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Updated April 2, 2019
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Most proteins contain fat, but it is often desirable to include supplemental fats to help raise the amount of calories in the food, improve palatability and encourage coat and skin health.
The following foods should always be avoided when preparing all-natural dog foods, as they can lead to illness.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the best homemade dog food recipes for large breed dogs.
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.
Courtesy of Daily Dog Stuff, here’s a grain-free chicken recipe that’s sure to keep your large-breed dog happy.
Don’t have time to cook? Whip out the crockpot for this simple recipe your dog will love! This recipe is from Damn Delicious.
This homemade dog food recipe from SkinnyMs is grain-free and contains a little bit of organ meat for some added nutrients.
For you raw diet lovers out there, Daily Dog Stuff has an easy-to-freeze recipe of raw meat patties mixed with veggies.
Simply mix together all the ingredients and form into meal-sized patties for your pup. Freeze and thaw as needed.
From Daily Dog Stuff, this recipe includes 10 pounds of meat for a meal that will last for several days.
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.
Apart from cook times, the directions are the same for both stovetop and crockpot cooking methods.
Want to start your dog on homemade dog food tonight? This recipe from Damn Delicious is one of the fastest recipes on this list.
If you’re looking to serve your dog something fancy, it’s hard to beat this savory layer cake from The Dog Bakery.
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.
DIRECTIONS for the dog meal:
DIRECTIONS for the human meal:
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:
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.
It is not only important to provide the appropriate number of calories for your dog, 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:
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.
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 are some of the most important supplements to consider adding to your dog’s food.
Be sure that you choose a supplement made with all-natural ingredients and designed specifically for dogs – 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 and chondroitin are powerful 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 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 egg shells 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.
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.
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