Homemade Pet Food Guidelines

Today’s Guest Blog, “Homemade Pet Food Guidelines” is authored by Mary Nielsen. Enjoy!


 Although there are a lot of good pet foods out there, and such foods as grain free or organic types are incredibly good for your pet, you always have the choice of deciding to make your own. Certainly, by doing so you can control exactly what goes into it every step of the way.

But before you think you can just throw your pooch a side of beef for dinner, or your kitty cat a chicken leg, there’s more to it than that. Just like you and I, your pet may enjoy just having chunks of meat for dinner every day, but the reality is that they will be healthier and happier if their meals are balanced, just like mine and yours. That might be the reason why you want to make home made pet food in the first place so that they are as healthy as they can be. So, here are the basics, and since the diets are different for dogs and cats, we’ll start with dogs first.


Homemade Pet Food

Canine Diet

Of course, you’ve already guessed that meat makes up the one single most important part of their diet, but this will give you a break down on how much and the other ingredients that must be added for proper nutrition.

  • Protein — This can be any type of meat from beef, pork, lamb, venison, what have you, and it should make up 40% of the total diet. If you can supply this amount of protein on a daily basis, then you are on your way towards proper doggy nutrition. One thing to take note of is that some of their calories must come from fat. Whether it is in the meat that you grind up, or whether your pour some liquefied fat into the mix, dogs need fat in their diet.
  • Vegetables — You may think that dogs are strictly carnivores, and while you won’t see them out grazing with cows, they need a proportion of their diet made up of veggies. Think about this for a second. Did you ever see your dog chewing on grass? They need that roughage and fiber to keep their digestive process normal. Vegetables like green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots and others, are wonderful for your pup, and they are filled with vitamins and minerals that aren’t readily found in meat. 
  • Carbs — Beans are a great source of carbs, and you’ll only need 10% per serving. Grains work too, but if you want to go grain free, then stick with beans and/or potatoes.
  • Calcium — As a supplement for strong bones and teeth, grind up some egg shells into their meals.

If you follow those basics when making home made dog food, your dog will thrive!


Homemade Pet FoodFeline Diet

Just like home made dog food, cat food you make yourself is very similar. But there are differences, so here is the breakdown.

  • Protein — Cats need at least 25% to 30% protein in their diet, but here is a major difference between dogs and cats. 15% to 20% of their diet must come from fat. Whether you grind up chunks of fat for their food or pour liquefied fat over the top, they need at least 15% of their calories to come from fat. Another thing to consider is protein quality. Eggs offer the best quality of protein for kitty, with fish coming in second. Lamb is also high, and so is poultry. Beef and pork may be easier to get, but they are also more difficult for a cat to digest, and therefore it is harder to extract the protein that is needed.
  • Veggies — Your cat needs fiber for proper digestion, and they get it with their veggies. Add in about 50% vegetables, including oats, rice, sweet potato, broccoli and others.
  • Carbs — 10% carbs will do the trick. Beans are a good choice here.
  • Supplements — Supplements like fish oil, taurine, egg shell calcium and ground bone powder are a must for homemade food and should make up 10% of each meal. This is a major difference between dog and cat food, and supplements must be added to keep your cat healthy and vibrant.

If you are going to make your own dog or cat food, make sure you do it correctly, or it will be more of a problem than it’s worth and can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies if it isn’t done right.

About Author

Mary Nielsen is a passionate dog lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She started to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable mutts. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.


Recalls from Blue Buffalo and Wellness Pet Food Brands

The FDA released a statement regarding recalls of Blue Buffalo and Wellness brand pet foods. These voluntary recalls were prompted by the possibility that the food contains thyroid hormones: 

“March 27, 2017  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising pet owners and caretakers, veterinarians, and the pet food industry to be aware that pet food and treats made with livestock gullets (meat from the throat region) have the potential to contain thyroid tissue and thyroid hormones. Pets that eat food or treats containing thyroid hormones may develop hyperthyroidism, a disease that is rare in dogs and usually triggered by thyroid cancer.

