition and make adjustments as necessary.
2. Protein: Carbohydrates: Fat Ratios
It is not only important to provide the appropriate number of calories for your dog, but you also want to provide these calories from the appropriate types of food.
For example, your 100-pound dog may need 2,000 calories a day, but you don’t want to provide these calories solely in the form of potatoes.
Your dog’s calories must come from the proper mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Although puppies, pregnant females and lactating mothers may require slightly different levels of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, most healthy adult dogs require diets comprised as follows:
- Proteins: 18 to 25 percent
- Carbohydrates: 30 to 70 percent
- Fat: 10 to 15 percent
3. Calcium-Phosphorus Ratio
Most dogs require their food to contain about 800 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium per pound of food. This can be provided via crushed eggshell, commercial calcium supplements or ground cuttlefish bone.
However, it is not enough to simply provide your dog with sufficient amounts of calcium – you must also balance the amount of calcium with the amount of phosphorus in your dog’s diet.
Your dog’s food should contain enough calcium to keep the calcium-phosphorus ratio between 1:1 and 2:1.
You’ll have to determine how much phosphorus is in your dog’s food by adding up the phosphorus amounts of all the various ingredients. However, muscle meats are the ingredients of most consequence.
Supplements for Homemade Dog Foods
Historically, dogs obtained the correct proportions of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals by ingesting a broad variety of prey species, scavenging fruits and vegetables and, eventually, stealing scraps from humans.
However, it is important to note that these dogs of yesterday probably didn’t live the long, healthy lives that our modern, domestic pets do.
Their diet wasn’t predicated on avoiding osteoarthritis when they reach 10 years of age; they primarily focused on obtaining enough calories to hunt again tomorrow.
They didn’t have the luxury of worrying about long-term nutritional imbalances. But most owners are understandably interested in ensuring their dog lives a long, healthy life.
Accordingly, it is often beneficial to use nutritional supplements to help ensure your dog gets all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed to remain healthy for years.
Obviously, you’ll want to make sure that any supplements you use are manufactured with the same dedication to quality as you’d want out of anything else in your dog’s food.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Vitamin and mineral supplements are some of the most important supplements to consider adding to your dog’s food.
Be sure that you choose a supplement made specifically for dogs with all-natural ingredients – don’t just crush up your multivitamins and sprinkle it on your dog’s food.
Dog probiotics are beneficial bacteria that inhabit your dog’s digestive tract and regulate intestinal function.
There are a variety of great products on the market, but note that some dogs respond better to some strains than others.
This means that you may need to experiment to find the best dog probiotic for your dog’s food.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are a couple of the best dog joint supplements that can help protect your dog’s hips, knees, and shoulders as he ages. Most of these materials are harvested from the cartilage of fish or chicken.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are important for proper brain function, eye development, coat quality, skin health and a variety of other biological needs.
Most dogs get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids, but it is important to provide them with supplemental omega-3 fatty acids to ensure good health.
Homemade all-natural dog foods are often deficient in calcium, so supplemental sources are required.
Calcium powder supplements are available, but some owners elect to use ground, cooked and cleaned eggshells or powdered cuttlebone to save money.
Any of the three forms provide value, just be sure to measure the amount added to your dog’s food carefully.
How Do You Get Your Dog to Switch to a Homemade Dog Food?
Most dogs will gladly give up their kibble or canned food if given the option of eating real food.
But some dogs do initially withdraw from a bowl full of chicken, rice, and vegetables, and owners must occasionally jump through a few hoops to get their dog to make the switch.
One good way to start is by simply providing your dog with his normal kibble or canned food, but with a bit of real, home-cooked food on top.
For example, you may want to scatter some shredded chicken or a drizzle of olive oil on top. Slowly, over the course of about a week or two, you’ll want to gradually replace some of his kibble with a little more natural food.
And this is also a good idea for dogs who will willingly switch.
If you go from a 100% kibble diet to a 100% home-cooked diet abruptly, you are probably going to stress out your dog’s digestive system, causing diarrhea and gas.
But again, most dogs love home-cooked, all-natural dog foods, and quickly and readily make the switch.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.