Homemade dog food

I've had quite a few readers ask about Gracie's food. What we feed our animals is important to me because I want them to have a good life and be in good health all through their lives. I've never fed our dogs supermarket food. If you look at the labels you'll see that it's full of rubbish and it's expensive. I prefer to give homemade food.  I know what's in it, it smells good and it's value for money.  We had Airedale Terriers before Gracie and I made them a meat-based stew with rice. The dogs grew well on that food and my vet said they were the healthiest Airedales he'd seen.  There are a number of recipes for dog food here and here is my recipe for what I used to cook for Rosie and Alice.

From baby Gracie to today's Gracie, I've always done my best to feed her healthy food.

Gracie is a Scottish Terrier and she's half the size of Alice and Rosie so it made me think again about how we'd feed her. When she was a puppy, she had ½ cup Black Hawk biscuits for breakfast followed by a small amount of beef mince or chicken for lunch and dinner. When she was 12 months old, we cut her back to two small meals a day. Now she's 18 months old, the vet advised me to take her off the biscuits and have one meal. She has it around 2pm every day.  That gives her time to run around in the afternoon to aid digestion but not be hungry overnight.

This is our beautiful girl, Alice.

I thought a lot about that one meal. I have one chance to give Gracie something she'll enjoy eating, and help keep her healthy. It needed to be within our budget, easy to prepare, and give us value for money.  This is what I came up with:

Day 1. Chicken and vegetables in chicken jelly stock
Day 2. 125 grams raw beef mince
Day 3. 1 raw chicken drumstick - dogs should never have cooked bones
Day 4. 1 tin of sardines OR tuna in springwater

After day 4, we start with day 1 again.

This is how I prepare the chicken and vegetables in chicken jelly stock. Add 5 chicken drumsticks to a pot and just cover the chicken with water. Don't add salt, pepper or any other additive.  During the cooking process, the chicken, bones and connective tissue start breaking down, collagen is released, and when it's cold, jelly forms. I think it gives Gracie the feeling that she's eating a bigger meal. 

Cook the chicken gently for about 45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 15 minutes. I generally use about a cup of sweet potato and carrots, cut into chunks, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Never give your dog onion or leeks. Allow this to cool, remove all the bones, then divide up into 5 even portions. I use zip lock bags and freeze them flat so they don't take up too much space in the freezer.  Of course you could cook up batches of 25 drumsticks so you only have to cook it once a month. When its defrosted, don't let it go to room temperature. Feed the dog when the liquid is still jelly. It will go back to a water consistency if you leave it sit for too long but even if you do, the nutrition is still the same.


Feeding this 4 day menu rotation gives Gracie variety and different textures as well as bones to crunch for healthy gums and teeth. I think she's enjoying her food and it takes almost no time at all.  For those in Australia, I buy the 3 star beef mince from Aldi and the chicken drumsticks from Woolworths - in the deli section, not the meat section. Last week the RSPCA-approved ones were on special for $3 a kilo, generally I pay about $5 a kilo for them.  Using the drumsticks, I don't have to cut up any chicken, the portions are easy and clean to deal with and they have the nutritional value I'm looking for. BTW, Gracie weighs 10kg and these amounts suit her size. Make sure you work out how much food your dog needs per day so you give the correct amount.

Food is such a personal thing. I don't expect everyone to change how they feed their dogs but I hope if you're looking for new ideas, this might might work for you and your dog.

25 comments

  1. Gracie is adorable and glowing with health! Does she get any snacks?

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    1. Hi Faye. Gracie is on her weight limit now so generally she gets no snacks. However, both Hanno and I give her a small corner of toast or a little bit of cheese occasionally.

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  2. Have you considered a raw food diet for her? When you do it right it really does incredible things for dogs and is of course what they would naturally eat. She's adorable by the way.

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    1. Hi Malayka. Yes, I did consider a raw food diet. I read about it and other dog diets and I spoke to Grace's vet as well. I think this gives her variety and good nutrition and she loves every meal, so we'll stick to this.

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    2. We feed raw minced offal with grated veges and raw eggs. Mostly its just easier than cooking it and our dogs love it.

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    3. That's great :). Haha I have to admit that the raw diet with all the awful smelling green tripe isn't a pleasant chore!

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  3. Oh My Goodness, Gracie is lovely. Winston looks quite a bit like baby Gracie right now. He is now 6 months and is turning into a wonderful Scotty.
    I feed him a small amount of food twice a day. I will have to look into Gracie's chicken diet. I do not understand the part about buying chicken legs in the deli. We can only buy raw chicken in the meat section.
    I cooked for Watson and Hamish because of their illnesses. But they alway had two small meals.
    Winston is going in for his first big gud dug bath at the groomers tomorrow. I want to keep him scruffy for the family who are coming for Christmas. But right after News Years he will get his first gud dug Scottie cut ! Oh no !

