Absolutely the number one question that I am asked by readers is how much homemade dog food I should feed my dog. Unfortunately this isn’t something that I can give a quick and easy answer to and the reason for that is because every dog’s nutritional needs are different. Think about you and your friends and family, do you all need the same calories every day? Do you all need the same nutrients in your diet every day? Of course not. Everybody eats differently some people require certain types of diets whether it’s gluten free or low protein, high carb, or low carb. Also, different people require different nutrients. For example in our house, it’s me, my husband, and my 6-year old son. My husband Robin needs more protein or calcium in his diet because he needs more energy. He burns more calories. My husband works all day long. He’s moving and he’s burning energy so he burns more calories every day than I do.
So just in our home, there’s three people that all need very different nutrients through the day. Our bodies all need different things and our dogs are like that as well. It’s not just because of their size or their age though those are two really key factors that play into the nutrients that they need every day. But, there are other factors as well. Breed is a factor; activity level is a factor; weight is a factor; overweight; underweight; the overall health condition of the dog; do they have underlying health conditions; which require them to have need more nutrients or less of certain nutrients. So, these are all things that need to be taken into consideration. So when people ask me how much homemade food I should feed my dog, my answer is always to consult your veterinarian or canine nutritionist. That’s really the best thing that you can do and it’s going to make it easiest for you. It’s going to be the best solution for your dog.
Now, I do get recommended serving sizes with most of my recipes and typically about 1/2 a cup is good for a dog weighing somewhere between 20-25 pounds something like that so 1/2 a cup of food. Now, this is what our beagle eats for a serving size in the morning and at night so she’s fed twice. This is one serving so in the morning she gets a cup and I think she gets half of it now. Half a cup of homemade dog food is all she gets and if you’re like my husband, you will think that it must be starving my dog. He always does that and says that’s fairly anything. How she’s supposed to get by on just that little amount of food that’s a half a cup and the reason that your dog doesn’t need to eat as much homemade food as they would most commercial diets is because homemade food is packed with so much stuff. For example, one recipe I use has turkey; we’ve got eggs; we’ve got green peppers; there’s some spinach in here; the eggshells are in here and that’s a great source of calcium. This is a nutrient-dense food.
Homemade diets provide a lot of nutrients and in very small quantity because they’re not processed. There’s no fillers. There’s no additives. It’s just the whole foods and the nutrients that they provide so you don’t need to feed as much homemade food as you typically would if you have a large dog that used to eat say, four to five cups a day of the traditional kibble that you used to feed it. Now they might only need their serving size to be one and a half cups. This is what our chocolate lab eats for a serving size, one and a half cups so she’s three cups of food where she may be required to eat five cups a day a lesser quality kibble so keep that in mind.
Serving phrases for homemade food may seem smaller than you would expect them to be. The reason for that and the other thing that needs to be considered when you’re thinking about how much food your doggie should eat is the recipe used. Just like human food, every recipe’s different. Now, this one that I just shared had turkey and eggs in it, which means that it has a lot of protein and I use some bell peppers and some spinach and the eggshells so it’s providing a lot of different nutrients. But, it may not provide a balanced diet for every dog so this is where your vet or nutritionist is really going to come in handy. They’re going to be able to evaluate the recipes that you’re feeding your dogs while evaluating how your dog looks and its overall health along with the other important variables I talked about like age, weight, breed, and activity level. They’re going to evaluate all of that and they’re going to evaluate the recipes that you feed them and then they’re probably willing to recommend some supplements be added to your dog’s diet.
Now, this is very common and only a few homemade dog food recipes are 100% balanced for dogs of a certain age or health condition. It’s different obviously. Just like homemade food, some are balanced for puppies while some are balanced for active dogs, adult dogs, and senior dogs. However, the chances of your canine nature’s chefs recommending a supplement is pretty good. I would say you’re going to have about a 90% chance of having to add something to your dog’s diet, which is totally fine. It’s very easy to do which I think is a common one. Calcium is very commonly added to homemade dog foods. You can pick those supplements up at every big-box store pharmacy or anywhere that sells supplements. There’s also things like omega-3 and fish oil. Omega-3 is a great nutrient to add to your dog’s diet. It’s also beneficial for skin and pull health that might be something that they recommend being added to any dog’s diet but specifically if your dog has some dry skin issues. For skin like that, there’s also something like this Maxxiflex Plus, which is a joint supplement. This might be its kind of local to me and chondroitin and it might be added to dogs that are extremely active senior dogs that have some arthritis issues. Dogs like our lab takes this. She’s a Labrador retriever and has hip dysplasia. Our greatest hip and joint issues are very common in that breed so we add this per our veterinarian’s recommendation so there’s different supplements and it’s different for every dog.
Our lab gets the joint supplement while our beagle doesn’t. There are multivitamins for dogs that add together a lot of different supplements and they usually come in powder form that you can add to food but you don’t want to take this into your own hands because if you’re giving your dog too few of certain nutrients, they’re going to become deficient. And, if you’re giving your dog too many vitamins and minerals, it might end up getting too much calcium and too much zinc. That’s actually going to be detrimental to their health and it can actually lead to some very serious health issues so it’s not something that you want to just guess and it’s not something that you want to just take recommendations of people on the internet from. Even though some of them may be recommending a really high quality homemade diet, it might not provide the balanced nutrition for your pack so when people come to me and they ask me how much homemade food should I be feeding my dog, the answer that I always give them is check with your vet. Check with a canine nutritionist if there’s one in your area. That’s going to be your definite Baxter resource. It would be a canine nutritionist but your vet should have some great information as well. Check with them and discuss serving size. Discuss the recipes that you’re using because they can evaluate those to figure out what nutrients your dog is going to get and what nutrients he may still be needing. Then, they’re going to recommend some supplements for you and it’s going to be different if you have different even types of dogs. If you have say two Labrador retrievers, they both may eat very different diets and they both may need different supplements or different recipes that are going to provide different nutrients so keep that in mind.