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Homemade puppy food: Dietary advice and delicious recipes

Puppy eating homemade puppy food
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Preparing your own homemade puppy food is a great way to ensure you know exactly what’s going into your little one’s body, allowing you to design a diet that’s perfectly tailored to suit your fur baby’s needs. 

While the best puppy food brands offer a fantastic selection of wet and dry dishes that are nutritionally balanced and complete, scanning the supermarket shelves isn’t without its challenges.

Although some puppy food is very affordable, to be able to market their products at a lower price, companies often have to rely on lower quality ingredients, including animal by-products and fillers in order to keep consumer costs down. The result is usually a long ingredient list that can leave you feeling like you need a science degree to figure out exactly what you’re buying. 

At the other end of the spectrum you can be faced with the same issue as pet parents in search of the best dog food for their adult canine companions, which is high quality ingredients, far shorter ingredient lists, but much steeper prices. This can leave you feeling caught between choosing a lower priced, yet potentially lower quality, product or having to spend more in order to get a cleaner formula.

As a pet parent wanting to give your little one the best start in life, this can feel like a really difficult decision to make. You don’t want to be feeding them a dish with ingredients you’re not sure about and at the same time your budget may not be able to stretch to the price tag of the higher quality brands.

But fear not, because we have good news for you! Homemade puppy food means that you don’t have to choose between quality and affordability. It gives you control over the ingredients that you’re serving up to your fur baby while also saving you some pennies in the process. 

Below, we provide you with all the information you’ll need to prepare your own puppy food, as well as dishing up some delicious recipes to get you started. As with any changes to your little one’s diet, we recommend you consult with your vet who will be able to work with you to create a meal plan that’s nutritionally complete and balanced. 

Is homemade puppy food healthy?

Homemade puppy food can absolutely be healthy, but it does require a great deal of thought to ensure it contains everything your fur baby needs to grow up big and strong, including plenty of calories to fuel their body’s development. 

One of the biggest mistakes new pet parents make is not understanding that a puppy’s dietary requirements are very different to an adult dog’s. Alongside ensuring they get the right amount of vitamins and minerals, the protein, fat, and carbohydrate content also needs to be correctly balanced.

To ensure your puppy is getting everything they need in the correct ratios, we recommend working with your vet, who will be able to design a healthy diet that will meet the needs of your growing fur baby. They’ll also be able to offer advice and guidance on when to start transitioning your pup over to homemade dog food recipes to meet their adult nutritional requirements.

How to prepare homemade puppy food

The team at PetCareRx advises that all pet parents follow these nutritional guidelines when preparing meals for their puppy:

IngredientApproximate balanceOptions
Protein40%-80%Boneless chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, or duck; deboned fish, especially salmon; and eggs which can be cooked with their crushed shells included for extra calcium. Organ meats are very healthy as well but typically should not make up more than 15% of the diet.
Fruits and veggies5%-10%Carrots, blueberries, peas, and more. But steer clear of anything poisonous for dogs.
Fiber-rich carbohydrates20%-60%Potatoes, both sweet and regular; brown, jasmine, or white rice; peas; lentils; and oatmeal or barley in smaller amounts.
Fat5%-15%Poultry skin; rendered poultry fat from cooking; safflower, canola, or soybean oil; or ground flax seeds or flax oil.
Vitamins and mineralsVariableConsider a puppy supplement with plenty of calcium for your growing dog. Consult your veterinarian for recommended brands and dosage.

When it comes to preparing food, we recommend you set aside a day every month (or a half day once a week if you prefer) and prepare your puppy’s meals in bulk. You can then portion out the meals into containers and freeze them, so that you’ve always got a good supply of pre-prepared meals on hand. 

Puppy food can last for several months in the freezer and for up to five days in the refrigerator. If you’re unsure about what an appropriate portion size is for your growing pup, speak to your vet who will be able to advise you. 

Homemade puppy food recipes

If you're looking for some delicious and nutritious homemade puppy food recipes to get you started, here's three of our favorites...

1. Healthy puppy food 

Dog looking at ingredients for homemade puppy food

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs ground turkey (or any protein)
  • 1 cup uncooked millet (or any other whole grain: quinoa, rice, pasta)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes or coconut oil
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
  • 1 squash, shredded
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • A Tbsp. of Calcium powder

Directions:

  1. Bring  1 cup of the whole grain to a boil in a pot of water. I overcook it so that it’s soft and easily digestible. Drain.
  2. While that’s boiling, shred/chop the veggies.
  3. Cook ground turkey with olive oil and drain excess juices.
  4. Mix everything! No need to cook the veggies. The cooked turkey and whole grain will warm them up a bit.
  5. Store in Tupperware or ziplock bags and freeze.

Recipe courtesy of patchpuppy.com

2. Chicken and brown rice puppy food

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup UNCOOKED brown rice
  • 2 peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 8 ounces frozen peas
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fish oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1.5 cups water

Directions:

  1. Set your slow cooker to low
  2. Add all the ingredients
  3. Cook for 5-6 hours

3. Banana carob oat cake

Peanut butter and sliced banana on a plate

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup carob chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a nonstick spray, coat an 8-inch cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix the bananas, 3 tablespoons honey, egg, and water until combined.Then, stir in the flour, baking powder, and oats.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the carob chips on top. Use a fork to slightly mix in the carob chips in a marbling fashion; the chips should be slightly visible on the surface.
  4. Bake the cake for 1 hour. Check and bake for an additional 15 minutes if you insert a toothpick and it does not come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before transferring it to a rack to cool completely.
  5. As the cake is cooling on the rack, mix the peanut butter and remaining honey in a bowl until thoroughly incorporated to create the frosting. Using a spoon or spatula, spread the peanut butter frosting over the cake.

Recipe courtesy of patchpuppy.com

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.