    Gracie is beautiful !
    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Hello parsnip. I love hearing from other Scottie people. There are a few around online however I never get to see other Scotties were where I live.

      In the supermarket deli here, near, but separate to, the cold cuts and cheese, they have raw fish and chicken. It's sometimes cheaper to buy it there than in the meat section.

      I'd forgotten how cute baby Gracie was until I found that photo so I'm guessing Winston is quite a looker. They're gorgeous dogs. I adore Gracie. I love how independent she is and even though she's naughty sometimes, she's becoming quieter now she's older.

      Good luck with Winston's bath tomorrow. I love it when they start developing their squareness, so good luck with her haircut after Christmas too.

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  4. I love your ideas - this is similar to what I do for my 5 rescues.Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Gracie looks really good on it. She has such a characterful face.

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  6. Sounds great. I do get confused by the subject of bones though. Most people seem to mention raw chicken bones, such as wings or drumsticks. Isn't there still a chance of bone splinters from those? Never cooked bones yet I know people who occasionally give their dogs cooked pork ribs.We hope to get a dog sometime soon, so any help you could give would be much appreciated.

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    1. Hi DC, my vet told me to give raw drumsticks but not chicken wings and that is what I do. Cooked bones become brittle during the cooking and could splinter when chewed. It's the bone splinters that are a danger to dogs.

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  7. This looks great,I will be applying these ideas to our two girls. I love the 4 day rotation. Our girls are 20 kilos each so I will check just how much they need to eat each day. Thanks so much 😙

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  8. We started giving our rescue dog (lab/greyhound mix) homemade food because the dry kibble upset his stomach. He does not do well on rice so we use mashed potatoes, cooked chicken, veggies and a spoonful of cottage cheese or greek yogurt. He needs to gain about 15 pounds as he is underweight, had worms and tick bacteria. I use chicken thighs, bake them and then remove skin as I think it is too much fat. This has all been approved by our vet. I read that you can calculate the amount of food needed as 2% of the dog's weight. Thanks for this very timely post!

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  9. I have played around with homemade dog food for my three little's, but find that I grow weary of making it. (I cooked batches in the crockpot) Yours does seem so much more simple than mine, maybe I'll try again. My vet recommended baby carrots as snacks for my little's, since they were all getting a little overweight. They love them!

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  10. Thank you for all the dog food info. I too make food for our beloved English Bulldog/Shar Pei 1 y.o. bitch, she loves it and always clears her dish immediately, whereas she often goes off the (good quality) kibble we give her on alternate days. Having read your article, I am tempted to start making all of her food.

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  11. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing, Rhonda. Maybe I will try this one day. Gracie is glowing with health.

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  12. i don't give cooked food anymore nor dry food, only have cats & they now get the PAWS raw roo meat which they seem to love; they get a little cooked chicken or cold meat occasionally for treats, sometimes they get bones to chew on too.
    thanx for the ideas though, will be handy if i ever do get another dog.
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  13. I don't have any dogs at the moment, so it's lovely to see your photos of Gracie and Alice, such sweethearts. I do have a cat, and I feed her an organic cat food, but I'll definitely start looking at fresh food alternatives. (If she'll eat it, that is - she's a bit of a weirdo with her food..!) Thank you!
    Elaine

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  14. Hi all, I really enjoy reading everyones thoughts on this topic. Rhonda, I have been using the recipe that you used for Rosie and Alice for some time now to feed our two medium sized dogs. I notice that Gracies feeding regime contains no grains. Have you had a rethink on the grain content in her food?

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    1. Hi Jassey. Rosie and Alice were big dogs and adding rice or barley to their food was a good way of bulking the food out without adding to the cost. Gracie eats a small amount so there is no need for the grains. I think there is a move towards grain-free pet food but I haven't read about it in any detail.

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  15. I've been cooking for my dog for 10 years. She's almost 14 now and except for hips that are failing, she's quite healthy and boy does she enjoy her food!! You're right about commercial kibble, garbage!! It is a bit labor intensive but I usually cook every 3-4 weeks and then freeze into single serving bags that I can easily remove from the freezer. I believe it is cheaper too, especially if you try to buy a good commercial kibble. Thanks for sharing!!

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  16. Hi Rhonda
    Lovely to see Gracie photo in your blog. She's so big now! Just wanted to say hello
    Alannah (aka Gracie's mum's mum)

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    1. Hi Alannah, it's lovely to see you here. Grace is an absolute delight and I thank my lucky stars every day that she is ours. Have a great Christmas. xx

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  17. I'm so glad you're enjoying her and she a great addition to your family. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas
    Alannah

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