…symptoms of hyperthyroidism include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, increased appetite, restlessness, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, rapid and/or labored breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Continued exposure to excess thyroid hormones can cause damage to the heart and in some cases, death.”


Additional information about the Blue Buffalo recall is in their press release:

 “Blue Buffalo Voluntary Recall: One Lot of BLUE Wilderness® Rocky Mountain RecipeTM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs Due to Potential Health Risk.”

Blue Buffalo


The Wellness company posted a note to consumers on their website:

“At WellPet, our team takes food safety matters very seriously.  …in an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily recalling a limited amount of one canned dog food product. A small amount of one recipe has the potential to contain elevated levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone. Our Consumer Affairs team has received no reports of any health problems as a result of feeding this recipe. No other Wellness products are affected.”

food recalls


If you have pet foods from either of the recalls, contact the respective manufacturer right away. If your pet shows signs of possible illness, consult your vet. 

Jerky Treats, why are they not banned?

Three name brands top the FDA list of suspect chicken jerky treats:

  • Waggin’ Train Jerky Treats or Tenders (Nestle Purina)
  • Canyon Creek Ranch Jerky Treats or Tenders (Nestle Purina)
  • Milo’s Kitchen Home-Style Dog Treats (Del Monte Corp)

According to the FDA: “As of May 1, 2014, we have received in total more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. more…

toxic treats

If the FDA put out a report like this one on human beef jerky snacks, would you eat them? Would you let your kids eat them? So why would you give your dogs a treat with a good chance of causing them to get sick? We love our pets and want to give them the very best. We want to spoil them and for many that includes daily treats.

In the last several years there has been a growing trend in low carb/no grain pet food. Along with that trend came grain free treats, one being jerky treats made from chicken, duck and other high protein foods. Not too long after these products appeared on the store shelves they became very popular. About this time, and seemingly unrelated, veterinarians starting treating dogs who were sick from an unknown cause. As more cases presented, a common factor emerged: most of the dogs had eaten jerky treats.

Upon further investigation it was discovered that the chicken and duck meat in jerky treats seemed to be the real culprit. Treats either made in China or with meat imported from China were tainted. Salmonella was predicted to be the offending organism. Unfortunately so far, tests conducted by the FDA have found no specific contaminate.

My feeling on this issue is better safe than sorry. Especially when there are so many healthy treats available as well as recipes to make your own at home.

Next article: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Are you reading ALL Pet Food ingredients?

Lately we’ve heard a lot about looking at what is in pet food with an emphasis on protein being the first ingredient. While it’s true that protein should make up a large portion of our pets’ diets, there are many more factors involved in providing optimal and species appropriate nutrition. There are different forms of protein and not all of them are easily metabolized. According to Dr. Karen Becker from, “By-products are what are left after all the good stuff is harvested for the human food industry. Beaks, feet, feathers, wattles and combs are chicken by-products. There could be something beneficial thrown in, like the heart or gizzard, but because there’s such potential for undesirable pieces and parts in ‘by-products,’ it’s better to avoid them altogether.”

Grains like corn, rice and wheat are often seen in pet food in large amounts. These carbohydrates come in different forms, gluten meal, whole grain, flour, etc… Rice often comes in the form of brewers rice. Grain in any form is not a species specific ingredient essential for carnivorous diets, additionally corn is highly allergenic. No grain should be the main ingredient in your pet food.  Dogs are somewhat omnivorous so a small amount of fruit and vegetables make up a part of their balanced diet. However cats are obligatory carnivores, high carbohydrate pet food diets lead to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease and irritable bowl syndrome. Grain free diets are much more appropriate for both cats and dogs, see more here for a comparison between a high quality and a low quality diet. Often a raw is recommended as the best pet food for dogs and cats but it is very important to feed a balanced raw diet. Research and consulting a holistic veterinarian will help you decide what is right for your pets.

Our pets are what we feed them, we have an obligation to educate ourselves and provide them with a high quality diet so they can live a long and happy life!

Next Topic: Dog DNA